Thursday, December 30, 2010

Xmas Xhale

Our Christmas tree has a heart.
Flippy is happy with her gift
of crinkly paper.
Christmas is over (yeah). I'm not a Christmas person. And every year I experience self-judgment and intense social angst around this flaw in my nature. The closer we get to the actual day the higher my tension levels rise. Shouldn't we all be Christmas people? What's wrong with me? Did I have a past trauma around Christmas?

In an effort to get into the Christmas spirit I vowed I'd get my Christmas cards snail-mailed by Dec 1st. On the 23rd those who remained on my list were getting the more familiar "I hope you had a great Christmas and that NEW YEARS IS FANTASTIC!"

Since December the first, in an effort to amp up the joy, I tuned the car radio to a 24/7 all Xmas music all the time station; blasting myself with Christmas songs on the radio. Are there only 25 Christmas songs in the whole world? The result: I drove around aimlessly in a deja vu induced Xmas stupor.

I truly enjoyed the Christmas light displays adorning neighbourhood homes. And though I'd set an intention to decorate ours a week before THE DAY, the 24th found Rod and I working together to drape our eves in multi-coloured lights to provide one of 2 displays on the darkened side of our street. Meanwhile, neighbours across the road flooded their side of the street with so much Christmas illumination that you could land a 747 on the road; tt's like looking into a solar flare, sunglasses are recommended during the wee small hours of the night. Christmas keeners all, they invited deer and elves to play on their lawns. Stars, wreaths and strings upon strings replaced Halloween's ghosts, spider webs and pumpkins the day after Halloween.

Rod and I (child-free) are extremely fortunate to have gracious friends and family who invite us to take part in their celebrations every year. They too have celebrated in our home. But logistics have changed, children now grown have formed bonds of their own. What would our Christmas be like? We wondered. And so, for the first time, we decided to find out.

As we declined invitations, "Was it something we've done?" "You're not going weird on us? Are you?" were some of the unexpected concerns that would not have come up had we told friends and family that we were going away for the holidays. We wanted peaceful time in our own home — a place that normally is shared by clients, and projects. How does one explain, "We just want to jump off the speeding freight train that Christmas has become and experience different ground?"

For the first time ever, we slept in on Christmas morning.  In the afternoon we visited Mom at the nursing home. The parking lot was full.  Other families visited their loved ones making for a delightfully upbeat experience. Mom loved listening to conversations, watching toddlers, kids and dogs bringing new life to the place. That night Rod and I cooked, shared a lovely candle lit dinner and cleaned up together as Christmas music played in the background. Rod had found a music station on the TV that played seasonal songs I'd never heard before.

And now we are in my most favourite time of the year...the time between Christmas and New Year! There should be a name for it something like CHRISTMAS IS OVER; EVERYBODY EXHALE!

And have a HAPPY NEW YEAR ALL!!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

KITTY CAM

Here at 5305 it's all kitties all the time. 
I have gotten a new camera and of course it's full of cats!

Flip doesn't care that her butt is falling off.
She slept like this on this bag full of fabric for a few hours.
Maya has to try it out of course.
Flip chooses a freshly laundered kitty blankie full of catnip
- note the contented look on her face!
A study in black and white.
They love this couch!
Find the black kittie on the couch.
When her eyes are closed you can barely see her.
You have to be careful when you sit down.
It'll take a while for me to get the hang of this camera; I'd just felt comfortable with the old one when it chose to go kaphlooey. It was cheaper to buy a new one than fix the old one, of course. But, I love its portability... and it takes video too.

Lots more fun to be had exploring this new stuff. Youtube watch out!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sweet Tweets

I have discovered the world of TWITTER and, surprisingly, I have discovered that I enjoy TWEETING. I like the economy of trying to get my point across in 144 characters or less. Being a lover of micro-fiction (you may recall my READERS' DIGEST REJECTS series) you can see why it would appeal to me.

The question TWITTER asks is, "What is happening?" Well, frankly I can't see anyone being interested in what I'm doing as I'm an average gal doing what most of us are doing most of the time. Who needs more of that? I've found instead that I tweet from the perspective of the observer regarding meditations, realizations experiences and challenges of the moment. I guess I could call it a mind tweet as I comment on thoughts, spiritual and philosophical inquiry, reflections and expression.

They are a little cryptic, that's for sure as my sister-in-law asked me (on FaceBook) what I was so angry about today and I had to explain that I, in fact, wasn't angry but was exploring anger.

Because, you see, today I tweeted about anger. My goal was not to be angry for today. And, as all meditators know, when that is your goal what arises is awareness of the beginnings of anger. I'm not talking about full fledged pissed-offedness (wow I didn't know that pissed-offedness was a word, spell check accepted it...) but the minor little nigglings, inklings or signs of irritation, feeling pressured, rushed or, my special tell tale signs of frustration (a first stage of anger for me): beginning to speed up in action, thought or speech.

That moment in which I catch the "inklings" provides the distance needed to detach and then choose to let it go. And so what is meant to be a transitory flashing off of thought or emotion becomes just that as I watch it arise, label it and let it go, leaving a clean slate behind.

To see what I'm writing about check out my TWITTER site at AwakeningChoice

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Fashion Statements

copyright Nance Thacker 1991
click on cartoon to enlarge
Do you know someone who can go out: without makeup, wearing sweats, torn sneakers and unwashed hair tucked into a touque and still look fabulous? Well, I do. This is one of life's gentle ways of giving you a head's up that life isn't fair.

