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The End Has Come

December 31st, 2006 | 1 Comment | Posted in visualization

… the end of 2006, that is. Welp, today is the last day of 2006. I suppose it is time for a small recap, and resolutions list, and all that good, sappy stuff that people usually do with the ending of a year.

Yesterday, to ring in the new year, and leave behind the old, Dave and I went to a First Nations-type sweat lodge in Vancouver. It was 10 degrees outside, and about 110 degrees inside the sweat lodge. :P We started outside, around a fire. There were 22 of us altogether (the magic number, coincidentally). We each took a pinch of tobacco, held it in the palm of our hand, and meditated for a brief couple of seconds on what we want to let go of in 2006. The leader said it could be something specific, or it could be something in general.

I chose something specific. I concentrated on letting go of my anger towards someone in particular.

And then I threw my pinch of tobacco into the fire and watched it burn.

Then we got “smudged” before we could go into the sweat lodge. That means that the leader brushes us off with a sage-smoked branch, to rid of our bad energy and clean our souls, so that we can crawl into the sweat lodge pure and clean. I crawled into the sweat lodge after that, with Dave following behind me. When everyone was inside (all 22 of us - we were rightfully squished!), the lava rocks came in. 7 of them for the first round (another magic number).

And then the candles went out. 22 of us, sitting in the complete, pitch, black dark. It was a little unnerving at first, because we started out with a 5-minute silent meditation. My mind rushed and rushed, as if it was used to the madness. It took me a couple of minutes to slow down my thoughts, and just breathe in and out deeply, concentrating on my breath instead of all the things that I worry about, all the things that I want to do, all the things that I should’ve done, etc. It was a much-needed exercise.

The leader then passed around a feather stick, made from an eagle’s feather. It was our talking stick. We took turns introducing ourselves in the dark, and said what we wanted to say. Marita, my yoga teacher and good companion, spoke first. And then it was my turn. After that, a quick theme emerged — we all said what we were grateful for, and what we want.

When it was my turn, I talked for a long time. I didn’t realize it, but Dave told me afterwards, on our way home, that I just went on and on. Heh. Oops. I guess I got into it. I said something like this…

    I am grateful for many things in my life. Like many others before me, I came from a very difficult past, a difficult childhood. For a long time, I chose that past as reason for me to be angry at the world, at people, at myself in particular. And I carried this anger around with me, everywhere I went. It colored how I interacted with people, it colored how unhappy I became. And then I realized… I didn’t want to be unhappy anymore. I didn’t want to be angry anymore. It was a lot of energy put into something so negative. And like Marita who spoke about yoga, yoga saved my life as well, among many other things and people I am grateful for. I quickly learned that there are so many things to do in this life, so many ways to be happy. And when I started to open my heart, asked for the things I wanted, good things just came pouring in. When I stopped being afraid of receiving, good things entered my life. Suddenly, I found myself surrounded by wonderful, caring people. People who are not afraid to tell me everyday they love me, that I’m important, that I’m their light. And people who are not afraid to hear from me the same thing.

    I am grateful for my job… my two hands most of all, because I can use them to help others. Every time I see a child smile, a family put back together, I know I am doing something worthwhile. I know I am doing something great. I am grateful for the opportunity that I can bring good into the world. I am grateful for my journey because everyday I wake up with a renewed, loving feeling. Even in the midst of crisis, I have learned by habit to remember that this too shall pass, and that for every crisis that comes, there are a million good things to counter it.

    I am so… so, very grateful for my fiance, who I managed to drag along with me tonight. He has a lot to do with who I am today, and I am so thankful he is in my life. To be able to wake up next to him every morning, and see his loving smile and his love for me grow everyday.. I’m grateful I will spend my life with him. I’m grateful for him.

    And, I’m finding it a pleasant surprise to be grateful of this dark room, to meet all these new, wonderful faces, to hear these voices in the dark. It is like hearing our souls connect, interact, without the barriers of facial expressions, and insecurities. I’m just very grateful for my life, because I’m making it the most I can make. Thank you.

And then Dave was after me, and his was considerably shorter. Hehe.

