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From Jan's Notebook

Welcome to my notebook.
This is where I practice scribbling my thoughts and allow rambling insights.  Thanks for coming.



March 11, 2012

I'm trying something new. This notebook is moving to the JanJimJam site. You now have the ability to add your comments. Ready go!



March 11, 2012
A sign of change?






March 10, 2012
The Astronomy site has done it again. Pretty.

I mean really, can you imagine, driving or walking by this shot and thinking, “Dang, I wish I had my camera.” Or better yet, turn to your friend and say, “Go stand over there, let me take your picture in front of this house with the moon in the back ground!”

Oh what a world we live in!

I was reminded to turn our clocks back tonight for daylight savings time. Personally I'm in the mood to turn the clocks ahead — to a time when Ken is home again!



March 9, 2012
Go where you are celebrated; not where you are tolerated.

This is probably one of the biggest lesson of my life to date.

The launch of Today’s Step into the world has been amazing, frustrating and very rewarding so far. And it is still so very new.

We have been celebrated, inspired, and supported; Allyson and I are extremely grateful.
But, yesterday there was oneone, who wasn’t all that happy or impressed with our project and they felt the need to share their dismay.

I know I cannot and will not please everyone, even if I really, really want to. The more public we become, the more we open ourselves up to the praise and the critic.

I am happy and willing to take suggestions, we are open to ideas that help — this one had neither. So, instead of chewing on it like a piece of grizzle, I hit delete; I am shaking it off, gathering my clan around me, and heading back to the celebration.

In the story by Martin W. shared on Today’s Step, he quotes about how you can't control the wind, but can adjust the angle of your sails.

Today’s Step is all about practice. I am practicing the lesson of love and support. I will adjust the sail towards celebration, and there is plenty around me. I will not hang out or prove anything to those who complain, criticize or tolerate.

It is not enough for me to be tolerated any longer. Bring on the celebration!
So, there!



March 8, 2012
Now, this photo was taken the day I saved Jim’s life.



Just kidding!

This photo was taken on Bowen Island, and it was in Eugene where I used my incredible “na” skills, and seized Jim in the crook of his elbow, just as he was about to step in front of a speeding bus. Thus, saving his life.

Oh, the stories I can tell!



March 7, 2012



I remember when this photo was taken. It was the morning before I punched Sam in the mouth, and decided I didn’t have what it takes to teach Tai Chi.

This was from a workshop I organized on ground fighting for women. I knew nothing about ground fighting, or range theory, and I wanted to learn with women, but from Sam.

Breakthroughs are disguised as breakdowns in my world, but I didn’t know that back then. I was challenged and frustrated most of the weekend.

There was a one drill where, Sam had us stand facing a corner in the room, and when he touched us, our exercise was to turn around, face him, and figure out how to get him to move, across the mat, to the other side of the room. Basically to claim our space and assertively move someone. Those were the directions.

Now, please know this was not the first drill of the day. - Sam built the class up to this, there was a good foundation of trust, and we were ready. It was intense, appropriate and however hard; doable.

I remember the first women standing in the corner, Sam tapped her shoulder, she turned and with purpose, they moved.

As this went on, Sams “touch” changed in intensity and he upped the volume as each woman took her turn. I remember he slapped the head of one women, she turned and took him across the room, big time. The drill went on gaining in intensity — it was my turn.

I stood in the corner, waiting. Waiting, I stood. Waiting for the touch, slap, or whatever Sam had in store for me. Waiting. Nothing… And as I couldn’t stand it any longer, I turned and punched Sam in the mouth and pushed and kicked him across the room screaming and yelling the entire way.

“That wasn’t the drill, Jan.” Sam says to me. “Try it again.”

My heart beating like wild horses, running for their lives, tears streaming down my face, embarrassed, I got back in the corner. Calming down, I stood. Waiting.

Nothing! He just let me stand there!

So of course I turned around and punched him again!

It was terrible. Thankfully it was also the end of the day. I gathered my things, walked out, and quit martial arts. I quit. I knew in my heart, I was not meant to do this work, that I’d never be able to do this work, I would become a secretary or work at a video store, I would never be able to teach Tai Chi. I was on the wrong path, with the wrong teacher, in the wrong art. I cried the entire way home and into the night.

I went back the next day, for the sole reason to tell Sam I had quit and to wish him well.
But, I got sidetracked in the parking lot with one of the students struggling with a move in the sword form. I stopped to help, and wasn’t able to talk to Sam before we started. I figured I would quit at lunch.

During the warm up, as we started moving, something changed inside me and I stayed.

Perseverance furthers. Thanks Sifu.



March 6, 2012
I’m proud.

I say it with humility… I very proud.

When I was a newspaper printer I enjoyed leaving work with the days paper under my arm; proof of a job completed and usually well done. As a teacher, pride comes when a student tells me of their personal practice, and a lesson they received from it. When I finish the last page of a book I’m reading, a sense of pride sweeps through me that my brain is able to unjumble the words and that I can understand and reflect a story another person tells.

I’ve had a lot of good luck and made some very good choices in my life. I have a wonderful husband, amazing friends, and skilled students. Now, together with the incredible and talented, Allyson Appen, have created an app!

All versions of Today’s Step have been launched — set free into the world, now out of my control. And this morning, during practice, a sense of relief and quiet pride overwhelmed me.

Yes, we have a lot of work a head of us; there is always more to learn. And today, I’d like to bask in accomplishment.

Here are  the links if you'd like to check out Today's Step
For the iPhone: or Android: even on Amazon (Android version only)



March 5, 201
Modern travel is amazing. Just last week for example, my friend Marian started her day in Zürich, had lunch in London and met me for dinner in Vancouver. In less than 24 hours, she travelled from Sweden to Bowen Island.

Ken called from Denver last night, he arrived just fine, no lost luggage, he met his brother, Ron and two Uncles with no problems. They were all getting in the car to begin the 6 hour drive to Valentine, NE.

They really are going to one of those places that you can’t get to from here, at least not easily.

I’ll be right there, is a relative phrase, I guess.

If I said, "I need YOU right now." How long would it take, for you to do all you needed to do, before you were standing on our porch?

For some, it would be a matter of putting on their shoes and in five minutes knocking on our door. But, for most of the friends I’ve cultivated, and count on, you are pretty far away. I would say, at least 24 to 48 hours would be a fair and a remarkable reality for most of us for “being right there”.

Ken left Bowen Island on Saturday at noon and I’m guessing he arrived in Valentine just after mid-night last night. So finally sometime today, he will be able to see his mom.

We have chosen to live in a place that is not all that easy to get to and from. So fair warning – if you need me, I’ll be right there, I promise.... just give me a little time.



March 4, 2012
For Ken —





March 3, 2012
Each day, I ask a few questions of myself. My version of a step 10 in recovery talk.

Q. Am I doing what I want to do? 
A. Not always, but I will say I don’t do anything I really hate doing.

Q. Do I regret anything? 
A. No.

Q. How is my relationship with all the nouns in my life? (This is probably the most important question I ask myself each day)

People, places and things are the nouns I’m talking about. Nouns make me wonky when I lack acceptance. Today, I wish things were different. That helps no person, place or thing, including me.

A. I'm a little wonky because I'd like a different set of nouns today.     Sigh….



March 2, 2012
A phone call can change everything about a day. In May of 2003, my step-father Jack, called me and told me my mother had died. My strong legs gave way and I dropped to the floor.

The phone rang this morning and the news on the other end while not as shocking is still unsettling. Ken and I are now making plans, that we thought we wouldn't need to make for a while. Hospice has been called in and so have the boys.

Ken is flying out again and meeting his brothers. This time, they will gather in Nebraska, around their mother, Thomasina Thomas Parker.

I'm not going with Ken, but I will slip this note for my mother-in-law into his pocket.

Dear Tomi,
I light a candle for you today. I wish you a safe and easy journey. Your faith and strength, while a puzzle to me, has never wavered; and though we have not always agreed, I have always admired your convictions and your courage. I have known your love.

I also know that you pray, that I might also pray, but we both know, I am as stubborn as you are. So with my strength, my courage and convictions, please hear me as I shout out my love and respect for you.

I appreciate you. I hold great gratitude in my heart for you. I will miss you.

You did really well with your life. You leave a fine legacy. My life is better, No... my life is good, because you have been part of it.

Love,
Jan

Tomi's pride.



Randy, Dallas, Ron, and Ken



March 1, 2012
I had some insights last night. I learned or maybe, I just reaffirmed, that standing up and telling your story honestly, without bells and whistles, is a powerful way to move people.

Last night, I had the opportunity to attend Pecha Kucha Night in Vancouver.  I have to say there are about a zillion things going on in the world that I know nothing about… Pecha Kucha Night was one of them. Yet, they happen all over the world and are big deals.

PKN events consist of around a dozen presentations, each presenter having 20 slides, each shown for 20 seconds on a timer. Thus, each presenter has just 6 minutes and 40 seconds to explain their ideas before the next takes the stage. This was a venue through which shakers and movers could meet, show their work, exchange ideas, and network, the format keeps presentations concise and fast-paced.

In a sense, it was a mini TED talk.

I was Marian Bantjes guest, and of all the talks, hers was by far the best!

Another who impressed me during his 6 minutes on stage was David Eby. A lawyer who talked about the cover up in investigations and follow though fuck ups that happened after 36 women went missing from the Vancouver downtown east side. I was sitting next to his wife and it was gut retching and very moving.

There was no printed program for the night, so the names of the different speakers unfortunately are gone from me, but I will say, for the most part it was good. It was also painful at times.

Painful because alcohol was served and obvious. Now, I am not against alcohol in the world, I’m not. At least I don’t think I am, but not everyone drinks well. Several of the presenters drank during their presentations; one even lit a joint as he stepped up on the stage. This particular guy didn’t actually present anything. He just danced around on the stage cussing. His slides were 20 of his Facebook profile photos. It was horrid, not funny, and his dive off the stage at the end was quite pathetic.

The irony of the night, was that at least four, maybe five of the talks had to do in some fashion with addiction or the effects of addiction on society and family.

One of the speakers talked about the needle exchange program in Vancouver, and people we marginalize who live on the edge of society. Another spoke of the accidental suicide of his brother who died making “clean” ecstasy. His intent was to “help addicts who otherwise would take unsafe drugs…” — his apartment blew up.

Ken Lum, a world famous artist, showed slides of his latest abstract work titled “the 12 steps of AA” and “From Resentment to Joy”

Then on the flip side, several speakers screamed about and harped on, the “backward and archaic” liquor laws of BC; they demanded change. I surmised, they were asking for easier access as cheers erupted from the rowdy, full house audience. Apparently we should be able to buy booze in movie theatres and it's just criminal that we can't!

Listening to strong people with strong ideas is inspiring. But for me, I had hard time hearing, when beer can, after beer can popped open, spill on the floor, and voices grew louder. I found several of the messages got mixed up and confused with the reality of what is, and a personal passion for what should be. It was a bit in the entitled vain of - I like dogs, but not their shit, so YOU should do something, because my dog doesn't shit... much.

I’m glad I went, I was glad to come home.

My big lesson from the night: Telling our story matters. Bigger lesson: I want to be known as someone who walks her talk. Biggest lesson: I want to walk more and talk less.



February 29, 2012
My thoughts go two places on February 29. The obvious one is, the archaic and bizarre idea that you get to propose marriage to someone on this day.

I figure if you want something ask for it! So in my Today’s Step, words of wisdom voice… I’ll just say it.

If you want something ask for it, not just today, but any day. 
Ask, and don’t be surprised if you get it.


The obvious taken care of; every leap year, I also think of Sally Rexroth.

Sally lived up the street, and around the corner, from me when we were growing up. I have not seen her or talked to her since we were in high school, but I always think of her on February 29th.

Today is her birthday, and if memory serves me, Sally ONLY celebrated on Feb. 29th. She didn’t fudge and have cake on the 28th or 1st of March on years that did not leap. Sally waited for four long years to celebrate her birthday, then she had a huge party.

In some ways I felt both sorry and jealous of Sally. Sally got my pity because by the time I was 12, Sally had had Happy Birthday sung to her only a mere three times.

I was totally jealous of her though because she had huge and amazing parties with clowns and such! I figured she was the type of kid to actually get a pony on her birthday because it was such a big deal.

As of today, Sally Rexroth has had only 14 actual birthdays and is one year younger than me.

Happy Birthday Sally! I have no idea where you are or what you are doing, but I hope you have a grand party today. It is February 29, a leap year and I’m thinking of you.



February 28, 2012
Ken is home and life is better! I met him at the Lonsdale Quay in North Van last night, instead having to drive all the way out to the airport.

It was easier on me but for Ken his day started in Tucson, AZ and in just one long day he was a passenger in a car, a plane, two buses, another plane, a train, a boat, a car, another boat and finally a car brought him home!

Anyway, it was nice to have to poke him a little to make him stop snoring last night! My world is better with him in it. Plus, today I don't have to carry fire wood or be responsible for getting the trash can to the top of the driveway! Woo-hoo!

Now, it is true that Ken does a lot of the work around the house. And for that I am truly grateful!

That being said, I do not consider myself to be a “high maintenance”  partner.

I offer proof of this, by sharing with you the present Ken so generously bought home for me during his week in Arizona.



Yup, a coffee cup that has FARMBOY written across it. I love my man!



February 27, 2012
Always positive — always strong. I know people like this, or at least I think I do.

For the most part I try to be as well. But, I have a voice inside of me, that at times does its best to take me down.

This morning I was on the patio and this voice was calling out the addict in me. “No one will know.” “One won’t hurt.” And my favourite… “Who cares?”

I woke this morning from a dream that was unsettling. It was just a dream but it dug into my own self hating thoughts that over the years, I have done my best to trained through practice, to quiet.

I don’t think I’m alone in having this voice. Other people have told me they wake in the middle of the night at times with fear and anxiety and self doubt too.

All I can say is, “What the, what the….”

I stepped into my practice anyway.



February 26, 2012
Ken is in Arizona with his brothers. He has three brothers and is second born. Ron, the eldest, is hosting the gang at his home in Tucson. Ken was born two years after Ron. Five years later came Dallas, and five years after that, Randy completed the family.

When you see them all together, there is no mistaken they are Parkers. I think they all look most like their father. Especially Ken. (I'll add here, that Johnny Parker was a very handsome man!)

The boys live in different parts of North America and don’t get together all that often. I think the last time was at Jeff and Jen’s wedding a few years ago. (Jeff is Ron’s youngest son)

Anyway, this morning Ken called. We don’t check in with each other all that often when one of us travels. Not having cell phones, we usually go with the “no news is good news” mindset. Still, it was good to talk to Ken this morning.

Funny thing about about the call though… Ken had his Parker voice on.

Now, I know when I speak to Sandie on the phone, the two of us drop into the Oklahoma accent we both had when we met, and today, talking to Ken — his family accent was strong.

Not only does Ken look like his dad, he moves like him, has some of his mannerism; and when Ken is with his brothers, his voice changes. This morning it was clear, Johnny Parker lives on in his sons.



February 25, 2012
The weather is about as bad as it gets here. Wind, rain and cold. I’ll be surprised if the power doesn’t go out soon.

As I look outside, I wonder why I didn’t go to Arizona with Ken or take the time to visit Sandie is Hawaii. Allyson said the tulips are up in Berkeley. Beautiful Bowen Island is just ugly today.

They say the key to happiness is wanting what you have, not having what you want, so today in honour of Brian Wilson, I will “take to my bed.”

I am warm and comfy, with no place to go. Several good books  wait for me on the night stand, Peet is sleeping on my lap, and a mere 5 quilts are keeping me snug as a bug. As I listen to the wind blowing outside - I’m in the best place I could be on a day like this.

Yes, put me down for happy with what I have!




February 24, 2012
What the, what the?

 I think this is my new favourite saying! Its good! And because I have quite the potty mouth this, what the, what the? may just help nip it. (I was going to add "in the bud," but I’m afraid my habits are full blown.)

I got What the, what the? from heather and, like heather — it's brilliant. What the, what the?

What the, what the?

I’m laughing right now and no one is around. Maybe that’s another reason I like it. I need something to crack me up. Ken is in Arizona with his brothers, and for the most part he is my source of constant entertainment. Peet is sleeping, so What the, what the? is working for me right now.

Yesterday, Allyson and I thought we would launch the iphone version of Today’s Step.
Really! It’s only 8 weeks behind schedule and the developers apologize. So, when they sent it to Apple for review, we were ecstatic. Our press release and high fives ready…

Apple rejected Today’s Step for technical problems.

What the, what the?

We are not back at square one — but we are back to “coming soon.” And by soon, I mean later.

Sigh.



February 23, 2012
Posting here each day is more of a challenge this year than I thought it would be. Okay, finding the time to post something interesting is the challenge.

Today’s Step is in full speed for us and a full release is just around the corner. (maybe, maybe... tomorrow!)

That means is, Allyson and I are working hard right now and will continue do to so throughout 2012. Meetings, press releases, promotions and marketing are getting all my focus right now and my personal ramblings are becoming a little harder to make a priority.

As Ken has always told me…
I can have anything I want — I just can’t have everything I want.



February 22, 2012
What she says!

Sometimes others just say it better. Thank you Jenny.



February 21, 2012
I am about to bust my buttons with pride because of my husband! I am so proud to know this man and to witness his courage and clarity.

Yesterday, Ken and his friend Peter, went down to the cove for a visit and a cup of coffee. Most mornings, the cove is hopping with folks coming and going around the ferry. Over the years, Bowen Island has grown and parking has become a bit of a challenge. Still, we are a small community and no one seems to be too worried about who does what when.

So, when Peter drove down the street and the car in front of him stopped on an angle, not quite on the road, nor in a parking spot, neither Ken nor Peter thought too much about it. They waited behind the guy, then after a while, moved around the car and parked. He and Ken then walked over to the Snug Cafe for coffee.

The guy in the stopped car, then sped around and parked behind the cafe. He got out of his car, walked by Ken told him he had been waiting to park where Peter had parked and then, he called Ken an asshole.

Oops.

Ken caught up to the guy. “Excuse me," Ken said to the man as Ken took a stance in his path, — “I am not an asshole, you don’t even know me, why would you call me that?

"Well, uh m, er… you took my parking place… uh m, er…" the man continued doing his best to walk away. Ken of course was not done. “Wait a minute,” Ken told the guy, “We didn’t know what you were doing, we watched you for quite a while, you gave no indication of your intentions. How can we know what you are thinking? But, more importantly, why would you call me an asshole because of that? I am not an asshole. You cannot ring a big bell like that and walk away.”

Without an apology, the man left.

I have to say, I am so very proud of Ken for his interaction with this man. Most of you know, it takes a lot to get Ken riled. But, if you ever want to see a great example of someone standing well inside himself, take a look at my husband.

I’ve lived with Ken for almost three decades, and one thing I know for sure; Ken Parker is no asshole.



February 20, 2012
Bubcus, and others words that either feel funny in my mouth or make me laugh...

Garage, potato, shenanigans, puppy, bubbles, hornswoggle, fugacious, pedantic, fate, llama, rabble-rouser and pie.




February 19, 2012
A lot of my friends shared February 19, as their birthday. Actually without looking at my calendar, I can think of Kim, Don, Harper, and Larry. Looking, I see that it's Brenda’s birthday too.

September 27, is another day that is shared by several friends as well.

Some people like Christmas or Valentine's Day, but I think birthdays are my favourite to celebrate. FYI, my birthday is May 20, and I really shouldn't mention my half birthday in November.

On February 19, I always think of my friend Kim first. I met Kim in grade 7. We have stayed in light touch over the years, and I admit, mostly we connect on her birthday. Kim and I have one of those friendships that's just solid. I was a bridesmaid at her first wedding, she at my second. We live different lives, and years pass without us seeing each other, but I count her as one of my best friends, and when we meet up, fall into the comfort that only long time friends can know.

I used to send out cards to Don and Larry as well, but we lost touch with Don when we moved from Oregon, and Larry died unexpectedly, several years ago. Still, I think of them on this day.

The internet has made sending out cards a bit passé. I know I’ve fallen into the trap as well. It’s easier to pop an email off or write on someone’s wall, than to plan ahead, buy a card, and count on the postal system to get it there on time. Especially if we only remember each other as we glance at the calendar and realize, oh… Friday was Anna’s birthday. Oops.

My grandma taught me to celebrate peoples birthdays. Grandma had a birthday list and getting on it was a big deal. Once you made Grandma’s list, you stayed on it. Every year you could count on a card from her on your birthday. If you were lucky, she’d also put five dollars in it.

Grandma sent out hundreds of cards every year. She said it was “her thing," and she was known for it. Grandma wasn't wealthy, she denied herself a lot, and said she preferred to spend her money on cards and stamps.

One long ago boyfriend of mine, got on my Grandma’s birthday list when we were dating. He contacted me the year she died. He knew something was wrong when he didn’t get his card in the mail. Not getting a card from Grandma was like reading her obit.

Happy Birthday friends! I'm wanting to buy a few cards. I see that Chukki and Monica have birthdays coming up soon.



February 18, 2012
We are not ready to have a new dog in our house.

But....



..... if this one showed up, I'd have a hard time saying no.



February 17, 2012
Ken's dad Johnny, used to say, "A change is as good as a rest."

Today, I'm rolling my chair to the other side of my office and will play with a little fire.



PS... buy Today's Step!



February 16, 2012
I realized as I was thinking of something to write today, that this notebook blog went out to more people than usual yesterday as we announced Today’s Step in the Marketplace.

All of a sudden I got shy about what I should or shouldn’t write, because someone who doesn’t know me, may be coming to this page today, and oh, I want to impress, make new friends, take advantage, and use the opportunity to draw attention to the app. Okay, I want them to like me!

But, as I thought about it some more, I realize more than anything, I don’t want to stifle or censure this avenue of expression for any reason.

So, if you are new to this page, welcome! I won’t always be promoting or marketing, Today's Step. Sometimes I mention the JanJimJam products or I'll try to sell you a few glass baubles! But really most days, I write about my cat or the thoughts I had on an evening walk. Sometimes, I post photos of Ken, or share a story from my day. I really like to share lessons I’ve learned in the years I've practiced the martial arts. Also, I tend to think only about two people read this, so I tend to blather on.

Now, that I've got that cleared up. I hope if you are new to this bloggy type notebook, you'll keep coming back! (where have I heard that before?) And, If you have a smart phone, please go buy the app! Follow us on Twitter, find us on Facebook!

Thank you for the support! And don't worry, chances are tomorrow, I'll write about something else.... like the deer in the yard, or the joy I had this morning, celebrating the birthday of my friend Kathy. And I promise, no hyperlinks for a day or two!



February 15, 2012
It's a big day for Today's Step

Our web site is live and the Android version of our app is now in the Marketplace!

The iphone app should be in review with Apple now and will be available really soon!

So here's a big ask.

Please, if you have an Android phone (or know someone with one) will you please, please, please buy the app and write a 5 star review? Please, pretty please, with sugar on it!

We need these early reviews to make the app appealing to folks just looking at it for the first time and you will be rewarded by: 1. buying a cool app and 2. knowing you are really helping us.

We are enjoying a "soft launch" for now, telling friends, and friends of friends, so as to get some fantastic reviews posted. We'll be coming out with the big celebration and announcement when both the Android and iPhone versions are available.

Right now, I gotta say, I'm very excited, and very proud of this work. I salute Allyson and all of you, with my heart and gratitude.

Don't wait... download Today's Step for the Android NOW!

Thank you!



February 14, 2012
Valentine's Day —  I salute my love.



I’ve known you as Scoop, Little wrangler, and Ken
My Sweetie pie, pumpkin, my husband, my friend.

You’re the voice of my reason, you’re the source of my laugh,       
You stand in the middle, and on my behalf.

A rose may be red, a violet quite blue,
I love you to pieces — I'm off to buy shoes.




February 13, 2012
Writing, writing, writing… and I’ve got bubcus! (well, that word is great!)

It doesn’t seem to matter how many, or how hard, I throw the words onto the page, nothing is sticking today.

I hear perseverance furthers so, I’ll keep slinging. Check in tomorrow!



February 12, 2012
As long as we are going down memory lane.





February 11, 2012
Yes, ma'am, I was a cheerleader in grade 8.



The sad part is I remember thinking I was fat when this photo was taken, because of my thighs.

Little did I know that one day, my big, strong legs would serve me so well.




February 10, 2012
I am not superstitious, but I am a little stitous.

I knock wood at times when I say silly things, and I sure know better than to brag about not getting sick. I think that kind of bragging just opens the door for a cold or the flu to come in and swoop me up — so I don’t mention the fact that I’ve been quite healthy for a while now. Too many times, Braggers Disease has caught me and taken me down.

That being said, I realize that some lessons about bragging I have learned, and others, not so much.

See, I did make the mistake, not too very long ago, of saying I’ve been sleeping well. I credit sleeping qigong, claiming it made a difference and I’ll stand by that, it does. I just shouldn’t have bragged.

Soon after I wrote the post about how good my sleep has been… I started tossing and turning. I'm a little restless and the last few nights I haven’t been sleeping the way I like too.

I blame, bragging about it and I know better! A good nights sleep is a gift, and I should have silently just been grateful.

So, please disregard any previous posts about how great I’m doing, you didn’t hear it from me!

Am I being superstitious here… no, but like I said, I am a little stitous.



February 9, 2012
I went to Bellingham, WA yesterday. I left on the first boat off the island, which means it was still dark outside. It was also raining really hard.

When I got home, I thought, Driving in the Rain would be a great title to a book or song. Of course it’s taken. Paul McCartney has the titled album, and there are already a few books, videos, poems , etc., with Driving in the Rain as the theme. What I came to understand about driving in the rain is I don't like it. It was really hard and yesterday, it took all my concentration. Pure and total focus. I couldn’t even listen to the radio or the audio book I was hoping to finish.



I was looking forward to my time alone on the road. I wanted to formulate some thoughts for a promotional idea I had for Today’s Step, but no. I found all I could do was drive.

Windshield wipers on high, commuters more familiar with the highway flying pass me, big trucks splashing fishtails of water up over our little car, did I mention it was still dark AND there was road construction!

Most people believe they are above average drivers; I put myself in that category. I pay attention when I drive. I love a road trip but, I want someone else behind the wheel, especially when it’s raining. I prefer to drive the 40 km speed limit on Bowen Island on a bright and sunny day. I like singing with the radio; I want to be the only car on the road.

I’ve played the wishing game of, “What car would you have, if you could have any car?” You know, what’s your dream car? My answer has always been the same. If I had the resources to own ANY car, I wouldn’t have a car — I’d have a driver!


PS... the photo was taken last year in the ferry line up - I was not driving and taking photos!



February 8, 2012
Busy day - no time to write. I hope to be back at it tomorrow. In the mean time, enjoy a look - see at Jim's daily posting.




February 7, 2012 (Happy Birthday Sifu)
Check out How a Choir Works!

Scroll down the page a bit to get the video. It's an hour long & totally worth the time.
In my "next" life... I want to be a conductor.




February 6, 2012
May we have a moment of silence.

I find this statement so interesting. What happens when we are asked to observe a moment of silence? What do you do? Where does your mind go? Can you even still your body movements?

I’ve been posing this question and so far I’ve gotten the same answer from everybody I’ve asked.

“Oh, I use the time to pray.”

Maybe, who I’m asking has lot to do with the answer I get, but come on, aren’t there other options?

Is a moment of silence really possible?

I’ve been sorting the clutter in my head for many years now, and granted, it is hard to find silence. It seems when I am asked to take a moment, I have a “go to” place; I observe a ritual, so I’m not silent, but my thoughts are quieter.

Now, I’m asking why, when we “observe” a moment, is there is a tendency to rush in and fill that moment.

I choose not to pray. I used to — as a means to soothe and calm me. I’ve also chanted and certainly, I have rituals and behaviours that can be classified as real deal OCD.

I'm practicing to let go of these old ideas and habits. Good old, Zhan Zhuang and Guanqifa help the most, but silence seems unreachable right now.

Still, I’m curious to see, if and how, I am able to observe a moment of silence. It’s hard, as I continue to fill the silence with habit, ritual or my inner voice.

Lately, I just hold my breath and hope the moment is a short one.



February 5, 2012
When I first starting working with Sam as his office assistant, I remember whining to him that I didn’t have any real skills or talents. With great self pity, I complained that I couldn’t sing, or act, that my tai chi was terrible (yes, terrible), I had a few hobbies, but not skills. I did not feel like I was an expert at anything. At the time, I felt the total lack of ability to be creative.

Sam, turned to me and said, “Jan, you create community.”

He pointed out a truth I could see and accept. I had the skill of bringing people together. I could organize a gathering; a camp or a conference; be it for 200 people or 20. Yes, I knew how to bring people together. I’ve always had that skill, but I took it for granted and honestly I didn’t see it as really worth while, or as a big deal, until that very moment.

Segue

I just finished watching a video with the intent to learn more about using social media as a tool to promote Today’s Step.

Creating the app has been an amazing experience, but it is not a “Field of dreams” type thing. Just because we built it, doesn’t mean the people will come. Allyson and I need to go out and find our audience and the community of people that this app can serve.

In the video by Michele Scissm, she speaks again and again, of the importance of creating community. That the word to focus on in social media is “social.”

Hmmmm….
Now, just because I have this skill, it doesn’t mean I find it easy! What I took for granted years ago, now needs my full focus and attention. I have to admit to being a bit nervous and a tad scared as I go about creating this new community.

Over the years, I've gain many more skills. Today feel I have a lot of talents and am even an expert in some of them. One great skill I have, is the ability to ask for guidance, support and help. All of my skills still need a lot of polishing though, so, excuse me while I practice in public.



February 4, 2012
My horoscope says: You will likely meet new (maybe weird) people today. (Weird can be fun.)

This could be right on. The plan for the day is a film festival, up the street at CINEMA MARIAN. We have three rock operas in the queue. I know for a fact weird people will be involved.

Tommy, The Rocky Horror Show & Jesus Christ Superstar are the flavour of the day for our viewing, dare I say, pleasure?

Every so often, we have a neighbourhood film fest of sorts. We pick a topic, director or particular actor, & go on a spree. The last one was a Monty Python film fest, followed with a ham dinner.

I’m doing my best to not have expectations about today. I’ve seen all these shows several times in the past. I'm pretty sure I was quite stoned each time. I’m not sure any of these movies were made to be seen any other way, but... I'm staying straight today!

I know the words to most all the songs, so I'll sing along. The last time I heard the Rocky Horror Show score was at Erica and Wade’s wedding & it was FANTASTIC!

I remember having a huge crush on Roger Daltrey in Tommy, & Tina Turner as the Acid Queen, is burned into my brain. Jesus Christ Superstar, is not as clear in my memory, except for the song, "I don't know how to love him."

Now, excuse me, I need to make some toast, Rocky Horror Show is on first.



February 3, 2012
Hurry up and wait.

One of my favourite books is Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman. It is a story about the dreams of Albert Einstein for 30 days prior to him releasing his theory of relativity. I read the book years ago & think of it today, especially now, as the app, Today’s Step has been in the “coming soon” stage for what I think is a very long time.

But, time is relative. It was only a year ago, that Allyson and I were walking around a golf course in San Francisco. I remember we stopped to watch as a coyote ran pass us, we took one of those photos with the camera held out at arms length of the two of us, & Today’s Step was conceived. We high fived each other, continued to brain storm, & got to work.



I wrote & wrote, Allyson researched, designed, found the developer & backed the project. Together we are learning about social media, marketing & promotion. We reached out to friends, asking for help & will do a lot more of that as time goes on.

Over the year, time flew AND dragged on. When approaching deadlines; I hardly looked up. Then there were the days that dragged on & on. We had to wait for this or wait for that to happen; & we’d get stuck in the waiting, laughing at our frustration.

It’s all relative. I’ve been bored & boring with this app. Most of the time, it’s been exciting & interesting. Allyson and I work well together. We have created an amazing product; one that will help & inspire others.

Last fall we were hoping for a “end of the year” launch. When that didn’t happen, we thought for sure we would launch in January. Today we say, we will launch when the app is ready.

Last night Ken & I combed the fifth version of the prototype looking for errors or bugs. Allyson studied the Android version.

Oh…. This baby is so very, very close to launching… so very close.

Where did the time go? Why is it taking so long?



February 2. 2012
Remember growing up, the one old lady in the neighbourhood who was probably a witch? The one who would yell at you as kids and say, “Get off my lawn” or “do that again, and I’m calling your mom.”

Well, on Tunstall Blvd. — that woman is me.

Most people know I’m not a real fan of children & yesterday morning, I yelled at the kids waiting for the school bus.

Yup.

A few of the boys (boys are the worse, unless they are 11 - 13 years old, then the girls are), anyway, of few of the boys at the bus stop, started playing a game of chasing after cars that drive by on the road. I’ve watched them do this for a week or two now & when I don’t walk to the O, I leave our house about the same time as the bus comes. If I leave a little early, the boys chase my car.

The first couple of times, I just stopped and stared at them. Pat would say, I gave them the stink eye. Yesterday, I backed up, got out of the car & laid into them.

“You’re just playing with trouble! You hear me! I’ll run your ass over. That better be the last time you kids chase cars!” “I’m calling your mother!”

My heart was racing as I drove off. The kids huddled on the corner. I’m not a big yeller & usually just ignore kids, but this was too much. And as much as I’m not a fan of children, someone was going to get hurt. I don’t want it to be me that does the hurting.

I hit a kid on a bicycle with my car about 20 years ago. It was terrible, really terrible. I made a right turn, just as a kid rode right in front of me off the sidewalk. The kid bounced on the car hood & his bike ended up under my tire. Lucky for us both, he was okay, nothing broken or even bruised, — I was a total wreck.

I had the “right of way” and the kid was at fault as far as not following street rules, but I was the adult & the one in a big car. I was the responsible one, he was just an unaware kid. On that day, we were both very lucky nothing worse came of it.

I really don’t want to experience anything like that again. So, yesterday I shook my fist & yelled at some kids, sealing my reputation as the neighbour witch.



February 1, 2012
Today is the one year anniversary of Linda Bracketts death. I look back a year ago & think, wow, what a fast 365 days, but for her husband Frank, it has probably been a very long year. A lot has changed and nothing has changed, Christmas came & went, so did Valentine's Day, some birthdays & anniversaries were celebrated.

Linda’s birthday was in June. Of course, I thought of her then, as I think of her now. It makes sense that we would think of loved ones on special days & holidays. Of course, out of the blue, on a regular Tuesday, a memory might smack me in the heart when I least expect it. Truth be told, I think of Linda several times a day, still.

A few times this last year, I emailed Frank to ask him to tell me a story about Linda. He would write back with a story that usually ended with, “That’s Linda for you!” These stories helped my grief. Maybe, telling them helped Franks.

Today, I offer up a Linda story.

Linda was my mentor in the late 80s. It was she that suggested I learn some new skills & take the desk-top publishing course at the University of Oregon.

Actually, I was able to work for Sam & Little Productions later because of her guidance & those skills. 

Linda was a business woman. She encouraged me to be professional when answering the phone. She taught me how to filed paperwork & organize schedules. In general, Linda taught me all around, big important, office stuff.

One day she asked me to type something. I started to object, but she would have none of it. I sat in front of the computer. D E A R  S I R S : I began… She told me I needed better posture; to sit up straight, that I should curl my fingers over the keys & look ONLY at the paper being typed; never was I to look at my hands on the keyboard. She also added, that it was important that I typed as fast as possible.

I'm a good student; I did everything she told me to.

It wasn't long before she looked over AGHAST at me — I was hitting the keys with abandon & with a speed that was quite impressive. But, Linda cried, Stop! Stop! Stop!

When I looked up, Linda was laughing so hard she had tears running down her cheeks.

See, I didn't know how to type at the time! (Hell, I barely knew how to read)

Linda did not shame me, instead, through her tears & laughter, she suggested I work on those skills a bit.

Dear sir.... whtod  eohjethwic seh eogjfiue  eotjrgh qodfel fjgour

I remember you Linda.



January 31, 2012
Dare I say it?

On the patio early this morning — it wasn't as dark as it's been.

Is it too early to cheer for Spring?



January 30, 2012
The first time I saw someone do tai chi, I was drunk.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before! I’m cleaning out some stories this morning & this one crossed my mind.

It was in the early 80s, I spent my most of my days on the couch, watching TV & drinking. Most of the time, I paid no attention to what I watched, soap operas, game shows, even the religious shows that offered 800 numbers to call so someone would pray for you. I admit, I called them & would spend as long as they would let me, arguing. I did have a few favourite shows as well. Dallas & Falcon Crest were two evening shows I didn’t miss. Dallas was set in the rich state of Texas with the Ewing family; one big dysfunctional family, I loved it. Falcon Crest was another one. Same idea, but not as grand. I still watched it.

Google tells me, Chao Li Chi played the role of Chao Li, the butler on Falcon Crest. On the show Chao Li had a practice & every once in a while they would show him on the back patio moving in a slow and graceful way. I didn’t know he was doing Tai Chi, I’d never heard of it before, but I was captivated. On one of the episodes, he took, Lance, played by Lorenzo Lamas, the troubled young son of the family, out back & tossed him around. Looking back on it, it was the first time I saw a form of push hands. Incredible!

It might have been the next day or maybe the next week, — but Chao Li Chi showed up on a morning talk show. When I saw Chao Li Chi I stopped channel surfing & turned up the volume. He was talking about this form of exercise that was odd yet, beautiful. He described it as having movements that were round, continuous and slow. I missed the name of the exercise, but those three words stuck with me. Round, continuous and slow.

For two years after I saw that show, I moved around our house slowly & in my opinion, gracefully. I’d make circles with my arms, step lightly, & ask anyone who came over, if they knew what I was doing. No one did.

A year after I sobered up, Ken and I moved to Oregon. The first week of living in Eugene, I saw a poster at a health food store, that said, Learn Tai Chi — it described having movements that were “round, continuous and slow.” I signed up!

My first Tai Chi class, taught by Jim Eisenman changed my life.

When I came home from the class, I had trouble getting up the stairs to our house. Ken asked me what I learned. I raised my arms and lowered them.

He asked why my legs hurt. I said I didn’t know!



January 29, 2012
I read last night that it takes the average person seven minutes to fall asleep. It’s not that I don’t believe it, but it is hard for me to understand the math of the fella who came up with this statement.

Ken did his best to explain it to me, and then said, “Google it!” — of course I don’t really want to know that much about it, but it got me thinking.

My friend Joe falls asleep in a mere 2 seconds after he says good night. (Okay, it’s not really weird that I know this, so move on.) I have always been a bit jealous, & bewildered of his sleeping skills. I tease him, about having no conscience, or no need to "review" his life at the end of his day, but really I admire anyone who sleeps well.

Today, I’d say it’s the rule, not the exception for me to fall asleep in seconds or minutes, rather than the hour, or longer, it used to take. These days, when I turn out the lights, my lights go out as well.

This has not always been the case. I'd say, for most of my life, I've struggled with the sleeping process. After a while, I accepted the fact that I would toss & turn & wait for sleep. I resigned myself to a very restless, physical, & mental routine before sleep took me. I often woke several times in the night & during my menopause, I suffered the hell of insomnia for nearly three years. I could be quite dramatic proclaiming, I would never sleep again.

All that began to change a few years ago, when Jen Resnick taught me some sleeping qigong.

Now, I have an evening ritual/practice that begins an hour or so, before I head off to bed. Then, once I lie down, I do some of the sleeping qigong Jen taught me.

Sometimes we have to look back, to see the progress we make. In the true qigong fashion of effort over time; I've cultivated the “natural” skill of falling asleep. It took a deliberate practice for me & that practice has paid off!

Today I would say I’m a good sleeper.

I salute & thank Jen Resnick. She showed me a way to be a better sleeper. What a gift.



January 28, 2012
Something to reflect on.

In up...



There's down...





January 27, 2012
What to write, what to write? I think about this throughout the entire day. It has been suggested to me more than once that I write a book… or an app! So, when I get an idea, I write it down; when I have the time, I massage it, explore it a bit, & sometimes I post it. More times than not, I leave it for later as something else grabs my focus.

My greatest challenge is the first line. Like stepping into a practice, once that is taken care of the rest seems to come a little easier. Except the middle part of a story is pretty hard & the ending is where I really struggle. But, like a practice, when I’m finished, I feel satisfied and fantastic!

Right now, there are 45 unfinished stories in a folder titled, Not Yet Posted on my desk. I’m not going to count all the slips of paper that litter my office, or tell you about all the ideas in a notebook I carry with me. And we shall never again, speak of all the ideas that got away.

From the outside I could look prolific. From my point of view, at times, I feel scattered. So many words — not enough time… blah, blah, blah.

Truth be told, I have a lot more time than cohesive words, but with my short attention span, I get sidetracked. Still as with any good practice; I come back, continue on, & start again.

Having all these unfinished stories around is a lot like having a full pantry for me. It is comforting in a weird way, knowing if & when I ever really get stuck for something to write about, I can reach into the folder, grab a slip of an idea, & carry on.





January 26, 2012
Last week I was to teach my first class since my 2011 sabbatical ended, but the weather stopped me, so I went in last night.

Sam used to say at the beginning of most of my lessons, “Clear a space.” It was a gentle way of asking me to “empty my cup," so I could receive whatever lesson was coming.

In AA there’s a “set aside prayer” in much the same fashion. We are asked to set aside expectations, old ideas & above all, to set aside what you think you know & become willing to listen & learn. Both instructions are asking us to come ready & willing for the experience. It’s an amazing practice & one I try to adhere to.

Often, I need to clear the room as well as myself, (the room before a class; myself after) but walking into the Anne MacDonald Building last night was good. It was warm & welcoming. I put my purse down in the exact same place as I did last year, stretch & chatted with Colin about his recent trip to Mexico as we warmed up.

We did a little form. Yum… I’ll say it again, the 108 has never let me down. Then we explored the consummate energy of borrowing!

When I got home, Ken asked how it was.

It was great!



January 25, 2012
My friend Deb C. once remarked, “You tai chi people are infinitely fascinated with yourselves.” I knew it was true even before Debbie Leung, remarked in passing that "the upper, left quadrant of her right lung was bothering her a little."

Yesterday at the O, someone told me qigong was just too boring. I’m afraid it was the compassionate smart ass in me that responded with, “Well, make it interesting then, after all it is your life force, you’re working with.”

Now, I know the internal arts are not for everyone. (I say this, but don’t really believe it) Some people prefer running, weightlifting, sitting in a slump, or watching TV. And, I’m not saying do what you find boring, but I'm asking, isn't there something — anything, about what you are doing, especially if you don't like it, that you can make interesting?

No matter what we do, we have the ability to open our minds & bring ourselves to it. Why then is the extreme one of our first stops with any new endeavour? A better question may be, why in the world, do we stay there? All or nothing! What's so interesting about full speed ahead, or totally not going?

Where is the space for Mr. in-between? How do I or anyone else for that matter, train to be interested in something that is just not interesting to us?

Maybe because the extreme is clear & when we reach the edge & stop; it's the obvious place to form an opinion. Hate it, love it. Yes, no. Yin, Yang.

In the yin/yang circle the extreme is a little tiny dot in an ever constant, changing, & moving cycle. The majority of the circle has a lot of space just waiting to be explored. The extreme may be exciting or boring, but it's not sustainable & is really quite limiting.

Morgan Freeman said, “If you aren’t living on the edge, you are taking up too much space.” I like Mr. Freeman, but I prefer to spread out.



January 24, 2012
I'm too busy thinking & writing to post right now. :)



January 23, 2012


I'm very interested in the conversation; but not if you already know what you are going to say.


Am I confusing this site with Facebook again? :)



January 22, 2012
A very well intentioned & dear friend sent Ken an email with a link to a dog on Bowen that needs a home.

Aggggghhhhhhhhh!

We both looked at the photos, read about the pup, waffled on the idea & then Ken said NO. His NO was resounding. I have to agree with him here, but for what I think may be a different reason.

The dogs name was Luger. Not a good dog name for us.

We sing to our dogs. We make up songs with their names. You can’t hear it now, but… Lucy was a fire dog, is a very catchy tune. And, Cricketey - doo — dog, is a real toe tapper.

Luger? Luger? Nope - no song there. No dog for us.

It still isn’t time.