Have you ever noticed someone with: hair and makeup done to perfection; blood red, salon groomed, nails glistening in the sun; wearing her "Sunday" best in clothes and bearing; plonked down in the middle of the Hamilton bus station (circa '75) who didn't look out of place? Well, I did. I almost felt compelled to give her bus fare.

I went to the One of a Kind Show and Sale last week with Di. She took pics of us on her cel phone. Infinitesimally, it looked fine; posted it on FaceBook, holy crap, I look like...I dunno what I look like. And don't go wandering over there to see, just take my word for it, I didn't look as fabulous as I felt.

That picture challenges my belief that it is better to feel good than to look good. Billy Crystal channeling Fernando Lamas would disagree as well...



By the way, you look MARVELOUS darlings.
HAVE YOURSELVES A MARVELOUS DAY!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

TO BE OR NOT TO BE

A friend agitatedly blurted out that she had difficulty with the concept of "choice".  I realized that I had used the word "choice" quite a bit during our conversation. Obviously since the word is included in the name of my hypnosis business AWAKENING CHOICE (which is also the name of this blog), the concept of choice is a biggie for me.

Though she expressed a desire to change her life, my friend was depressed, stuck, lacking in the energy and motivation needed to initiate action of any kind in order to change her situation. Though our situations differ, I too have felt like her; probably many of you have too. Energy suckers such as (and please feel free to add your personal faves): inertia, self-doubt, regret or longing for the past, holding on to past dramas or traumas, fear or a sense of hopelessness about the future, clinging to labels assigned to one's self by self or others, peer pressure to remain within defined confines, what will others think, who do you think you are, leave one feeling like a powerless victim.

When we have been a "victim" of a crime or a vicious act the responses listed above are amplified, seem insurmountable and the challenges appear far greater. The reality is that the human spirit is resilient. We've all witnessed inspiring examples of resilience. If one person can rise above such a situation so can we all. We have the capacity to heal ourselves and our relationships. Living in a human body subjects us to challenges, illness and loss during our life and guarantees that we will die but suffering is optional — just ask the Dali Lama.

What she couldn't see is that we make choices (consciously or unconsciously) every second of every day. When we say that we don't have choice we're really saying that we aren't conscious of the act of choosing, because we actually are choosing at every moment. Don't believe me? You are right now choosing whether to continue reading this post or to do something else.

When we become more consciously aware of our thoughts, feelings, emotions, beliefs, and sensations we are living in the present moment and the presence of choice becomes more evident. In this moment there is no past, no her/his story; in this moment there is no future. Without our story, life is full of potential.

When I begin to realize that I have the resources within me to enable me to choose a different action, feeling or belief, no matter how small, that opens up unforeseen possibilities and sets the stage for transformation. The moment I exercise that option it is like a droplet sending ripples through the stagnant pond which my life has become. These ripples become waves of change in relationship within and ultimately between me and the people and world in which I live. This reality can be pretty daunting and can stall me before I begin. It may feel easier to stay in the status quo, after all what choice do I have? 

In accepting the concept of choice I take responsibility for my actions, their consequences and my life.
Each time I consciously exercise my ability to choose I am actively participating and engaged in life. I become energized. Struggles become transformed into challenges. I recapture my love of life, see it as precious and realize that I am entitled to be happy and enjoy it; and gratitude flows.

For me the ultimate belief about choice is that we are all in this together, a consciousness evolving that has chosen to experience this earthly existence through many, many lives and lifetimes. We are all one.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Singers have more fun

When I sing I sound like a cat wailing. People react to my voice the same way they do to nails being scratched down a chalkboard which is very sad because I love to sing! It's worse at Christmas because while everyone else is Caroling their hearts out in public, I'm looking for a rock to crawl under knowing that I'm going to be expected to join in or be labelled an up-tight scrooge. I am anything but uptight.

People who can sing try to cajole me with, "What's the matter with you? The cat got your tongue?" Then comes the encouragement phase, "Oh, come on, you can't be that bad" which declines into the guilting phase, "everyone else is having fun. Don't be a spoil sport." So, just to shut them up, I oblige and if pained expressions were flash bulbs going off I would be blinded. Fortunately for all involved, it only takes a bar or two for the reality of my vocal inability to register and I return, without protest, to mute mode once more.

I love to sing. Fortunately I love to drive. That is where I do my best and most harmless singing — alone, locked in a vehicle, speeding down the freeway. Me and a bazillion others.

Next time around, when talent is being portioned out (I'm putting my order in, in advance) I would love to have a beautiful voice. People who sing well have appreciation showered upon them. Before they've opened their mouth to speak or done anything character revealing, it's assumed that beautiful singers, by the very nature of their pipes, are nice and good people. We assume the same about beautiful looking people too (so I guess I'll add physical beauty to that request as well, thanks).

And, I think that singers have more fun. Doubt this? Watch this video.



See, fun, right! And...they get applause too, how cool is that!

I love this stuff. Yet there are flash mobs of talented people writing in public all the time and what do we get...ignored.

Singers definitely have more fun!

PS in case you didn't notice, this is the CHRISTMAS blog post I promised you a while ago.
And I can now say MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Poem for a young girl

She loved to sing.
But, her voice was a thing
Off key and flat.
So, she wouldn't do that!

