Where there is a will there is a way

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Lucky Love

You know how these balances, or relationships work, such as you really enjoy your holiday because you have been working very hard...waste not want not...you reap what you sow...what goes around comes around. I am fascinated by these relationships, and try to observe and learn about them.

One I have observed in life is that if you have acquired too many possessions, so does the pressure and complication build. You can feel pressure for your children to appreciate your sacrifice which was too great, and for me, complication in managing all those items.

Why have the stress? Sometimes the goal we are trying to fill is not actually fulfilled by the choices we make.

A full life for our children is usually one emptier of possessions, and fuller of imagination, the natural world to play in, full of more space. Even the opportunity to create something yourself is very important, instead of having everything, especially for learning minds.

For having some possessions, I am very grateful though. I remember having little money and how important they were. But as you gain more, the level of value drops off exponentially.

How cool to create ornaments, or gifts for your friends that take imagination, and mischief. How beautiful to make things, paint pictures-- actually it should just be from your talent area. Or to do loving things such as donate to those who are in need.

The family I grew up with always had a materially light Christmas, and often little kids gave their toys to others, or we did make alot of things. We wrapped our gifts in newspaper, proud of our complete no frills attitude. But we hung out together and had alot of fun in our family working, doing things like making candy, going to the forest to cut down our own Christmas tree, and playing with our brothers and sisters.

Although at times growing up I felt that our family was too strict, we had to work hard, and that sometimes was rough that we didn't have many frills compared to our friends-- now I just feel incredibly lucky to have always been given what was really important, instead of what was not.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Putting out the Tomatoes



I grew these ones from seed, in little trays at first, using seed trays left from buying seedlings in the past (six-packs of little containers attached together like the ones in the foreground of the photo above) and planting the strongest seedlings in larger pots later when they got bigger. I hope I have a garden soon to plant these into by the time these get big!

I just love how the they soak up the sun, it feels like my own body is soaking and using the sun instead of wasting the energy.




Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Turning off the TV

The other night, we turned off the TV instead of letting it blare during the evening like we usually do. It was really amazing to notice how, when our minds are not engaged in this passive form of entertainment, how the family starts to talk, and play, and entertain themselves. I loved listening to the family sounds pick up just because the TV was off.

It really makes me question having that thing on all the time. I find interacting with my family so much more valuable.

We made crepes (said "crapes"), a thin pancake, and made them into wraps filled with vanilla ice-cream, and drizzled with chocolate sauce. I think it's the making of something that in-itself creates the good energy. It brought back the happy family time I spent with my family-- they were always making something. That empty space, with no TV blaring, gets filled with something far better.

It's often the parents that put the kids in front of the TV -- because you want to involve their attentions, instead of you having to tend them, and maybe you are busy doing chores and don't want to be distracted. Also, ironically, they often can't just run outside because the space outside is full of cars and strange people. So it's we who mind their attentions this way, and teach them to love it. It takes the fight out of them, as it occupies them so. As it keeps the adults out of trouble...

P.S. (Added June 13.) Like in Pink Floyd's "The Wall", it's the Moms that bind the children. Why do I often turn on the TV? It occupies children that are cooped up in 4 walls and being very demanding on the mother. It's not how "educational" the show is, it's the nature of TV being too giving, you sit there passively, not creating or using your own imagination. This is the way we adapt our children to city life and TV-- mothers do. But it is great to just be aware of this, and just try to listen and be honest with yourself about when you are meant to turn it off...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Helping Hand for our Whanau in Cambodia

When I travelled with a four-year-old a few years ago, the my friend's daughter, she was saying all these wonderfully wise and prosaic sounding things. The most amazing one she said was this seeming realization: "God...and God in me! Same!"

Her natural sense was right-- the deepest spiritual level I have gotten to seems to be that God is in everything, and also in us. In the past, when people have helped me, and been incredibly generous because they recognised our family needed help, it was the God in them, recognising that and being inspired to help. Just now, I spoke for some people living in Cambodia that needed help, and my spirit guided me about who to ask, and when. (My friend Helen is travelling there now, and ran into many people living in poverty, some of whom she has been able to help.) It's the God in me I was listening to.

Above: Grateful people in a small village in rural Cambodia, after receiving mosquito nets they couldn't afford, to prevent malaria, and also some food aid.

If you want to know exactly what I'm talking about, my friend Helen, a girl who had been involved in sacrificing a large amount of her personal time for years handling the funding for the Kaipatiki Project (a conservation and education community group), took a break from her unhealthy life working behind a computer all the time(she also worked as a medical transcriptionist listening to recordings of doctors giving medical diagnoses, from overseas, and typing what they said!) and went travelling.

After seeing some amazing countries, such as Turkey, she went to Thailand so she could stay away longer. Of course the countries where her money would last longer had more poverty, and before long she was caught up in helping orphans, and in microloan projects. When she visited Cambodia she saw great poverty in the rural areas, where the children have to work very hard scrounging in the rice paddies for food, and malaria orphans children. Mosquito nets only cost a few dollars, but it's more than many families can afford.

With money from her family, and mine, she was able to buy a village 47 mosquito nets. However, I was really touched by the situation, and I told my family in Canada about it, and my sister Sabynthe raised money, and my sister Wendy contributed, resulting in about $500 NZ to contribute to the poor villages there, carried out by Helen in person. Her partner raised some money through his connections and family, and I also felt inspired to ask the Kohanga Reo Whanau we are a part of through my kids. So that's another jar!

I am so excited for Helen getting involved in microloan projects (a sustainable solution to the poverty there), and proud of my sister Sabynthe's good-hearted fundraising from her friends. It seems that for fundraising --like teaching of good eco-habits-- it's better to do it close to home.

She currently on her way to deliver a van full of ceramic water filters and mosquito nets to the Krosang Village in the Kampot Province, which will allow them to stay healthy while they fight forward with their lives. But the microloan project, allowing them to buy small parcels of land or weaving looms and so on, is the really long-term solution which will help them continue to provide for themselves in the future.

From Helen Morton's photo album:

"Children at Narith's orphanage - transformed in the new outfits we gave them..."

