Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Another Beauty From Our Dear Hafiz~


I used to live in
A cramped house with confusion
And pain.

But then I met the Friend
And started getting drunk
And singing all

Confusion and Pain
Started acting nasty,
Making threats,
With talk like this,

"If you don't stop 'that'-
All that fun-


~Hafiz 14 Century Sufi Poet

Monday, September 29, 2008

To Winnie the Pooh~

Have you ever noticed how almost all the persona's in the world are perfectly demonstrated by the characters in A. A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh?

You've got innocent, naive, yet brilliant Pooh, depressed, melancholy, but adorable Eeyore, anxious, fearful and sweet loving piglet, A.D.D- way too much fun, dangerously enticing Tigger, control freak, "get it done" Rabbit, egocentric, but nonetheless wise Owl, and nurturing, mothering, care-taking Kanga.  

And furthermore, have you ever noticed how easy it is to identify with every one of these wonderful story book friends, on any given day?  Wouldn't it be so much simpler to articulate your feelings, if you could just say, I feel like Eeyore today, or I am having a Pooh day thank you very much.

A good friend once told me that I remind him of Pooh, while my brother is defiantly a cross between Eeyore and Christopher Robin.  And indeed, I think this to be true, for the most part anyway.  My brother goes through life carrying his umbrella saying things like " tut tut it looks like rain," and I on the other hand, have a tendency to head out the door without shoes, which lets face it, is okay sometimes, in some countries, if the sun is out.  Unprepared, is a part of living that I have become rather familiar with.

The thing that I am realizing at this stage in my life is that one cannot stay Pooh Bear eternally. I mean there are days when you simply wake up and need more then honey to put the world right, days when all the honey on the planet doesn't make up for the difficult circumstance that our Mother Earth is in, or the unbearable frustration that sometimes comes with simply being human.

Yesterday, I was Pooh Bear, and today, due to no reason in particular and all reasons big and small, I am part Eeyore, part Rabbit, part Piglet.  Today I am plagued with Rabbit's drive to do a million things, and Eeyore's belief that none of it will manifest, and Piglet's fear that I simply don't have what it takes anyway.

And still, I recognize that this outlook belongs to today, and tomorrow, like yesterday will be another landscape entirely. Yes, tomorrow there will be a different kind of Hundred Acre Wood to explore, that is for certain.

And so, the New Moon Journey I find myself on today, has something to do with putting my arms around the Eeyore, Rabbit, and Piglet inside of me, with the all encompassing loving compassion of the Pooh Bear, I know that I am.

Happy New Moon in Libra~ I hope the path you find yourself on today leads you to a hill over looking a vast and beautiful valley that reminds you of your own wonderful depth.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Sunny Sunday Morning

To the Sun

You, who are the source of all power,
Whose rays illuminate the world,
Illuminate also my heart
So that it too can do your Work.

~ Gayatri Mantra

Good Morning world~

Mmmm, YES, one of the best places to greet the new day is from our front porch and after a yawn and stretch I can't help but sit on the steps and sing my heart out to the rising sun.  

It seems that the whole world is singing in it's own wonderful way today. The window prisms are busy casting rainbows on the walls and the cats are doing the most elegant sun salutations, on the warm brick path.

Outside the door of this cozy house there are some flowers still blooming, still giving themselves to the autumn sun and I am thinking that I shall do the same today.  I am thinking about a walk in the woods with our beautiful dog, maybe a picnic in the fallen leaves by the rivers edge, and a thermos of steamy chai tea to sip as we meander down the wooded paths.  Yes, indeed, the day has been planned as I write this.

Sometimes the beauty of the world calls in a way that makes you leap to your feet, put on your woolly hat and comfy boots, and dash out the door to fully surrender to the magic~

Friday, September 26, 2008

A poem for your day~

So Much Happiness

~by Naomi Shihab Nye

It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.
With sadness there is something to rub against,
a wound to tend with lotion and cloth.
When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to 
pick up,
something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs
or change.