For joy she'd dance,
Til she saw people glance
In an envious, sour way.
"What's there to dance about?" they would say.
Though it wasn't a sin,
She'd keep her urge to dance within.

She dreamed she'd draw.
But, soon she saw
She was no Da Vinci, Raphael
Nor O'Keefe neither.
Then, just as well
She wouldn't do that either.

She hoped to write.
But all day and all night
Not a thought would come into her head.
T'was as if she were dead.

So she wanted to cry.
But, her heart was so dry
That she curled up so small
Til nothing at all
Was left of her.

Without her will
The world stood still.
And all was doom
All was gloom.
Black
For the lack
Of hopes, dreams, joy and love.

She seemed forever
Lost in this land of never
Where no songs were sung,
No dances danced,
No colours seen,
Nor thoughts expressed.

But what few people know
Deep down there's a glow
Deep within
Where Black is thin
Is buried an ember
That can remember
Hopes, dreams, joy and love.

Gradually the ember stirred
The Black blurred
Out Light spilled
A heart it filled

The light grew stronger
And brighter
Eventually spilling
Into the form of a young girl
Eyes welling
With tears that fell, soothing
Her spirit and clearing her mind
Because in her heart
Hope, dreams, joy, and love were entwined.

Now always she sings
In a voice that still rings
Off key and flat
But, she doesn't care about that.

And, when she dances
She notices glances
Joyous as well as sour
Some are just meant to be dour.

She'll draw and paint
So what!  A master she aint
Her work's unique
Not
At its peak.

Now her writing flows
Cus, in her heart she knows
In doing these things that are part of her
Doesn't matter what others think of her
The expression's the thing
Makes her free spirit sing
Sweet, clear and true
And,
That's
Just
What
She
...
Loves to do.



Poem copyright Nance Thacker 2010.
Cartoon copyright Nance Thacker 1985.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Yoga with animals

cartoon copyright Nance Thacker 19984
click on image to enlarge
They don't call it downward dog and upward dog for nothing.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Post notification

Warning: this post may contain some material that is offensive to readers - you have been forewarned.


I am writing this post to let you know that I have written a post which won't be published until Dec 1st as it contains a Christmas Carol. I refuse to listen willingly to Christmas Carols until December.


This is my personal stand against PCC (Premature Christmas Celebration) which begins once Halloween is over and leaves one too mind-numbed to enjoy the climax of the season at the appropriate moment.


Actually, by writing about Christmas I may be contributing to that which I protest so strongly against, but I just wanted to let you know that a lovely Christmas post is coming DEC 1st.


It'll be worth the wait!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A simple yoga life

Yoga can be done almost anywhere. I have done my yoga practice:
  • in a crowded family room at my family's home while everyone was watching TV
  • in a relatively secluded corner in the airports departures lounge
  • in my Dad's hospital room during my "Dad watch" stint 
  • on campsites throughout the country
  • on the beach at Jan's sister's cottage 
My in-laws' spare bedroom
used for storage
They kindly cleared a space for my practice
when we were in Campbell River
I have not done yoga in India.

Yoga can be done almost any time of the day. I have done it at almost all hours of the day and night. Spring prompts me to do earlier practices; winter lures me into midnight ones.

I haven't done yoga earlier than 6 a.m.

Yoga can be done alone or in the company of others. I have done my practice with:
Flip helping me in Virasana
She does a fabulous abdominal massage
when I'm in Supta Virasana
(Reclined Hero pose)
  • my pets crowded around the mat
  • friends' little children participating with me, most notably Sarah and downward dog all those years ago
  • my brother heckling me
I haven't done yoga posing in front of an elephant nor balancing on perilous precipices.

I have done yoga wearing:
  • nothing at all (in the privacy of my own home)
  • a bathing suit
  • yoga wear
  • jeans and a sweater
I prefer to do yoga in my PJ's.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Wireless Wizard

It's only taken me a little over a week. But, I've finally done it! I have finally connected my... rather I should say - Rod's - Kindle, to the wireless.

The Kindle was a birthday gift that I purchased and gave to him well before his birthday, which is on the 16th of this month, because in all our 24 years together, I've never seen him soooo excited about any material item.

I bought it from the Kindle store online and it came the very next day (no need for express delivery).

I left the package, with a bright orange sticky note attached saying, "Whatever can this be?" on the steps leading upstairs so that he would see it as soon as he got in the front door that night. The excitement in the air was as thick as a 3year old's Christmas morning. "Thanks for my birthday present!" he said as he squeezed me tight and then the totally thrilled birthday boy bounded up the stairs to play with his new toy.

I got him exactly what he wished for; my gift-giving experience was truly joyful and I shouted back with a huge smile of utter satisfaction spread from ear to ear "you're welcome!"

A few hours later I went upstairs expecting to find him caught up in Kindle magic. Instead I found a grumpy guy aimlessly surfing the net; his new toy unceremoniously dumped into its delivery box.

He couldn't get it to connect to the wireless.

The letdown was as drastic as a 3 year-old finding his Christmas toy doesn't come with batteries and all the stores are closed.

"I'm not going to spend hours trying to set this thing up. It's not worth it. Send it back. And, if you don't I will. I don't have time for this s**t." He threw up his hands and glared at the tiny perfect object with disgust.

