The Thing About Red

July 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

The Purge continues.

I’ve been silent for a while in the WordPress blogosphere but that doesn’t mean I’ve fallen off the Buy-Not bandwagon.

On the contrary, it’s been almost eight months! Eight months since I stopped shopping like the duds on a runway model’s back were going out of style while she strode the Catwalk. Imagine!

My track record isn’t perfect, but I did manage to clear my Visa and balance my books – which felt stupendously liberating – and if it weren’t for Tax Time, which kicked me like a proverbial gutter rat back into the red, I’d now be enjoying beautiful solvent freedom from encultured debt and throwing all kinds of cash toward my favourite charities and future retirement. (That’s the goal anyway:)

Okay, it’s confession time: back in February I saw a red sweater in Banff that I thought would be just PERFECT for an upcoming Groupon photo shoot which I bought almost a year back. Of course, because I couldn’t buy the sweater, I wanted it even more. Yet strong-willed as I am, with all the might I could muster, I put it back on the rack and hung tough. Then my beloved boyfriend saw the anguish in my face and bought it for me anyway. I seriously doubt I’ve ever loved a sweater more.

Then March was my birthday month and Mom sent me cash to buy “something nice for myself” and didn’t this just ever-so-sweetly circumvent the game rules for my year of spending austerity?! Before I could figure out what to do with the money that wasn’t self-serving or indulgent, I spotted a red summer blouse in a Whyte Ave. boutique that spoke to me with hypnotic legalese, and, well, that was that.

I have worn it a ton, and feel devilishly unprincipled and libertine every time! Regrets, I have none, ’cause don’t you know it’s my favourite go-to blouse in my closet, and since it’s summer and I love dressing up for a dinner or drinks on the patio that’s no small, frivolous thing. ♥

And then, finally … there were the Spanish Mary Jane shoes, in April … which I fatedly set eyes on one Tuesday, when against my better judgement I accompanied my fashion-forward friend Trish on a shopping expedition for her new spring wardrobe.

Do you know what it’s like to have the image of a pair of sweet little wedges WEDGED in your brain, day-in and day-out, in the midst of a politically and morally imposed period of SHOPPING ABSTINENCE??

Needless to say, I coerced my boyfriend into being an accomplice to my iPurge transgression on the grounds that I would spend the exact same amount on him if he’d only swipe his plastic and buy me the damn pumps already!

Amused, and silent, he played along with the little ruse, and although I feel unconscionably cute in my new red shoes every time I wear them out, I do recognize that this time it was plain, old, unmitigated cheating, and I feel terrible about it. Kinda. Sorta.

But what do they say about quitting smoking? Sometimes you have to butt out a few times before you’re truly through with the filthy, addictive habit. I’m all about second tries. Practice, practice!

And besides, a girl doesn’t see shoes like that everyday. So sometimes a shopaholic diva needs to preemptively strike, make a deal with the Devil and pay penance by discarding a few pairs of shoes at home later. (For what it’s worth, I donated six or seven pairs of old summer pumps to Goodwill). So I am absolved.

Now, let go of your judgement, Dear Reader. Aren’t my shoes lovely, and won’t I just wear them for yeeeeeears to come??

But what’s with all the RED?!

A psychotherapist would have fun with that one – although it probably doesn’t take one to figure it out.

RED is a colour of passion and creativity. My favourite colour. And part of who I am, folks, is a girl who loves expressing herself through fashion, and, in case you hadn’t guessed, through words:)

It’s taken me a while to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, but now I think I’ve got it: sometimes we buy to make ourselves feel better; to fill a void, quell a loneliness, boredom or sense of inadequacy and separation.

Other times, though, it’s an honest-to-goodness well-earned reward or treat; a celebration of who we are, a way to articulate outwardly to our selves, and the world, the personality that shines within. I guess I shine red.

The real sin, anyway, I think, is not wearing what you already have. These days I can actually push hangers apart in my closet, and I truly enjoy what’s there.

So, now that I’ve cleared my conscience and survived half of my summer holidays without loading up on senseless souvenirs and succumbing to token binge shops, I am ready for the home stretch.

