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February 24, 2010

Personal Progress, Plateaus and Illusions

On a walk one day, heading back from Vesuvius Bay, I thought it was so cool that it looked as if this ladder was perched for me to quickly climb to the top of Mount Maxwell and step gingerly off onto the moss that would surely greet my first step upon arrival on its flat top. Illusion.

I've been reading The Artist's Way and doing my morning papers faithfully. I have a lot of questions right now that have to do with feeling like perhaps I've reached another plateau.

It's so easy to forget where we've come from and too often, in my case, failed to properly acknowledge. When we have achieved something, too often, if you're like me, you forget all about where you were before you accomplished the last bunch of stuff you did and soon, at a plateau, you're looking around feeling stuck without taking the time to acknowledge so much of what has happened to move you to the place you're now at.

This book, The Artist's Way, has made me recognize that and made me think that the reason I'm now feeling the way I am - a little bewildered as to my next move - it's because I have failed to properly acknowledge that goals, once accomplished, even in the airy, fairy way that I even have goals, call for new desires to be unearthed and if it's the right time, accomplished. That is what leads to new experiences. If that isn't happening, it's time to question why you are standing still and what can be done to keep moving forward. I think that's what I've been thinking about lately.

For example, I never imagined years ago, when I used to come to Salt Spring Island as a tourist that I would ever a) live here or b) be one of those people who sold stuff at the market. But I am and I did. That was last year. In the past it would have seemed like a ridiculous notion, now accomplished. Whoa. When I put it that way, that's cool!

When it comes to the market last year didn't require a lot of thought. I matted my photos. I made my photo cards. I sold them. I talked to a lot of people. I heard people's responses to my images.  This year that's not good enough.  I need a new product I say. What can I do differently with my photos? How can I present them in a way that is unique? Is there a more interesting technique to set them apart? The bar has been raised. And, I know, from my own past experience and from being around other creative types that asking those questions is a never ending path.

Lately, I've been asking if living here is the right place at this point in my life. I'm not so sure it is. I love it here. It's beautiful. I have made some very dear friends who I would miss immensely but is it really the right time for me to be living here now that I know what "the dream" of living on a Gulf Island is like. And, I know the challenges. I have to ask myself, again, what do you really want your life to be like on a daily basis. If a lack of money is the only thing you are lacking is that big enough to move or does it just mean I have to try harder to bring it into my life here?

I need to try harder to financially make it work and would all it take is for me to believe, wholeheartedly, that that is all it would take - trying harder - or is that not a realistic assessment of how challenging it truly is to make a living here?

But, I"m supposed to be a writer says my inner voice. You can make a living from anywhere they say. Theoretically, I know that's true. It has not yet been true for me to the degree I need it to be true. What's preventing that from happening wholeheartedly I wonder?

When I said to my friend Karin that maybe I'm not supposed to do this or I would have been more successful by now, she just looked at me and said, "It's hard. Who said it was going to be easy?" I hate it when she zeros in on a life truth so succinctly.

Not that you asked, but this is what I've been thinking about too much lately and wondering how to move forward.

What do you do when you feel you've reached a plateau and need to get to the next phase of your journey?

February 21, 2010

Not the Olympics but Amazing in its own Right!

Barefoot on a board in Victoria's Inner Harbour, February 2010
Taking the direct route to 

Happy Birthday Lisa!
Heather says, "More Sangria Please!"

Don't forget to smell the roses with a cup of tea!

February 17, 2010

When Words are Hugs

This photo has absolutely nothing to do with this story except it is pretty isn't it?

This is for a wonderful person who is a computer techie guy who I haven't seen for a while but who, like many other people it turns out, reads my Blog in anonymity to keep up with what's going on with me.

Today, he sent me an e-mail. "Type at me what's going on with you?" he says to me knowing, based on what he's reading that something isn't quite right.  He tells me, this technophile, that I need to be kind to myself.

He goes on to say that he's just spent his morning listening to Gregorian chant, trying to meditate and reading a book by Pema Chodron (When Things Fall Apart). I'm wondering why HE'S reading that. What's falling apart for him? He tells me that he's full of thoughts of being "soft" with myself. WHO IS THIS GUY? Is this the same guy I used to know? How unbelievably long have I been gone anyway [from Vancouver]? Long enough for his alter ego to surface?

