Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Words From Jeff Foster - This Moment

Everything I thought my summer was going to hold has turned out to be true - and more.
It's only the middle of June, summer has not officially started, and I am getting my butt kicked.
Here is something I came across that was profoundly timely for me and I thought I would share.
It is the writing of Jeff Foster and more of his writing can be found on his website.


This is for anyone who is going through a crisis, big or small.

Friend, I know that sometimes it feels like everything's falling apart, and even the most beautiful spiritual words sound like bullshit, meaningless, flowery, new-age drivel. We lose everything we thought defined us, or made us happy, everything that seemed to matter to us, and it feels like we will never recover. We are left in total despair, disappointment, disillusionment. It seems like 'the end', with no hope of recovery.

Yet in life, there are no true endings, only transformations, new beginnings emerging from rubble. Old dreams dying, the false falling away, which can be excruciatingly painful, of course, of course! Destruction, breakdowns, disruptions, shocks and losses, often feel like enemies, but always contain seeds of the new, and sometimes it just takes time to recover. This devastation you are going through, this crucifixion of dreams you feel, is an opportunity to let go of EVERY SINGLE IDEA you've ever had of how your life was "supposed to be", all those cherished dreams that were simply false, yet beautiful and useful at the same time.

The invitation today is to be present to your life, to wake up to it, to turn towards this immediacy, to dignify what is actually happening where you are. If there is loneliness visiting you here and now, do not turn away. If there is fear, do not push it away or try to escape. If there is frustration, anxiety, or just a quiet sense of hopelessness moving in you, do not reject these energies. They just want to be felt, now. They are not wrong. They are your lost children, orphans of awakening, and just want to move and be felt. Sometimes life brings us to our knees so that we will FEEL everything we've been running away from all our lives. And yes, the 'meeting' may hurt. But perhaps feeling the hurt is the beginning of healing, not the ending of it.

And watch the mind. How it constantly spins, rewinds and fast-forwards, constantly leaves the present scene of your life, here and now. Thought is constantly running away from the present moment. It goes into memory - of how good things were before, of how wonderful your life used to be. And it longs to return there. And it feels unable to. And despair results. Regret. Longing. Homesickness. And it fast-forwards into the future, imagining all kinds of future scenarios, many dark and scary. It takes you into regions way beyond your control. And both movements into past and future disconnect you from where you are NOW, which is all there is. They take you away from your only point of power - this moment.

But this moment is all there is. This breath. These sensations. Present sounds, smells. Present beating of the heart, the feeling of your butt on the chair. A little bird singing on the tree outside. The buzz of the television over there. A feeling of contraction in the chest, tenderness in the throat. This is a call to radical, radical simplicity. To honouring the not-knowing. To admitting humility in the face of life. Without the story of past and future, can you really know that your life has 'gone wrong'? For that is the belief at the core of everything, isn't it? That your life has 'gone wrong'. That the 'me' has failed somehow. That the universe is cruel and somehow against you. It's an intelligent conclusion to make, yes. I won't judge you for it. But perhaps it's not the truth. Perhaps the mind doesn't know.

My friend, your disillusionment, your inability to believe all those spiritual teachings now, including my own, is not a mistake - it is pure intelligence at work! Your disillusionment is part of waking up, not the end of waking up! This is all an invitation to a deeper awakening than you ever thought possible. You are being forced to question everything - everything - including all those cherished spiritual teachings that once held so much value. You are being called to find your own authority, to let go of all those bullshit ideas about what 'a good life' means. You are being invited to let go of everything second-hand, everything old, everything received - from parents, teachers, gurus - everything in memory, and be present to life, raw and naked.

Sometimes we have to lose everything to remember our total humility, to remember that we are not in control, and that each moment is full of wonder and thrilling uncertainty. You are on a path of devastation now - it was exactly what Jesus was teaching. This is not the end for you - it is the beginning of a new and different life, a new way of moving in the world, however hard that is to see. It is a time of renewal, of slowing-down, of discovering the abundance contained within the nothingness. A time to be kinder to yourself. There is so much potential for you, friend, even if you cannot believe that.

There have been many times in my own life when I felt unable to go on, unable to stand. I felt that I had lost everything, that nothing was possible, that the void was the only life. But I just didn't know what the universe had in store.

Even though you feel lonely and abandoned, frightened and angry, friend, know that many others are walking with you, and many others understand. You will write your own book of transformation one day.

This moment, friend. THIS moment.

- Jeff Foster

Saturday, June 7, 2014

So this is what my summer is going to look like!