Yes, I fully intend to continue my iPurge until the end of 2012, and next weekend I will even be “giving back” to the Edmonton and Area garage-sale community by hosting my very own official iPurge garage sale. Come on out! I’ll be selling lots of junk and treasures cheap, so if you want to check out my hoarder’s heap ‘o’ stuff email me and I’ll send you the deets. As always, thanks for reading. It is a joy to write.

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Just dandy

May 22, 2012 § 2 Comments

This one’s for you, P.

There are thousands of ways to be happy  – and I am now convinced that there are probably infinitely more, and they all simply lie in wait behind a door with a sign on it that reads “Your Perception Here.”

How you view the world creates your reality. What you see is what you get.

So if dandelions are weeds to you, they will thrive and multiply and there’ll never be enough Round-Up to poison and rid you of the lot.

But if the sunshine-yellow heads spotting your yard are beautiful to you, for example, if you see the potential of nature’s wild flower (Taraxacum officianale) as greens for use in salads, soups, salves or other home-made recipes, they will thrive and multiply anyway, but their abundance to you, turns from noxious into nourishment.

As I kid, I used to pick dandelions and give them to boys – who threw them away. Those same boys would pick dandelions and decapitate them, singing that silly little ditty,  “Momma had a baby and its head popped off” to make us, girls, laugh. When the flowers seeded into geodesic fluff domes we all, at one time or another, made wishes, and sent them off onto the wind. And somewhere along the way, wishes became weeds.

This spring I will be harvesting lots of dandelion greens from the yard instead of paying money for them from Planet Organic, and I am saving the heads to make dandelion-infused oil, dandelion lemonade, fritters and jelly.

Happiness is realizing that some knee-jerk reality you’ve bought into, ain’t so, after all, if you don’t want it to be. There are alternate realities available out there for almost anything if you go in search of them. Just Google it, and don’t believe everything you read.

Do not under-estimate the powers of your perception and discernment to help you live in and sustain the kind of world you want. Why align with the status quo, for the sake of keeping up with the weed-killing Jones,’ when you might be happier – and healthier – otherwise?

Did you know that dandelion greens are full of vitamins A and C, contain more iron and calcium than spinach, and can improve digestion, alleviate menstrual cramps and even depression?!

From now on, I’m shopping at Nature’s Pharmacy. Who needs a drug plan when you’ve held lifetime insurance with some Greater Plan all along?

The more I challenge my perceptions the more I realize that much of our spending and striving comes from a root belief that we are not enough; that the moment and world just as they are are somehow lacking, that knowledge and knowing are in the hands of someone else, and that we must look for happiness outside of ourselves and our True Mother Nature.

This couldn’t be further from true.

Dandy, huh?

What you see is what you get.

May 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

When I was a girl I had a horrific dream that while unconscious I’d been implanted with an explosive stick. The thin filament went right through my head and stuck out my ears, like one of those giant foil candy-shaped party crackers that when pulled apart hard and fast, snap loudly and spit out a tissue-paper crown and some anti-climatic plastic toy surprise that you could play with if you could assemble it first.

If I pulled out the stick my head would explode, my captor warned me before leaving me alone. Then there I was, on a dark, humid summer night, sitting bolt upright in the passenger seat of a parked car, abandoned in some Gasoline Alley in between Georgia and Florida; my only witness, a cacophony of night critters destined for bug splatter, buzzing benignly in the yellow light of tall street lamps, and, little I, afraid of even my shadow.

I can still feel that cardboard-thin filament lodged like an oversized cotton-batting Q-tip, by a child’s wild imagination, through her small ear drums; the itch and urge to rip it out fast while no one was looking, or ever so delicately and slowly as not to trip the trap; the crazed fear of wondering if my personal terrorist was even telling the truth; and the constant numbing possibility of too sudden a move, too quick a pulse, too strained a breath, and then spontaneous self-combustion.

Do you live in fear?

Are you ruled by self-limiting, immobilizing beliefs about the world, yourself and others; ideas and notions that are not even Capital “T” true?