"Fresh fruit for the orphanage kids - all come from very poor families."

Click here to see more amazing photos on Cambodian life from Helen's journey.

Something else that my intuitive self tells me is that it's better to help to balance the parts of the world which are the most unbalanced first. That is, it's a better use of money to help areas out of the cycle of poverty, and help them to find strength, instead of filtering money to projects within wealthy countries. As tough and cold as that seems, I just view all of us rich people here, some of whom are ill, and those expensive projects we have to save every last man, vs. the countries where just a little bit of our money would go so far.

The biggest problem, in fact, the only real problem that it faces today is that it is unbalanced. Restore the balance, and we don't have any "problems". The salmon will again swim upstream, die, and their deaths enrich the soil of the forest where they die. We will always die, but because of that other life is possible. There is no further "ahead" that we can get than that.

Update from 2011: This is when I first learned about microloans - it was the best thing to come out of this. Helen used the money we raised to buy some emergency food, water filters - longer lasting help - and someone came with them to teach them why it was needed, but most importantly, loaned money through a local village authority to people needing money to start small businesses. One group used their microloan to build a chicken coop, which would then support them with the sale of eggs. After the money is paid back, it can be loaned out again and again to people in the village, managed by local people themselves. How great is that? Clever Helen. Microloans -the best way to go.

Here is a little e-book I made about Helen's experience - as I was really able to "listen" to Helen's experience in Cambodia - to imagine anyways, what it might be like.













Monday, December 7, 2009

Bread Crusts for the Birds

Every day I make lunches for my children and my husband, putting sandwiches into reusable plastic containers, and yogourt is poured from a large carton into plastic reusable containers as well. I just had a good idea recently, as apparently the teachers at their preschool have to throw away all their crusts every day into the rubbish (ultimately the landfill) as the kids don't like to eat their crusts-- there is a big pile of bread in a plastic bag on the kids' tables every day that could be diverted from landfill.

I cut off their crusts now when I make their lunches, and throw them out the back window for the birds right away so that the less eco-friendly teachers don't have to worry about it.

(Bread doesn't go in the worm farm, and I don't have a compost bin yet.)
I often get the kids to throw uneaten bread into the back yard themselves. It's a great activity for them!







P.S. (Added June 13, 2010.) Birds also love cooked rice. Don't throw uneaten rice into the landfill! Set it out on the footpath or driveway for the birds. They will have a big party, calling out to all their mates.




P.S.S (Added Feb 7, 2011.) They go nuts for cous-cous too.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Buffy Sainte-Marie sings Listen to the Wind Blow on Sesame Street

I just ran into Buffy Sainte-Marie's Native Canadian (or First Nations) Cree singing on a Sesame Street Youtube clip. I just love it. I could listen to it a million times.






Yaya-way-hey-heya-hey-hey-heya
Way-heyaway-heyway-heyawayo
Heya-wey-hey-heya-hey-hey-heya
Hey-heyaway-heyaway-ayaway-oh

Listen to the wind blow
Where does the wind go, hm?
What does the wind know
Listen to the wind blow


Listen to the wind in the wandering weather
Let's all run and play in the grass together
With the summer breeze<
How it loves to tickle and tease and fool us
But when we get hot there's his breath to cool us
Sighin' high above in the top of a rustlin' tree

Listen to the wind blow
Where does the wind go
What does the wind know
Listen to the wind blow

Listen to the wind now he's getting bolder
Now his voice is rough and his breath is colder
Cause it's wintertime
He whistles down the chimneys and lips our noses<
Crumples off our hats turns our cheeks to roses
Snappin' up our clothes as they flap on the laundry line

Listen to the wind blow
Where does the wind go
What does the wind know
Listen to the wind blow
Listen to the wind blow
Where does the wind go, hm?
What does the wind know?
Listen to the wind blow
Listen to the wind blow
Listen to the wind blow, listen...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Useful, Useless Clock

I was putting back some bottles that had fallen out of a recycling bin, and I saw a chucked-away clock. It was a cheap Chinese clock, the kind that will function barely, until it breaks in a few months, black plastic and a battery. However, I could see that it would make a great toy for the children to play with, and learn to tell time.

Of course 4 and 2 is really too young to learn to tell time, but they were fascinated with actually being able to touch the clock hands themselves, after I took off the glass and plastic frame that held it, with the help of a glasses screwdriver. We sat waiting for the bus (free time), and I promised Troy (4 yr old girl) later chocolate if she tried to guess the numbers the hands pointed to. Well, first I put the glass and frame on my face, and made strange voices, pretending to be an astronaut in space to make them laugh. But she loved the game of guessing the clock's numbers, and it was a very effective learning lesson. Later she compared the numbers to the mailboxes as we walked along, and counted from 1 on the clock to the number on the mailbox verbally to learn what the number was called.

Just another green idea.
Even the glass plate on it's own is a beautiful thing. A perfectly round piece of glass. Shall I decorate the plastic frame, and use glass and frame for a really cool picture? Or use it as a window? Or...save it in the arsenal of magic and useful objects.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Koanga Institute

All this is blowing my mind. Learning about Good magazine and all the million inspiring connections and thoughts in there, the earthy growth from worm farming over time, spiritual growth of community I've gotten from being part of the Kohanga Reo, recently finding the book on native Cherokee teaching (referred from my friend Wayne from taking the bus) about "touching" life, and now just looking at the Koanga Gardens website. I feel like I am trying to grow and open up, but am very closed compared to what I could be. Very unearthy, but trying to let it in.

(Links posted here, and also on the sidebar.)

Koanga Gardens Centre for Sustainable Living (and they sell plants and seeds in their original variety):
http://www.koanga.co.nz/

The original institute, started by Kay Baxter:
http://www.koanga.org.nz/

Good magazine made me want to cry when I first found it, and with Koanga Gardens I am having the same feeling. They run courses for self-sustainability and eco-villages, and are fighting this fight.


