Guns, Guns & More Guns?


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I’ve voiced my opinion on the whole luv-a-affair Americans have with their guns a few times..

And I just don’t get it.

You claim to value life, yet mass shootings have become commonplace in your country.   After the Orlando shootings the reports that came out were poorly researched and  somewhat sensationalized as a ‘terrorist’ attack.

And despite the fact to the contrary it is still being sold as a terrorist attack.

The individual responsible was in fact an American.  Born and raised in New York with a license to carry a concealed weapon as he had been working as an armed security officer for some time.  Apparently a background check was done back in 2013.  I’m not sure what that entails but from what we have come to know he was an abusive individual with severe emotional issues.  Because he was of middle-eastern descent, it was assumed he was a ‘terrorist’.

New York_1 324The Occupy NY movement in Timesquare, Sept 2011, photo taken by N. Pilling

The tragedy that occurred has once again brought up the all too familiar issues surrounding gun control.

They cannot even get a bill struck down that will allow them to study gun violence!

‘Former Rep. Jay Dickey of Arkansas authored an amendment that restricted funding for research into gun violence and its effects on public health. Dickey tells Steve Inskeep he now has deep regrets.’

For the entire interview the link is below.

http://www.npr.org/2015/10/09/447098666/ex-rep-dickey-regrets-restrictive-law-on-gun-violence-research

Four days after the Orlando tragedy, they tried to again just have this clause removed.  They just want increased funding to study it!!!  It would seem the NRA has a stronghold, however, and it was shot down in a heartbeat.

Pun intended!

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Shops in New Westminster, BC  Canada step up to show their support during Pride, photo by N. Pilling

I just watched an interview with Chris W. Cox who is at the top of management in the NRA’s organization.  According to Mr. Cox, guns are not the problem. It is the ‘radical Islamic terrorists’ that are the problem.  It is the government that is the problem.  Americans have a God given right to defend themselves.   This phrase caught my attention.

Let me ask Mr. Cox this.  Should all of us not have the right to protect ourselves under the eyes of God?

Are we not, according to any number of religions around the world,  of one God?  Yes, the prerogatives of ‘God’ seems to have been lost in translation as well.

Chris Cox states that restricting the type of weapons Americans can purchase has been tried.  I find it really difficult to listen to this kind of rhetoric.

I live in Canada where we do have gun control.  I’d like to see it toughened up even more though.  I completely understand those that live in the rural regions of our country may very well require shot guns and some high powered rifles.  They come into contact with animals in the wild far more frequently, and if they have livestock then they need to be able to protect.

I get that totally.

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Timesquare, New York, NY  Sept 2011, photo by N. Pilling

What I don’t understand, will never understand is why any person living in an apparent civilized society needs to be in possession of military grade weapons that can mow down a room full of people in a few minutes.

When the 2nd Amendment was enshrined in your constitution back in the 1790’s, just six guns made worldwide in the 1700’s.

1717 – Charleville Musket/ Muzzle loading Musket – France
1720 – Blunderbus/ short ranged musket – Netherlands
1722 – Land Pattern Musket (Brown Bess) – Britain
1730 – Kentucky Rifle/ Muzzle loading Musket – U.S.
1750 – Sea Service Pistol (Flintlock Pistol) – Britain
1795 – Harpers Ferry / Springfield Model Musket – U.S

The other popular weapon of the day was the cross-bow, and while they were effective, guns provided a higher degree of accuracy.

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Taken in New Westminster, BC, Canada in support of Pride, photo by N. Pilling

‘The Second Amendment was based partially on the right to keep and bear arms in English common law and was influenced by the English Bill of Rights of 1689. Sir William Blackstone described this right as an auxiliary right, supporting the natural rights of self-defense, resistance to oppression, and the civic duty to act in concert in defense of the state.[8]

Well, it is safe to say that guns have evolved.  I have to wonder if the forefathers of America would have put this in place had they known the impact it has had on their country.

What I would like to know is why my American neighbors feel their rights are being infringed upon by being restricted from purchasing guns of this magnitude?   The ones of military grad.

If they want a gun, why can they not be content with a hand gun or a rifle?  Regular rounds…whatever that may be. Six or something like that?

It almost smacks of paranoia that Americans are falling over each other to add to their arsenal.

I feel a sadness for my neighbors as I don’t know what it is like to live in fear that I will be attacked or hurt at any given time on a daily basis.

Once again to the families and friends who lost there loved ones in this senseless act I offer my prayers and condolences.