January 21, 2012
In the early eighties I had a job as a graphic artist. My boss was a talented man named Dale, and even though I wasn’t in the least bit qualified for the job, Dale and I worked well together. I admired his ethics and "can do" attitude, and when different jobs came our way he told me to say yes, to any job that crossed our desk. He was very clear, do not turn work down! He told me we can do anything we are asked to do.

He was out of the office one day, when I was presented with a map making project. I was told we would need a stereoscope for the work. I had no idea how to make the job come to life, and I didn't even know what a stereoscope was, but I said, Yes!

When I told Dale about the job, the first thing he said was, “Can’t do it!”
What? What do you mean? Whats with all the we can do anything BS you have been singing. What do you mean, you can’t do this one?

Dale then told me, he only had one eye and was unable to use a stereoscope.
Oh. We handed off that job. We moved on.

I always think I can do anything. I know I can’t do everything, but I am able and strong, I'm not stupid and I'm teachable. For most things, I think more in terms of what I can do instead of what I can’t.

Today, Ken and I test drove a little truck. Most of you know our red Toyota Trecel doubles as a truck, limo, jeep, and town car, but our friend said, he was thinking of selling his truck and asked if we were we interested?

My heart fell a little when I opened the door of the truck, as we were about to head out on a test drive. The little truck is very cool, but it's not an automatic. It has a clutch.

Of course I know how to drive a standard, but…. ever since I wrecked my hamstring years ago, the action of putting in & letting out a clutch with my left leg, is one thing that is really hard for me to do and I tend to say I can't.



January 20, 2012
There’s a saying I can’t remember right now, but I think about almost everyday when I massage my face in the warm up of the morning qigong class. I know I should take the time to research it, look it up, and be able to quote it here, but I’m writing now and am too lazy to confuse this story with accurate quotes.

The quote is something like… Be aware of your attitude, because after 30 — it’s your face.

Yesterday, I left the dentists chair for the fifth time in seven weeks. I needed some long over due work done, so I bit the bullet, so to speak, and took the time and money to have it done.

As I left the chair yesterday, Ken was in the waiting room, waiting for me. When he saw me, he asked, “Are you okay?” I nodded slowly, as drool ran down my chin, and he said, “You should see your face, you don’t look okay.”

His love and concern made me smile a crooked smile, allowing more drool to escape, as he handed me a tissue and my hat.

Segue.

Ken gets regular massages from our friend Kim, when he gets off the table, I usually say, “Wow! You should see you face!”

I’ll just say the obvious. The look on a face, after spending an hour on a massage table is different from the look on a face after an hour in the dentist's chair.

Sometimes, when I catch a glance at myself in a mirror, or a windows reflection, it shocks me when I see my mothers face looking back at me. And yet, there are still those days that I also see the young girl I used to be, shining through.

Most of the time though, I see the reality of my 56 years, and the attitude I carry about my life, on my face.

They say, after enlightenment — the laundry. I say after the dentist — get a massage!



January 19, 2012
Life is short!

I believe the only problems anyone struggles with, is in having too much or too little of something; anything really. One would think the solution is in distribution, but I’m not sure. The more obvious solution might just be our ability to express gratitude for what we do have and not get all worked up around what we don’t. Hanging on and letting go are just two sides of the yin/yang circle and the answer needs to be, Yes!

My teacher Jim Eisenman brought his two young sons to one of my first Tai Chi potlucks. Cody, must have been three or four years old, and I remember him saying to his dad, when Jim was serving up some ice cream, “Give me too much daddy!”

I think I error here — I tend to error on the side of too much.

Ken knows I’m happiest when our pantry is well stocked, when there is plenty of wood stacked up in the shed; we sleep with four or five blankets piled up on top of us, and I have a few pair of shoes, some I never even wear!

Having enough is important to me. Having too much, (even the good stuff, like ice cream) is a stress, yet wanting, for some of us, can be worse.

I know when I am grateful, I can ask for what I need, and I can give what I am able. When I do this, all is right with my world.

Someone asked me, if they can print out one of my posts and use it to remind them of their own growth. Yes, of course! I put words here because they are filling up my head, and if they inspire or help in anyway Yay! Sometimes distribution is the solution.

With words, thoughts, ideas, belongings, money, laughter, and even shoes, I say, error on the side of generosity — and the problems of too much and too little find balance in us all.



January 18, 2012
I’m going to teach a Tai Chi class today!

This will be my first official class in over a year. I’m a little nervous and also excited. It will be so good to touch in with the gang again. Of course I have no lesson plan or expectations, and I plan to count on, the knowledge in my body or what I like to refer to as “checking the manual” as we get into it.

And, lucky for Tai Chi teachers all over the world; we have one incredible and unfailing instruction at the ready no matter what comes up in any class. All we really have to say at any time is “Relax!”

I plan to say “Relax!” as often as necessary tonight, while I dust off my teaching chops.

Relax and Ready…. Go!



January 17, 2012
I struggle with clutter.

Today I had a bit of an epiphany. A great understanding washed over me as I looked at a photo Ken took yesterday and then at the floor by my desk.

On the floor is a jumble of reading material, big fat ideas, and projects that I’m either working on, or thinking about. And out back the trees are covered with the seasons first snow fall.

I spend a lot of time looking out the window and I spend a lot of time in my office.

I struggle with clutter — I think today, I understand why.

   



January 16, 2012
Yesterday I told someone I wasn't interested living in a spiritual life. A bolt of lightening didn’t strike me down, actually I felt good, so I’m going with it. I’m ready for an experiment in focus and direction.

Now, if I don’t want to explore a spiritual life, what type of life am I left with? A physical one? How about an emotional life, an intellectual one, or artistic, creative, selfish, generous, interesting, musical or scholarly life? How about one I don't know about yet?

I have the great fortune to know that I choose how I live. I haven’t always had that knowledge and ended up with a few mindsets that did not serve me well.

Over the years, I’ve learned that to be comfortable in my own skin, I needed to practice standing in it. I had to look inside myself and be honest. I have peeled the layers of my life  like an onion looking inside, getting to my core, and, just as if I was working with an onion, at times I cried, but more so I added great flavour to my life.

Today, I don’t feel the need to be so gentle as to peel layers again. My core is strong enough that I’m ready to get a knife and cut right in.

Sam gave me the advice to burn down my form; tear away what I know, every seven years or so. That by doing so, the foundation I’ve built with practice, will be revealed. What is strong will survive the fire, nothing of value will disappear in the smoke.

I’m ready to torch some old ideas and expectations. I’m curious to see what will be left standing.

Ready Jan? Go!



January 15, 2012
It started snowing yesterday. Around two in the afternoon, I looked outside; the sun was shining bright in the backyard, and big fat flakes of snow were falling, slowly, and gently down in the front yard. This morning all the trees are covered with a dusting of power sugar like snow.

Usually when it snows, I whine and growl and stamp my feet, exclaiming, "I live in southern Canada; not the frozen north!" I signed up for rain, not snow!

But, today, I have to say, its real pretty and I’m enjoying the view.

This is the first time in years, I’m not growling at the snow. I’m warm, Ken has a nice fire going, I have a great book, and we don’t need to go anywhere.

Perhaps I could live in McBride.



January 14, 2012 (Happy Birthday Laura!)
I was handed a childrens book to read. My first thought was, “Oh joy.”
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, hooked me on the first page. On page 26, I read the best written page ever!

Without giving much away, yet setting the scene for you, our hero Milo is on a bit of a journey. He is heading for Dictionopolis, and as he passes through Expectations, he lands in the Doldrums where the Lethargarians hang out.

When Milo asks what they do in the Doldrums each day a schedule is put forth. A schedule I read 4 times and twice out loud to Ken. A schedule I could live with!

“There’s lots to do; we have a very busy schedule——
“At 8 o’clock we get up, then we spend
“From 8 to 9 day dreaming.
“From 9 to 9:30 we take our early midmorning nap.
“From 9:30 to 10:30 we dawdle and delay.
“From 10:30 to 11:30 we take our late early morning nap.
“From 11 to 12:00 we bide our time and then eat lunch.
“From 1:00 to 2:00 we linger and loiter.
“From 2:00 to 2:30 we take our early afternoon nap.
“From 2:30 to 3:30 we put off tomorrow what we could have done today.
“From 3:30 to 4:00 we take our early late afternoon nap.
“From 4:00 to 5:00 we loaf and lounge until dinner.
“From 6:00 to 7:00 we dillydally.
“From 7:00 to 8:00 we take our early evening nap, and then for an hour before we go to bed at 9:00 we waste time.
“As you can see, that leaves almost no time for brooding, lagging, plodding, or procrastinating, and if we stopped to think or laugh, we’d never get anything done.”


I really want to finish this book, but first I’m going to dawdle and delay!



January 13, 2012
My niece has a blog. I’m known to copy good ideas. I love filling out forms and questionnaires. So, I am going to copy Kayleen. She answered an on-line survey about 2011. I’m going to do the same.

Survey says….

What did you do in 2011 that you'd never done before?
Zip trekking, wrote an app, went to an after hours jazz club in NYC.

Did you keep your New Year's resolutions?
No. But, this year…

Did anyone close to you give birth?
My nephew and his wife gave birth to Tyler. Noah and Rachel brought in Dillon.

Did anyone close to you die?
Linda Bracket, Doug Mitchell, and Cricket

What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
Can’t say I lacked anything in 2011.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Writing Today’s Step. And when it launches, it will probably be my biggest achievement in 2012.

What was your biggest failure?
I put on a few pounds.... again.

Did you suffer illness or injury?
Knock wood - no.

What was the best thing you bought?
An electric mattress pad.

Whose behavior merited celebration?
In no particular order and for no partiicular reason, I just like to cheer for Allyson Appen, Ken Parker, Marian Bantjes, Sandie Moss and Tyler Ruggles.

Whose behavior disappointed you?
My dad when he brought his wife back home from the nursing home after only 10 days.

Where did most of your money go?
New York, New York! It’s a wonderful town!

What song will always remind you of 2011?
Hasa Diga Eebowai

Compared to this time last year, are you: Happier or Sadder? Thinner or Fatter? Richer or Poorer?
Happier
Fatter
Richer

What do you wish you'd done more of?
Working out at the gym and reading novels on the patio.

What do you wish you'd done less of?
Watching TV and eating snacks

Did you fall in love in 2011?
I stayed in love.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
No, I don't think I hate anyone, and I also believe I hold less resentment.

What was the best book you read?
I read a lot of great books in 2011.
In the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts by Gabor Maté, is still on my mind and The Family Fink was really fun, but I don’t remember who wrote it.

What was your greatest musical (re)discovery?
Broadway!

What did you want and get?
Straight hair, twice!

What did you want and not get?
Fancy black boots.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 56 and Marian took me to have my toes painted.

What one thing would have made the year immeasurably more satisfying?
Selling Today’s Step!

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?
Please… I’ve worn the same clothes most all my life. Give me a long sleeve turtle neck, jeans, and some Keens size 6.5, and I'm pretty happy.

What political issue stirred you the most?
Stupid Bowen Island local politics.

Who did you miss?
I really miss Cricket.

Who was the best new person you met?
I’ve known her for a few years now, but Marian and I became much closer friends.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011:
Don’t tell people about your big fat ideas, unless you want them to come true.



January 12, 2012
I wish you could see who is making us smile!



Okay, it is Hansoo and his mum.



January 11, 2012
My horoscope said to take advice from my female family members today.

Of course my first thought was I don’t have any female family members! Mom is dead and I’ve never had sisters.

Then… I had to expand my thinking. I do have a mother-in-law, two sister-in-laws, and I have Aunties and cousins as well, and there is my dad's wife, but……

We all have a family of origin, and the family we marry into, and then there is my favourite “family” — my family of choice.

I will say, the female family members I have chosen are awesome, intelligent and wise. So, dear horoscope, yes, I will listen to and take advice from all the wise and wonderful women in my family.

Does that mean, I’ll only take advice from folks who love me and are on my side?
Of course it does!

Go where you are celebrated!



January 10, 2012
I don't like to use the word "but", I prefer to say, "and". But...

Yesterday I had planned to go to town to hear Gabor Maté speak. I was really looking forward to the talk and even worked out the details of being able to make the last ferry home as long as I rushed a bit, or left the talk a tad early. I’m glad I found out the talk was sold out before I left the island. The ad said, tickets were offered at Banyon Books AND at the door. I was counting on the “at the door” option. Dang it. Mixed blessing… I didn’t go to town but, I didn’t get to hear Dr. Maté speak.

I was up this morning early and the full moon was shining through the windows. I had to stand on the back deck instead of the patio to soaked it in. It’s a weird feeling to enjoy morning moon energy. I’m grateful for our home and still, I would like to live in a place where we could watch the moon rise or see it at night. Morning moon is lovely but it doesn’t last very long.

An email from Andrighetti Glass showed up in my inbox yesterday offering glass bead workshops. hmmmmm…thinking, thinking…. Joanne Andrighetti is a wonderful teacher but, her classes are in town.

Ken says, I can have anything I want, I just can’t have everything I want.

Whatever.



January 9, 2012
Today I start singing lessons again.

I took a break from the lessons last year to save up for NYC, and I am ready to start up again. Ken says  he can tell a difference in my voice as I sing around the house when I take lessons.

Of course practice makes easier, and lessons with Lynn are amazing lessons. For the most part I don’t get to sing a song. For a very long 30 minutes, I make funny shapes with my mouth, and sing mee, mee, mee, and loo, loo, loo in a much higher range than I am comfortable with.

Lessons with Lynn are hard and humble me. There is also a lot of emphasis on preforming with Lynn, and maybe because she has a classical background, or because she is the minister of music at the United Church, a lot of what’s sung is god music.

I missed the lessons this last year but mostly I missed seeing Lynn on a regular basis. I really like her. We spend some time catching up on each others life, before I start the pucker shapes with my mouth and “yuuuuu, knewwww, suuuuu.” She says I pronounce the word “knew” all wrong. I smile… and try again with really puckered lips, then she shakes her head and moves on with the same frustration I’ve seen with Sam when he says, “Yeah, let’s try something else.” I practice saying, “knew, knew, knew” on the way home. I hear no difference and have no clue what she really wants.

Since I decided to go back to singing lessons, I’ve created quite the list of what I will and won’t do as a student of the Penrhyn Singing Academy. Then, I proudly whittled it down to just two, won’t dos. I’ve decided to tell Lynn as I begin my lessons again about these demands. #1. No concerts #2. No god music. After all, I’m quite special and should be able to dictated what I want out of a lesson.

As I started writing this post, especially the last paragraph, I had to laugh. If I had a student come to me, the way I was planning to go to Lynn today, with my list of will and wont’s… I’d boot them out.

My lesson — show up, trust my teacher, keep an open mind, make funny faces, and find my centre. I know when I do that, I learn, progress and grow.

My boundaries will appear, and it's the role of any good teacher to push them.



January 8, 2012
Our hearts are with Tyler and Ross as they grieve Jack.



Life without Dog is hard.



January 7, 2012
Three truths.

I am 20,686 days old today.
10,416 of those days I’ve been married to Ken Parker.
I've lived more than half of my life very, very well.



January 6, 2012
Two truths and a lie continued.

What we really spent our Christmas money on…
A waffle maker
Painful dental work
A pair of fancy black boots



January 5, 2012
Two truths and a lie, or is it, two lies and a truth?

I’ll be spending Christmas money on…
An iPhone
A green house
A pair of fancy black boots



January 4, 2012
Marian took this photo a few years ago while on safari in Africa.
Seems all I want to do is stare at this beauty.





January 3, 2012
This morning I read an interesting article about the value of quiet time — stillness. It’s a bit ironic that I read the article on the internet, as the main point of the article was that, “screen time” is the big distraction of our lives. It goes on to say how some companies are paying big money to have special software installed that turns off the internet for a period of time each day, so their workers can have a bit of time to sit and think!

Meditation is one thing, finding time to sit and think is another. I get it.

One of my favourite things to do is look the window. Most days, I sit on the porch, or stand on the patio. Sometimes I practice, but lately, as I sit or stand, I think. I'm not avoiding my thoughts, I'm encouraging them.

It may sound weird, but before this last year, I’m not sure I ever made time in my day to just think.

I move in meditation, read, take walks, share ideas… but sit and think? Before this last year, I would get a big fat idea, talk about it for a minute, then let go, and move on to the next shinny thing without allowing anything to fully develop. 

People in AA told me my best thinking got me there, they say, “Don't think.” Today, I think that is stupid advice! I believe if I had spent a little time in thought, things may have gone down a different road. Who knows?

A lot of what I practice is a practice of being present — in the moment — the moment passes, I try to let go, move on, not linger.

This last year, I have allowed thoughts in, and kept them. I massaged them, built on them, and let them change and grow. This has been different from chewing on a resentment, or a worry, or even letting go.

I have been exploring my thinking process.

I am easily distracted and impulsive. I watch too much TV, I spend too much time on the computer and the internet, I listen to music, and a lot of time I have a podcast or a talking book going in my ear. I do a lot without thinking.

Today, I’m looking for some time to think.



January 2, 2012
Once you know something — it’s hard not know it. Today, I knew I had to walk away from something that I use to enjoy.

I follow a few bloggers. Penelope Trunk was one of my favourites. She usually gives career advice and offers ideas on start up businesses. She’s a straight talker that blurs the lines of her personal and professional life, and that is one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed reading her work over the years.

Penelope has two sons, lives on a farm in Wisconsin, and calls her husband “the farmer.” Lately, Penelope has been taking about how the farmer yells at her. He has pushed her, and punched her as well. She then explains how she has Asperger's syndrome and is not easy to live with, says, she provokes him. Last week, she posted photos of some bruises, she said he gave her.

Today, she posted, that in spite of the 600 + comments she received from followers offering help, options, and pleading with her to leave, she is choosing to stay with the farmer. She said she doesn’t understand the “zero violence tolerated” stance so many of her fans are taking.

I hit un-subscribe.

I’m all about telling our stories. I like hearing other peoples tell theirs. I believe everyone is a teacher. Some teach us what not to do. I understand everyone is different, and that we all draw personal lines in the sands of acceptable behaviour. Penelope drew hers, I drew mine a while ago.

I don’t watch cruel shows or read violent stories or hang with angry people. I work on having the wisdom to know what I can and cannot change in my world. I am not interested in being a voyeur into a dysfunctional life.

In this case, I knew when to walk away.



January 1, 2012
I chose "Take the Step" as my motto this year. I want it to give me courage to go forward to do things that at first may be uncomfortable.

And yet, as the year and day begin, I think the real motto is, "Open your eyes! Love and friends are everywhere!"






December 31, 2011
I am tying up loose ends today. You know the drill. Change the calendar, transfer important dates, like birthdays and anniversaries. Getting ready for the new.

Truth be told - I want 2011 to continue. I liked it and I tend to hang on to things I like.

I’ve decided to keep up the practice of daily blogging for now. My web guy, Hansoo is coming for a social visit next week. I plan to sneak in a business conversation and ask him about adding a comments button. It would help make this site a bit more interactive.

I appreciate the email and notes I get in response to some of these posts, still it could be fun to share what others share. Then again, the truth of this blog will get out and I will have to accept the fact that only 4 or 5 people actually read this everyday. Okay, maybe 6 or 7 - ten, twenty max!

Which brings me to the point of this blog. I don’t do it for you! There I said it.

I am all about practice in life and this blog is one of my favourite practices right now. Tai Chi, glass bead making, quilting, sobriety, serenity… all personal practices and all just for me.

Can you see me tenting my fingers in joy? BwaaaHaaaHaaaaa!

It isn’t that I’m so selfish, not really! I just understand that the things I do with the intent to grow, or gain skill, well, they take practice. I’m not a natural or a quick study.

Side note: The above paragraph took well over 30 minutes and started with more than 70 words, has been down to 23 words and is back up to 36. I’m still not sure about the punctuation! I have been working on this entire post for more than 90 minutes already.

Writing is a real time suck practice, so I have to do it for myself. After all, I am spending my life force at a keyboard by choice.

Several years ago, I said I wanted to be a writer. Writers write. So, I will continue this practice, the same way I continue playing tai chi or standing on the patio.

I love you to pieces — and still, I will practice with or without you.

Happy New Year!



December 30, 2011
Let me 'splain.

[pause]

No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

2011 - My sabbatical.

As the year comes to an end, I really feel it. Actually I'm a little sad. I didn’t do everything that I hoped to, I did a lot that surprised me. I loved this last year and want more! I am grateful and I love my life.

I experienced great joy and deep grief. I was mad, sad, and glad this last year.

My friend Linda Bracket died and I miss her. I think of her husband Frank very often and drop him notes. I’m grateful he writes back. Losing our dog Cricket was a real kick in the gut. We don’t want another dog in our life, but wow do we miss her. There is a huge gap and unevenness in the household. Walks just don’t hold the same joy.

Sandie's brother Dale, and Joni's husband, Vince and her daughter, Zoe also died. Jim and heather lost their cat Leah. Anna lost her dog and cat on the same day. Not everyone who went through the O made it either. I remember Jennifer, Doug and Leah in particular and call out their names. Addiction is hell.

Some really great things happened as well.

We had a party for Ken, who turned 65 and his "old age pension" kicked in.

I read more in the last 12 months than I ever have before. I spent a lot of time on the patio just sitting and standing. I walked a lot, with friends and by myself.

I met my step-brother John for the first time.

I can’t say I learned to cook, but I do cook more often. I can bake a salmon and a ham, roast a chicken, toss a salad and I even made a coconut cake from scratch. I didn’t set the pot holders on fire more than three times, and the smoke detector only went off twice!

I did not “get in shape” like I wanted to. Unless we accept round as a shape. The gym still holds power over me and I won’t give in. Sugar... sugar and I battle. I continue to battle addiction. I win some — lose some. Booze, eating well, cigarettes, sugar, exercise….all friggen constant battles.

I did not teach any tai chi. I crossed arms a few times with folks and it felt good. I horned in on one of Art Baner's classes, dropped into North Van only twice. I continue at the Orchard for morning qigong and am grateful for the opportunity to start each day with addicts.

I did not sell or sort any more of my mom's hoard.

I did spin wool, made several felt scarfs, and lots of glass beads. I tried unsuccessfully to sew clothes. I finish two quilts, and quit working on a third when I realized I really didn’t like it. I also gave myself the great gift of quitting books when I didn’t like them either. (Maybe that is why I tend to quit the gym again and again… I don’t like it.)

I traveled more than I thought I would — went to NYC, Berkeley, Seattle, Whistler, Quadra Island, Victoria and Watch Lake. All for fun… well, that California trip…. Okay, Fun!

I shot golfs, saw Time Square and 12 Broadway shows. I went zip trekking, held a baby, ate at 5 star restaurants, saw a bear, had my nails painted fancy colours, got my hair straighten twice, bought red shoes, and I sat in front of this computer for more hours than I ever imagined I would or could.

I wrote an app called Today’s Step.

This next year I will do the work needed to sell it.

My motto for 2011 was “Always and Never the Same”. It served me well and gave me the freedom to change or not. I’ve chosen “Take the Step” for 2012. 

I am as frighten of the success this app could bring, as I am of the possible failure that could come, when Today’s Step is released on the market.

Overall, 2011 was good. My purpose in taking a sabbatical was to look out other windows in my life. I did. I like what I saw. I’m going to keep looking.




December 29, 2011
Ten days ago, my father put his wife of 44 years into a “home”. My step-mother Maureen has serious dementia and my father was struggling with her care. Now, as far as I’ve ever seen, dad has always taken care of her. Since they married, dad has been chief cook and bottle washer at their house. He has always been the one who did all the household chores. Of course, during the last 4 years, he's had to accelerate the level of her care.

Maureen doesn’t know where she is, who she is with; she has lost the ability to speak, feed or clean herself now. She can not keep herself safe. Dad has been “doing it all”.

Just before Christmas, dad surrendered. He accepted the fact that he needed help. The stress was too much. He could not keep up the care and was happy there was a place near by that could take her.

I called my dad last night to check in and see how he was doing. He told me he brought Maureen back home yesterday. Said, she didn't like it there, wasn’t happy and that they weren’t doing a good enough job of caring for her.

After 44 years, I’m not sure who needs whom more.



December 28, 2011
It is only 7 a.m. as I write this, and already I’ve had both an insight and a wonder today.

The wonder:
There were a few stars in the sky as I stood in my practice spot this morning. As I settled in, I heard a tree come down. It was too dark outside for me to see where it fell.

For me, the sound of a tree falling is like hearing a secret.

Our neighbour has several alder trees lining her driveway, that will come down soon. The trees are tall, old, and leaning. One of them leans towards the road and toward the other neighbours house, another tree leans towards our yard. I don’t think the second one will do much damage, except to the fence, when it falls, but, there is no doubt about the first one. It will probably hit the house across the street. We have asked her to get them taken down, but she refuses as she like the "ambiance of her driveway".

I watch the trees sway and lean ever more in the wind. I know the crash will come and I wonder when.

The insight:
I got a new coffee cup for Christmas, but it is too much of a change for me. I have a favourite cup that I like better. As much as I appreciate the new, today, I’m sticking with the familiar.



December 27, 2011
What did you get for Christmas? I admit sometimes, my Christmas karma is not as good as I think it should be. It is a time for giving after all, and I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but my secret Santa didn’t show up at one party and I felt like a 5 year old abandoned and sad. A little guanqifa and I’m over it… especially because, I scored big this year. And even better, the presents I got were total surprises. Even the pair of fancy red shoes I bought for myself were a bit of a surprise. Joy! Joy!

Besides the many sweet treats that arrived by folks stopping by; Marian gave me a really big, beautiful, double sided, fun fur blanket that she made. It is amazing and perfect for snuggling under. So soft and warm; Ken and I both fit under it and the bonus is, I can pet it. Peet is a little jealous.

Art Baner surprised me with a beautiful glass Witches Ball he found on a trip to Arizona. It hangs in our kitchen, keeping trouble out, and catching our smiles.

The best present came from Ken of course. Ken gave me coupons for 10 minute foot rubs! I didn’t count how many, but I know, I’ll have a very happy yongquan for most all of 2012.

The post office opens again today, I’m hoping for, but not expecting a few more treats. Canada Post has a way of extending our holiday joy by being in no hurry to deliver anything.

Thank you for the gatherings, cards and cookies, concerts, dinners, goodies, and love. I’m getting ready for new years now, but first I’m going under the blanket and getting my feet rubbed!



December 26, 2011
I'm pretty sure they call it Boxing Day, because you need to stay in the ring for another round of eating.

Our table is full of sugary treats and we weren't even here for Christmas! Of course we could put them away or better yet, give the sweet treats away, but.... Chocolate covered oreos, bite size meringues, and a box of mixed chocolate candy is just too tempting.

Lucky for me, some of the chocolate is booze filled and I've learned the hard way, not to just pop any pretty thing in my mouth without at least asking. So, I don't have carte blanche here. Whew... but poor Ken will have to "suffer" though and save me from myself!

It is good to be home. I'm happy for the routine, ritual of a Monday, knowing full well, we are in round two of holiday joy and excess.

Happy Boxing Day, I hope we don't give ourselves too big a beating!



December 25, 2011
The folks at Storypeople say it best. Here's the Story of the Day:

Rules for a successful holiday: 1. Get together with the family 2. Relive old times 3. Get out before it blows.

Now, I know most of us LOVE our families and really enjoy spending time with them. The visit we just had in Seattle with some of Ken’s family was just that kind of visit. Wonderful. I’m glad we came down for it.

Ken and his brother Ron told stories of growing up on the ranch in South Dakota and played “remember when” a lot. Funny stories and great memories! My sister-in-law Kathy is a cook extraordinaire, and there was ham, pie, cookies, pot roast, brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes, and... and... and. We left before the “big” Christmas day meal. Our niece Jen and nephew Jeff, are calm and joyful new parents with 23 days of experience with little Tyler. Their house was warm and comfy. Venus and Pico are sweet and friendly dogs that fed the fix, Ken and I needed.

I held Tyler quite a bit, especially whens he was sleeping. I was good at handing him off to either his mom or dad, when he got a little wiggly. I could tell the moments right before hunger or poop hit. Although he did fart a lot, his thick diapers gave me a false sense of safety. Denial is a blessing and being able to hand off is the best!

I like the title of Great Auntie Jan. Grand parents may be Grand, but this auntie and uncle are officially Great!

Merry Christmas everyone. We're heading home.




December 24, 2011
I want to write Merry Christmas and tell you about being with a three generations of Parkers, and I will. But today, my love and thoughts are with my best friend Sandie, her sister Laura, and brother Scott as they grieve the death of their brother Dale.

My heart is with you.




December 23, 2011
I can honestly say George Bush and I have NOTHING in common. Absolutely nothing! I still feel that way, but this photo has me thinking... we might hold a baby the same way.





December 22, 2011
Christmas cookies! Gotta love them. I don’t make them, but it sure is fun to eat them and receive them. Usually a week before the holidays begin, I wonder why we don’t have anything sweet to eat in the house and then a few days in, I wonder what the heck we will do with all the sugary goodness on the table!

Last night I got to “help” my friend Marian decorate cookies. You know, the almost short bread like, sugar cookie, cut out in fancy shapes, covered with sprinkles and those silver, teeth breaking balls.

If you don’t know the work of Marian Bantjes, click on her name and browse some of her work, it's incredible. I have the great, good fortune to be her friend. I am also awestruck and delighted at her creative and brilliant mind.

I don’t know why I thought decorating Christmas cookies with Marian would be somewhat similar to my childhood memories of decorating cookies. We use to slop frosting on the cookie and then place them face down in a plate of sprinkles and call it good. Then we would just eat them. Yay! Christmas!

Last night I “helped” but mostly, watched Marian, as she created one masterpiece after another. Picking up one sprinkle at a time, or pouring a thin row just so, as beautiful cookie after beautiful cookie emerged. It was a joy!

Watching someone excel at what they do, brings such pleasure to others. It reminds me not to hide our creative process. Share your work, share your joy and above all, share your cookies.



Practice in public!



December 21, 2011
A true story.

Love -
The first time I went on a 12 step call, I arrived at the basement apartment where Doris and Clare lived. I never did meet Clare, it was Doris who called the central office of AA for help. My name was on a list and the folks at central office, called me.

I let myself in and found Doris huddled under a blanket. Empty bottles were scattered on the floor, the place was a mess. Doris was a mess. At first I had no idea what to say to Doris, I was almost as frighten as she was, but I started talking; rambling really. I heard myself tell Doris that there was a way out, that she could live a different way, that there were steps to take and that if she wanted it, she could live a sober and productive life. Doris, shook her head. “No, nothing would help, there was no answer, thanks for coming, but no, the phone call had been a mistake.” Doris sunk deeper into her despair. I rose to leave and before I turned, I looked at Doris and said, “Doris, no matter what you do, I love you.”

I will never forget her expression that night when she heard those words. It was as if a light washed over her. She reached out. “I need help. What’s next?”

Love - it has the power to change everything.



December 20, 2011
Please know - I will be cussing today. I’m writing about my glasses. Or as I like to call them, my goddamn fucking glasses.

I remember exactly when my eyes went out on me. I was in the van and we were driving across the country filming Tai Chi People. Sam was driving and Ali Bacon and I were doing our best to figure out the map. It seemed that in an instant, my eyes betrayed me. One moment I could see the little red lines on the map and read the street names, and in the next moment — nothing. Everything went blurry. I wondered how the lighting in the moving van got so bad, so fast. I looked up — no problem, I could see far away still, but anything within my arms reach was now in jeopardy. How the type got so small so fast was a real puzzle. Menus were now a problem, books became impossible to read. Today I have to wear the damn things to see what I’m eating.

That was over 10 years ago and I've had a real adventure with fucking glasses ever since. At first I got a bunch at the dollar store and kept them every where around the house, even in the car. I went through a stage of wearing them on a chain around my neck, or in a pin on my shirt. Now I just wear the damn things on my head, or carry them in my hand at the ready. My favourite, of course is letting the stupid things hang low on my nose, and I look up over them at the world.

I also find them hard to hang on to. I admit, it wasn’t long ago, I walked around the house wondering where my fucking glasses were. Ken pointed out that, I had one pair on my head, one tucked into my collar, and I was holding a pair. Okay, that one time it might not have been my eyes that were going.

Yesterday, the glasses I’ve had for a while finally broke on only the 200th time they fell off my head. Now, I’m wearing a pair that are okay… but I may I need to go up another number on the stupid reader scale. 1.50, no good. It’s time for 2.00 or dare I admit I need 2.50. Shit!

It would be different if I needed glasses all the time for everything. Ken puts his glasses on when he wakes up and takes them off when he goes to sleep. (He cusses them too though) But at least I could wear them all the time, and be done with it all. I’m sure I’d still cuss, (I have a terrible potty mouth, glasses or no.)

I’m grateful I can see anything that is far away from me, but the stuff in front of my nose. Fuck!

I guess needed to get that off my chest.



December 19, 2011
sigh....



December 18, 2011
This is a photo of the folks that made up the “Mini Circle”. They started the study group that soon became known as the Roughriders.

It’s fun looking back.
Some of us will gather again on January 14th.
Always and Never the Same.

One thing I know for sure —

Tai Chi people, wear funny hats and it will be good to see everyone again.





December 17, 2011
My father is putting his wife of 44 years into a home today.

Life begins anew.



December 16, 2011
I started my day sitting, on the porch, in the dark this morning, listening to a book. I sit often on the rocking chair my step-father, Jack made for my mother. He made it specially for her, so that she could sit comfortably, and have her feet touch the ground. Mom was short and struggled with chairs that were too high for her comfort.

Ironically, I was listening to the final chapters of The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin in this, low to the ground, chair.

Mom was short, but not near as short as Mercy Lavinia “Vinnie” Bump, who was only two-foot eight-inches tall. Miss Bump was smart, interesting, and as independent and strong willed, as any woman could be at the time.

She traveled around the world, and had opportunity to meet such famous people as Abraham Lincoln, Queen Victoria, and Brigham Young. She was also, a side show spectacle, and friend of P. T. Barnum. An educated lady with class, she would identify herself more as an entertainer, than a spectacle, and she carried herself with great dignity. She separated herself from the sword swallowers, bearded ladies and other “oddities” she traveled with in Barnum's circus. She married General Tom Thumb in what was called the wedding of the century.

You know, that's what they said about Catherine and Williams wedding this year. Wedding of the century indeed!

I have to say, after reading the story of Mrs. Tom Thumb, I'm not sure we've learned much about the difference between spectacle and entertainment.

This was a great read.



December 15, 2011
I’m a fan of art work. Our walls are covered with work by many famous and favourite artists. Most of the art on our walls was created by people we know. Some of the art belongs to Sandie, but I'm pretty sure she has forgotten! ☺

We have art work by Darryla Green, Kim Kasasian, Nancy Walker, Laura Stocker, Chukki Mains, and Jeff Potter, as well as, Jerome Martinez, and Marian Bantjes. I'm not just fancy name dropping for any reason, other than to say, the art we hang on our walls has meaning and is personal.

I feel we hold a little of our friends heart in our home, when we show their work. In my office, is a painting by Anne Moon. Every time I look at it, I think of her. The same goes for my mothers quilts that hang in the Orange room, when I see them, I remember. When I look at the piece Marian did just for me, I am filled with gratitude for having such a good friend in my life.

Artwork sets a mood. Creating art is usually done for the process and for the artist. Selling it, sharing it, or giving it away is an example of letting go and hanging on! True balance.

I feel a sense of joy when I notice someone is wearing a glass bead I made, or when I visit a friend and see a quilt I made spread out on their bed.

The painting I have from Jeff Potter, was painted when we both were in High School, my brother Art, gave it to me as a present. The painting in the kitchen of Vinalhaven, Maine reminds me of the weekend Chukki and I “got away from it all.” My father has begun to pass on some of the artwork of Jerome Martinez to me. That work hung in his home for years, and now hangs in ours.



I’m not sure where this post is going — except this morning, I saw this photo by Ansel Adams, and it hit me in the heart. So, thank you to the people who are brave enough to express, and share a moment in time; a piece of themselves when they create. To me it doesn’t matter whether it is with paint, or fabric, on film, or with words.

Our home is full of the love and expression of creative friends. And, no matter how full our walls and house may seem, artwork moves us. Keep it coming!



December 14, 2011
A Cherokee Legend
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil — he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good — he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you — and inside every other person, too."
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"
The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."
.....

I’ve started to think about my 2012 motto. Ken and I started having a motto, years ago for fun. We took them lightly at first, but over the years, they have come to prove profound.

So, the Cherokee Legend is for me, food for thought. I wonder what I will feed?



December 13, 2011
There are only a few more "official" weeks left on my sabbatical.

It has been an interesting year, certainly not what I thought, or what I expected. But then again life never is, if we pay attention.

I’ll work on a “what I did on my year long sabbatical” piece soon and post it here. This notebook/ blog/ diary has been a great vehicle for me.  Expressing what I'm doing or thinking here in short story, photos, or the odd, I forgot to post, post has be fun. That being said, I don’t know if I will continue posting daily here in 2012.

The Today’s Step app will be getting a lot of my attention. Allyson and I have plans for a newsletter, web page, Facebook, and Twitter feed, as well as YouTube videos, to promote the app. We want A LOT of people to buy it, use it and talk about it. I think that will involved some serious postings. So I ask, how much is enough? (such a dilemma for an addict, eh?)

I do like the freedom of being able to post different topics each day. I don't think many people really read this, and I mean how interesting is it to read about a truck splashing me with mud on the road, or that I baked a ham? I love it when someone writes me an email and says, “I liked what you wrote." But really, this notebook with me writing about what happen on a morning walk is pretty egotistical.

I will say, this notebook; bloggie thing, has been a great personal practice. Maybe it will come out in another format. It has been suggested that I post on a blog type site like Word Press. They say more people will read it, and folks can comment with a click, or a conversation might break out. Truthfully, I'd rather that happen with Today's Step. 

I like that folks come to my web site. I like that I can call out and salute people in my life. I like that this story has taken me close to 3 hours (already) to "whip out".

Maybe, I'll keep up the daily posting, maybe not. Time will tell.

I will say this practice has allowed me to look out a different window for sure. I've enjoyed the reflection and the view.



December 12, 2011
The Vancouver Men’s Choir Concert!
My friend Rosie gets tickets for us every year. If I hold any holiday traditions, this one I really enjoy.

I’m guessing there are over 50 men singing in this choir. They memorize all of the pieces and there is choreography too boot. It is so much fun. What I enjoy most about this holiday concert is the content of songs. They sing winter songs and sing a-long Christmas carols. And even though the performance is held in a church, there aren’t any “glory to god” songs. More like, Frosty the Snowman and Jingle Bells type songs. (If I’m wrong, they aren't the focus and the arrangements performed are so much fun to watch, I actually can by-pass the words.)

By-passing the words. Okay, here we go. I just opened my own can of worms.

I’ve had this conversation a few times this week, as it is concert season, and I used to sing with a choir. I stopped singing for several reasons, the main one being a schedule conflict, but as much as singing challenged my comfort zone, vocal wise, the really hard part for me, was raising my voice in praise of something I didn’t believe in. When I voiced my concerns I was told to “not worry about it," just don’t think about the words and focus on the notes or “beauty of the song”.

I tried, but finally came to realize I didn’t like it, and didn’t want to. I think what we say matters. What we speak and sing about makes a difference and has an effect on us.

In one of Art Baner’s Qigong classes, he challenged us to walk around with bad posture, repeating something like, “I feel terrible, blue and worthless,” for 30 days in a row. Of course no one was willing to do that!

Now, I can complain as much or more than the next guy; we all slip up at times and say things we don’t believe in or mean. But certainly not as a mindful practice! And if we did, I’m guessing and so is Art, that in 30 days, you would speak your world into existence and you probably would feel terrible. I think we know the opposite to be true too. Welcome the world with a smile and joy, and it won’t be long before you are having joyful days and feeling pretty good.

How many of us would gladly sing a rap song, exploiting rape and killing? Why not? The beat could be fun to bounce or dance to, the rhythm of the song could be catchy. Would you sing it? Would you sing it in public? Would it matter to you if you were asked to “not worry about the words.” Would you even play some of the gangster songs that are on the street now, if you found them to be offensive? As strange as it may sound, I am accepting the fact that some religious church music is uncomfortable to me and I’m not willing to “by-pass” the words.

What we say matters, what we sing, what we think… matters. It isn’t always easy — but day by day, word by word, song by song, I'm more particular about what I listen to, sing and say.

I am either becoming more open or closing down further. I'm not sure if I am standing in my truth, or stuck in my ways. Today it doesn't matter to me, of course I invite discussion, but so far, this Christmas, I find I’m not interested in listening to or singing certain songs of praise.


There are many times, I want a comment or feedback button on this blog site. Today is one of them.



December 11, 2011
I haven’t been reading as much as I’d hope to this last month. Other priorities I guess. I am still reading Life, by Keith Richards. His story is amazing, fascinating and incredible.

What gets me is how different people live. Some of us live simple and quiet lives, happy to wake up, eat cereal, and stay home — and then there are others, well they… live big.

Keith Richards lives big. I was surprised to find out that Keith kicked heroin over 30 years ago. That doesn’t mean he “cleaned up," the way I think folks “clean up.” But he isn't dead and doesn't shoot smack any longer! I guess what is fascinating to me, is just how caviller he speaks about his life. Drugs, guns, fights, being arrested again and again, flying here and there, dealing with groupies, wives and girlfriends, raising children, having parents, living in different countries. He phones his mother with the same nonchalance as shooting up. A day in the life.

Keith has been banned from several countries, he has loads of money, and houses all over the world. He hung out with John Lennon, Bob Dylan and the guy from the book, Shantaram. He has several children, one even died of crib death! Bla, bla, bla…. Who hasn’t? Who doesn’t?

And then there’s the music. The Rolling Stones! One of my all time favourite bands. Keith whips out songs with Mick Jagger, one after another as easy as pie. Mega hits, like Satisfaction and Brown Sugar are written in 10 - 15 minutes. Some songs that had a huge impact on my past and the memories I hold, I find out, were written by pulling random words out of a hat. No kidding.

We all live different lives. I'm pretty sure, Keith Richards and I would never even come close to understanding how the other lives. His acceptance and simple, matter of fact disclosure is what fascinates me. Keith just tells his story. He does not come across as surprised, grateful, or in wonder of his life. I guess the only clue that he thinks it may be extraordinary is that he has written this book.

Rock on Keith.



December 10, 2011
They say if you can’t say anything nice, to not say anything at all. Another quote is, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

A lot of times I regret some of things I have said, but more so, the things I really wanted to say in a moment, I forget to. It's usually in the car on the ride home, when all the witty and profound words I should have said come out. Wise words finally, flowing like a river. Oh, I should have said…. And another thing… and, and, and….

Tyler sent me a sneak preview of the videos we made yesterday in their raw form. I have to say, they don’t suck. Okay, they are actually pretty good. But… after I saw them, I had a huge case of, “What I should have said.”

Ken said never ask me about Tai Chi, because I can hit you like a fire hose with vast amounts of information, and it is true that most of the time, people only want a polite, trickle of information. Still, because I’m interested in the topic I get carried away. There are lots of times after a class, I think of what I didn't say more often than what I did. Lucky for us who are deep into the study, time will flush out the lessons, and sooner or later, we get all to see, hear, and say all that we need to see, hear and say.

But, when we have one shot to make a good impression, to inspire someone, or to introduce and sell a product, it’s easy to say, I can do better.

The Today’s Step videos will be as good as I can give on the day they get filmed. I’m going to just have to accept that.

Yes, I coulda, woulda, shoulda said, this or that. But I didn’t.

Lessons. They are everywhere.



December 9, 2011
Sam use to tell me, the best way to improvise is to practice a thousand ways and then forget about it all and just move.

This advice and the last few years of practice served me well today.

I was at Tyler’s house this morning to film some promo videos for Today’s Step, the app Allyson and I have been working on this year.

I’ve been working on, writing scripts, thinking about all the things I wanted to say, and how to say it, and should I stand, or sit, wear my hair this way, or that. I wondered how in the world I would ever be able to memorize the scripts. I knew I couldn’t really read them as I needed to look into the camera when I spoke and not off to the side or even above or below the camera, even a little. I was nervous.

Then, I remembered the advice from Sam. I also listened to friends, and trusted the process. “Be yourself," said Rosie. “Have fun," Linda told me. “Just tell the story you want to tell.” Ross reminded me.

