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Rope Swing Decisions

Posted by on Mar 22, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Rope Swing Decisions

I squinted trying to make out which of our kids was the next to jump.   I could hear each unique battle cry from my vantage point on the dock of the rustic cabin where we were staying with family friends.     Initially I was simply impressed at their naïve courage as they pushed off the edge of the cliff and sailed through the air on the home-made rope swing only to plunge with precision into the startling cold water again and again.      I decided to paddle out to the little island in the middle of the lake and watch from close up.  I wondered how they could be entertained by this for so many hours.    While their fearlessness made it look easy, from my adult perspective, I slowly assessed just how dangerous this truly was.  Simply climbing to where the rope was attached was a feat of bravery.  But the bigger challenge was the fact that once you pushed off, there was no turning back.  If you let go too soon, the water wasn’t deep enough and the large jagged rocks just below the surface would surely do lasting damage.  If you let go too late, you landed in the same fate.  If you decided not to let go, there was nothing anyone could do.  You would be hovering impossibly near the shoreline with no easy escape.     From somewhere, a small inner voice ushered me to check things out from where they each lined up for their turn, while a much louder voice screamed, ‘are you crazy!’ I scrambled my way up to the jump off zone, despite myself. There I watched a few of the more experienced teens fling themselves off the edge with complete faith in the rope.  The swing broke on us one time but it’s fixed now, they assured me with no apparent irony in their voices.   As each kid took their turn, I found a dozen reasons why I didn’t need to take this risk myself.  Watching it from this vantage point was exciting enough, I rationalized, eventually paddling my way back to happy hour at the cabin with the other adults.   But the next day, the same desire to go to the rope swing called me.  This time I swam the distance to the island and received detailed instructions from those who stood in line for their turn.  Just whatever you do, they cautioned, don’t let the bottom of the rope get caught around any part of your body.  I hadn’t even considered that.  Another reason not to do this, I protested to myself.  And still a larger part of me knew I was going to.  I’m not sure I even knew why I was going through with it, all I knew was that I needed to GO.  Right now.   I took some deep breaths to calm the rapid clanging inside my chest, re-gripped the rope in the spots I was directed … and I jumped.    I was told later the kids were yelling at me to let go at the right time, but I didn’t hear anything except the wind in my ears.  I let the rope do the work as I swung out and just as it reached its full extent and I felt weightless, everything natural and terrified and logical in me, knew it was time to release.    It wasn’t...

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Things that make my heart Singer

Posted by on Jan 26, 2013 in Blog | 7 comments

Things that make my heart Singer

Maria, the owner of this Singer sewing machine, was born in 1910.  When she was eleven years old she was hired as a nanny living away from home to make money to send to her family so her younger siblings could eat.  Things were starting to look up when she married a man who swept her off her feet only to have him die at the mercy of a plague that swept through the area a heartbreaking nine months after their wedding.  Her second husband was a good man, she always said, who took a bold chance on a widowed woman in a village that had strict rules on life and love and everything in between.  Together they brought three children into the world before the war tore him away from her.  He was never heard of again and presumed to have died in the frigid work camps of Siberia.  Of all the dark nights of her soul, none would ever match the day she had to leave her village in order to escape the terror of impending war.  She was reliant on kind relatives who were offering safe passage to a new country for herself and her three young children.  The night before they had to leave, her youngest child, her only daughter, was gravely ill.  Maria sat at her kitchen table and pleaded with her God to either take her daughter or make her well enough to travel.  The two year old died that night so they cut the legs off her crib by morning’s light, buried her in it and rushed away before the door of escape was slammed shut by the hate and fear that was marching in her direction. Maria raised her two surviving children and lived a quiet life in Canada with a prosperous garden behind a small house which contained her Singer sewing machine.  She lived into her nineties.    I sat at her bedside in her last days gently holding the paper-thin skin of her limp hand, listening to her shallow breath.  I remembered all of the most vivid stories that she told me over the years.  The way only a grandmother who never learned much English could communicate with a grandchild who never learned enough German.  But we managed to convey the most important pieces.  I thought about the parts of her story that never changed, the ones that made her shake her head and look right into you with her moist eyes, mercifully at a loss for words.  And the brighter parts of her life that mellowed her with time.  I remember the lessons I heard and held.  And the ones I set down, not always so respectfully, in order to leave space to create my own.    A few days ago, this heavy antique machine was brought up into my bedroom where it has been transformed into a desk, simply by calling it that.  My grandmother’s sewing notions still sit where she left them in the rounded pull-out drawers.  I can almost smell her rose-scented perfume.  I can hear the treadle moving as she sews a new dress for church.  This courageous woman lived an adventurous expanse just short of an entire century.  She saw the worst of humanity and the best of community.  She raised two generous, compassionate boys.  One of them is my father. Her spirit...