Through gritted teeth I replied in calm, measured tones, all the while counting to 10, "It's your birthday gift from me. I'm not sending it back. We'll get it to work, other people do. I'll handle it." As I stomped out of the room, I added, "Happy Birthday!"

We didn't talk much that night.

And, for the next few days he greeted me with, "Got that Kindle running, yet? How's it going? (referring to the Kindle)" all accompanied by a knowing smirk, so sure was he that I wouldn't succeed. He passed newly discovered numbers, letters and codes to routers, computers and modems scrawled on colourful sticky notes down to me as I worked in my office at the bottom of the stairs. He was attempting to speed the process along yet he was enjoying the fact that numerous hours of my life (not his) were being invested in this project.

"Nuts to this, from now on you're not getting any birthday gifts until your actual birthday." I took the Kindle out of his den and hid it so that it wouldn't tease him and he wouldn't taunt me any further.

It worked. He hasn't uttered a word about it since and it my work progressed without further input.

And after all my dead end searches, last Friday it took less than 5 minutes to get it connected after a phone consultation with an I T guy; referred to by a friend.

I begged him to just come over and help me set it up; better yet, set it up and let me watch, ask questions and make notes. But to my dismay he would have none of it. I couldn't get him to leave his office. However, acting like a translator of sorts he was able to "dumb down" his techno speak, tell me which questions needed to be answered in a stepwise manner, and ran me through the steps to reconfiguring ones' router and network.

What a difference it makes when you speak the language!

I left a message on his answering machine later that afternoon squealing with delight, "Oh my God I got it to work. I can't believe it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you." I may not be "King of the World" but I am a Wireless Wizard. Yessss!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

...and landing

I left us hanging in JUST DROPPING IN, so I think I should come down now as the blood's kind of pooled in my head.

My first word of caution to any who practice this form of yoga is to gradually extend the time you hang from the pelvic swing. Think about it, the ligaments and tendons (which are less elastic than muscles) have a totally different orientation to gravity's pull in this inversion. One's head, which weighs in at approximately 8 lbs., provides great traction; adding to the stress placed upon the spine and joints. In terms of structural engineering alone, hanging upside-down demands respect.

Come down with control and come up to full standing position gradually.

I do this by bringing my feet onto the floor in front of me and going into downward dog. This allows the body and circulation to adjust to the change in position. Like decompressing after a deep dive, you don't want to stand up too quickly. The cool thing is that downward dog takes a whole new lightness afterwards and it is, dare I say it of one of the most oft repeated and dreaded of yoga poses, a delicious experience.

the dreaded DOWNWARD DOG
actually feels lighter after the inversion
enjoy the sense of length attained from the traction
A standing forward bend further takes advantage of the new, easy, length of my spine.

I stand with my heel supported in the rope for a while to align before bending forwards. I press my foot into the wall, anchor the other into the floor while internally rotating the thighs and extend out the crown of my head towards the wall. By shooting my arms outwards into the ropes I am able to use my core to maintain the position through the completion of a circuit of energy created between feet, arms and head rather than by the application of force or pulling. I do the right leg first, moving through the breath to deepen the pose while counting the breaths. I  then follow with the left for an equal amount of breaths.

radiate the energy from the centre of the body outward to the extremities
like a star shining
The use of even inhaled and exhaled breaths is a natural and organic way for me to work. Working with a timer takes me out of the pose makes me think, oh God how much longer do I have to do this keeping me focused on the end rather than on the process.
surrender to the forward bend
radiating outward the whole time
Taking further advantage of the easy length of the spine, I then do a twist to the right followed by a brief forward bend over the extended leg and repeat on the left side. To rotate, first one must lengthen the spine and create space between the vertebrae. Pressing into the wall and floor through the feet, internally rotating the thighs — which feels like scissoring them — provides stability to the pelvis and allows for internal movement through the pelvic and abdominal cavities. Draw the belly towards the point on the back of the body where the back of the hand contacts it; extend the hand beyond the fingers of the outstretched hand while opening up the delto-pectoral groove. Mula and uddiyana bandha can be applied throughout.
stand tall and collected
spiralling around the central axis
A spiralling of energy can be imagined, if not felt, winding around the spine. This action actually originates at the feet and continues through the torso and gently through the neck (be careful not to let the gaze of eyes place too much emphasis on the turning of the neck by drawing the ribs towards the centre line and elevating the upper sternum and outwards under the collar bones) all the way beyond the top of the head. I always like to maintain the twist for a few more breaths with the head turned to gaze forward before I release the twist; I feel so Regal as I perform this complementary action.

One last forward bend and...

There, I feel much better now!

My next challenge is not a yoga one but a tekkie one; to do a You Tube video of this so you can see it in action. Actually that means my next challenge is a consumer one; to get a camcorder/camera as my camera went on the fritz towards the end of our trip out west.

This is kind of a cliff hanger, isn't it? The video is the least of my problems; it's the shopping that I dread. Hanging upside down, learning tekkie stuff I can handle. Shopping, ugh — that's a real challenge for me.

Keep posted to the same bat channel.

Monday, November 8, 2010

CAR, BALL, MAN

I'm warning you now.