    I’m grateful for our host here, to have brought us together and bring us into his home to share this experience with him. I’m very grateful for my fiancee, my future wife… I’m amazed at her journey and I’m excited to see her grow. I’m very happy to be able to join her in it, so that we make our own journey together.

    And I’m also grateful for your forgiveness for me making this short. Thanks.

We went around the room, with the feather talking stick, and everyone said what they needed to say. It was such a powerful experience, to hear what everyone is thankful for, to hear what everyone wanted. It was like we took turns carrying each other through the darkness. Lifting each of our voices to the light the dark room. It was so beautiful, it was so wonderful. I felt so lifted, so energetic. Like surges of powerful energy pouring into my veins.

We took a little break after everyone talked, so that we can stretch out our limbs (my back was hurting being scrunched in there for more than an hour, I think). And then we went back in. 7 more scorching lava rocks came in, making the room that much more hotter. The leader burned some sage and lavender, and the smoke steamed into the room. I was sweating just sitting there. Drips of sweat pouring all over my skin. It was definitely an enlightening experience, sweating in the dark, knowing so many other people are in there with you, experiencing the same thing.

We started the second circle with some chants. Marita passed out rattles for everyone, and there were three drums played. It started slow, with the drums singing like slow heartbeats, and then suddenly the rattles came in, and the voices sang out. People all around me started chanting to the beat, singing wordless songs. It was truly a spiritual event. I found myself smiling in the dark, as my rattle sang with them. I’m not a singer myself, and I didn’t sing, but I definitely moved to the music and the rattles joined in with the psychic energy that was being created by so many beautiful voices and chants in the dark.

And then… and then… the room got that much hotter, and the air got that much heavier. Sweat started piling on top of sweat, and I could feel my skin crawling with liquid. My face burned, from the grandfather and grandmother lava rocks. It was definitely an out-of-body experience. I couldn’t depend on my sights, and my senses were that much more heightened. My lungs started filling up with the smoky air, the heaviness. And I started feeling the first of an asthma attack. It became slightly difficult for me to breathe.

We then went around telling stories, singing songs. Telling jokes. Halfway through, I heard myself wheezing for air, trying to breathe a full lung-ful of air. I turned to Marita and whispered, “I think I have to go…”

The leader heard me, and asked, “Do you have to go?” I said yes, and that I have asthma, and the hot air is making it hard for me to breathe. He said okay very gently, compassionately, and we all chanted, “TO OUR RELATIONS, OPEN THE DOOR,” asking for our ancestors in the room with us to allow us to open the door to let me out. So I stepped out. Dave was worried, and stepped out with me. Another man stepped out after us, and told me, “Oh thank GOD you did that, because I was ready to get out of there ten minutes ago. The heat was just waaay too much for me!!” Heh.

I dried myself off, changed into dry clothes, and got used to the cold air outside. But by that time, I was still in the middle of a pretty bad asthma attack. We left shortly after that, and drove the hour it took to get back to our home. We didn’t get to say goodbye to anyone, since everyone was still in the sweat lodge and we didn’t want to interrupt them. When I got home, I grabbed for my inhaler (I never bring it because asthma attacks out of the home are very rare for me) for dear life. It worked. Within minutes, I was able to breathe again, and I coughed up some pretty thick-looking phlegm that was building in my breathing pipes.

Even with the undesired ending, the sweat lodge experience was one in a million. If I ever go again (to which I might next year, to end 2007 the same way), I would bring along my inhaler. I like the spiritual connections that I made with everyone. I liked that it was smack in the middle of Vancouver, and we still heard cars driving by and honking in the night traffic. I liked that I felt so close to everyone. I liked that Dave shared the experience with me. I liked that I felt such a release of negative energy, that I’ve been holding on from 2006. I liked that I made a pact with myself to let go of my anger. I liked that it was a conscious effort to be okay. I liked the positive energy flow. I liked the support.

And now, waking up to the last day of 2006, I feel refreshed, I feel vindicated, I feel uplifted. I feel like whatever I carried on my shoulders going into the sweat lodge yesterday, I didn’t bring home with me. I have the memories, but I feel so much lighter, so much more free. I’m not afraid of asking for what I want, and I’m not afraid of receiving them. I’m not afraid of anything that life throws at me, because I am ready, with open arms, with loving kindness. I’m not afraid to forgive. I’m ready for the new year. Perspective is everything. I will expect the best, and the best will come.

