Another Year…


 

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My birthday is fast approaching.  Next Wednesday I’ll celebrate fifty-nine years!

In a conversation with my daughter last night we discussed age.  While some may say that 59 years of age is old…it doesn’t ‘feel’ that way.  What an odd way to describe our age though as how we feel?

I will always feel the wonder of this world that I inhabit.  Despite all the mess currently going on regarding the politics of our time, this planet of ours is so much bigger and wondrous than we’ll every be.

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We are not all that nice to each other or to our Earth at times, are we?

On Wednesday here in BC we will celebrate not only someone’s birthday but also Pink Shirt Day which is an initiative against bullying.

The theme this year “Make Nice”.

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I’d like to take that challenge a bit further and just ask everyone to practice kindness on a daily basis.

It isn’t easy.

Still the benefits so outweigh the difficulty of dealing with our anger and not projecting it elsewhere.   And if someone is hurting ask if they’d like to talk.

Listening is one the best skills any of us can have.  I have been working on this in a big way.

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Since joining a local Toastmasters chapter a year and half ago my listening skills have increased ten fold.  Still, there is always room for improvement and always will be.

We just passed Valentines Day.  At our Toastmasters meeting we were all asked to say one word that describes what love  means to  us.

After the fact I thought about this quite a bit.  How could one word define love?

And this is what struck me just before falling to sleep a few nights back.

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Love = Freedom

 

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Hate = Fear

Freedom is expansive…it encompasses so much!  Embrace freedom and surrender to a loving heart!

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Kindness matters…always!

 

 

 

 

 

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Democracy…Tell Me What It Means To You!


I have provided the links to an article that was written by Gwynne Dyer back in July 2016 and also of a recent lecture he gave at the University of Regina.

After one week in office President Trump has moved in a frightening direction.

In Trump’s head its okay to tear up trade agreements and insist that all the jobs that have been lost in the U.S. due to out-sourcing and immigration.

Now President Trump thinks himself quite the business man as well.  If this were true then he would surely know that how we do business worldwide has changed as dramatically as it has due to technology in the last 25 years or so and not the out-sourcing that has gone on and certainly not by people immigrating to North America.

In fact having people move to North America has in fact assisted in the growth of our economy here in Canada and in the U.S. as well.  This is a proven fact and Canada has displayed this time and again.

Canada does indeed have her issues, still there is an awareness to do better and to grow as a collective.

I would encourage anyone who is reading this post to please take the time to watch the lecture which is close to two hours in length and read some of Mr. Dyer’s articles.  It is well worth it.

I have also provided standard definitions for democracy and dictatorship.

One of the things that is truly frightening is Trump’s desire to ‘control’ the internet.

Freedom to information is difficult enough and in these times our best defense is to stay informed of the facts and not the hype that Trump is spewing.

Let’s go about our daily lives informed and united.

Peace!

What does democracy mean?

1.government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.

2.a state having such a form of government

3.a state of society characterized by formal equality of rights and privileges; common people of a community as distinguished from any privileged class; the common people with respect to their political power.

Dictatorship

1.  a country, government, or the form of government in which absolute power is exercised by a dictator.
2.  absolute, imperious, or overbearing power or control.
The above are the dictionary definitions of what democracy and dictatorship mean.

A Truth


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Sunset in Steveston

I sit before this screen thinking about the things I’d like to talk about.  The rush of ideas come fast and furious.  I could surely wax poetic on any number of things; I could rant on any number of issues as well.  There are injustices a plenty that I could champion.

The screen remains empty.

I make my breakfast and pour another cup of coffee.  I gaze out the window at a frozen world.  It’s beautiful.

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The view from my home on Dec 26, 2016

I’m wrapping up a challenging year that was preceded by a few tough years.  I was asked a question at dinner with friends last night ‘What did you take from those experiences, what did you learn?’

Now this was in reference to my bout with cancer and the treatment provided.  It could well apply to the vehicle accident that followed as well.

