Sunday, May 28, 2017

Snatam Kaur - Sacred Chants

Snatam Kaur

 I've had many thoughts lately about the elements of creativity, self-care, and curiosity this month. When I think about it, May is my favorite month of the year because it's the time of rebirth and a good time to contemplate these things.

 After having recently helped to co-facilitate a workshop pertaining to curiosity, it was and is a natural inclination to see the connection and the synchronistic relationship between curiosity, creativity and caring for ourselves.

Today I listened to Tapestry and heard a rebroadcast of a beautiful singer, Snatam Kaur. It's a good thing that CBC does re-broadcast their programs because I always seem to learn what I missed the first time around. Snatam Kaur sings quite like none other I've ever heard. She has an angelic voice, yes, but the songs she sings are powerful healing chants. These chants called kirtan, is a Sanskrit word meaning to narate, recite, tell or describe an idea or story, that can transcend and transform a person's life I believe.

During her interview on Tapestry, Snatam Kaur said something that deeply resonated with me about the greatest gift a mother and daughter can give to one another is taking care of themselves. Her creative work has a powerful transforming message if we take and make the time to listen.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Nova Scotia Advocate

I was really so pleased to get an email today from Robert DeVet, the editor who runs The Nova Scotia Advocate informing me my article Not Disposable had been published.

 Filmmaker Jackie Torrens (My Week On Welfare) first put me in touch with Robert DeVet and I thank her very much for suggesting that he might be interested in me writing an article for the online paper, and he was!

The Nova Scotia Advocate is a grassroots publication with a strong social conscience, engaged in advocacy and activism within the local and provincial Nova Scotia community and is very much supported by readers.

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Love of a Family Accordion

Many people feel they're just unlucky, with a dark cloud hanging over their head, or the majority of life is spent living in problems, being overwhelmed by fear and anxiety, left wondering why things never seem to work out. Happiness and contentment appear elusive.

I certainly know some folks get more than their share of misery, and it's hard to figure out why, because it seems so unfair. I admit when I was younger happiness eluded me, and I just couldn't figure out how to get it.

It was only when I accepted that I had to let go instead of holding on, attempting to force solutions, that ultimately I couldn't control or manage. I was out of control, and my life had become unmanageable. Fear and anxiety were often my default, and I let that dictate my behaviour and reactions.

I don't have any superstitious bones and don't believe so much in luck, but I do believe in the power of prayer. This certainly doesn't mean that I get what I want. More often I get what I need, and I'm not always happy about the outcome.

What has made all the difference, is acceptance, which has been the key to my happiness and contentment, regardless of my circumstance. Now mostly I control my fear and anxiety it doesn't control me, and I exercise courage.

Creativity and courage go hand in hand and is a way of life that I believe exists within the spiritual realm.

Within the last two weeks, I've had an unusual run of things happen that are all very positive and frankly if I was the superstitious kind, I might say this has been a streak of luck, or I might be holding my breath, waiting for the other shoe to drop.  But I think most has been a result of prayer, grace, and acts of love.

The most important lesson I've learned is to live a creative life by opening my mind and heart with a willing, open spirit of trust, not devoid of fear, but with courage. It's only then that I pay attention, I become grateful, happy and content.
 Living creatively is a way of life. I can never expect that material gain will lead me to this spiritual realm, no matter what we think or gain materially.

I've also learned the more I try to hold on and force an outcome, the less control I have. I want and need to be open to the creative process in every aspect of living life fully.Instead of focusing on the outcome, I focus on the creative process.

The last thing on my two week list, that happened was having wonderful visit with my cousins, both of whom I hadn't really seen in many years. One of my cousins gave me her father's, (my late uncle and my late father's only brother),  his beautiful button accordion. Accordions have a long tradition in our family, and I took lessons as a kid when the accordion wasn't cool.

I've wanted one of these button accordions for so many years, but never ever imagined I'd be so generously and lovingly given this treasured family heirloom. Out of all the blessings I've been granted this one is so very special to me and I'm deeply touched, and so very grateful for the love of my cousins and creative family.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Stop the Killing Enforce the Law

Silent Marchers - "No More Westrays" - Andrew Vaughan THE CANADIAN PRESS

In the Maritimes people have a long family history that dates back to the old country, where our ancestors once worked in European coal mines, including my own.