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A stocking full of world peace … please.

Posted by on Dec 15, 2012 in Blog | 1 comment

A stocking full of world peace … please.

  Father Christmas:  So my child, what do you wish for this Christmas? Human:  This is going to sound like I’m quoting Miss Universe, but I  truly want world peace. Father Christmas:  What would this look like?  This world peace? Human:  I don’t know.  Just that people would be happy and not hurt each other. Father Christmas:  Are you happy? Human:  Well, I guess.  Most of the time.  Sort of. Father Christmas:  When was the last time your unhappiness hurt someone else? Human:  Oh, man.  Like probably this morning.  I was pretty upset about something I heard on the news and I ended up being a pretty big, um, unkind person to those around me. Father Christmas:  So where does world peace start? Human:  Hey, I know where you’re going with this.  But I have to say, that news I heard was really devastating.  Many innocent people were killed.  They didn’t deserve to die like that.  It makes me so mad. Father Christmas:  When you decide someone deserves or doesn’t deserve something, it de-serves YOU. Human:   DE-serves.  What are you talking about? Father Christmas:  It is not in the best service to you. It de-serves you. It is a less resourceful way of viewing how the world works or who people are. Human:  That’s silly.  When I work hard at something, I deserve a treat.  When I do something nice, I deserve respect.  If someone does something bad, they deserve to be punished. Father Christmas:  What about when you work hard and you don’t get the results you want.  When you do something nice and nobody notices or misunderstands and judges you.  When someone does something bad because they feel like a failure, unnoticed and judged? Human:  Those things happen but that’s not how it SHOULD be. Father Christmas:  How should it be? Human:  It should be easier.  Simpler.  Not so fricken complicated.  Pardon my language, Sir. Father Christmas:  It is simpler.  You do your very best in all the ways you know.  You make amends quickly when you cause injury and learn from it.  You let go of the need to decide whether you or anyone else deserves a treat or a penalty.  Keeping score is exhausting because it’s not your job.  You find joy and gratitude in the experience in being in this life.  Human:  That does sound easier but a little naïve, don’t you think?  People out there are evil.  We have to protect ourselves.  Father Christmas:  So you put bars on your buildings and imagine the worst and remind each other of the worst every day.  And then you have bars to protect your hearts and the world becomes a prison of fear.    Human:  Sad yes, but I see no alternative in this day and age. Father Christmas:  And hence the world peace you yearn for is under great threat. Human:  OK!  … ok.  I see your point.  I just don’t know where to start.  Father Christmas:  What would a day of perfect world peace look like to you? Human:  I have absolutely NO idea! Father Christmas:  Imagine you had a few ideas. Human:  Well … I guess I would feel peaceful.  And everyone around me would feel good about themselves too.  We’d accept each other for who we are … all across the world.  Nobody would be hurting anyone else.  Um.  And we’d be making decisions from...