Read the words in the title and commit them to memory because somewhere down the road, maybe 20, 30, 40 or perhaps 50 years from now, you will be sitting across a table from someone who, almost immediately, upon meeting you, will tell you to remember those 3 little words. You will feel nervous, confused, insulted, patronized and perhaps experience something akin to "performance anxiety" as they then proceed to run you through various mental challenges. About 5 minutes after you are stirred up enough they will then ask you what the words were that they gave you to remember. And despite the increased intensity of emotion, self-doubt and confusion the words will bubble up from your long term memory and you will be able to say calmly, "car, ball, man". The thing is they will assume that these words are new to you and that you have stored them in your short term memory and you will have passed this portion of the test.

Just giving you a heads up.

OK, it might not play out exactly like this but after hearing those words first repeated in 1998 and every year thereafter at each of my parents' cognitive assessment evaluations, I can assure you that they are etched in my brain. Every time I accompanied my folks for "their" assessment all I could think was, please don't change the 3 words because I am so primed to remember them that they will block out any new incoming ones. I bet ya that almost everyone who's accompanied their parent or loved one to a geriatric assessment from this particular team has these three words burned into their brains too.

This all leads me to these observations about memory retention.


When trying to remember something state it - short, simple and to the point. Let's say I have to remember a grocery list consisting of: milk, bread and cheese. There is no need for me to say, "remember to get milk, bread and cheese". Because I am anxious about my ability to remember, using the word "remember" (in this context) triggers my belief that I have a bad memory and that I'm going to have difficulty remembering. Feeling that I won't be able to remember the list; I become anxious.

ANXIETY IS A MEMORY KILLER!

Cartoon copyright Nance Thacker 1991.
Click on image to enlarge
To embed this kind of memory it is best to feel relaxed and happy. So:

  • My memory prompt is SIMPLE: "milk, bread, cheese". 
  • I  REPEAT these words at least 3 times while tapping my watch (Since I am inclined to look at my watch numerous times before going to the store, each time I do it is a visual prompt for memory. In hypnosis we call this anchoring). 
  • Each time, while repeating and tapping I VISUALIZE: the items (perhaps getting really specific about the images) and me picking up the items and paying for them at the checkout (this takes only a few seconds). 
  • And, I FEEL how good it feels to have accomplished the task.

Now I just have to remember where I parked my car!

The key for this - I have to be MINDFUL of parking it in the first place. I liken it to getting out of "passenger" mode. It is less likely that, as a passenger, I will remember where the car was parked because I tend to rely on the driver to do this. So I have to shift to "driver" mode and note my surroundings. Since I can be an easily distractible, multi-tasker, mindfulness is something I have to come back to constantly. I call this "applied meditation" practice.

Since, in the scenario I have just described, I have a vested interest in the things I want to remember I am more motivated to recall these things. In the case of my grocery list - these items will allow me to make a meal and that makes me feel good.  And since I'd rather not wait til the parking lot is sufficiently emptied before I can find my car I'm highly motivated to take note where it was parked in the first place.

In contrast, "car, ball, man" meant nothing to my poor parents who were full of anxiety at the time of their assessment.  And, when the time comes, it will mean nothing to you too. So practice those 3 words now.

There will be a test!

COMMENT ON THE CARTOON. I'm not proud to admit this but, unlike some people, I will pick out the longest line at the checkout so that I can browse the "brain candy" mags. And I often memorize where I left off for the next visit to the grocery store.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

CARTOON BREAK

cartoon copyright Nance Thacker 1991
click on image to englarge
While I'm busy trying to put together a blogpost on memory, please enjoy this cartoon...

It came to me when I was reading an article about a 86 year-old woman who went skydiving for the first time. She figured she had nothing to lose. Which made me think that I might like to go skydiving myself when I reach 86, not right now cus I'm afraid that the chute won't open but, at that age... well why not? And then Dotti's voice came into my head and a cartoon was born.

I love how the subconscious plays with my brain!

Monday, November 1, 2010

No "ums"

The night before leaving for beautiful Vancouver Island I was sitting cross-legged on a stool at CJ's Cafe in Burlington, reciting my poem ODE TO A YO-GI. This was no small feat and I'm not talking about my precarious perch - that's a piece of cake (I'm sitting this way on a stool as I write my blog). I'm talking about public speaking.

In public school every year from about grade 5 to 8 we had to write and give a 5 minute speech. My older sister excelled at this task and the unspoken expectation from my teachers was that I would too. But this wasn't the case. Being shy, short and feeling out of place in my pleated skirt that hiked geezer-like above my waist and knee socks that rolled down at my ankles, I decided to stand behind the lectern. As I spoke, for what was at that time the longest 5 minutes in my life, soft sounds of someone counting in the background could be heard.

"25...26...27..."

My teacher grinned all the while I must be doing pretty good. And at the end he applauded... and then broke into gales of laughter. "That was the funniest thing I've ever heard". (My topic, an informative presentation on Mario Lanza, my Dad's favourite singer of the moment, was, I assure you very earnest and without any hint of humour.) "You said 105 um's (he looked at the boy who was counting them for confirmation) in a 5 minute speech. Not only that, we couldn't even see you."

I was mortified, I'm NEVER doing this s**t again I vowed as slunk back to my front row seat.

I was told, in high school by my English teacher to stop talking once, "I find your voice extremely irritating" was all he said. I shut up for the remainder of the school year.

This from people in a position who should know better!
It's enough to give someone a complex.