I really believe in this app. I think it will help the people who use it. I know the work we have completed is good work. I know the work that is in front of us is a lot, and will be daunting at times. I also know, now is not the time, to get all weird and freaky.

So, I came to filming prepared, with notes, and scripts, then I let it all go. I stood in front of the camera, and said what I wanted to say.

Go figure, we shot several of the clips in one take. Both Tyler and I felt good about what we accomplished in a very short time.

It only took about 25 years of practice!



December 8, 2011
A recipe with 15 ingredients and 12 steps to be performed over the course of two days! I can tell you right now, it isn't going to happen!

Oh, sorry, I thought this was Facebook.

I'm having a sandwich.




December 7, 2011 Happy birthday Big Ed!
For me gratitude and joy go hand in hand.

I find the best way to express both, is by sharing and being willing to help where we can. There are a zillion ways we can help those who are not as comfortable as we are right now. And just like a daily practice, we feel good when we participate. The benefits of giving are vast, and still, like practice, giving can be one of those things, that’s easier to think about, and talk about. For some of us, it takes cold weather, a kick in the pants, or the holiday season to remind us that there are those in our world who could use a hand.

My personal favourite way to express my gratitude is to help support our local food bank. Usually I throw a few extra items in my grocery cart each week and then drop a bag of staples off at the pantry on Bowen Island. It’s easy, anonymous, and it helps.

My friend Monica at Broadway Wellness, is helping out the Covenant House in Vancouver by getting together as many shoes and socks as possible for their street people coming in with frost bitten or damaged feet this winter. Monica is collecting items, and dropping them off in the beginning of January.  Click here to help her, help others.

Think of what you can do to help others, this week, or this holiday season, and then, like your practice - Do it.



December 6, 2011
10 Things you do when there is no dog in the house.

1. Leave unfinished projects spread out on the floor
2. Not worry about getting home too late
3. Mop up food spills and wonder what to do with left overs
4. Blame Ken for all farts
5. Be surprised when someone comes to the door
6. Delete the groomers number from your address book
7. Pay more attention to the cat
8. Walk to the beach less often
9. Don’t buy homemade doggy treats at the craft fair
10. Remind yourself that you really don’t want another dog



December 5, 2011
I love it when I finally understand something. A light goes on, so to speak, or in this case, a light was out.

Almost every morning, I step outside, into my practice, on the patio. And 5 times out of 7 the neighbours porch light is on. It's always bothered me that these neighbours feel the need to keep their house lit up. One of the things I love most about living here is the dark, and quiet of the night, and in the winter, the dark and quiet mornings.

Today the lights on the neighbours porch were out and a light of understanding in me came on.

Our neighbour works nights. His family keeps the porch light on for him while he is away. Of course they would. If Ken was away, I would leave a light for him, just as he would for me.

Last night Justin had the night off. No need to keep a candle burning.

My resentment at what I always took as a personal invasion of my quiet and dark time, vanished the moment I understood this.

May we all keep a light on for those we love when they are away, and may no one ever have to come home in the dark.



December 4, 2011
Today is the annual Christmas Craft Fair on Bowen Island.

Voter turn out for the last election was close to 90% — and I believe attendance at the craft fair is higher. It’s a big deal.

I really think this is one of the first years in a long time that the Roughriders aren't here for a seminar. I miss them right now. Usually we all run down to the school during our lunch break. We all scatter through the gym, looking at all goodies. Some of us buy candles or cards, perhaps a small gift for a loved one and before you know it, we are back in the training room working on #6 or dalu, and no one gets the lunch time nap that many are famous for.

Ken and I arrived at the craft fair just after the doors opened. It was already busy. I guess everyone comes early, to get the “good stuff”. People were everywhere, they were double parking, parking in the ferry line up, and way down the road from the school. A long line of cars were on the road, moving slowly while passengers looked for a parking spot. Of course Ken and I in true Xingyi fashion, drove directly to the school and pulled into what we call "Doris Day" parking. A spot right up front. Easy! We made a quick buzz through, said hi to our neighbours and friends, bought a few things, and on our way out, I tried my luck at the cake walk. I was the only adult.

The cake walk is a fund raiser for some school club. It is a lot like musical chairs. Pay a loonie, and you get to walk around a table until music stops, then you stand by a number — dice is rolled and if the number you are standing by comes up, you win a cake.

Most of the cakes are made by tired mothers with too much on their plate this time of the year. I’ve won in the past, and I dare say, most are what I call, Sweet Talker - Betty Crocker Cakes. Now, Betty Crocker makes a good cake mix, but…. The fancy restaurant on the island donates a few of their fancy cakes to this cause as well.

Yes, ma’am — one time around the table and I won a beautiful dark chocolate fudgey cake from Blue Eyed Marys, the fanciest restaurant on the island.

I really wish the Roughriders were here today - we'd all be eating cake today!



December 3, 2011
IF there is a perfect qigong - I'm pretty sure this would be it!



For me, when I look at this - I know all is right with the world!

Thanks you, Agnieszka Wyka for seeing what I see!



December 2, 2011
Eight years ago I went to my first company Christmas party for the Orchard. We had a celebration dinner at the Boathouse Restaurant in Horseshoe Bay, and there were maybe 12 or 15 of us there. The O had been in business for a little over two years by then, and the vision of the centre was coming into view. I knew then, as I know now, I was lucky to be a small part of the good work that goes on there.

This year, 63 members of staff, and family, came together for the company Christmas party. We packed the Boathouse Restaurant and celebrated the people who make this incredible centre, a place I'm so very proud to be a part of.

I’m not just sucking up when I tell you that, Lorinda Strang, “The boss lady," is number one, on my list of most admire people in this world today.

Salute!



December 1, 2011
Rats, I forgot to post today. Sorry.



November 30, 2011
Going to the dentist today.



My comfort zone is off the page.
I'm just saying.




November 29, 2011
I want answers, and in order to get them, I need to ask questions and keep asking them.

Questions should start an on-going conversation that inspires thinking and more questions. I say this now, 56 years into my life. I know I used to ask questions because I thought others knew more than me. Now, don’t get me wrong — almost everyone I know, does knows more than me! But today, I feel educated enough to stand with those people in conversation and discovery. I find that answers only produce more questions, and more questions keep the conversation going. Life is more interesting when we ask and answer and ask again.

I found a book on line this morning. 344 Questions: The Creative Person's Do-It-Yourself Guide to Insight, Survival, and Artistic Fulfillment (Voices That Matter) by Stefan G. Bucher

I’m putting it on my “what I want for Christmas list” in case anyone asks.



I love this type of questioning, advice and like I said, conversation. I find this to be in a puzzle format that is engaging, directive, fun and on-going.

“Let’s be clear: I want this book to be useful to you. There are many great how-to books and biographies out there, and even more gorgeous collections of current and classic work to awe and inspire. But looking at catalogs of artistic success won’t make you a better artist any more than looking at photos of healthy people will cure your cold. You’ve got to take action!” ~ Stefan G. Bucher

No matter what questions you ask today, Stefan G. Bucher says it best with, "Will you please accept my good wishes that it'll all work out for you in the end?"




November 28, 2011
Has anyone “out there” ever heard me speak about practice?

I’ve had some interesting conversations about the word and the work, since I started working on the Today’s Step app.

Learning and teaching tai chi, I will say practice is spoken here. I truly believe the only way to actually learn tai chi is to put in time and effort. Practice is required to gain any interesting skill.

One of my musical friends said that being told to practice was like being scolded, it brought back bad memories of having to sit at the piano every afternoon while her friends were outside playing. Ken said, he doesn't practice - he just "noodles" around on the guitar every day.

A martial artist I know says, she “trains” — and makes a point, that it is very different from practice. She said, practice is more gentle, meditative — to gain real skill, one needs to train.

For me, practice is a day in and day out thing. Having a practice is important to me, and like the weather my priority as to what I practice changes. Still, how I approach different skills, hobbies, and past times , take on a practice mind set for me. I find what I do more enjoyable when I attach the practice label.

My tai chi practice is very different this year from years past. Much more gentle, more like qigong. I am definitely not training! Walking, writing, and looking out windows, are in my practice category as well.

What I am discovering about my practice is, right now, I’m not about gaining skills, even though I have. For me right now, I’m looking to my practice for inspiration and comfort.

This year, practice itself has become a practice.



November 27, 2011
Signs, signs, everywhere a sign.

The internet connection at our house is wonky today. It works and then it doesn't. I'm taking this as a sign to not worry about posting anything today.

And with all the whoop, whoop for the Grey Cup football game going on. I'll take that as a sign to get out of the house and go for a long walk!

Oh and Happy birthday Sue, and also Troy!



November 26, 2011
We just got home from a big city fun-filled adventure. I have to say it is amazing how much money you can spend when you have free tickets to a big event!

Ken and I were given tickets to the Vanier Cup at BC Place in Vancouver. (for my American friends, it was similar to the Rose Bowl game)

Before the game, we ate Chinese food and actually did a little Christmas shopping.

The game itself was a very exciting combination of football drama, and celebrations. Perfect for a championship. Double overtime with the underdog team winning. We yelled and cheered and ooooo'd and ahhhhhh'd in all the right places. We ate popcorn and chicken fingers. 25,000 fans filled the place. People painted their faces, wore funny hats, and costumes! I was disappointed there were no cheerleaders, but a marching band played the half time show.

After the game we walked back to our our hotel on Robson St. called the Riveria Hotel. The bright neon sign outside was missing a few letters. Still, I'd recommend the IVERIA HO anytime. All was well, with our 10th floor suite, until we learned the elevator was broken, and some smart ass behind me kept saying, "walk up on your toes, it's good for you calves" - but the room was fabulous. Super view, quiet and dark!

The best part of the evening for me, was being able to stand and sing Oh Canada on the 8th anniversary of becoming Canadian.

Good times!






November 25, 2011
No time to post today - we are off to a football game in the big city. Whoot! (wish I knew who was playing, I guess I'll root for the winning team).



November 24, 2011
American Thanksgiving - a time to show gratitude for all we have. It makes me wonder, if we are all so grateful for everything we have - why is it, that a lot of us will hit the stores tomorrow in search of more.

My friend, Constance received the following from her brother and passed it to me. I'd like to pass it on to you. I don't know who the author is but, I think it is a darn good read and something not only to think about, but to act on. Here it is.

Hey dreamers, occupiers, rabble-rousers,
You’ve been sleeping on the streets for two months pleading peacefully for a new spirit in economics. And just as your camps are raided, your eyes pepper sprayed and your head’s knocked in, another group of people are preparing to camp-out. Only these people aren’t here to support occupy Wall Street, they’re here to secure their spot in line for a Black Friday bargain at Super Target and Macy’s.
Occupy gave the world a new way of thinking about the fat cats and financial pirates on Wall Street. Now lets give them a new way of thinking about the holidays, about our own consumption habits. Lets’ use the coming 20th annual Buy Nothing Day to launch an all-out offensive to unseat the corporate kings on the holiday throne.

This year’s Black Friday will be the first campaign of the holiday season where we set the tone for a new type of holiday culminating with #OCCUPYXMAS. As the global protests of the 99% against corporate greed and casino capitalism continues, lets take the opportunity to hit the empire where it really hurts…the wallet.

On Nov 25/26th we escape the mayhem and unease of the biggest shopping day in North America and put the breaks on rabid consumerism for 24 hours. Flash mobs, consumer fasts, mall sit-ins, community events, credit card-ups, whirly-marts and jams, jams, jams! We don't camp on the sidewalk for a reduced price tag on a flat screen TV or psycho-killer video game. Instead, we occupy the very paradigm that is fueling our eco, social and political decline.

Historically, Buy Nothing Day has been about fasting from hyper consumerism – a break from the cash register and reflecting on how dependent we really are on conspicuous consumption. On this 20th anniversary of Buy Nothing Day, we take it to the next level, marrying it with the message of #occupy…

We #OCCUPYXMAS.



November 23, 2011
This mornings qigong class was good. Really good. It just goes to show you that a regular practice makes a difference. The shift that took place in a mere half hour had a delicious quality to it and I left the O feeling calm, strong, and peaceful.

I drove this morning as it was pouring buckets of rain. I didn’t feel like dodging the trades trucks and the puddles on the road. It is also quite dark when I need to start the walk if I am to arrive on time for the class.

I digress…

After the class, I got in the car feeling happy and comfortable. I am grateful I'm able to start my day doing something that I love; something others benefit from as well. I almost didn’t turn the radio on so as to keep the peace.

But I did turn the radio on.

My joy only increased when the first thing I heard in my meditative and accomplished state was an ad blaring, “SLEEP COUNTRY CANADA!”…..

Let me just say I smiled and then started laughing out loud. I turned the radio off, and drove the rest of the way home singing.

Contest time! I will put you on my christmas list if you can tell me who I started thinking of as soon as I heard that singing ad on the radio. Send me your answer here jan@janparkerarts.com

In the mean time, keep calm and carry on.



November 22, 2011
Today's quiz comes from my pondering pal with the pipe.

Q. What sound does a space turkey make?

A. Hubble, Hubble, Hubble.

Conclusion: Tai Chi people are weird!

P.S. Happy birthday Lois!


November 21, 2011
Each year Ken and I choose a motto to guide us for that year. We think it sets the tone and gives us some focus. “Full Tilt Boogie” for example in 1992 was a hell of a year, and, “I would but I have a cat on my lap” was good too!

The motto for 2011 is "Always and Never the Same." It has served me well. I have no complaints.

Between now, and the end of the year Ken and I, and a few other friends, will start thinking about a motto for 2012. Is this the year it's all supposed to end according to the Mayans? Should I factor that in?

In some ways, I think I’d like to stick with “Always and Never the Same.” It is a safe bet, no matter what 21012 brings, life is never the same, but again, I love routine and ritual.

I know I’ll be wearing a seat belt for what may happen when Today’s Step is launched. The possibilities are wide open here. Yet, I doubt it will hinder my practice of stepping out on to the patio each morning.

I came across part of an email I received from my friend Evan last year. We were talking about sabbaticals and change and routines. He sent me the following-

“There are no guarantees of anything except continuous change with punctuated equilibria, to use a phrase from Stephen Jay Gould.  He coined that phrase to characterize the workings of biological evolution, but it is an interesting way of characterizing the development of individual lives, as well.  We go through periods of routine stability in our lives (sometimes quite long periods), then significant change occurs (often suddenly), that dashes the established routines, and turns our development in new directions or creates new directions that run in parallel with some of the old ones.”

I’ll ponder new mottos. l’m open to suggestions and willing to banter news ideas around. Still, it feels good knowing, that, “Always and Never the Same” can stay on my altar in 2012 if need be.



November 20, 2011
An Island divided.

Elections come and go — we win, you lose or is it the other way around? After all is said and done, people come together, they meet at the pub to drink beer, and some of us, just go home.

With over 90% voter turn out on this rock, no one can say we don’t care. Still we are a divided community. With just under 2000 people casting votes - 186 divide the choice of Mayor. 188 separate the fact that Bowen said NO to having a National Park in their back yard.

I don’t care how you look at it, it’s a close vote and to me it states clearly that the island population is divided on its views. Good friends are grieving the results and wanting to move away, good friends are celebrating and shaking hands with happy anticipation that, “Now, something will get done.”

70 people voted on the park issue and didn’t vote for mayor. I was one of those 70. I have never spoiled a ballet before and it felt weird and right for me to do it this time. I just couldn’t put my X on either choice for Mayor.

I’m surprised and not surprised at the results of our election. I am also strangely quiet in my heart this morning. Maybe because I voted as best I could, I made sure my vote didn’t count.

Something incredible happens when we step behind the cardboard barrier of a voting booth and make our X on a ballot in North America. I think we all stand a little taller and proud. It is one place we really can acknowledge our freedoms. Yesterday, I really felt it and exercised my right to abstain.

I also know I have the right not to tell anyone what I did in the voting booth, but I’m just not that good at keeping secrets.



November 19, 2011
Today we vote whether a National Park will be created on Bowen Island.

It’s all anyone is talking about. I think it’s dividing the community, much in the same way the plastic soccer field did when it was first on the plate of "something for the children."

Apparently only a few people wanted the AT field, but they were a few of the strongest voices on the island and in a very short time from idea to inception, we got it. Now, almost everyone thinks the field was a great idea and how wonderful it is to see so many kids playing soccer in the rain making the cost of $100,000. totally worth it.

The National Park is going the same way. A small and very strong group of people think giving most of the crown land (including Crippen Park) over to Parks Canada in Ottawa in exchange for… (this is where I get confused, because we really don’t know the answer to this) But, 42% of the island is slated for “protection” with National Park status providing trails, washrooms and a nice entry fee. Some think having a national park on Bowen Island and the 500, 000 estimated extra people who will visit each year is the one and only way we can “save our island for the children”.

We vote today and to tell the truth - I go back and forth between voting no, voting yes, and thinking I may just spoil my ballot.

I honestly don’t know what to do. I agree AND disagree with both sides of the coin. What I don’t agree with is the method or the message. FEAR! LIES! THEM! US! YES! NO!

I guess what will be will be. I’ll probably complain either way and then come to accept it.




November 18, 2011
Here's a list of ten things.
Nine things on this list are important and interesting to me.

It is snowing on my practice spot.
Finding a flea on my leg this morning.
Voting No for a National Park on Bowen.
Knowing that my vote will be canceled out by Ken.
Fancy, black, knee high boots.
Regis is retiring from his morning show.
Having the freezer full of cow, fish and blueberries.
Moleskine notebooks.
JanJimJam.
An app that will support and inspire people in their practice.



November 17, 2011
I don't know Kate DiCamillo, but I would like to meet her and be her friend. I say this because she wrote the following.

"In a guitar shop in Minneapolis, there is a neon sign that says: Lessons. Just that one word. Lessons. Every time I see it, I think, “Man, I need some lessons.” The simplest things continue to confound me. I still don’t know how to use a tire gauge. I have a hard time reading a map. I would like to learn how to not worry so much. I would like a lesson in letting go. So to see that word glowing in the guitar shop window is comforting to me. It makes me think that I can learn. It makes me believe that someone can teach me. It convinces me that there is still time, that all I have to do is sign up."



I think she was reading my mind!

Kate, if you read this... call me! :)



November 16, 2011
My computer crashed hard a year or two ago. I was so frustrated with it - I took an axe to the thing. It felt good to do what a lot of people say they would like to do. My frustration and satisfaction gave way to one of the most important lessons anyone with a computer can learn. BACK IT UP!



This morning I opened a page of notes I keep on my desktop. Not the flat desktop where stacks of paper, use to be. The Mac desktop I’m looking at a I write these words. I thought it would be so clever of me to clean off one desktop, full of scraps of paper, notes and ideas and put them all in one easy to reach location; on my computer!

Yesterday was trash day and we also have a fire keeping the house warm, so in my zeal, I tossed and burned all the hard copies! Yup - you guessed it. I forgot to hit save, or some other dumb thing. This morning the page full of ideas was empty. Nothing, nada, zip. Gone.

I’ve been VERY good about backing up my Today’s Step work. I even send it off to Allyson to be double sure not to lose a years (or is it more like 26 years) worth of notes and work. But, dang it, yesterday in my eagerness for a clean desk, I did not follow habit. I did not act on the lesson I have learned so many times. I did not back up the days work, and the mischievous Menehune who wait and watch - jumped in and deleted everything - leaving me a nice blank page.

Have many times do I need to learn the same lesson? Apparently, at least once more.



November 15, 2011
I said a few years ago that I wanted to be a writer. Writers write, so I made the commitment to sit down and write something everyday. Sometimes I write long hand in a notebook and sometimes I posted on this notebook for “public” viewing.

Last year I would post once a week, it took the entire week to come up with a topic, and then I would spend a few days writing. Then my ritual was to send what I had to heather and she would say, “Nice try… try again," and I’d either change topics or keep working on it. Finally I would post a few paragraphs.

During this sabbatical I committed to posting here every day and for the most part I have kept that commitment. Granted - some of the postings are photos or links to web sites or short, very short sayings. Then there is the rare ramble or short story.

With this in mind, it was this morning when I thought to myself, - I don’t write - I post. I’m not a writer, I'm a poster! I post on Facebook. I post for Today’s Step. And I post here. Soon I’ll be posting on Twitter and Utube.

Apparently, I'm practicing the lesson of, how little can I do and still accomplish this!

In some ways this is very disappointing to me. And yet, we're in November and I can say I have written more this year than I ever have. It is just that no matter how much time I spend writing, what I write is short and I hope has a point.

In qigong, form, and push hands we connect with the subtle - Perhaps that is how I connect with a writing practice as well.

Today I’ll be writing a script for a series of Utube video sessions I’m filming this week. My friend Tyler is helping Allyson and me do this to promote and market the app called Today’s Step for the release in early to mid January 2012. Again, I’ll have to keep my words and thoughts short and to the point.

Subtle.

I’ll let you know when I post them!



November 14, 2011
In my dream last night, Jim said, that Art said, that Sam said, that to be a good teacher,

You just need to know what you know and,
Know what the student needs to know. And it would help if you could,
Know what they already know, and then you just need to...
Know where to go from there.

Simple!

I've had some great lessons in my dreams over the years. I'm glad to know they are still
coming.



November 13, 2011
It took looking through four cook books, before I found some instructions that I think I can follow. Not too complicated and not too many steps involved. I am making my first ever pot roast today.

When I cook, I like to say, "When it's smokin it's cookin, and when it's burnin, it's done!"



November 12, 2011
I wonder how many of us claim ownership to the park in Kits? The one by the tennis courts, and passing cars, and loose dogs, and Matthews circle. You know the one with the crows, and tree roots jutting out of the earth, those big roots, that really hurt when you landed on them from getting tossed around a bit. The park with the washroom that is also protection and shelter for a few homeless, that only once in a while would watched us move and made kung fu and karate sounds, the one where strangers would stop a class to ask questions. The park where it wasn't strange to see a group of people sparring with swords, or spears, or arms rolling in connection. The park where the Chinese people play tennis and the white people play Tai Chi.

How many of us had some of our best lessons in that park, the best memories, with the best friends and sometimes too, the most painful ones. The park! So much of my life force was cultivated in that park.

I’ll be at the park today.




November 11, 2011
Not everyone makes it.

That's a statement you hear in the recovery world. Not everyone makes it. Jennifer didn’t make it. I am so sorry to hear the news of yet another causality of addiction.

On this day of remembrance, I’m remembering everyone who has been lost in a battle or a bottle.

War is hell.


November 10, 2011
I was in the cove today and watched what I'm calling the candidate crawl.

One after the other, candidates running for mayor and council were crawling up the hill hitting up all the people trapped in their cars waiting for the ferry. It was weird. There is no where to hide when you are in the ferry line up, and I wondered if people felt like they were being accosted, or stalked by all the candidates. Commuters are trapped in their cars, and I guess it would be rude not to put your "ferry book" down, roll down the window, and smile pretty as the campaigners provided their point of view for how things should - would  - could be if only you voted for or against XY or Z. Then the next candidate came knocking 30 seconds later and again, you need to put your book down.....

On Bowen Island there is no need to go door to door to canvass neighbourhoods asking for votes. Where we live a candidate just needs a handful of brochures and the ability to take an uphill hike, in the road, every hour in order to talk to a lot of people.

I know who, how and why I'm voting this election. I'm sure most people already do as well. Personally, I'm not interested in chatting with any of the candidates right now.

BUT....

I think it sure would be nice if AFTER the election, the Mayor and council members were to make a point of walking the ferry line up once a month or so asking, "How are we doing?"

But I think this is the last week we will see or hear from any of them! Especially the ones we elect!



November 9, 2011
Happy Birthday Rosie!
My noble friend.







November 8, 2011
I remember exactly the moment I decided to quit multi-tasking. There are a few things in my life where I can pin point a true turn around place. I can’t tell you the exact day or year, I know it was on a Sunday, over 15 years ago between 9 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. I made a conscious decision to focus on one thing at a time.

My resolve began the day I had the phone to my ear listening to my mother yammer on about something or other; I was flipping through the pages a magazine, uttering the odd “uh-huh” and “oh," when out of the blue, I heard her say, “the surgery was a success.”

Surgery? What surgery? I had no idea what my mother was talking about, I realized I had quit listening to her a long time ago. Our Sunday phone calls had become as routine as our relationship. I thought it was great that I could read and chat at the same time. Sometimes, I’d even work on the computer, do laundry or clean off my desk during our weekly phone calls.

It was upon hearing those words that I hit the turn around point. I was so ashamed of myself, embarrassed, and well, mother — daughter issues aside, I realized in that moment, just how wrong it was to have split attention. She deserved my full attention... hell the laundry deserved my full attention.

I put the magazine down and in the calmest voice I could find, I said, “Tell me everything. Start at the beginning.”

I knew if I was to be awake in ways I talked about, and wanted to be, I would have to wake up everywhere. I started waking up by choosing not to multitask.

That phone call and lesson was a long time ago, but the lesson is fresh.

I am making “to-do” lists for Today’s Step. "Busy" is coming back into my day again. I need and want to focus on what I'm doing. I know I get more accomplished, and I sure enjoy what I do more, when I listen, move slowly with mindfulness, and pay attention to one thing at a time.



November 7, 2011
Ken and I went to an art show called Bugz yesterday. We missed the all candidates meeting at the school on purpose. Politics on this island is enough to make one turn to drink — and since I didn’t run for Mayor - it is better for my serenity if I stay away from the hoo-ha.

I really enjoyed the Bugz art show. I am not a fan of creepy crawly bugs in any form, but the artwork was creative, colourful and interesting. The shows organizers also provided some good snacks, and we took the opportunity to chat with friends. The art featured was created by artists who live on and off the island, including three of my Tai Chi students Nancy Walker, Kim Kasasian, and Michelle Livaja.

 After walking around looking at the exhibit, eating a few raspberry cookies and conversing with friends, I was left laughing after I pointed out my students work to a couple of women. I about fell over, when with great sincerity, one of the women said, “You are a very good teacher, Jan.”

Hee-hee.



November 6, 2011
Was it just a week ago I was in the sunshine whacking golfs? Ah - the California sunshine.





November 5, 2011
In 2010, Vancouver held the XXl Olympic Games. It was a huge success and took years of planning.

They even put a clock downtown by the Vancouver Art Gallery to count down the days, hours, minutes, and seconds until the Olympic flame would be lit. I thought it was ridiculous. Only 362 days, 8 hours, 5 minutes, and 30, 29, 28, 27 seconds left… tick, tick, tick.

Then, sure enough at the appointed time, the 2010 Olympic Games began. Everyone was in a frenzy from all the anticipation and build up. It really was very exciting, the build up was over and we were in it. Go!

Today’s Step, the app we are working on, is “coming soon”. Not tomorrow, but sooner than 362 days, 8 hours, 5 minutes, and 30, 29, 28, 27 seconds left… tick, tick, tick. Actually, you should be able to download the app sometime in January 2012. And I REALLY hope you do.

My dilemma… Do I hound everyone with a count down or do I spring it on you when it arrives?

Am I able to do a bit of both? My thoughts are on this project from the moment I wake up until I go to sleep. I am working on ways to promote it so we don’t lose our shirts, but also because I truly believe this is a good thing. Today’s Step WILL make a difference in someones life.

Marketing and promotion are not my strong suit. I am out of my comfort zone as we go forward… I am shy (don’t laugh, I am) and I don’t want to bother anyone. Still, I’d like to be able talk about Today’s Step without sounding like a broken record with “coming soon… coming soon… coming soon!”

I am reminded that, courage, intelligence and love are never inappropriate. My intention is to go forward. I will call on your love, our courage, and hopefully, my intelligence so as to balance the anticipation of what is to come, with the joy of what is going on today!

Tick, tick, tick.



November 4, 2011
Toys are nice, friends are better.



Allyson and I at Today's Step headquarters!



November 3, 2011
I think it was heather who pronounced Sam to be the hardest working man in the relaxation business. Sam then christened me, “The most generous cheapskate” he knew!

It is true, Sam does work really hard getting folks to relax and I am a total cheapskate. I’d like to think I am also somewhat generous.

My Grandma, Pearl Hudson taught me to be generous and thrifty. (It was just to weird to say that my Grandma taught me to be cheap!) She taught by example and lived a life of service. Grandma would give you anything if you ask. Sometimes, you didn’t even need to ask, all you had to do was pay a compliment on something, “That’s a lovely scarf you are wearing Grandma.” Or “I love butterscotch pudding.” Next thing you knew, pudding was made and the scarf was in your suitcase, or wrapped around your neck.

Grandma didn’t have much and she was only too happy to give any of it away. She was most generous with her time. If she was out mowing the lawn, she would just keep going, mowing the neighbours yard as well. Her favourite way to spend her life force was in service of others.

I’m thinking about Grandma these days, because I feel selfish with my time. The year of my sabbatical is almost over and I think it went by too fast. Today’s Step is in the works and I’m taking meetings and learning unfamiliar skills. The last few days have been go, go, go and I don’t want to get wrapped up in a frenzy. We all choose how we spend our life force. Secretly I’d like to hideout, but truthfully, I want to be of service and be generous.

I'm thinking of my Grandma. She was an example of love in service. It wouldn’t hurt for me to be more like her. Today, I’ll do my best to error on the side of generosity.



November 2, 2011
My October reading goals fell short and yet, I still managed to read more than I thought I did. I’m a bit surprised by the list below. My focus has been on Today’s Step, so I have done a lot of web site browsing as well as looking at silly People magazines I brought home from the recycle centre. The web site reading is for research and the People magazine helps dumb me down!

Books I read in October include:

Always On: How the iPhone Unlocked the Anything-Anytime-Anywhere Future and Locked us in. by Brian X. Chen
This is not usually my cuppa tea, especially since I don’t own an iphone, but writing an app for one has me looking at everyone else who does and I see how super intimate each person is with theirs. The future? In some ways I hope so… in others, I’m not so sure. It does feel a lot like the Wild West must have back in the day. Anything is possible.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
A delightful book by a women who wanted to see if she could be happier. She made a list of things to work on each month over the course of a year. I like lists and I like being happy.

Romance in the Rockies - The Life and Adventures of Catharine and Peter Whyte by Kim Mayberry
Brainless twitter. (Not the Twitter.) A friend was moving and gave us several books that all had the same binding. They were hard to resist, because all together the set looked so cool and they are stories about Canadians. Now, I’m reading about Emily Carr. The books were a nice idea, but the writing … meh.

Born to Run: a Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race in the World by Christopher McDougall
I listened to this book. Interesting, entertaining and a bit too long for my attention span. I've never been a runner, but McDougall wrote about people who really love to run. People who enter super, 100 mile long, marathons. One of the points he wrote about that was interesting to me, was how few injuries these particular runners ever had and how superstitious they all were as well.

Life by Keith Richards
Yes! Yes! Yes! Keith Richards! I’m still just getting started with this one and I love it. The Rolling Stones have always had my heart and well, the fact that Keith Richards is part of this world (still) is just bonus!



November 1, 2011
I bet you didn’t know that November is National Write your Novel Month. NaNoWriMo is a group that encourages everyone to spend thirty days and nights in literary abandon!

I've participated for the last several years thanks to heather getting me started. Of course I am always one to bend the rules, so I’ve yet to write a novel. But, I do make a point every November to ramp up my writing. I commit to writing at least 1,000 words a day during the month.

I have no plot, characters or story to tell. I write long hand, stream of conscience, in beautiful Moleskine books and never show any of it to anyone.

It is one more practice I add to my day. I don't like being busy, and NaNoWriMo gives me the excuse to spend a bit more time doing what I love.



October 31, 2011
In the late 70s I became part of the Amway team! I never actually made any money with the company, but I did my best. I asked people over to the house, drew circles for them, sponsored others, sold soap and went to conventions.

The conventions were fun. They were a real shot in the arm. They were motivational and people shared tips on how to live with a positive life attitude. I always came away from one of these conventions pumped up and inspired. The problem was, it only took a few days and a few negative responses for my enthusiasm to wane. I’d be back thinking this is too hard, I should just quit! No one wanted to buy any soap, no one wanted to do the work and I had to admit that included me!

The Amway crowd was not my clan and that business wasn’t for me, but the feelings I took from the conventions stuck. A positive mindset and enthusiasm for what you are doing is vital. I know it can also slip away in a heart beat if we let it.

I was teasing Allyson this weekend, that if felt like I was at one of those Amway conventions. We were so positive and enthusiastic and rah-rah over the work we are doing. It is a great feeling to be passionate and productive and supported.

I’m home now and have a “to do” list. But, home is familiar and I can become lazy. I have a good book in the works as well. It would be easy for me to lose the momentum created over the weekend.

Just knowing that, helps. I know I need support and feedback to keep going when things are hard, challenging or new. Lucky for me I have that. I want the enthusiastic, shot in the arm, productive weekend, to continue. So I … oh look a blue bike… need to stay focused!



October 30, 2011

There's no place like home!



October 29, 2011
Trying to post in-between meetings and circus class. (don't ask!). Right now the house is quiet. There is a sleeping dog named Pepper at my feet and when I look out the window of the room I'm staying in, I see a lemon tree and very blue sky.

All is right with the world.



October 28, 2011
I still have about two hours on the clock before the day is over and I can still say, I posted something today if I type fast!

Today was a great day. I feel like we packed every hour with work, meetings, talks, ideas, dreams, clarifications, "what ifs" and "how abouts". Then we took a bit of time out to whack a bucket of golf balls.

Ah, business in California!



October 27, 2011
Last February I was gifted a plane ticket to visit friends in the Bay area. I was invited down to enjoy some R&R and to kick off my sabbatical. The weather is better in February down there than it is here AND I get treated like a queen by my friends, which was an extra bonus.

It was on that trip last February that I met my step-brother John, for the first time, and it was also on that trip that I told my friend Allyson about this big fat idea I had. She heard me, massaged the idea, brought it into this century, and now, a mere eight months later, I’m traveling south again. This time, no R&R or visits with long lost family. This time we've scheduled a big important business meeting! That big fat idea Allyson and I talked about last February, is on a non-stop, no going back now, path to being real.

I'm full of big fat ideas! And as much as I like all the ideas I have stuffed away in notebooks and drawers, they become more interesting when you do something with them. I've been fortunate to have Allyson encourage, support and hep me to dig in, do the work, and make one of those ideas become a real deal thing.

Over the last 8 months, Allyson and I have partnered to create an app for mobile devices.

The app called Today’s Step is designed to support and inspire people in recovery with a daily practice. The app has 365 “daily words of wisdom” by yours truly, "Janisms", if you will. The guanqifa audio qigong and the dao yin qigong moves from the JJJ qigong series will also be on the app. There are also personal stories written by others in recovery to aid in the support and inspiration.

Right now, the app is in India being developed. We expect to release this on the Apple App store by early 2012. No kidding! Android versions will also be available.

I’m getting on a plane today and meeting with Allyson again for the weekend. We plan to talk and create marketing and promotional strategies. A lot of the work is done, a lot more needs doing. We are both a little freaked out by the reality of it all. We are also really excited!

Look forward to hearing more about Today’s Step and tell your friends. Allyson and I have our work cut out for us this coming year. I am getting my head and heart around just how much!

I’m very proud of Today’s Step, and the work we have done so far. I think it has the potential to be really big and more importantly, this app could actually be another tool to help people stay clean and sober. It is my hope that it will encourage people to find and keep a personal daily practice.

Oh, to have a mobile device! Hee-hee!!



October 26, 2011
I like to go outside when I first wake up. Some days, I just stand and sometimes I move. This morning I moved in delightful darkness.

The day hadn't begun yet, so everything was still, quiet and dark. There were no stars, cars, house, or moon light to be seen. I laughed to myself that the still darkness made it impossible for me to see any of my mistakes.

Dorian likes to say, "Enjoy your practice!" I took her advice again this morning.



October 25, 2011
Took the camera on a nice walk today.

  

  



October 24, 2011
Pam Cleary just drove away with Crickets kennel, bed, leash, brush, the very scary and evil dog dish, and a bucket of dog cookies. Pam is the owner of Best Friends Dog Training here on the island. Not only does Pam help train dogs, she fosters homeless dogs, and helps people transition into pet owners. Crickets “stuff” will go to help other dogs and dog people.

Several times over this last week Ken and I have asked each other, “Will we get another dog?” The answer is no. The truth is we don’t want another dog. We want Cricket back. She was a cute goof ball, and she added pure joy in our home. Another dog would not be the same. We agree. We don’t want to get another dog. So we are passing on her dog stuff to someone who will do good with some of the material things we had for Cricket. It feels like we are grieving by cleaning out her closet; going through her stuff.

We are ready to let go of a lot, but not all. Crickets kennel, bed, leash, and brush are one thing. But her toys are another.

We are keeping Crickets toys. We buried Cricket in the yard with her purple bear and chicken. I can’t say those were her favourite toys — she loved them all. We all loved to play the games of “really ready” and “gimmie that”. And it makes no sense for us to hang on to her fish, rabbit, moose, goofball, squirrel or felt ball, but… for now… we are.

There are times we "hang on" and times we "let go". Sometimes we need to do both to the best of our ability.







October 23, 2011
For Jim.





October 22, 2011
Spent the day as an extra in a movie. A few years ago I learned about the difference between "standing around" and "standing by". That knowledge came in handy today.




October 21, 2011
I’m getting all gussied up for a Gala Event in town tonight.

The evening is “semi formal”, which to me, means the girls dress up and boys wear jeans. I'm looking forward to the evening, but I'm also pretty stressed out about it. See, I have a big concern about getting all dolled up because it means I have to think about what shoes I should wear.

I have a nice fancy dress that will be perfect, and I know what shoes I'd like to wear. The problem is they are high heels and are only comfortable for about 1 hour, then I become crippled and can't stand up, much less walk in them!

It is for times like this that I think I should go into training and actually learn how to wear high heels with pointy toes. But the reality of that sounds like a lot of painful work and it doesn’t take me long to decide that my sturdy Keens actually don’t look that bad with my nice dress. Sigh.

You can take me out, but you can’t dress me up.



October 20, 2011
So long Box Z-49.
I remember the first time Ken and I ever walked up the hill to get mail from Box Z-49, it was April 1996 and COLD!! We huddled together wearing winter coats, mitts, and our first touque and we wondered out loud... "What have we done?"



Apart from the long trek up the hill to check you out, we will miss you.

Our new mailing address is now:

Jan and Ken Parker
1572 Tunstall Blvd.
Bowen Island, BC • V0N 1G2
Canada



October 19, 2011
Today's realization:

Most days I say "good morning" to a lot of people, and I say "good night" to only one.

I like my life.



October 18, 2011
I’m reading the most entertaining book. Stuart McLeans The Vinyl Cafe Notebooks. The Vinyl Cafe is a radio show on the CBC. It is hometown goodness. Sort of a Garrison Keillor flavour, but not as cute.

Stuart McLean tells a story the way I would like to. Writing one or two page stories that are complete and thought provoking, funny and meaningful. This book is fun. It's taking me a long time to get through it because short stories are easy to read and then put down. And unlike cookies, I don’t feel the need to “have another" right a way.

I usually read a little throughout the day — and then before bed, I read for an hour or until my eyes quit working. Last night I had to stop reading because I was laughing too hard. It was the kind of laugh that just keeps going. Just when you think you are finished, it comes roaring back and off you go again. That is how I was laughing last night, loud and long.

Here's why… one small paragraph in an entire story. It’s from the story - In Praise of Curling, page 227, half way down the page….Ready.

“And while on the topic of seniors, I have heard some people say curling is boring. I say you give a team of seniors a bunch of forty-two-pound rocks and tell them to run up and down on a sheet of ice, and I think you have an arena full of excitement.”

Side note: Jim and Art, send me $10. right away, if you aren't laughing after reading that too.



October 17, 2011
Ken and I took several walks together over the weekend. We live in a beautiful place with a lot of different trails. It seems we are still navigating this Cricket less path that we're on now.





October 16, 2011
I did not run for Mayor of Bowen Island. Friday was the deadline for tossing your name in the exploding hat of politics here.

In some ways I’m sorry I didn’t take the time and energy to do it, but I'm chicken. Just two days into the race, it has heated up so much, that I’m glad I’ve kept my hat.

We all have ideas of how things should or could be. Yet during an election it isn’t enough to just hold strong ideas, people feel they MUST express them. I guess that is how things change. But, there are those that feel it is right to yell at, and bully others. Already there is finger pointing and silly demands — questions are fueled with intensity not curiosity.

There are only two candidates running for Mayor. One is a past Councillor who has pissed off a lot of people and the campaign taking place is ABNP or Anyone But Nerys Poole. The other is a man named Jack Adelaar. No one seems know this guy, and it is causing a huge stink. People are angry that someone unknown has the guts to run.

In other words, they don’t like who they know and really don’t like who they don’t know.
Politics everywhere can be ugly. Politics in a small community is worse.



October 15, 2011
We have always had a lot of company and visitors in our home. I’ve watched a lot of people walk down our drive way, open the gate and come on in. We usually meet everyone on the porch or wave at them from the window to come on in.

 Yesterday, something happened that hasn’t happen in a very long time. I will say it really took both Ken and me by surprise.

Somebody made it down the drive, through the gate, across the patio, up the stairs and actually knocked on the door before we knew we had company.

That can only happen when you don’t have a dog.



October 14, 2011
For such a small goofy dog — it's amazing how much space Cricket took up in our home and in our heart. The hole she left is huge. Even Peet knows something isn't right with our world today.



October 13, 2011
Our goof ball dog Cricket died last night.



Salute.


October 12, 2011
Have you ever been in a restaurant and wished you could try everything? Well, last month when we were in New York City we did just that. Daniels is a five Star place with 10 star food. Here's the menu and yes, we had all of it!

First Course
Trio of Arctic Char – Confit with Tarragon and Lemon Balm; Tartar with Wasabi and Northern Lights Caviar;    Picked with Yellow Tomato Vinaigrette and Turmeric
Peekytoe Crab in an Heirloom Tomato Gelee` –Thai Basil, Avocado, Mango, Lilliput Capers and Olive Bread Tuile
Artichoke and Squid Ink Raviolini – Littleneck Clams, Ruby Red Shrimp, Razor Clams, Sea Beans, Saffron Cream, Opal Basil
Chilled Sweet Corn Veloute` with Olive Oil – Smoked Sable Salad, Iberico Lomo, Piquillo Pepper

Second Course
Slow Baked Loup de Mer with Sumac – Roasted Black Mission Figs, Fennel Royale, Syrah Sauce
Atlantic Flaked Cod with Tarbais Beans – Wild Lambsquarters, Chorizo, Purslane and Marcona Almond Emulsion
Duo of Guina Hen – Roasted Breast with Carmelized Cipollini Onion, Celery Puree, Apple Confit; Crispy Legs with Wild Rice Fricasse
Trio of Rabbit – Roasted Rack with Young Carrots; Confit Shoulder with Bulgar Wheat; Cilantro Stuffed Saddle, Grilled Porcini, Orleans Mustard Jus

And for desert
Desert Vodka Roasted Pluots – Almond Mousse, Vanilla Sable, Orange Sorbet
Lemongrass Poached Pineapple – Coconut Merinque, Lime-Rum Gelee, Pina Colada Sorbet
Warmed Guanaja Chocolate Coulant – Liquid Caramel, Fleur de Sel, Milk Sorbet Sesame Bavaroise Araguani Chocolate Cremeux – Szechuan Pepper Gele, Chocolate Ice Cream

PS, I didn't taste any of the dishes with booze in them, but I heard they were good. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my spiritual guru, Joe for teaching me to enjoy a bit of the "spartan" lifestyle he seems to excel in.

Salute!



October 11, 2011
I grew up in New Mexico. 364 days of bright sun shine. Sure it rains a bit there, every afternoon for a good half hour as a matter of fact. They call it the "Land of Enchantment". I lived in Colorado, aka, "The Land of Cool Sunshine", and Florida, "The Sunshine State". I also lived in 12 or 13 other states, and when we lived in Oregon, the rain and gloomy weather became a bit of an issue for me.

I find I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. Moving to BC was a good move in many ways for us, but it did nothing to help my grumpiness, mood swings, and depression that came on with the short, dark days, constant cloud cover and rain.