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A West Coast Snuggle Fest

Posted by on Dec 11, 2012 in Blog | 2 comments

A West Coast Snuggle Fest

A few of my favorite things about West Coast Winter Weather  It’s a classic west coast wintery weather kind of day.  Single digits on the thermometer, and if it hasn’t already drizzled for a few hours, it will soon.  It’s that wet kind of cold and many people tire of it quickly.  Give us ‘real winter’ they implore, we want snow and then we’re going to take off to someplace warm.  Call me damp in the head, but I can think of many reasons why this is great weather to brag about! 1.  Seeing your breath   When you’re dressed for the wet weather, who doesn’t like to hang around and make breath ‘smoke’ without the harsh lung pain you’d get in the prairie’s subzero climate.   For humans and horses, it’s fun and well, kinda romantic.   Remember when you would ‘pretend smoke’ as a kid trying to emulate those cool people who could make smoke come out of their mouth and nose.  Seeing AND feeling one’s breath is a visual and visceral connection to our life force.    If someone’s smart, they’ll make a movie with the love interests under a canopy of dripping west coast trees on a cold misty day.  Slowly, that moment grows between them and we all know they’re going to kiss.  But instead of zeroing in on the lips, the camera artistically captures their ‘breath smoke’ as it changes pace and intensity.  And maybe there’s some horses in the movie too!  Likely it’s already been done and I just don’t watch enough movies because I’m on too many rainy walks alone out here in horse country.  But, I will say, the more I learn about how powerful it is to witness ourselves exhale air we don’t need any more, to make room for what we want in our life, well … care to take a walk in the woods?    2.  Moist Climes for Rainforest Bunnies I know very little about the infamous, Hugh Hefner, except for a vague sense of what he did for a living and one comment he made about west coast women.  He claimed that all the moist, rainforest air comparatively, has us coastal chicks looking more fresh-faced, specifically, our skin appears more youthful.  Aww, thanks Hugh.  When’s the last time you considered how much less money you spend on moisturizer than the average women of similar age living in the dry heat of Arizona all year round?  Arguably, we have less sun damage and require less sunscreen too.  The list of health benefits living in this salty sea air climate goes on and on.   Breathe deeply and let the moist air seep into your pores – it’s like an afternoon at the spa!  3.  Scarves I think scarves are the best clothing accessories ever.    They look great, they feel fabulous on, they’re particularly functional for our wet-cold weather, and they’re fun!  They are one size fits all and I don’t have to know any complicated techniques to knit one in every colour in front of a fire.  And I think the best thing about scarves (besides the fact that it feels like you’re walking around with the coziest part of your blanket all tucked up around your neck) is that they’re like a picture frame for your face.  EVERYONE looks great in a warm winter scarf. 4.  Fleece pants If there’s one thing I would seriously miss if I ever moved to a warmer climate, it would...

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The Sensuality of the Single Life

Posted by on Dec 5, 2012 in Blog | 2 comments

The Sensuality of the Single Life

Having never lived alone before I married at the age of 20, it was like starting from scratch on my own in my early 40’s.  Now after a few years as a single person, I’ve noticed that when you focus less on what isn’t there, you begin to experience a magical world of what IS all around you. The single life, whether chosen or a matter of situation, may be viewed as a sad state of affairs or like winning the lottery depending on how your heart spends most of its yearning time.  For this post, being single simply means that you dwell alone. I have a hunch I know what you’re thinking.  Placing sensuality and being single in one sentence can only mean one thing.  Lots of toys in a special box at the bottom of the closet complete with a Costco-sized stock of batteries and a few backroom DVDs for inspiration.  While I very much support  having a luscious range of resources in one’s life, your box is too small if that’s all that comes to mind.  Sensuality is a full-bodied way to experience your world through your many senses.  Aristotle is attributed with identifying the five basic senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste) and more recently, science people have categorized an additional six senses:   nociception  – sense of pain equilibrioception – sense of balance proprioception – joint motion which  lets you know where your body is when you’re not looking kinaesthesia – sense of acceleration thermoception – ability to sense temperature difference sense of time These all come as standard issue when you arrive in your human body.  But like many features in our cars and household appliances, we tend to develop the ones that we need most often and forget about all the other cool things we can do. Psst.  Come closer.   I want to share a secret I’ve discovered.  It’s simple and logical but remained a hit-and-miss mystery to me until fairly recently.  Here it is.  Just like a skillful lover, it is the quantity of senses invited to play that makes the Single Gal Sensuality Brew truly sublime.  Raise your glass and take a sip while I demonstrate with a few short stories. BLADERUNNER DANCE MOVE The salespeople in the store were too busy to assist me.  I stood alongside my truck and half sobbed the way you do when you feel utterly alone out in public, without the tools and know-how to get the job done.  Yet there I stood unable to drive away until I figured it out.  Bloody windshield wipers.  Crucial to a west coast life and oddly tricky to install.  A ‘blue job’ if ever there was one.  I leaned across the hood wiping my tears with frozen fingers on that dark snowy night in the Canadian Tire parking lot and slowly configured the awkward instructions scrawled on the back of the packaging.  Despite that memorable day five years ago, perhaps because of it, I now look forward to the blade replacement process.  How empowering to conquer the blade!  This successful feat eventually led to confident groping and twisting at outrageous angles to insert new bulbs into the headlights.  The great news is that the little jobs I do on my vehicle no longer make me blue – truth be told, I erupt into a full fist pump and execute a hip-grinding happy dance reserved specifically...