Yet here I am, someone who's been a yoga teacher for the past 34 years; a hypnotist for 3. Somewhere along the line I was able to let these experiences go. Amazingly to me, people ask me to record hypnosis sessions for their use and often I've been told that guided relaxation is the favourite part of a yoga class...because of my voice.

It wasn't a conscious thing, it just happened.

When I found myself sitting under the glare of the spotlight that night a brief shiver of foreboding, remembrance ran down my spine. But, I had practiced for this moment over and over in my mind as I drove the car, went to sleep, showered; I spoke it aloud to establish points of emphasis; I imagined sitting in front of a hushed crowd listening to my flawless recitation. All pure SELF-HYPNOSIS 101 techniques for conquering stage fright.

What I didn't account for was laughter (this time welcomed) nor for the cloak of darkness the spotlight illuminating me, cast over the crowd, cocooning me and lending the moment an unexpected feeling of intimacy.

Best of all, there were no "ums" in my recitation of the poem nor in the other selections that I read that night and no one counted in the background.

Thanks Brian and CJ for the opportunity to give it another shot after all these years.
*     *     *
BRIAN POSTED ODE TO A YO-GI (and added some nice pics) IN HIS BLOG QUICK BROWN FOX

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

CANADIAN ICONS - "the bun" and Gordon

I LOVE THIS!!!
In my post REALITY CHECK  (click to read, I'll wait)...

I wrote about ageing, Justin Bieber aka "the bun" (yes the sweater in the picture is that old) and his memoir, and ended the post with, "I'm waiting for his memoirs. I hear their coming out next week. That should be exciting!"

Look at this - THE FOLKS AT 22 MINUTES HAD THAT SAME RESPONSE AS I TO THE ANNOUNCEMENT THAT JUSTIN BIEBER WAS PUBLISHING HIS MEMOIRS and THEY GOT CANADA'S OWN GORDON PINSENT TO DO THE READING.  

The concept alone cracks me up. Watch it for a laugh. It's hysterical!




Friday, October 22, 2010

PINING FOR THE ISLAND

I have been back to Ontario since Oct 5th and I must admit I'm pining for the island. Though the lake, which I am so fortunate to live near, is beautiful, I find myself looking for signs of life: a spray of water of a whale cruising through the straight, the barking of the sea lions basking in the sun, the curious gaze of playful seals checking me out at dockside, the opportunistic bald eagles keeping watch at Seymour Narrows for fish that have been churned up to the surface by the furious waters, the drama of the seals and salmon as they fight for life at Miracle Beach and the comings and goings of seaplanes, barges, fishing boats, sea taxi's and zodiacs.
Curious seal at the float homes in Victoria
Lake Ontario, in comparison, is my meditative place even in stormy weather and I have yet to slip into the closure that fall brings. I have been to the lake only once since my return probably because of this. Part of me wants to keep the activity alive, but I know that that's not possible. It is the nature of nature to change and I resist it every year.
on our hike to Elk falls
Only this year I look outside myself, beyond the lake for mountains covered in coniferous green in the distance as far as the eye can see assuring me that only wild things live there. But, to the immediate south the lake dips into the horizon, the lights from the distant Niagara region to the south-west glimmer at night and the CN tower is a beacon signifying the density of Toronto in the south-east, growing by the minute; its buildings reach up to the sky. And, I do not look to the north as I know miles and miles of suburbia with its groomed lands, strip malls, shopping centres, and other man-made distractions separate me from any sign of wild things.

And, though this brilliant autumn has been blessing and dazzling us with splashes of luminous oranges, yellows, reds and golds, I am immune to its charms. The proliferation of deciduous trees that makes this season so stunning is exactly that which creates the skeletal, barren canvas of winter hibernation to come.

And as we head into the time of inner reflection and reckoning I wonder what transformations will occur before we burst forth into the renewal of spring.

The one small consolation that in about 20 months I will be return to the home of my heart and spirit serves as a beacon to warm the cold winter months to come.
view from Mount Washington
THANK YOU VANCOUVER ISLAND... see you in the summer of 2012

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Birdie, Birdies

This picture has been in my head for days now, calling to be posted. One sunny day while walking in Victoria's Beacon Hill Park I came across this scene that just demanded I take pic.


Which got me thinking about this cartoon that I had drawn after watching people feeding the pigeons.
copyright Nance Thacker 1985
all rights reserved
click on image to enlarge
Now, the guy in the photo wasn't feeding the ducks. They just seemed to be enjoying his company and I could see that the feeling was mutual which is what made it so sweet.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Just dropping in

Last weekend while working on handstand during a yoga workshop I enjoyed playing with balancing and attempting to extend my ability to maintain the inverted position. Handstand brings such a fresh and lively perspective to my body and brings out the kid in me. I love the dynamic interplay of:
  • the 3 3rds of the body - the legs/pelvis, the core and the shoulder/arm regions
  • the skin, the muscles and the structure of the bones
  • the bandhas and the breath
  • the hands and fingers; the feet and toes
Working with my toes to get a good contact
Once toes are established I begin to slowly and with control descend to the floor
reaching really, really strongly through my arms
getting my fingers and hands in place
gathering skin to muscle, muscle to bone
and feeling the rope with my toes
Contact made, I begin to play with balance
notice how my feet are drawing back
I push my hands into the floor, firm up the core
and bring my feet forwards
Dynamic interplay back and forth as
balance is attained
just another view
toe bones touch and legs work together as one
Bear in mind that I am proficient in balancing in the centre of the room for brief periods of time and descending into handstand from the ropes enables me to have the benefit of subtle support and feedback provided by the grip of my toes on the ropes and the padding at my back body. I am in no danger of falling backwards as I am able to come out by bringing my legs down in front of me with control.

