Monday, July 23, 2012

ahimsa & reflection on violence

© Nance Thacker 1990
click on image to enlarge
When I was living in Victoria and teaching yoga at the Y in the early '80's, many of us yoga teachers would meet in the snack bar at the Y after Shirley's morning classes. Lively conversations were had regarding the challenges yogis faced in living the life of the house-holder. Having no home, no family and being 15 - 20 years younger than most of the others, I was a "fly on the wall", privy to conversations about life events I had not yet experienced. It was with these women that I became educated about the challenges my future could hold.

The cartoon is a record of an actual conversation Carol, who was raising young twins at the time, had with the others; the best humour is found in truth.

The massacre in Colorado has me reflecting on the reality that we are a violent species and the sooner we realize this the better off we will be. It is not the "other" guy that is to blame for the condition of our society today, but ourselves as a collective and what we contribute as individuals. Our saving grace is that we are also a peaceful species. Which predominates depends on where we put our focus.

Our yoga group also participated in BEYOND HATHA YOGA a discussion group that explored the works of Swami Radha and the 8 limbs of yoga aka ashtanga yoga (an aspect of raja yoga - the cultivation of the mind through meditation in order to become acquainted with reality and ultimately achieve liberation) and, in particular, the yamas (abstentions) external aids to yoga. Ahimsa - non-violence in thought, word and deed, kindness towards all beings, avoidance of verbal and physical violence towards others and oneself is one of the 5 abstentions and was a prime area of under investigation.

My particular focus of late has been to check my tendency to swear when I'm frustrated. I don't swear at people, only at things (as if that makes it any better) - like computers - (apologies to my trusty laptop with which I am writing these words) which seems innocuous on the surface but investigate a little deeper and you will find it is a habitual reaction coming from a place of anger and aggression; aspects of violence. This realization became obvious during my self-study. Swearing is an aversion a resistance to what is; a resistance to "reality".

My visits to my nursing home client has strengthened my focus and intention. Just today, I passed by an elderly, demented resident spewing forth obscenities and swear words of all description as a nonplussed, patient, personal care worker helped her eat her meal. To the casual observer passing by it would seem that the words were being directed at the PSW but, upon closer observation it was obvious that these profanities reflected a state of being/mind in which the poor soul was lost in her own personal hell. YIKES! The emotion and anger behind this woman's words poisoned the very air in which we all moved, yet another reason to shape up now.

more to come in next post...

sleep paralysis, night terrors & false awakenings

Hi all,

I just realized I didn't give you a head's up about my latest blog post about sleep paralysis, night terrors and false awakenings on my website AWAKENING CHOICE DREAMS.

So, if you're interested in dreams (and who wouldn't be) click here to read the entry.

Have a great one!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Best $5 I Ever Spent...

...was also the last five bucks I had to get me through that summer weekend in Victoria in 1985.

The first day of this house-sit (2 years prior I had become a house-sitter in exchange for a roof over my head) feeling restless, I went downtown. As I glanced up at the neon sign for BACK TO THE FUTURE flashing on the local cinema’s marquee that beautiful Friday night, I thumbed the five-dollar bill in my pocket and replayed the last words the homeowner had said as she headed out the door, “There’s plenty of food around. Help yourself.”

As a struggling cartoonist living in Victoria, in order to support my habit – I’ll call it a habit because I made virtually nothing as a cartoonist - I became a jack of all trades (gardener, artist, dishwasher, and artist’s model) because my other passion was yoga; my other “profession” – yoga teacher.

Before yoga went viral, if we got paid at all, yoga teachers made six dollars an hour, class offerings were few, less during the summer months. My meager bi-monthly check for teaching wasn’t coming til Monday. I’d spent all I had on rent for my studio space, art supplies and postage to send my cartoon packages to syndicates all over North America.

Movie or groceries, I asked myself. “There’s plenty of food around. Help yourself.” I ducked into the movie theatre and for two glorious hours Marty McFly and I escaped the reality of our lives.

That night I rummaged through cupboards, fridge and freezer. There was meat; I was vegetarian. There was junk food galore so all weekend I feasted on: Chips Ahoy cookies, ice cream, pop and Cheezies. I was filled with joy as I ate remembering the great night I’d had.

On payday, I slunk around the inner isles of the grocery store filling my cart with all the items I’d consumed. What would my yoga students think if they saw me?

I’ll say, “I’m having a party”. They don’t have to know that the party has already taken place.

*     *     *I

If you went over to Gail Vaz-Oxlade's website and blog and read the chosen stories, the reason my entry didn't get chosen will be very apparent to you. I can just hear the staff wondering, what kind of moron submits a story like this to GVO the queen of financial responsibility.

Well, I'll tell you. 

One that has had this story in her head for quite a while now and when she read - write a story about money - this is what came out without thought as to the intention behind the challenge.

But, my intention was to write a story about money in 350 words or less as stipulated in the challenge. So, thanks GVO for the inspiration.