Peace.

 

 

 

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Letting Go…Just a Thought


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Vancouver from the top of Grouse Mountain

I have spent a lifetime learning from my mistakes and continue to do so.  Technically I should be a genius at this point as I’ve puzzled my way through the same dilemmas time after time after….

How is it that I continue to make the same the mistakes, yet I try to reason through them in variations that are if nothing else, inventive?

What is it then that brings me back to issues that cloud my judgement?

What is it that causes the fine mass between my ears to suddenly go on autopilot and slip into ‘auto-destruct’ mode.  It is these recriminations that I invite back into my life seemingly unaware.

(This message will self-destruct in 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1).

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I find the solution with seconds to spare only to wonder how I found myself in that particular situation….again!

Trying to isolate the brain patterns responsible and re-wire the cognitive functions around how I act and re-act to the infinite possibilities this life offers is an ongoing mission.

For the moment, I’m going to try and just let go.  Identify a negative pattern then release it from my being.

Funny, I don’t even know if that is possible.  But hey, why not give it a whirl?

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In A Nutshell….


 

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May the 9th as evolved as rather significant date in my life reaping various challenges upon me.

I’d been successful in selling my condo and was now on the hunt for new digs.

The last few years have been tough in many ways physically, emotionally and its been hard financially as well.

Seven years ago on May 9, 2010 I ran the Sun Run which is a 10 km race in Vancouver. Crossing the finish line had a profound effect on me.  I had also just purchased my first home!

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My focus became my health and well being.  I decided it was time to tackle all the issues that had plagued me for a lifetime.  I got back into running in a big way and decided it was time to dive into my passions and bring them to the forefront.  I pursued writing and photography with a rabid hunger.

For the first time in my life I was really letting myself search my potential and even more so I was building upon it.

A book was in the works, I had joined writing groups, I’d taken a photography class and had found some shutterbugs to roam the streets with.  And I was working on some emotionally deep issues as well.

Emotionally I was sideways for a time.  Dealing with repressed issues was a strange balance between how I was and how I am now and putting them together to become the person I wanted to be.

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People came into my life offering direction and guidance.  And I was actually asking for help, in a round about way.

The introvert was becoming an extrovert.  Still I was pretty rough around the edges.  The emotional aspects were hard to express as I was living through it and not certain about any of it.

As the emotional storm began to settle health issues began to arise.  The first was the heart issue.  I had a stent put in and carried on. I was encouraged to keep running, to keep hitting the gym which I did.  After being on blood thinners for a year and getting the all clear on my health  I decided to treat myself to the BMO 1/2 Marathon.

Halfway through training I began to falter, however, I ran the 1/2 Marathon on May 5, 2013.

Four days later on May 9, 2013 I discovered I had uterine cancer.  So came surgery and treatment.  I worked through all of it, however, my performance at work was impacted as chemo can do a number on you.  Six months after treatment was complete I was terminated and given 5 weeks notice after 5 1/2 years on the job.

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A personality conflict with one of the partners was sited.  The partner in question was a rude, cold individual who commented continually on my shortcomings during cancer treatment. In layman’s terms .  An asshole.

I found another job within 3 weeks.  Better pay and full benefits!

Some things, however, are not as they seem.  While I initially thought this was the job I’d been looking for, it became anything but that.

Working with an antiquated computer system, and this was new industry for me, I walked into the worst mess I’ve seen.  There had been no accountant in the position for 4 months prior.  This had not been disclosed.

The promise of a new computer system that would be implemented within three months of my start date never happened and has still not occurred.

I’m either a fool or a trooper, perhaps a bit of both, but I dove into it, despite the fact that chemo still had me a little foggy.  Perhaps that’s why I jumped in the way I did.

I worked hard.  Really hard.  Too hard.  Rebuilding a company that was in serious relapse with its clients and vendors, restoring the relations necessary to do business in a manner that is balanced and productive.  I worked along side two women who were exceptional and assisted in my efforts in every way.

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In the New Year I headed to Vegas to visit a friend.  A vehicle accident occurred.  My car was totaled.

I thought I’d be fine.  I wasn’t.  As the months passed my neck and back were like a vise.

If my ability to remain focused had been a little challenged before now it was painfully so.  Still I toughed it out.  Didn’t take any time off as felt I could not.  With dogged determination I muscled through.  Working with a DOS based program requires you to think about applications differently as well.

Yet I did.