But happiness floats.
It doesn't need you to hold it down.
It doesn't need anything.
Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing,
and disappears when it wants to.
You are happy either way.
Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house
and now live over a quarry of noise and dust
cannot make you unhappy.
Everything has a life of its own,
it too could wake up filled with possibilities
of coffee cake and ripe peaches,
and love even the floor which needs to be swept,
the soiled linens and scratched records....

Since there is no place large enough
to contain so much happiness,
you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you
into everything you touch.  You are not responsible.
You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit
for the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it, 
and in that way, be known.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

To Dirty Dishes, Hungry Cats, Pouncing Dogs and Snoring Men

Yesterday I stumbled upon an old Gypsy saying, that goes something like this:  "When you find yourself overwhelmed by the piles of dirty dishes on the kitchen counter, be nothing but thankful, because if there are dishes to wash, their was food to eat, and the more dirty dishes there are, the more people you got to share it with." ( or something like that)  

So this morning, it is a new day, and that sun is rising in the eastern sky, as she does so beautifully, and I am attempting to cultivate this old Romani style of gratitude and apply it like a thick coat of new paint to all the things that reach out to irritate. 

And so, when the cats meowed and meowed at 6:00 this morning because they were hungry and wanted feeding, and I wanted to throw pillows in their direction and yell, "CAN'T YOU SEE I AM SLEEPING...."   A magikal thing happened,  if my life were a movie, there would have been a puff of smoke and the appearence of a winged creature, who would speak to me in a whispy voice about important things.  

And come to think of it, I believe this did happen, but my eyes were closed so I can't be sure.  I can tell you this though,  I did hear a voice, and it said... "Remember the Gypsy saying and be grateful for these fine furry friends who love you, no need to start this fine day with rage."

( and poof, the winged one was gone and the room was a glow with a "new way" tee hee)

And as my man snored away beside me, his dirty socks and wet bath towels spread across the floor, I thought, okay, yes, yes, okay....how lucky I am, to have such a good man in my life.   And when the dog pounced on to my stomach with all his good morning vigor, how could I do anything but love him.  

And so my friends I begin this day with a toast to dirty dishes and pouncing dogs and meowing cats and snoring men and most importantly Gypsy wisdom, for I realize today that I am not alone in this beautiful world and more than that, I am surrounded by loving beings who make my life a prayer.  

(And because of this morning's inspired blog, the dishes will have to wait  yet another day, and I will be so lucky as to keep remembering how many good people I share food with.  ha ha!)


Photo by Jaime Kowal

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Young at Heart~ A Film Recomendation

Last night I watched one of the most wonderful documentaries of my life. It was called "Young at Heart," and follows the story of a group of glorious senior citizens who get together to sing and perform rock and roll.

It was the kind of film that has you laughing and crying for it's entire length. The kind of film that reminds you of the power of singing and the importance of such a simple act. The kind of film that has the potential to touch us at the very depths of our souls.  I highly, highly recommend this one for anyone who wants to be reminded of the miracle of song.

Talk about the simple and transformative landscape of the everyday, these seniors truly understand the essence of this.  I am in the greatest gratitude for what they are sharing with the world.  And  just couldn't help but want to share this one with you.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Image by Jaime Kowal www.jaimekowal.com

A friend and I went down to the swampy lands near my house today, on the eve of the equinox, and as the sun set on this beautiful autumn day, I danced in the damp reeds.  

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ode to the Autumn Equinox~ September 22nd

Image by Mara Freidman www.newmoonvisions.com
Autumn Equinox~Sun enters Libra, Moon in Cancer

And so the wheel turns yet again and all living things welcome this transformation.  The earth sighs with relief as she sends her energy in and down, and my own body does the same as I sit here this morning with my hot tea and look out at my sleepy autumn garden.  Everything is still after the rain, wind blown petals, leaves, and fruit are spread upon the ground, surrendering to their inevitable return back into the arms of the Great Mother.  

The wisdom of this season soothes.   Autumn invites us to be still, to turn our attention to the landscape of soul and embark upon the journey down the winding roads that exist on the inside of our lives. It is time to dream, and listen, and take the pen to those blank  journal pages.  Time to open books and read them in comfy chairs beside hearth fires.  Time to enjoy the fruits of our labours, to open the jam jars that contain the sweetness of summers ripeness.  To sit together with friends and give thanks for harvest, for the year gone by, for the abundant offerings of this good earth.  