Modern physics is now telling us that the truth about reality, lies with perception. There exists only vast clouds of possibility and an infinite number of Universes in which any and all choices and paths can, have, and will be made and taken; in short, what you perceive, becomes your reality. So, if you think you can, or can’t, you’re right. If the world you live in is a risky, unjust or unfriendly place, it is so, only because in a series of consecutive moments a heart and mind were ruled by fears of judgment, inadequacy, separation and obliteration.

But here’s the thing: each moment is a chance to choose your reality. The world is malleable and so are you; the possibilities are endless and as finite and perceivable as your current will, whim and imaginings. The Truth is not “out there;” it is in here. In you.

I knew having your head in the clouds couldn’t be all that bad. Of all the possible places to be in the Multi-verse, at least there I’ve got no shortage of options.

The probability of rain or shine is up to you. Light and heat and moisture and cold happen, but whether you recoil or rejoice, grab an umbrella, salute the sun, dance naked, shiver in a corner, give power to dark thoughts and misery or hold love under a magnifying glass at high noon, will make or break your moment, your day – even your life.

I don’t know how that dream ended in other worlds, but in this one that thin firecracker filament lodged in my brain just slowly disappeared. My inner captor set me free. Somewhere between Here and Now, I took my beat-up Azul Matrix to a carwash, cleaned off the bug splatter and set off down a new road, watching water droplets tear away in the winds of my own making.

I do so love a good road trip.

The Blues: Reprieve

April 13, 2012 § 2 Comments

Last week I wrote this piece for my Writers Croft course:

“Anyone who knows me well, and many, no doubt, who do not, has seen me do at least one of the following: 

• arrive somewhere late or at the final hour, breathing heavily, looking agitated, sheepish or stressed out;

• upon arriving somewhere, promptly drop my head and get real busy digging around the vortex of my purse, searching intently for some ultra-important item I don’t even need.

The easy explanation for these behaviors is that I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants creative type who lives, most days, off the grid of conventional time and space; who is wrapped up in so many and varied artistic, enterprising and/or experimental pursuits to be able to consistently adhere to such common social courtesies and survival practices of the civilized world as arriving anywhere with precious time or attention to spare. 

The hard truth, is that I’ve been hiding behind the off-beat cachet of this easy explanation for a very long time. The hard, dark, arrogant, unattractive, cringeworthy truth, is that I’ve been chasing the clock, racing through halls, stairwells and corridors; dodging people and eye contact; ditching the socially awkward dance of open-ended conversations which precipitate so often during waiting moments, probably since I was old enough to go places alone.

Anyone else jive with this?

 So why publicize or draw attention to such perceived deficits in social grace? Why highlight a happiness quotient in recession? Who wants to know? And don’t such awkward or troublesome truths belong in the dust and stuffing of psychologists’ couches; in locked diaries and shadowy, hidden corners of hearts and minds? 

As a society, our cultural capital is too often a measure of our appearance, social status, bank account, membership, Facebook Newsfeed or Twitter following. Will disclosure or sharing of lacklustre leanings not give someone else a comparative edge, massage another’s ego while diminishing my own; make shiny, happy me look a little worse for wear, dull, unenlightened, pathetic or even mentally unstable?

I say: “So what?” To all of the above.

At the end of the day , do you really want to be happy, or just look like you are?

Yikes. That’s downright controversial stuff, in some circles.

Image

Here’s what I’m learning:

• The coolest people I know are comfortable (or at least look like they are) in their many, varied and shifting states of Human Beingness – which just so happens to include love/fear, light/dark, wisdom/not knowing, sanity/neuroses, balance/wobbly-pops, bliss/utterly unconscious listlessness. They accept others and circumstances as they are instead of resisting, posturing or launching battleships. Without losing themselves, they make peace with the present moment, for, to them, it is more important to be happy than right. (One of them even wears a t-shirt that says “I Don’t Know.”)

• That no one will ever be as hard on you as you.

