My heart, along with so many others, goes out to the people and communities on the Eastern Coast of Canada and the United States as they face the wrath of Hurricane Sandy.
In times like this it’s hard not to think of the message that the Earth is trying to send us. Recently we’ve experienced a great number of Earthquakes, Hurricanes, Tsunamis… and we are at the mercy of the powerful forces of Mother Nature. It all feels very humbling to me, and makes me think and question:
What do we really have? What do we really need?
What is power? What is control?
What is our impact/influence on these forces of nature?
A fellow yogi/writer I enjoy David Romanelli wrote “The Native Americans would say that ‘the forces of nature are always in alignment with the Great Spirit’s will‘.” We need to use these situations as wake up calls to what is truly important. I believe all we have is love, and all we need is one another. We need to be good to each another and be good to the Earth.
I’m sending all of my love and good wishes to the people who are on the path of Sandy. Let’s help one another and protect this sacred place in which we live. In the meantime, here are some storm inspired tunes 😉
A friend shared this article with me recently, and it got me thinking about the concept of “You can’t judge a book by its cover”.
The article is about just that – not being able to tell about a person’s capabilities by how they look. I appreciate the language they use in it “can’t tell” in lieu of judge. But the issue is – we judge. We compare. We size-up. And why? When I went to a ballet class yesterday (which prompted many likes/comments and the sharing of this article) I did just that. I looked around the room at the pink tights, ballet shoes and buns and thought “oh brother I do not belong here” (with me wearing my lulu running tights, my Morning Crew CrossfitZone Shirt flipped inside out and grey socks!). I felt the need to explain that I was a modern dancer, and it had been a while since I had taken class. But why? Why in society must we always feel like there is this invisible measuring stick we need to compare ourselves to. Why, in new surroundings, do we immediately check out the situation and see where we fit in?
My psychology classes in University were a while ago, but I believe there is likely something in terms of how our brain processes things that actually facilitates this grouping and comparison phenomena. But if it is in our nature to do this, how can we avoid it?
I aim in my life to be open. That’s why children are often a huge inspiration for me. They don’t enter a room a say to themselves “oh I have a disposable diaper, and she has reusable – I’m a bad person” or “her onesie is soooooo cute, and I’m only wearing this old thing”. They are simply present. Doing their thing, in that particular moment in time.
And can we not take pride in our quirks, in our history, in our uniqueness? One of my favourite lines about this is from an Ani Difranco song called my iq. In it she says “I’ve got highways for stretch marks to see where I’ve grown” It resonated with me after I ended gymnastics, put on freshman 15++… it resonates with me as I look to my various scars (from knee surgeries/accidents etc)… it resonates me as I touch my husband’s calloused hands. What some may consider flaws or imperfections I see as a landmarks that tell stories about experiences, hardships, challenges, opportunities and triumphs.
I suppose this all comes together for me to say we should be proud of who we are – in all of our forms. We need to recognize that each of us is limitless. Life is challenging enough without imposing “I can’t do this/shouldn’t do that” on ourselves or others!
That reminds me of a spectacular dancer Jacques Poulin-Denis who I saw perform in Melanie Demer’s Les Angles Morts. Take a look at this video and be amazed for yourself.
Every thought is a cause and every condition is an effect. Change your thoughts and you change your destiny. — Joseph Murphy
They say humour is one of the hardest things to pull off. I have to agree. But I also have to say that when someone is able to combine talent AND not take themselves too seriously it’s often a winning combination. I came across this today and it made me smile. I just wish I had some children to sing to…
(The performance begins around 1:30 if you’re in a rush…)
Do you remember that movie Pay It Forward? The idea has been around for quite some time although the movie did help to re-introduce the concept to main stream society… the idea that a good deed or action can be paid ‘back’ by sharing a kind gesture with another person.
I do something called the Daily Challenge and one of the ‘challenges’ was to do a random act of kindness. I decided to buy a $5 giftcard at Starbucks and leave it for whomever the Baristas thought could use a little treat. Well, apparently this happens all the time in Winnipeg. Check out this article to read about how many people there are Pouring it forward! (<- Click on that link to access the article)
How can you share a simple act of kindness, and do your part to making someone’s life, their day, and the whole world a better place?
I have to say I love social media for one specific element: the ability to share unique, touching and meaningful stories. The radio station we listen to in Victoria has the “Good News News”… and if you know me, you would know that I pretty much stick to the sports section because I find the rest of the newspaper/news depressing. However, I love how we can uplift one another through Feel Good stories, and so I’m starting a section on my blog that is based on just that!
Today is the first Feel Good article I will share with you and I hope you find it as moving as I do. The video follows the story of Jodi DiPiazza who was diagnosed with Autism just before her Second Birthday. Through incredible programs, and her passion for music she has made leaps and bounds in terms of development and socialization. Take a peak at this video where she fulfills a dream and performs with one of her heroes (performing one of my favourite & most up-lifting songs!)