In reflection, 2006 has been a trying year for us and our family. There were a number of job switches, a near-fatal motorcycle accident, some family disputes, a lot of tears, some first-prescribed anti-depressants (to which I did not take), a lot of anger and a lot of depression, some friendship issues, some saying goodbye, some saying hello again. On the flip side, 2006 also brought some new and good experiences, including some wonderful photoshoots, some new friends, some new jobs, some new starts, some new prospects, some new relationships, some good endings, some more strength built.

And, especially, the best of 2006 was the big question he asked me, and the ring he put on my finger. 2007 is the continuation of that, through our wedding in the summer.

I have a few New Year’s Resolutions for 2007. I normally don’t have resolutions because I think they’re silly, and they’re only as true as you make them out to be. But, that is also the same reason why I want some this year, because putting them in writing is my way of making them happen. My way of seeing them through.

2007 RESOLUTIONS:

1. Let go of any residual anger I have towards people in my past.
This is particularly important to me because a lot of my life has been run by anger and negative emotions. It has been a an ongoing task for me (over the course of the last 5 years) to look beyond my anger, even beyond forgiveness, and just be calm with whatever happens in life. Take things as they are, and not take people’s actions so personally. I have control over my own behaviors, and I cannot control anyone else’s. This knowledge allows me to let go of a lot of anger, because once I don’t take responsibility for other people’s actions, I am more free to loving them, leaving them, and/or accepting them for who the are. And just be.

2. Do yoga regularly.
I’ve been really good at this. I’ve been doing yoga at least twice a week, 3 hours in total. Perhaps I can work on doing it 3 times a week from now on. I find that one of the most important decisions I’ve ever made for myself in my life so far is the decision to try yoga out. I now cling to it like I cling to life itself. I am amazed at how wonderful my body feels, at how wonderful it looks, at how appreciative I am of my mind and my body connection. I am amazed at my own breath, amazed at how accepting I can be of myself and of others after I meditate and do yoga. I am amazed at how so very connected my mind is to my body. I am just simply amazed. Truth be told, yoga saved me from myself.

3. Have a fun-ass wedding in July!!
This will be easy enough to do. Hehe. One thing I want to keep in mind, though, is that I will not turn into Bridezilla. So far, I’m doing very well. I’m pretty relaxed about the whole ordeal. Our wedding is hand-made, personal, small, and it will be awesome possum fun. The only people I’m trying to please throughout all the planning are Dave and myself. I’ve successfully made it clear to my mom that this isn’t her wedding and she can’t touch it. So the rest should be a piece of cake, really. ;) I’m going with no make-up, no shoes during the reception, hair let down, home-made jewelry on. It will be unconventional, and it will be damn beautiful. Says me, that’s who.

4. Call George at least once a week.
This one is important to me because 2007 may possibly be the last year George has. I’m hoping he makes it to our wedding, but if not, I know regardless, he will be there. Even if only by spirit. He is so important to me. He is my surrogate grandfather. He practically helped raise me, and I owe him so many things in my life. He’s always had faith in me, my one undyingly supportive male role model. I love him to pieces. When Marian died, I felt all he had left was me, was us. And admittedly, I haven’t been the most attentive granddaughter, but I’m really going to give it a good shot this year because this may be the last year I get to tell him the things I want to tell him — that I love him, that I appreciate him, that he’s made my life better by simply being in it. I know, though, that Marian will be at the wedding, by spirit.

5. Read at least one book a month.
This shouldn’t be too hard to accomplish. 2006 was a bad reading year for me. Only towards the end of it did I really start picking up a book a week. But I’m going to start slow and make it so that I at least have to read one book a month. Any more than that is pure icing on the cake. I have so many books to get through, too. I keep buying them, but never have time to actually read them. Well, 2007 will change all that!

6. Take my vitamins everyday.
Even though the pills are the size of bowling balls, I must make it a point to take my multivitamin pills everyday. Two a day, that’s all!