It's the first Saturday in June and if  today is any indication of how my weekends will unfold for the rest of the summer it's going to be a doozy!
I finished work at 7am and had to hurry home and get the kids ready for our soccer tournament today. Mike and CJ were both playing. (Thankfully our first game was at 9:50)
Max loaded the bikes into the back of the truck and I headed to town with the three boys. We made it in time for our first game and it went well! Both myself and the coach of the other team stood around for a few minutes waiting for a referee to show up, but we figured we were doing it ourselves and just got to it. The U6 kids for our tournament were playing 3 on 3 and we used a goalie because the nets were HUGE. The kids at this age are funny when they play goalie because we have been really working hard at reminding them not to touch the ball with their hands and then we put them in the goal and tell them to pick up the ball. Some adapt to this change better than others.
Max was thrilled to be riding his gigantic bike and showing it off to everyone. CJ was riding around like a madman on his bike but one of the local RCMP officers stopped by to see his son play and so Ceej followed him everywhere until he had to leave the fields.  He talked to the RCMP officer about the RCMP members in Moncton who lost their lives this week. I love my kids. They can be so thoughtful and kind and I'm glad CJ was able to see an officer and let him know that he was sad about others giving up their lives for Canadians.
I think we completely got our butts kicked in the first game. My one little guy scored three goals and he was absolutely THRILLED with himself. We only had 5 kids playing and the other team had 12 or 13 - so my little's were running their hearts out for the full 30 minutes. The MINUTE the game was over Max and CJ wanted to go to the skate park and ride so we loaded up the bikes, drove over to the park and spent 20 minutes there and then loaded up the bikes and headed back to the school for my next game. 
CJ found out the kids who played in the tournament got medals at the end of the day and that was apparently a miraculous incentive because he joined us for game two! Game two was much more evenly matched in terms of skill level of the kids and there was more "Play" I had to referee the game and so one of the moms helped me on the sidelines with subbing the kids on and off. Mikey took a turn in goal and was phenomenal once he got the hang of it. He definitely did better in net than any of the other kids (although CJ was pretty decent also.) Kids under 6 are too funny to me playing soccer. I have two little guys who always want to be on the field together but they don't play, they just run around and hug each other. Another one of my little girls runs and runs and runs and RUNS but does not want to touch the ball! At one point in the second game I had one little girl who was playing just walk off the field, pick a flower and give it to me and then keep on playing! They get tired and just leave the field,  one of my kids has a new baby sister and he kept leaving to check on her - while he was playing! and at one point our team goalkeeper was not happy it was his turn in goal so he just sat down with his back towards the game!!  When we stopped for half time the kids all wanted to know if it was time for them yet to go play on the playground yet. What I LOVE is the fact that they are there to have fun. They are happy to be there. They are not so competitive yet that they are upset by winning or losing.
At the end of this game Shel had arrived so we loaded the bikes up again and headed to the skate park AGAIN for the kids to play for an hour. They played an hour and we loaded up the bikes and went back for our last game. I was referee again and this last game was brutal. All the kids were tired and it was like herding cats. Other teams all had four games but I was not upset at all that we only had three - we had so few kids playing that they were just wiped right out.
As soon as the last game was over I gave out medals and took a photo and we (wait for it) .....loaded up the bikes and headed to the skate park! We stayed another hour and I had to take everyone home so I could get back to work.
I made it to work on time but I was TIRED!
No-one can say we don't make the best of the SHORT summer we get.

Friday, May 30, 2014

BONE tired

I am so tired. I have worked 287 hours at my regular job this month, plus my part time job, plus coaching soccer. If I had a minute I would sit somewhere and reconsider what it is I am spending my time on and how to do something different. The only thing is, if I GET a minute and I do sit down I fall asleep within seconds :(
I used to think it was funny when my mom sat in a chair at the end of the day and within minutes was asleep. Not so funny now!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou passed away yesterday and I was sad to hear the news. What a great woman she was. I feel as though she actually made an impression on my life - as opposed to so many other celebrities whom I enjoy for purposes of entertainment, but who really give nothing more to the edification of my life.  I felt that Maya Angelou was a wise and gifted woman whom I actually learned from and whose lessons I think about with regularity.
Since her passing there have been a lot of posts of her quotes on facebook, pinterest, twitter and instagram (the big four social media sites I use). I like all of her quotes of course, but the lesson I learned and the one that will remain with me for all my days is this: " When someone shows you who they are, believe them."
I cannot tell you the number of times I have had encounters with people and they have shown me who they are and I have questioned myself, or my perception of them, only to discover that I have been right - or more accurately, THEY have been right. They SHOWED me and I didn't believe.
Sometimes this is a hard lesson to learn, especially when you love or trust someone who is not worthy of that love or trust, but sometimes it is a beautiful thing to experience - such as when you meet beautiful, kind and loving people who are exactly who they show themselves to be.
Thank-you Ms. Angelou for this lesson which you have given me and which I will never forget.
May the next part of your journey be beautiful.