Here is a little blog from my tiny world, of just having learned to worm farm!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Small Thoughts on Controlling Nature

One of the main reasons I wanted to start this blogs is that I am one of those people that is always thinking about life, and I wanted to record these observations that one makes from life experience.

I am only going to be able to remember these thoughts if I write them down as I think them.

"Man-made"
The desire men have to control nature is foolish, to take ownership of human invention, and to have an ego about the things we build or create. It is rooted in our animal self which drives our behaviour. How can we determine that what we create is better than nature, or more foolish still, independent of nature? We are a product of nature ourselves, grown and born from the womb. We are not separate, and any pattern we use or utilize-- any power we utilize, is a power of nature.

Advertising


My young son Luke watching TV passively


I just ran into a great quote that expresses what I always felt about advertising:

"Societies need to consider the powerful impact of advertising on young children, for whom all information has an educational and formative impact. Children constitute an important market for consumer products, but society has a responsibility to educate them, not exploit them."


--United Nations Development Program

This was quoted in a paper called "See Change: Learning and education for sustainability" [Jan 2004 by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment], which I had picked up at the Kaipatiki ecological project a long time ago but hadn't had the focus to read it until now. Packing away thing, I opened it up, thinking of this, and saw this quote. The material in it is perfect for what I need to learn right now. It is further study in depth on all the issues that concern my mind, every waking moment. Advertising, people's awareness, this sleep humanity is in right now-- compared to how we have been in the past. It is so lovely to see something spelled out which previously felt like a secret underlying truth which no-one else saw.

The full report is at here.

And here is the cut-and-pasted section on Marketing and Advertising-- how it shapes our psyches (especially young psyches). It is my personal view that we need to create a wall or protective barrier by conscious choice, and help our children learn how to do so as well-- as in turning off the tv most of the time. Here is the fabulous report chunk (with only the footnote numbers deleted due to their decontextualization on my blog):




5.4 Marketing and advertising

Marketing explicitly aims to influence people. It involves planning the conception, pricing, promotion and spread of goods, services and ideas. It is often used by businesses to create awareness of, and desire for, their brands and products. However, marketing techniques are also used by many non-commercial organisations and government agencies to sell their messages to the public. Tools of marketing include market research, advertising and public relations.

Market research is used to understand the needs, wants, desires and values of people. Marketers often claim that they are merely finding out what people want and matching this with what they have to offer.

This is because most marketing is based on the assumption that it exists “(1) to discover the needs and wants of prospective customers and (2) to satisfy them”. In reality, many organisations also begin with what they want to sell and try to develop a market to suit.

A major part of marketing is advertising. Advertisements come in many different forms, “from the tiniest classified newspaper advertisement to a TV spot, from a small leaflet to a massive outdoor sign, from a message on the Internet to a letter delivered to one’s door, or a sponsored cultural or sporting event”.

Advertisers assert that they are providing information to consumers to enable
them to make informed decisions. Simple forms of advertising, such as classifieds, may meet this goal. But the most pervasive forms of modern advertising, especially those used on television, aim to influence and persuade people instead of informing them. Advertisers often play on people’s emotions to build connections between products, brands and people (see also section 6.5).

Advertising long ago discarded the practice of selling a product on the merits of its useful features. Modern marketing builds symbolic associations between the product and the psychological states of potential consumers, sometimes targeting known feelings ... and sometimes creating a sense of inadequacy in order to remedy it with the product.

Advertisements do not make people buy things, but they are incredibly influential in shaping human behaviour. Marketers use techniques that they have learned from psychology, sociology, economics and anthropology to shape consumer preferences. In doing so, they often help to socialise people as willing and wanting consumers. As an example, think about the marketing of four wheel drive ‘sports utility vehicles’ (SUVs) in New Zealand. These vehicles were initially used almost exclusively by farmers and commercial operators such as builders. Marketing has been used to successfully sell them as ‘urban safari vehicles’, playing on symbolic associations that have been fostered and developed in people. It is not their useful features that are marketed. Who wants to buy a vehicle that is generally more dangerous, polluting, difficult to park, and more expensive to run than the average car? It is their image as masculine and adventurous off-roading objects of desire that is marketed, even though they seldom leave the sanctuary of urban streets. The irony is that the beauty of New Zealand’s environment is often used to market these vehicles. There are countless shots on television screens and in the print media of SUVs doing damage to dunes, streams and riverbeds. Similarly, images of New Zealand’s 'clean and green’ environment are often used by many businesses to brand and sell their products to the world.

Increasingly, advertisers are targeting children to shape consumption preferences early in life and to take advantage of the growing amount of money that people are spending on children. For example, American children between four and 12 years old spend over $24 billion in direct purchases and influence another $188 billion in family household purchases. An average ten-year old in America has now been socialised to learn 300-400 different brands. In Britain, characters from a Japanese card trading game called Pokemon are far more recognisable to the average eight-year-old than animals and plants. There are therefore growing concerns about the impacts of advertising and marketing on children. Societies need to consider the powerful impact of advertising on young children, for whom all information has an educational and formative impact. Children constitute an important market for consumer products, but society has a responsibility to educate them, not exploit them.
– United Nations Development Programme

To reduce children’s exposure to marketing, countries such as Denmark, Greece, Belgium restrict advertising to children. Sweden and Norway totally ban it.

The Swedish government believes that “children have the right to safe zones” and that advertising can compromise their safety and well-being. This sentiment is strongly supported by the majority of people in Sweden, as well as by their national association for advertising agencies.

Marketing and advertising to children is permitted in New Zealand, although there are voluntary codes of practice in the advertising industry to moderate some of its effects. While there is little research on this issue, a recent survey suggests that there are major concerns among parents about the levels of advertising to children on television. Among those surveyed, there were strong feelings that television encourages children to want products they do not need. There was also a strong sentiment that advertising should not be regulated by the same people who sell products to children.