Maybe HE should actually be living here and I should be living back in the city. He should be wearing baggy sweat pants and tie-die (which he has been known to do I believe given that he is a hippie at heart. He should be walking softly and weaving his long hair into a knot on the top of his head like this other sexy blonde guy who lives here whose hair most women would die for and maybe he should be sitting cross legged in a field of organic hay. (Is there such a thing?)

Anyway, the point is...what exactly is the point anyway... the point is, he made me feel so much better just knowing that he's listening and I can feel his energy through his e-mail to me and it makes me wistful wishing we were sitting having a beer in a pub talking about everything and nothing and feeling supported like we used to do on a fairly regular basis.

So thank you. You know who you are. You're so great my friend. No wonder you're such a great dad!

When words are hugs, fear runs and hides.

February 15, 2010

Beware of Paradise

So, I turned 49 this morning and it struck me that I only have 364 days until I'm 50 years old. Holy shit! I have to get my ass in gear. I mean, theoretically, this realization would have been better if it had hit me about 25 years ago but there you go. Beware of paradise and Lord of the Flies re-runs.

So, what better time to start The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron and start writing "the morning papers". I did that this morning. Just three pages. Whatever comes out. And you know what came out? "What the hell am I doing here? What AM I doing here?" Those are the words that struck me the most in the three pages I wrote. Thoughts just flew out of me onto the page. It's like conducting therapy on yourself and God knows, I know how to do that. I'm an expert at that. I should be a therapist I've had so much therapy. You'd think, then, I might realized when I'm crossing my own boundaries.

Thank God that I believe, based on past experience, that every aspect of our lives has a purpose even if we can't see what it is at the time and no matter how hellish. As a result, I have faith that being here, living the way I am, is perfect and exactly where I'm supposed to be but that doesn't mean that I'm not totally FREAKED out about where I am wondering what the hell this is preparing me for except my own decrepitude, a future as a geriatric psychiatrist or the ability to do time in small spaces.

I keep thinking that perhaps the message is Seize the Day given what I have to witness on a daily basis.
I came here to write for real and now I'm putting an ad in the paper saying I'll write people's wedding vows and obituaries. Have I finally been Certified? THINK BIGGER! It's not that I CAN'T do it because of course, I can. I could probably clip the toe nails on Chihuahuas for a living too but that doesnt' mean I WANT to or that it's a GOOD idea!

Anyway, let's just say, in the past month the wake-up call just won't stop ringing and I'm wondering where's the fire extinguisher, where's the front desk, the valet, the concierge, the undertaker?

Have you ever had a dream come true only to realize that maybe it's about time you woke up and got back to real life?

February 14, 2010

Hanging by a thread to my 40s

So, hanging by a thread to my 40s when I turn 49 on Monday and surrounded, last night, by the people who have made it possible for me to enjoy 16 months on Salt Spring.

There was my surrogate mom, Pauline. Her cottage was the venue (of course). She made the fabulous lasagna. She baked and iced the fantastic chocolate Valentine's cake. She cleaned her house and set up the table in spite of everything going on, even a flood as a result of her washing machine malfunctioning. Thank you so much Pauline!What would I do here without her? 

Gail, editor of The Driftwood, who helped make it possible for me to survive in the first couple of months that I arrived by giving me lots of writing work and who has been a good friend with a balanced and humourous perspective on Salt Spring as a 25-year resident with her husband Michael's pithy insights and humour as well.

Karin, who was instrumental in me even thinking I could move here and then pointing me in the direction of the fabulous albeit haunted cottage that was everything I imagined when I thought about the type of place I would want to live in on Salt Spring with its beautiful deck, little wood stove, dark hardwood floors, privacy and its abundant greenery in spring and summer.

Karin has also been an inspiration in how to live your life by your own design and in her commitment to her art even when it's really hard to get by at times. And, once again, a sense of humour that makes bad days better and can instantly throw things in perspective.

Tom and Linda, the first people I met at the Saturday Market who were also newbies there. They made it bearable on those early spring days at the market when you had to get up at 6:30 am to gain your point knowing that you'd be lucky to sell $25. Ouch!  My constant Market neighbours. They've developed into grand friends who spoil me so much that they've even moved one of their couches into their family room to accommodate me while the Olympics are on in case I want to drop by and watch them. And, who feed me, generously, and make fun of me and listen to me providing support and lots of laughs once a week at dinner. (and who helped me move into the place where I live now which, in hindsight, I hope will go down as one of the stupidest decisions I ever made, albeit a necessary one financially). Oh, and who have the kind of relationship that I probably will never find in this lifetime if the past predicts the future.

