Life in Black and White

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“I was born into a world of black and white. The only problem was I remembered the colours of the life I was meant to live.” – Christine Wasnie 

I am sure many of you have had the opportunity to view old pictures and videos in black and white depicting life before the 1960’s or there about. Many of you may have grown up in those times, the eras of rules, matter of fact ways, no deviation from the so called norms and customs. When I think about it, the only color imaginable may have been on the lips of women in shades of bright red and orange. Father, mother, children and pet in cities and rural settings all lined up in a perfect row. In these times there were no gray areas. Instead the preferred and adhered to view was simply black and white.

Black and white views and living are rigid where petrified patterns are difficult to break out of. Uncertainty and the unknown feared and unwelcome. Even though black and white photos are limited in their use today,  many people continue to adhere to this view of life and living. The idea that this is how life is for me and should be for all others on the face of the planet. Black and white thinking is fear based. Fear of going to hell. Fear of disapproval from family and friends. Fear of loss. Fear, fear, fear. To ease anxieties it is far easier to control life with black and white thinking rather than open the full box of crayons. Choice and free will.

Life today is an open palette based on the primary colors of life. Mixed, blended and true, life is a blank canvas of creative passion. Most embrace this color extravaganza with enthusiasm and glee. A never ending adventure. A life far from the fear based black and white we thought was left in the dust long ago. We are definetly called upon to color outside the lines, think beyond the outdated and apply the palette of our choosing to everyday living. To really see the color combinations painted in the lives of our families and friends, cultures and politics, laws and love.

For you see, fear and control are the colors of black and white. There cannot be love when there is fear. You cannot control life when you are coloring with a full box of crayons. Black and white living leaves no room for options. We were all given a full box of crayons when we came to this earth. Some of us entered a life where black and white thinking was taught. But, as adults we always have choice. Our world is a world of color so why should the life inside your thoughts be any different. If you fear making changes then start with the primary colors of blue, red and yellow, the source and beginning of all other color. Perhaps, begin with a little yellow, the color of the sun. When you let in a little bit of sun it chases away all the dark shadows of black and white. For without the sun in your life, there is no color.

There are times in life when the color seeps away and fear takes hold of our every thought and action. The color drains from our faces and is replaced with an anxiety in the pit of our stomachs so overwhelming that we could not search for the sun even if we tried. These are the trials and tribulations of life. When we are called upon to rise above and find the strength to conquer our fears. To really listen to the voice of our soul. To come to terms with the changing landscape of our life. These are the times to believe that everything and everyone happens for a reason. To teach us something about ourselves. Perhaps a love we never believed was possible. A wise soul once told me, you cannot control what life gives you, only your response to it. This I know for sure. And when it does, if you only have a black and white crayon in your hand, ask someone who views the world in full color to share their box of colorful crayons with you so you too may begin to paint yourself out of the shadows and into life once again.

The Space Between the Pearls

“An invisible thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, space or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle. But it will never break.” -Ancient Chinese Proverb

Pearls are familiar to everyone, cultured, iridescent, imitation, pink and black. Their origins in oceans deep are rare like the pearls themselves. Strung together to form expensive jewellery or adorned on clothing, their beauty cannot be denied. Draped across the fine musculature of the neck , a sight to behold.  There are other jewels strung together to create Malas and Rosaries but, rather than admiring their beauty, they are used in prayer and meditation across various cultures. Often worn as a reminder of the persons connection with the Divine to seek a calmer mind, body and spirit.

Pearls, Malas and Rosaries are stung together each bead connected to the next, a part of a common circle. What the string is made of is of little significance compared to the brilliance of the bead. But, without the string there would be no circle of mindfulness and beauty. The string in the space between is the binding required to keep it all together. Without it, everything definitely falls apart, separate entities. Retrieving each bead a difficult task once the circle is broken.

Sometimes, the string gets all tangled and knotted, stretched and pulled.  Really taken to the limits of its ability to function as the strength that holds it all together. When our patience is tried and the breath heavy, we give up and may toss our possession into a corner, jewellery box or forgotten space. Then, we remember it once again with longing, yearning, nostalgia or simply desire to return to our calmer mind, spirit and body. To resurrect for that special occasion. Retrieved, we once again tackle that tangled knot with perseverance and patience, resilience.