What does help is a SAD light. It is a full spectrum lamp, and when I sit under it for 15 - 20 minutes in the morning …. Abracadabra … I feel better. I’ve known this helps and have had this practice for over 20 years. Yet, this morning as I complained to a friend about nothing, I was reminded that it might time to find the lamp, turn it on, and sit.

In the words of Ed Coopers mum, “Tomorrow better.”



October 10, 2011
My horoscope today from Georgia Nichols starts with, “This is a restless day! You feel antsy. You have that feeling you're waiting for the other shoe to drop.” It is true, this morning I woke feeling antsy. I think because of my dream.

Dreams are weird in the first place and I don’t analyse them. Usually I just dream 'em and forget 'em. But last nights dream made me antsy, making my horoscope come true before the day even really got started!

In my dream I was showing off my beautiful painted fingernails to my friend Deb C. I had to explain to her that the lady who normally paints my nails was away and so I had to paint them myself and weren’t they pretty? My nails had several layers of paint on them, and were painted a mixture of red and gold with a sprinkling of silver glitter. Not very different from how they are right now, only in my dream they were fancier.

Deb admires my nails, and then asks why they aren’t finished. Not finished? She then takes my arm and cuts the length of it with a razor blade and proceeds to pull a long and skinny vein out of my arm as the finishing touch. Now you are finished. Ahhhhh!! She does the other arm as well. It doesn’t hurt, but Ahhhhhh! She tells me I have to take this vein out of my arm every time I paint my nails and she says she can teach me to do it myself. Ahhhhh! There is a skinny, long scar but she promises that the next time will be easier.

Ahhhhh!

I wake up feeling a little antsy, waiting for the other shoe to drop. How did Georgia Nichols know?



October 9, 2011
Yesterday, I was grumpy and cranky. All of us have days like that. In general, being cranky is no big deal. I’ve learned to feel what I feel and move on. Everything changes. Still I needed more than a 2% change. I needed to get out of my self-serving pity party.

Doing something for someone else is a sure fire way to feel better. And I must say having someone else do for you is really good too.

Yesterday we were on the receiving end of an act of generosity and love. My mood changed drastically and instantly. Our dear and wonderful Kathy brought us an entire, homemade, Thanksgiving Dinner. I know Kathy pretty well and she would say it was no big deal, but yesterday, for me, it was.

Being on the receiving end of love and dinner is just plain nice!

Happy thanksgiving everyone. May we all be generous whether we are giving or receiving.



October 8, 2011
September came and went and I didn’t have a chance to read as many books as I’d hoped. Partly because I am working on Todays Step and partly because I just couldn’t sink my teeth into a really good read. I tried several books that just didn’t hit the spot for me.

Then I found The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson.

I Loved it!

The Family Fang is a crazy family story. The story isn’t crazy, the family is. Every family, mine included shares drama, trauma, joy and celebrations, but The Family Fang should take a cake. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the timing couldn’t have been better for me. What I loved about this book is no matter how screwed up the family members seem to act or the unforgivable things they do, there remains the underlying concept of, "But what are you going to do? They're family and we love them."

I know I say this about my family a lot. Okay, I say, “Bless their pointed little heads, I’m sure I will cry and miss them when they die.” But that’s the same thing, they’re family, what are you going to do?

I think a lot of us feel this way? How many times do therapists and friends tell people to separate themselves from whomever or whatever is causing grief, and yet there is just this stubborn acceptance that we know these people will do better, make better choices, treat each other better, and it doesn't matter anyway because we would never abandon them.

For me, these ideas were at the heart of the book—emotions I could relate to. Nutbars all, I loved spending time with The Family Fang.



October 7, 2011
Serious athletes don’t get warm, they get loose. They play around with the moves of their sport until they reach a shambling, tension-free kind of confidence that tell them they are ready for real effort. They don’t pursue warmth, they pursue bounciness, elasticity, fluidity.” —The Elements of Effort

The Yang 108 is the path I take to loosen up. I find just raising my arms in commencing can settle me into a state of great comfort. And though I don’t consider myself a serious athlete, the above statement is a good reminder for me to stay loose. In order to do that today I need to let go of the tension I am holding not only in my shoulders, but in my heart and in my memories.

The 108 is amazing, yet it isn’t enough for me today. I need to book a massage - I’m a little tight and ready to let go of some armour.



October 6, 2011
Happy Birthday Sandie!

Last night in my head I wrote an entire story about Sandie. It was well written, very clever, full of love and humour. You would have enjoyed reading it. But, now that I’m at the computer and wanting to write that story, all I can think of is the Todays Step project. It's going to the developer tomorrow!

First let me say, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for Allyson in making this idea a reality. I am also scared and overwhelmed with anxiety as I think about the work, marketing and promotion of the project that we still need to do. All I can say is - Allyson rocks!

My dad is here and he comments on the quality and quantity of the friends I have. It’s true, I have the most amazing friends and I have a lot of them. This does not go un-noticed or unappreciated ever.

Dear Sandie, Happy Birthday - you have been my best friend since the day we met in that laundry-mat in 1977 and I love you to no end.

Dear Allyson - I’m on it! Really, I’m working… right now… It's getting done and will be on your desk this afternoon… I promise!

Dear Marian, When are you coming home? I miss sitting on your deck chatting with you.

Dear Jim - Whats up?

Dear Linda, Rosie, Anna, ML, Evan, heather, Jenny, Kathy, Nancy, Dorian, Frank, Sue, Lloyda, Vicky, Peter, Peggy, and…and.. and… I am so grateful for your friendship.

Okay - that’s my post today. Not what I thought it would be, but what it is.



October 5, 2011
Ken and I used to have a big white four door Toyota Camry. By all the standards we’ve ever held about cars, this one was quite luxurious. We drove it for a couple of years and then one day came to the realization that we were uncomfortable in it. It was just too much car for us. Okay, road trips in the Camry were very comfortable, there was a lot of leg room, but for our little island living and every day use, the car was just too much. We sold the Camry and bought the little red Trecel we now have that often doubles as a truck. Our little car is not fancy, and I like it.

Let me segue to this morning.

We have a big fancy coffee maker taking up real estate on our kitchen counter. I like it, because it has a timer and starts the coffee in the morning automatically with a BEEP, BEEP, BEEP. You can hear the BEEP in any room of our house. It's become my alarm clock, I liked the fact that the BEEP is in the other room. I don’t like alarm clocks. If one goes off near my head when I’m sleeping, I jump out of my skin and wake with my heart pounding so having a timer in the other room BEEP for me is great. The extra bonus of having the coffee ready is well, a bonus. The rest of this giant machine is a bit of a struggle. My hand is a tad too small to open the lid without a huge stretch. Also, it is one of those insulated carafes so you can’t see the contents, and I never know how much coffee is left. It is a big amazing machine, quite fancy, wakes me up and makes coffee.

It broke!

I went to London Drugs for a replacement and found a very small, simple easy coffee maker that promised to beep without much fanfare. I bought it.

Ken read the instructions, set the clocks, showed me how it all works. Simple, easy, small, sleek and this morning instead of BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, I heard beep, beep, beep.

In the study of tai chi, we ask, “How little can I do to accomplish this?”

This is a good question. For me it applies not only to martial arts, but life, cars, and coffee pots.



October 4, 2011
One thing I haven't done this year.

I did not get a hair cut!





October 3, 2011
Here's part of a wonderful documentary on my lovely friend Marion.




October 2, 2011
I knew when I married Ken that life would be a “do it yourself” kind of day. I knew we would never be the type of people to hire help and that if things needed fixing, building or a little duck tape - Ken was the man.

One of his promises to me in our early courtship was, “I’ll get us home.” That is a good promise! And even though one night we did spend sleeping in the bed of a little Datsun pickup on the side of the road just outside of Taos, NM - he kept that promise and we made it back to Colorado bright and early the next morning in a little truck that had no (none, nada, nit) working electronics.

It may have been 10 years ago or it may have been 14 years ago, when we sold our last truck. It was the only brand new vehicle either of us had ever bought. It was a 1983 Toyota small pickup and we drove the tar out of it! Okay, not necessarily drove the tar out of it, not like road trip driving, but we used that truck; worked it, and hauled a lot of stuff. Ken even brought the hot tub across the border in that little truck when we first moved to Bowen Island. (I do wish we had a photo of that.)

We haven’t had a truck now in over a decade and yet…. most of the time, I don’t think we need one. But yesterday… well... what do you think?





October 1, 2011
In general I am a very neat person. I said in general.

I’m not a great housekeeper, but I do like things orderly and clean. I love to sort stuff, clean out drawers, and my closet. I am always looking for stuff I can give away, throw away, or clear out.

Piles of stuff drive me nutty. But, somewhere along the line I must have changed!

My office and desk is a mess right now. A creative mess, but a mess!

My desk is crazy with stacks of paper. There are lists of things to do, story ideas, bills to pay or file and layer upon layer of notes with big fat ideas on them, and lists with reminders of who I need to call or write or get back to in some way.

In my perfect world, my house would be spotless, neat and organized. But, this is my perfect world and today — it is how it is!






September 30, 2011
Forgot to post today - my dad is now visiting from New Mexico. So this next week, theses posts will either be very, very long or very, very short!



September 29, 2011
The toys in Crickets toy basket are usually spread out all over the house. All these toys are her absolute favourites, and one reason she is a happy dog.



It is good to be a dog in our house.



September 28, 2011
Usually I listen to audio books when I walk. It makes me feel productive with the time I spend each morning as I walk to and from the O.

This morning I did something different; I set my ipod to shuffle and let the music flow. Damien McGinty started me off followed by Martha Wainwright, Christine Duncan, Liz Phair, Leonard Cohen, Keith Harkin, and Michael Franti. My brother Art Hudson sang one of my favourite songs called The Turquoise Trail. Then I was treated to, Al Green's yummy voice, then Hasa Diga Eebowa, a song from the Broadway show The Book of Mormon made me dance.

Of course I sang aloud and along with all the songs. I wear headphones so, it’s hard to know the volume at which I sing. Of course I’m pretty sure I sang just fine as a backup singer to everyone! Hee-hee...headphones allow for a blissful self-deceit. But I don’t care. I like singing as I walk, and ride my scooter and the folks who hear me, will either forgive me or not. Today I really enjoyed the shuffle.

Todays ear-worm… Hasa Diga Eebowa!




September 27, 2011
According to some stats you only need 23 people in the same room before you find at least two people that share a birthday.

When the Roughriders started training together six or seven years ago, we had 12 or 14 people in the group and three people shared September 27 as their birthday!

How many Roughriders are left handed? Just me!

I always knew Tai Chi people defied the odds — no wonder I love them so.

Happy birthday Nancy, Sheila and Ian!



September 26, 2011
My Grandma used to ask me, "Who cuts a banana with a spoon?"

I always answered her, "I do."



September 25, 2011
We used to have tatami mats in the training room that were secured in place with big wide boards. As the changes of the room have taken place over the years, the mats have been removed, and Ken the recycler, used the boards years ago when he built the front steps leading up to our home.

For a while we had a tradition that students and visitors would trace their foot on the boards in the training room. It was sort of like signing a guest book at the Bowen Island Tai Chi House.

Change happens; we move on, we remember somethings and forget others.

Today I had a very weird feeling come over me when a memory I had all but forgotten came rushing back.

I didn't even know Ken had taken this photo, and today he sent it to me.




Pure love!





September 24, 2011
Here is a sneak preview of a little project I've been working on with Allyson Appen. All I can say is watch out what you ask for... it might just come true!

Todays Step



September 23, 2011
Ken and I rarely have presents to open on Christmas morning. We tend to “rip paper” the moment we are given any gift. We don’t wait. Last year was an exception, we stashed all our presents at our neighbours house and had a Christmas morning frenzy. As a rule, we don’t wait to celebrate birthdays or anniversaries either. If at anytime we get a present we open it and enjoy it immediately. We say oooh and ahhhh and then for the rest of the day, we think of the person who gave it to us, we play with it, wear it or hang it on the wall. Whatever, we enjoy the gift.

We’ve had the experience (like last year) of saving up presents and then all at once, in one sitting enjoy a frenzy— ripping wrapping paper right and left, opening this present and then another; barely looking at one gift before moving on to the next. That’s fun, but today I realize why Ken and I prefer the other way. Our pace is slower than the average bear. We don’t multi-task and we like time with one event, sight, sound or gift. We are slow to move on.

My recent trip to New York was a bit like saving up all the presents for Christmas Day and then having a frenzy— opening them all at once before eating a big pancake breakfast. Looking back on all we did in the Big Apple, is overwhelming. We ate at five or six fancy five star restaurants, but other than Daniels, I can’t tell you the names of the restaurants. I can’t really tell you about any of the food I ate, except to say there was one desert that had a blueberry cookie and a vanilla custard that exploded in my mouth. I also know I ate foie gras for the first time and sweetbreads too. But, the experience and the fancy food is all blurred together. I don’t know where the fresh pea soup was served or what was in that ravioli or particular sauce. I know it was good. I know I liked it. I know we had a great time. We also ate Indian food, pizza, corned beef rubens and cheesecake. It was all good and it was a lot!

Hardly the spartan lifestyle, we saw 12 shows on Broadway. I need to look at the Playbills to be able to remember the shows and to share some of the details of the songs, actors and set designs. Usually when asked, I just say, “It was great!”

We also went to a few concerts. We heard three choirs sing, saw a dance program, two nights of jazz, two open mikes and went to a drag queen contest. If I take my time, I can tell you about all of them, but mostly I just say… Wow!

My friend Jen who lives in New York told me I’d seen more of NY in ten days than she had seen in ten years! I believe it.

It’s no wonder I’m having trouble coming back to our quiet and slow life on Bowen. I feel like I have a huge stack of presents in the corner that I need to look at again one by one and savour. I also want to write thank you notes, only I’m not sure how, because in the frenzy, I feel like all the tags were pulled off in the fuss.

The big box with the bow on it called Ten days in New York City exploded on me. I feel like I opened all the saved up presents at once.

Joe and Sandie planned the entire adventure; all the meals, reservations, shows. They are the best friends and traveling companions ever. I love them to no end, and am grateful for their generosity, friendship, and enthusiasm.

For the rest of my life I’ll reflect this trip. I know it will take me that long to remember and appreciate all we did. For now, all I can say is, “New York, New York, it’s a wonderful town.”



September 22, 2011
Having the right food in the refrigerator makes eating well, easier. A day that is not raining, makes it simple for me to stand outside on the patio or to get a walk in. Arriving early at the O makes it possible for me to have a good practice. Somethings are easier to do, just because other things are in place.

Yesterday I walked pass the Nambé tray where I keep glass beads. It was all but empty, I haven’t made any beads in a long time. I walked over to the kiln and flipped the switch. Just turning on the kiln is a simple signal for me to sit down and make beads.

The Broadway musical The Book of Mormon, has a song called “Turn it Off” - It’s a catchy tune about stuffing feelings and emotions way down inside ourselves. Because the tune is catchy I find myself singing it often and so yesterday afternoon, I danced over to the kiln and sang, “Turn it on” as I flipped the switch. I know if I just flip the switch on the kiln from off to on, I will make beads.

The kiln takes at least an hour to heat up to the temperature that is needed to anneal the beads, and being a very patient person, one hour can be just too long to wait when the urge to create hits me! More often than not, I just walk pass the kiln and do something else.

Yesterday, I turned on the kiln and one hour later I was making beads.

That was easy!


September 21, 2011
Today my heart grieves the lost of two young women.

Zoe, beloved daughter of Joni and Leah, a sister in sobriety that just couldn't make it.

Once again, I am reminded of the gift of life, and even when at times we may not feel it, each one of us matters to someone. We are important in the world.

If you are reading this. You matter to me.



September 20, 2011
Gratitude and excitement are two great qualities to have in one’s life.

I'd like to thank Allyson Appen for bringing out both of these qualities in me today. Salute!



September 19, 2011
If I had a "I heart Bowen Island" tee-shirt, I'd be wearing it today!



September 18, 2011
It's quiet now, I'm home.
My ears and eyes need the rest.
The only food I've found in the house has been blackberries and zucchini.
Peet is on my lap. Ken and Cricket just home from their morning walk.

All is right with my world!



September 17, 2011
Travel day. I'm looking forward to being home with Ken and the critters. I'm longing for quiet and a slower pace.

This trip has been incredible. 10 days, with my best friend and Joe. 12 Broadway shows, 2 nights of Jazz, 2 open mikes, 1 drag queen contest - miles and miles walked, concerts in parks and church, oh and 6 meals at 5 star joints, pizza, cheesecake and delis for Rubens.

New York, New York, it's a wonderful town!

I'm a little tired. It will be good to be home.


September 16, 2011
Too much going on to tell a story. I will say we are taking more than a bite our of this Big Apple and it is thanks to the best event planners ever!  Music, shows, food and, and, and...



Thanks Joe and Sandie! I love you!


September 15, 2011




September 14, 2011
No time to post - gotta go. Two Broadway shows and a Drag Queen contest to attend. This pace is kicking me - I guess I should have trained a bit more this last year!



September 13, 2011
That's entertainment! The movie was about Hollywood - but, I gotta say, we have been completely entertained here in the city. There is so much talent on the streets, in theatres, small and large, on subway platforms and museum staircases, that I, Jan Parker came dragging her rear end up four flights of stairs this morning at 3 a.m. with stars in my eyes and songs in my heart.

last night we hung out at an open mike club after a huge Broadway show, that was just incredible. We were the oldest people in the room by at least 30 years and it was FUN! These wonderful young actors sing, dance and entertain like nobodies business. Talent pours out of them. Wonderful, is how I will describe the night.

Woke up before noon (just) ready to go all again today... There is this, to see and that, to do and those, to watch.

I'm glad Ken taught me years that I can do anything I like, I just can't do everything, even I try and come home in the wee hours.

I love NYC.


September 12, 2011
9/11 in NYC - to tell the truth, we did our best to stay pretty far away from the hub bub. We stayed up town and away from ground zero, booked tickets to two shows and spent most of the day and evening watching shows. Chicago and Rent, which were great! Yet, it was hard to miss the energy of the city for the day. Firemen and cops are everywhere and in full formal uniforms. The fire stations are open to the public, flowers and cards litter the front doors.

I've seen Facebook postings complaining that these guys weren't invited to the memorial events. i have to disagree. From my limited street view, yesterday was NOT in the least about the politicians in NYC. It was all about the people who lost loved ones and the public servants who helped. They are treated as true heroes; honoured, respected and thanked. People are posing with police and firemen, taking photos, shaking their hands and saying thank you. I can't imagine them feeling in the least bit slighted with all the attention.

Another thing I noticed is, that most of the cops and firemen we are seeing, must have been in grade school in 2001 when the towers came down.

Still, we kept our heads down for most of the tributes, I love New York it's a wonderful town.


September 11, 2011
New York city on September 11th ten years after. Probably not the best timing on our part. We will spend the day in the theatre watching shows. I think it is better for us to be off the streets, giving room to the locals as they remember.



September 10, 2011
Yesterday we went to St. Pauls and Trinity Episcopal downtown by ground zero to listen to three choirs. Beautiful voices. I re-new my interest is conducting! I know I have ALL the moves for the job. I also admit I fell asleep at one of them, the Requiems get a little ... well.... We were invited to sing with one of the choirs and of course I sang out; I'd say I hit a lot of the notes.

Joel Grey in Anything Goes on Broadway last night was a hoot! I love singing and dancing and there was plenty. These shows are amazing.

Today we meet my Auntie and cousin for lunch at some hotels private club and then go to the play Love, Loss and What I wore.

Joe is doing well with our food plan! Lasts nights 3 courses and the desert was the most incredible thing I've EVER tasted. A type of vanilla custard with blueberry cookie. Yum doesn't do it.

It's a wonderful town and we are having a wonderful time.


September 9, 2011
We are living a bit of a spartan lifestyle. We only had two amazing meals at two 5 Star restaurants and had to walk each meal off before the next. Lucky you can do that here in the city. Our apartment is a 4th floor walk up and that helps as well. We are only two blocks away from an entire block of bead stores! Holy Moly.

Went to a play called War Horse. Amazing and yet, the word WAR was in the title and I should have been warned.

New York, New York... it's a wonderful town.


September 8, 2011
NYC - our first night. We walked 26 blocks in the rain to listen to a jazz band from Cuba. Incredible! My hair exploded.

Our first morning, Sandie and I are getting cell phone lessons. They don't go so well, because our teacher Joe, is on the floor laughing at our inability to grasp the technology!

Our digs are good - noisy but that was expected.




September 7, 2011
YVR>MSP>EWR
I'm traveling today. It is early, and even though on most days I wake early, being at the airport early is just too early!

There are birds in the terminal living off Tim Hortons donut and muffin crumbs. It's actually quite sad to see them here. No fresh air to go with all the apple fritters and maple bars.

I'm not a fan of travel. I will be very happy when all connections click, and in a mere 12 hours, (less with the time change) when I get to hug Sandie and Joe and we settle into our NYC apartment, all will be right with the world. In the mean time, guanqifa is my friend and I am asking for lots of pure and clean, easy energy to come my way as I blast through the friendly skies!


September 6, 2011
What do Bowen Island and New York City have in common? Not much!

NYC has a population of eight million people, Bowen has anywhere between 3,000 and 5,000 depending on who and when you ask.

NYC has  a lot of taxis, subways, bright lights, shows, music, food, and fashion. It is the city that never sleeps.

Bowen Island has Bowfest, Tir-na-nog, Out of the Blue, Tuscany and the Pub. The last boat leaves the island at 10pm.

Not counting expensive real estate, what they do share is the same geographical land mass size. Yup - Manhattan and Bowen are the same size, or pretty close.

I had to look up both for fact checking — and because they are in different countries one is measured in hectares and kilometres and the other is measured in miles and acres. Not to be outdone by a little math - I googled a conversion thingy, but it was a bit too confusing for me.

Anyway, they are really close in size. NYC is 14,528 acres and Bowen is 5260 hectares. You do the math! Other than that — not much is the same. NYC has the largest urban park in it and Bowen is pretty close to Stanley Park which is the second largest urban park in North America.

Bowen used to have a taxi and it was well used and handy, but the politics and fees involved made it impossible for the service to keep up. Now we have hitchhiking. I guess that is close to the same as in NYC. Both place you can stick your arm out and a car will stop for you. The difference is you have a good chance of knowing the driver on Bowen and you don’t have to pay them.

I’m looking forward to my trip. It will be good to spend time with Sandie and Joe. I’m packing "black", because my cousin says that's "what they wear there." I’m also packing green, blue and brown, because that is just the way I roll.




September 5, 2011
I’m thinking of running for Mayor of Bowen Island. I’m serious.

I think I’d make a very good Mayor in some aspects and a bad one in others.

I’d be a good Mayor because I would march in the Bowfest Parade and throw good candy. I’d show up to all the store openings, art shows and plays. I’d cut ribbons, shake hands, and make welcome speeches. I’d honour people often and be generous with the key to the island— even though no one locks anything around here. I would not let people yell at me.  I would be a good ambassador and I’d be great at ceremony.

I would be a bad Mayor because I hate reading stupid charters and reports. I’m against a national park being formed on the island. I don’t care about ferry marshaling or the Snug Cove plan, but then again, I don't think anyone does. I’m pretty sure I would vote NO most of the time and I would stay uninformed on a lot of issues.

However; I think I can do as well as the current Mayor. I don’t think I’d do much damage and maybe being Mayor would help me like living here again.



September 4, 2011
Bowen Island is a quiet place and Ken and I have a simple life here. Our days can be described as slow, quiet, some may say boring. We read books, watch TV, look out the window, walk the dog and pet the cat, water the garden and sit on the patio. Throw in the odd project here and there and we are happy.

New York City on the other hand is loud and fast, with taxis, subways, bright lights, shows, music, food, fashion. New York City is everything Bowen Island isn’t.

I leave on for the Big Apple on Wednesday. Yin to Yang!


September 3, 2011





September 2, 2011
I like to walk to the O in the mornings. This morning I had an insight that will make a difference in walks to come.

What I notice is that it totally depends on what time I leave the house in the morning, as to how enjoyable my walk and morning practice will be. There is a five minute window that determines my comfort level.

If I leave at 7:15 a.m. I enjoy a 50 minute walk, that is quiet, safe and with limited traffic. I arrive at the O with plenty of time to sit a little, stand a little, and move a little before the clients come in for qigong.

If I leave at 7:10 a.m. I face a lot of traffic coming off the ferry. My walk becomes an adventure. I end up dodging the speeding parade of the trades people, in their big, noisy, trucks. My walk takes an extra 15 minutes. And even though I leave earlier, there is only enough time for a few stretches before I begin the class.

I think it's amazing that this has taken me so long to notice. Once again, I find great benefit in waiting; in this case I need to wait just five minutes more.



September 1, 2011
I’m busy! I’ve got a great project and a lot to do!
I’ve noticed there are different methods I employ to delay actually getting to work.

Here are the top 10 ways I stall.
1. I take Cricket out and throw the ball for her.
2. I wonder what Peet is doing. Come on kitty, kitty, kitty…
3. I go on Facebook and think I should have a contest.
4. I check the stupid Bowen Forum and fume at local politics.
5. I look at the astronomy photo of the day, or read a blog on the interweb.
6. I stretch and do a few (very few) sit ups!!!
7. I look out the window.
8. I visit Marian, call Sandie, see what Ken is doing.
9. I email my cousin, after all I haven’t heard from her in … 7 years.
10. I watch America’s got a next top dancer, cook, singer, designer, or juggler on TV.



August 31, 2011
I forgot to post today. Sorry!




August 30, 2011
I love this sabbatical and I miss the interaction and connection with my students more than I imagined I would.

I’ve always said I have the best students anyone could ask for. They are hard workers, generous and dedicated. They are also excellent tai chi players. They know their stuff, and today, on his birthday, I’d like to salute one student in particular.

I first met Colin when I adopted a class in North Vancouver from Chris Donnahee. Colin had been studying with Chris for a while, learning the 24 form and some qigong. I came to the class and told them I don’t do the 24 and why don’t we all just start over with commencing, and work our way through the Yang curriculum. (Little did they know the road ahead of them.) Even though they didn’t really have a choice in the matter, everyone seemed open to the class shift, especially Colin.

Colin trained karate for years, has a smart body and some strong application and kicking skills. (I have the bruise on my shin to prove it), As open as he is to learning, Colin won’t pretend if something doesn’t work, but his willingness to soften up and really learn tai chi is what impresses me. He always knew he could fall back on physical strength and brute force, but was more interested in the study of internal strength. Inside and outside took a while to harmonize with him. Colin has knocked me over and tossed me around more than few times, and when I would get up and say, “Yes, that worked, but you can do that with a lot less force and energy; soften up, try again.” He relaxed, dropped his shoulders and tried again.

Colin has grown into a really fine tai chi player. He is the most generous student and classmate I’ve met in a long time. He stands well, and will explore, discover and share insights with the kind of curiosity it takes to stay and grow in this art. Colin has done the work, he shows up, he practices, he studies, he shares, and still my silly ego wants to puff up a bit, and shout out, “That's my student!”

Happy birthday, Colin. Salute.




August 29, 2011
I have been heart deep in an incredible writing project so my time on the patio reading has suffered. I don't really mind right now as I'm learning more than I can express.
My August book report is a little slim, but here it is.

Books I read in August.

Hitchens vs. Blair The Munk Debate on Religion
Be it resolved Religion is a force for good in the world.

My neighbour Marian and I read this out loud together. I took Richard Hitchens view, she read the side of Tony Blair. Since we are both atheists, we kinda had a strong view point going in. Still, Hitchens clearly wins this debate.

Marian and I had such a good time doing this, we downloaded four more Munk debates and in the afternoons will read and discuss them out loud with each other. I feel so smart!

Penelope Trunk by Penelope Trunk
I love Penelope Trunk. I follow her blog about start up businesses, because she just writes so well about life. She wrote a book and only printed 1000 and I got number 102 signed. It is hard to describe her book, so I’ll just post the link to her blog. Follow her - she has a great take on life.

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff
Mormon weirdness at its best.

Children of Usher: Growing up in Los Alamos by Glenn Fishbine
All I can say about this book, is I had a different childhood than Glenn Fishbine did.




August 28, 2011
Yesterday was Bowfest. Bowen Islands annual celebration with food, games, music and best of all the parade. The parade starts at the school and goes down the hill to the ferry landing. Done and done. It has to start after one boat leaves and end before the next one comes in.

The parade is the only part of Bowfest Ken and I go to, the other parts involve way too many children. Our first Bowfest parade in 1996, set the tone for us and we still tell stories about it. I will say, ever since they quit having serious water balloon fights, the parade has lost some of its charm. Oh, the firemen still squirt everyone with hoses, but no one in the crowd fights back anymore.

Yesterday it was all about the candy that got tossed from the floats. We actually saw kids holding halloween type bags because they had so much booty. I caught a coconut chew and it was good. Marian got some hard candy and I think Ken caught a sucker. None of us came even close to catching any goods thrown from the Cocoa West Float after all, I’m on sabbatical and although I was tempted, I didn’t feel like expressing “na jing”.



A good community celebration yesterday - Two fairs in one week, Ken and I are on a roll.



August 27, 2011



"There is always more to learn, but I have no regrets." —Janice Wood



August 26, 2011
I just finished reading the book, Children of Usher: Growing up in Los Alamos by Glenn Fishbine.

All I can say is, even though Glenn and I grew up in the same town, at the same time, and went to the same school, I had a really different childhood than Glenn Fishbine did.




August 25, 2011
I'm working on a project, that I hope will encourage people on their path of recovery. As I'm working on it, different themes are inspiring my thoughts. I thought today I'd share a small sample.

Acceptance
Right off the bat I will say there are somethings that are not acceptable. Rape for example, child abuse — not acceptable. So, I will not, cannot, say that to achieve serenity in recovery, we must accept and accept and accept. Grant it, we cannot deny horrible things happen in the world; to us, and to those we love. What I’m suggesting is; be honest.

It took practice for me to become aware, and present, with the knowledge that acceptance does not mean to give over, lie down, or become resigned at all costs. Yet, there is the paradox that if I let go, surrender, accept, no matter what my struggle, whether inside my mind or from an outside influence, if I just accepted with honesty, what is really happening, relief will come.

As an alcoholic, I tend to fight just about everything. As I grow in sobriety, I am more apt to accept life on life's terms, sooner than later, just to save the struggle. It is easier to stay in my own skin if I accept that I have work to do, or that I feel like shit, am happy, or angry or tired. It does me no good to deny the news of the death of a friend, or the reality that I have the disease of alcoholism.

I usually only look towards practicing acceptance when there is something I’d rather deny. Denial although not great — is at least somewhat familiar, and therefore does not require me to change. But denial is also a lot like chewing on a piece of grizzled meat. You know sooner or later, you will have to spit it out or swallow it, because you just can’t keep on chewing.

Acceptance comes to me when I utter, “Yes, fine, all right” and then the most important part of acceptance, for me comes when I say, “Now what?” Over the years I have learned, that when I look to accept something, I will say yes, and. If I say yes to what comes my way and then follow through with the AND… I’ll find something to do that might help. I don’t just have to sit with an acceptance feeling powerless. With yes and, I am able to continue the conversation.

I am an alcoholic. Yes and I have a program of recovery to follow. My friend died unexpectedly. Yes and I will miss him every day. It’s raining and miserable outside. Yes and I can use my new umbrella today. My partner is driving me crazy. Yes and I love him anyway!

And for you Tai Chi people, the next time you complain that someone is pushing too hard… say, Yes and… receive it and accept it!



August 24, 2011 (happy birthday brother Art)
Ken and I are going to the PNE! (Pacific National Exhibition)

There will be rides, animals and of course fair cuisine. This is our first time to the fair, and I gotta say I'm a little nervous. But I understand there are mini donuts, and beaver tails, as well as fried butter, and chocolate bacon, so we should have some choice at lunch!

My suggestion, dial 91 and keep your finger ready!





August 23, 2011
A letter to Canadians from the Honourable Jack Layton
August 20, 2011
Toronto, Ontario

Dear Friends,

Tens of thousands of Canadians have written to me in recent weeks to wish me well. I want to thank each and every one of you for your thoughtful, inspiring and often beautiful notes, cards and gifts. Your spirit and love have lit up my home, my spirit, and my determination.

Unfortunately my treatment has not worked out as I hoped. So I am giving this letter to my partner Olivia to share with you in the circumstance in which I cannot continue.

I recommend that Hull-Aylmer MP Nycole Turmel continue her work as our interim leader until a permanent successor is elected.

I recommend the party hold a leadership vote as early as possible in the New Year, on approximately the same timelines as in 2003, so that our new leader has ample time to reconsolidate our team, renew our party and our program, and move forward towards the next election.

A few additional thoughts:

To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please don’t be discouraged that my own journey hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer.

To the members of my party: we’ve done remarkable things together in the past eight years. It has been a privilege to lead the New Democratic Party and I am most grateful for your confidence, your support, and the endless hours of volunteer commitment you have devoted to our cause. There will be those who will try to persuade you to give up our cause. But that cause is much bigger than any one leader. Answer them by recommitting with energy and determination to our work. Remember our proud history of social justice, universal health care, public pensions and making sure no one is left behind. Let’s continue to move forward. Let’s demonstrate in everything we do in the four years before us that we are ready to serve our beloved Canada as its next government.

To the members of our parliamentary caucus: I have been privileged to work with each and every one of you. Our caucus meetings were always the highlight of my week. It has been my role to ask a great  deal from you. And now I am going to do so again. Canadians will be closely watching you in the months to come. Colleagues, I know you will make the tens of thousands of members of our party proud of you by demonstrating the same seamless teamwork and solidarity that has earned us the confidence of millions of Canadians in the recent election.

To my fellow Quebecers: On May 2nd, you made an historic decision. You decided that the way to replace Canada’s Conservative federal government with something better was by working together in partnership with progressive-minded Canadians across the country. You made the right decision then; it is still the right decision today; and it will be the right decision right through to the next election, when we will succeed, together. You have elected a superb team of New Democrats to Parliament. They are going to be doing remarkable things in the years to come to make this country better for us all.

To young Canadians: All my life I have worked to make things better. Hope and optimism have defined my political career, and I continue to be hopeful and optimistic about Canada. Young people have been a great source of inspiration for me. I have met and talked with so many of you about your dreams, your frustrations, and your ideas for change. More and more, you are engaging in politics because you want to change things for the better. Many of you have placed your trust in our party. As my time in political life draws to a close I want to share with you my belief in your power to change this country and this world. There are great challenges before you, from the overwhelming nature of climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and the changes necessary to build a more inclusive and generous Canada. I believe in you. Your energy, your vision, your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs today. You need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life, and our plans for the present and the future.

And finally, to all Canadians: Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things because we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can actually bring about change. In the months and years to come, New Democrats will put a compelling new alternative to you. My colleagues in our party are an impressive, committed team. Give them a careful hearing; consider the alternatives; and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

All my very best,

Jack Layton


August 22, 2011 (happy birthday Tyler)
This morning when I went to stand outside on the patio - I stayed on the porch. Cricket and Peet did as well. None of us ventured into the down pour. The much needed rain is fantastic. The sound of the wind among the alder trees is comforting, and the fresh smell in the air; a real delight.

It felt good, and also wrong to be outside.

I just read the news of Jack Layton dying and I gotta say, it threw me. I stood on the porch and cried. I am sad for the news. My sympathy goes to his family and our country.

Being on the porch this morning, felt like I was standing in the white dot of the yin/yang circle. A definite turning point. The season is turning, the change feels encompassing and expansive.

I don’t know what’s next— I am paying no attention to what was.

Like my brother Art, I’ll greet this day the same way he does.

“I’m here!”



August 21, 2011
When we first moved to Bowen Island, Sandie, asked why we would want to move to the “frozen north”? Of course Sandie lives in Hawaii and anything north of Lihue is considered frozen in her eyes.

Now, I love living here. I don’t like the temperature too hot, and am comfortable wearing long sleeved clothes and sweaters MOST of the time. BUT, I have to say, August twenty-first is a ridiculous summer date to FINALLY be eating beans, squash and basil out of our summer garden.

Frozen friggen north indeed.



August 20, 2011
“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlyn…is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins…you may see the world around you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honor trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then—to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. This is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you.” — T.H. WHITE, THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING

August 20th, the anniversary when I learned— If you don't drink, you won't get drunk.



August 19, 2011
You've heard of Moose and Squirrel? Well, here is Moose and Dog.





August 18, 2011
It was a good thing Georgia Nichols lifted the shopping ban she put on Tarsus last Tuesday. Marian and I went to town yesterday, and had a bit of a spree.

When we lived in Oregon years ago, once in a while, I would join several women for a weekend on the coast; we would play tai chi, share meals, and laugh and laugh. I remember one year, Nancy, Cynthia, Darryla and I all drove out together towards the coast town of Florence.

On our way we stopped at some little store and dropped a few hundred dollars on dresses, scarfs, hats and shoes in what any one with clear eyes would call a shopping frenzy! We had a ball trying on all kinds of fancy outfits, saris, capes and hats with feathers. When one of us came out of a dressing room, no matter what we had on, the others screamed in delight… “Buy It. It’s fabulous.” So what if you will never have an opportunity to wear a cape and boa — “You look great— I think you should get it.” So we did, we all bought something that on any given day, none of us would ever wear. I bought a beautiful burgundy silk cape and I admit to wearing it during a tai chi demo once. (I thought I looked fantastic.)

For me, the point wasn’t how silly our purchases were — the point is we had so much fun. We laughed and entertained each other (and the store owner) for several hours. I don’t have the cape anymore, but I have the best memories of that day, those friends, and especially of Nancy coming out of the dressing room wearing that green sari! Priceless.

So, yesterday, after the bank and before the fruit stand, Marian and I stopped in a cute little store “just to look” for a moment. More time that we thought passed as we tried on dresses, hats and scarfs, and we ooo’d and ahhh’d at each other, and said, “You should buy that! It looks great on you!” We laughed and soon the store was full of women, all giving their opinions of “Yes, that is beautiful — or no, that colour is all wrong for you” and most importantly — “no, you don’t look fat in those pants, they are fantastic!”

“You should buy it!”

It is silly and it was fun. We didn’t buy any capes or feather boas, but we both walked out with “a little something," you know, for a time when, maybe we’ll have some fancy place to go, and if that ever happens, I know just what I'll wear!



August 17, 2011
Yesterday I received a love letter! Not a gushy, gooey, kind of letter; it wasn’t from a secret admirer or anything, but it was indeed a genuine love letter.

This person wrote to tell me they thought the world is a cooler more interesting place with me and Ken in it and they thought they should let me know.

Well, I gotta say — it was nice. Really nice to be told that. So I sent an email to someone who I think a lot of, and told them so, and well… maybe on it will go.

While it isn’t that hard to make someone feel good, some effort and action is required. We have to pay attention and every once in a while — tell those you love, that you do!




August 16, 2011
“Today is the same as yesterday, except it's called Tuesday.”

Seriously - this is my horoscope for today, by Georgia Nichols.

I read somewhere once, that most of us will think close to 90% of the same thoughts, today, as we did yesterday. If that is true, that only leaves 10% room for new and different ideas for today.

At first I’d like to deny the statement. 90% the same as yesterday?! 90%! And yet, I’ve been up for hours, and my day is already pretty much the same as yesterday. I have routine, rut, habit, er… practice. What ever I call it, it is pretty much the same each day. And where my body goes, my mind tends to follow.

And yet, oh hallelujah for the “and yet…” and yet, today can be fresh, new, and different, not just in my actions but in my thoughts, maybe not all of them, but today just to spite Georgia Nichols and the stars, I plan to strive for more than 10% new - I’m going for at least 12% new thinking today. As Master Jou says, and I like to repeat – “Make a little progress each day.”

One thing that will alter my thoughts and bring new insights today is that at 4 p.m. Kim is giving me a massage. I will think happy and grateful thoughts. Wait, that’s not new.

Georgia Nichols also says I should not shop before 8pm today, nothing new here! Hmmm. I’ll keep you posted.




August 15, 2011
Today is the birthday of the late Johnny Parker.

The first time I met Ken’s dad was in 1982. Ken and I had just gotten together. I moved in with him, and he told his folks in a phone call. I don't think they hung up the phone before they were in the camper and coming for a visit, just to see what was going on.

I see a lot of Johnny in Ken. His hands are the same, his walk, and at times, I hear Johnny’s voice and words come out of Kens mouth. “Well…    I  suppose,” is probably when I hear it the most. Take a few seconds to drag that phrase out a bit, you might be able to hear it too.

Johnny liked me. I’m not bragging, he did. He told me once, that there had never been a “dark haired” married into the family before, but that it was real nice to have one! He even said, I was “nothing like the last one,” speaking of Ken’s first wife. I took that as a compliment, even though I knew nothing about her.

Maybe he liked me and had all these insights because the first night we met, quite by accident, Johnny saw me naked! Believe me it was not my intention to have my future father-in-law see me this way, but it happened. We both nodded, smiled, and never spoke of it again, at least not to each other, but it bonded us.

Johnny was a good man, a hard worker and funny. He was married to Kens mom for over 60 years, he was a rancher, and worked his four boys hard when they were growing up. Over the years, I have the benefit of the lessons Ken learned from his dad. Ken can build this, fix that, and most importantly, “get us home”. Johnny never knew a hired man and Ken has only a passing acquaintance.

Johnny Parker had an long and interesting life. For me, the greatest thing he did was raised a good son. Today, I suppose... I salute Johnny Parker.



August 14, 2011
I know it is a compliment to be told I moved like Sam. I was always pleased when I was recognized by my movement as his student. Yet, I’ve come to know that no matter how simple or traditional a form, the effect of a practice is still absolutely original because no two people move in the same way and my practice helps me to become more of myself.

Still, I was quite proud when Michelle told me that she was recognized as my student by how she touched in.




August 13, 2011
I asked my friend if I could post this wonderful poem of his today. He said "yes dear".

Ladies and Gentlemen, Bobby Kapp!

There are no places
Only my experience
Of a place
Most of the stuff I dug
back in the 60's
...Like karma
Change
Music from the center
A life between two eternities
Has become a living book
In which I hope For. A sentence
Or maybe two




August 12, 2011
Yesterday was odd. I spent a lot of the day waiting. I wasn’t standing around, I was standing by.

In the late morning, I heard that our ferry “was slow” in the cove; a body had been discovered. We all knew it was probably Doug, but still we waited.

We waited until it was official, when someone in charge, someone with authority, gave a name, made an I.D., it was then, we had closure, our friend Doug was found. Now we grieve.

See before yesterday, we knew… but we didn’t know. Now we know and because we know, we can move.



August 11, 2011
It's the next thing, not the last thing.

There is a saying in recovery, “Do the next right thing”. It is meant as a way for us to pause, think, and then act. The point being we don’t have to know all the right answers, we just have to keep moving forward, keep showing up, and continue to participate in life.

I am knee deep into a project I’ve thought about for years. I have a friend who believes it is a good idea and is encouraging me to quit talking about it, and get on with it. She has given me huge support, and horror of all, some deadlines.

The problem is I'm lazy! I tell myself I'm on sabbatical! I’ve gotten out of the production habit! The patio chair misses me, I’m losing my tan, and unread books are taunting me. Yet, I am in my office (often called the cave), at my keyboard throwing word, after word, after word, at the screen, on scraps of paper, hitting the save button often, and really hoping that what I’m writing make sense, is what I want to say, and works.

This is my next right thing.

And even though I miss just hanging around reading books and eating peaches, I’m glad I have the encouragement and support to continue on. The more I do, the more I feel good about it, and the easier it becomes. (Practice eh?)

Two huge lessons here for me.
1. Don’t talk about big fat good ideas, to people who can make them happen!
2. Do the next right thing.



August 10, 2011
Life is so daily.



August 9, 2011
Now that the yard is fenced we have a chance that the deer won’t eat any attempt we make at growing a garden. It is really fun being able to grow a few things, even more fun having Ken do all the work. He brought in the first zucchini yesterday, picked from some pathetic looking plants that have had a heck of a time growing this very cold, and wet summer. Now that the August sun has come, the green beans finally have some flowers, so we may get to eat a few beans soon, but I fear there is no hope for the basil. The two inch plants bolted and then Peet took a nap on them. The hanging baskets of flowers are lovely and there are a lot of daisies in the yard.

Two incredible bunches of daisies hold centre stage. One is beautiful and looks spectacular and the other is a falling down mess of flowers.