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I was so close to having the whole thing brought up to date, so close to having all the checks and balances back in place, so close to completing what had at first seemed impossible when I was unceremoniously released from my employment contract.

This I didn’t see coming.

The other major issue for 2015 was the re-piping of my condo building.  Twelve of the forty-seven units lost their hot water for three months.  Mine was one of the units.  The cost escalated to a ridiculous rate.  I cleaned out my RSP and savings to pay for it.

2015 was a year where I felt that I was running up hill the entire year but not really moving.

In 2014 I’d started my own publishing company in early 2015 I’d released my book, however, with the chaos occurring in my life from the accident and the building repairs I thought it might be best to focus on marketing it later.

I’m nothing if not resourceful.  Unable to run or hit the gym…and spending far too much time at physio I thought it may be prudent to build on my public speaking skills.

In effect I had none.  So I joined my local Toastmasters to work on that aspect of self.  2015 was a tough year.  Depression reared its ugly head and as the year closed out I found myself unemployed and feeling desperate.

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I had worked so hard and now it felt like everything was starting to slip away.  I had made some poor decisions.  Shopping sprees that were ongoing for a time.  Purchases of $300 in perfume that kind of thing.  This is simply a reaction, an echo.  It is not who I am.

Still, I found a job.  And I like this one.  I really like it.  The fit is good.

I assessed my situation.  The building was completed, I had my place painted and put it on the market.

And as stated I was successful with the sale and on May 9th, 2016 I found a new place!

A little rough around the edges, like me.  I would make the space a beautiful one.  I would make it a home.

In January I had renewed my mortgage and discussed the plan to sell with my mortgage specialist, who is fabulous.  He set the mortgage up to be  portable.  All was good.

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So when the call came that Canadian Housing Mortgage Corp. had pulled out, that I could not get financing…I spent last Wednesday evening in a very dark place.

What had I done wrong here?   Was I going to lose everything again?

I had never missed a payment.  Never defaulted on anything.  Still I no longer had the safety net of my RSP and my savings had been depleted.

The point of all of this was to regain control of a situation that could well get out of control.

The following day I was resigned to the fact that it would be back to renting. My boss asked how I was doing with everything and I told him it looked liked I would be renting once more.  His response would goad me back into action.  “So…you’re just going to give up?”

Calls were made, bank managers were contacted.  My mortgage guy went back to it and put it on the table.  My realtor got an extension on the subjects being removed.  Again it came as ‘No’ on Friday morning.

Well, that’s it then.  I felt defeated, deflated, abandoned.

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I wanted an explanation.  Not the debt ratio where I was three percent out of what CMHC considered acceptable.  I was not going to go out quietly.

Someone was deciding my fate without knowing how hard I’d worked to get here.  Someone was looking at numbers, nothing more.  Someone who didn’t know the hardships I’ve overcome to get to this point.

I picked up the phone.  Then they at least had to know who they were saying ‘No’ to I decided.

The first fellow tried in vain to curtail my attempts to take this further.

Not once did I swear or raise my voice, though at times the emotions caused me to have a higher pitch. I insisted that I need to speak to a manager and was put on hold, a few times.

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Finally he put me through to Joanne who had been dealing with my file from the get go.  She did not want to talk to me.

I was not about to drag it out, I just wanted her to know what a tough year I’d had and that I was doing the right thing by taking the actions I had.  She spouted privacy laws, she could only speak with the lender, not the person whose life her decision was affecting.

The debt ratio came up.  She had laws to abide by.  Had I broken a law here?  No.  Why was her organization pulling the plug when they had renewed my mortgage for 5 years just a few short months ago?  The debt had been there then as well.  It had been made portable for the very reason we were here today.

And damn!  I’m so proud of how I relayed my message on Friday.  With calm determination I wanted her to know that I was not a number.  I’d made mistakes, yes.  I’d had a tough year, but I’d paid for everything.  I was taking care of everything in a responsible way.  Why was I being cut short here?  You are telling me that a three percentage point is going to alter my life?

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Joanne would tell me nothing due to ‘privacy’ laws.  I requested then that she contact my lender and provide an answer to my inquiries.  I didn’t want to hear about debt ratio.

With the money laundering that is currently going in the real estate market…well, I won’t go there.

I think Kenny cringed a bit when he received the message from Joanne.  She wasn’t happy.  Still this had been an action I’d taken on my own.  Kenny called me.  He was going to try one more thing.

Collectively we held our breathes.