For you see, we are the beads which require a circle of string to hold us all together. Whether you are a bead of beauty like the pearl, cultured and refined, a bead of a rosary used in deep and thoughtful repetitive prayer, or a mala in meditative silent or loud chanting, the string is the substance which holds us together. The space which asks nothing really, other than to just be for the purpose it was brought here to be. It is the space which is quiet and does not speak aloud. The string knows its function without question and does not vie for its position with the bead. The string in the space between the beads is the most powerful of all and yet, goes unnoticed until tangled or knotted.

The string in the space between the pearls is your soul. It connects you with everyone and everything regardless of whether they are pearls, malas or rosaries. The gems are you, here to fulfill a purpose. You are not able to disconnect from your Source, the Universe, yourself. Yes, the string which binds you will get tangled and knotted along the way and yes, you can toss it in a corner for a time. But, it will always call you back to find the strength and patience to untangle the knots of your life. The soul has a wonderful purpose in the space between the pearls. It is to support, tangle and stretch until you become the gem you were brought here to be. Next time you come across a string of pearls, a Mala or Rosary, take a closer look at the string and the space inbetween. Sometimes the hidden pearls are far more valuable than what we see with our eyes wide open. 

 

Summer in the Northern Hemisphere

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It is 5 o’ clock on the morning of the Full Moon In Capricorn. The eastern sky is on fire with the rising sun, orange and red dimming to shades of violet and gray as clouds form in the west where daylight has yet to awaken. July 9th holds the promise of energy packed planets coming together to promote self-awareness, inner work that is often messy but, necessary. It is Sunday in summer in the Northern Hemisphere and as I write this blog, the wren still sings outside my window in the tree filling the day with promise.

Bees arrive and begin the symphonic hum among the Goats Beard and Salvia. Busy travelling to and fro between flower and hive, they remind us the season is indeed short and sweet. The days long, the nights dim, light overshadows darkness. A much-needed respite from life.  Energy abounds with the heat of summer. Every shade and hue of green permeates the landscape and long hours of day. Sunlight permits green to exist for without it green ceases to be. Day begins. Coffee on the patio beckons. Morning meditation and reflection. The scent of freshly mowed dewy grass fills my breath. The heat of the day begins to rise.

Summer in the Northern Hemisphere is laced with activity. In winter we sleep but, summer is a time for movement and doing. There are market gardens filled with baking and homemade wares. Patient hands have worked all winter to prepare for the weekend gathering of watering taste buds searching for hints of summer.  Marathons, walk-a-thons and bike-a-thons raise money for various causes. We attend folk fests, music fests and ballet in the park sitting on blankets and beach chairs and swaying our heads to and fro with smiles that light up the night sky. Bonfires, wiener roasts, marshmallows and s’mores. Mosquitos and sunscreen. Fresh strawberry pie.

We garden, trim and weed. Planters overflow with bright flowers of every color.  There are barbeques and patio parties and festivals of every kind. Zumba and yoga outside in communities dotted along waterfront rivers, lakes and parks. People are out and about dog walking, jogging and laughing up and down streets and avenues. There are campers, tenters and mobile homes dotted along highways destined for provincial and private parks. Cabins disappear once more into the foliage of surrounding forests. Boaters, wake-boarders and paddle boats skim across lakes echoing sounds of harsh roaring motors or soft ripples of cool water. Against the blue sky sailboats sail, blending with soft clouds floating, suspended. Sand castles, sun hats and shovels form around children playing on shores of sand and grass. Giggles and wonder fill this moment in time. Through the haze of summer heat the picture painted is familiar and warm.

Visitors visit having travelled from lands far away. There are tours of historic sites, parades and fan fare. Dancing and bands, soul food from various cultures lure with sizzling smoke billowing from street vendors along attractions and city streets. Bare feet, sandals and flip-flops produce musical beats against the background of summer scurry. Artists sit, draw and paint, focused. Intent on capturing colors that only the summer sun can illuminate and cast shadows deep and dark. Picnics and laying on blankets in the grass,  sun-glassed eyes form cloud pictures and memories from childhood. Baby toes peek out from strollers pushed by parents adorned with back packs and baby wipes, bottles and snacks.