The current framework for advertising in New Zealand is mostly based on self-regulation by industry. This framework, and how it relates to the environment, is
examined in a background paper to this report.45 There is a code of practice for product claims related to the environment, but there is no code for how the environment is portrayed in advertisements. There is also a lack of consideration
given to the effects that saturation advertising can have on people. This is despite the fact that advertising expenditure in New Zealand, as a proportion of GDP, is one of the highest in the world. New Zealand ranked third in the world for advertising expenditure in 1996, and the amount of money spent on advertising has steadily increased since then. In 2002 it reached $1.5 billion per year and in 2003 it was predicted to exceed $1.7 billion. What sort of culture is all this advertising helping to create?

As noted above, advertising is just one tool of marketing. Marketers use a variety of techniques, such as product placements in movies and using celebrities and role models to shape consumer desires. Public relations skills are also used by businesses, government agencies and non-governmental organisations to ‘spin’ their stories and manage their images in the media. Public relations usually involves intensifying (playing up) some messages and downplaying others that could be detrimental to an organisation’s reputation. There is a growing awareness among the public about the ‘greenwashing’ that many organisations use to shape their environmental image. This may undermine the effectiveness of some public relations skills, while contributing to a fundamental lack of trust in big business and government to be open and honest about sustainability.

It is important to keep in mind that marketing techniques are not just used by commercial enterprises. For example, government is showing a growing willingness to use social marketing to achieve outcomes related to sustainability (see section 4.1). It has also been suggested that ‘demarketing’ can be used to encourage people to reduce their consumption of some goods or services.

There is a major potential to market the messages of sustainability, although it is important to consider that social marketing is very expensive. It is also important to question how effective government agencies can be at getting their messages across when people are already swamped by so many other marketing messages in the commercial media. In some areas, such as road safety, there is good evidence that social marketing can be very effective.

However, social marketing campaigns need to be carefully researched, planned and organised as well as well-financed to capture people’s attention, and to avoid switching people off.

ENDQUOTE

As you can see from the photo of Luke above, and know from personal experience of course, watching TV is a very passive experience. I would just like to add one more note to the wonderfully well researched think-piece above-- as I learned in university communications studies, Marshall MacLuhan's "medium is the message" theory-- perhaps the actual message is less important in forming an impression on our minds than the technology of the message. My personal intuition confirms this as well, in the case of television, I can feel the harm to my children is more the passivity of watching tv than what is actually on TV. They aren't doing something, living, doing something challenging-- they are passively being entertained; and that's a message that should more often than not-- be avoided.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Keeping your knife-edge sharp

My first sharp knife
I've had some knives my father gave me for the past 5 years.

He was always a believer in keeping knives razor sharp. He bought good knives with good steel that would hold an edge, and would grind them by hand regularly with a block stone, and also a leather stroppy thing for the finest edge. I grew up with our knives always kept razor sharp, and you had to be careful after he had just sharpened them or you would cut yourself. Knives were respected in our house, always wiped off and put back on the knife rack and thrown in to be washed with the dishes. When I grew up and moved out, and realized how differently everyone lived, and the discipline that my parents had that not everyone had, I saw that most people didn't sharpen their knives. They kept many cheap tin knives in the cutlery drawer, and cutting anything was a frustrating struggle.

Anyways, back to my knives. They became dull. I didn't have the discipline yet to sharpen them regularly, but I respected them, and held onto them, and bought a stone block. Over time before my life became less chaotic I lost the small one, my husband ruined the big one, but I managed to save one of my father's gifts and the sharpening block. Just recently, I decided to sharpen my putty knife with the block while renovating. Then, if finally happened! I was sick of not being able to cut into a squash for dinner, and I actually sat down, and started grinding the edge of my last good knife. I had finally arrived at a state where I left perfectionism behind enough (waiting for the perfect time to do something perfectly had kept me from achieving so often), and also had grown enough personal discipline to just do things.

Starting small with my own knife

I looked closely at the edge as I went along. I remembered how he had taught me to do it (I just hadn't had very much practice) about the degree of the angle. It was exciting to actually achieve a sharp edge like my father's after doing it for a few minutes. I also had fond memories of him sitting in the kitchen, and grinding knives, so I enjoyed doing the same thing, so far now from home. I also had the understanding now of how early man had made their first sharp edge from stone from watching the Human Journey documentary, which I could connect to this current activity-- I really respected the ability to maintain my own tool.

We can't go backwards guys! We've come so far, for so long, to get our sharp edge, to go back due to laziness to use factory turned-out dull crappy tools our whole lives.

Now I am going to keep my one knife sharp for a start, and over time, buy more good knives. And I hope my habits will leave a strong impression in my children, as my father's did in me.

By the way, that squash cut like a dream.

P.S. (Added Feb 2011.) Something else, it really works to actually keep looking at the edge to see how sharp it is. There is basically a hill on either side of the point, and you are sanding away, or grinding it away, to create the point. You have to wear away the bump until you've met on both sides. You can sand at a more flat angle as you go.

The whole "looking" and sensing thing - is something that our ancestors did, all the time. Now I am more connected than before, that is what I do, and now I can do it as well as I want. Sensing your materials...

My dad also smears vegetable oil on his cutting boards and cures them in the sun to create a food-friendly varnish.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

3 Steps


STEP 1. Baby Steps

You may not be able to find the time to change your the new habits right away (e.g. becoming environmentally sustainable. Just make little progresses, grasping onto each on for dear life, until you get stronger to keep moving forward. When you are strong, and we underestimate ourselves, it will be easy! We are learning new skills.

A first great step in becoming more responsible to the earth, or your environment, is to start taking cloth bags. You'll be amazed by how often they are used, when you stop taking them. And even this is really hard at first!

Right now I am holding on for dear life for motivation to make a small change - to get my lazy self to make yogourt instead of buying it. I know how to do it—- my Dad even made me a version of his homemade using a lightbulb in a metal container setup to keep heat going, but for now I buy yogourt in bulk size, and in a cardboard millk-type carton, and flavour it myself and pour it into reusable lunch containers. That's something! And then it will be easier to go to the yogourt-making habit.



STEP 2. Know History

History makes you stronger: knowing that people once lived differently, and how strong we can be.

I grew up with a mother that loved history. She also researched my ancestors' stories, and told us stories as she discovered them. It was very special and positive - I knew what I was capable of as a person because I knew my own people had been strong.