Marian was visiting yesterday, and as we sat in the sun stalling the days work, we took in the two bunches of flowers. Then the wisdom came….



“There are good daisies and there are bad daisies.” I hope you enjoy what ever daisy you are having.



August 8, 2011
The weekend was full with friends, food, and music. Ken turned 65 and we really celebrated.
Old friends traveled to be here, neighbours dropped by and we had a big party. There was live music and much laughter. The weather was perfect. Gord made a chocolate and raspberry cake, Brian catered finger food that we never ran out of, and strange as it seems, we have no left overs. Ken was showered with attention, presents, and a lot of love!




The house is quiet again today, and I’m guessing you can hear our sighs of satisfaction.

We are back at it today — what ever “it” is.



August 7, 2011
It's not what you are called.

                     It’s what you answer to.



August 6, 2011
Happy 65th Ken. I love you lots!





August 5, 2011
We have friends visiting from out of town, so I'm not taking the time to write today. So, here is a funny from the free will astrology guy on the web.

"In his book, the Dalai Lama invites you to go ten minutes without thinking a negative thought about someone, and I thought, what a jackass, anyone can do that." - Raye Sangfreud




August 4, 2011
 I know if I was big time into car racing, I would know many examples of racers who crashed as well as won. If I followed rock climbers or world class sailers I would be able to tell you stories of people who tried and died by falling off cliffs or on the high sea. Adventurers live on the edge and some come home with great tales, and some die doing what they love.

If you are passionate about anything in life, you will have a story about someone who succeeded, as well as one of someone who died trying.

I know it is because I tend to surround myself with addicts in various stages of recovery, that I probably see more than average of the carnage that spreads because of alcoholism and drug addiction. Yes, I also see success; there are those in my life who recover and live the most amazing lives. There are those too that don’t make it.

Today I am feeling a little like Carry Nation who  described herself as "a bulldog running along at the feet of Jesus, barking at what He doesn't like.

Today I feel like barking a bit, or at least growling.

Falling off a cliff, crashing a speeding car, or drowning in the ocean because of adventure is really no different from crashing a car or falling off a boat because of impaired judgement. The intention may be different, but the final result can be the same.

We do what we do on a daily basis, by choice or need. I am grateful. I make the choice to live my adventures with clarity. Because of my practice, because of my daily habits, it is my intention, that I will enjoy my life today. I will take great care not to fall, very far or very hard. And I will think with love, of those that slipped.



August 3, 2011
My friend Doug went missing this weekend. They found his dog Cody, and his smokes, wallet and hat on his boat at the marina.

I’ve known Doug for more than a few years now. He has the big house on Adams Road, the one with the sign by his driveway that says, “The Last Resort”. I pass it everyday and we used to call out to each other.

Doug struggles with booze and depression. I struggle with letting go.



August 2, 2011 (happy birthday Dorian!)
I have a manila file folder that I keep filled with thoughts and ideas. Most of these I write on scraps of paper and then file, with the intention that I will read them for inspiration and ideas.

I am working on a project right now, and rifled through the folder just for the above reason. I found a half page note, not dated, but obviously written before a Roughrider* gathering.

It says:
Expectations - for the RR for my part and theirs.
I expect they will work hard together and that the day will fly by
and some wonderful sharing and exploring will happen.

I expect this because that is how it works when the RR get together.
That is their training.

It was my training.



Forgive my pride, but after reading that, I was overwhelmed with gratitude and a genuine feeling that at times in my life, I do good work.

*The Roughriders are some of my students who formed a study group.


August 1, 2011
Our dog Cricket is now afraid of her dish. Marian thinks she is an idiot and Sue thinks she needs therapy. Both are probably true.

What happen was the jump ring that attaches Crickets name tag to her collar got stretched out somehow, and it in turn got caught on the edge of her dish while she was eating. When she raised her head to take a break from scarfing down her kibble, the dish jumped, tipped over, and made a big noise. For the last three days our cute and very goofy dog has been terrorized by the dish and she is afraid it will probably attack her again soon, so she isn’t going anywhere near it.



Tanis said, “Well, dogs remember.” That maybe true, but why doesn’t she remember the 10 years of daily feeding when nothing went wrong? Why? And worse of all, now what?

I can say with a clear conscience, we will not be taking Cricket to any kind of therapy. I’m pretty sure if we did, Marian would say Ken and I were the real idiots in the house. But what to do? Colin says put something yummy in her dish to re-acclimate her. Sure enough, she is not afraid of sausage or cheese, but her kibble is still so scary!

I guess when she gets hungry, she will find her courage, and in the mean time, we stand guard for her; that seems to comfort her while she sneaks up on her dish, and picks wearily at her meal.

I’m just glad we didn’t have children.



July 31, 2011
I saw the play, The Dreamer Examines His Pillow on the island last week. Usually local theatre is a hoot, and to tell the truth, a bit painful to watch, but this was different. This play was performed by local grown talent who crafted their acting chops in New York. I will say their talent deserved more than the audience Bowen Island provided.

Since seeing the play, I’ve been thinking about one of the delivered lines all week. It was spoken by Tommy, played by Hamish Allen-Headly, a messed up alcoholic, who sleeps with his girlfriends sister, and when confronted, Tommy utters, “I was compulsed.”

I get it.

Few alcoholics give their drinking problem and the action they take because of it much intelligent study. They may reluctantly agree they must quit, but in fact they keep on drinking. Most try to justify their actions, but really they just fall into a compulsive slavery.

I haven’t had a drink in a long time, but I still relate to compulsive slavery. The line, “I was compulsed” hit me right between the eyes or I should say in the heart where my truth lives.

I am an addict and left to my own obsessive compulsions, I will go where I do not want to go. For me the 12 steps of AA, qigong, and tai chi are mindful daily practices that help slow me down and keep me from being "compulsed" into harmful actions.

You would think just knowing this would be enough, but it isn't. I must practice everyday, because in a very strange and dangerous way, I like being complused.




July 30, 2011
If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun. —Katharine Hepburn





July 29, 2011
Books I read in July

The Memory Keepers Daughter by Kim Edwards
On a snowy night a David Henry makes a decision that will affect the rest of his life. Deep down inside he thinks he is doing the best for the lives of his new born twins and his wife. Caroline, is the only witness to this decision and makes her own choice. This is a would’ve, could’ve, should’ve book. But really, how does anyone know what would’ve, could’ve and most of all should’ve been.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
The Elegance Of The Hedgehog is most definitely a book of "ideas". I can see how some people would like it and I wanted to be one of them. My friend Sally said this was her book club book and I guess I wanted to feel smart and part of something as I read this. I didn't. It's written in diary form by two characters who are smarter than others expect; but, smart defined by the reading of Proust or Dostoevsky. Neither of which I have read and probably won’t.

White Nights by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Never say never! I read Dostoevsky!
This was a short story by the Russian author and I feel good that I read it.
It was an old fashion book – (I crack myself up, an old fashion book indeed). A sweet story of love, loneliness and heartbreak. One part stuck with me. (here I go again, hee-hee) the part where the young girl was literally pinned to her Grandmothers skirt as a way of making sure she was raised well. Made me think, what do I pin myself to and why?

The Last Days of Dogtown by Anita Diamant
Marian saw the the book while I was reading and asked, “Is that a good book?” I thought for a second, and said, “Yes!” And it was. I chose this book because I really liked The Red Tent by the same author and had high expectations. Page after page I came to know and care for all the characters. I am fascinated with how little so many people in the world have to live and yet, with such acceptance for their lot in life, they just do. And the writing. Wow. The story takes place on Cape Ann in Massachusetts. I lived in the area in the early 70s with such good memories. It was nice to think about them. My favourite paragraph in the book is on pg. 216.

"Studying the dogs, she had learned how to live within herself entirely: to sit without expectation, to rest, eyes half-closed, and panting through the stifling heat, sniffing subtle changes in the air, succumbing to sleep when it came."

The Town that Forgot How to Breathe by Kenneth J. Harvey
I’m still working on this one.



July 28, 2011
The apartment we have in our basement is empty and has been since the end of May. It’s a one bedroom suite with a full bath and kitchen. The separate entrances is around the back of the house. The view from the kitchen is trees and you can hear the creek behind our house run most of the year. This suite is an excellent first apartment for someone young and it is perfect for someone in transition.

In the last 10 years I don’t remember a time we didn’t have someone living down stairs. We rarely have to advertise as word of mouth on this island (aka — gossip) is usually enough to get someone knocking on the door or calling about its availability way before the previous tenant has moved out or even given notice.

Not this time. And it puzzles me.

Moving a tad off topic; Bowen Island politics drive me nutty. I’m not thrilled with our mayor or council. Some of the decisions they have made, interests they choose to pay attention to, and those they ignore baffle me. But that’s another story… Except to say…

Affordable housing on this island has always been a big concern and problem. I think because of this, we ask for cheaper rent in comparison to other places on the island and that we are good landlords, the apartment stays occupied. Still, we have no takers right now. Which makes me think maybe affordable housing isn’t a priority or problem on Bowen after all.

Or maybe, no one is in transition, maybe young people are not moving out of their family homes, or worse they are moving off island. Maybe the rent isn’t that cheap, maybe this or maybe that. I could speculate all day. I don’t know why the apartment sits empty now. I know we will continue to advertise and ask around and hope soon, someone wonderful will move in and everyone will be happy.

In the mean time, if there is anyway I can blame the Mayor and council of Bowen Island I want to! ☺



July 27, 2011
I’m putting my July book report together and realized I started more books this month than I finished. I’m really open to reading new genres and suggested books from friends, I am! But I also need to enjoy the time I spend on the patio. Here’s a list of books I tried but didn’t read in July.

Neuromancer by William Gibson
My first foray into Sci-Fi. Yeah… not so much. Words are hard enough, made up words and places drive me nuts. (Unless I’m the one making them up!)

Snow Crasher by Neal Stephenson
More Sci-Fi. I started this book right after I wrote my blog on guns and then guns were mentioned in the second paragraph; death, war and fighting on the first page. Nope!

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
I am into this book well over 100 pages and I still don’t know what it's about. Talk about a ramble. I actually haven’t given up on this one yet, but I don't know why. The cover design of the book is cool and I do like the feel of this book in my hand.

Natural Acts by David Quammen
Ken thought I’d like this book and I will say, it doesn’t suck. The author is clever and I enjoyed his writing. I’m just not really interested in cockroaches, frogs, or beetles.

Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin
There is still hope for this one.

The Alcoholism and Addiction Cure by Chris Prentiss
Meh…



July 26, 2011
How can you miss me, when I wont go away?

Anna, Lois, MaryLynn, Dorian and I met for the weekend at Watch Lake. Pure bliss.

As I take a little time to get back into the posting groove; here are some photos to give you an idea of where we were and why.


  





July 21, 2011
I’m away from the World Wide Inter-web for a few days — so I am leaving you with some of my favourite TED talks to watch or listen to while I’m away. If you don’t know about TED talks, you are in for a treat. There are thousands of talks on all sorts of topics by all sorts of amazing experts. For me TED talks are like having free education at your fingertips and I can’t think of anything better.

Enjoy!

Marian Bantjes

Benjamin Zander

Stefan Sagmeister


Julia Sweeney



July 20, 2011
I’m packing! I’m heading out tomorrow for a long weekend. More time off from my time off. There is no internet where I’m going, so I won’t be posting for a few days.

I’m off to Watch Lake which is a long and beautiful drive north of here. My student Colin has a “cabin” up there and he is letting us use it. It’s a really nice cabin, right on the lake; away from everything. It’s a perfect place to sit, read, hang out, and enjoy the quiet and beauty of the world. I’ll do a bit of hanging out for sure, but there will also be some Tai Chi played. My guess is I won’t just have a nice gentle practice — I’m sure I will move closer to what I like to call “training.”

I haven’t trained much this year and my arms are hungry. I do have an easy daily practice, but training. Nope, nada, none. I'm very excited though. This trip has become an annual event. It is a gathering with some of the best players, classmates and friends, I could ask for.

Lois, Anna, MaryLynn, and I have been training together for well over 15 years. We decided to meet up annually a while ago and the cabin on Watch Lake is our favourite place to meet so far. This year, Dorian is joining us! Yay! It has always been a girls weekend, we did try to get Jim and Art in on it this year, but it didn’t happen. Maybe next year, eh? (Are you reading this Jim?)

We all live very far away from each other, so the commitment to stick with each other over all these years means the world to me. The art of Tai Chi has given me so much, but who knew it would also provide me with life long friends.



July 19, 2011
Usually I give you my two cents. Today I offer you two bucks!





July 18, 2011
I don’t like guns. I don’t want them in my life, nor in the books I read, or the shows I watch on TV. I turn away at the violence in movies and prefer singing and dancing to shoot ‘em up entertainment. I like that most Canadians think differently about guns than most Americans.

I heard a comic once described Canadians as “unarmed Americans with healthcare.” But the best advice I heard regarding guns, came from an old friend named Brent. He said, “When people and guns are together, only one should be loaded.” Today I’m not a fan of people or guns being loaded, but its good advice.

So why in the world would I post a story about guns then?

Because I was asked recently about my experience around them. After all, I was raised in the US, where guns are such a huge part of the culture. I was asked how I formed such a strong opinion? Well, let me just say. I’m Jan Parker, a left handed, Taurus, in recovery - I have strong opinions!

And…

In the early 80s I lived in a poor section of Albuquerque, NM. I was the only white girl in the neighbourhood, and for a while, I lived alone. My neighbours were young families and their kids played in the street. I never actually spoke to any of them, but we acknowledged each other with nods and smiles. I felt safe while I lived there.

Then one night every thing changed.

I looked up from whatever I was doing, and saw a set of eyes staring at me through my bedroom window. I did not recognized the eyes but I knew they did not belong to anyone who had my well being at heart. I called 911 and sat in the hallway of my house with a baseball bat in my arms until help came. The police said they would drive by my house a few more times and if they saw anything strange, they’d let me know. They never did.

This event changed me. I joined the throngs of people in the world, that didn’t feel safe in their own home. I kept the shades drawn and doors and windows locked up tight from then on. I kept my head down, had no eye contact with my neighbours again and I hated how I felt.

My father lived “up the hill” in Los Alamos and when I told him about the peeper, he didn't like it and had a solution. Get a gun! My father had some strong ideas about what to do with Mr. Eyes, and he wanted me to share those views. I couldn’t. It just seemed weird to think about, oh, I don’t know… killing intruders.

I have had multiple discussions with my dad about guns and the military and the right to defend oneself and bla, bla, bla…. My mind was made up, I was against it all. I was a hippie, a peaceful person and anything to do with violence rubbed me wrong. And yet, here I was scared in my own home. And it wasn't the first time, so, after much hub bub, I agreed to learn how to fire a gun. I would learn how to defend myself.

Dad took me to the town dump to teach me how to shoot. He brought his fathers .38 with him. My Granddad was a New York City cop and this gun reflected his history. Grandpa was tough as nails, powerful, and so was this snub nosed hand gun.

I don’t remember how I felt as we drove to the dump. I do know having the gun in the car was unsettling. I figured I’d fire the gun a few times at some cans or rocks, and be done with it. I thought I was willing to keep the damn thing in my bedroom in case Mr. Eyes came back. I thought having a gun would protect me. I thought I’d be willing to use it.

Nothing could have prepared me for what happened when I first fired that gun. It was heavier than I expected it to be and as I took aim at a bottle, I planted my feet, dropped my shoulders, and found a good stance. I closed one eye and slowly squeezed the trigger.

The bottle didn’t break but a loud noise put me on the ground. I missed my target and hit an old fire extinguisher that was lying close by. The damn thing exploded! It blew up into a zillion pieces, littering the air, and scattering small chunks all around us. The echo of the single ear piercing BLAM continued on and on into the canyon.

I was on the ground, on my back, I dropped the gun, tears filled my eyes, my ears were ringing. I thought about what just took place. I was amazed at the damage I just did to a thing. What if I shot Mr. Eyes and his body was ripped apart the way that fire extinguisher had been? It was right then and there — I made a decision that so far has lasted my lifetime.

I knew without the slightest doubt; I knew that no matter what had happened in the past or may happen in the future. I knew I would not shoot a gun again. It was clear to me that if I had to deal with Mr. Eyes, or anyone else who threatened me, scared me, or wanted to hurt me I would find another way to protect myself, but I would not use a gun.

I value and love life. It was a few years after this incident that I started my journey with the martial arts. I now have a few skills and a lot of resources at my disposal. I'm grateful that I feel safe in my home and in my skin today. I'm also grateful for questions that make me look again and again at what, and why, I think, and fee,l the way I do.

whew.





July 17, 2011
Roughdayindaisyland






July 16, 2011
Ken is the picture taker in our family. But the sun came out for a minute yesterday, and he wasn't around, so I gave it a go. I call this...

Daisylandwithahintofscootie






July 15, 2011
I like the easier softer way for most things in life. When things get hard, I usually step back and question what I’m doing. Of course there are times I persist and work through the struggle, but for the most part in my life, I take the easy path. I also know practice makes things easier and if I give up too soon, I’ll miss something wonderful.

Today I want to decide if I should give up on a book I began last week or if I should struggle on.

I have no qualms in closing a books 100 pages in. If I find the book boring, violent, or for what ever reason, not my cup of tea, I move on. But, this last week, I started reading a book called The Town that Forgot How to Breathe by Kenneth J. Harvey. What a great title, I was drawn to it immediately. The problem for me is not the content or concept. It has an interesting story line and my imagination has been sparked. The problem is for me; it is a hard read. I joked to a friend that this book has too many words!

I am not a strong or fast reader. I am dyslexic and reading is a gift I work hard for. I don’t just struggle with the written word; comprehension is a big challenge. Reading for me needs to be more than a bunch of words passing my eyes and washing over my brain. I want to remember, understand and be able to discuss what I read.

The story of The Town that Forgot How to Breathe is fantastic. A small town in Newfoundland is taken over by a strange phenomenon, sickness, or maybe it’s a curse. People are starting to change their personalities, have disturbing dreams, and so far a few have just drop dead: as if they forgot how to live and quit breathing.

The struggle I’m having with this book, is that I am only 100 pages in and have been introduced to most of the townsfolk. So far, at least 30 characters, many related to each other in some fashion, all with complex relationships, and histories. I can’t keep track of who's who! Also, the book uses the language of the people of Atlantic Newfoundland, “ye got fresh butter for dat loaf?” “Yays. I’l put da kettle on if ye desires a cup.”… It is a hard read!

My inclination is to bolt! There are other books I could be reading and enjoying. My ego is most challenged though. I could be reading more! More is better! The monthly book reviews I post here tickle me to no end. It is pure joy to look back and see that I read six or eight books in just one month! Once I read an entire book in two days! For me that is a big deal. It makes me proud; a fine personal accomplishment.

But this book by Kenneth J. Harvey is messing with my average and my ego. I’ve been reading it, er… working on it for eight days now. I’m only a fifth of the way in. It’s hard. (Do you hear the whine in my voice?) It’s HAAAARRD! I may bolt. Maybe I’ll put it aside for a while, maybe I'll quit, and put it in the closet with other things I’ve given up on— or… maybe I’ll trust the wisdom of practice. The I Ching says: Perseverance Furthers.

I’ll let you know.



July 14, 2011
I'm in it for the process. I heard years ago that there are two kinds of people; product people and process people.

I married a product person. Ken is a craftsman. He likes to make things so that we can enjoy the finished product. Painting the house, fixing a guitar, building a deck, or what ever he has going in the shop, his goal is a thing we will use and enjoy. He plans out ever step, so the road to completion is clear for him.

Myself, I like the process of doing things and I don't get attached to the final outcome. I rarely plan a project. I like to spin wool, for the meditative experience, then I give the yarn away. I make quilts by cutting up fabric and then sewing it all back together again, watching a design emerge. Glass beads just happen to be the result of the true fun of melting glass and working with fire.

Qigong and Tai Chi, well, we know there is no final product here. No graduations, not even a "you got it". The best I can hope for in with these arts is that I enjoy the time I spend practicing, learning, sharing. Every so often the gift of a life application applies, and everything we do makes sense. This art is all about process. One of my favourite quotes came from Cecily Brown, of the fame City Of Lakes Tai Chi Club, in Minnesota. She said, "Tai Chi is about learning, it's not about knowing".

That is not to say I don't appreciate and welcome the rewards received and offered when process has been well attended, well played and well done, I do.

They say there are two kinds of people in the world; those who put people into types and those that don’t. I don’t really think we fall into types or categories. I think we all do our best, working towards a balance of process and production.

Still I know my tendencies and if given the choice of flow or function. Put me into the flow.



July 13, 2011
My crazy self talk between 7:15 and 7:30 this morning.

Dang it is wet outside, no just cloudy, a Scottish mist. I’ll walk anyway, I guess I can wear these shoes. Boy, now it is really coming down – this is nothing, I can still walk, I’ll carry the umbrella, where’s my hat? Crap this is rain. Shit, guess I’ll drive. But then I won’t be able to listen to the book that’s on my ipod and I love the time I spend between here and there. Oh, go walk anyway – you’ll be fine it isn’t like you’ll melt. Where’s my rain coat – it’s coming down pretty heavy, I’ll be a stinky hot mess by the time I get there, especially if I wear that plastic coat. Tie your hair up and it won’t get all fuzzy, take the umbrella and not the coat. Wear your hat, this hair clip is too big. Just go! If you leave now you’ll beat the worse of it. Yes, go! Wait, I need to eat something first – grab some almonds, the bananas are too ripe, wish I had a boiled egg. Where’s that rain coat? If I wait and drive I can make porridge and take my time. Just go! You know you won’t walk later. It is your practice! Wear a hat! Go Jan. Just go! Wait, it is really raining. This is crazy. Wait it out – go, no wait, go. Always and never the same! Shit, now I have to drive, I stalled long enough. I wonder if I have time now to make porridge. Actually, if I leave right now I can make it. Rain - July, whatever. Where are my keys?



July 12, 2011
I didn’t feel like writing a lot today, so I went looking for a nice photo to post today and I thought I’d be done with it. But…

I came across this photo of Joe and Sandie at the beach in Hawaii.



What I really love about this photo is that my friends are in it. But continue looking; notice that there are several folks on this beach, and everyone is looking in the same direction, at the same thing. It's like time stopped, no one was moving, eating, talking or turning away.

Something wonderful was going on and no one wanted to miss it.

What do you think was so captivating? Send me your answer and I’ll send you a prize if you get it correct! Click here to enter. Go ahead, guess!




July 11, 2011
Art Baner shares what he calls “pipe ponderings” with me every once in a while. I don’t have a pipe, but I enjoy a good ponder as well.

Today, I read something by Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron. I don't want to write about it yet or even talk about. All I want to do right now is spend some time thinking about it.

Pema Chodron said, “Never underestimate the inclination to bolt.”

Hmmmmm.



July 10, 2011
NEW JanJimJam product!

Well, sort of. We're now using a different delivery method - 1 Gb flash drives will be replacing the CD as the carrier for the JanJimJam goodness. The videos will work exactly as they did before, but unlike the CDs, the Flash drives are reusable/repurposable. And they're way cooler looking, and smaller.

So much cooler looking that you may in fact want to buy one just as a flash drive. Check it out:   





July 9, 2011
Good fences make for pretty poppies!



Score
Ken 1 - Deer 0



July 8, 2011 (happy birthday Sue and Rachel!)
At the beginning of the class — she told me she would give it two weeks before she made a judgement. She said she wanted to keep an open mind and knew that it would take a few days to get the hang of it. She said she would share her thoughts with me then.

At the end of the class, she said, she thinks she likes it, and that it really made her feel better, and how interesting it was when… and what about …. and did you see…. and how did that … and what if this… and have you ever…. and…

I’m glad she is going to wait to share her thoughts, because I couldn’t take them all in this morning!



July 7, 2011
Melinda is one of my absolute favourite training partners.

We met during open sparring at a PAWMA camp more than 15 years ago. Since then we have sparred, wrestled, pushed, punched, tossed, and kicked each other around year after year with great delight. She has taught my students, I have taught hers, and we have learned from each other.

Sparring with a skilled martial artist is one of life's great pleasures and as weird as it sounds, getting hit by Melinda is a grand experience! Always safe, clear and clean, our skills provided a really fun match up. And because she has more and different skills than I do, every time we met, was a terrific lesson for me.

On sabbatical this year; I’m not teaching, and I haven’t sparred with anyone. My solo practice has kept me entertained and while I do not miss the hubbub of the relaxation business (yet), I do miss the community and the friendships I’ve cultivated over the years.

So, when Melinda said lets get together at the Hitting Zone, I thought how perfect!

Melinda and I spent several hours together yesterday; hitting. And probably for the first time in years we didn't hit each other. We did wrestle, smack, whack, hit, slice and chop several buckets of golf balls though and wow, did we have fun.

A personal practice, good training partners, and an acceptance of change in my opinion, are the three best things a martial artist needs to continue learning. I got to experience all three yesterday.



You know what was wrong with yesterday? Nothing!



July 6, 2011
Today I salute all those who took the chance they were offered.



July 5, 2011
Here is a small excerpt from a writing I did on teaching Qigong to addicts each morning…. I’ll get to the reason I’m posting this section of the story at the end of it.

Greetings
I arrive about an hour early and prepare for the day by clearing the room. When I walk into the great room with the tall windows and high ceilings, I often get hit in the face with a thick wall of fear and resentment. The energy isn’t mine; it is left over drama from the work the clients did the day before. I clap my hands in ceremony, honouring the new day, I open the back door to let the old energy move out and often spit on the ground out back. Spitting is my way of not swallowing the trauma left in the room.

I began practicing qigong in 1984, my first year of recovery. I would have loved to have been treated for my addiction at a centre like the Orchard. Yet, I wonder if I would have resisted it. Teaching people who want to learn is so different from teaching those who have to learn. Knowing that your life must change, but not having a clue as to what change looks like is what I face here each day.

I keep the iPod buds in my ears when I practice my solo form in this room, even when I don’t play music and am actually moving in silence. I do it because it buys me time for a polite, “Hello,” that I seek from the clients when they started arriving. They arrive by van from the residence the Centre provides for their 10, 28, or 42 day stay. All of them are here to treat their addiction to alcohol, crack, cocaine or prescription drugs.

Inevitably, someone blasts into the room on a mission to complain about whatever they mean to complain about that day. A lot of clients here are angry and scared and so self-absorbed that they expect others to just jump at their rants. I don’t.

When they come in I slowly stop moving, remove the ear buds, look at the person in the room, and greet them with a smile, saying, “Good morning.” Some keep their rant going but my stubborn nature does not allow them to go on without a greeting.

“Good morning, how are you?” I say, never addressing their rant. My goal is to get a ”Hello” out of them, to have them stop for just a moment, look at another person and greet them.
Sometimes it takes a few tries but eventually they stop, look around, look at me, and say, “Uh, hi, yeah, good morning.” Then they ask in a calmer voice, “Do you know why, where, or how?” and express their complaint.

With a smile, my response to their concerns is usually, “No, I can’t help with that.” It’s a small victory for me and I think for society as well. I think greeting those we talk to is just polite. It is a beginning in how to interact with the world.*

*I wrote that several years ago when Qigong at the O was an option that most of the clients passed on. Since then the program has become a mandatory part of their treatment and I’d even go so far as to say, most of them look forward to the class. But, the reason I pulled this selection of the much longer Qigong at the O story out, was because just this morning as I was preparing the room and having my own practice, Derrick popped his head in and said, “Good morning Jan!” “Good morning,” I answered.

Then a few minutes later, Josh walked by, “Good Morning Jan!” I returned the salute, then Michael, Maureen and George all peaked in on my practice, “Good Morning, Jan. See you in a few minutes.”

I have to say, my heart soared. Everyday we make a little progress. Today, I think Master Jou smiled on me.



July 4, 2011
Happy 4th of July to my American friends.

My thoughts have been on New Mexico a lot this last week. The evacuation order on Los Alamos was lifted yesterday and my dad returned home. The Los Conches fire burned over 121,000 acres so far, it is only 13% contained.

I'm hoping this July 4th, folks will find a way to celebrate the holiday other than shooting off fireworks.





July 3, 2011
Relax! This is nothing.

My mothers best friend Betty has diabetes, breast cancer and is 80 years old. She also ballroom dances and at times has danced competitively. I asked her once if she ever got nervous dancing. Betty laughed, there are a lot of things in the world to be nervous about, dancing isn’t one of them.

Point Betty!


July 2, 1983

 

You are simply                                                   
      My best time
          You are my
             Sweetest laughter
                 You are my       
                     Most gentle sleep

And still you find
    new ways to love me
          Always you will
               have my hand to hold.

Happy Anniversary Ken, you have given me an amazing life. I love you!


July 1, 2011
Happy Canada Day!

When Ken and I received our Canadian landed papers, we threw a party to celebrate. Being landed provided us with all the rights and responsibilities that other Canandians hold, and was the first step, (after starting our the paperwork) that would eventually enable us to become Canadian Citizens. We were delighted and wanted to make a big deal out of it.

We invited most of the people we knew with maple leaf invitations. We decorated our house in red and white and flew Canadian flags on our deck. We had little Canadian flags on the toothpicks we used for the hor d’oeuvres we served. We had maple cookies and maple cake, there was local smoked salmon and lots of Canadian made cheese. It was very exciting and we were so happy with our legal status in our new home and country, that we even smoked Cuban cigars and wore sweatshirts with Canada written on our chests.

We were going to be the best new Canadians we could be and we wanted everyone to know it. We knew all the words to Oh Canada and began to study for our citizenship test we would soon be able to take. We were so proud.

The party was in full swing when Ken and I both noticed our friends were shaking their heads and smiling, we heard the muffled giggles from our new countrymen. With love, they said, “Look at all these flags, really, you guys are so American."



Before I get to todays post - I want to thank everyone who has expressed concern about the fire in my home town. I have spoken to both my dad and brother and they are safe and fine. The fire still rages, but people are fighting it with success.

June 30, 2011

The library book sale happened at the end of May. Since I am on this reading jag I had fun hauling home a big box of books for only $5.

So here is what I read in June.

The Color of Water — A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride
The story of a Rabbi’s daughter, born in Poland, raised in the Southern US, married a black man, founded a Baptist church and raised twelve children. What I liked about this book was the fact that even though this was a tribute to Mr. McBrides mother, she was never really interested in telling her story. She was too busy living her story. When she was asked about the color of her skin and why it was different from her children's, she refused to answer. “Are we black or white?” “We are human beings," she would say, “educate yourself or you will be nobody.” At times this book rambled, but it was fast moving and enjoyable.

The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim by Johathan Coe
Maxwell Sim cannot make a one meaningful relationship. He lives in his head and on the internet. He has a few Facebook friends, and keeps in touch with his ex-wife by email. Only he uses a fake name for most all his correspondence and she doesn’t know it is him.
I liked this book. I like spending some time alone, but I very much need  my community of friends to keep me sane and I could see how dear Maxwell Sim who I think would make a good, yet strange friend, ended up with the life he has. I also know why I keep close tabs on the people in my life. Too much alone time for me and I get just as wacky.

Clara Callan by Richard B. Wright
A volunteer at our library book sale said to me, “If you want a good read, here it is.”
He was right. Clara Callan was indeed a good read. In 2001 this book won the Giller Prize and the Governor Generals Award for fiction. I’m finding when I’m looking for a new book, look to the winners — they win for a reason.
The story is told by letting us read personal journal entries and letters sent between sisters more different in ways than even my two brothers are from each other. One lives in the small town and house they grew up in just outside of Toronto and the other moves to New York and becomes a famous radio personality in the early 1930s.
Both women are independent and strong and live life with their heads up in a time when women were thought to only want or need husbands and children to claim good lives.

The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas
Great story idea with potential, but sadly did not deliver for me.
At a backyard BBQ a group of friends and their children gather for some neighbourly fun. Only it turns bad when one of the men there slaps a child that is not his. The story tries to show how the different friends react. All the way from charging the man with assault to “you’ve got to be kidding, the kid deserved it.” Unfortunately, the story goes on and on about the sexual desires and exploits of the friends. For me, that just isn’t interesting.  Almost every character in the story is either a drunk, adulterer, cheater, thief or idiot, but they focus on this one incident of a spoiled child getting slapped and rally around the judgement of that. Again, not interesting to me.
The premise did make me think though. As I child I was slapped, we called it disciplined back then. My parents, brothers, babysitters, a few teachers (several carried paddles when they taught), one boss, a friends parent, and a stranger have slapped me in my life. I’m not saying it was right or good - I’m saying it happened. Still, this book had the potential and framework to tell a good story. But it missed the point by a mile.

Lost and Found by Geneen Roth
After losing her life savings in the ponzie scam with Bernie Madoff, Geneen Roth puts it all in perceptive sharing her outlook and the lessons she learned about food and money.
I really liked this book. A Buddhist in practice, Roth reminds us not to wait until things go wrong to find a practice.

The Kings Speech by Mark Logue and Peter Conradi
This book was written after the movie of the same name had been shot. It was written by the great grandson of Lionel Logue
It is a historical look at both the lives of King George Vl and his speech therapist and friend Lionel. The book was written using the personal diaries of Logue and the letters exchanged between he and the King. It was interesting to see how a clear and wonderful friendship developed between two men. I enjoyed this book. I saw the movie and enjoyed it, but this book covers so much more. The two worked together for decades and a great trust was shared.
What I found fascinating while reading this book was how others felt compelled to comment on the Kings Speech. What I mean by that is not what he said when he gave a speech, but how he spoke was of greater interests. I guess because he did suffer a stammer, everyone was so glad when he spoke without it. Imagine today listening to any world leader and instead of being concerned with the content of their speech, we were more concerned with the delivery of it. (Never mind, I forgot about George Bush and Jean Chretien.)
The Kings Speech with “speech” meaning his voice and manner, not the words he delivered to his people at a time in history where his words should have mattered more.
I guess I’d like to think I listen to people for what they have to say, not necessarily as to how they say it, but it probably isn’t true.

I started a few other books in June as well, and had no problem putting them down when they just weren’t interesting. I find this to be a great luxury.



June 29, 2011
I’m thinking about my father evacuating his home earlier this week. He left knowing that when he is allowed to return, his house may be gone; up in smoke, burned to the ground. Or it could still be standing, filled with smoke or water damage everywhere, or everything could be just fine at his house, but there is no doubt that his community will be very different. Fire changes things.

It got me thinking how brave it is to leave under that kind of pressure.

What would you take?

I'd take Ken! Then focus on passports, ID, wallet, and paperwork that gives us access to who we are and would allow us to travel and return. My computer has a lot of what I need and use on it; contacts numbers and addresses — my laptop. Sandie said, get the original artwork. Which ones? All of our art is original work and we drive a small Toyota, how do you pack it all? How do you choose? We need to have room for Cricket, Peet… I start looking around each room, oh, we’d need some clothes, a coat, shoes, toiletries, daily living stuff. Then what about photos? Jewellery, valuables, and keepsakes? Size is important – big things won’t fit in the car. (Even though Ken can tie anything on top pretty well.)

Would I pack with the feeling that I’d be coming back and everything would be just fine or do I wrap my head around the fact that it all could be gone in a flash? I know I would wonder how long might we be away? Would I remember to unplug and turn off everything? Would it be right to lock the doors or not? What if the house could be refuge to someone not able to leave? Would there be looting? Would I even consider staying? (My brother Art chose to stay in LA when the rest of the community left.)

Hard questions? The kind I hope not to have to answer, but I’m thinking its better to have an idea or understanding now, so that when and if we are forced to clear out, for whatever reason – it won’t be crazy chaos.

I know for me, stuff is stuff, and as long as everyone is safe the stuff is secondary. (Grab the diamonds! ☺)

I know people who have lost all their possessions. Stuff comes back. My friend Debbie's house burned to the ground some years ago, she built again. She said it was weird to have all her belongings be new. She also said in a strange way it was nice to start fresh and to be able to choose what came into the house, and not just have stuff, because you have always had… that thing.

This is not the first time my father or the people in my home town have had to evacuate. I participated in several evacuation when I was a kid, only then I didn’t get to choose what was put in the car. (I remember our cat Henry did not make the cut, my mom said cats had their own shelter in the canyon behind our house and that they would go there when we left.)

I reserve the right to change my mind, but today, I imagine I’d take what I needed to stay safe. I would do what I needed to do to be close to the people I love. I’d take my practice, my sobriety, sense of humour, calm and acceptance. I'd like to think I'd do my best to stay in the present. The stuff may be on my mind, but I probably wouldn’t worry about it as much. Not even the artwork. Sorry Sandie.




June 28, 2011
I'm a little consumed by the fire going on in New Mexico right now. My father made it out of town and is staying with my brother Bill in Angel Fire, so he is safe. My brother Art on the other hand has chosen not to leave the town for what ever reason. Just goes to show you, I am not the only nut in my family!

60,000 acres have burned in two days and the beauty that is northern New Mexico and my home town is changing as fast as the wind. Here are some photos from a Flickr site.

sigh....




June 27, 2011
Ken tells the story of a man being interviewed on TV after an earthquake in California. Apparently the man lived right on the San Andreas Fault line and the reporter wanted to see how the man lived with the stress of disaster always at his door.

Funnily enough though, the man was cool as a cumber, “I don’t live on the fault line, the fault line is over there,” he said pointing to a ridge in the earth not 10 feet away.

Does the guy really see no problem? Does he live with serenity and acceptance for life on life terms? Or is he in denial and a real nut? Who knows? But it is a good story and at different times in my life, I am reminded when the problem is really just “over there.”

There is a huge fire burning near my home town right now. The state has 41 fires burning out of control as of this morning. None of them are contained and it hasn’t rained in New Mexico for several months. Fire fighters are out in force and Los Alamos is on evacuation alert now. My dad and brother live in Los Alamos or Dodge as I like to call it. I just hung up the phone after talking with them.

“Don’t worry, Jan, the fire is over there. It hasn’t crossed Highway #4 yet.” (Highway #4 is a two lane blacktop road in the Jemez Mountains that borders the labs in Dodge.) For me not to be worried because the fire is at Highway #4 is about the same as the guy saying, “I don’t worry because I don’t live on the San Andreas fault.”

I’m a little worried.

So, I’ll calm down and stay present. I know my dad and brother have options. I'll also remember that the people of my home town, have evacuated many times before because of fire, or laboratory mishap. The town of Los Alamos, NM, knows how to get out of Dodge when they need to.

Let’s just hope the fire doesn’t jump Highway #4, because then they are going to be in big trouble!
_ _ _ _ _ _

Ok, so it happened. Los Alamos is under mandatory evacuation now.



June 26, 2011
I was on the patio this morning reading a great book that I will tell you about soon, when I heard a huge crash and thud. Ken was in the cove helping our friend Martin with the Round Bowen Kayak Race again this year, so I knew it wasn’t him. Cricket and Peet were next to me lying in the sun, so they were off the hook. Birds are all around us now and so I figured it must have been a bird that smashed into one of the living room windows. I went to look.

Sure enough, a robin was lying on its side on the back deck near the sliding glass door. I saw it was breathing, so I just watched for a bit. Slowly it stood up, it was wobbly. Really wobbly. Spontaneous qigong wobbly. It almost fell a few more times, but managed to stay on its skinny little legs, its head down and life forced obviously scattered. I watched it for several minutes and then put my hands out in its direction. Sending it my qi and the wishing it well. Then I left it to do what it will.

I do know that when living things have their life force, shocked, stuck or scattered, problems develop. Watching the bird naturally seek the stillness it needs to calm itself and reorganize its qi to recover was cool. Watching people do it is friggen phenomenal.

Mr. Robin and I practiced qigong together this morning. I watched as he demonstrated.

Bird smashing into a window qigong.
1. If you hit something really hard with your whole body, head first.
2. Lie down for as long as you need to.
3. Slowly stand up, use what you need to for balance. Take your time here.
4. Just stand there.
5. Stand as long as needed,
6. Settle into yourself, really wait until dan tien is found.
7. When things are smooth again, shake it off and go about your day.

How long should one practice? The whole of your life, is my answer.



June 25, 2011
Today the post is by guest writer, Francis Bacon (1561 - 1626) and truth be told, I don't know if he said the following or wrote it, but I like it just fine.

"It's not what we eat but what we digest that makes us strong; not what we gain but what we save that makes us rich; not what we read but what we remember that makes us learned; and not what we profess but what we practice that gives us integrity."



June 24, 2011
Nine words of fiction...
Places to go, things to do, people to see.

Twelve words of non-fiction...
Walking just to walk, books just to read, words just to write.



June 23, 2011

A six word story... or a clear explanation.

Quit asking, I don't share snacks!



June 22, 2011
Ken used to ride bikes. I mean he really rode them — long distances. He participated in four or five rides across Oregon that were each at least 500 miles. Once when he was training for a ride, he left the house in the morning, rode 50 miles, came home for lunch, and then rode another 50 miles before dinner. Another thing he did while he was training was to read books about cycling.

One book my father gave him had a chapter entitled, “When you break your clavicle.” Not IF you break your clavicle, but WHEN you break your clavicle! Oh-boy, I thought, serious bike riding sure sounds like fun!

I know you have to focus when riding a bike. Being mindful is important no matter your activity. When you are on a bike, you really have to watch for cars, kids, deer and even bad road conditions. I get passed all the time by knucklehead drivers on curves and hills, and it is helpful to be fully awake, with every modes of attention I can engaged. You never know when you might need to make a snap decision and choose to swerve one way or the other to miss some obstacle because in the back of mind I know that if (or when) you crash, you may break your clavicle!

I’ve been very lucky in my bike riding experiences. Once in high school I was riding a fancy 10 speed bike on a canyon road near my home, when some boys threw a firecracker at me from the car they were in. It shook me up and I did crashed into the ditch by the road. I did not break any bones, but I was sacred and my bike got crumpled up a bit. Other than that, I usually have really enjoyable, safe and fun rides on my bicycle.

So, I am a bit embarrassed at what happened last night. I left our house and hopped onto the new electric bike that is finally working, and right at the top of our driveway, I fell. I had just thrown my leg over the seat, started to peddle, and fell. No big crash, and certainly no reason for it, I just fell off the bike. As Erica might say, a sudden gust of gravity hit me!

I did not break my clavicle… My knee is skinned up— bruised; there is a small cut on my hand. No one saw me, my pride intact (until now) yet, it reminded of that book with the chapter that began with, When you break your clavicle….dang it.

I’m going to have to be more careful.


June 21, 2011
File todays post under, things that have nothing to do with anything...

It seems like I get a lot of junk email. Probably not as much as possible; I do have filters set up for my email accounts, but still, a lot of crap comes to my inbox every day.

I receive offers for male enhancements, Rolex watches, viagra and other medications, and I’d say a day doesn’t go by where I’m not offered the opportunity to help someone in either the Sudan, Ethiopia or Libya get millions of dollars out of their country. And the cool part is they are willing to split the booty with me thus making me rich! Rich I tell you! All I have to do, is send “them” most of my personal information.

This week I am getting job offers in my junk mail. The work from home and make big bucks type of jobs.

I hit delete without reading this mail. I don’t want a job, a watch or any kind of medication right now. I pay no mind to these amazing offers, and I let millions of dollars sit in lonely bank accounts all over the world. Because deep down inside me, I’m not stupid.

BUT, every once in a while I think of my friend Sue who won a car. She really did. Sue is not stupid either, actually she is one of the smartest women I know. Sue said she didn’t believe it when they called her and for the longest time she just ignored the messages. Ok, she actually entered a contest that she’d forgotten about. It wasn’t on the web, and they didn’t send her an email about it. Still  she thought it was fake. Sue was glad they were persistent with her because it was the real deal and she drove that new car for years.

But somehow I don’t think Moussa Koussa really wants to reward me for helping him get money out of his country.

Advertising is popular, because it works. These scams must work as well. I just don’t know on whom.


June 20, 2011
Our internet is working and not working, working and not working. So, while it is working and I have a chance to post, I'll keep it simple. Here is a nice photo of the iris in our yard.

Having a fenced in yard sure has made a difference. The deer are missing out on some fine floral dining! Enjoy!




June 19, 2011
I just heard the news that my friend, Ted was in an accident and is pretty banged up. He already has endured two surgeries and may need another soon. The road ahead for him will be long and will seem even longer as Ted is an amazing and skilled martial artist. He is used to being strong and healthy.