Summer is a time of renewal, healing and rejuvenation. Transforming from cocoon to butterfly. Our mission is to fly towards the sun, flitting from flower to flower, gathering and supping the sweet nectar summer brings. We bask in the heat and raise our faces toward cool northern breezes. Hair loose and blowing free, muscles melt away tension. Shorts and sun dresses, sleeveless shirts expose skin white once bound tightly, snow mummies with frozen fingers and toes. Freckles and age spots, suntanned golden brown bodies reappear, youthful at every age.  Summer is a time to reconnect with our spirit, the spirit of others, the spirit of the sun. To harness all the possibilities summer brings in its brief stay here in the Northern Hemisphere. Even though the time is short, the energy of summer compares to no other season in our life. Throughout Fall, Winter and Spring, we long for the season of summer. Summer is good for the soul.  Happy summer Northern Hemisphere!

 

The Reality of Our Reality


What is the reality of your life? How does your story read when you think about it from birth till now? And in this very moment, stop what you are doing, and take a look around you. What is your reality in this time and place? For you my dear readers, the reality is, you look at this moment in time completely different from all others who might share your same space and time. Did you think we all have the same reality? We do not even share the same concept of space and time. Our perceptions, our reality, is based primarily on our own past experiences, the colors we see, the scents we smell. A whole host of experiences unique to us. Our life experiences are uniquely our own and are not shared in entirety with others.

Try this experiment. Take yourself and two friends to a specific place. Say, a store, a musical festival, a walk in the park. Stay together, walk the same route, talk together as you normally would. Have this shared experience for 30 to 60 minutes. Afterwards, sit down for coffee and each of you write out your experience. Things like what you saw, heard, smelled, tasted, liked, disliked. What stood out the most. Then share your experiences. How many experiences were similar or different. Were you all in the same place?

We assume everyone shares a common experience. That everyone includes our family, friends, co-workers, basically everyone sharing the same space in time. The reality is we do not. And yet, it is this assumption that causes the most grief. We do not take the time or put in the effort to discover how others see the world around us. We make the big assumption that our reality is the reality of others. The truth is, we make huge assumptions about others and life. We rarely dive deep to discover the reality of others.  Or why their reality is different from ours.

When you ponder deeply, it is kind of like living in “the matrix”. It makes you think, what is real or reality anyway. How I see myself then, may not be how others see me and vise versa. Does it even matter how others see me or is it more important how I see myself? We even see the same people differently. We come to know ourselves through the eyes of others. The opinions of others shape our personalities, our choices, instill doubt. The reactions of others send ripples through our realities. We constantly change ourselves to suit the realities of others. To fit in with the reality of others. We therefore, continually  lose touch with our own reality. We lose touch with ourselves, why we are here, what we are meant to do.

Our own reality is important. It is our truth. It is no less or more than the truth of others. Maybe our reality is our soul. Whatever it is, it is us. Unique, rare, beautiful, worthwhile, loved, celebrated. You are your reality and your reality is you. Your reality is created in everything you touch, think, speak, love, share, breathe. Unplug from the group dynamic and simply be you. Real, authentic and loving the life reality you are in.  Celebrate the commonalities among us, even though they may be few and far between. Better yet, celebrate the differences. For that is where the jewel lies. It is in the reality of life and living from different perspectives, voices, gender, age, color, tradition, religion and simply the different. Our realities combined, create the tapestry of life. Woven together they become us, the reality of this Universe. A Universe so vast and yet, even today moving forward, we continue to search for our own reality and why we are here. Our truth lies in our reality.

 

Write and Speak the Beautiful

“Painting Ladies in Summer” series in oil created by Christine Wasnie


The news and everything newsworthy is focused on the negative and troubling events in our world. People, places, things and animals. Fish and sea. The 5 W’s of life. Who, what, where, when and why. The foundations of investigative journalism. But, what if we focused those 5 W’s on the positive events instead. What might those stories look like. What emotions would be triggered as a result and how might we discuss up lifting stories with others?

To write and broadcast the beautiful is difficult. We think people will become bored, not believe us or worse think we live our lives within a fairytale. People who speak and write the beautiful, the miracles, are percieved donning rose coloured glasses. We naturally gravitate to drama, crisis and fear based thinking and speaking. Negative energy takes over and drives our thoughts, feelings and actions. Sets the pace of our days. Our dreams and wishes. Our goals. Our life. Bleak, to say the least. Must our reality focus on the negative every day occurring events. Is there room for positive life affirming hopeful realities? Because positive events are realities too. Is there balance in how we speak and write our own stories?