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An Interview with Rita – On and off ‘the mat’.

Posted by on Nov 29, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

An Interview with Rita – On and off ‘the mat’.

Hello!  This is Curiositee, your purveyor of open-hearted bliss.  Asking the questions that keep our boats afloat on the rivers of awe and delight!  Yessiree.  Today we have Rita Kampen on the mike with us.  She’s a life coach from Langley, BC but right now she’s here to talk to us about one of her other passions – her bendy life as a yogi. Curiositee:  Welcome Rita.  So, I’ve read it lowers blood pressure, reduces anxiety, improves respiratory issues, reduces pain, improves concentration and makes people feel really, really good.  How can one activity do all that?! Rita: And that’s not even half of it!  Those are just the things we can measure and notice fairly easily.  There are so many more subtle and long term benefits to a yoga practise.  The main reason it’s so powerful is the way it’s been designed and tested over the last 5000 years to address all the parts of you – body, mind and your very essence. Curiositee:  And we’ve only got a half hour show, so let’s get to some juicy stuff.  What’s a ‘fun fact’ about yoga that people may not know? Rita:  Well, with all the attention on detoxing and cleansing recently, you may be excited to hear that doing the deep yoga breathing offers up to 60% of the benefits of more aggressive, short-term detoxing programs!  Our bodies are set up to be able to release toxins in a number of different ways, and our breath is the most impressive and most accessible unfortunately, in our normal day most of us don’t use it very effectively.   The full, expansive, controlled breathing in yoga is like having a live-in cleaning company for your insides, available at a breath’s notice! Curiositee:  Haha – I see what you did there – I’m pretty sure my internal cleaners haven’t blown the dust out of my corners in a very long time!  [laughing]  What’s the most common reason people give for not trying yoga a class? Rita:  “I’m not flexible”.  When people say that it always makes me smile as I remind them that getting more bendy than they are today is one of the best reasons to begin.  You will feel and see a huge improvement in flexibility in many areas of your day to day life.  A gentle-spirited man who was carrying a lot of extra weight and a chronic shoulder injury, had the courage to come into one of my drop-in yoga classes one day.  He had read all the literature, consulted with his doctor and hoped yoga would be a great complement to his new workout program.  Using his dry humour when he felt awkward and a willingness to learn modifications where he wasn’t able to do the full version of the postures, he stuck with it.  Months later, after class one day he told me about an experience he’d had that week.   There was a problem with his driver’s side door.  The first time it happened the year earlier, feeling trapped, panicked and humiliated, he was forced to call his wife from his cell phone to come and figure out how to get him out of his small car.  When it happened a second time this past week, he reminded himself that all that time he had spent putting his body in interesting positions on the mat could...

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Two big differences between men and women

Posted by on Nov 28, 2012 in Blog | 1 comment

Two big differences between men and women

Click on the link below her picture for a hilarious five minutes and you may just learn something that makes a huge difference in your relationship! Here’s a clue:  sensory receptors! http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=sbF-4LOOC5c  

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I declare you: Accessible.