7. Write in (a) journal everyday (preferably my paper journal).
I left my paper journal deserted for about 5 months in 2006. Oi. It’s when I really need to write and vent that I don’t write and vent. I need to remember that words are my best friends, and always have been.

8. Most importantly, practice loving kindness to everyone.
Show strangers, friends, and family alike loving kindness. Give love first without asking for any in return. Reciprocation will come naturally when it is meant to be. Likewise, this isn’t the same as being a doormat. It is possible to love at the same time, and not accept abuse. Give love to those who seem like they don’t deserve it, because they are the ones who need it most.

There we have it. My 2007 resolutions. They don’t seem so bad. They’re the things that I want to do to make my life better, is all.

The universe provides…

December 28th, 2006 | 4 Comments | Posted in gratitude

Dear Universe,

Thank you for all the gifts that were sent to me for Christmas, and most of all, thank you for the people in my life who were able to give me those gifts. Dave and his family are some of the best people I know on this earth, but I also know so many best people to begin with, so that doesn’t really count. :)
Keep the best people comin’, universe. I appreciate it.

Today, I am grateful for:

1. Not having cramps during my period. Wow. I think this is a first. Must be all of those organic persian tea I’ve been drinking.
2. Being in Simon’s “happy book.” :D Makes me happy that I can make others happy.
3. The spiritual sweat lodge event I will be taking part in this Saturday.
4. The new year coming.
5. The red “Passion” journal book I got last year, so I don’t really need a 2007 journal book to write in. :D 6. Kelly and Candice.
7. My new tea infuser mug from Dave. How lovely.
8. My special tree necklace. It brings me peace and reminds me I’m connected with nature.
9. Tink’s cuddles and purrs during the middle of the night.
10. Tibetan, peace music.
11. The discovery of the Buddhist peace chants I found.
12. Drawing.
13. My new file cabinets Dave got me from the gift certificates Sylv and Gran got him.
14. Knitting my new scarf. I’m excited to wear it.
15. Summer shirts. Okay, winter. I’m done with you now. Thanks for visiting!
16. Starting anew in 2007.

Happy Holidays

December 25th, 2006 | No Comments | Posted in connections

To all who stumble upon this site, and this entry: Happy holidays, and may the new year bring peace, love, and joy. A thousand times over.

To my friends and family who stumble upon this site specifically: I love you all, you make my life complete, and I am grateful for each and every one of your smiling faces. Thank you.

Playing Santa

December 22nd, 2006 | No Comments | Posted in gratitude

I am grateful for many many things in my job field. Being a therapist for families and children in need is one of the most rewarding jobs I can ever think of. Being able to give someone support who desperately needs it. Being able to help them find resources in the community in order to survive. Being able to just be there as a listening ear, and help them through crisis after crisis after crisis. It is what my hands were made for.

But, every year around this time, I quickly learn that one of the things I am most grateful for, again, is being able to play Santa Claus. Each organization I’ve worked with have had their own gift drive, to give to the families we work with. These families are usually low income families who can’t afford to give their children many Christmas presents. So we get to get these gifts for them, and deliver them to the parents days before Christmas. I get to drive around with big giant garbage bags full of toys, clothes, gifts — all new — to hand deliver them to smiling, grateful, teary-eyed faces.

The families are always happy to see me. The children are always happy to see me. They are so grateful. And I say Merry Christmas, with a big smile on my face, and drive off feeling the most utterly content feeling of the world. Being able to give without expecting anything in return.

How pure giving joy truly is.

Being Interviewed

December 21st, 2006 | No Comments | Posted in connections

These questions are from Rachel. I just loooove being interviewed. I don’t know why. I’ve always liked answering questions, even from tests, questionnaires, quizzes — heck, even medical forms. Heh.

1. You have said that you want to get your PhD. How do you think this will impact your career (in terms of what kind of job you would have after getting the degree, what benefits the degree will have, etc)? When do you think you’ll go back to school for it?