Today being the 25th year of the Westray mining disaster, it's a heart breaking reminder of the inherent danger that exists, being a coal miner, and whay it means to work in what my late great Czechoslovakian great aunt referred to the coal tunnels as being "rat holes", in the coal mine of Minto New Brunswick.

What's even more heart breaking and criminal, is the lack of compassion shown toward these workers and their families. The coal companies nor the government of the day seem concerned about nothing more than the economic bottom line, with no regard for the loss of life and the price paid by it's workers and their loved ones. At the time of this explosion and the investigation that followed, no one was ever criminally charged, nor held accountable for the Westray disaster.

In the months to follow the Westray Law was legislated but to this day seems to be less than effective according to the United Steel Workers.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Stir Your Curiosity

 Have you ever had one of those days when you feel so much synchronicity, and the discovery dots are connecting right before your eyes? This is exactly what happened yesterday when about 30 individuals participated in the very rewarding Stir Your Curiosity workshop, that I wrote about in my previous blog post. It was a day full of music,video, reflection, art, mediation, yoga, friendship, sharing and good food.

Experiencing days like this when we're young, we aren't so aware, and are more than likely as children, to be very open to the natural instinct of curiosity, creativity and to simply saying, yes. This is the default, and children is usually fearless, and if not fearless, they're certainly always brave, in one way or another.

When adults are graced with moments of appreciating beauty, that come from making and taking the time to really love and care for ourselves in order to better love and care for others, this experience can seem almost magical, because happiness seems not only possible, but probable.

Cultivating mindfulness to see beauty in the ordinary, and in the simple everyday things in life, that often go unnoticed, for me is what enables human beings see with the eyes, ears and spirit of children. We can then begin to live a curious, enthusiastic, engaged creative life with courage, regardless of who we are, and whatever it is we do for a living.

" Bravery is always more intelligent than fear."

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

How Curious Are You?

You know those days that we all have, when you don't know what to do with yourself and you start feeling like you should be doing something, maybe something you really don't feel like doing? You might wonder if you're just bored. Maybe you make some muffins, play with the cat or feel guilty about what you think you should be doing? Or... maybe you decide to take time to reflect about this kind of day, realizing that your not bored, sad or lonely, but what you are experiencing is solitude, which in our distracted world, seems to be a lost art.

On this rainy, overcast Spring day I had an appointment that got postponed until tomorrow. The meeting was to discuss the above workshop I've posted that I'm really excited about attending next Saturday. The listed agenda sounds like a full day of curiosity, creativity and discovery.

And so because my meeting was cancelled today, this afternoon I'm taking time with, and for myself. I'm enthusiastic and excited to reflect and find out about the connection between curiosity and creativity. I'm taking advantage of my solitude to think deeply and discovery some new ideas, to learn more about myself and to connect with others.

Living in a society that encourages social behaviour, busyness and productivity, many of us become human doings, instead of human beings. But work and constantly doing, does not define us and can inhibit our creativity. I believe we need to know how to be, before we can do.

Taking time alone for solitude, for ourselves, is often ignored by society. It's often seen as anti-social and  must mean you're sad and lonely. In fact there are many benefits to solitude, like improving your concentration and your brain power. It provides and enables an opportunity for self-discovery and helps you to work through and resolve your problems. It also improves relationships with others.

Elizabeth Gilbert defines creativity as being curiosity and it's more important than following your passion. I completely agree with her conclusion, especially when I think about how children have a natural and innately, built-in curiosity instinct. Children thrive when they are fully engaged in this curiosity and are always making discoveries. As adults we need to learn to be the same, be vigilant, fearless, and enthusiastic about our curiosity.

Children possess an absence of fear of what they don't know. Unfortunately the older we get, this enthusiasm that ignites the senses is diminished, for a myriad of reasons. We observe less, explore less, ask fewer questions and are fearful of venturing into the unknown.

Curiosity helps us to make the connections that lead to discovery. We will become more observant. Exploration, asking questions and venturing into the unknown become a way of living a creative life.