Almost 20 years ago, I was seriously hurt. I did the splits on waterskis at about 30 mph while on vacation in MN. The middle hamstring of my left leg was torn apart and I was told by a famous, and burned out Dr. that I would not recover and probably would not walk again.

It was a long road, but today, I do walk, and at times I can even move pretty darn well. I learned a lot from my leg and the healing journey I took.

Today, I send Ted healing thoughts, love, and some of my best juju. I’m also going to share a few of the lessons I learned from my experience.

First off, everyone has the capacity to get better. Drs. don’t know everything. Some of them don’t know shit.

Getting better is hard work. Healing from a serious injury or illness needs to become the main focus of your day.

Ask for help. Just ask. And it can be for small things as well as big. My friend Darryla did my dishes and cleaned out the cat box, Ken held me up in the shower, Galen loaned me a car I could drive, Jamella kept me company showing me photos of a trip she took to France, Dottie held her hands over me while I cried. Ask for what you need.

Improvements will be slow. Think of Master Jou, he said, “Make a little progress everyday.”

Relapses will happen. Progress goes up and down; this is normal. Be persistent. There will be times, when you get blue and discouraged. Give yourself a little time each day to grieve the change of your health, strength, independence, and agility. Then remember, healing happens. You are worth the work.

Pace yourself and don’t do everything when you feel good–that only leads to crashes later. Like your Tai Chi practice, go slow; let there be no gaps, interruptions or unevenness. Keep continual.

Combinations of treatments work best. Not one thing, healer, or technique, is the answer. Stay open to suggestions. When I was in the thick of it, I accepted everything offered, including, but not limited to, hands on healing, sprinkles of holy water, voodoo, herbs, prayers, chanting, physio, electric shock, and dancing on the full moon with drums and rattles. Seriously.

Trust your training and continue to practice. I couldn’t actually practice my form for quite a long time, but I thought about it every day. Where the mind goes, the qi will follow. I had friends come to my house and practice in front of me. I was able to visualize my movements through them, cultivate healing qi, and direct it to where it was most needed.

Accept that your life has changed for now. Let go of old ideas and expectations about your career, relationships, or other big and important things we all think about. Your priority may be to focus on healing. This will be very hard and really worth the effort.

And last but not least – time will pass. We have the capacity to recover, to heal. Stay open, willing, and present. If you need something ask for it, don't isolate. Stay close to those you love and to those who love you.

This may sound a little preachy, but it's my two cents and I'm walking with it!



June 18, 2011
Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting to grow is my definition of practice.

Doing the same thing over and over again without expectations could just be the way a lot of us live.

One will make me nutty, one will challenge my creativity, and one is known as breakfast.

What I do again and again could help, hinder, or sustain me.

Awareness is the key. Enjoy the day!



June 17, 2011 (happy birthday Jim)
Most of you know I have a cute little electric scooter that I love to buzz around the island. My friend up the street has one too and on hot summer evenings, we have been seen by a few, to be racing on the curvy streets of Bowen. Granted we can’t go much faster that the 40 km speed limit (unless we are flying downhill), but we sure have fun zipping along on our scooties wearing leather jackets and being biker chicks!

For what seemed like a long time I was checking out electric bicycles on the web because, as much as I loved my scooter, I was looking for a way to get around the island AND get a little more exercise. Living on Tunstall Boulevard I knew I needed more than my strong, big thighs to peddle a regular bike up the hill, not to mention just getting out of our driveway! So, when I was sent an email by a company in town advertising a half price sale on electric bikes, Ken and I stopped in to have a look.

It was the only bike in the store on sale. They said they were just creating more room in the store for different inventory and 1/2 price is a great price. I rode the bike around the flat city block in Vancouver traffic and it seemed to work just fine. I turned to Ken and said, “I know I don’t need it, but I want it.” We bought it. We brought it home in the trunk of our Toyota, you know the one we also use as a pickup truck. I think all this happened last August.

When we got home I was excited, got on the bike, turned it on and rode like the wind up Tunstall Blvd. I rode all the way to the O and back in no time at all. It was great! I peddled with the electric motor and was able to make it up the hills without stopping or having my lungs and legs blow up. I was very happy with my impulsive purchase. Then Ken took it for a spin. It quit working just this side of the house. Nothing, nada, nope, no go.

I called the store I bought it from and was told to bring it in. Then then he reminded me it had been on sale and that repairs can be very expensive. WHAT? The new bike hadn’t even been on the road more than 8 km! It didn’t work, surely the guys at the store would be honourable and help me out. After all, the bike may have been on sale, but we still spent a good chunk of change and I expected it to work a tad longer than 8 km. I had hopes of being able to ride it back home thinking I just didn’t push the correct button or I plugged it in backwards or something simple. I was sure they would make it right. After all I hadn’t even owned the bike a full 24 hours. This was not to be the case.

Without going into the long and drawn out hell of what did happen. Basically I was told, sorry, we can’t help you, you bought it, as is, paid cash. It was working when it left the store, it isn’t our problem now.

I have to say I have never dealt with more unethical, unreasonable and horrible sales men ever before. I can be very stubborn and persuasive, but got no where with these guys. They were rude and horrible and unwilling to work with me. I was even yelled at when I told another customer to think twice before buying from them. After two hours of what I can only describe as, a very mean spirited and ugly confrontation, I came home exhausted. I had an expensive, broken, brand new, electric bicycle and my head held down in shame. I felt used, abused and taken for a fool. I had wanted the bike so badly, yet, I didn’t ask the right questions, didn’t do enough research, and I had made a deal with unethical and bad businessmen.

I didn’t talk much about this to anyone. I was really embarrassed. I felt like a victim of con men and it was my fault anyway, because I really wanted something I didn’t need.

The bike spent the winter in our shed. Every time I opened the door of the shed to get a shovel or whatever, my heart sunk when I saw the bike sitting there and I felt the shame of waste wash over me again.

I started quietly asking around for help and found Sean Greene who I hoped was a good guy. He said he might be able to help get the bike working and on the road. When we were finally able to meet Sean and take the bike in, I had some hope, and started to feel better.

Sean kept the bike a few days, then called and said it worked just fine. He couldn’t find anything wrong with it, so in we went again and I rode it around the block near Sean’s house in North Vancouver. It was just fine so we brought it home. Ken took it for a spin and… nope, nothing, nada, no go. Maybe it was Ken, maybe it was an ancient burial ground or magical qi he was riding over, maybe I just wasn’t meant to have what I didn’t need. We took it back to Sean.

Several weeks went by. No word, no bike, no news. I even put it out of my mind for a while. Then the battery in my scootie gave out. We learned it would take about $$$ for a new one on the same day Sean called to say he found the problem. The motor needs replacing — about $$$.

Scootie battery? Bike motor? Hmmmmm. You can have anything you want Jan — you just can’t have everything!

We got Sean to put a new motor in the bike and I took it for a spin. Oh, it worked like a hot damn. Then it rained and rained and rained and the bike sat in the shed, at least Ken couldn’t take it out.

This last week we have had a few sunny —well, non-rainy days. I’ve ridden this new electric bike that I’ve had for almost a year now, several times. I gotta say I love it. It’s a super good assisted workout and ride. The hills on Bowen are tough on the legs and being able to bike them has been a blast. I can ride across the island easily and with the potholes in the road, the bike is easier to navigate than the scootie.

I use to feel sick when I looked at this bike — now I can really enjoy it. Some good lessons came with this experience. I know a few more things about myself, my ego and the ever present demand of desires.

Of course with all lessons, gratitude needs to be expressed. Hooray for Sean Greene, a good guy! He was persistence, positive, and professional. Ken steady and strong with love and patience for my quirks and impulsive must haves. And I am truly grateful for the Guanqifa practice. It continues to work to allow me to let go! Not only of the huge resentment I held towards the crooks that sold me the bike, but I can let go of the guilt I held for spending a lot of money on something fantastically frivolous. It is not easy being green.

P.S. Ken still hasn’t been on the bike, it is working just fine now, so I’m not sure it would be a good idea.


June 16, 2011
In other parts of the world, they riot for food, water, freedom, and justice.

Last night in Vancouver they had a riot over a sports team.

The Canucks lost the Stanley Cup, and within minutes of the final buzzer, cars were turned over, torched, and angry Canuck fans were ripping off their jerseys to fuel the flames. Others smashed windows, looted stores and threw bottles and bricks. Police were in riot gear.

Sore losers? I don’t think so. I believe chaos would have exploded in the city no matter the final score. The energy was that strong and I think some of the young men were just determined to wreak havoc.

I just don’t get it.




June 15, 2011
Todays post was written by my friend and colleague Joanne Factor. Please check out Joanne’s web site Strategic Living and sign up for the Strategic Living newsletter. Joanne does a lot of good in this world and I salute her work.


A Slutwalk By Any Other Name by Joanne Factor

"You know, I think we're beating around the bush here," the officer said, according to one attendee. "I've been told I'm not supposed to say this, however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized."
 
That was the unfortunate comment, made by Toronto police constable Michael Sanguinetti on January 24th to a small group of students. Blogged and tweeted around the world, this comment spawned a global movement. Women have organized marches in cities all over the world to protest the prevalent practice of blaming rape victims for the assaults. Slutwalk  was born.
 
Sanguinetti has since apologized, and is reported to have been disciplined and will receive additional training. Presumably he had received training before this event. The Toronto police asserts that their officers are taught that nothing a woman does contributes to sexual assault. Yet this slip of the tongue did happen. Despite the fact that the vast majority of women who have been assaulted were not dressed like "sluts," whatever that means (see below for what it really does mean). Despite the fact that dress does not cause sexual assault. And despite the fact that the person committing the rape needs to be accountable for his own actions. Period.
 
Despite all the good cops out there, it's those thoughtless and arrogant ones who are featured in the nightly news. Still another reason why few women report rape to law enforcement. It's why I'll be at Slutwalk Seattle this coming Sunday, June 19 (begins at noon at the Bobby Morris Playfield in Cal Anderson Park, Capitol Hill). And why I urge you to be there, too!

First, let me make it clear what I mean by "slut." Slut is a noun with excess baggage. Slut is used as a negative judgmental label applied by Person A onto Person B. Generally Person B is female, and Person A is often but certainly not always male. Person A disapproves of Person B's general appearance, style of dress, or some other behavior. Person A then labels Person B as a "slut," frequently to justify their own bad, if not abusive, behavior to Person B.

The label "slut" actually tells more about the mental framework (prejudices and stereotypes) of Person A, and little about the woman at whom this epithet is hurled.

Much has been made about this movement's chosen name. While the choice of Slutwalk has offended some, it's also created a LOT of debate and discussion and controversy and buzz. And publicity. I think there's been too much discussion on the name and less on the focus, but hey, that's what it takes to get attention and to spread the word to people who wouldn't give "Rally Round Against Rape" a second yawn. To reiterate, the focus of Slutwalk is that women are not asking to be raped. Ever. Period.

Much has also been made about Slutwalks reclaiming the word "slut." I can't say that I'll be going to Seattle's Slutwalk to "reclaim" anything. I do not care to reclaim, reframe, or rehabilitate the word "slut." I want to quash this word as a weapon. I want to nullify its negative energy, neutralize its power, negate its impact on women.

And any weapon can be overcome. With a little preparation, we all can learn to minimize its impact. Because nobody deserves to be targeted for rape. Organizing and speaking out are two of our most crucial tools if we are to topple current prevailing attitudes towards rape.




June 14, 2011 (Happy Anniversary Jim and heather!)
I wrote the following story four years ago almost to the day. I gave it a bit of polish and thought I'd share it today. I may do the same thing to other stories from the past, in the future!

Taking Chances  6/13/07
She walked into the room with a bit of a strut and said, ”I’ll give this Qigong thing a chance”. I smiled and said gently back, “The Qigong, will give you a chance”.

I am described as a compassionate smart ass. I don’t mind, as long as the compassion part is there. My smart remarks come out of my mouth before I know it, and I trust you know, they come with love. Simple and honest communication is how I prefer to hear things and in turn, I say what I mean and mean what I say. There have been enough times in my life where things were not explained or where no one said anything or they spoke around the obvious. Today, I tell you what I see. It keeps me sane, and I count on the people in my life to do the same.

One of my favourite lessons from Sam was at a four day push hands seminar in Ontario. Sam was correcting a student there, and believe me, I hear and listen to every correction offered. I always assume it is for me, no matter who Sam is talking to. He said to this student, “You need to stop judging every move”. At first the student was a bit put off, and seeing this, Sam came back with, “Give this instruction the same weight, you would, if I had said drop your shoulders”.

We study an art where harmonizing the inside and the outside is the goal. And for some reason when we get corrections on the outside, we take them just fine. Instructions like drop your shoulder, put your foot here, adjust your hips, turn your waist — we take them because they are expected in a Tai Chi lesson.

But when the correction is about attitude or willingness or our honesty, we balk.

Imagine looking at the vastness of the ocean. We are usually looking at the surface and not the depth of it all. When we correct from this outsider's view, there is something missing, the unseen part. This practice is deep and internal. Teachers can only work with what is shown to us, but good teachers, look deeper, they see more and must risk going into someone’s life.

I do it with courage, humour and sometimes, smart remarks. I’ll ask you to open your heart, your mind and to feel and spend some time with what is going on inside yourself. I am not surprised when someone starts to tear up in my class. I cried pretty steady in the beginning of my lessons with Sam. Because dropping my shoulders and learning the next move were only outside corrections, they were easy compared to me letting go of the attitude, judgement, and fear I held. Being able to open my mind, and heart in order to let go of pre-conceived ideas, and expectations was harder for me than memorizing a form. It was also, more rewarding.

Find the courage to allow this art to give you a chance. Show up each day. Go inside yourself, slow down and notice not only your shoulders, but the path that leads to your heart. Become aware of how you take in instructions. I really do know how I give them and why.




June 13, 2011
There’s a sign in the window of a martial arts school in Vancouver near the studio Sam (and I) used to teach out of. The sign said, “A place to study the way.” I’ve always said, that for me, Tai Chi was more of a way to study the place!

I just came in from the training field. That’s a nice practice place. It’s almost 9 p.m. and not even close to getting dark outside yet. I love long summer days and I sat for a while on the log that runs the width of the training field. You know the one.

Actually, this is the second log that has fallen across the yard. The first one came down in a thunder storm when Sam lived here. It landed perfectly across the yard, just missing the roof of the house when it fell. We used it as a bench during breaks at push hands camp. It had enough natural spring in it, that we also used it in balance games. When that log rotted out a few years ago, Ken and I moved another one into the same spot so as to continue the tradition. It was on this log we began most of our days with Zhang Zhan during the Yang Style Full Curriculum training last year.

It’s hard to believe that it was a year ago. A dozen of us gathered and worked our brains and legs out in the yard. Moving step, da lu and the 88 were covered in June, the second of the three month intensive. We did some serious training in the field and most of us sat on the log during the very few breaks offered each day.

The grass on the training field is coming back strong. I think not stomping all over it this year helps, but really, that earth is so infused with monster, amazing Qi that it can’t help but grow back thick and rich.

I started my practice, and as I moved slowly, I spotted two 4-leaf clovers near the bamboo. Ok, so my head was not suspended as if from a string above, but I will say I was relaxed. The 108 is such a koan for me and a joy to move through. The birds were making a bit of a ruckus in the trees behind me, the neighbour was playing music, I had to step around Peet who was lying in the middle of the field, and I fully expected deer to come visit. I was so very happy, enjoying memories made and lessons learned near that log—on that field.

As I continued to move, I wasn’t alone. Tonight I shared my practice with everybody who has ever been on that field. Students, teachers, classmates, friends; everybody was out there playing Tai Chi. It was nice.



June 12, 2011
At 99 degrees centigrade...water is hot.
At 100 degrees centigrade...water boils.
With boiling water, comes steam.
Steam is serious energy.
That one extra degree makes a difference.

Today, I’m looking for ways in which I can add a little extra effort — just for the difference.



June 11, 2011
It is so nice outside. The first of the green beans we planted have poked up in the garden and the flowers are just beautiful. I am alternately working outside in the yard and inside in our basement. When I’m inside, The Beach Boys, Rolling Stones, and Celtic Thunder are playing; outside its the lawn mower, street traffic, and a variety of birds singing to me.

I have a comfortable sense of peace about me today, but it sure isn’t quiet around here.



June 10, 2011
I got home last night after spending almost a week in Whistler. Ken left this morning to go camping and fishing with the boys. Sometimes it feels like we are two ships passing in the night, but after 28 years together, it works for us.

And since I’ve taken a few days off from posting - I feel a bit out of practice. I’ll slowly get back up to speed and in the mean time, let me share a few incredible photos that my friends EA and Deb took while we were zip trekking, sight seeing, hiking, and laughing.

   



June 9, 2011
I guess you could say I took a little time off from this time off of mine.



I'm back and ready to post again.



June 5, 2011
Today I am meeting friends Deb C. and EA in Horseshoe Bay. Then we are driving up Howe Sound to spend a week in Whistler. I'm going on vacation!

I may not take the time to post while I’m away as I expect to be busy zip trekking, tram riding, laughing and exploring.

So, I’ll copy heather’s good idea again and pre-post some of my favourite websites for you to check out while I’m away. If I happen to add a little something from the mountain, it will be a bonus.

Enjoy!

Clark
- my favourite talking dog. I can watch this over and over.

Free classic audio books from Librivox read by folks just like you and me. (Is that good?)

Here is an amazing way to kill a lot of time. Visit the Sistine Chapel

Free Rice — the only computer game I play



June 4, 2011
Here's one example of the many benefits I have because I live with Ken Parker. I wanted to be outside, but needed a bit of shade. Ken made it happen. Usually, all I need to do is ask.



Thanks Sweetie!



June 3, 2011
Sandie called me yesterday. She said I was in her dream, and that it was about a secret I held and needed to share with her.

Sandie has been my best friend for almost 35 years, and she noticed that in my birthday letter this year, I wrote that one of the things I was surprised by, was the fact that I have a secret. I think this news puzzled and surprised her as well.

Secrets have been a part of most of my life. As alcoholics, we are told, we are as sick as our secrets, and to begin recovery we need to clean up our past and honestly tell our stories. I kept quite a few shameful secrets when I was drinking. When I started to clear the wreckage of my past and tell the truth of my life, I started to feel better and my recovery began. When I spoke my truth, I was able to quit worrying about what other people thought of me and I was able to receive the help I needed. In truth, my life became easier to live.

Secrets are funny things. As soon as we know there is one out there, we want in on it. I can’t tell you how many times over the course of my tai chi career someone has asked for or mentioned “the secret teachings” or getting “the goods” that are not offered unless you are an inside student. You know the deeper lessons, the secret ones that are offered to the special students; not the run of the mill lessons everyone gets at class.

Some may disagree with me, but, I’m in the “there are no secrets” camp. I may be wrong, but no one has ever offered me a special training secret. And I’ve had some amazing lessons. What my teachers did tell me, in class and in private, was to practice. Practice, ask questions, and stay open.

Practice; whether your practice is sobriety, meditation, honesty or martial arts; when you practice, more will be revealed. That’s no secret. But don’t practice, and receiving the most amazing lesson in class or in private won’t do you any good or make any sense.

Today, I am capable of keeping a confidence, which is very different from a secret. If you know me, you know my life is an open book. It is no secret that I tend to share way more information than most people care about. And yet, my birthday letter is true. Today I have a secret. And for now, it is deliciously all mine!



June 2, 2011





June 1, 2011
Things I found myself really enjoying this morning.
1. Rolling into the cold spot of the bed after sleeping under the warmth of quilts.
2. The faces of the llamas I pass on my morning walk.
3. Which made me think of people I know whose names start with double Ls. Lloyd, Lloyda, and Llewellyn.
4. I had one of my dyslectic discoveries; I started reading a book that I read the title as Addiction but, by the first chapter, I realized the book was really about Addition.
5. The new phrase I heard today - Inner Ocular, which means right between the eyes.
6. I really enjoyed the folks at the O who asked questions this morning.
7. Remembering Linda Brackett, as today would have been her birthday.
8. Brazil nuts
9. Realizing I have ten!
10. I really enjoyed having a good idea — well, an OK idea, alright I always enjoy when I have any idea for these posts.



May 31, 2011
It is the last day of May. Half of my sabbatical year is almost over. I can happily say that most of my days so far, have been filled with gentle practice, and lots of reading, writing and walking.

I must say, it's been delicious!



May 30, 2011
Books I read in May

Ten Good Seconds of Silence by Elizabeth Rush
The title of this book was the reason I grabbed it off the library shelf. I am always seeking silence if not stillness. I enjoyed sharing the journey of Lilith Boot who has a rich inner and determined life. What I learned reading this book was how psychic visions can be confused for mental illness, depending on how willing or unwilling we are to ask questions. And how open or closed our mind is when we listen for the answers to our questions. I was disappointed that one of the puzzles presented in the book was just too easy to figure out, so for me, there was no surprise or climax at the end of the novel. I will say however, I was satisfied and did not waste even ten good seconds reading this book.

Almost Green by James Glave
Written by a local Bowen Islander. This book tells the story I think most of us can relate to. How the heck do we go green! I liked it right away, especially when the quote on the back cover was from the authors father-in-law. He recommends we all save the money on the book and buy a membership to Costco instead! But the more I read, the more absurd it got as the author wasted and spent so much “extra” in his quest to built the ultimate green eco shed on his property. It is hard to be earnest about the environment when it is just too far to walk to the store, and you forgot your cloth bag, and you own an SUV, but Glaves gives it a go. In the end I was pretty disgusted at the expense and resources it took to build a carbon neutral shed.

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
This is epic! The longest book I’ve tackled in a long time at 936 pages. The length didn’t bother me as much as the small, 8pt. Type on the page that just made it harder and harder to read with my 56 year old eyes. Still the story was just fantastic, so I “cheated” and downloaded the audio version and listened to it on my morning walks to and from the Orchard. I LOVED IT. What adventure, drama and trauma! There was a bit too much violence for me. It’s the kind of mafia violence though that is hard for me to connect to so I didn’t mind it as much. They aren’t mean to the women or animals, just men beating the shit out of other men for power and whatever. The parts of love, loyalty, and friendship seemed so honest in this book about how a man lives with the lies of his life.

The Story of B by Daniel Quinn
Another book I listened to as I made my morning walk. I really enjoyed this so much that when I finished it, I started over again. The only other book I’ve ever done that with was one about OCD! I found The Story of B fascinating. A conversation between a Catholic priest and someone who maybe — could be the anti christ? But is saving souls and saving the world really so different?

Ishmael by Daniel Quinn
It would have been better to have read this before The Story of B, but who knew?

Clutter Rehab by Laura Wittman
A little books full of product ideas you can buy to keep your stuff organized. Books like this just take up space. Back to the library with you!

One Fine Day You’re Going to Die by Gail Bowen
A very short story about a talk show radio dj who has a guest on the show who is an expert in death and dying, but can’t handle the caller who threatens suicide. Meh…

Nice Recovery by Susan Juby
When most young people in their late teens are just beginning to explore and experiment with drugs and booze Susan is sober and writing her story about recovering from addiction. I find it interesting for a young 20 year old to have to learn to live in the world without booze or drugs. Glad I waited until I was 28, but I don’t think she would have made it that long. For some people the decline into addiction can linger and be a slow trek to hell, for others it is fast, furious and familiar. For Susan Juby the later was her fortune or curse and, as an old timer in the program, I found her recovery made me grateful I wasn’t so very young when I found sobriety.

The Listening Tree by Celia Barker Lottridge
Young Ellen’s move from the farm in Saskatchewan to the big city of Toronto during the depression is overwhelming. She finds comfort sitting high up in a tree just outside her window at the boarding house she and her mother move into. That’s where she listens, learns and grows up. It was a sweet and easy read.

Bring on June and summer reading on the patio. The library book sale just took place and I’ve got a big stack of books just waiting for me.



May 29, 2011
Shelley Fralic calls blogging feeding the e-hole. I'm beginning to know this feeling.



May 28, 2011
There are no shoulds or shouldn’ts - only choices.



May 27, 2011 (Happy Birthday MaryLynn)
In the early 80s I crossed paths with a man named, Dave Dalby. He was one of the first “straight talkers” I ever met. He would looked me in the eye and say exactly what he meant to say. No hemming or hawing; no mixed messages. I knew when he spoke, he was speaking the simple truth. He encouraged me to do the same.

Once, when I was beside myself and feeling quite lost; crying about the why and how of my life at the time, wondering what might be next, regretting what had just been, and looking for sympathy, I remember saying, “I don’t know where I am or what I’m doing.” Dave Dalby did not miss a beat, “What do you mean you don’t know where you are or what you are doing? You are here, right now, at this table and you are talking to me.” No nonsense, no metaphor, just honest and reality based talk, putting me in the present.

This conversation took place before I began to study Tai Chi, yet it was to be my first lesson in how to “stand inside myself” and to accept my life and my world as it is.

This week I found myself using the exact same words to someone who was feeling a bit lost. “You are right here, right now, talking to me” “Feel your feet, take a breath.” “Stand inside yourself, it is how we learn to accept.”

I have no idea where Dave Dalby is today, but I'm sending out a big thank you and hope he catches it.



May 26, 2011 (Happy Birthday Hansoo)
“It is the ancient art of Tai Chi - magical, mystical and life changing. The traditional routine takes 30 minutes — I can do it in 10.”

I’m not sure who said this or in what context, but when Sam said it in jest to me, I laughed out loud.

I have a pretty good idea of who I am, and the benefits I’ve accumulated over the years, because I move in a somewhat traditional pattern for 30 slow minutes most mornings.

I wonder what lessons I missed by taking the time.




May 25, 2011
A morning ritual.

"I’m tired, I can’t stand on one leg. My back hurts. I didn’t sleep last night, I have a headache, stomachache, bum knee; I need to talk to Mary or Tom, or Fred, see the Dr., cook, councilor, make a phone call; It goes against my religion, let me just sit here, I really have to pee."

"Wow, I feel better."

No, no, no, no, no, no, no….. Yes.

Fin.


May 24, 2011 (Happy Birthday Linda!)
When we first moved to Bowen Island most people either worked at home or commuted OFF island in the mornings. The ferry coming to the island carried only a few cars; mostly locals that for what ever reason had spent the night in the big city and were heading home. Very few people lived in Vancouver and commuted to Bowen.

That has changed over the years. This island has become too expensive to live AND work here, especially for people working in service and the trades.

It's common now for morning overloads no matter which direction you're taking the boat. Cape Roger Curtis is being developed, and "McMansions" with expensive, fancy needs are  being built and remodeled now. A local contractor told me it's not unusual to have 35 or more trucks parked a construction site these days. Since there is just the one road heading to and from these sites, and it is the one I walk, I've noticed the longer line of traffic, pass me each morning. I've had to.

Yesterday, as any good person with OCD would do, I started counting the traffic coming my way. And as any one with ADD would do, I got bored after 22 pickups, one toyota trecel, two vans and 12 SUVs zoomed by. Zoomed is my polite word. Now, just so you know, I do not walk on the road! I am off on a shoulder, but at times it is a very thin shoulder, and there are places where my footing needs careful consideration; one missed step and I could go tumbling into a ditch. A few times I have already  had to dive out of the way and into the bush in order to give the driver of these big trucks enough room so they wouldn’t clip me. I have been sprayed by mud and rain over the years, and I have felt the serious, strong wind these monster trucks make as they speed pass me without a moments hesitation or concern.

I understand the need to get to work on time, I am a prompt person myself, but on Bowen the ferry is really the time clock. Most of your co-workers are in trucks in front and behind you. I'm thinking being the first one to work isn’t the most important thing on your mind. Neither I guess, is the consideration of paying attention to the 40 km island speed limit. Granted going 40 km an hour for a big truck, on an islands curvy road is slloooooowwwww, but zooming by someone walking, while going 70 km is just crazy.

Now, if I sound like I’m ranting or like one of those old ladies shaking my fist in the air at “kids these days," you can bet I am!

But then I got sent this and it all got put into perspective!



May 23, 2011
Peter Walsh is one of my heros. Peter is a clutter clearer. He’s written several books on how to deal with the clutter in your life and home. Of course his books take up space in my house, but I won’t call them clutter. Peter’s job is to go to other peoples houses and help them see the vision for how they want to live and then helps them clear the stuff out that gets in the way of “their best life”. This is great, but he tends to only go to homes that have stuff piled to the ceiling. I’m talking serious clutter. Clutter like trash, clothes, magazines, food and junk that are every where and little paths are made like a maze, so they can get to the bathroom and, no one sleeps in the bed, because it is covered with crap. We have a lot of stuff in our big house, but not that kind of clutter. The chances of Peter Walsh coming to help me organize our stuff is slim. Still, I wouldn’t mind a visit.

My mom was a hoarder and I’m beginning to think the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. I am constantly aware of our stuff; I enjoy the ebb and flow of it all yet, I spend a lot of time sorting, arranging and clearing. There is usually a big box of stuff downstairs just waiting for the next trip we take to town, where we will donate it to the Sally Ann.

Still, as I look around the house, I see stuff that came in the door recently and I’m thinking the main trouble isn’t that I need to get rid of stuff as much as I’ve got to stop bringing the stuff in.

But “wow, what a deal," I hear myself say. Like the special Johnny Carson DVD I got at the tacky shop for only one dollar! That will give Ken and me loads of entertainment hours right? And while I was at it, I got a DVD by the Dixie Chicks and Pointer Sisters. They were only a dollar each and well, it will be fun to watch. (We haven’t watched them yet and it’s been over a month now.) I found a nice display rack while I was walking on the road; I brought it home. It will be perfect in case I sell my beads at a craft fair. I don’t need and may not use that either.

We did need a decent guest bed for the orange room. Anyone who has spent the night here has slept on all kinds of uncomfortable beds from foamys to futons. So, we finally bought a nice sofa sleeper last month. I’m glad to say we got to use it when Pat and Sue came for a visit last week. Whew…

Oh, another thing that made its way into the house was a cord for the computer. I wanted to replace the old one from the modem to the wireless hub. It does work better so, bringing that in was a good thing. The new pair of shoes I got two weeks ago was good too. I don’t think shoes should count when speaking of “too much.”

Being a creative crafty person, I have lots of craft supplies. Wool for spinning and felting, fabric and sewing supplies for quilting, glass for melting. As much as I love creating and making things, the challenge is I make things. I make a lot of things. Although, I’ve sold and given away many beads, quilts and homespun yarn, I’ve kept far more. Glass beads are in bowls all around our house and Ken and I sleep under a plethora of patchwork of quilts.

My mother kept everything because to her, it was “valuable”. It was after her mothers death that she began hoarding, so I am vigilant and aware, of my own hoarding tendencies, especially since I brought a lot of her things home with me when she died.

I continue to ask questions about stuff, as it come in the house as well when it goes out. In what way is it valuable? To whom does it hold value? I keep some stuff like the thimble collection, and the 200 pairs of linen gloves not because of any financial value but, because of the emotional tie, my mom passed to me through them.

That being said, I am not really attached to most of the stuff we have. I know if someone wanted something, I’d be happy to give it to them, including the thimbles. Stuff is stuff, it comes and goes, Ken and I agree on that.

I do know it is a good thing and a curse that we have such a big house. It is easy to fill up and we also have room for the odd treasure. I know I will continue to sort and clear out stuff, as well as, be mindful of what comes in the house.

I’ll also say, if Peter Walsh ever wanted to come visit us, he would be quite welcome and we have a nice guest bed for him.



May 22, 2011
Another six word story

Today, just this side of perfect.



May 21, 2011
56!





May 20, 2011
In 1996, Joni Miller sent me a letter very similar to this one. Being who I am, I copied the idea and every year since, around my birthday, I review and renew it. I look at lessons I’ve learned, express gratitude and find the courage (and ego) to share this with people I love.

This letter has become a ritual for me. It is my reality check and gratitude list. I want to live the breath as well as the depth of my life. I want to do what I say I will do; to act on promises made, and to change course if needed. Since I quit sending out Christmas cards it is also my way of staying in touch and letting you know how much I treasure the people in my life. So today, as I turn 56, may I be so bold to share these thoughts with you.
 
I hope you hear me when I say, I am glad you are in my life. I think of you often. My life is better because you are in it.
 
My motto for 2011 is “Always and Never the Same” – it works for me, so much is the same and so very much is different. It is clear to me that…
 
I am grateful because:
1. I am married to Ken Parker who continues to entertain me and make me laugh. He said I never took to the leash yet, I am happily tethered to him.
2. All the critical parts of my body are intact and healthy. When my parts do act up, I know who to call for help and healing.
3. We live debt free in a safe and beautiful environment.
4. I am a Canadian and a US Citizen and I vote.
5. My last drink was in 1984 and my life is better for it.
6. I am not cold or hungry; we have enough to share.
7. I am paid to teach, hence I am paid to learn.
8. My friends are generous and kind.
9. I take time each day to walk, read and write.
10. I have a daily practice that nourishes me.
 
A short list of things I've learned:
1. There are lots of ways to become educated.
2. To be a good friend, you just have to pay attention.
3. Go where you are celebrated, not tolerated.
4. A personal practice is personal.
5. Cancer sucks.
6. Error on the side of generosity.
7. Some times I am very inappropriate.
8. There is always more to learn.
9. Wanting less, is still wanting.
10. I will cry and miss them when they die.
 
I am surprised by:
1. How fast a day and a life can pass.
2. How easy it was to give up my search for god.
3. How many high school friends have re-connected on Facebook.
4. My love of New York City.
5. How expensive and difficult it is to “go green.”
6. How inappropriate I continue to be.
7. How much I want an ipad yet, I have no reason to get one.
8. The fact that I have a secret.
9. The joy I felt meeting my step-brother.
10. All my brothers.
 
I'm so glad to have:
1. A handy fix-it type husband.
2. The same best friend for over 34 years.
3. A morning check in.
4. A second best friend who paints my nails with swirls and glitter.
5. A debt free life style
6. The cuss word: Asshat!
7. A sense of curiosity.
8. Morning Qigong with addicts.
9. A public and private notebook.
10. Windows to look out of.
 
I've let go of the desire to:
1. Get a formal education.
2. Weigh 125 pounds.
3. Master anything.
4. Fill every empty space.
5. Have Oprah give me anything.
 
I'd still like to:
1. Sing in tune.
2. Make a JanJimJam CD of the weapons drills.
3. Add to my tattoo.
4. Have a super clean house.
5. Write a book or two.
6. Move to a small town.
7. Give most of our stuff away.
8. Participate in one of those public flash dances.
 
In the coming year
I hope to continue to enjoy the wisdom of Rob Brezsny and strive to:
1. Cultivate Relaxed Alertness
2. Express Casual Perfection
3. Fill myself with Diligent Indifference
4. Practice Serene Debauchery.
5. Continue to look out windows.
 
Thanks for reading this. I value and cherish the path we share.



May 19, 2011
I've been writing for about two hours already today. I have to say, none of the words I've thrown on the page seem to be sticking. So, I took a short break, sat outside and read. But, instead of reading I fell asleep in the sun. It was delightful!

I just came in to give writing another go... but...nope, nada, nothing. I've decided not to post today. I'm going back outside.

Oh, and a quick reminder. Tomorrow is my birthday and I like attention! :)



May 18, 2011
My teacher Sam, said some nice things to me about my students after working with them this last weekend. He saw their progress and mentioned it. I passed the compliment on to them because I think it is important to hear praise when it is offered. It is always nice when the work we do is noticed.

Hearing what Sam said, made me happy, and getting the following email from Peggy this morning in response to the praise was like frosting on a birthday cake.

Peggy wrote, “This just confirms what is so scary about push hands.  There is no hiding or obfuscating about one's abilities.  Its just there hanging out for all to see.”

Profound, funny and true, Peggy has always had the gift and the courage to say what most of us are thinking.

Over the years I have done my best to learn the lessons I teach; stand inside yourself, trust your structure, find your feet, your centre, your life. Relax! Show me who you are. Practice!

I am very proud of my students, of the work they do and the benefits they reap. Their courage and skills shine bright because of their practice.

I may be taking the year off from teaching, but, certainly not from learning, watching and listening. There is no hiding, no obfuscating!

I echo Sam in saying, "I am impressed with the progress you are making."



May 17, 2011
The Magnificent Obsession!

It is the act of doing a good deed and not letting anyone know you did it. No bragging, no pointing it out, no pats on the back, no taking credit, no one is to know you are responsible for this wonderful act.  It’s a form of service work and a nice thing to do. It’s also quite hard not to tell anyone; egos being what they are.

Today, I’m not telling, and by saying that, I’ve already said too much!



May 16, 2011
The internet has been on and off most of the day, so I got the sewing machine out. This was my mom's Quilters Dream and it really is. Sometimes it feels like you just have to whisper to this machine, "make a quilt" and it does.





May 15, 2011
No internet today - sorry couldn't post.


May 14, 2011
Please raise your hands - use your imagination. Ask for pure and clean energy to come your way. Bring it to you from the new day, the new chance.





May 13, 2011
WHERE and WHAT I practice and learn is not as important as THAT I practice and learn.



May 12, 2011
"Mr. Camping saw God had placed, in scripture, many important signs and proofs. These proofs alert believers that May 21st of 2011 is the date Christ will return for His people and begin a period of the final destruction of the world." All will be over on Oct. 21, "when God will completely destroy this earth and its surviving inhabitants."

This was on the CBC news website this morning. All I can say is “Oh, My!”

Now, I don’t believe everything I read or hear in the news. I do not think the world will end anytime soon. But, just like my cat Peet, my practice, and the view out our window provides me with opportunities to reflect, I’m going to use this as food for thought and discussion today.

If the world really was coming to an end, and we knew it. My question is, what would we do? What would I do? Would I do anything DIFFERENT in my life, in my day, in my time left? Would this knowledge change me and how?

Probably, but not much.

See, I do think about this. Not the end of the world stuff, that doesn’t bother me. What I think about is how I live and the choices I make. I like being awake. I am constantly asking myself if what I am doing, is what I want to do, with the life I have now?

I happen to love my life. I am full of gratitude and I am happy. Ken and I compliment each other often on the choices we have made over the years, we wouldn't change much. We are grateful for our friends, our home, our health, and for how we spend our time each day.

So as I think of an answer, taking in regrets or resentments I may hold, and looking at my list of things undone, dreams not yet fulfilled. I think if I REALLY knew the world — my world was coming to an end and there was absolutely no mistake about it. I’m pretty sure the only thing I would do different is…

I would smoke.

And I reserve the right to change my mind.



May 11, 2011
You’ve given me enough proof that I’m not just posting in the wind with these notebook entries, and for that I thank you. I find it wonderful and amazing that so many of you actually follow this notebook a lot of days. So today I’d like to ask you for a bit of help. I have a small project in the works, so today, I’m looking for a little feedback.

“What you do everyday matters more than what you do once in a while.”

Please, spend a little time with that thought. Allow it sit with you, stir you, or bore you. Then, please send me an email and tell me what you think about it. Did you learn from it? Does it make sense? Do you agree or disagree. Did it inspire you, encourage you, or make you think about what you do on a regular basis in a different way?

There is no right or wrong here, your participation and honest reaction to this particular statement is what I’m asking for. Thanks in advance!

 Click here to send me your thoughts.



May 10, 2011
Today may just turn out to be the most perfect of days. Already I've had a nice practice, a great walk, I read, I wrote a little, and now the kiln is on. I'm making beads!

 

Later, I'll finish my day at a meeting with friends where I might be heard confabulating with Vicky!


May 9, 2011
Best Advice Ever
During the last few months, I've been perusing my Tai Chi notebooks and remembering some great lessons and seminars. Last night I came across a short email Sam sent me eight years ago when I was quite blue. It is taped on the cover of a notebooks. All it says is...

Go out and do your form... now! Thats an order.
Sam


I love my Sifu. Today I get to hang out and visit with him!




May 8, 2011
Mother's Day. A day of mixed emotions for me. My mother, Alice Del Dosso, died 8 years ago. She had a heart attack and during by-pass surgery she died on the table. It was a huge shock to me, my legs crumpled and I dropped to my knees when I heard the news.

I did not go see her in her last days as she was waiting in the hospital for her blood to become the right thickness before they deemed it “safe” to operate. I wanted to go, I wanted to be with her, but she put up a lot of resistance to my being there. Her winning and final argument with me was when she shared her fear that I would bring the SARS to Colorado. I had no way to assure her I wouldn’t or couldn’t infect all of Denver when I stepped off a plane from Vancouver. So, I didn’t go.

We did chat on the telephone most days though, and the day of her surgery, May 5th, we talked in the morning and she promised me I could come see her in a few weeks. She told me she wanted to be feeling better when I came to visit, and that when I was there, I could help her clean out her closet and we would go for walks.

My mom said a lot of things that use to drive me crazy as well as make me laugh. She was careful when talking about people and under her breath would whisper, “I wouldn’t wear that hat to a dog fight,” or “She wouldn’t say shit if she had a mouthful.”

Her advice for me was wanting in a lot of ways though. I can’t say she guided me well. The kind of advice I got from mom, was “Hang around fat people Jan, it makes you look better.” And “Can’t you do…. something…..anything… with your…. er… that…hair?”

Mothering skills did not come easy to her. Still, she did her best, my brothers and I were fed, clothed and clean. She told me once that she didn’t want to be a mother. She only did it, because at that time, you didn’t have a choice in the matter. “It was just what a person did,” I  also realize how hard it must have been to be a single mother of three, in the late 60s, living on a teachers salary. I will say, the few times I asked for her help or support, she was there for me. I also knew not ask often.

Today I know I she loved me and I loved her. I’m sad to say that when she was alive, I was indifferent and unsure. I used to say she drove me crazy. I did not know of her insanity; her mental illness until after she died. I learned about my mother through her things and her friends.

When I finally did clean out her “closet” I saw how tight she clung to everything, the trash as well as the treasure. I also learned how loved and respected she was in her community. Her friends loved her very much. They told me story after story and at times I could hardly believe we were talking about the same woman. On Mother's Day 2003 over 200 people attended her funeral, at least eight women told me she was their “best friend ever”. Everyone said they would miss her.

I miss her. My mother was not a great mother to her children but she was an incredible person in this world. I’d take her back in an instant.



May 7, 2011
I had a front row seat at the Emily Carr University graduation ceremony.
After watching close to 300 students walk across a stage, one by one to collect their hard earned college degrees, all I will say is, "Oh my! The shoes some people wear!"



May 6, 2011
This weekend is going to be big fun. So much fun, that I won’t be around to post on Saturday.

I’m taking the afternoon boat to town with my friend Marian and we are getting our toes done!

Ok, that is not post worthy, it just kick starts the rest of the weekend. After the pedicures we’ll go out for dinner, eat something gourmet, dress up a bit, and go to a meet and greet reception with famous and important people, we will stay in a hotel, then on Saturday I get to attend a university graduation ceremony with more famous and important people. (Do I sound like an excited small town bumpkin yet?)

Here’s the place in the story where I should drop the names of the famous and important people I will be rubbing shoulders with, but I can’t. I won’t know any of them except one. I know the lovely and talented, Marian Bantjes, who just happens to be the star of it all! (no offense to the students receiving their degrees.)

Marian is being awarded an honorary doctorate degree on Saturday from Emily Carr University. She is also the keynote speaker for the graduation, and I am her special guest for the two day extravaganza!

I’m looking forward to the hoopla and celebrations, and especially the pomp and circumstance! I’m very happy for my friend and am thrilled to be part of it all.




May 5, 2011
Knowing what I know now - I'd be a better daughter.





May 4, 2011
The election really got to me. OK, not the election per se, it was the results of the election that flatten me. I am sad, embarrassed, and shaking my head for Canada. When my US friends were complaining about George Bush, I would tell them to start their paper work and move up here. I always said, it isn’t perfect, but it is better. Today, I still feel it is better, but I wouldn’t encourage anyone to move here and for the first time, I am thinking about where else we could go. (Marian says Sweden.)

Even the people of my riding voted for the conservatives and that shakes me to the core because now, I feel I do not even know my neighbours.

And just like I can never find anyone who voted yes for the municipality or yes for George Bush (except my dad), I cannot find anyone on Bowen Island, except a guy named Van, who say they voted for the Tories… and yet, they won. Of course we all tend to hang around like minded people but are the members of my community saying one thing and then doing something else? I don’t understand the people who think Steven Harper or his policies and principles are good for Canada? Plus if only 61% of eligible voters even took the time to actually go to the polls, it begs the question, what is in the minds of those that stayed home?