It also helps to be aware of our place in history. It puts our selfish modern world into perspective.


STEP 3. You will be blessed.
I discovered after having a terribly difficult time-- and I would recommend it to anyone, you really learn alot-- that it is really important to Listen to the world around you. But not just with your ears, with your spirit.

Listen to what you really know in your heart is true, even if it's hard to accept at the time. (Because, sometimes we know the true direction is uphill, at first.) But something neat is-- that we can ask ourselves if we are doing in our life what we believe in, if we are going the right way, and we will hear the answer. Am I really happy doing this? Or, is this relationship working?

In the end all these little steps turn into blessings. The steps weren't made for this reason, but of course, you will have more strength and discipline from it that will be for your benefit. Also, you will gain a creative and resourcefulness edge, as you connect to the materials, and the world, around you. For real.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Huge worms found in our little piece of earth!


Worms are cool.

That's what I was thinking yesterday, feeling ill after working on the computer, rushing around the house or out, eating, resting, doing chores but still feeling weak. I finally had to get out and do something earthy.

I was going to walk to the dairy to get some cell phone time, rush, rush, acquire, acquire, but got tripped up by a weed on the way. My neighbour-- we share this house, three units of a building, she was really good and pulled the weeds out of a part of our garden, a wedge shaped part on the side of our driveway. I saw a weed she had missed. Then, my fingers in the dirt trying to get it out, I had to go get a stick or something to get the roots out. When I got the root out and had a metal tool in my hand which was useful, I noticed that none of the roots of the weeds had been pulled out. I could feel that the roots needed to be pulled. The earth drew me in, and after a bit, I was pulled in by the earth, and pulling out roots, churning up the dirt, and freeing it from this horrible plastic layer some misguided soul had put in years ago. I was lifting and pulling up a root-twined layer of earth like a carpet, as the plastic had made a barrier, roots in the ground white below-- somehow got most of it out, and then churned it all up, free to breathe. AND I found these ginormous earthworms, 10 inches long and very fat, that lived large enough to churn through that soil. My little children had come home from school, and right into the house to the TV. But for once I wasn't needing that sickly babysitter, and I forced them to come out with me, little children, similar to the white starved roots that I found under my plastic layer. COME! I yelled. COME LOOK! Dubious, they eventually came, and they loved it. Soon Troy was holding 5 huge earthworms. Luke was too scared, he kept saying





"look, a worm"



"a worm"...with with the voice of the young child whose mouth is new to making those sounds. He was frightened to touch them, once calling them "-nake baby" (he can't say s's). But fascinated to watch them as I kept finding them and throwing them over to him to see.

It was great. I felt really well after that.









Worm trying to crawl back into the soil, a good symbol for us!

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Human Journey - Australian TV series (Beyond Productions)

In New Zealand: "Government plays down plans to mine DOC (Department of Conservation) land." (Click on link to read the article.) Coal mining no less! We just got a new government in (National), who are trying to make a quick buck, same thinking as the last few thousand "enlightened" years of our history.

In less recent news, Indonesia's forests are disappearing to meet the world's demand for palm oil-- as the forests are converted to palm oil farms at an alarming rate. These forests are the habitat for the orangutan, who are rapidly becoming extinct. (To read more about this, click
here.


What’s wrong with the world (what is part of the unhealthy imbalance) is people’s expectations are too high—to live without skill, in comfort, in ease— equals being wasteful with resources. There is a social stigma against roughing it nowadays—you are respected for being someone who has harnessed so many resources that you don’t have to slave away like a labourer. But in my rise of awareness, I now respect people more who are careful, fastidious, and skillful with resources. They do use things for as long as possible. Far from being a poor, desperate act, this is the act of love and respect for the resources of Mother Earth. If we listen, with our spirits, we will behave more in this way. (I have an image that remains now of the old Asian martial arts teacher, shuffling around, being careful, not-wasteful, but very wise. The ancient East was a very intuitively strong culture.) I now see the people that rush around in fancy cars and lit up houses as wasteful and brash—they are not listening or being careful in the world around them.

Palm Oil, a cheap oil that destroys rainforest used in almost every single common brand of soap, soap product and cosmetics, is a destructive process—orangutans will be gone very soon if we don’t do a 180 degree shift. We need to not always go for the cheapest solution out there that will make us the most money, despite it consuming and destroying the earth! We need to not be greedy. Intuitive people and cultures know, every action has a consequence. Since we have been ignoring these laws of nature for awhile in the belief that they no longer apply to us (we have gone beyond the need to do so with all our technology), we are coming to the time where we will experience the result of our behaviour of many centuries, all at once. Lucky us! Ah well, the sooner we change all we can, the more we will not leave the same legacy to our kids kids.

Photos: The Human Journey (TV series), Beyond Productions

I woke up this morning in a chilly bedroom, under many warm bed coverings, having recently watched a documentary piecing together the path and experiences of early people. I instantly got an empathy with them actually waking up in a cold cave each morning. Then they had to wake up and find food, armed only with rough stones which had been broken to a sharp point. From there on we had to conquer our world. But how many amazing experiences must they have had that were not recorded. Don’t just picture vague stereotyped cavemen, picture real people like you and I, exactly like you and I, with their emerging consciousness that we have today, staying together, doing things together, exploring and discovering things together. Perhaps one day they found an amazing caches of food, or had amazing run-ins with animals—there is so much we will never know of their experiences. I wish I did know.



The Human Journey:

Apparently, our ancestors left Africa 130,000 years ago, and displaced the Neanderthaal people-- another people who had evolved from an earlier strand and left Africa much earlier. (According to a great documentary that aired on Australian TV called "The Human Journey" by Beyond Productions.) They weren't that much more primitive than us at the time, they spoke and planned as well-- we made a mistake when we first found their bones and thought they were stooped and ape-like (the individual Neanderthaal whose bones the French scientist found actually had arthritis, and so our perception became misinformed.) We both lived at the same time, and in South Western France we made use of the many overhanging limestone cliffs for shelter. An important difference in the way of life between us and the Neanderthaal people was that they kept the same home base, not venturing as far to hunt for food-- their main prey was auroch, a sort of wild cow. We were nomadic! We made shelter and camp where the best food sources were, such as wild game (reindeer), and spawning salmon. That way we kept both old and young alive far better-- the group.