I was so very grateful to my boss and his father for encouraging me not to give up.  I was so thankful that I had the  mortgage and realtor guys that I do in my corner.

At 7:30 pm I got the call.

I was approved.

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I’ve learned a great deal through this experience.  I made many assumptions prior to beginning this exercise of buying and selling.  This time I got my happy ending.

Now begins a new chapter. This time out I am whole, complete.  This time I will reach for the stars and I’ll get there.

Just watch me.

Namaste.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Full Circle


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Do we move in circles and dream in colour?

I know I do.

The past couple of years have challenged me on virtually every level.  In 2010 I took on the greatest transition of my life and that was to accept myself as whole.  It would take me up until about a month ago to realize I’d been successful in this endeavour.

I also realized it doesn’t stop there.

There is so much more depth, so much more life, so much more everything.

Then the health issues arose

The heart issues made me feel vulnerable and frail.

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The Cancer?

Well this made me feel as though I’d been invaded.  And the treatment of it made me feel ugly.  I felt as if the beautiful soul I was discovering slipped from my sight back into the abyss of my subconscious.

I began once again to have the doubts I’ve lived a lifetime with and as per usual, I hid what I was feeling and I hid it very well.

I was recovering from the brutality of the cancer treatment, running again, taking back my health when the accident occurred.

It felt like a kick…

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Last year was tough.  Really tough.  I’d released my book but found myself unable to concentrate on the game plan to market it.

The building I live in needed to be re-piped and this was costly.

The cement blocks of depression moved in once again making everything in my life feel unbearably heavy.

And fear.  Always at the edge of my ego waiting to blossom if it gets the chance.

I didn’t listen to my body insisting that it needed for me to take a break.  Unfortunately that has been a hard lesson to learn for me.

I took a week off after my heart procedure in 2011.  I took two weeks off after having a full hysterectomy (uterine cancer) 2013 and the only took the days off that I was in a chemo session.

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I took no time off after the accident.

Why?  Well that’s fear for you.  It comes in all forms.  I was afraid to slow down and deviate from all the projects and social events I was attending.  I was afraid to tell my workplace that I couldn’t concentrate.  I was terrified when I was enveloped by the ‘chemo fog’ that I would never get the recall I once had that had been instrumental to my success thus far in this life.

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Today I feel a calm I’ve not felt in a very long time.  I’m releasing the anxiety that has bound me.  What will be, will be. I’m trying to find that presence of mind and balance.  Health issues are still being determined.

But I feel good.  And I know that I’ll be okay.  I don’t know how…I just do.  I won’t fret about tomorrow or be anguished about my past.  I only have this moment.  Why should I expect anything else?

Namaste.

 

 

 

Silver Linings


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I am a person who will experience an epiphany and suddenly the whole world and my existence in it makes perfect sense.  Yet as quickly as the insight arrived it sinks faster than the Titanic back into the abyss of my subconscious.  And for me it is a shadow that I will try to pursue, try to recover and analyze.

Usually I have no idea what I’m doing or what I’m trying to discover.  And I just realized that is one of the absolute joys in living this life.

Being open and present.

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I would like to say that I’m open to new ideologies. new thoughts, however, I really don’t think there is anything really new about much of the information that draws me in.   The thing that changes is perspective.  Of how we see something, of how we regard our place in this world and participate in it.

For example, back in the day…way, way back human sacrifice to the Gods was acceptable and considered necessary.  The idea of having angry Gods was a frightening factor no doubt.

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And I often have these questions that creep into my mind’s eye regarding our existence.  How is it that we came to chart the stars?  How is it that we came to understand that they would never change and guide us on midnight journeys across foreign lands and oceans?

Back in 1632 Galileo would be tried and found guilty of heresy regarding his findings that the Earth was in fact circular and orbited around the Sun.

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And mathematics has had a long history in this world and just as I ponder how the written word came into being I too wonder how it is that the science of math began its journey as well.  I would think some of the first measurements would have been made by our own appendages of fingers, feet and hands.   Of course cycles such as daily, monthly, seasonal and birthing became recognized.

But how is it that someone decided they wanted to measure the speed of light from one star system to our own?

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Unfortunately a lot of information has been destroyed and lost to us over the millenniums.  And there is apparently information that the powers that be feel we should not be privy to.

I look for the silver linings in pretty much everything.  There is always a lesson to be learned or a fascinating piece of knowledge tucked away.