So, after a short period of grieving and pouting and stamping my foot, I made a pie, ate some chocolate, took a scootie ride, did some qigong, and in the words of Bob Murphy, “I’m starting to feel better.” I am not happy about the reality of politics in Canada, far from it, but I need to soothe myself by other means than pie. I need to turn it around. I cannot, will not live in anger or fear. I don't want to constantly complain about Steven Harper or the county I live in and I really don't want to move.

Since I am not one to run for office, write letters, or protest and I don't want to put my head back in the sand, I need to figure out what to do with my resources, heart and actions, so I can live in comfort, without a pit of political despair in my stomach. What other window can I look out of now?

Time to clear space again and turn off outside influences like TV, radio and internet news. Twitter feeds and the Bowen forum are on probation, they only frustrate me. I’d like to step away from Facebook, but I admit I really like it. I just need to hide all the newsy posts about asshats the way I’ve hidden the silly games and questionnaires.

I let politics get too personal this time around and I got tossed. Good thing I know what to do when I lose my balance. All is well in my world when I look to my practice, to Ken, our friends, home and blueberry pie. This is where my attention should focus for the greater good. A smaller world works better for me.

It serves no one when I get all nutty and bent out of shape for the wacky ways of government. I'm just glad I live in a place that allows me the privilege to ignore it.

I think.




May 3, 2011
I am heart sick this morning.





May 2, 2011
Ken is my second husband. Canada my second country. I came to both with a clear head and made a choice.

I didn’t really want to get married again after my first try, but my wise husband (then wise boy friend) said, “If you act and live like you are married, be married”. Basically he was saying, let your inside feelings match your outside reality. It made sense to me, so I said yes. I’m glad I did.

When we came to Canada, we started the process to become citizens right away. And it was a process. It took a lot of time (7 years), some money and a bit of paperwork. The first stepping stone was to become a “Landed Immigrant”. People who have landed status have every right and responsibility as Canadian citizens with only three exceptions. Landed immigrants in Canada cannot vote, hold a Canadian passport, and they can be kicked out of the country for certain criminal convictions. But every other right and responsibility is theirs. The health care coverage is theirs, free education, the old age pensions, the freedom to work, pay taxes, serve on a jury, and even join the military if they are so inclined. I know a lot of people who have been in Canada for 5, 10, even 20 years and are happy with their landed status, but for me and Ken it wouldn’t be enough. We needed the right to vote.

We knew, that for our inside feelings to match our outside reality, we would have to become Canadians. We wanted the passport – but more so, we wanted the right to vote in the country we lived in.

Now, we could have countless conversations about whether our vote really make a difference or not, and I don’t always believe it does, but still – it is my right, my responsibility, my honour, and today, I stood in line with other Canadians and made my X.



May 1, 2011
The hardest part of any practice is the showing up.



April 30, 2011
Wouldn't it be great if we had something or someone who offered us a reason to vote for HOPE. Instead I'm afraid we still need to vote NOPE.




April 29, 2011
Books I read in April

Never Shoot a Stampede Queen by Mark Leiren-Young
A fun read about a rookie reporter in the small town of Williams Lake in the Cariboo. I worked at small town newspapers for years in the early 70s and I love small towns, but there is nothing “small town” about the news in Williams Lake. Crime, racism, corruption… its everywhere.

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
Yikes is all I can say about this one. Yikes, and not having children was the right decision for me. Written by a mother, whose son commits mass murder at his school, just days before his 16th birthday. The book is captivating, scary, and heart wrenching.

Water For Elephants by Sarah Gruen
I only made it half way through this book. I didn’t like the possibility of cruelty to the animals in a circus. Funny how I kept turning the pages of We need to talk about Kevin, but this book really bothered me and I put it down. Hmmmm.

Take this Bread by Sara Miles
My friend Jenny asked me to read this book. It was at times a hard read because, well, you know how it is when you have searched and searched for something and then finally settle on an answer and then someone comes along and tries to tell you different… again. Well, this is what it felt like for me at times. There were parts of this book I was inspired by and others that made me glad I’m not a Christian. The author describes herself as a “blue state, secular intellectual; a lesbian; a left-wing journalist”. She has a Christian conversion after going for communion at a church in San Francisco. Her life path, or obsessive passion, becomes clear as she opens a food pantry and begins to feed the hungry. The lesson of this book for me was do something - Feed, heal, help – don’t just argue ideology.

Bridges of Sigh by Richard Russo
This is a really long novel about nothing. Ok, pages and pages of the life of a young man growing into his life. An airplane book or a "the power is off and I can’t watch TV" book.

The Geometry of Sisters by Luanne Rice
This was another 'nothing better to do but read' novel. I’m going to quit reading this type of made for TV book, I think I can find a better use of my time.

Shantaram by Gregory David Robert
Now we are talking!  I'm not that far into this 936 page epic yet, But so far, I’m enjoying Shantaram a lot. It will probably take me most of May to finish it and I don't mind one bit.



April 28, 2011





April 27, 2011
Here is a nice practice.

Sit a little
Stand a little
Move a little
Move a little more
Smile



April 26, 2011
The secret to happiness is in wanting what you have - not in having what you want.
I got a little blue today because I got this backasswards and thought I needed more, better and different.

Time for me to express gratitude........ again.



Ah, the North Shore Mountains! This is a blue I can enjoy.



April 25, 2011
Today would have been my mother’s 82nd birthday. I found this poem in her hoard and as I continue to sort and clear the clutter from my life, I will be very careful and be sure to keep what is very important.

I DO NOT UNDERSTAND MY LOVE
by dona maddux cooper

I do not understand, my love,
    why you must save
        old shoes with holes
            in soles;
broken laces,
    and cut off cuffs
        from pants now paper
            thin from wear.

I do not understand, my love,
    why you keep
        rolled up, wrinkled
            tubes with just
                a squeeze of paste,
or why I can’t dispose
    of all those
        last year’s magazines
            beside your
                favorite chair.

I do not understand, my love,
    why you still cling
        to things
            like ties, outdated;
                gravy stained;
glasses with first prescription
    lenses; watchbands
        with broken links,
            and one sock that
                used to be a pair.

I do not understand, my love,
    even today,
        why you won’t throw
            anything away,

but as I dust around the
    clutter on your dresser top
        and stop to see
            reflected in the looking glass
                one who’s old and wrinkled, too,

I may not understand
    your keeping things
        but I’m so glad you do.



April 24, 2011
I just started a new novel. Shantaram by Gregory David Robert. Holy crap this book is a fat one with 936 pages and the text is set in 10pt. type, but for my eyes, it seems even smaller, more like 8pt. Normally those two things about a book are enough to turn me off from reading it. But, I’m a sucker for a recommendation and Vicky said this was a great book, so I dived in this morning.

I’m on page 40 and yes, I already give this book 5 stars! The first page sucked me in and I see where the rest of my day, week and probably the month of May will be spent! Shantaram!

I stopped on page 40 in order to ponder a thought expressed by our hero, Lin. (I don’t know yet if Lin is actually a hero, but so far, he is the star of the book.) Lin is having a conversation with others, and they are asking what people think is the best thing on earth. Money, power, sex?

Lin's answer was, freedom. “Freedom to do what?” he is asked. “I don’t know, I guess the freedom to say no. If you’ve got that much freedom, you really don’t need anymore.”

Oh, I like that. I like that a lot.

In 1994, when I came home from China. I said the same thing to Ken. My ability, my right, to say no had been taken for granted until that trip. No, I don’t want to eat that cereal. No, I don’t want to live in that house. No, I don’t want to work for that company. No, I don’t want to drink. No, I won’t vote for the conservatives. No, you can’t treat me that way.

I agree with Lin today. The freedom to say no may just be the best thing on earth!



April 23, 2011
Today's rambling rant.

I heard if you were given a penny for every $10. Michael Jordan makes, you'd have $65,000!

When is too much – too much? And who is to say? What makes a person rich or gluttonous? And if you have more than me, (or I than you), should we as individuals or as a society be compelled to share?

Some people have loads of money and others have none. Some have warm houses and other wish for a blanket. Some people have lots of free time and are able to do what they want, while others feel stuck in jobs and the demands on their time are overwhelming. We all make choices in this world and we are all given different rewards or struggles. I know people who don’t feel safe in their own home and yet still choose to stay. I have an extremely talented brother who hasn't made a dime or a name in the music business; yet celebrity status is given to asshats on TV for eating frogs or snakes or marrying a stranger. Teachers in schools are paid shit, while a hockey player shakes off a two hundred thousand dollar fine for fighting as “pocket change”.

I have a lot of free time each day. I’ve been known to both waste it, and bask in it. Should I feel pressure to give my time away just because I have extra? In comparison to many, I’m very well off. But, what has value: time or money? Ask someone who has lost their health or a loved one.

The Chinese say, the only problems in life are from having too little or too much. One would think the solution is in distribution, but I’m not so sure. The more obvious solution might just be our ability to express gratitude for what we do have and not get all worked up around what we don’t.



April 22, 2011
I spent the morning on the web looking at places to stay in New York City. Sandie and I went last October for the launch of Marian Bantjes book, I Wonder and we had a blast. Of course we want to go back again, and so we are planning for a 10 day trip in September!

NYC is the most amazing place but finding a place to stay over the internet is not so easy. I’ve got a few good leads and should be able to lock something down soon, but I’m finding courage, trust, and faith are needed big time before I actually hit that “Book It” button!

Once we have a place, we’ll turn our attention to deciding which Broadway shows we will go to and as long as we are in the planning stage of the trip - I’d like to find tickets to SNL or Letterman or the Daily Show. Last time we got tickets to Kelly and Regis and well, that show sucked. Maybe with enough advanced notice, we will be luckier.

No matter what we do or where we stay, Sandie and I will be happy enough spending time together, being in the city, seeing sights, listening to street musicians and walking, walking, walking.

New York, New York! It’s a wonderful town!



April 21, 2011
There are several web sites and blogs I visit each day. Ken showed me this one and today I'll post it for Kathy and Troy at the Qi Cafe, because so much in the world is just freakin awesome.



April 20, 2011

"Some folks has albums to put folks’ pictures in and some folks has a book and writes down the things that happen. But quilts is my albums and diaries. I just spread out my quilts and it’s like going back fifty of sixty years and living my life over." —Eliza Calvert Hall



April 19, 2011
My friend Marian sent me pictures yesterday of some artwork she was thinking of buying. She liked the artwork because it reminded her of her youth and growing up in Saskatoon. The art work didn't click with me, but I grew up in a totally different environment. It did spark a good conversation though about how and why artwork touches us and what it was that made one person love a work and another, well, not so much.

It's maybe a strange coincidence that our conversation took place yesterday, because I just spent the last hour looking at a photo album on Facebook. All the photos were of my hometown in New Mexico.

Here are two great shots taken near my childhood romp. If you have been to our house, you'll see how these might have influenced the choice of artwork we have!

 
The road to Black Mesa                        The colours of New Mexico



April 18, 2011
CSA - Community Supported Artist. I truly believe that if we do not support the artists and poets in our communities — we will get bad art and bad poems.

So for today's post I'd like to suggest something radical. Send a contribution to your favourite artist each week, or month, or year. Don't expect anything back personally, just know you are doing something good for the world.



April 17, 2011
It is a beautiful day. I'm going for a walk instead of wondering what I will post today.



April 16, 2011



From left to right: glove stretchers, fuzzy key chain, eyeglass holder.
Reading my notebook has its advantages (especially for Facebook friends).



April 15, 2011
I can’t help but feel a little guilty in a very small way for the news I read today.

My Grandma Hudson used to say, you should only feel guilty if you are, and that piece of advice has saved me hours and years of time wasted feeling something that wasn’t mine. But today I read that ABC has cancelled All My Children and One Life to Live. A small part of my heart is grieving. Those two soaps were a huge part of my life for years and years. The small guilt I’m feeling is in part because I, like so many others (apparently), don’t watch them any more. I haven’t for years. Still, I never thought they would go off the air. Oprah is calling it quits soon too, and I couldn’t care less and I watch her show.

I truly am sad to know that the shenanigans of Erica Kane and Bo Buchanan will go the way of Peyton Place and Guiding Light. Good TV just gone. Soap operas aren’t like M*A*S*H and Perry Mason that are off the air, but live on in syndication. Once All My Children is off, its over. Have you ever seen a re-run of Falcon Crest or Ben Casey? No!

It has been a long time since I watched either, One Life to Live or All My Children, but like I said, for years I watched both. Years! I’m pretty sure I saw all 14 of Erica’s weddings. I can’t tell you how many times we thought Dixie or Jessie were dead only to have them come back to Pine Valley or Landfair and carry on as if nothing unusual had taken place. In “real life” I once saw Tad in an airport and even though I knew he was really Michael Knight, I called Sandie to say, “I saw Tad today!” We both thought it was cool.

Watching “my stories” was as much a part of my past as growing up in New Mexico, daily drinking, or having a job as a hotel maid. I doubt I’ll ever do any of them again. I’m not interested in the adventures of Todd, Vicki or Nicky anymore. But today, learning that the shows have been cancelled and the people I used to know so well will no longer be there in the afternoon; I’ll miss them.



April 14, 2011



I love the rhinoceros, they aren't afraid to charge!



April 13, 2011
I was a journeyman pressman for years in the 70s. Most of my work was with newspapers and that meant I worked nights. Getting the daily paper out was a great job and I loved to tap my foot to the sound of the big press when all went well. Running a press was easy, the challenging part of the job was getting the press ready for the run and knowing what to fix when the press broke down. I worked on several different papers and loved the rhythm of the job. Working nights had its benefits and drawbacks.

In Pittsburg, Kansas I worked at the Morning Sun and my work day ended at 4 a.m. When the weather was nice, I would walk home when I didn’t have to deliver papers on the paper route I shared with another pressman. I lived about 2 miles from work, so the walk was easy but I was walking alone, in the dark. Others told me it wasn’t always safe and that I should be careful. So, I was. I walked tall and confident and I carried a big hammer!

Years later, in Eugene, OR I took night classes at the university there. Sometimes I had to walk across campus to my car in the dark. Again, I walked with purpose, head up, and hammer in hand. It gave me a strong feeling of security and I am happy to say, I never felt the need to use it, but I also never hid the heavy thing.

I am reminded of my hammer walks, because this week I began to carry a stick as I walk my island home.

Sightings of a vicious wolf/dog are all the talk on Bowen. Apparently this animal has killed a few cats and some small dogs. It does not seem to be afraid of humans and has eluded many attempts by people in authority to be captured. More than one person has warned me to be careful. I’m not really frighten of it, and like the island bear, I’d like to see it, I just don’t want to run into it. So, I walk with purpose, head up, mindful of my surroundings, and I carry a stick as I think of the days I use to carry a hammer.

I’d love to have a nice final line for this story – but it is what it is. A wolf/dog is on the loose and threatening. People are worried and scared. After all, it isn’t like there’s a deer in the garden and I need my spear and a cardboard box!



April 12, 2011
A six word story.
Always changing into who I am.



April 11, 2011
Yesterday I made a pair of pants out of a few of the linen napkins from my mothers hoard. I have an entire trunk full of tablecloths and napkins, and for 8 years now, I’ve wondered what the hell I was going to do with them. My first idea was to have someone come to my house and give me loads of money for all the crap, er stuff, er treasures my mother “left” me. But that is not happening, so I guess I need plan B.

Ebay is what everyone tells me to do, but when I look at Ebay, I see that if you want to buy something, you don’t get the great deal you had hoped for and if you want to sell something, you get even less. Plus Ebay is a lot of work with taking photos, writing descriptions, posting, waiting, hoping and if someone does buy something, then you have to package it all up and mail it off. That is a lot of work for well, a mere hundred or two linen napkins! ☺ If I could find someone else who was interested in doing it for me, I’d say cool, but alas, eight years later, I still have loads of hoard on my hands.

I liked the idea of making something out of them. The linen fabric is nice. I thought about making a quilt, but a pair of pants, a skirt or a little summer dress made from them would be wonderful. Problem is, I don’t really know how to sew. Yes, I can sew strips of fabric together like a hot damn. I’ve made lots of really nice quilts — but as Ken will tell you, I don’t read patterns or plan any of my quilts and because of this missed step, not all of them turn out hunky dory at first glance. I like my ability and creative spirit, to cut up fabric in different ways, throw it up in the air, and then sew it all back together again. I plan my quilts on the go; as I make them. Sometimes I have an idea of what I’m hoping for in my head, and even though I have a lot of quilting books (also from Alice’s hoard), I don’t read them for suggestions, instructions or directions.

I will now venture to say, making a pair of pants is different. The instructions that come with the pattern are, well… important. I did not enjoy the challenge and it was indeed a challenge. I spent most of yesterday making the pants. I guess they were a success as I put them on as soon as I finished and am wearing them again today. But if I go out in public, I will change into something “presentable”.

I did say when I started this sabbatical that I wanted to learn new things, cooking and sewing were on the list. But, here is the kicker (and insight) to my experience yesterday.

I tried a new thing with old information (and I know better). I tried to make a pair of pants, I did not learn how to make them. Learning would have taken longer; understanding the terminology of construction, and paying attention to details would have helped. I’m sure, the pants would have turned out better if I had some basic knowledge of how to sew garments. But I breezed over those skills and just winged it.

Learning to sew and just sewing reaped really different results. Taking the time to learn might have produced a pair of pants that I not only could wear in public, I might even want to.

So, now I have a choice. Do I really want to learn to sew? I know it will be harder than just cutting up fabric, putting it all back together and hoping for something wearable. I will need a lesson or two for starters. I’ll need to find a teacher, put some time in, I’ll need to practice!

The trunk full of beautiful linens are enticing and yet, Ebay doesn’t seem so difficult now!



April 10, 2011
During this sabbatical one thing has changed in my practice.

I’ve always been a big believer in the concept of deliberate practice. You know, working on one thing, focusing, and honing in on that; becoming great at it. That didn’t mean I would only work on one part of my art, but when I got into the training room, on the patio or where ever I stepped into my practice, I would always practice for a reason. 

The following is the preface in the book T’ai Chi Ch’uan for Health and Self-Defense written by T. T. Liang
At first I take up T’ai Chi as a hobby,
Gradually I become addicted to it,
Finally I can no longer get rid of it.
I must keep on practicing for my whole life—
It is the only way to preserve health.
The more I practice, the more I want to learn from teachers and books.
The more I learn, the less I feel I know.
The theory and philosophy of T’ai Chi is so profound and abstruse!
I must continue studying forever and ever…
It is the only way to improve and better myself.

These were some of the first words I heard and read when I started my Tai Chi journey. I think I knew what I was in for. I never imagined how extraordinary the journey would be, but I did know I was in it for life.

Although I doubt I ever looked at Tai Chi as a hobby, the words T.T. Liang used to preface his book have been spot on true for me. Tai Chi is a profound and difficult art. The more I learn, the less I know. It is the main vehicle I use to improve and better myself. None of that has not changed.

What has changed for me during the few months of this sabbatical has been my determination to step into my practice for a reason.

Today I am not working toward or on anything. I have no goal for expertise or understanding. I am not looking for a lesson I might pass on, or my ability to make a kick higher, a snake lower, I dont even concern myself with a correct mind set or hand position.

Today I practice because practice is a part of me. “Finally I can no longer get rid of it.”


April 9, 2011
Truthbetold





April 8, 2011
A young woman spoke in a low soft voice. “I’ll give this thing a chance.” I smiled, “You don’t know it yet, but this thing, it will give you a chance.”

It takes a lot of courage to show up day after day, to keep coming back, to accept a real opportunity to change. You have to be so brave to stand inside yourself again and again; to participate and not run.

I have found there to be no room for fear when we honestly go inside ourselves; when we take a deep breath, and start to notice how our minds are already made up. It is only then that we are able to acknowledge not only the tension we hold in our shoulders, but the path that leads to our heart.

Today I salute all those who took the chance they were offered.


April 7, 2011
I used my skills today. You know the skills we all talk about, the one we need for “real life”. We train and train and train and how we end up expressing ourselves through all of that training can show up in very odd ways.

Holding the head as if suspended from a string for instance, provides us with an awareness of where we are and how we feel. If you are walking tall and in good structure, being mindful of posture and environment it is harder to be snuck up on. Awareness spoils the surprise, if you will.

Today, on my walk, head held high, I heard the spring sound of geese honking above me. Side-note: Americans call these geese Canadian Geese, here in Canada, we just call them geese. Anyway, I heard four big ones flying over me and my skills of awareness kicked in. I stopped walking, looked up (with my mouth closed) and was able to side step a little to the left, just enough actually to miss getting hit with goose poo from the sky!

It may sound like a small victory, but I assure you it was not! Getting hit from above by falling shit is never fun. I was quite proud of myself for the level of awareness I had today. I credit my training.

Whew.


April 6, 2011
Today I have an overwhelming sense of joy. I am happy. You know, “Spring happy” or as Thumper would say in Bambi, I'm all twitter-pated. It feels good.

Here are a few reasons I'm so happy today and it isn’t even noon yet!

1. Waking this morning and realizing it wasn’t dark outside, first smile.

2. Zhan Zhuang on the patio — no rain, second smile!

3. Looking at Jim daily photo — not just a smile, but an out loud laugh.

4. Walking to the O, a new book on my ipod, wearing super comfortable headphones that keep my ears warm — and hearing the word codswallop used in a sentence! Love it.

5. Only one person opted out of the qigong class today and four asked questions. Joy, joy!

6. The walk home under blue sky, one heron, two eagles, and countless honking geese.

7. Waves of hello by smiling friends as they pass me going to their work knowing I'm going home!

8. Ken and Cricket cheering when I came home. OK, Ken cheered, and Cricket wagged her tail and grabbed a stuff giraffe. (her version of a cheer.)

9. Making blue corn Posole for dinner! Yay!

10. Having genuine love in my heart for my life and those in it. Thanks!

11.  A warm and fuzzy post for the day. Twitter-pated indeed!



April 5, 2011
I love this Poem by Ronnie Bruce.



April 4, 2011
One of the best things about training with Tai Chi people are the cookies we eat during the breaks! Monica took the blue ribbon with me last Saturday with these Chocolate Peanut butter Pillows. I googled the recipe. Maybe you will make them for the next time you get together with your Tai Chi friends!
* my note

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pillows
SERVINGS
Makes 2 Dozen Cookies

INGREDIENTS

For the Chocolate Dough
1/2 cup canola oil 1 cup sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons nondairy milk *(why don't they just say use soy milk or rice milk?)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons black unsweetened cocoa powder or more regular unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Filling
3/4 cup natural salted peanut butter, crunchy or creamy style
2/3 cup powdered sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons soy creamer or nondairy milk
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

PREPARATION

1. Make the Dough
In a large mixing bowl, combine oil, sugar, maple syrup, nondairy milk, and vanilla and mix until smooth. Sift in flour, cocoa powder, black cocoa powder if using, baking soda, and salt. Mix to form a moist dough.

2. Make the peanut butter filling
In another mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to beat together peanut butter, powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons of the soy creamer, and vanilla to form a moist but firm dough. If peanut butter dough is dry and crumbly (natural peanut butters have varying moisture contents), stir in the remaining tablespoon of nondairy milk. If dough is too wet knead in a little extra powdered sugar.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

4. Shape the Cookies
Create the centers of the cookies by rolling the peanut butter dough into twenty-four balls (try dividing dough in half, then each part in half again and roll each portion into six balls). Scoop a generous tablespoon of chocolate dough, flatten into a thin disc, and place a peanut butter ball in the center. Fold the sides of the chocolate dough up and around the peanut butter center and roll into a smooth ball between your palms. Place on a sheet of waxed paper and repeat with remaining dough. If desired, gently flatten cookies slightly, but this is not necessary.

5. Place the dough balls on lined baking sheets about 2 inches apart and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the sheet from the oven and let the cookies stand for 5 minutes before moving them to wire racks to complete cooling. Store cookies in tightly covered container. If desired, warm cookies in a microwave for 10 to 12 seconds before serving.

From the book Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group (2009).



April 3, 2011



Tai Chi fun with the Roughriders and guests. Loads of laughter, sharing and playing. For me it was a perfect day!



April 2, 2011
My horoscope today from Georgia Nicols —
People in authority feel that you have the ability to make some creative input to something - could be anything - in such a way that you will improve it. Since others believe that you can do this - why not step up to the plate? Just do it.

I'm going in to train with my peeps today. I'm hoping Georgia is right on with this one!



April 1, 2011
Books I read in March.

Focus by Leo Babauta was boring. Basically the author tells you to quit multi tasking, turn off the computer and quit checking email and Facebook. It's more of a "how to" work in the business world, type book. But I have to say, if you really had a job and Facebook was keeping you from it, you should be fired for more than lack of focus.

Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks is what my friend Sandie calls a “stupid girl book”. TV in book form. A women escapes her abusive husband and falls in love with a nice guy, but did she really escape?

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. I really enjoyed this one. It challenged some notions on how and why some people succeed and the hand up, time, and support that is needed in all cases.

Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones. Loved it! Matilda is a black child entering puberty living in New Guinea. She becomes fascinated, as I did, with the only white man left on her island who becomes the school teacher by reading Dickens to the children and sharing the classroom with members of the village to help teach. I like the women who taught the children about the colour blue because she said she didn’t know about anything else! The book was not always an easy read, there is violence and cruelty, still I am glad I read it.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I couldn’t put this one down. It is the story of the relationship of white women and their “help” in the south during the civil rights struggle in the 60’s as told by the help. A real head shaker at the insanity of our racists history.

Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls is based on a true story of a very dysfunctional family and the success of the children as the parents crumble through addiction and narcissistic ways. I did not like the so called happy ending and found most of the story hard to stomach. Not many children come out so well balanced being raised without care. Not so much of a page turner, more of a page skipper.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. A great read with a surprising narrator. The story takes place in Nazi Germany and is about a young girl, her foster parents, a secret in the basement and one way to control your own life when everything is really out of control.

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher. I am not a fast reader, but this one went down as if I was at the bar with friends. Carrie and I had a very similar childhood, except she had world famous parents, lots of money, lived in Hollywood, and married a rock star, but other than that… exactly the same!



March 31, 2011
In almost every Tai Chi seminar or class I’ve taken, I’ve either thought to myself and or said out loud (probably to Jim), “Well, that just gave me my next years practice”. Or, I’d say, “Wow, I could work on that for a while”.

Sam use to give instructions like, “Put this on your alter for a few years," meaning pay attention to this lesson; make it a priority. And I would. Then I’d take another lesson or go to another seminar and usually before the lunch break, I’d say, “Wow, I could work on that for a while.”

During the 2010 Yang Intensive, Michelle asks a question that I might have misunderstood. She asked “How did you learn the 1 to 8?” Without hesitation, I said I learned the 1 - 8 with my classmates. With Art, MaryLynn, Anna, Lois, and Jim. I told her Sam showed us what to do and how it could feel, and he was clear what it was not. But, I learned this part of the art when Sam wasn’t around. When my training partners and I got together outside of the seminar, away from the studio. Together we explored and worked the lessons Sam had shared with us. That was our “alter time”.

One reason I am taking this years sabbatical is for me to settle into life in a different way, and another reason is for my students. Yes, I’m taking time away from teaching for my students.

I have great respect for my students and I think time away from formal lessons (from me anyway) is an opportunity for them to work with each other. It is time they can look at the things they have on their own practice alter. I honestly believe this is the way skills get developed and knowledge is owned.

My students are extraordinary and the commitment they have made to the art and to each other is astonishing. This weekend they are coming together again from all parts of North America for four days of training. They will laugh, sweat, and work together for hours each day and I won’t be there to throw in my 2 cents or opinion.

I’m excited for them and so very proud.

P.S.  Ok, so maybe I’ll show up one day this weekend. I miss them very much and it will be good to see everyone again, and besides, my arms are hungry to push.




March 30, 2011
Following still from the Mar. 28 post and the magazine questions. Here is another.
How much stuff could a chic chick chuck if a chic chick could chuck stuff?

I think this question was originally posed by Lao Tzu, who also wrote, "To become learned, each day add something. To become enlightened, each day drop something."

Story of my life!



March 29, 2011
Here is an interesting question that I think merits some exploration.

What do you think about first thing in the morning?

I really like the start of the day. I wake early and I don’t linger in bed. As soon as my eyes open, I say good morning to myself and I’m up. I have a very regular routine for greeting the day, washing, dressing, and getting into my practice. But the question isn’t what do you do first thing, it’s what do you think.

I’m not always aware of specific thoughts in the morning, mostly I just go about doing what I do each day. Yet, I know my thoughts have huge influence on my actions and most definitely determine how I participate in the rest of the day.

Generally speaking; good thoughts, good actions = good day.

My friend Cage and I used to work together speaking to young offenders and young addicts about choice. We told the kids that each day when they wake up they had the opportunity to make a choice about themselves, and about what they thought about and the action that would follow. We talked of the freedom of choosing well. Our experience showed us that If you made a good choice, you’d get to make another. However, if you made a bad choice someone else would start making all your choices for you.

I still know a lot of people who didn’t think much about the choices they made in the past, and right now, have people with authority, telling them when and what to eat, and where and when to sleep, what they can or cannot do. Someone else is thinking for them, making choices for them. Today they don’t have a say in their own lives.

I also have seen and experienced the turn around. I’ve watched myself and countless others learn this lesson and take it seriously. One good thought can be the start of an incredible life, business, work of art, or more importantly it can be the start of a great day.

How you begin your day is important. Choose well I say.


March 28, 2011
What questions should I be asking myself?

I just read an article that offered up ten good questions we should be asking ourselves. My first thought was oh, goody, if I answer each of them I’ve got ten posts for this page. Then I read the questions and thought, well maybe 6.

I like the first question though. It was, what questions should I be asking myself?

What a perfect first question, without this question, I wouldn't ask any others, so I see why it gets top billing. It creates an alert, thoughtful mind set. Asking myself questions is a good way to ferret out the information I need that will support the choices I make for my lifestyle and beliefs. Asking myself questions is how I find balance, harmony or struggle in every situation. I frequently ask this question. Problem is, I tend to think about the questions a lot more often than I think about the answers.



March 27, 2011
I've no idea what to post today, so I'm taking the day off.



March 26, 2011



Go ahead, ask Ken anything!



March 25, 2011
It seems I have to wait until tomorrow to find out what tomorrow will bring.



March 24, 2011
My family was not religious. In fact quite the opposite, but my friend Dorcas, who lived up the street, her family was. They went to the Episcopal church each Sunday and sometimes, I’d go with them. Once I went to the Sunday school class that was for the kids. Father Wolfram (who I thought was quite handsome) held up a ten dollar bill and asked, “Who would like this?” Without hesitation I raised my hand high in the air and said, “I would.” He gave it to me! No kidding he just gave it to me. The other kids in the class room looked surprised and a little upset, no one else had raised their hand, no one else even answered him when he asked, “Who would like this.” They just sat there. Then the other kids started in with saying they didn’t know he was serious and they would have said they wanted it if they had know he would really give it away! They didn’t believe he would give it to them, so they kept quite.

It was my first lesson on receiving and all I had to do was say yes to an offer whether I believe it was genuine or not.

Learning to receive is one of the skills we need when exploring the energies of Tai Chi. And it is a tough one to get. It is the kind of lesson that is learned by no, no, not that, no, uh… no. But when yes is the answer, you know it, your partner knows it and all is very clear.

I’m beginning to see why learning to receive is so hard though. Sometime we don’t believe what is offered, could really be ours.

There are two sides to receiving. One, a genuine desire to give and the other, a willingness to risk saying yes; I would like that.



March 23, 2011
I was told to look to the sacred for your work and your power. I think I'll add the scarred the scared as good sources too.


March 22, 2011
I've been spinning.
The photo on the left is showing the process called, "setting the twist". On the right, the yarn ready for a project. I don't knit. If you do let me know, I'll send this yarn to the first person who asks for it.




March 21, 2011
Nothelping





March 20, 2011
Ken just reminded me I haven't posted anything yet today. I’ve been busy! It is the first day in 10 that I’m starting to feel my health return from the cooties he brought home from Arizona. I’ve done nothing but lollygag around the house for the last week and I finally feel like I can be part of life again. Of course I'm busy!

I was up several times last night just to watch the super moon. It was beautiful and bright. At 5 a.m. it shone through our window like a street light and I took the cue to go ahead and get up. I hung out on the back deck for a while to really take it in. A good start to a good day.

Then before my second cuppa coffee, I was gifted with a HUGE bag of wool from my friend Linda. Wonderful, incredible wool and alpaca, roving in natural and dyed colours all ready to spin or felt. I did a little happy dance, clapped my hands, and sat down at the wheel and started spinning.

Then I remembered yesterday I was looking at fabric thinking I’d like to put together another quilt. So I stopped spinning, got out some scissors and started cutting strips of the fabric I sorted for a quilt idea that has been percolating in my mind.

And the sun is shining! It is a nice day outside, we plugged in the electric scooter thinking I’ll go for a spin. But the wool, the fabric, the sunshine…. this post.

I am a fortunate woman. My life is good. Ken has always told me, I can do anything I want, I just can’t do everything I want. I’d like to prove him wrong at least once!



March 19, 2011
It’s true; if you want to learn something teach it. That's why I started teaching so many years ago. I wanted to learn Tai Chi from the first lesson I received.

What I didn’t see coming was the community I would be joining. My practice has brought friends, laughter, and joy into my life. Here is a snap shot of proof.



Tai Chi brought Cage, Erica, MaryLynn, Darryla, and of course Jim into my life, and my life is better for it. And by the way, none of these Tai Chi friends lives within 500 Kilometers of me.


March 18, 2011
There's a fine line between being obsessive and earning mastery. Most of the time I don't know what side I stand on. No wonder I continue to practice.


March 17, 2011

Here is an example of taking a private lesson in front of 20 people.






March 16, 2011
Ken brought home a virus from his trip to Arizona. At first we thought it was just a cold, but as time goes on, it's very clear it is much more than “just a cold”. I tried for a week not to catch it and then BLAM! Right in the nose and throat I got it. The two of us have been hacking, coughing, snorting and sneezing for a week now. I know most viruses need to just run their course, but I’m a terrible sick person. I get cranky and whiney, my lower lip sticks out really far and I pout and complain about not feeling good. I get bored of just sitting around, but have no energy to do anything else. I can’t even stand myself when I get this way, so enough already! I’m sick of being sick.

Each night before we go to bed, we say, “Tomorrow better”. I think I learned those words from Ed’s mom. They give us hope.

Today is that tomorrow where better is promised. I’m going to do what I need to do. Today we Guanqifa the house as well as ourselves. Out with the old and in with the new.

Our qi and the house qi is thick and stuck right now, and if there is no qi movement it will be harder to feel better. So I need enough energy to move the crappy qi out of our house and a big challenge has the weather on Bowen Island. It has been raining almost everyday for weeks and we have a fire burning in the wood stove almost constantly for warmth. Usually when I clear a space I throw open the windows and doors to let the fresh air in and chase the bad juju out. (Now, as I write these words I’m grateful that the people who read this daily blog are people who know me, so I can talk about the juju and it doesn’t seem too very weird.)

Today, rain or shine, cold or wind, the doors and windows are getting opened and I’m moving the stagnant air out of the house.

Forget about “tomorrow better”. I need today to be better.



March 15, 2011
I don’t watch the news. I still haven’t seen the images of what is going on in Japan. When my thoughts go out to what is happening, I pull them back. I wish I didn’t have the images of 9/11 in my mind.

I don’t watch scary or violent movies either. I turn away at gore and general heartache. That doesn’t mean I don’t know or care about what is going on in the world.

One of the symptoms of alcoholism is denial, and after 26 years of sobriety I know very well my capacity for denial. Yet, my practice of Tai Chi and Qigong, and the guidelines I choose to follow from it, encouraged me to stay present and in reality.

Yin and Yang. Polar opposites. Balance. The continuation of life force is about change. Grief turns to joy, comfort turns to fear, and safety to unknowing what is next and all back again. The cycle of life includes death and growth.

My head is not in the sand but it isn’t in the news either.

Years ago, my dad and Sam were discussing world events and the dramas and traumas of it all. My dad asked Sam, “What can we do?” Sam did not hesitate, he said, “Teach Tai Chi.”

I will do what I can to help, to accept and to participate in all the struggles of life, yet among the frenzy, the noise, and the chaos - I continue to seek stillness.


March 14, 2011
Day light savings times seems to me, to be one of those random things in life. I see no reason for it and I have no control over it. I must change the clocks and accept it. So, this morning I got up at the same time as I always do, only today I was in the dark again.

One of the ways I watch time pass is by stepping outside as soon as I wake up. I look at the day, take a deep breath, check the weather by feeling it, and I watch the day break. I listen for bird song or I listen to the silence of the morning. It is usually quiet. The Bowen bus passes our house once every hour starting at 5:10 a.m. It's one of those things I acknowledge, but don’t really pay attention to. I do the same when I look at a digital clock and it reads 12:34. One, two, three four. I usually say it out loud when I see it and then just move on.

I like to watch the change that spring brings. Buds start to break on the branches of the oak and alder. Catkins that I didn’t even notice yesterday are huge today. Different birds fly by, some stop as if deciding where to build their nest for the seasons. I watch it all. And as the days breaks I find it is my favourite time to enjoy the world. This is my practice time.

This morning, it was all off. I felt like I took a step back in time.

Before this morning, I noticed how each day was getting lighter a little earlier. I liked it. We’ve had a lot of rain and dreary weather this season, but the change was palpable. I could see the new growth of daffodils and crocus, I didn’t have to walk wearing my safety “glow in the dark, geek vest”. It was clear spring was here. Warmer days were coming.

All that was different this morning; it was so dark outside again. This morning felt like a day in deep winter.

Now, this evening I’ll notice how it will be light outside a little longer, it will seem that spring is coming again. I’m sure I’ll remark to Ken how great it feels and ask him to come look out the window at the light.

Do I have a lesson here? A moral to the story or some wise words of enlightenment to share? No. What I have, is a preference.

I prefer to leave the time changes alone. The world changes fast enough. This morning felt like a huge unevenness, a gap, an interruption in the flow of life. I prefer once in motion to stay in motion. I prefer progress.

Side note: "Legend has it that, when asked what he thought about daylight savings time, a Native American Chief once said, "Only a white man would cut the end off a blanket, sew it on the other end and think he had a longer blanket."


March 13, 2011
It is hard to stay focused!




March 12, 2011
Cough, snort, hack, sniffle, sniffle... (I blame Ken).

The only good thing about all this snorting and sniffing is I can spend the day on the couch reading Focus!


March 11, 2011
I don't want to write a post on irony, so I'm hoping to spend some time with the book Focus by Leo Babauta before it has to go back to the library.

Look a blue bike! Sigh...



March 10, 2011
I was told today by someone that if I forced him to participate in qigong, I would be committing religious persecution.

It is funny how 20 people in a room will feel better and receive some benefit from a simple practice, and one person says something like the above and my head shakes and my heart sinks. I’m not going to chew on this for long, instead I’ll tell a story.

I was teaching in Eugene, OR at a senior centre years ago. Attendance at the first class was quite high. The door of the room was kept open to the hallway and passers by would poke their heads in and have a look at the strange* moves we were working on. (*Strange being sitting, standing, and slow gentle stretching.) The second week I showed up, class attendance had dropped to only 4 students and we were asked to close the door. When I asked why and what happen, I was told by a feisty woman in her 80s, “I’m not sure what you are doing in there, but I can tell you, it is not Christian and I am letting everyone here know it.” It wasn’t long before no one came to the class.

In 2002 Sam, Ali and I drove around North America interviewing Tai Chi people. We talked to masters, instructors and students of the art. Our questions were general for the most part. We asked people to share their experience of Tai Chi with us for a film. We also had a list questions we were curious about. A main question was for people to answer, Tai Chi is…? It was a fascinating experience.

Another question we asked was “are you a Christian, and does that influence your practice of the art”? We asked this because my experience in that senior centre class was not uncommon and we wondered about it.

I’ll never forget the man in Texas who sat straight up in his chair when we asked him and he said, “I’m a Christian and I practice Tai Chi and I don’t care who knows it.” He said it as if he was the most radical and defiant person we had ever met. He said, he did get some strange looks and comments from his friends, but Tai Chi helped him and it out weighed the trouble. He didn’t want to talk about the trouble.

I’m always amazed and surprised when I hear comments like, “Qigong is the work of the devil," or “that goes against my religious views”.

I don’t have the interest or energy to debate these comments. Strong feelings and strong beliefs are everywhere. I have my own. I’m all about each of us finding something that works, that provides comfort, joy, strength and well being. Something that helps out weigh our troubles. For me, I found the practice of Tai Chi and Qigong.

I’ve always said, if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.




March 9, 2011
They say the definition of an original thought is 'the ability to conceal your source'. I don't mind not being original and I'm happy to give credit for the cool things I copy. I was inspired to make a daily post because my friends Jim and heather do. I've always been a bit of a copy cat. If I see something cool, I want to do it too.

Yesterday heather posted a random art project. I wanted to play, so my post today is The Random Album Cover Meme

I went to Wikipedia. Hit “random” The first Wikipedia article I got became the name of my band. Then I went to "random quotes" - the first one that showed up became the name of my album. (I used the entire quote by Bobby Bowden, heather used the last 5 or 6 words for hers. You do what you want if you're playing). Then I went to Flickr.com, hit random again and chose the third photo from photos posted in the last 7 days. That is my album cover. I put them all together with the magic of the computer and voila! I have a post for the day using random words and photos.

At first I thought I'd surf around a bit and choose something mindful and interesting, but, I just went with it and took what I got... I think what I got is cool.

Here is my Random Album Cover... I wonder what kind of music it is!




March 8, 2011
On March 8th many years ago, some women on Bowen Island rented a room and put up a microphone. They invited women from our community to come and share whatever they wanted to in honour of International Women’s Day.

I went to the gathering with a stack of some of my favourite self-defense books and articles. I wanted to suggest some readings that influenced me and I spoke a little about being a women in the martial arts and how the study of martial arts and the skills of self defense have affected my life.

I didn’t speak longer than 5 minutes, there was little discussion and no questions asked or answered. I left a list of suggested reading on the table that was available for business cards and other contact information. I chatted with a few women, many who shared song and poems or told stories that evening. It was a nice gathering; a simple way to celebrate the day.

The next day, our phone rang. Then it rang again and again. Our phone rang all day long. What surprised me was the nature of each call.

“Hello, do you teach self defense for women? I’d like to sign up for a class.” And then…. “Is there a way we can do this where no one will know I’m learning?”

I kid you not. I received 26 similar phone calls that day. I was stunned, shocked, scared, and sad.

Bowen is a small island, at the time, the population was 2600 and without actual stats, I’m going to say it takes a higher than average income to live here, we are not a diverse community (mostly white) and I will venture to say most people who live here are educated. For the all the world to see, Bowen Island is a safe community. And yet, I believe it is statically the same as anywhere else in the world when it comes to domestic abuse.

After all those calls I did start up some self defense classes. I taught at my house and I taught at the school. It was hard work and as rewarding as it was, it was also horrible. Most of the women who called me never showed up. It wasn’t long before the who-ha died down, my phone quit ringing and the class attendance dropped. We all went “back to the way things were… are”.

Success or failure? Change or status quo? I don’t know. I know how important it is for women and girls to learn self defense. My life and self esteem changed dramatically as I gained self defense skills. In all my tai chi classes, I introduce aspects of self defense and encourage women to stand inside themselves with strength and structure. I don’t to teach self defense for women right now. I know a lot of really great instructors though and I am happy to recommend them and share resources when asked.

Still every March 8, on International Womens Day, I think back to that gathering on this island almost 15 years ago. And I wonder about the women of Bowen; I wonder who is safe and who isn’t.