The elders were the keepers of tribal knowledge, which they passed on to the next generation. Nomadic life expanded their view of the world, and this in turn, opened up their minds.

They came to know and understand each new landscape, its plant and animal species. They learned to plan ahead and anticipate possibilities, as well as problems. Constant change encouraged flexibility and innovation.


--The Human Journey, Beyond Productions



We used our imaginations and began to do things in new ways, making amazingly sharp stone tools, trading for better stone from far away and using better techniques, and gaining a great finesse with the raw material. We used fiber, resin and sinue to attach them to wooden spears. And you know the end of the story. We grew able to think consciously. In the end, we were able to adapt to every environmental niche on the earth. Now our biggest danger is ourselves.

That history gives me inspiration to pull beyond this specialized existence we lead today. It just gives me perspective, I guess. As travelling widens the mind as we realize that different groups of people can have different values, learning about history gives me support and a perspective about choosing my lifestyle.

These are some observations I have had about my culture, in the here and now, and I do think it's important we rethink how we live, and choose to live as green and tough as we possible can. The blessings are in the responsibility to the environment, but also we become tougher and more spiritually aware as we do this. It's great.


Observation #1: Good Enough.
Good enough---- people need to accept something that is good enough. As a mother around other mothers, with our very important standards, where we teach and help each other—I have run into many mothers with extremely high standards. The sort of standards that could only be reached with modern innovations—including a high level of wastefulness (energy and physical waste). Clothes have to be washed the minute they are worn, the moisture in sandwiches preserved by plastic film wrap 5 times around, disposables are mandatory. Houses are plastered with cleaning chemicals. Cloth nappies and reusable lunch wrappers are considered “not good enough for baby”. Well, tell me this, vigilant mother. How good of a world do you want for your baby to live in?Our habits have to not lay waste to the world, or what is the point

Our standards for performance are raised so that we act as though we can’t possibly suffer something that doesn’t work as well as modern, more wasteful solutions do—such as plastic wrap vs. a plastic or cloth container, or paper bag. The food might not stay perfectly fresh, but pretty damn fresh. It’s good enough. Cloth nappies aren’t as convenient as cloth, but they work well enough, and the waste created by disposables is silly. We have to let our children experience a little dirt, and pain, and get tough. It's good for us, and good for our world.



Observation #2: Never Easy

One of the illusions we follow is that life can become easier. Life can never become easier, because the easier our lifestyle is, the weaker we get. That’s how strength works. When we do something more challenging, we get tougher. So life will never be full of ease, because we are as strong as our challenges. We aren’t going to get strong, then put on cruise control (get weaker), and then have to climb up again.

Incidentally, this is connected to the principle of human nature where we assume our labour saving devices will mean we will work less, when really what happens is we then go try to do more. The person who started this dream didn’t realize that it was in our nature never “to be satisfied.”

Dreams are motivational. Since when was it actually good for us to get what we want?A young child wants to grow up. A young person wants to achieve the world and to look perfect. The siren call of our dreams helps us—when we have the power to get exactly what we want, it is from an older instinctual drive from when we didn’t have the power we have now...

We crave security, lots of food, security in every way, but now that we can actually have it, are we proud of ourselves? And isn’t it totally hilarious that we lead a lifestyle where we drive around in cars, sit in front of computers all day, and then we have to go to a gym to keep our brains and bodies healthy? Perhaps better to get out a shovel and dig a garden to grow our veggies, and bike to work.

We can control our environment all we want, but we can’t change the way we were built. God forbid we start messing with the wiring with genetic engineering, I don’t trust humanity as a whole to keep alive goldfish...

I know this is a very long blog entry. There is something floating around in the back of my mind that I feel is important. Something about the way we've evolved, and succeeded, and about why we are not succeeding now. What is our downfall? Humanity as a group is no longer showing good long-term survival skills. (We are suddenly not choosing to live in a way that can go on for long, laying waste to, and consuming our environment.)

When we grew strong, to be the humans we still are today, we lived in small groups, and were able to flex and adapt to the land around us. We explored and tried things, and communicated what we found. I feel like our large, sedentary structure has led to herd mentality. People believe the larger group's sense that everything is alright when it's not. Our organization and tools totally change the way our culture is, who has the power to distribute knowledge, who makes decisions. Our decisions are no longer in the hands of a small group or real humans who can share the same spirit and understand each other, and follow reality. Our reality is created overtop the natural world, and our experience with the natural world is controlled. I believe that the people who kept going out and hiking, camping, roughing it, working gardens, are able to keep a relationship spiritually with the "real world". And ever since I was a funny little girl, strolling along, never getting to school as I noticed every leaf along the way, I felt from the trees, and from hikes in the 100% natural wild Canadian mountains with my father, that this world is crying out for our help.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

About being in a real group

There is a wonderful essay that I found in the front of a booklet about the Awataha Marae on the North Shore, from when it was being built.

My children (who are not Maori) go to Kohanga Reo, and I love this opportunity I have been blessed with to learn about how a healthy and natural human society functions, one that is not connected to a religion-- but a people.











This is what his essay said:



Te iwi marai kore, e hara…






Te marae iwi kore, he moumou.


--Maori Proverb –


People without a marae, are nothing…


A marae without people, is wasted.



If a Maori was asked as to what he thought was the difference in the principal characteristics of a city and the principal characteristics of this traditional rural home, I am certain he would say, that culture dwelt there on the marae, and very little in a city without a marae. A city dweller unless he wanted to, need not participate in communal, cultural and public life. He will have few friends and no neighbours. In a concrete jungle with its labrynth of streets with large concentrations of human beings, a person may enjoy complete detachment from social and civic responsibilities. He will experience a kind of freedom and solitude as he might find in the Antarctic.