I’m really really thinking about getting my PhD in Social Work (or I guess it would be called PSW? I’m not entirely sure). As far as money goes, I’m not really looking for benefits, as that usually is the last thing I look at when I’m looking at my career. Though I think it will help immensely to have a doctorate’s in PhD, monetary-wise. I’m not sure though. O.o The other benefits will include more community and contact knowledge to function on a wrap-around level to aid families in all types of community. My sights are pretty wide scale, though. I plan to create a charity program that works off of Amnesty International, UNICEF, and the UN to help clothe, feed, and especially protect child abuse victims of all race, creed, and country. If it all goes well, I’ll present the idea to the Pentagon, the UN, and the World Court. That’s my long-range goal. :)
I’ll probably go back within the next couple of years. Time to start looking now, actually.

2. How would you describe your ideal relationship with a close friend? (You can think of it as writing a job description or just describe what is important to you.)

*ahem*

JOB OPENING: FRIEND

- must be kind to kids and animals, even if you dislike them
- must have a passion in *something*
- must be honest at all times
- must not like gossip (though doing it is sometimes uncontrollable :P)
- must be self-aware
- must be mature in dealing with stress and crisis situations (no freaking out and thinking the world is going to end - that’s just annoying)
- must dislike Bush (come on, people - this is definitely a requirement!)
- must not be arrogant and patriotic (pride is a different story)
- must love self
- must be a feminist (meaning: equality for both men and women)
- must love to read
- must not be overly possessive (nothing I can’t stand more than someone who needs me to hold her hand all the time, or think I’m her bestest best best buddy and will kill everyone who comes close to me)
- must not be clingy (see above)
- must say what you mean, mean what you say
- must say things to my face (I don’t like hearing something from a 3rd person)
- must know how to communicate well
- must not think my world revolves around her all the time
- must take my words as face value
- must not assume something that isn’t there
- must be intelligent (this is easy - most people are intelligent in something)
- must not check on me every single day to make sure I’m still alive (I can take care of myself, and don’t need a Mommy)
- must know how to apologize for a wrongdoing (this is important in everyone)
- must not take what I do and say during my crazy moments personally
- must be able to handle my crazy moments with elegance (not many people can)
- must tell me the TRUTH at all times
- must tell me the TRUTH at all times
- must tell me the TRUTH at all times
- must not be over-dramatic (only one of us can be in a relationship, and I vote myself, thanks ;P)
- must give me space when I need it
- must ask for space when needed

To apply, please email me, comment, or yell really loud and hope I can hear you. Thanks. Job open indefinitely.

3. How often do you journal just for yourself, not showing it to anyone else? How do you think that is different from journaling in places where other people read your words?

I journal for myself almost everyday, whether it be in my embodiment journal (handwritten, takes foreeveerr), or my private journal online that only Dave can read (though he doesn’t most of the time heh). It’s different because in my private journals, I can name names without fearing people’s reactions. I can talk out of my ass without dealing with consequences. I can say things at a split second without having to worry whether or not I mean it. I can make rash decisions without having to second guess myself because no one will know when I take that decision back. I can basically be myself completely because that is a rare thing to do in my public journals. No one judges me except myself and that is easy enough to fix. ;)
I notice a pattern with my public journal. I lose friends and acquaintances when people want to get to know me more through my journal. I’ve had more than just a few friends think I’m writing about them, take things way too personally from what I wrote, and make rash decisions and assumptions based on something I wrote. I’ve had people tell me I’m trying to “communicate” through my journal simply by writing how I feel about events, situations, and people in general. I don’t like having to defend myself, especially my feelings, and I tend to want to isolate and enclose within myself when even my closest friends take things I write so personally. The truth of the matter is — I really don’t ever write about one specific person in my public journal unless it clearly states “This is about a specific person.” Whether or not it comes out that way, that’s a different matter. But people bring in their own insecurities when they read another person’s journal. They over- assume, make rash judgments, and attack. So at the end of the day, all I really want to say in my public journal is “Helen very happy! YAY!” even when Helen is NOT happy, because lord forbid, someone will take it the wrong way and think I’m writing about them.

4. Can you describe how you feel when you are in the midst of practicing yoga?

I am at my very best when I am at yoga. I am calm, the world is great, and I can breathe easy. I am okay with all my decisions when I’m practicing yoga. I am okay with letting people go, keeping people near, and even not making decisions. I am okay with how the world is at that very moment because I know the universe will balance itself out and if I just let it flow, I will be okay too.