P.S. sorry I'm late in posting this.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Catching up with you

It looks like I've abandoned you but not so...
Go to AWAKENING CHOICE DREAMS and check out the my blog over there.
I have 2 new posts on Dreams:
FEED YOUR SOUL - July 10 - about consulting the card oracle
GOOD NIGHT & GOOD LUCK - July 13 - about synchronicity and David Strathairn
2 things I have in common with David Strathairn, the wonderful actor:

  1. He began his career as a clown. Clowns freak me out! However, my nephew studied clowning as part of his university theatre program and told me that clowns are like aliens that have come into this world and don't know a thing - everything seems odd and wondrous to them. Since I can totally relate, and I find DS gorgeous, I'll forgive him for having been a clown.
  2. His maternal grandmother was native Hawaiian. I love all things Hawaiian.

Check out this site as tomorrow as I'll post the entry that I sent to Gail Vaz Oxlade for her WEEK OF STORIES and you will see exactly why my entry - filled with failure, no lessons about money learned and illustrating, probably not, the best way to spend money during a financial crisis - didn't make the cut. But before you leave here click on the link for GVO and check out the stories. They're fascinating, full of life lessons learned and they might even inspire you to deal with some nagging debt issues yourself.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Ha Ha Ha

I'm a cheap laugh, as easily delighted by a good turn of phrase that lends itself to ripe imagery as something that brings forth humorous associations.

My brother was quite a fan of Robertson Davies writing way back when. Having similar tastes in literature, I highly valued N's opinions and vowed to dig into Davies' works but I've not been able to pull away from books on: Chinese medicine, dreams, anatomy, physiology, psychology, pathology, spirituality, shamanism etc; that is until this spring when I decided it was time to rectify the situation.

I have finally rewarded myself with "time out" for fiction and Davies' works are calling me perhaps because Robert Moss referred to Davies in his blog. Davies had said that the snowball incident in FIFTH BUSINESS that sets the story in motion was inspired by a dream and the novel is filled with: myth, magic, synchronicity, Jung and life in a small Ontario town; very appropriate reading for this Canadian dreamworker.

I began my reading reward with FIFTH BUSINESS the first book in the Deptford Trilogy which I found in the used bookstore on the corner. "Oh, you'll really enjoy this. He's such an entertaining writer, and so funny. You'll want to pick up the other two; you'll want to read them all" the shopkeeper said as she flipped through the book to find the price noted the inside the cover.

Later that afternoon I dug into the book, finding it fascinating and a compelling read but this was what really won me over... Dunstan Ramsay, at the age of 13, finds himself working as an under-librarian at his local library. Having much time on his hands he spends it perusing the odd materials in the acquisitions room. One of these is a medical text book with..."a portrait of a man with lavish hair and whiskers but no nose, which made me a lifelong enemy of syphilis."

OMG, I couldn't stop laughing. I could so relate. How much time have I spent going over just such material (not just as a reader but during my time as paste up artist for a medical text book publisher) being alternately fascinated and repelled by the text and the photos which illustrate all manner of pathology? With that phrase he won me over.

It still cracks me up and is now one of my all time favourite lines.

Another great line comes from Bill Bryson's IN A SUNBURNED COUNTRY when speaking of Australian prime minister Harold Hold's unfortunate demise (He was swept away into the sea and was barely missed as, being the resilient people that they are, Aussies took it in a "no worries" fashion. ) Bryson says that Hold took "the swim that needs no towel." Ha, ha...

Sick, I know.

On a slightly different, decidedly less literary vein, the last thing that cracked me up was a description of the 2004 Canadian movie, GERALDINE'S FORTUNE; "A local woman is randomly chosen to appear in a popular Canadian game show...". A fantasy to be sure; I was in stitches. This line triggered childhood memories of Canadian game shows and I can assure you that there was never such a thing as a popular Canadian game show.

While south of the boarder Americans were playing lively, wildly stupid, yet immensely rewarding, games often involving personal embarrassment we Canadians had the likes of FRONT PAGE CHALLENGE in which a panel of dour, ancient journalists tried to figure out what news story the hidden game challenger was related to and PARTY GAME* involving 3 Canadian "celebrities" (no such thing at that time in my neck of the woods, unless you were a hockey player) acting as the home team plus 2 other guest celebrities and a contestant as the challengers in a charades style affair.

There must have been more game shows but they were not nearly as memorable as the prizes associated with Canadian game shows. Unlike our American neighbours we had no appliances, cars, nor beautiful models waving their hands over these gleaming beauties. No curtain was drawn or floor spun to reveal what stood behind the dividing wall. We had no trips abroad; to a flea bitten motel on the Lakeshore strip in Toronto for a weekend, maybe, where, I imagined, you could have the opportunity to be personally introduced to young Dunstan's lifelong enemy. But, most common was a set of Blue Mountain pottery or 10 square feet of beige broadloom carpeting, undramatically displayed via a shot of a poster. So when I read, "...sparking a frenzy in her town" in the promo I just about fell off my chair.

* The one great thing about THE PARTY GAME was the brilliant, versatile Billy Van. As a result of his participation in that gig he landed the lead role, AND played a bazillion other characters, in THE HILARIOUS HOUSE OF FRIGHTENSTEIN a truly quirky, campy and funny Canadian TV kids' show whose 130 episodes were made in 1971. It was popular with teens and university students, after all Vincent Price, a true American celebrity was on a Canadian show; how cool was that!