That sort of freedom in a rural environment, has never meant that the Maori was free from the restraints, the obligations and responsibilities imposed upon him by the elders, the family and the community which are additional to the ordinary restraints imposed by the law of the land. Every Maori is checked by local opinion and by a strong opinion of the religious community of which he or she is a member.



All the restraints within reasonable limits, make the life of the Maori on the marae and in a rural community, more purposeful, and more conscious of value than the so-called freedom of suburbia. After all they are restraints which are the true and necessary foundations of culture, based on the marae and the community it serves. A feature of Maori national and social life is that they do not live as solitary beings, but as members of a social organism.



The concept of a marae, a Turangawaewae (a place to stand on) is profound. Indeed it is almost a prerequisite to the fostering of Maori culture, the cultivation of the language and the preservation of customs and aspirations which is an integral part of our New Zealand heritage.



There are several urban marae to the East, to the West and to the South of Auckland and rural marae to the North, but none on the North Shore – serving a large Maori population and the community in general. I congratulate the trustees for their foresight and untiring efforts to rectify this serious omission.



The Marae on the Shore will play an increasing and important part in bringing together young and old of all ethnic groups resulting, I am sure, in better understanding and tolerance.



I sincerely hope that City fathers and the community at large will give this necessary and worthwhile project their whole-hearted support and commend this booklet to as wide a readership as possible.









He rangi ka aohia, he huruhuru ka rere te manu.






The dawn is nigh, without feathers a bird cannot fly.


Kia kaha, kia manawanui.


Kia Ora roa mai koutou katoa.



Sir James Henare




I love it. This "right" our culture teaches us to feel we have to individual choice and freedom is really the counterbalance for responsibility. You can see the fullest effect of this belief in the right to freedom over responsibility in America, in the States, where they do want to be free, but have also lost much due to this freedom. I just love how he states this truth, that when we believe we are being free, and practicing a right of personal choice, we are really choosing to neglect our responsibilities to others in our community.

The Maori community that I have seen operating is so different to what I am used to, in that the people, the teachers that are members, truly act like one entity, a part of a group. This sounds normal, but it's actually radically different to how people function nowadays. We act as a group somewhat, but at the same time playing our individual interests. These people discuss their feelings, acknowledge and include all parts of the human soul, in group discussion, spirituality, whether someone was insulted or hurt, enjoy music and food... To act as a group in all aspects of life has been a real eye-opener to me. I've been privileged, and feel more complete, to have been a part of it. The plus side is that each individual does not stand alone, having to be this super-achiever. We are all more like little children, listening to those with more experience, the older people, all along the path. The older people guide the younger, so you're not alone in being "an adult". And, parts of myself which would be neglected, or feel lonely, by the normal city culture, are now happy. Especially the act of whipping out a guitar, for everyone to sing, is supercool. Nobody would ever be able to do that coming from the culture I came from.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Understanding the sacrifice of eating meat












Ok, here is my take with the modern life (take as in matter or issue, Maori word, said tah-kay): One, we disconnect ourselves from killing what we eat, and pretend that we are now too civilized to kill anything. I for one want to be responsible, know what I am doing, and also to understand what it is I am doing. The closest I have come to understanding what it means to kill another animal for food is watching a program which took very unfit English people to a very traditional upper steppes village in Pakistan (the Shimshal). The people still ate and lived very healthily, they ate mostly lentil dishes with yak butter. Eventually they had the people who were getting better health, and becoming less obese, take care of a yak until at the end, having to watch him be killed in their honour. In the reality program, the obese English people were crying and coming to understand the sacrifice the yak had made-- I think I finally understood that the sacredness about it was to be grateful and respectful for the sacrifice of a living soul, for whatever reason. I think it's simpler than we modern people make it out to be, it's simple, and it is both good and bad.

Anyways, I want to be reconnected to this sacred reality. I don't want everything to not have much feeling to it, like buying polystyrene wrapped red stuff from a big grocery store, and selecting a few people to have the lifelong occupations of killing animals for us. That's weird.

I believe the complexity of modern society is going to devolve back into smaller units again, it's so uncomfortably complex. Like people having chooks (hens) in their yard again. And having a pig, or milking cow.

Another take I have with my culture is the competitive mantra. Like individuals were meant to compete against each other, for the sake of themselves, and that's all fine. There are many reasons why it's not fine. For one thing, it doesn't distribute wealth equally at all, the experiment "of the West" has failed in that way-- and it's also totally destructive on the environment-- bigger better, using more resources, despite not leaving any to regenerate themselves. Screw the next generation, I am stronger than they. But the reason I thought of this today was this intuition I always had about strong men, or strong young people. Some people believe that because they are stronger, they are meant to take this strength and use it for their own purposes, competing against the community. Boys are stronger than girls, and young more than old, so that they can contribute this to the team. You don't run past the old folks and say Aha! Of course people have power in different areas. You don't hold it over each other. It grew to be a valuable part of the team, and is nurtured within the group. Our freedom from the group that we enjoy is a freedom from social group responsibilities-- a freedom which has resulted in this cold world we live in today.

We lie to ourselves about many things, to enable our lifestyle today. We lie about being non-violent, non-killers, we lie to ourselves so we can wield wealth over each other-- be like Donald Trump, smiling smugly as he uses his power for his own self, not the greater community-- as stupid with lack of wisdom as he is cunning with his wits-- and the biggest lie that we tell ourselves, is my final take with our culture:

We lie to ourselves that we can live with such modern luxuries and easiness and escape from the hardships of life because we have outwitted nature, basically. We have made inventions that work so we do not. This was our dream, anyways. But that's not what happened. We live in great luxury because we take what we want from nature, ie we take too much. AND our very wasteful society also depends on many other countries which are "developing" to give us raw materials for not much money, basically to live in poverty below the clouds, overpowered by us, as well (e.g. Brazil with its money crops they need to grow to pay first-world debt). It's a bubble that is going to burst, because we won't see it for ourselves. We live beyond our means, and get a temporary relief from economy in life, from having to labour physically as much, and from having to become skilled and creative (using resources unwastefully requires becoming skilled)-- and do things for ourselves, but since we are using up all these resources, our future children are going to be living with the opposite reality.