• That laughing regularly at yourself and not taking life so seriously is probably just as good as getting sunshine, eight hours rest and taking your multivitamins, and it’s either something you were born with, or the most important skill you’ll ever learn;

• That I am tired. Of watching the shiny, bright veneer that my ego built, crumble; of fearing that today will be the day that I am revealed as a fraud; of choosing drama, consumerism, road rage or emotional self-battery over conscious communication, unmitigated self-inquiry, radical acceptance and enlightened non-spending. It would be so much easier to go shopping, buy some new shoes, get a pedicure, go for pints, build a case, ignore the signs or hide in plain view.

• That when I am happy, I can easily embrace myself as a spiritual being. But when I am unhappy, and have travelled light-years away to shadowy places, I often forget that I am that same spiritual being, whole and intact, who is just temporarily residing in anti-gravity, on the Dark Side of the Moon.

This reminds me of that Old Cherokee Tale of Two Wolves I recently heard again:

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life.

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil; he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good; he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. This same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather which wolf will win? The old Cherokee simply replied, the one you feed.

Here’s the thing: We all have two wolves inside of us. Deny this reality in the name of pride, politics or appearances, and you feed the wrong wolf. Face the bitter-sweet dichotomy of our complex human experience, here on Earth, and there are still two wolves, but one drops down to a slinking Size Six. The other is a comfortable Size You.

May we experience the truth of our Yin/Yang nature from a place of forgiveness, surrender and more raucous deep-down childlike belly laughter. For isn’t there inherent humour in the angst of growing up in the midst of a Self-Help Revolution? I mean, didn’t we learn anything from the free loving ’60s & ’70s?

All We Need is Love, “a little help from our friends” … and a window-seat view on the Peace Train, back to Here and Now – where nothing is perfect, but everything and everyone are exactly as they need to be. Quite imperfectly.

Monsters in my Closet?

February 15, 2012 § 3 Comments

It’s been two months since my last shop.

I went cold turkey just in time for Christmas. Didn’t do the old, “one for you, one for me” narcissist-waltz through the mall; and it felt good, focusing on others, not being so selfish.

I don’t need anything new, for a long while. If I gave it some thought, I could probably recount each beloved piece of clothing I’ve ever worn until it was holey.

I don’t know whether to feel more lucky or ashamed of the abundant excess surrounding me, and wonder what true purpose it all serves. A purge is definitely in order, and each curtailing, each temptation resisted, is a choice of scarcity that, strangely, fills me with great satisfaction and abundance. I can wear that proudly.

I want to remember what it feels like, to love and live in something until its frayed, faded and worn out; to deeply yearn, and sadly part ways, with a piece of my self identity that can no longer serve me.

Elbow and knee patches are not a Burberry invention or a reclaimed streetwear fashion trend. They were grandma’s way of extending the life of a pair of work trousers or a classic tweed blazer because replacing them was simply not an option.

I have a pair of jeans; well, I had a pair of jeans, folded up in the closet. Strange as it may sound, I loved them so. They were Seven For All Mankind designers, and I wore them until the crotch ripped; then I took them to the tailor to have them mended. Again, I wore them until the inseam denim thinned and gave way. And still, I could not trash them. They were lovingly folded and saved for years; for what, I don’t know. Two months ago, as I filled six black garbage bags of old clothes destined for Goodwill, I threw them away.

I sometimes think of them, miss them, and wonder, what is in a well-loved pair of jeans that fades so slowly?

My iPurge campaign began in early December, and continues. I will not buy any new clothing in 2012. In fact, if it’s not “nourishing” or “educational” I’m not buying, period.

Too much of my life has been a consumer’s love affair with having. It is time to have not, and see what remains.

Interestingly, when I pulled the plug on buying I instantly began enjoying what I did have in my closet more. And just to clarify, I still have one large walk-in jam-packed with apparel; all the “keepers” that express my classy, sporty, whimsical, urban, asymmetrical, high-quality fashion sensibility to the world.

Day by day, as I skip past the women’s Joe clothing section at Superstore and avoid the mall, I crave the endorphins, released by the next great purchase, less; a chronic, old burden of inadequacy and discontent is uncovered, and starts to lift as I give myself permission to be fulfilled; yes, happy.