March 7, 2011
Good advice from Woody Allen (I think)

Life Should be Lived Backwards
I think the life cycle is all backwards. You should start out dead and get it out of the way. Then, you wake up in an old age home feeling better every day. You get kicked out for being too healthy; go collect your pension, then when you start work, you get a gold watch on your first day. You work 40 years until you're young enough to enjoy your retirement. You drink alcohol, you party, you're generally promiscuous and you get ready for High School. You go to primary school, you become a kid , you play, you have no responsibilities, you become a baby, and then...you spend your last 9 months floating peacefully in luxury, in spa-like conditions; central heating, room service on tap, larger quarters every day, and then, you finish off as an orgasm


March 6, 2011
I’ve admire the works of Qigong Master Ken Cohen over the years. I like his books and his audio tapes. So when my students gave me a gift certificate to Banyon Books I didn’t hesitate to choose Ken Cohens Training Guide.

This is an expensive course of study with a large collection of DVDs, CDs, and reading materials. There is a 100 day Qigong practice guide and I looked forward to this study.

But…
It is so hard for me to follow. Here is an example of what I’m to do the first 10 days…

Day 1 - 10
CD 2, Track 4 - 10 minutes
DVD 1 Chapter 3, 3 minutes
DVD 1 Chapter 7, 1 minute each of the 4 postures.
DVD 1 Chapter 11, 3 - 5 minutes

I have to say I don’t want to practice Qigong with a DVD remote in my hand fumbling through Chapters 3 then skipping to Chapter 7 and then on to Chapter 11 after listening to track 4 of CD number 2. I also don’t want a timer in my other hand in order to make it easier for me to breathe in the good qi, and keep an eye on the clock so that I know after 1 minute, I change to the next posture in Chapter 7.

Perhaps this 100 day training will take me three or four hundred days before I feel knowledgeable enough to know what to practice and how to practice.

I’m just so very glad I already know WHY to practice!
And after reading this post, Jim recommended this for a great qigong practice. Thanks Jim!


March 5, 2011
It was one year ago today that the 2010 Yang Style Full Curriculum began its course of study. It is amazing how different today is from March 5, 2010, for me.

I woke this morning and looked out the kitchen widow. I looked at the driveway and remembered all the times I saw groups of students walk down that path. People have literally come from all over the world to play Tai Chi at this house. Many have been greeted by Cricket, I remember back when Lucy did the job.

The first time I walked down that drive way it wasn’t yet paved and I stepped on a bee. It stung me and my first week at a Bowen Island Push Hands camp, my foot was swollen and itchy the entire time. I would go down to Tunstall Bay beach during the breaks and stand in the salt water, rubbing my foot on the rocks to get a little relief before putting on my shoes again and trying to figure out how to stand with a relaxed base. No wonder my shoulders didn’t have a chance of dropping.

It is now month three of my sabbatical, and I can say more than anything I’m glad I am taking this personal journey. Still, I miss the Tai Chi community. I miss seeing my students and their smiles and the way they learn and the lightbulbs that go off and the way they touch in. I miss their laughter. I miss practicing the 88. I miss sticking with someone and resting into the connection we’ve made. I miss getting practice reports and I’ve stifled my curiosity to ask how everyone is doing.

My days are creative and satisfying. I’m doing what I want to do and time is flying by. I can’t believe it was a year ago we all gathered under the tent in the yard. No one is walking down our driveway to play Tai Chi today, but I remember all the times they have, and I hope it won’t be long before they do again.





March 4, 2011
I watched the Oscars this year. I don’t usually and I guess I was just bored enough last week to give it a go. I haven’t seen any of the movies up for the awards, although I would like to see the Kings Speech.

I have to say I found the show quite boring. I thought the Oscars would be more entertaining given how it is all about entertainers. I was moved when Celine Dion sang and the montage of photos was shown of the actors, directors and writers who died in the last year. Made me think, Elizabeth Taylor is still alive but not Lena Horn. Then again Lena Horn was 94 years old and Elizabeth Taylor is only 79. I thought one was older and the other younger. (But I ramble).

The thing that really drove me nutty though, was people asking the question over and over again, “Who are you wearing?” WHO? Who are you wearing?

My friends know fashion is not my strong suit, but on any given day I can tell you WHO I’m wearing! That is because I wear my friends.

Today I am wearing a Jan Daly turtleneck, Janice Wood pants, Marsha Zuest socks, Linda Cannon scarf, Rosie Montgomery sweater, Marian Bantjes hat, and my jewellery is Linda Brackett and Alice Del Dosso. I feel very loved and quite fashionable.



March 3, 2011

the ride home.



March 2, 2011
Happy Birthday heather. I hope you have a grand day and you celebrate with joy knowing how many people love you!

And for some of you that offer me feedback and check for typos (which I love), I did not forget to capitalize the h in heather. heather is a rock star that chooses to keep her name with small letters.

I salute!

heather is the wife of my training partner Jim. I honestly believe my husband, Ken and heather are the smartest people I know. I think between the two of them, there isn’t much they don’t know. Jim and I quiz them all the time and not only do they have answers, they have good answers.

heather does good work and she does fun work and she cooks the way I dream of cooking with madeupfood. If I write something raw or from my heart, I usually run it past heather first before I put it out to the world. A lot of friends tell me what I do is good. heather tells me I can do better.

If there is something important going on in the world, I’ll check with heather first, not just because she knows what is going on, but because she will see and offer up 10 different ways to help out. heather makes the world better.

Happy birthday dear friend, I love you to pieces.



March 1, 2011
Ken is traveling today. He is coming home after visiting his brothers in Arizona. It is good to have the house to myself sometimes, but the truth be told, I don’t live alone all that well. The first few days are great. I play music and dance. I pull several projects out all at once and work between them creating. This time, spinning and quilting got my attention. The living room looks like a craft store full of supplies.

Then, it isn’t long before I realize I haven’t been out of the house,and beside the dog and the cat I haven’t spoken out loud to anyone in two days. I stay awake too late, eat popcorn for dinner, and start to think that smoking  cigaretts would be a great idea! (I quit over 25 years ago.)

I acknowledged my weird thinking, pulled myself together, and went to the gym. Richard, reminded me that we addicts are weird. No matter how long a person is sober or how much they have changed, we always need to remember the disease of alcoholism is cunning, baffling and powerful. I am baffled by my actions at times. And I’m very grateful that when I get weird in my thinking, I don’t have to be weird. I fall back on my skills, my centre, and my practice.

I am a happy, sober, and strong person. And I’m glad Ken will be home soon.



This morning I made muffins for him.



February 28, 2011
Wool





February 27, 2011
Ken is away now so I have been spending my weekend spinning, quilting, reading, and eating pretzels, carrots, red peppers and bowls of shredded wheat.

AND because there is snow on the ground, and the temperature outside is MINUS something, I shoveled the drive, walked the dog, and have been to the wood shed more times today than I have been almost all year. I have filled the wood box multiple times and am doing my best to keep the fire going and the house warm. Jobs that Ken does very well.

Ken does a lot around the house. I've known it for years and although I'd like to believe I don't take him for granted, I think do. I will say when he is away, I really, really appreciate him and all he does and I miss him... and all he does!



February 26, 2011
Cricketmissesken



metoo.


February 25, 2011
Here is my favourite photo of my friend

Linda Brackett
June 1, 1950 — February 1, 2011




February 24, 2011
No witness
I went to the gym last night. No one saw me. I had the entire place all to myself. I played some music really loud, got my heart rate up, and checked off my routine one exercise after the other. There were a few times when I thought I might quit early or slack off. I had no witness, no one would ever know, but I kept on.

Funny how when I practice tai chi or qigong I don’t notice if others are around, actually, I couldn’t care less; I’d even say I prefer to play alone.

But the gym is different for me, maybe because it is new. I want a witness! Since I didn’t have one last night, I think I should get extra points for the work out… at the least I should get an extra cookie!


February 23, 2011
Internet has been down more than up today - Stack of books to read √, laundry to do √,  fire to sit by √, posting on my web site √.

I never said I'd post anything profound!


February 22, 2011
I have fond memories of learning the 108. The first time took 11 months of twice a week lessons before I reached the final cross hands.

Over the years I was to re-learn that long form with each new teacher I studied with. I’m pretty sure I learned commencing to conclusion at least 4 or 5 times with Sam. Each time, fresh eyes, new questions, and deeper clarity were needed, and offered, and each time it was a big deal.

I don’t know how many students I’ve taught the form to. I’d guess well over a couple hundred at least. It has been the focus of weekly, one move at a time classes, as well as, in seminar format where all 108 moves were learned in 5 really full days! I’ve taught it privately and in groups and whenever anyone finishes the form — there is celebration.

Learning the 108 is a really big deal.

Another really big deal is learning the 88 Attack and Defend form. This form changes almost everything about the study of tai chi for the student. Being able to move through a complicated set of movements with another person is wonderful. There is a different feeling of responsibility and pride that comes with the 88 than the 108. Maybe because you count on someone else to do their part and you need to do yours. Once the moves are learned, the fun begins and the quality of connection and play never seems to get old; really it just gets more and more interesting.

I would say knowing the 88 is a huge turning point for anyone who studies Yang style.

I’d like to congratulate Diane, Scott and Vanessa. They persistently practiced and worked together with their teacher Dorian to complete instruction in the super cool 88 form.

I know your study will never be the same and even though you will (and should) learn it all again and again, what you have done is a REALLY BIG DEAL.

Salute!


February 21, 2011
My favourite quote today came from Whoopi Goldberg,

"Experience trumps assumptions"



February 20, 2011
My mother was a hoarder. After her death, Sandie and I took on the challenge of cleaning out her house and going through her stuff. I have to say I was shocked at how a person I loved could live the way she did; floor to ceiling - stuff. Mom would call herself a collector, yet there was a lot of garbage mixed in with some of her treasures.

I came to the conclusion that the only thing my mother ever had ONE of was daughters!

We took a lot of her stuff to the dump, gave truck loads to the Sally Ann, to her friends, and clubs, and still I ended up keeping an entire UHaul truck full of... stuff.

Here is a short list of some things I kept (and don't ask me why) ....
430 greeting cards all unused (not counting unopened boxes of writing paper)
53 pairs of white gloves
37 aprons
63 hankies
320 thimbles
64 unopened packages of new sewing needles, for both hand work and machine
over 200 linen napkins
23 linen tablecloths
china, cutlery, silver dishes and serving trays
boxes of my Grandmother's clothes, mostly underwear and night gowns

and her fabric stash!

It has been almost 8 years now since my mom died and I have sorted, used, given away and culled most of the above "treasures".

This weekend, I wanted to start a quilt, and all I had to do to get started was walk downstairs, and choose from mom's sewing and fabric stash everything I needed for the project.

It made me very happy that in a weird way I can appreciate my mom, her crazy ways, and her collections. I've enjoyed making this quilt. I used her sewing machine, thread, iron, and scissors. I continue to work my way through her fabric stash, and I know I'll be able to continue to create a lot of beautiful quilts in the years still to come. Thanks Alice!



February 19. 2011
I thought about making a quilt yesterday. Today I put the top together.



I can get little obsessive at times!



February 18, 2011
Most mornings at the Orchard I tell nervous clients when they come to Qigong for the first time, “Don’t worry, you’ve done weirder things”.

 My experience in teaching has shown me that for true learning to take place, we need to be willing to be seen as foolish, or I’d even say, raw. I think that component is essential.

So, I must be on the right track with my singing lessons.

Lynn usually starts my lesson with me making a lot of vowel sounds, you know, ooooo, ahhhh, eeeee, me, me, me, lu, lu, lu. Up and down the scale we go. She asks me to hold my mouth a certain way, make a particular shape with my lips, place my tongue on the bottom of my mouth, stand a certain way. She teaches the mechanics of getting sound out of me, in order to make singing easier.

Just as knowing the moves of a form isn’t the same as knowing Tai Chi, you still have to start somewhere.

Lynn uses her hand to gesture and encourage the sound in my throat to come up to the roof of my mouth and out like a slide. There is a technical way for sound to work its way out of the body. I trust Lynn to help me find it.

I have to remember I’m not trying to sing to perfection - I’m trying to change my old ideas and learn some new skills.

It must be working as most of the time I feel quite foolish.


February 17, 2011
The next week.
A friend of mine, back east just finished her treatment for breast cancer. Hooray! During the course of treatment, there was a terrific support system in place for her. A web site was created so her friends could check in often; we could send warm wishes for health, share photos, you could even sign up to cook a meal, drive her to treatments and sit with her. It was a fantastic support site, not just for Sally, but for us; we wanted to do SOMETHING! I looked at the site every day of her 35 days of radiation treatment and I sent love and hugs through this crazy inter-web.

Same thing when my friend Linda was so sick and when Joni was holding her partner as he succumbed to his illness. There wasn’t a web site, but I wrote or called Joni and Linda’s husband Frank almost everyday in support. I never said all that much, I just sent quick notes via email to let them know they were on my mind and in my heart.

They are still on my mind. But, the turn around has happened. Things have changed.

Sally successfully finished her treatments and is back at work. I went to a memorial service for Vince last Sunday, and Frank is taking time, slowly going through Linda’s things.

I haven’t been in touch with any of them all week.

A couple of years ago when Janice died, I was desperate to share my grief and provide support and love to her partner Dorian. I really wanted her to know how much I cared and if she needed anything, I would be there for her. Another friend provided air miles for me and I flew back east, mere days after Janice’s death.

It was the wrong time. Even though my intentions were really good and full of love, it was wrong. Ok, maybe wrong is the wrong word, I don’t know. It certainly was uncomfortable. Dorian assures me nothing could have made that time comfortable. Sometimes there is no comfort, no matter how much love.

This is hard to write about it, and it sounds weird. How could it be wrong not to rush in and hold someone who is hurting? Let me just say, there is a time for everything. I learned a strong lesson then and I am practicing it now.

Everyone grieves and celebrates life differently. While it is good, really good, to show love, and support, everyone has their own journey. I am learning to honour that journey. There is a time to step back, even away. We all need time to reflect, to be alone, to stand inside ourselves and to let others alone in sorrow, and in joy.
Sally, Frank and Joni are on my mind. I don’t need to continually remind them. We all have our own thoughts to experience right now.



February 16, 2011
Rain Poem

Walking I wrap up in plastic
Mindful of puddles and trucks
Some drivers - liked splashing and spraying
Gee, what word rhymes with truck?



February 15, 2011
I’m feeling strong! I’ve been going to the gym two to three times a week for just over a month now. I gotta say I’m feeling it.

I’ve been in and out of a gym for years. I don’t really like that type of workout, yet I know fitness is important. A 40 minute tai chi form is fascinating to me and has kept my interest for years. I like strength, flexibility and mindful workouts but, aerobic heart health bores me to no end. I am pretty good at making excuses for not going, or worse, wasting the time I do give it. I’ve been known to "go for pancakes", and read People magazine while I stroll on the treadmill. I stop for countless cups of water, rarely work up a sweat and take “rest days” very seriously.

Still, I’m drawn to the gym. I feel and look better when I go. In January I started again only this time, I did something different. I asked for help! I asked my friend, Amber to be my fitness sponsor! Not a personal trainer - I don’t need help training. I know how to train. I can create good routines, and I know how to use the machines and free weights. What I needed was someone like in AA, a sponsor who will hold me accountable and call me on my shit. Someone who will see me when I show up and call me when I don’t. Someone who is on my side and says, “Show me your work! Good job. Do it again! Come on… 5 more!”

In AA they say, “If you want what we have, you have to do what we do.” I watch Amber workout. She is consistent, strong, dedicated and wow, does she work hard! Now, I’m doing what Amber does, or I should say I’m working up to it. I show up, sweat, grunt, get my heart rate up. It is good, hard work, Amber cheers me on, I show her my work, and I only miss the People magazines a little.




February 14, 2011
This morning I posted a photo of Ken and me and thought that was a nice post for Valentines day. But then, I thought Ken deserved more. Much more.

Let me just say I have an incredibly wonderful life. It is in no small part due to the fact that I met and married Ken Parker.



I was living in Albuquerque, NM in 1982 and Ken came down from Colorado Springs for a visit with an old roommate of mine. He was going to just hang out for the weekend. We met while I was at the flea market selling stuff. I think the lack of clothes I had on in the hot sun captured Kens heart and he was smitten!

It wasn’t long after that I was invited to visit Ken for his birthday and we spent the weekend together. I moved in the next week.

All of Ken’s friends said he was much too wise to make a lifetime decision based on a weekend experience. But Ken always said, “It was a good weekend!"

It was a good weekend. We married in 1983 and my mom said, “It wasn’t bad, for a hippie wedding.”

One reason our years together have been good, is that neither of us believes in unconditional love. We choose to be nice to each other, we laugh often, and we do our best to make it easy for the other to be happy, to feel safe, and loved. We don’t “work” on our relationship, we respect it and we treat each other well.

Ken is a good man. He is wise and kind, humble, funny and gentle. Tam calls him the “Voice of Reason." Jim says he is a Taoist carpenter, and even though, Ken said, “I never took to the leash," I am happily tethered to him. I won't say Ken is perfect, but I will say, he is perfect for me.

Happy Valentine's Day sweetie. I love you.



February 13, 2011
Courage, intelligence and love are never out of place.


February 12, 2011



One teachers student, student, student, students.
Five generations of passing the art from one hand to the next.
Brien, Sam, Jan, Jim, Erica and Lori.


February 11, 2011
I have no idea how many people read these daily posts. At times I’d like to have a *Like, *Dislike or *Leave a Comment button available for feedback. It would give me a better sense of why I’m blogging some of this blather.

I know at least two people read this everyday though. My husband Ken (I ask him to) and my best friend Sandie.

Sandie doesn’t go to my web site and click on my notebook though. Just before I post each day, I send her an email with my “story” in the text.

Before I started posting here Sandie rarely even checked her email, now she looks at it every day. So, when I wonder what to write about some days, I know Sandie will read this, and at the least, I can write to her.

So…

Dear Sandie, I am thinking of you today and I know your thoughts are on your mom. You have always been so good at remembering peoples special days, birthdays, and anniversaries. You send cards, make phone calls, and make sure to connect how ever you can, so that the people in your life, know how much you love them and care.

Today, I’m letting you know I love you and I care.

Jan


February 10, 2011

I love a routine, a rut, a constant. I write out schedules and check lists and then it seems that to the contrary I let it all go and allow the flow of "whatever".

I love a structure as it gives me the freedom to do what is in front of me. Because of structure I have the ability to say yes to adventure, to rest and to work at the drop of a hat. It may seem impetuous but it isn’t.

There is a Zen saying I really like: Do the work and the work doesn’t need doing.

The way to improvise in movement and in life; is to practice what you want, and practice it a lot. Do it a thousand ways, a thousand times and then, let yourself go and enjoy the moment.

I am very excited right now about a project I’m getting into. So, I set a time line, a schedule and a routine to follow. It lasted two days and then “something came up” and I let it go.

Not to worry, I’ll be back tomorrow right on schedule doing the work.


February 9, 2011
As above.
On my walk this morning, I saw 3 eagles. Two flying and one perched in a tree. It is the season when it is rare not to see the birds.  Being raised as an American, seeing an eagle is still quite the treat. I usually stop what I’m doing and watch them for a while, as they are just magnificent birds. Yet, living on Bowen Island for the last 15 years, without sounding too very smug, I expect to see them now, they are not a rare sight.

So below.
What I also took in on my walk was an awareness of the amount of litter on the road. I was amazed. I thought to myself that I need to bring a bag with me and pick up the trash as I walk. What really got to me though, was that I was looking at the same type of trash the entire way. There was the odd paper coffee cup, but mostly there were beer cans, a lot of them. There were also a lot of empty cigarette packages, butts, and candy bar wrappers.

It is hard not to draw a conclusion here.

I was taught not to litter. And I was taught that seeing an eagle was special. I’m curious why it is that some people don’t think those lessons are worth passing on any more.



February 8, 2011
Last night I received a note from one of my students student. Let me say that again. My students student!

I have to say I am smiling. The note told me how great her lessons were going and how grateful she was for “her teacher”.

It reminded me of when I was asked to be on a teaching panel and address the topic of “coming out of your teachers shadow”.

I have a very dynamic teacher, and if you know Sam, you might say he could cast a big shadow. As I thought about what I might say; what I realize was, and what I am grateful for, is that Sam keeps me out of the shadows. Sam shines a very bright light on me. I know he does this with all of his students. He has encouraged me to be my best, to stand out, to teach well. He has never cast such a shadow that I might stay in the dark.

There are sayings in the martial arts about standing on the shoulders of your teachers to further the view of the art. My teacher has given me a leg up; he has made sure that through his own practice, his shoulders are strong and wide enough and his base is secure so that I may climb high in my own study and practice. I am able to count on the foundation and knowledge that has been passed on to me.

I hope I have done the same for those I teach.

This art is passed hand to hand, teacher to student. Read all the books on the topic, you'll get some insight and great ideas. Watch all the UTube videos out there for pure entertainment. I believe we learn by touch and by the journey of those who went before us.

I encourage my students to teach and I want to support them when they do. I had a full circle moment yesterday, because a student of my student, wrote to tell me that her teacher has a very bright and generous light.

My heart soars!



February 7, 2011
Happy Birthday Sifu!


February 6, 2011
Spring time in California and time well spent with friends. I am lazy for a daily post.

Would that I could make
a poem
but the sunshine calls and there are chairs and macaroons.


February 5, 2011
I have steps.

This is not uncommon. Most people I know have a step somewhere. My family of “origin” broke apart when I was 11 years old and the steps started emerging. Step mothers, step fathers, step sisters, step children, and step brothers. I have or have had them all. 



Today I met my step-brother John for the first time.

As weird as it was; it was good. I really liked him.

Family!


February 4, 2011



One view on the hike.




February 3, 2011

I am in the turn around place between, home and holiday. This commitment of a daily post for the most part has been just fine. But today, I’m hungry, angry, tired and lonely. I’m waiting at the airport on a rainy, dark, day, and I’m thinking of my friend and her husband who is now a widow.

The last thing I want to do is post something.

I’ve been meeting my goal of writing for at least an hour every day. It works out to a little writing for the public (this post) and a little for just me. Today, the public (that would be you) gets very little.

 Soon I’ll be in the comfort of generous friends. I know they will help me with the sadness in my heart. Staying home would have helped too.


Late night February 1, 2011
I knocked on the garage door of my neighbours house. It never dawned on me to go to the front door. I was picking my new friend up and we were heading to town for lunch. Linda opened the door and we both started laughing. She was dressed to the nines. I was wearing shorts and a tie dye t-shirt. I think it was right then, we knew we would be great friends for years to come. I was her yin she was my yang. In odd couple fashion we got along just fine.

It was Linda who encouraged me to go back to school. I had read something that I shared with her about how most women were a man away from welfare - I was one of those women. Well, maybe not welfare, but I had very few skills and I might be able to get a crap job somewhere if I had to but, certainly not anything sustainable. It was Linda who found the program at the U of O in Desk Top Publishing and recommended it to me. A new program, just getting started, computers, design and publishing. I had never even turned on a computer and yet she wrote a letter for me and helped me fill out the application. We celebrated when I was accepted in the program. She became my business mentor and I did my best to grow.

I did grow and I learned, and I remember knocking on her garage door for another lunch date; this time, I was all dressed up in a new skirt and matching top and what I thought were fancy shoes (new Birkenstocks). I thought I looked fabulous. When Linda opened the door, again she laughed. It was in her warm and encouraging way, she explained to me that, successful business women do not wear cotton. Silk, wool or linen — not cotton. Oh boy, she had her work cut out for her.

I never did buy linen, silk or wool clothes. But with her guidance and support, I did gain the skills I needed and when an opportunity to work with Sam came up I was ready and qualified.

Linda and I have always maintained our easy friendship. I was her hippie friend she, my "big and important", professional friend.

Most of the time Linda and I just laughed when we got together. We laughed a lot and we walked arm in arm when we walked.

Linda called me when she got sick and I gave her some qigong exercises right away. I also went to visit and in my humble way, laid my qigong hands on her and talked gently in meditation. She was really sick, yet positive and determined. “These cancer cells picked the wrong body”, she whispered. Linda accepted my alternative methods of healing and I gave from my heart and held her hand.

I held her husband Franks hand too. We cried together at the tragedy of cancer and the nerve it had to attack Linda. We cried at the fear of life without her. And we stood well, knowing there was love. Lots of love.

Linda died tonight. Frank called me. Over the phone lines, over the miles, I hold him, and I am so very sad. The world was better, my world was better because Linda Brackett was in it.

Fucking cancer.


February 1, 2011

I resisted joining Facebook for a long time. I thought I spent too much time in front of the computer as it was. I also couldn’t understand the draw. If I wanted to stay in touch with someone, I’d either call them or send them an email. I didn’t get the draw of Facebook.

Alas, I finally sign up over year ago and I have to say I’m glad I did. It has been loads of fun. It is what it is. Facebook provides a very shallow and quirky connection with people. I get and give a small sense of what is going on in the world through our posts. I know better the politics, religious understandings, and UTube preferences of my friends. I learned when my cousin became a Grandma on Facebook, when Jess had a painting accepted in an art show, and I now know Michelle loves her tea! I connected with a step-brother I never met, on Facebook and learned we will probably never be close, but at least Facebook allows us a little glimmer of each others life. I’m back in touch with some high school friends and I really enjoy looking at all the photo albums people post of their homes and vacations.

I don’t play the games or mess with different applications on Facebook. But inspired by Bo, the Eat More Kale guy, I do hold personal contests and I give away cool prizes. Marketing on Facebook is not my goal, still, it is a good place to let folks know what is going on and when. Last fall I posted I was in NYC and because of it, I got to have breakfast with a friend who was also in the city. We never would have known we were in the same town any other way.

I like to actually know who I’m friends with though, so I don't accept every invite I’m offered. The “hide” button is a good feature and I feel I control the security as good as I can being on the internet. I often wonder what the draw of Facebook is for folks who don’t post status updates. I think Facebook is only as fun as we make it and appropriate participation is vital.

I used to say, “Who has time for Facebook?" Apparently, I do and I like it.


January 31, 2011
When you get, give.
When you learn, teach.
I live by these words -
so why am I taking time off from teaching?

Time will tell.


January 30, 2011
Yesterday I made 87 beads!



That is a personal record for the amount of beads I can make in one day. I could only do that many because all I made were small, simple, red, black, white and ivory beads that are used for I Ching readings. My goal was 5 sets with a few extra for the beads that aren't good enough or might break. Actually, I'll probably only get 4 sets with lots of extras once I clean and sort through them.

I like using beads for I Ching readings instead of coins or yarrow sticks. I string the beads on elastic bands, but they could be put in small bags as well.



If you don’t know how to use the I Ching, just know it is about as big a study as Tai Chi is and I am no expert (I just make pretty beads).

Here is a 10 minute explanation to at least a 10 year study.

Think of a question and choose a bead by running them through your fingers and without looking, eventually stopping on one. The colour of that bead determines what type of line you draw. Black = yin, White = yang, Red = changing yin and Ivory = changing yang. Sam called this "sealing a moment in time with intent". Even though each bead is the same size, it usually works out that one beads will feel different when you work with them. Pick 6 beads and draw either a solid or broken line above the last depending on the yin or yang bead choosen.

Look up the hexagram, made of two trigrams, in the chart in what ever I Ching book you use. There are 64 different hexagram combinations. Read the text and then spend your life time trying to figure out what it says to you! I said it was a deep study.

I do know, it is more fun with beads!


January 29, 2011
Warning this post contains foul language and heartache.

Fucking cancer.

Near the training field in our yard is a memorial tree. On it hang the names of loved ones lost. The branches are getting heavy.

Fucking cancer.

Roger, Gerald, Jan, Janice, Rosaile, and now Vince.

I grieve and stand with those who loved you.



January 28, 2011

I’ve been sifting, sorting, and re-organizing things in my office. Today I stopped and read one of the many Tai Chi notebooks I’ve kept over the years. Reading back over my notes from past lessons is fun. Mostly it sparked good memories. I was reminded of who else was in the class, where, and when it was. My notes help me to remember those “Ah-Ha” moments or remind me what I felt when a particular lesson was introduced. The notes also show some of my frustration while I was learning. I also have to say, much in my notebooks are boring; I guess I mean to say, repetitive.

Here is a sample of my notes in one notebook pulled verbatim.

Rest in or support. Use the “nooks and crannies” of the arm to connect to whatever region you are in, there is a most comfortable place to be in. 

Get comfortable, relax

60-70% of ones time is usually best spent in a “read the book” or “hold the ball” type shape, or a variation of that shape.

Relax

Abandon preferences (not choices or options) in favour of what the moment/movement suggests.

Let go so you can be responsive to the next moment.

What are you hanging on to?

Really relax! Don’t be ahead of reality find the truth of the moment.

Avoid symmetry. Don’t get stuck in over emphasizing shape or listening.

Allow yourself to be here. Make room... practice more!!!

Relax….. Let go. Let it in. Come on Jan, just do this. Let go… RELAX DAMN IT!


During the 2010 Yang Style Full Curriculum Intensive, my students were constantly saying, “You never said that before”.

I usually answered with, “Really”?



January 27, 2011

Here are a couple photos of my cave with the new paint. I'm going slow in getting things moved back in, sorting and asking myself, "how little can I do to do accomplish this"?



Of course keeping Cricket out is not even in consideration.



The art on the wall is by Anne Moon and Darryla Green-McGrath painted the flowers. The table is where I make glass beads, and that is the window I spend a lot of time looking out of.




January 26, 2011
It isn’t that I’m smarter — its just that I stay with a problem longer. —Albert Einstein

Oh, look a blue bike —Jan Parker

Most mornings I sit and write. In the last 15 minutes, I wrote in a small book some of my thoughts. On just one small page I was all over the place, from thinking about putting things back in my office with the new paint job, to my dear friend Linda who with the help of hospice is doing battle with cancer, to my trip to town today, to the rain outside, to how my morning practice felt, to Ken’s trip to Arizona at the end of Feb. Then I read The quote by Albert Einstein.

I asked Sam once about Joseph Campbell I was curious about how he knew what he knew about so many topics. Sam said, “He keeps on digging”.

I tend towards attention deficit disorder and my thoughts go everywhere. I've actually been meaning to write about mental focus for quite some time now. But, it seems I forget or get side tracked. How perfect! I have an hour right now, think I’ll focus a bit on this writing.

I’ve been watching a particular TV series with a friend on DVD lately.  With no commercials it is focused and uninterrupted. But, this particular show is filmed with a hand held camera. It drives me nutty. It is super fast paced. It shows the up and down of life; the fast change of scenes and expressions I take the first 15 minutes of the show just for my head, eyes and mind to adjust. By the end of the show I hardly notice the jumpy vision. Still the scenes are quick; changing often and fast. There is never a scene without someone talking. People often yell and there is also a constant soundtrack. It is a busy show.

By contrast - I’m also a fan of the Perry Mason series that was shot in the early 60’s. It is filmed in black and white. The lighting of the show is terrible by today’s standards, and all the crimes happen in the dark. We never see the actual crime. We are shown peoples expressions moments before and after the drama and for quite a long time. Sometimes there is no dialogue, and slow, spooky music is used for punctuation as the character reacts to what just happen or about what may happen. The pace is slow, the cameras held steady and on a scene for a long periods of time. Often there is no sound, people talk slowly, they are polite to each other, even in the worst of conditions. The slow pace allows the viewer the time to get into the feeling of show. They could never get away with this type of show today.

It is hard to stay focused in this day and age. We have a fast pace world, with information at our fingertips, we all have a long list of things to do, see and say and a lot of us multi-task.
 
Mental focus is hard to cultivate today. It takes a lot to stay on track. I think it is easy to lose a train of thought, get drawn out and before we know it, we are on a new topic. I think it is interesting that Albert Einstein stayed on the problem longer, that Joseph Campbell dug in deeper. I do the 108 Yang form. I know it helps me improve my focus.

I want to continue on this topic, but I’m out of time right now and need to switch gears. So, I’ll come back to it when I can focus better.




January 25, 2011
“It’s hard to get enough of something that almost works”. —Vincent Felitti, M.D.

The book, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts - Close Encounters with Addiction, by Gabor Maté, M.D. is hard to put down. In fact, it is the only book I have ever read, that when I finished, I turned to page one and started to read the entire thing again.

Dr. Maté works with addicts and alcoholics on East Hastings St. in Vancouver, BC. The stories he tells are heartbreaking and fascinating. I felt a bit like a voyeur being shown into the lives and private hell of people I don’t know. Yet Gabor shares more than anecdotal stories of those in addiction — his understanding of addiction is remarkable, he writes a lot of the how and why of it. He helps make a little more sense of a cunning and baffling disease.

One of the many interesting points Dr. Maté makes is that the two things addicts generally hate most of all, are time and work!

This rings true to me and makes me laugh as I do my best to explain what Qigong is at the treatment centre I work at each day.

Qi = energy, vitality, breath - Gong = to cultivate or to work, but more so, gong is developed by putting time into the practice or the work. Qigong then is the cultivation of energy that happens with work over time.

Why do we resist what is good for us? This book helped explain a lot of it for me.
My personal practice fills in the gaps, interruptions and uneven parts of my day. I am grateful for my path.

Each day I have the fortune to share Qigong with addicts. Over time because of the work, I see progress, mine and others.


January 24, 2011

My first Haiku.

Goodbye purple walls
Covered in memories and plans
The paint brush is here.


January 23, 2011
In my friends house, a cloth banner hangs with the words,
 
In the end, all that really matters is:
How well did you live?
How well did you love?
How well did you learn to let go?
 


January 22, 2011
This morning I made porridge for breakfast and I added the last of the sour cherries that are always a part of the yummy cereal. And then it hit me. Crap - I probably won’t see Sue or Pat this year as I’ve chosen to “take the year off” from teaching and Sue is my go to gal for sour cherries. She always brings me a bag or two when she comes for trainings.

Then I thought about all the great gifts I’ve received when students come for lessons. The box of Northern Delights tea that Dorian picks up for me in the Montreal airport, the incredible grape juice Erica hauls up from Oregon, the cookies Fred makes and the “something special” Ed and Sheila stick in my pocket and whisper, “hide this from the others”, the notes of thanks I find around the house when everyone goes home, and the small pieces of pottery Nancy creates and leaves hidden in the nooks and cranies of our home.

These gifts were above and beyond the open mind and committed spirit my students brought to class every time.

I started teaching so I could learn. I know that has always been the main reason for me becoming a teacher. I had no idea when I got into Tai Chi, all the extra benefits I would reap. I’m not talking about sour cherries or chocolate bars either. I have been gifted with the ability to touch in and connect with some of the best people in the world.

I already miss seeing my North Van students each week and as the year goes on it will be harder and harder not working with everyone.

Habits are hard to break!


January 21, 2011

My friend, Art Baner once said, “The most dangerous words anyone can say are I know that”. I believe this to be true. Still, it is nice knowing things. Cecily Brown in MN, said, “Tai Chi is about learning; not about knowing”. Yet, if I repeat something day after day with mindfulness, I am bound to learn and if I learn then I must know something. Yet, the more I seem to know about something, the more there is to know and on and on we go.

I am listening to Ken Cohen right now on my Ipod. He mentioned something I first heard TT Liang say and then of course Sam talked about it. I heard myself saying something similar the other day.

When we first learn something, we get very excited and become the “Great Expert” — we get so excited and proud and want to tell everyone all about it, maybe even start teaching. After a while we realize there is a lot more to learn and we enter the stage called “Potato Head”. It isn’t long before we enter a new stage and start to think we will never know it all and may even start doubting ourselves, we become overwhelmed with the weight of knowledge and here we enter the stage lovingly referred to as  “Banana Head”. It is after we have been on the path for a while, gone through all the stages that we then have a moment of clarity. We realize we are fine! Here is where we enter the last stage called “Nothing Special”. A person among persons, a friend among friends, a woman among women, a human among humans. We feel content to be who we are, knowing what we know, all the while continuing to learn.

I am happy to report I am feeling very, “Nothing Special” today!


January 20, 2011
If you have every been in my office, aka… “the cave," you’d know it is a busy place. I spend a lot of time in here. It is where I email, write, read and make glass beads. I even have a TV in here where I watch shows and DVDs that Ken has no interest in. It is where I sit and look out the window and where I meditate.

The walls are covered with art work, photos, clippings and sayings, and there are a few strands of beads hanging around. I like my stuff and enjoy looking at it. I don’t keep anything in storage. I figure if I have it, I must want it and so my stuff is in view. Like I said, my office is busy with my activities and very busy with things. Some would say my office is cluttered, I say it is full.

On Monday I am having this room painted, so I am in the process of making it ready. That means I need to clear the walls, patch the holes, move stuff around and out so the painter can come in and have room to work.

I started taking things off the walls today in preparation. As I took down the paintings, the photographs, the beads, and the stuff, I have to say I am enjoying the feeling of sparse clarity. There are a few themes in my life I am always working on. My personal practice, about 10 stupid pounds I can’t seem to lose, and the clutter (er, fullness) in our home.

I think next week, after my office has a nice new coat of paint on it, I will take my time and enjoy the simplicity of it all before I rush to fill up the space again. I’d like to bask in clarity for a bit and bring things back in slowly, if at all.



January 19, 2011
Technology problems - if you need to email me, please use jan.parker@shaw.ca
Sorry if you have emailed and I haven't responded. I didn't get your note. Try again with the above address or on Facebook and please know I answer email quite often, so if you aren't getting a response... the problem is still happening.

Does this count as a daily post? Why, yes. Yes it does!


January 18, 2011
There is a huge difference between being self aware and self obsessed.

I am changing the way I spend this year in hopes to become aware but not obsessed with what I do or more importantly, don’t do. Being a teacher is how I’ve seen myself over the years, it’s how I identify myself. I don’t know if I can or want to change it all that much, but I do want to explore.

Not everyone is aware of my sabbatical and I’ve had to say no to some interesting teaching gigs. Already, I miss my students and I hope to receive practice reports and invitations for tea and cookies soon. I’m very aware of my choice to take a break and how it affects others. Still, I know what I want to do this year, and for now, teaching didn’t make the list.

But when the daughter of a good friend called and asked for a lesson that would help her with some challenges, and in the same week, I received an email from a friend who has been diagnosed with some health problems that could be treated with qigong... what was I to say? Sorry, I’m on sabbatical and not teaching; call me next year! I don’t think so.

I am aware enough to know there is no way, I will turn my back and say, I can’t help if I can. Instead I got out my calendar and we set some dates. Teaching will be involved. (I almost made it a month.) I am aware of my skills and knowledge with Tai Chi and Qigong. I’m not obsessed with my sabbatical.

So often we hear about the "secrets" of Tai Chi and how you have to bang your head at the door of a Master or put up with a lot of bull crap before you “get the goods”. In reality, the secret of this art is in the practice of it and I believe the world would be a better place if we all were generous in sharing what we know with others.

I am definitely still on a sabbatical, my plans haven’t changed. Yet, I won’t say no if what I have learned over the years could help someone.


January 17. 2011
GLASH Beads!
Mixing molten glass with the ashes of loved ones.
Today I'm making heartwarming and memorable beads.





January 16, 2011

Linda Cannon took the photo of this sign in South Hampton, UK. I think it is good to give warning when changing your priorities.




January 15, 2011
Last October I went to NYC with my best friend Sandie. Our main reason for going was to surprise my friend Marian at the launch of her wonderful new book titled “I Wonder”.

While we were in the city we took in three big Broadway shows. We saw Billy Elliott, Wicked and Mama Mia. They were incredible and each inspired me in different ways.

After seeing Wicked, I was intrigued by the story so I read the book and then the sequel, “Son of a Witch”. The stories were fun and reading that particular genre of fantasy was new for me.

Alex Ko was the 11 year old boy who starred in the Billy Elliott musical. Wow, such talent. His performance inspired me to look him up on UTube and follow his personal journey of dance. Watching dancers always has me in awe of how they move and control their centres.

The third play we saw was Mama Mia. It was fun and to tell the truth, OK. Nothing in comparison to the other two, still great fun and New York does have some talent in their population. I didn’t think much more about it though, not like the other two. Until, my friend Linda said her community was putting on a show, and it was Mama Mia and didn’t I want to come see it!

Yesterday, my friend Rosie and I made the trek over to Quadra Island and to visit Linda and see the show. Opening night was last night. It was a hoot! We had front row seats and to tell the truth, it was like watching a horrible train wreck. You know you shouldn’t stare and yet you cannot look away. It was local theatre at its absolute best. I woke up this morning, singing "Mama Mia, here we go again! My, my….."

We have tickets for tonights show as well.


January 14, 2011
I'm off to visit a friend on another island this morning. Funny how I thought taking a break from teaching would also be a break from travel (I'm really a home body) — yet 14 days into this sabbatical and I've been away from home for almost half of it already! Three ferry rides for me today with the reward of friendship, laughter, and local theatre on the other end. I'm already singing Mama Mia!


January 13, 2011
Yeah - Baby!
http://www.dump.com/2010/12/25/wingsuit-base-jumping-at-its-finest-video/


January 12, 2011
I walk to the my job at the Orchard at least three times a week if I can. I like the time I spend walking and alone. As with any good practice, I feel better for doing it.

Last night it snowed here. I started this walking routine a couple of years ago when Bowen Island got hit hard with a lot of snow and I found it is easier to walk for an hour to the O than to mess with the car, tire chains, icy conditions and other drivers. So I bundled up this morning and as I stepped outside to begin the trek up our drive and the killer hill of Tunstall Bay, the fresh fallen snow was already melting and starting to get slushy. The snowplough passed me at the top of the hill and I stood off the road, shin deep in snow for it to pass me safely. For the majority of the walk I was able to walk on the road where it was clear and I only had to move to the non-existent shoulder a few times as cars and trucks came towards me.

This was a concentrated, mindful walk where each foot placement mattered. What I really watched for was how traffic came towards me. The majority of cars slowed way down, moving towards the middle of the road, acknowledging me, and giving me enough room to feel safe, seen, and able to continue walking on the road and out of the snowy side bank and ditches.

Then there were the young men, in four wheel drive, big ass trucks, that in my opinion, took great delight in seeing me. They took the opportunity to speed up, edge me off the road, spraying a fan tail of slushy yuk on me as I literally had to dive for cover, into fairly deep snow banks. I ended up in knee deep snow several times with the right side of my body and face soaked with slushy slop. Two of the man-boy trucks even honked in joy as they celebrated their direct slush hits on me.

By the time I reached the Orchard I was a soggy mess. Yet, I loved the walk and had a smug sense of service that I had given the boys great joy and hopefully a delightful memory of that huge, fish tail, slippery, slushy spray, directly landing on an old lady out for her morning constitutional.

I did worse growing up.


January 11, 2011
This is the year I go on sabbatical. I have to say everyone is very supportive. And yet, everyone is asking, "How is it going so far"? And, what am I doing? And what are my plans? And do I miss teaching?

All I can say so far is… Give me a break, it’s only been 11 days!

I have a motto each year and this year it is, “Always and Never the Same”. It speaks to me. 'Always and Never the Same', provides me the freedom to change, grow, do different or not. I love a routine and my practice demands one, but the whole idea for me taking some time off is to create space and use this opportunity to look at my life with fresh eyes. I want a different view of who I am and what I do.

I am keeping the qigong program at the local treatment centre going as an exception. I kept my Tuesday singing lesson as well. These are important structures that help support my sabbatical intention. I love working with addicts and singing is just plain hard, so I feel the need and desire to stick with both. My morning routine hasn’t changed, but my day and week has really simplified. My calendar is clear.

What changed quite quickly, was my mind set. My attitude is already very different; lighter, more open and willing. And my personal practice has gotten really personal.

I do have a long list of things I plan to experience and accomplish this year. I also have a deep seated fear that I will putz the days away and a year from now, I’ll have nothing to show for the sabbatical experience. With that awareness, I’ve made a few commitments to myself in hopes that the year doesn’t get away from me and if by chance it does, I have the safety net of my motto.

How’s it going? Day 11, so far so good!


January 10, 2011
All lessons are not painful, I have learned from joy.


January 9, 2011
6 books I'm reading, have read recently, and want to read next.
1. The Moral Landscape, Sam Harris
2. 100 Thing Challenge, Dave Bruno
3. The Book of Not Knowing: Exploring the True Nature of Self, Mind,
    and Consciousness, Peter Ralston
4. Tweak: Growing up on Methamphetamines, Nic Sheff
5. Zero Decibels, George M. Foy
6. The Essential Qigong Training Course, Ken Cohen


January 8, 2011
My motto for the year is "Always and Never the Same".



With great love,
Jan

Want to read some more - check out the archives.


 

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