Enjoy (and maybe grab a kleenex!)
If you have any other Feel Good suggestions I would love to hear them. Feel free to leave a comment or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
We are living in an age where our lives are on display, mostly due to the fact that we broadcast it across social media sites and on reality TV. I know many many people who feel reality shows have no place, and criticize people airing every aspect of their lives to the world. And I have to agree to a large extent. There is a horrible range of shows embracing the worst sides of humanity (cheating etc). BUT, there is another aspect too. An aspect which I have completely fallen for – and a current show that I’m enamoured with. The X-Factor.
It is amazing to watch a person who may never have been given the opportunity to shine, to take their talent, OWN THEIR POWER, and share their passion/love/ability with the world. In sport we often talk about peak performance state or flow, and in these moments these individuals are in perfect flow! It gives me so much joy to bear witness to these special times. I love to celebrate the best in humanity, and I’m thankful that a show like this enables us to connect with interesting people, their fascinating stories, and to be inspired by them laying it all on the line.
Here’s a favourite performance from the UK version…
Ok, another admission… I have a lot more time now that I’m on a ‘work vacation’ at the moment. One of the shows that’s on the TV here is Undercover Bosses. The premise is that a President/CEO of a company dresses in disguise and works a day in various jobs throughout the company.
That in and of itself isn’t interesting. BUT, the stories and experiences that come out of it are truly touching. The last few episodes have shown individuals who have struggled to achieve what we would call a low-level position, and are often working hard to make ends meet, or support family members etc. Their attitude, determination and perseverance over the challenges they’ve encountered in life resonate with their bosses. They often have valuable suggestions for improvement, or show potential for a higher position – and the conclusion of the show is the most wonderful part. These individuals are informed of the ‘disguise’ and are often rewarded in various ways (through educational scholarships, money to be put towards their interests/families/vacations, developments within the company based on their ideas etc). Perhaps it is my love of humanity, and again seeing people OWNING THEIR POWER, and making a difference with their life that touches me so deeply. It’s unfortunate not everyone within each company would have that chance, but I realize everything has to start somewhere.
So why is any of this important?
These shows inspire me so deeply because they highlight what a big difference EACH of us can make with our life. It shows that you can never give up on your dream, and that if you pursue your passion good things can come (…and do have the talent to back it up – let’s be serious I love to sing but I’m not going to be on X Factor unless it’s the ‘car or shower edition’). Whatever you are doing now, whatever job you are in, whatever your dream is live that will all of your heart. Share your passion with everyone you encounter. Know that you can positively influence everyone you come across. You can be the change. You can be the difference.
One of my favourite quotes of all time is Marianne Williamson’s Our Deepest Fear. In it she says: “And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
It has been just over a week since I arrived in Oxford. The first few days were spent picking up our cat, exploring the shops to find all of the essentials we were missing (for the lowest price possible), and then setting up our little flat. But since that I feel like I’ve pretty much been L.A.Z.Y
And I have been feeling VERY guilty about it.
Then today I saw this… (Thanks to wonderful yoga teacher Maria Filippone for linking to it)
After watching that I had a little realization. Why do I feel guilty about still being in my pyjamas at 11:30am? Why am I worrying that I’m “not doing enough”? Why do I feel bad about myself for not leaving the house, going to workout, watching all of the X-Factor videos on youtube? Why not? I deserve a little downtime – we all do! Why shouldn’t I have a little r & r and snuggle with my cat while watching every show I can find that is like HGTV here in the UK (Oh how I missed you location location location!)
But I need to own my choices. If I give myself permission to enjoy what I am doing, then those choices can truly be relaxing. Nourishing even. (If not and I harbour guilt towards myself, then my choice isn’t a good one – though we know what the change should be there right?!) There are many times in my life where every second of the day is accounted for. It is quite lovely not to be in that position. Now if this carried on for months on end – well, that would result in a different blog post right! But for now I have to share my new resolve. I will not feel pressure or guilt simply because I truly don’t have anything to do.
In fact, I would encourage us all to find the joy in what we’re doing. Regardless of whether it is lying on the couch, attending a class in school, going to our job, playing with our children…. there is so much happiness that constantly surrounds us. It is up to us to find it 🙂
Finally, just to show that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree (ok I know he’s not my child, and that I’m becoming that crazy cat lady who only talks about her pet, but whatya gonna do), here’s a picture of Basil. I walked into our bedroom this morning and this is how I found him (all snuggled under the covers – and got into that position all by himself – smart little guy)
You have likely come across one in your day to day life. One who sweeps down and does that little thing that makes your day go smoothly… saves you from a bind… sweetens your experience and brightens what would have otherwise been a not-so-happy situation.