I responded that we need to ask questions and be kind to ourselves.  And indeed we do. The question remains though.  ‘What did I learn from this?’

And the screen, while I’ve jotted down these thoughts, no answer is readily coming.

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Vancouver from the Ferry in September 2016

I entered 2016 in the metaphorical darkness of depression.  I had felt the all too familiar slide begin.  In truth, I’d been fighting this for quite some time.  2015 had begun with promise.

I was working out with a trainer and running with my group again wanting to take back my health after the cancer thing .  The vehicle accident kibosh-ed my progress.  The pipes in my building flat lined and the building had to be re-piped. For 3 months no hot water. I was attending physiotherapy and the bills began to mount.

My job was stressful yet I kept at it.  Despite the pain, despite the overwhelming cost to fix our building I was beginning to slip.  I’ve never experienced a back injury before and physically my condition was not improving.  I would try to do things, but just walking was an agonizing thing at times.

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A moon to remember

I was living with pain daily.  I wasn’t sleeping.  And I was still recovering from the effects of chemo and radiation.

‘What did I learn from all of this?’

Still an empty screen to this question.

Fear crept in.  Was I going to lose everything I’d worked so hard for?  In many ways I felt completely impotent regarding the direction my life was going.

Did I talk about any of this with anybody?  No.

In my mind, to give it voice would give these feelings validity.  I was in denial.  My financial safety net was gone to the renovations in my building.

I then lost my job.

The quicksand I call depression was pulling me, enveloping me…my strength was gone.

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Sunset December 2016 in Steveston

All of the avenues I’d been exploring…meditation, energy healing, etc. were no longer viable options for me. My head and heart weren’t there.  I was in that all too familiar dark place.

In 2016 I sold my place and recovered some of my costs, though I still have debt, it is now manageable.

I found a condo that is now more of a home than my previous place.  I found another job which I really like.

And a few months back I emerged from the mantle of depression.

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What have I learned from all this?

Perhaps this is an ongoing lesson.  Perhaps the answer has many layers to it.

One thing though, despite the darkness I appreciated and admired every morning that I’ve been graced with.

I still stop and stand in awe of a luminous moon rise and always let those who I’ve been so blessed to have in my life know it.

And I will never give up on myself.  I will never give in to the pain of the past.

There is a balance between the dark and the light that must be found and met.

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I will focus on wellness in 2017.  I will ask for the help that I do in fact need and look to heal and strength my person.

Happy New Year to everyone.

Peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Human Touch


I met a friend for dinner this evening.  We met after work down at Kits Beach at The Boathouse Restaurant.  Jayne and I always have great discussions.

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I mentioned that I’d been downtown shopping a couple of weeks ago and I had seen the ‘Free Hug’ people in front of the London Drugs at Granville & Georgia St.  I told her how I stood waiting for the light to change, my spirit feeling  considerably  lighter at the idea of a stranger willing  to put their arms around me and share a moment.  I told her that I simply opened my arms and was hugged first by the woman and then by the man.  hug 2

I was surprised she’d never heard of this.  It has been in Vancouver for quite some time now.

Just an act of kindness and a moment shared through human touch.

There is something so intrinsically beautiful and simple in this act. As we parted ways and I made my way home through the streets of Vancouver to the North Shore where my daughter lives, I got to thinking about the people that touch our lives on a daily basis.

I thought of the friends I have, the jobs I’ve held and those who have entered my life and left leaving lasting impressions.

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I thought of people from my past that I’d tried to please who seemingly caused me to bleed the energy from my soul and wondered why I had given this so freely?

Truth is I wanted, craved, desired, needed the basic interaction of human touch.  To feel genuine caring and to feel loved.

I think we all do.  And every once in a while getting that ‘Free Hug’ reminds me that I’m not alone and that I do belong to the collective known as the human race.

Namaste.

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.

 

 

 

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.