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Rainy Days~

Rainy days always make me want to do exotic things.  I don't know what it is about the sound of water falling from the sky that makes me want to put rose oil in the bath, and light candles, and read poetry, and grate ginger and cinnamon over apples. Rain coming down against the window pane makes me want to drink spiced teas and listen to sitar music, and eat figs, and papayas, and dark chocolate. The urge to blow the dust from my violin and take her beautiful wooden shape into my arms, is never stronger, than when the clouds roll in.  I think that rainy days give me permission to pause for long enough that I might really drink in the sweetness of this world.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A word from Hafiz...

Where is the Door to the Tavern?

Where is the door to God?

In the sound of a barking dog,

In the ring of a hammer,

In a drop of rain,

In the face of 


I see.

~ Hafiz 14th Century Sufi Poet

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Treasure Maps

Those recipes past down from generation to generation are like secret treasure maps don't you think? They tell the stories of our ancestors and contain the wisdom of the land from which they have come.  

I have a wooden box full of my mother's, and grandmother's, and great grandmother's secret ingredients for soups, and sweets, and meats, and healing remedies.   They are written on scraps of paper, written in the loving hands of the women they once belonged to.  Hands that have stirred pots of soup, and held babies, and picked beans, and soothed the sick, and saddled horses, and butchered chickens, and swept floors, and kneaded bread.   Some are written in my own loopy penmanship.

The words on those scrappy bits of tattered paper are a legacy, smuggled out of countries with the immigrants of Poland in the 2nd world war. Brought across Canada's prairies at a time when ingredients were scarce and people were hungry.  They were modified to suit gas and electric stoves when the wood stove was no longer.  They have been translated into english and memorized when there was not paper to write them on. 

Recipes, like women, are survivors, they adapt, they carry on, and they continue to nourish.  

And so today, I give thanks to the legacy of pioneer women who have gone before me, to Grandma Belle and Oma Brown, and my Mom Tanis~  May our gardens always be plentiful, and may our kitchens always be filled with love and delicious recipes!  

And now... A Recipe for  Pflaumen Kuchen, translated as Plum Cake.

Pflaumen Kuchen 
~by Oma Brown

Cake Part
1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp bk pd
1/2 tsp salt

1/4 c butter
3/4 c sugar
1 egg
1/2 c milk

And About 10 Plums

Streusel topping
( make in separate bowl and set aside)
1/2 c flour
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c butter
orange rind
mix with your finger tips into crumbs.

Cream butter sugar mixture, add dry ingredients with milk as for cake method.
Spread on greased cookie sheet.  
Halve plums, remove pit, and lay in rows across the cake.  ( I like to make sure there will be a plum in every bite) 
Spread streusel topping over plums and bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tending to the gardens of our hearts.

I dedicate today to tending to the gardens of the heart.  To tilling the soil of soul and celebrating the rich dark healthy humus that makes us grow, and bloom, and become.

From my kitchen to yours I am sending bountiful harvest blessings your way~
And from my garden, I offer you bouquets of  radiant September flowers bursting with secret healing wisdom.

The ancient Mayan word for flower is LOL.  L= Vibration; 
O=awakened consciousness; L=Vibration.  Flowers were thought to be the vehicle that brings the vibration of cosmic consciousness.  

Is it any wonder that we feel better when rest our eyes on these petaled beauties, when we breath in their fragrant stories?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Praise to the Poets of the world

If ever I wake up in the morning and feel alone in this beautiful, or terrifying, or enchanted world, I head straight to my bookshelf, and with closed eyes I reach for the poetry books that live there. I reach for Mary Oliver, or Hafiz, or Rumi, or Rilke, or some other wonderful and courageous poet willing to talk about the things that really matter, willing to dive down below the formalities of this civilized world and into the very heart of all things. 