Let’s apply the 5 W’s to positive newsworthy highlights to catch a glimpse of what those stories might look like. I will start with Who. Who can and will be everyday people. We are all stars in our own right. Each has a heart and soul. Each a purpose. Each capable of doing good and yes, great deeds. What. This is where the beauty is hidden. There are everyday events in the lives of everyday people that are wrapped in beauty and wonder, goodness and light. Stories of ways and means and people in need. Actually, the what is the beautiful story just waiting to be written. You have the pen in your hand, the thought in your mind. A spark. Where. The where is everywhere. In your own homes. In neighbourhoods and communities across the world. The where is no different than the places experiencing crisis and often where the most healing is required. Where the miracles are hidden within the aftermath of crisis. When. The when is now. Not yesterday or tomorrow. Mindfulness teaches us that this moment is all we truly have. Why? Because there are two sides to everything. Good and bad. Dark and light. Crisis and peace. The why challenges all of us to strive toward peace. To write and speak the calm into our lives. To note the everyday miracles and synchronistic events. We have no problem rationalizing the why’s in crisis. We simply toss away the why’s in the song of a wren who sings as we awake and drift off to sleep. 

Why don’t we take time to explore the positive stories in depth? To really get to the heart and soul of the matter. The beauty. Why do we brush them aside as if they have no value or worth in our society. The challenge is for us to become peaceful reporters. To report the beautiful and uplifting in our lives. To write and speak inspiring stories of others, their achievements and miracles. To search for the beautiful in everyone and everything. The beautiful in their 5 Ws. I do not think it is hard to find these stories or to report them. To simply share. They are occurring around us all the time. We instead prefer to report the drama and our views about it. To pass judgement. Is it possible to change our focus. The life events we choose to give our energy to. The energy we choose to share with others. Who would you pick as the newscaster to broadcast affirming life events. Perhaps you will choose yourself. You can write and speak the beautiful.

 

This Is Octavia

 

Recently I watched a Ted Talk given by Anne Lamott, a writer from British Columbia, Canada. Her presentation focused on the 12 truths she learned from life and writing. Compiling a list of things she “knew for sure” just prior to her 61st birthday, Anne describes self-care as a top priority in life, much to the dismay of naysayers who believe this behavior is selfish and narcissistic. For many women, self-care can be a difficult feat. For Anne, writing, singing and community work are the truths we express, our truths. Pieces of ourselves. The truths we bring to the world. I must say, I wholeheartedly agree.

Octavia is a group of women who love to sing.  A group I am happy to say, I am a part of.  We express though song, vibrations resonating in our souls. We bring heartfelt feeling to the works of Leonard Cohen in Anthem, Emily Lund in Dona Nobis Pacem and Gordon Lightfoot in Song for a Winter’s Night. We simply join together for a common purpose. Some are musicians and play the violin, piano, guitar or drums. A few are able to read music and others sing by ear. We are sopranos, altos and tenors. Our voices struggle to hit the high notes and the low notes. We reach consensus somewhere in between thanks to our conductor who swings her hips in the most graceful way as she leads us with gentle persuasion through each song. Four have battled or are currently seeking treatment for cancer. Others have suffered great losses and grieved. Some live with Alzheimer’s, disabilities or limitations. Everyone laughs. Everyone cries. We all sing with great joy because to sing is to release from the heart and soul sounds reminiscent of our home with the angels. The familiar language of peace and harmony we so long for in our relationships with others. Singing is common among all people’s. A beautiful language understood by everyone of all ages. Singing evokes emotions we tuck away in our heart space, a heart that breaks open with the gift of music. We are not striving for perfection. Rather, we seek harmonization. To achieve harmony is no small feat. Just ask anyone involved in conflict or strife. But, it is possible through song. Perhaps, we all just need to sing instead of using our words to resolve conflict. For in song, conflict ceases to exist.

This video is Octavia performing at our end of the year community concert. The song is Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem”. The following quote by Leonard on suffering and grief is taken from a 1992 interview published in One on One: The Imprint by Barbara Gowdy.

“The light [in the lines ‘There is a crack in everything’, /That’s how the light gets in’ from Anthem] is the capacity to reconcile your experience, your sorrow with everyday that dawns. It is that understanding, which is beyond significance or meaning, that allows you to live life and embrace the disasters and sorrows and joys that are our common lot. But it’s only with the recognition that there is a crack in everything. I think all other visions are doomed to irretrievable gloom. And whenever anyone else asks us to accept a perfect solution, that should immediately alert us to the flaws in that presentation.” – Leonard Cohen.