Posted by on Nov 24, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

Some years ago I worked for an organization that was at the forefront of breaking down barriers for people with various physical challenges.  Their mandate was to look for opportunities to shift the labels of what defines a human being as capable. I’ll never forget the actual sound of a click inside my head when the director explained that a person is not disabled, it’s buildings that are either accessible for all people, or not fully accessible. Black Friday has become a traditional day to kick off massive sales for the holidays.  It unofficially makes it the beginning of the official Christmas season.   And what an enormous vortex of energy this time of year creates for most people.  Even those who choose not to participate in the festivities seem to consume more energy than usual to filter out the hype and frenzy all around them.   This left me pondering whether we’re at the mercy of the Christmas experience here in North America or if we have the ability to create a Celebration that matches what we truly believe and desire for our lives?  What might a fully ‘accessible’ Christmas look like? A Logical Answer – Remove any barriers and scrap any traditions that keep you and your loved ones from the ability to have a full-on love-fest! A Surfer Dude’s Answer – Aw, man, don’t  be waxin’ someone else’s board for your trip through the Ring of Fire.  It’s your journey, dude,  and your board’s gotta feel right under your feet. A Fortune Cookie Answer – Do not be crippled by the world’s version of a happy holiday, for it is only in your unique display of Love that the Light will appear under your roof. An Engineer’s Answer – When the weight is more than the foundation can handle, the building will buckle.  The foundation must be considered first and foremost, the rest is window dressing. A Rapper’s Answer – Yo, ain’t so cool, when you do drool, and get all bent up, by what the Jolly Man sent up.  Get on yo game, coz it always the same, ya better just start, wid yo true tellin’ heart.  Yo. A Poetic Answer – Let the sparkle in your eyes and the nudging in your heart guide you to create your  perfectly unique Celebration of Light and Love this season. Your Answer …         Sparklingly yours, Rita        ...

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No, seriously, I really f#cked up this time

Posted by on Nov 21, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

[Stage lighting: one bare bulb, barely swinging] Scene 1  Oh yeah?  Not just your garden variety f#ck up?  I say, pop the champagne.  Why?  Because the bigger the explosion, the more room to get some of the big stuff re-sorted.  It might even be enough of a blow-out to have to re-set the foundation!  Now that’s ‘buildin’ for a brighter tomorrow’ kind of sh#t.   When it all goes ka-plooey, it usually means there is no more need to try to pretend everything fine.  Phew.  Well, ok, it might not feel like relief right now, but trust me [as a grand master of massive amounts of ka-plooey] THIS is actually an amazing opportunity. Scene 2   So … things are a little messy, eh.  You’re trippin’ on the fall-out every step you take?  People are giving you the hairy eyeball?  Wherever you turn this big bag of yuck clangs alongside you?  The air may be heavy for a while.  It’s that part of you that couldn’t imagine the worst case scenario happening, trying to catch up with the fact that indeed, pretty much the worst case scenario you imagined just happened.  Swearing helps.  Not AT other people (no matter how much you’ll want to), more like generalized proclamations.   Reminds you that you’ve still got some fight in ya!  Let ‘er rip.  The echo in the shower is especially satisfying.  Oh my, and then just like that the tears come.  Perfect.  Demolition dust has got to get out or you’ll get all cloggy inside.  Nothing like the big sobbing, ugly cry to assist that process – and a remarkably good workout too.  What was that you did again?  Ruined E V E R YTHING?!!  There, there, just let it out.   Wait.  Are we at the swearing phase again?  I like how you mixed that up.  Just warn me so I can know whether to duck or offer a tissue.  Scene 3    I know it feels like this muck up is the worst ever, in history.  Like some day there will be a Friday Night Movie Special made about your story.  The truth is … you ARE special, and unique, and strong and resilient and capable … of making a grand mess.  The latter is not to be taken lightly.  For those who can make grand messes also show a great propensity for other grandnesses.  That’s right.  There is always a flip side of that coin.  Humans mess up.  All humans.  Every single last one.  But it’s how they clean up that mess that sets people apart.  It’s in the trenches that true character is honed and recalibrated.  How are you going to show up ‘for the fix’?!   Scene 4   Hold on.  Put that bottle of bleach down!  Raise your hands where I can see them.  I know I said something about cleaning up, but this is a tender process and figuring out a game plan is important before you just go scrub everything raw.  First.  Who are your greatest resources.  You need some serious flanking right now.  No, I didn’t say spanking.  Look at me.  Deep breath.  There are lots of things worse than making a significant mess and one of them is spending the rest of your life defining yourself by it.  That’s a tempting prison to escape into when you feel like crap and see few options to ever...