And when I pour my steaming cup of ginger tea and snuggle in with my four legged friends on our pillowed floor, the words on those pages hold me.  And I can't help but read out loud to my purring cat and my slumbering dog, to my wilted dahlia's in their potted vase and the spider who made a web last night while I was asleep, to the dirty dishes on the kitchen counter and the cawing crow on the roof.  Poets have a way of reminding me that I am not alone, that there are people who have marveled at the sky and the stars that shine there since the beginning of time, that there is a big and beautiful mystery, that we are all a part of. 

Fall Song

Another year gone, leaving everywhere
its rich spiced residues: vines, leaves

the uneaten fruits crumbling damply
in the shadows,
unmattering back

from the particular island
of this summer, this Now, that now is nowhere

except underfoot, moldering
in that black subterranean castle

of unobservable mysteries-roots and sealed seeds
and the wanderings of water.  This

I try to remember when time's measure
painfully chafes, for instance when autumn

flares out at the last, boisterous and like us longing
to stay-how everything lives, shifting

from one bright vision to another, forever
in these momentary pastures.

~ Mary Oliver

Sunday, September 14, 2008

September Afternoons

There is something so wonderful about sunny September afternoons isn't there?  Something about the quality of the light and the color gold.  Something about the way the wind stirs the fallen leaves on the ground that makes it easier to be soft, to rest~ to open to stillness.  

Gardens have a way of reminding us how to "be"  don't they? They have a way of whispering some kind of unspoken truth that has to do with effortless unfoldment, a kind of divine and inevitable unfurlment. 

I held the enormous blossom of a yellow and orange dahlia in my palm today, and when my eye's rested on the exquisite petaled mandala in my dirty gardener's  hands, there was nothing left on this earth to want. 

I cannot imagine a  world without flowers and dirt, and the color gold, can you?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Kitchen Temples

I love temples.  I love holy places.  It matters not to me what religious beliefs are associated with the space, because when I enter a holy place the feeling that fills me is the same.  I can walk into a Catholic church, or a Mosque, or a Buddhist Stupa, or a Stone Circle and feel the same sense of peace enter my heart; the same grace and stillness.

And, the only thing I love even more then entering  a temple, is when a temple enters me. 

This morning as I sat singing along side my good friend, in her sunny kitchen, I found myself in a temple of the most extraordinary kind.  The wind came in through the open window and stirred the sunflowers on her kitchen counter.  The prayer flags outside cast a liquid shadow on the kitchen cupboards and prayers filled the room.  The dogs on the floor lolled in and out of blissful sleep as the songs spilled out of our hearts and left nothing to be desired.   Glass prisms cast rainbows on the wall while a kind of magic swirled to remind me of the holy temples that  friendship and music can create.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Wild

When is the last time you walked into the wilds of your own beating heart?
Not because you could,
but because you had to.

How long since you've given the maps to the burning fire,
and walked on hot coals into the darkness,
holding on to the hands of curiosity and courage?

How long since you taken off your thick-soled shoes,
and felt the mud,
and earth,
and stems of living beneath your feet?

How long since you've stepped gently on the tender ground,
of your own being,
bending down to notice the delicate flowers that grow there,
in between the shadow and the light?

When is the last time you went far enough into this untamed land,
that you realized that lost and found can be the same place?

~ Nao Sims

The "Compassionist"

This morning I find myself sitting cross legged on a sun drenched floor preparing a dance class for this evening.  

The class tonight is based on an ancient myth from the Reindeer people of Scandinavia.  The myth beautifully explains why human beings must journey through the darkness in order to uncover the loving radiant depths of their own beings.  It reminds us that suffering is a part of the journey; a part of the wholeness of the human experience.  

When I take a moment to contemplate the meaning of such a story in relationship to my own life, I  feel nothing but relief.  Relief for the tears I have shed this past week, for those fears that have come in through my backdoor and threatened the security of my perfectly ordered emotional world.  I feel relief for not having it all together and relief for the acceptance of my own humanness

There are treasures of soul that can only be found in the darkness, in the shadowy depths of self. Lately I  see that digging down into the mud of my own being has nothing to do with making a choice between the road of optimism and pessimism.  Instead I see the decent into my darkness as a journey into wholeness, a journey in to the totality of all that I am.  And this journey is governed by a kind of loving compassion, steeped in what it means to be a human being attempting to live an authentic and honest life.  Perhaps that makes me a "compassionist."