It’s a matter of remembering that outside of yoga that continues to be a challenge for me. :)
5. Where is your very favorite place outside of your home?

The beach. Hands down. And yoga on the beach. Somehow, doing the sun salutation when the sun is just right there above you — brings a whole different meaning to spirituality and awareness.

—————–

Now it’s your turn. Ask me any question(s) you like, and I will answer honestly. :) Go go go! :)

My Christmas List

December 18th, 2006 | No Comments | Posted in visualization

Not many things I want for this holiday season, but there definitely is a list.

1. A laptop. :P
2. A 10-session yoga package for my yoga studio class. I think it costs about $100 Canadian. Been wanting this for a while, but can’t afford it on my own at any one given time. Thank you, Marita and Doris. :) I am grateful for your energy in my life.

3. Chapters bookstore gift certificates.

4. Something from Unicef gift shop.

5. A new spankin’ computer for Dave.

6. A new wacom tablet. Yum.. I drool just thinking about this.

7. Rechargeable AA batteries. Any brand is fine. I don’t really care, as long as they’re rechargeable. They’re for our digital camera and future photo shoots.

8. Best Buy gift certificate so I can get Dave some more video games. He’s addicted.

9. LJ paid account. Mine ran out. :P Thanks SOOO much, Kate. How wonderful of you. :) That was so unexpected!! *hugglies*

A Friend

December 17th, 2006 | No Comments | Posted in visualization

I guess this would go under “visualization” as well as “gratitude,” because there are people in my life who already fit this description, but it is always good to ask for more where that came from.

Dear Universe,

I am asking for a friend to be my own. Someone who is refreshingly different from myself, and who can appreciate my own differences. My friend needs to have all the ingredients that trust, honesty, compassion, and communication can combine, filled in a body that is natural and pure. My friend will listen to all my problems without judgment, and hold them sacred to her heart. All the meanwhile, my friend will be honest with me about my issues, insecurities, goals, problems, and accomplishments without holding them as her own. My friend will take responsibility for her own actions, and enable me to take responsibility for mine.

My friend is neither tall nor short, white nor black, because it matters not what creed, background, or privilege she comes from. My friend is as honest with me as she is with herself, because there can be no room for petty misunderstandings and unaccepted assumptions. My friend enjoys the company of others as much as she enjoys alonetime. My friend never lies, not even to protect herself. My friend never gives up, not even in the face of danger. My friend sometimes doubts herself, but she’ll pick herself up quickly, because she knows self doubt will bring nothing but ruin.

My friend chases after her dreams, with the perfect combination between humility and pride. My friend isn’t boastful, though she is proud. My friend can give as naturally as she can receive, and doesn’t expect me to coddle or pet. Nor does she expect to coddle or pet me. My friend is imperfect, flawed, and human, though she never uses that as an excuse to do wrong unto others, or hurt others intentionally.

My friend will mean what she says, and says what she means. She doesn’t live with regrets, but she learns from her mistakes. My friend, even her deepest, doubting hour, will never betray me, never lie to me, never assume her reality is also mine, and I will do the same for her. My friend will tell me when I’m being absolutely rubbish, ridiculous, or unreasonable, even when I’m angry with her. My friend won’t play the condescending game, especially when I’m weak. She won’t accuse me of doing things I never did, and she’ll acknowledge the hard work I do to be her friend. My friend is understanding when I need space, and asks for it in return when she needs her own. My friend likes to shop, but not overly so. She recycles and thinks Bush is a nutjob. My friend votes, is involved, and probably begrudgingly angry at the way the world is today.

My friend treats strangers as nicely as she treats her family, because she knows a kind word can go a long way. My friend is welcoming, kind-hearted, but not pathetically dreamy and unrealistic. My friend isn’t afraid to talk about sex openly, or the female and male anatomy. She makes crude jokes that are funny yet tasteful, but she doesn’t overdo it. My friend is smart about certain subjects, and ignorant towards others. My friend is willing to learn, and willing to teach.

Please send me my friend. Thank you kindly.

(P.S. These descriptions belong to more than just a few people. If you see yourself in them, kudos to you, and thank you for being in my life.)