Monday, May 21, 2012

Yup, it's been that long

During my mini-shiatsu sessions at the Ladybird Animal Sanctuary Fair a client mentioned that she does yoga.
"Have you been doing it for long?" I ask.
"Yup, about 5 years," she responds quickly.
"I do yoga too."
"For very long?" she asks.
"Oh, for about...(I have to figure it out cus I can't believe it myself) 43 years".
"Wow, 43 years!"
 As those words come out of this young woman's mouth, I feel like a geezer. And, I'm anticipating her next question to be, "Just how old are you anyway?" But instead she asks, "What did people wear to do yoga in those days?" and now I feel like an anthropological subject.
"People weren't so concerned with yoga gear. We didn't have yoga studios. We went to gyms, church basements, or did it at home in front of the TV following along with Lilias or Kareen."
"I guess you wore leotards and, what do you call them, tights?"
"Well, I actually practiced my yoga in a sweat suit to begin with." And as we talked I remembered this cartoon commentary on the evolution of the workout/yoga outfit through the 60's to the 80's. From the time when you took fitness classes to be fit to the time when you had to be fit to take part in fitness classes; this was reflected in the attitude and the workout apparel of the times.

©Nance Thacker 1990

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Maya's Sanctuary

On Mothers' Day I was one of 5 therapists providing bodywork sessions at the Ladybird Animal Sanctuary Fair. I did Shiatsu while 3 massage therapists and 1 reflexologist worked their magic. From 1 - 5 p.m. we pretty much went non-stop in the theatre space at the Pearl Company in Hamilton while bands played, literally overhead, in the music venue upstairs.
Elsewhere in the venue there was drumming, yoga, face painting and arts and crafts for kids. Moms got to enjoy sessions with us and have their tarot cards read. Between sessions I grabbed 2 pieces of cake from one of the many bake sale tables and perused the artist stands.
Rod and I have 2 wonderful rescue cats - Maya and Flippy so this cause is close to my heart. Maya came to us from Oakville Humane Society and Flip from Burlington Animal Aid (now Burlington Humane Society).
"How long are you in for Maya?" we ask her.
She kinda looks pathetic; like she's in incarceration.
She's just finished playing with one of her
"fuzzies" (note it in foreground).

As you can see, she's a lovely black kitty. What you can't see are the cute white spots on her throat, chest and tummy. She and Flip are our fur babies. Maya was a 6 week old kitten who came into OHS with her litter mates and over a dozen other neglected cats rescued from a bad situation. A little over a year later she was the only one remaining from the batch. A high percentage of cats in shelters are black. Superstition plus the fact that they are more modest than their flashy counterparts means they are often overlooked.
Though daily efforts were made by the staff to socialize Maya, she was a frightened kitty slinking about for out places to hide when she was brought to meet us in the visiting room. Her future didn't look promising but she captured our hearts and though we had intended to get one cat after our beloved cat Max died (also adopted from Burlington Animal Aid) we couldn't not take her home. The next morning we both agreed we'd be coming home with 2 cats.
She hung her head down with both paws
over the rim of her kitty box at OHS and looked so sad.
"She will probably always stay in hiding, in a closet or under a dresser," we were warned.
That didn't matter to us. She'd have to opportunity to wander about the house if she choose; or not.
I was however concerned that she and Flip may have difficulty bonding. So we took our time in introducing them to each other. Over the next few days we alternated confining each to a bedroom while the other was free to roam the house. Maya chose mainly to remain under the dresser. But they sniffed each other through closed doors. We switched their rooms and left the other cat's towel behind so that they could get used to the other's scent.
Then came the meeting...
We placed each cat in their crate facing each other at a distance. In increments we inched them closer and then leave them for a bit. When there was only a small space left between them we dangled string and toys for them to play with. They fixed their eyes on their prey; their paws almost touched every time they swiped at the objects before them. Slowly we opened the doors and they emerged. And from that moment on Flip became Maya's mentor and social therapy cat. For the first few years when Maya wasn't in hiding she was glommed on to Flip.
And though she may hide when company comes and let you know very quickly when she's had one pat too many with a warning hiss and bat of a paw with claws retracted, every time I look at her I'm reminded how lucky we are to have our little rescue kitty.

That's Maya's story and I'm reminded of it every time I see her like this. And, though it doesn't look like it she'll tell you that she's actually very happy hanging out on the rungs of the stool in her home...when she's not taring around the house, bugging us for pats or to play with her numerous fuzzy toys.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Who Do You Think You Are?