Monday, May 19, 2014

I Lost My Dead Cat

That's not even a joke. We had such a bad day we even lost the box that our dead cat is in. I know. How is that even possible. I DO NOT KNOW BUT IT HAPPENED TO US TODAY!
Our cat Helios has suffered from urine infections for his whole life. The old man has just been prone to them. He has had a number of blockages and we have dealt with them all, but he is older and got blocked again and was in a lot of pain and would have required painful surgery that would not "cure" him of the problem re-occurring. Shel had to take him to the Vets to put him to sleep the other night.
Shel has had cats that have lived a LONG time - indoor cats, living in a city. Since we have had cats live to be 17 years or more it is hard to compare the long lives they have had with the relatively short life of Helios. (He was still more than 7 years old so I believe he's had a good acreage life). I find the farmers here take a much different perspective on the lives and longevity of their animals. I'm sure they think we are strange at how we lament the passing of our animals.
CJ was devastated and told me that he had never had a chance to teach him how to fetch a ball.
Because we live where we do we are able to bring our pets home and bury them. Shel brought Helios home for us to bury.
This morning our 6 month old puppy, Flames, was hit and killed by a truck. It was absolutely horrendous and I am FUMING mad that the person who killed our dog didn't even have the decency to come and tell us what had happened. There is absolutely NO WAY they didn't know what they did. Our poor Puppy was completely broken. CJ cried and cried and said he didn't get a chance to teach Flames to fetch a ball either. CJ and I WILL teach Brownie how to fetch a ball soon!
We had to dig a grave for Flames today and Helios. We started digging but our yard used to be a gravel pit and digging in the yard is virtually impossible. It sucks.
Before we had a chance to dig a hole large enough to bury the puppy and Helios, we had a grass fire and I had to call 911 because the fire was headed towards the power poles. We had an old shed on the property that was knocked down years ago , before we even moved to the house. We have never completely taken it apart and I had no idea what was in the pile of debris and that was a bit scary. It turns out there were some old tires in the pile which made impressive black clouds of smoke visible from town (about 25km away). When the fire department responded they did so with ALL four trucks - because they could see the smoke from town and thought they had a doozie of a fire on their hands. They were able to put out the fire very quickly (it was not a bad one and there were many of them!) and we proceeded with the burial.
We put Flames into the ground and CJ got a bone for him to be buried with. We got the ashes of Rescue that we have been saving to bury and buried those with a bone. We went to get the box with Helios to put with the puppies and I'll be damned - we cannot find the box.
You know your day has been ridiculously bad when you lose your dead cat. We looked high and low and cannot find that silly box. I told Shel we should probably have smudged today, to get rid of the negative energy. She pointed out that we did smudge - most of our yard.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

How Many Times?

We have been foster parents for many years and have had children come and go from our home numerous times. Last October, two of the children we had been fostering for close to two years were returned  home under circumstances I did not agree with. It was one of the most difficult experiences we have ever endured. After the heartbreak brought about by the circumstances of the end of this placement we had decided that we would not continue fostering.
We set a date with our case worker to make our decision known to her and for a number of reasons (her illness, our schedules, etc.) this meeting was postponed a number of times and finally scheduled for a day last month.
The day arrived. Our appointment was scheduled for 1pm.
At 8 am we got an urgent call from the worker asking us to return the call immediately. The kids were coming back into care that day and she wanted to know if we would take them. Without any hesitation we did. We have had a great month.
There have been two court dates since then and a third and final scheduled for this week. I have worked REALLY hard to not allow myself to stress over the court dates and to allow for things to happen the way they will - my worry will not change the outcome of these proceeding anyway. This week there is (what I understand to be) a final court proceeding. There is a possibility that circumstances will again take the kids from our home. Two days.

Friday, May 2, 2014

30 x 30 Nature Challenge

I have signed up.
You should.
For the next 30 days, spend 30 minutes a day in Nature.
Sign up here
I will let you know how it goes!