When Octavia was asked the question, “What song would you like to sing for this blog,’ the answer was unanimous. Anthem! This is our truth expressed through song. The truth that we are all women with cracks. But then again, that is how our light gets in. This is Octavia.

 

Special thanks to Vanessa for videotaping Octavia.

 

 

 

There Are Weeks



“There are those who squint when the sun shines upon their face. There are those who raise their face to the sun and bask in it’s warmth. Hold onto the ones with the smile for they are adventurous souls.” – Christine Wasnie

 

There are weeks and then there are weeks! The past two weeks have been those very kind of weeks where you sit back, scratch your head, curse and swear and yes, take some time for a little pity party. These are the weeks that force you to ponder, pause and breathe. To contemplate and ask yourself the question, “What is the message here?” For, in everything there is an underlying lesson.

It all began with an unexpected encounter with a beautiful one year old Irish Setter while out for my daily walk with my nine-year old Bichon Poodle. I could see the Irish Setter approaching from the distance with its owner who obviously could not control this exuberant, lively, excited young dog. In his excitement to greet my dog, he ran towards me wrapping his leash around my legs and yanking my feet out from under me. Down to the concrete I plummeted, landing on my hip, ribs and back. Ouch! The owner was so apologetic and the young dog, oblivious to the chaos, just happy to sniff my dog. I wobbled home thankful nothing appeared broken but, in rough shape just the same. Doctoring myself up, I hit a hot shower and climbed into bed with heated flax bags hoping for the best.

Waking the next morning, sore cannot begin to describe my previous days injuries. To add to the moaning of it all, I now have a full-blown cold compromised with the flu. I really could not tell if I ached more from the fall or from the flu. At this point, I don’t think it really mattered. The fever kept me sleeping most of the day, not exactly what the doctor ordered to keep my sore muscles limber. The cold, flu, pulled leg muscles and bruised hip and ribs took me a two full weeks to recover from. The recovery period in the third act of life seems to take twice as long. My spouse reminding me of my age and to be patient was really not that helpful to say the least. 

Finally, I felt well enough to once again venture into the brave big world and go for a walk with my dog on a beautiful sunny morning. I am grateful I can once again walk, albeit slowly. Moving forward is a must for me. And then out of nowhere, I have an emotional encounter with someone from my past. Tears flow easily it seems this past two weeks. Perhaps it is a requirement for my emotional growth. A process of healing. The next day I attend choir practice and sing loudly with glee. Despite my coughing and crackled voice, I am happy to be back singing with this wonderful group of women. We head out for lunch together after practice and enjoy delicious prepared quiches and lattes prepared that morning. Laughing and sharing, my soul is beginning to once again feel recovered and happy.

Returning home I decide it is a good day for weeding and gardening. My spouse is cutting the grass as I go into the garage in search of my gardening supplies. Thinking he has used them, I ask him where he has put my trolley cart. He replies, “In the garage!” I return to the garage wondering perhaps if I have lost some of my sight this past two weeks and discover that not only my gardening tools but, bikes, chain saws and various other items are missing. We have been robbed!

There comes a time when you just need to stop. Stop and put life and events into perspective. Sit and contemplate. Search for the sun among the rain clouds, the life raft in stormy seas. The laughter and joy amid disappointment and tears. The lesson. I have never taken on a victim role in my life circumstance. The “poor me” attitude keeps people stuck and living a life of lacking rather than abundance. I go in search of the bright spot. The cadmium yellow in the paint tray. This way of living and thinking has served me well throughout the trials of my life. Although, I admit some days are harder than others. I am grateful that no bones were broken in my fall, that my dog did not get loose and get hit by a car. The flu gave me time to pause and think, perhaps I am working a bit too hard and not enjoying life enough. To realize that despite how much you love someone, they may not always love you back. And stuff is just stuff that can always be replaced. No one lost a life or limb. We cannot control life, only our reaction to it.

There is a lesson in everything. No wiser words were ever spoken or written by I am not sure who but, they are the wisest words of all. I have learned to live by them and they shed light on the fact the sun will always come out tomorrow. These words are, THIS TOO SHALL PASS. Life is an adventure. Ride the wave onto the shore. There are no mistakes. I wonder what this week will bring. Whatever life brings my way, I pray I will meet it with a grateful ❤️.