My core is strong enough that with the benefit of: mula and uddyana bandha; even, focused and controlled breathing, I can draw the floating ribs and the ASIS (anterior superior iliac spine) towards each other, filling out T12 and creating lift and lightness in the pose. 

As I descend my fingers are spread and the contact of my hands are slightly clawed (this is an old gymnastics technique) so that the finger tip pads, the base of the fingers and the heels of the hands provide a solid base from which ample feedback to and from the rest of the body is exchanged thus enabling the subtle movements required for balance to take place. The fingers and the muscles in the arms communicate with each other as do the toes and leg muscles.

From gymnastics I know that the more you "push" into the floor, the more lift you get. So, pushing into the floor drives awareness into the core/T12 and through it into the legs and feet. Conversely filling out T12 enables the hands to drive into the earth as the legs shoot upwards to the heavens. Activating the legs and feet reflexively activates the arms and hands and vice versa. The skin draws into the muscle and the muscle into the bone; I feel tall, long and lean (though I am none of these things) and it feels exactly like diving from a 3 metre board (I used to dive in university). Ahhh, what a lovely feeling!

Unfortunately it is almost impossible to write about the work without dissecting what is really a dynamic, organic interplay of actions allowing the pose to take full flight.

For more on yoga with ropes check In the Bat Room and Just Hanging Out

Saturday, October 9, 2010

an A-1 farewell to Vancouver Island

Cartoon copyright Nance Thacker 1984
All rights reserved
click on image to enlarge

It was with great sadness but with a very satisfied and full stomach that I left Vancouver Island this past Tuesday. So what better way to end my tour than with a taste of culinary delights courtesy of the island and some of the fantastic restaurants I enjoyed.

THE BEST CHEESCAKE IN THE WORLD
At where else? My fave restaurant PAGGLIACCI'S in Victoria.
Melt in your mouth delicious!
The portions are much, much larger than I remembered — share it with a friend
On Sat Sept 18th my craving for a cheesecake fix could be controlled no longer so I trekked down to Pagg's. I took some pics of the outside and when I tried to open the door, it was locked. LOCKED! I pulled on the door like a person possessed, I pressed my face to the window in hopes someone was inside and had made a horrible mistake, but no. As I stepped back in disbelief and horror I noticed the sign on the door CLOSED FOR YOM KIPPUR. Duh! I was staying with a Jewish friend, had even enlisted to help out for the evening's celebration but somehow this one detail had skipped my mind, such is the power of this cheesecake.


I walked the street unconsolable until I passed by the gem you see in the pic below, the DUTCH BAKERY & COFFEE SHOP. When I landed in Victoria 34 years ago I stayed at THE RITZ. No, not the Ritz Carlton but a seedy dive on Fort St. Its only saving grace was that it was next door to the Dutch Bakery. What a find that was for me! It's homey atmosphere was so welcoming; their fantastic, reasonably priced, freshly made sandwiches and yummy baked goods so consoling — which is still the case today. My day was saved as I left the shop lighter in spirit with comfort food cookies in hand to shore me up for the evening festivities to come. Read a little bit about this lovely spot here



The next Monday night, still full from cheesecake, Rod and I and our host headed off to PIZZERIA PRIMASTRADA in the Fairfield neighbourhood and split Marinara and Funghi pizzas between us. OMG... to die for! The crust is heavenly and the flavours so subtle and savoury as to make a pizza a mystical experience for the taste buds.
On our way up island the next day, Rod and I stopped in at THE PIER BISTRO in Sydney B.C. (HI MARLENE). Rod was hungry but all I had in mind was toast (of which there was none at that hour of the day) and coffee. So I settled for coffee and agreed to munch on whatever Rod ordered. He had a seafood chowder and crab cakes. Well, fortunately for him the meal came with 2 of the most perfect, savoury crab cakes I have ever tasted. One was a meal for me and I took my time letting each bite melt in my mouth. Though I love crab I've always found crab cakes to be a hit or miss affair; mostly miss as they are too dry due to too much filler lending them a sawdust feel and taste or too moist, loaded up with cream cheese or whatever people load them up with. These were a little taste of heaven. And though I don't have a link for it I can tell you it is on 2550 Beacon Ave in Sidney, tucked at the end of the pier with a fabulous view of the ocean and mountains beyond, a "fish cam" (not too busy under the pier that day) and 24 hr surveillance.


Next up is STEINER'S BAKERY a lovely little find in Campbell River and the host to these lovelies which we got hand dipped while we waited as they had sold out of them just moments before. And, though the restaurant is cozy, casual and inviting (I'd enjoyed my first dipped doughnut a few days earlier in its comfort) we took these to the spit to enjoy as we took in the scenery on a slightly overcast morning before heading out for more adventures.

MMMMMMMMMMMMMM!
So delicious were they that we picked some up on our way out on Tues morning to share with our in-laws at a farewell brunch that they hosted. I must give thanks to our brother-in-law Paul who makes the most delicious, light pancakes and flavourful french toast for the spread that he and Sue put out for us. Sorry no pics are available, my camera jammed up and sorry he doesn't run a restaurant, though he could.