And we were also graced by Don's presence. An amazing photographer who I know will have a show, perhaps this year, that will blow people away. He shoots photos of neon signs from Vancouver and San Fransisco and I have no doubt that if he ever does show them, they'll fly off the gallery walls. Lucky me, I'm now the proud owner of one of them thanks to his generosity.

So, when I put it that way, there is a lot to be grateful for in spite of how I've been feeling in the past month here. 

Happy Valentine's Day. I can't deny that it gets a bit old to be without a saucy little Valentine to shower with affection but the love in friendships has always proven for me to be more consistent, long-lasting and sweeter in the end.

February 10, 2010

Let the Un-Olympics begin!

Now I'm not saying that it would be possible for Olympic events to take place in every single community in Canada but out here in the Gulf Islands, it's a bit like welcome to the un-Olympics.

On Salt Spring Island, you wouldn't even know the 2010 Olympics were taking place unless you were trying to take a float plane from Ganges Harbour to Coal Harbour in Vancouver and then you'd have to go through "security". 

They've set up an airport-like security screening check-point within a bus-like structure called the Cobus Scan 3000 presumably so that the most creative thinking and ineffectual  terrorist in the world (whose flight path of attack included a Gulf Island detour) wouldn't be able to infiltrate the games I guess.

Unlike Vancouver, I don't think there is a big screen TV being set up anywhere in the community so that one could watch the events to generate some form of community enthusiasm. And, I wish there was since I gave up my TV. Olympics banners are non existent.

I'm not aware of any cultural events that have spun off as a result of the Olympics. I haven't noticed anyone wearing Olympics pins or sporting Olympic clothing. Inukshuks haven't sprouted up any more than usual in souvenir shops. I haven't even noticed that  fuzzy wuzzy creature - Quatchi -  for sale, or Sumi and Miga.

The Driftwood is beginning to put in a story a week about islanders who are doing some form of volunteering or participating in one way or another. 

And, all I'm doing is heading over to some friends' house to watch the Opening Ceremonies. I might wear the T-shirt that ZAZZLE banned when I first made it about a year ago but maybe not. Afterall, I have to admit, now that the big event is finally here, I'm a little jealous that I won't be in Vancouver, not because of the sports, but because of the energy of all those human beings converging into the city and the excitement in the air that's sure to generate.

What are you doing to celebrate the Olympics? Got tickets? Cultural Events? Clothing? Geography means that I'm an un-olympic participant  and I want to live vicariously through you! How is it affecting your life? What's different for you in Vancouver? I really want to know because I'm not there to see for myself. Tell me! Anybody?

February 08, 2010

Did you say Black Sheep?

Was out wandering around Ruckle Park yesterday and much to my surprise the fields were alive with sheep and their little lambs. I didn't know that would be the case in February. I thought it would be too early for little babies. Aren't babies supposed to arrive in the Spring?
I thought this photo was a pretty good example of the term "black sheep of the family." Nobody I know could relate to that description right? (joking)!

February 07, 2010

In the Country

This picturesque scene was taken on a friend's property on Salt Spring Island off Cranberry Road. I love the way the side of the building complements the rustic boat and the reflection of both makes the photo about a million times more interesting than it would be without the reflection.

Their property is like a mini park with Arbutus trees and rocky bluffs and their house is perched right on top of a rock overlooking a valley. In their bedroom it feels as if you have just walked into a treehouse because all you can see looking out are Arbutus branches.

A deer quietly picked it's way across the ridge backdropped by evergreens as I wandered near the pond with my camera. It was quiet, so quiet and in that quiet there was space; the kind of space I need right now after being confined too much in too many small spaces during my week.

Natural beauty communicating to the soul.

"In the wintery darkness of February, new growth is beginning to stir beneath the ground. Just as plants grow in the darkness, unnoticed, so do our souls continue to grow even though we may not see the progress, day by day. One day we will awaken and our leaves will lift out of the darkness and touch the sky."

From the book Pocketful of Miracles by Joan Boysenko.