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Guide to the Galaxy

Posted by on Nov 19, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

Guide to the Galaxy

When people are asked how they want to feel, the answer is often, ‘I just want to be happy’ or ‘I want to feel better’.  Using a generic term like ‘happy’ is like trying to buy a ticket to a continent.  May I please get a one-way ticket to Australia.  Next thing you know you’re dropped out the hatch with a parachute and you land somewhere in the outback without a compass.  The only thing happy in that moment are the crocs smelling a new arrival. Saying you want to feel ‘better’ means you first have to look at what you want to feel better than.  Using that as a reference is like trying to buy a ticket to anywhere BUT Texas.  With no flight plan in place, you’ll be stuck at the airport looking back at a life you already know you don’t want. Since ‘happy’ is the most common answer, it makes sense that it’s difficult to find the specific, unique words to describe the core feeling states you personally desire most.  Below are some feeling words that might help generate more ideas.  1.  Write down any words from the list that engage you. 2.  Look at your list and add any feeling words that ring true but aren’t on there yet. 3.  Group together words that have a similar feel. 4.  Ask yourself if one of the words in the group gets to the heart of it best.  Do this for all the grouped words. 5.  Check with yourself to see if there is an even better word to describe your desired core feeling by asking:  if I have [feeling word] in abundance, I would feel _______. 6.  Sit with the words for a few days.  Write them down.  Look them up in a dictionary.  Let them come to work with you.  Bring them to bed.    7.  When two or three desired core states of being emerge as strong anchor places for you, ask yourself how you can turn up the volume on these feelings bit by bit every day.  Write down ALL your ideas and only later prioritize them for action. Have fun trying on these feelings.  Share your words with friends and family.  Express them to the world and slowly and suddenly the world becomes this! Exhilarated Ecstatic, Elated, Enthralled, Exuberant, Giddy, Silly, Slap-happy Excited Alive, Amazed, Animated, Eager, Energetic, Enthusiastic, Invigorated, Lively, Passionate Inspired Amazed, Astonished, Awed, Dazzled, Radiant, Rapturous, Surprised, Thrilled, Uplifted, Wonder Joyful Amused, Buoyant, Delighted, Elated, Ecstatic, Glad, Gleeful, Happy, Jubilant, Merry, Mirthful, Overjoyed, Pleased, Radiant, Tickled Relaxed At ease, Carefree, Comfortable, Open Curious Adventurous, Alert, Interested, Intrigued, Inquisitive, Fascinated, Spellbound, Stimulated Confident Empowered, Proud, Safe, Secure, Self-assured Engaged Absorbed, Alert, Ardent, Curious, Engrossed, Enchanted, Entranced , Involved Hopeful Expectant, Encouraged, Optimistic Grateful Appreciative, Moved, Thankful, Touched Refreshed Enlivened, Rejuvenated, Renewed, Rested, Restored, Revived, Energetic Affectionate Closeness, Compassionate, Friendly, Loving, Openhearted, Sympathetic, Tender, Trusting, Warm Peaceful Blissful, Calm, Centered, Clear headed, Mellow, Quiet, Serene, Tranquil Relieved Composed, Cool, Trusting Content Glad, Cheerful, Fulfilled, Satisfied With great joy, Rita www.ritakampen.com    ...

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