AN UPDATE: I have been nibbling since I left Vancouver Island since I'd had enough food to last me for about a week...just in time for THANKSGIVING CHOW DOWN 2010.

Have a great one all! May you all be so blessed!

Monday, October 4, 2010

It was worth the trip

Every day something has occurred stirring such a profound gratitude from the depth of my soul that I have found myself proclaiming aloud or silently, "It has been worth the trip!"

Here are just some of those moments:
Sea Lions basking in the sun on our Eagle Eye Tour
An afternoon with Rod at Moose Falls just outside of Campbell River
Rod and I, Jean and Cliff take in the Market on a Sat morning:
delicious cinnamon buns, home-made pizza and doughnuts,
home grown produce and delicacies.
The Whisky Jacks at the base of Mount Washingtons entrance to Strathcona Park eat right out of your hand.
Miracle Beach where we witnessed Salmon (Chums) leaping for over 30 minutes.
A great day for the seals; for the salmon...not so much
There have been moments (too many to mention) with family and friends that will remain in my heart forever.


"It has been worth the trip!" Thanks to all who made our stay so memorable! I hope we can all say those words at the end of our life — wouldn't that be amazing! Seems like something to aim for.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Goats on the roof AND MORE



Yes, there are goats on the roof.

This is what Coombs BC is known for and people come from around the world to see these guys. It is one of my in-laws favourite places not only for its goat appeal, but it is THE place from which to purchase “the best” (at least in my father-in-law’s estimation) local candied ginger. Sure it takes 90 minutes to get here from Campbell River but, what’s not to like – come here - satisfy your aw-w-w quotient and purchase a digestive aid all in the same trip. It’s worth the drive to Coombs.

I first heard mention of the “goats on the roof” from a local island girl when I came to Victoria in ’76, although back then it was merely the whimsy of an eccentric local to have his goats graze on his roof. A whole market has grown around the main house and more attractions have been added since our last visit in ’05.

The market in its country setting is stocked beautifully with vibrant fresh produce in a manner that would put Whole Foods to shame. Any type of freshly baked (though pricy) bread or smoked salmon you could wish for, you’ll find it here.

The slew of tourist kitsch, knick knack, Asian clothing, craft, and snack bars was present the last time I visited but new to me is the collection of massive soapstone carvings and the VW Museum which, for a mere $2. you can delight all things VW from restored beauties to photos, and any photo, album cover (check out the Beatles Abby Road Album) or ad in which a VW makes its appearance as centre stage or supporting role.

Another beautiful day on Vancouver Island! They say we’re in the rainy season, I think they lie to keep tourists away and have some time to themselves.

Monday, September 27, 2010

the language of yoga

Here I am at the local Starbuck's in Campbell River, listening to a man talk about his enlarged prostate. This really, really isn't by choice. Obviously along with all the other maladies and remedies he's sharing with his friend, hearing problems must be somewhere on that list. This is definitely one of those moments when I wish they would crank out the music deafeningly loud as it seems I have super hearing and his voice pierces through the hushed tones of the other customers.

Anyway, I'll try and focus on the task at hand.

I just came from the 5:30pm Level one and two yoga class led by Geri at Yoga Solace Studio. I went in with a migraine hovering around my head and body but have come out feeling energetic, revitalized and refreshed thanks to the class and a changing weather pattern.

How wonderful it is that I can go virtually anywhere and drop-in on a yoga class and instantly people are "speaking" my language. The different "dialects" that each place presents makes it all so interesting. I did poses in Geri's class that I've never come across in my 42 years of yoga practice. And, there in an Iyengar style class (note this is my comparison regarding "styles" of yoga, no where does she mention the Iyengar approach) was emphasis on bandhas and breathing that I've not come across in this style of yoga since I left Victoria in '86 (before the formally organized system of Iyengar yoga teacher training evolved).

Yoga room was to the right of the sign behind the raised parking lot
Cathedral is across the street
Just 2 Sundays ago I was in Victoria enjoying the yoga class offered at the Iyengar Yoga Centre of Victoria led by Ty Chandler and as serendipity would have it, the bells of Christ Church Cathedral pealed in the distance sporadically throughout the class and again at its conclusion.  The cathedral is situated just around the corner, directly across the street from what was then the Y's yoga room where I taught my first yoga class under the guidance of the Yoga Centre of Victoria teachers who had taken me under their wings.

Iyengar Yoga Centre of Victoria
I had the sheer joy of being in Shirley Daventry French's class the previous Thurs morning (the first time since 1986) amongst some of the same teachers and later shared lunch with yet more. A few days prior to this I took part in my good friend Marlene Miller's class at the Peninsula Yoga Centre in Sydney.

So many times during this trip I have had reason to declare "this was worth the trip"; these have been just a few of those moments.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A-1 wild life

Peacocks still rule in Beacon Hill Park
Seagulls and cormorants provide 24 hr surveillance in Sydney
The seals still hang out at the Oak Bay Marina
Herons nest in Beacon Hill Park
And a hardy surf-sailor kicks up a mean wake off Beacon Hill Park 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A-1 tour for Di

lovely humongous tree in Beacon Hill Park

flower gardens in Beacon Hill Park

Snuffleupagus tree in front of the Empress
(may not be the real name of this type of tree)

float house garden entry way

the lawn complete with lawn chair of a float home resident