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If I rise each day with the idea that I’m open to learning, open to discovering more of what constitutes life and its infinite layers then this is a good thing.  And while I know that life has the bookends of birth and death…it is the fabric in between that we weave that fascinates and humbles me.

Namaste.

 

 

 

F*!*k the Economy!


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What is it about this God we call the economy that drives us to worship and follow it blindly.

Big business is tearing across this planet sucking every viable resource it can take to process and sell it to us in any number of ways.

The economy dictates that this be doen.

I can’t help but wonder what happened.  In my lifetime I’ve watched the economy take hold and alter how we live completely.  The industrial, then the technological revolution have had us running on the hamster wheel at breakneck speeds far too long.

Somethings gotta give.

What happened to our values?

I was born and raised in Vancouver.  I now live in New Westminster which is about a 15 minute drive from the city.  I can’t afford to live there any longer and  I certainly couldn’t purchase a home in Vancouver proper.  90% of the houses in Vancouver are currently well over a million dollars.

Condos are crazy expensive as well.

I have lived and worked in pretty much every corner of the lower mainland (aka Greater Vancouver Regional District) at some point in my life.  This beast called development has devoured Vancouver proper and is now beginning to spread its tentacles on the march  to the suburbs.

Towers, towers, and more condo towers are going on up!  Ten are slated in downtown New Westminster currently.  Five have begun construction.

And in truth much of the white hot market is being driven from off-shore buyers, namely Asian consumers.  Governments on every level state insist they have no way of determining how much of the market is being driven by off-shore purchasing here in British Columbia.

That, quite frankly, is bullshit. In a world with technology such as it is can surely determine  who is buying the properties here in Vancouver and where they live.

The trickle down effect has been devastating.  Seniors cannot afford to live in their homes.  Energy costs have skyrocketed.  People are making the choice between paying their utility bills or feeding themselves.

Rents are extreme and the rental market has deteriorated.

Daycare costs are insane.

The Employment Standards Act has been decimated.  A part-time worker here in BC has virtually no rights on the job.

Everything that generations before worked for, fought for is being dismissed rather handily by government officials of the day.  Gotta feed the economy.  Gotta create jobs.  Gotta inspire people to spend, spend, spend!

We need to change how we do business.  We need to change the concept of profit.

We need to consider what our individual footprint is on this world of ours.

I go to work in the morning and pass house that are 4,000 sq. ft and bigger.   I wonder who lives in these homes?  I never ever see lights on.  On occasion I’ve seen vehicles and a person or two. Do they work there or live there?

What happened to us?

 

An Epiphany…of Sorts


 

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Dyke Rd. in Richmond, BC  Feb. 16, 2016

 

I’ve been absent from this forum.  I know.

Yet surely you’ve experienced those moments when a thousand words fought for a voice within you.  Thoughts and ideas raced at break-neck speed wanting to take shape yet you kept them in the shadows.

I’ve been in that mind set as of late.

Writing projects, good ones, halted.  Why?  I don’t know.

I’m filling up my schedule.  More demands.  More commitments.  More challenges.  Why?  I don’t know.

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I stare at the screen and type a few words then question their meaning.  Why?  I don’t know.

Direction and balance are the things that I’m seeking.  And while I understand, to some degree why, I can say I really am not certain where to go from here.

A year ago I released my book.  And I am so proud and humbled by this achievement.  The last year was a tough one though.  An vehicle accident messed up my back and a work situation became intolerable as a result.

Agony.  It is nothing new.

Why then did I simply accept it as fact?

Change came as it must.

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Am I trying to organize my life too much?  Perhaps.

What I must distinguish is the things that I can influence and the things that I can only pray and hope will change.  Then I need to point myself in the right direction.

And that, my friends, is the $64,000 dollar question. Which way?

The rain is falling.  Been raining a lot as of late.

And I want, I need…

So many things, so many patches have covered this makeshift heart of mine that simply loves and expands.

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Mornings find me buying Tom (our local schizophrenic) his coffee then searching for the sunrise.

I drive past absurd estates in Richmond on my way to work then find myself driving along the rivers edge.

Herons, Eagles, Seagulls, Crows, etc. fly in uniform.

And always I’m treated to and blessed by the differences that each day offers.

Photographs are taken as I take in the beauty and challenge of each day.

And I wish…God knows, I wish…

Never say ‘what if?’

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Every once in a while though, I say just that.

I’m still here.  Still looking at this world each day with wonder, still wanting, still needing, still hoping…