Today I had one of those Everyday Heroes make my morning incredible (well my whole day in fact!). You see Malcolm had his matriculation today. In North America we typically don’t do it anymore, but here in historic and formal Oxford it is the process where new students are officially registered for University/College. It was quite the site to see literally hundreds of people in suits/skirts and gowns walking through town. For some of the larger colleges I could only imagine it would take quite some time… they were lined up for blocks! Alas, I’m getting off topic. Malcolm had borrowed a gown, bow tie and cap from a teammate (so he wouldn’t have to buy it) but as he took it out of the bag it was completely wrinkled. And being new here, we have no iron. AND, being late at night there wasn’t much we could do about it then. This morning we tried to steam it in the bathroom, which did absolutely nothing.
So, I called the local dry cleaner and explained the situation. She said she could iron it so I hustled over. She kindly ironed it right there on the spot so I wouldn’t have to return. As she was doing this I also asked about if they had hangers I could buy because so far I’d only been able to find hangers that were more than $1.50 EACH!!! (seriously?!). After she finished ironing his dress shirt, and gown she gave me a bag full of hangers!!! When I went to pay – she said “Oh no, that’s ok. Just remember us this year…” Honestly!
Perhaps that doesn’t seem like much. But to me she was the hero of the day. Her kindness and generosity were incredible. Her warmth and care made me feel like there IS so much good in the world. And I felt blessed to be on the receiving end.
And so I leave you with this. Sometimes we think a gesture is too small or insignificant. “Why would we bother?” BUT, to someone else that small act might be HUGE! Never underestimate the importance of a simple kindness. I cannot wait to pay this forward… and I am so grateful for this beautiful woman and her lovely shop. (By the way if you’re ever in Oxford and need something dry cleaned, pressed, or just to say hello drop into Excel Dry Cleaners in Summertown). There are angels among us!
It was bittersweet leaving Canada and heading across the pond for this year (ish) in Oxford. However while Oxford’s colour is dark blue, I don’t expect I’ll be experiencing the “blues” this year. It was wonderful to be back together with Malcolm (as he was describing, two weeks is a nice vacation, but beyond that the missing-you’s set in). Our little family made the move so that Malcolm could be here to do a year Masters and row in the prestigious Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race. We decided to bring along our cat Basil. Some of you may have seen my social media posts lamenting the cost and hassel of bringing a cat to the UK. Apparently the UK is one of the most complicated and stringent Countries in the world in terms of ‘importing’ animals. We were shocked by the cost of a company to receive the cat. Then when I attempted to pick up Basil after his long journey over I was told that the Rabbies product name was missing from the form and until our vet in Canada had sent a new form he would have to remain at the Animal Reception Centre. Oh jeeeeeezzzzzz. Thankfully our vet is a family friend, and generously came to our rescue on the Sunday of the Thanksgiving long weekend!!!! I have to say that for all of the expense, the worry of shipping ‘our baby’ in Cargo, and the aggravation of the paper work/returning to Heathrow again – it was all worth it! Basil seems to be adapting well, albeit cautiously. I love having someone (errr ok, something) to chat with during the day, and of course top notch cuddles. He seems quite grateful for us, or at least has been even more affectionate than normal!
Ok, ok, enough about the cat. The jet lag is taking it’s toll, but I have felt pleased with my productivity when I’ve gotten my butt in gear. The nesting bug has hit me hard (and no, I’m not pregnant). I’ve rearranged the furniture in the living room, bedroom, and all of the cupboards in the kitchen too. I’ve been out and about trying to pick up a few more essentials and familiarizing myself with the city.
My initial impressions of Oxford are: holy students batman. It makes me feel at once young (because I could be one of them and likely look very much like them) and old (because it’s been nearly 10 years since I graduated from University – really?!). It’s also adorable. Walking through the streets I wondered to myself why I do I think cities in Europe are so cute/quaint? Perhaps it’s the history, perhaps the size? There is always interesting architecture and historic elements to revel at. Speaking of which, I should get out of the house and go explore this new city of mine.
BUT, I couldn’t write a post and not say how extremely touched I was at the kindness, generosity and love that surrounded me in the various goodbyes/send-offs. I feel so blessed to have made such incredible friends in Victoria, and leaving you all feels all too much like leaving my dear friends in Ontario as I did just a few year prior. However, as one of my favourite movies Steal Magnolias says “I would rather have thirty minutes of wonderful than a life time full of nothing special”. Or another ‘goodie’, “It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all”. What a happy predicament to have developed such wonderful relationships that you are sad to leave for the time-being. To those of you who have left your imprint in my heart (both in BC and in Ontario) – thank you. Thank you for opening your lives and your hearts to me, thank you for the thoughtful words you shared during my departure, and thank you for the fuel supporting my courage as I embark in this new adventure. Please keep in touch, and hopefully this blog will help share what our Oxford experience is like…
The touching well wishes I received 🙂
“It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not.” – Unknown