I know I was just a kid, but I cringe to recall so many seasons of back-to-school shopping with my mom in the ’80s. I wanted, felt I deserved, or maybe simply didn’t question the dollars and hard work and endless giving by my parents. A spoiled brat was I, who wanted one new outfit for each day of the first week of school. Seriously! Wearing the same thing twice was not cool in my books, and even as a pre-pubescent child I was a Material Girl in the making, carefully constructing my identity, preening and packaging myself to ensure my highest possible pecking order in the school yard.

It was not a life of hard knocks; I had no sense of other people’s scarcity or suffering; I was, simply, sadly, not interested in playing with those children. Does that make me evil?

How do we un-learn our fear-based societal conditioning, yuppy tendencies and primal instincts? I am purging to find out. Month Three – wish me luck.

Happy Days

October 14, 2011 § 1 Comment

There are 1000s of ways to be happy, and in the past few months I’ve experienced so many  that I’ve simply lost count.

Here’s my Top 10 list of things I’m grateful for, in no particular order:

1. My amazing family and friends in Ontario and Edmonton.

2. My new roommate, Marti.

3. Our love-filled home and sanctuary.

4. My yoga practice – learning about Anusara and the dervish delight of energetic unwinding.

5. My writing practice.

6. The recent reunion with my former high school English teacher, Mr. Marmorek – Peter. I’m currently taking an online writing course with him to create the time and space for a new book I want to write.

7. The autumn – a time of year when cool mornings, crunchy leaves, harvest moons and herbal tea late at night soothe and sing to my soul.

8. Ashley. Ash: You are such an amazing, unexpected gift in my life. I was happy just doing my thang, and you showed up and made it even better. Your energy and love are like chlorophyll in my veins on an empty stomach …. random, cool photo ops on an spontaneous unplanned road trip … Chamomile tea after the day’s done … side-sleeper pillow talk … itsy-bitsy kittens with big, all-seeing eyes … wordless conversations in the language of light.

9. Angel, Bear … and wee ‘murf.

10. The Knowing that says “Stay open, fear not, love a lot; that’s it.”

Here’s what I’ve learned in recent months: We are survivors, warriors, torch-bearers, intelligent and sorted pieces of a divine, huuuuge puzzle, just piecing our way back together, remembering how to be whole.

On Wednesday morning, Spirit whispered in my ear:

“There’s nothing – and yet everything – cosmic about love. See not with your mind or your heart, but from within the ever-expandable field where two become something even greater: one. Don’t be fooled. Less is more.”

And, evidently He/She wasn’t talking about credit card limits while shopping in New York.

The spirit, dwelling within me, and of me, continued: “In my divine’s eye, the answer I see, is not You and Me; but We. Together is the route, the destination point, the origin. And you know the way; don’t ever doubt it. Fear not, love often. If you get lost, just listen for Om.”

Flowing with Flow

August 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

Among the 1000s of Ways to be Happy, here are a few – from my vacation, so far:

1. Dipping my newly pedi’d toes in mom & dad’s backyard fountain. Ahh, how cool water cleanses …

2. Photographing water bubbles, autumn leaves, swimming algae, rocks … and more rocks … on Lake Ontari-ari-o;

3. Hangin’ with a bunch of awesome ladies at The Canadian Cancer Society’s women’s cancers fund-raiser, Hope and the City, at Zu Bar in Burlington, ON;

4. Visiting my friends Bry & Carrie and their little sweet pea, Airlie Leah Jones:

5. Yoga on the rocks on the shores of downtown Oakville;

6. Afternoon patio lunch meeting with my friend and client, Rob Price, working on edits and ideas for his irreverent blog, Bob’s Etiquettes … to be published in book form in Summer of 2012! Seriously cool;

7. Downtown Oakville squirrels, shamelessly dining on Garbage Day detritus … ergo delights;

8. Blueberry Cheesecake French Toast Casserole. Found the sin-less little recipe in Clean Eating Magazine. It was love at first bite:

9. Family time with Rod, Dad, Suz, Mom – and Misha;

10. This beautiful day – may I flow with it, and be free from attachments, longing, and – always – loving. Grace first. No matter.

Epi-blog: Yoga Deck Play

11. Holy-sh%*-I-can-do-it!-asana … but how did my arms get sooooo much more tanned than my legs?!

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