As the years of my life go by I am convinced that life is not such a black and white place.  I believe that their are more than two roads to choose from at any given moment.  Beyond  the sign posts of good and bad, right and wrong, is a rainbow spectrum of living.  

And so in this moment, I choose for myself, the road of the "compassionist," that is, one who folds the totality of their being into this beautiful and blessed human experience knowing that something divine is unfolding...always, whether it is dark or light, joyful or sorrowful.

Monday, September 8, 2008

How the journey went from There to Here...

I used to think that in order to experience the magikal mystery of living, one had to get rid of personal possessions, find a very small backpack and fill it with only a few important things, including a sacred and powerful amulet.  Once this was established, I believed that one had to head off into the far corners of the earth to climb mystical mountains with medicine women.   I thought this journey had to be undertaken alone, without the support of friends and family, and that it must be done seriously without frivolous distraction or silliness.  

When I was 20 years old, I set out to find the mystery at the edge of the world.  I found myself in indescribable places, experiencing the wonders and beauty of the stars from secret villages in the Himalayan mountains. I walked through the green terraced hills of south east Asia, and chanted to the sun rise every morning with exotic red flowers in my hair.  My prize possession was a wooden flute and a stone from a white beach that I found along the way.

I told myself on many a day that I would not be limited by the ways of the world, that the cultural traps of mortgages and marriage would not hold me back from seeking the mystery.  I declared this from hilltops and river boats, across valleys and in candle lit temples where the holy men kept vigil clutching prayer beads that connected them to the infinite.  

Two years after these declarations, I was married to a goodhearted Englishman, who I had met in those mystical mountains.  A few years later we were living in a city, with a mortgage, a leaky roof, 2 cats, and steady jobs.   The backpacks were relegated to the hall closet and used once a year for lakeside camping trips near my home town.  It was only after the redecorating and the renovating, and the endless fixing of our new ( but very old) little green house, that I sat down to contemplate my life.  It had all happened so fast.  I had barely noticed that I was not on a solo journey, in an ancient land, with a handful of possessions, studying mystical things. 

And when I did notice, I freaked, and it It happened like this: 

I was on my way, through my new kitchen, to my new fridge to retrieve a left over burrito for my lunch when the awful reality struck me, out of nowhere it came, like a kind of inside thunder that shook me to the core. Here I was living the life that I told myself I never would. The tears, and fears, and rage that came in that moment brought me to my knees and I threw the bean burrito at the new white humming fridge and sobbed.  How could I possibly be inspired by a life that was dedicated to interior decoration and deluxe kitchen appliances. 

It took me three difficult years to pull myself together, and the details of that are not necessarily important, lets just say they have something to do with acceptance and simplicity, and growing older, and the encouragement of a wise and loving friend with a lot more life experience than myself, who took it upon herself to show me the magic in the day to day.  

I now know that walking in the beautiful mountains that surround the city I live in, is as holy an experience as hiking through the Himalayan foothills.  The flowers in my garden teach me things about my soul that I can hardly believe.  The books on my bookshelf constantly take me on mystical adventures as I  retreat each night to turn their pages, curled up with my fluffy white dog in a nest of pillows and handmade quilts.  The circle of women I dance with each week is a ritual of the most ancient kind, and can only be described as a kind of ceremony of the heart. The babies whose births I attend look into my soul with a knowing older than the stars. The songs that I sing with good friends, on rainy afternoons, over cups of herbal tea, remind me that one need not leave one's house to find God, to taste the mystery, to surrender to the infinite divinity of all things.

This site is therefore dedicated to the mystery of the day to day, to the magic that abounds on your doorstep and the infinite blessings and mystical happenings of each moment.  It is dedicated to the inspiration that sneaks in through the kitchen while  you stand at the stove scrambling eggs, and the poetry that garden crow encourages you to write.  It is about the rituals of living a spiritual life in the most ordinary way, ever single day.

Blessings to all the beings who continually remind me of the incredible significance of a human life, and the enchanted landscape of soul, who's journey has nothing to do with going anywhere, but in.