©Nance Thacker 1990
"List 3 words to describe who you are, the kind of person you are; positive attributes." I said with eager enthusiasm.
I looked around the room at the Memorial Camp last weekend and saw that my simple request was being greeted with far less than an enthusiastic response. Some people closed their eyes and heaved a sigh. Others squirmed in their seats. The silence was deafening. Stillness followed, as if I'd caught a herd of deer in my headlights. No one was forthcoming so I chose the first person on my left to jump in.
"I think I'm..." he began.
I put up my hand and stopped him before he could continue. This was IT, I could see that many were having great difficulty acknowledging and owning their positive characteristics. Their reserve was made worse by having to declare it aloud.
"If I had asked you all to list 3 negative things about yourself. You could come up with them very easily and probably have more in reserve. Right?"
Nods all around.

And so I gave them this task which I'll ask you to do as you read this.
*          *          *
Don't tell me what attributes you think you have. Remember a time when you acted in an admirable manner or you felt really, really good about yourself. What did that feel like? How did you feel about yourself? What qualities where you showing at that time? Tell me about those.

What qualities would you like to have? Maybe you don't have them right now or maybe you have their negative flip side but would like to develop the positive quality in the future. State them aloud as if you already have them. We don't know whether you have them or not, but we'll take your word for it. Mix in up a bit, those you already have with those you'd like to have. We don't know the difference.

Our body/mind, like the audience in the workshop, responds to our self-talk in the same way. It doesn't know the difference between something "real" or "imagined" but accepts a statement about ourselves (negative or positive) as if it were TRUTH.

If you can feel a quality in your body, it is familiar to you. It is familiar because you have possessed it at one time or another. So, though you may embrace the negative aspect as being who you are, if you can, even for a minute, bask in its opposite it is a resource within you and with cultivation can become your truth.
*          *          *
So then I asked them, "IN THE FULLNESS OF ALL THAT YOU CAN BE, WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? Imagine it, take it into every cell, declare it and bring the future into the present with your actions."

The room resounded with the joy, laughter and light as the positive declarations were stated aloud and released out into the room so that their vibrations could be supported by the dreaming that followed.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Rod doin' EZE EZE Vancouver Island 2010
Last weekend I was one of the adult "campers" riding the big brown Tim Horton's bus on its 3 hour journey to the Tim Horton's Wellness Weekend at their Memorial Camp outside of Parry Sound. The air was filled with the excited chatter and laughter that only a bus full of women filled with anticipation of a weekend "off" from family responsibilities, can make. Let's just say that a very good time was had by all!

From Fri at 6pm to Sun at 6pm - 48 hours were theirs to be as active as they choose. Soapstone carving, massage and tai massage, educational talks on ageing parents and nutrition, spinning, pilates, yoga, nature walks, zip lining, meditation and dreamwork were some of the offerings. Also available to these hard working women (and a few hardy men) was the chance to: actually read a book, sleep in, sit by the lake on a beautifully sunny and relatively warm weekend, enjoy a wine tasting with hors d'oeuvres, and dance their butts off on Sat night to the sounds of MUSKOKA ROADS band.

48 hours - no cooking, grocery shopping or thinking about food; bliss! Whatever shall I try was my only thought as I perused the tray of appetizers presented for my consideration and as I stood by the tables loaded with fabulous dishes, beautifully presented by the hard working kitchen crew.

Not only was I an enthusiastic "camper" (I came home with a find soapstone carving of a turtle and zip lined this year - wooo hooo) but, for the 4th year, I was also a presenter.

In the first years we focused on: relaxation, stress management techniques and practical meditation. Over the years this has evolved into: creative visualizations and guided dream journeys with the voice and drum to gather healing, support and wisdom. We play dream games and explore the magic of synchronicity through everyday oracles and tapping into the wisdom that arises when a group gathers for this purpose.

I look forward to this weekend with excitement, anticipation and, I have to admit, some degree of anxiety. Each group is different, all contain people with varying degrees of exposure to the type of work I present. I come prepared to respond to what arises within the group and flow from its energy. Excitement and anxiety feel the same - so I can see this as a good thing or get hooked on any negatives that may be floating around in my mind ready to be taken up and amplified. Self-doubt threatens to overwhelm me.

As Rod drives me to Tim's head office in Oakville I relax my breath and take in the passing scenery. At the moment another wave of anticipation/anxiety begins to wash over me the words EZE EZE come into view. There they are blazoned on the licence plate on the car in front of us. Easy, easy; take it easy, you've got a lot of tools to draw from — relax. Not only did this synchronic event ease my self-doubt, it also provided me with a perfect example to use during the workshop to demonstrate synchronicity working through the appearance of an everyday oracle.

EZE EZE, such reassuring resources are available to us at all times. Sometimes we forget, that's all.

Note: All the proceeds from this event goes to the kid's camp!