Oh, Donald Trump, you stupid man, stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

On Civilization and Barbarians

Read this, it's fascinating-- from a Portrait of Life in Southern Alberta 1920-40 by Bruce Low (found in a collection of biographies by Ann Jones called David Allan Watson and Lydia Tanner Watson: their biographies, descendents, and ancestors):

“This reservation/prairie served also as a type of vacant lot playground for the boys of the town. In the spring we would work like beavers, carrying water to pour down gopher holes to drown out the poor things, just for the satisfaction of killing them. The cruelty of the whole process never entered our minds, and the energy expended in the operation would have astonished our parents, who had to endure our daily lassitude regarding household chores. As spring faded into summer the sloughs dried up and with it our source of water, our strategy then changed and we used binder twine snares. How quiet and peaceful it was to lie on the prairie grass waiting for the gopher to pop its head up out of the hole to be snared. The meadowlarks were always singing, the gophers squeaking in their burrows, the breeze singing in the telephone wires, the ducks quacking in the lakes and sloughs, and with the pun-pun of the grain elevator engines in the background, all this softly combined to let small boys know that the earth was unrolling as it should, and it was good to be alive and secure in this, the best of all worlds. Again, the atavistic feeling of cruelty and killing was absent from our minds, leaving them blank for the sensual feeling of smug contentment... In the springtime the grass --prairie wool --would have a brief period of color when the anemones (crocuses) would bloom, spreading a splash of lavender over the flat areas. Later the gray-greenish tint of the grass slowly turned to the brownish-gray color of summer prairie land, as the sunshine matured and withered the stalks. In the gullies would grow buffalo beans, shooting stars, buttercups, wild roses, and wolf willow to give the lie to the thought that the prairie is always drab and colorless. Ground sparrows built their small cup-shaped nests on the ground in the open, and we always wondered how those small birds could ever find their nest again as they flew home with insects in their beaks to feed their brood. The same meadowlarks that perched on the tops of telephone poles or fence posts had nests in the tall grass, marvelously camouflaged as did also prairie chickens (sharp tailed grouse) which were very common in those times. High in the sky circled hawks soaring on the summer thermals, screaming their defiance and superiority to all and sundry down below. I used to think that if there was such a thing as reincarnation, I wanted to come back as a hawk...”

When I read that, my imagination was fired. I could really picture what it was like then, so much more open and free than now. While I don't love the killing part, I do feel that there is something that they had that we don't have now, that makes it so amazing to read about. Here is another quote from this story:

"People had to spend a good deal of time and energy on the mechanics of daily living. Every Monday morning after our breakfast of oatmeal, or cocoa and toast, we would heat a boilerful of water on the kitchen stove, cut up a bar of laundry soap into it, and add some lye. When it all began boiling, the scum from the hardness of the water was spooned off and the water was carried by bucket to the washing machine in the back room. About that time Dad would go to work, we kids would go to school, and Mother would be up to do the washing. At noon when we all assembled for our big meal of the day, I would empty the washer, bucket by bucket, and mop the floor in the back room before eating, while my sisters would hang up the clothes on the clothesline, where in the wintertime they would freeze solid. What a switch from today's automatic washers, completely undreamed of in 1930. Boys wore bib overalls or jeans (they weren't the height of fashion as they are today, rather a sign of poverty, not being able to afford real clothes) and home-knitted sweaters. Socks always had holes in thejn (nylon was still a number of years away, to be invented). Mothers were constantly darning them, putting them over old light globes to hold their shape while plying the darning needle. Clothing was constantly being made over and my mother was a whiz at it, using her treadle sewing machine. How she found/made time for all her projects I cannot to this day figure out. Bread was baked twice a week, garden vegetables were bottled every summer, 200-300 quarts, and that's a lot. Pickles, chokecherry jelly, peaches, pears, etc. for a family of six, were also bottled and stored away for the long hard winter that was sure to come, and always did. Peeling potatoes and carrots etc. for our noon dinner was done with a paring or butcher knife, which took five times as long as it does today, with our handy-dandy vegetable peelers, which hadn't been invented then. I can still remember our standard meal of fried hamburger or pork sausage (which we liked best) with milk gravy (a taste sensation that has nearly vanished today, what a pity) poured over mashed potatoes, together with creamed corn or creamed green beans, home baked bread, perhaps home made cottage cheese (we called it Dutch cheese) or pickles, and for dessert probably a half hour pudding or a dish of preserved saskatoons (we called them sarvis berries). In the summertime we ate radishes, which were usually wormy, and lettuce with our meals, especially at supper, which often was bread and milk eaten with a spoon, out of a drinking glass. Our supreme taste sensation was corn on the cob from our own garden, golden bantam or sunshine varieties."

Fascinating. And not even that much in the past, but so different than now. (You can read the whole story at http://www.scribd.com/doc/17592913/Portrait-of-Life-in-Southern-Alberta-192040040 )

I yearn for a life more like this. When I read this story, it started a history-craze. Not just this story, also reading some really old stories as well-- one of my ancestors may have married an Indian woman with viking blood (she had red hair, as she came from a tribe referred to as the "White Indians" due to previous intermarriage with Vikings).

The sense I got from this story was of the sense of freedom and independence that you had in a smaller community, while there were definitely down sides, people also always had a larger part to play in the community.

"The volunteer fire department typified the way in which pioneer communities functioned. Many people had their opportunity to serve on the town councils, school boards, agricultural committees, Scout committees, Church positions, etc. It was participatory democracy in action and it made people feel that they were important and that their opinion mattered. Furthermore, the cooperation thus enabled people to have conveniences they would otherwise have missed, e.g. rural telephones, irrigation schemes, beef rings, libraries, etc. Most homes had a large barn located at the bottom of the lot, in which they kept a cow or two, and a pig and some chickens. By the time fall arrived, several loads of prairie grass hay had been purchased from the local Indians at two dollars a load, delivered --just imagine. This hay had been pitched into the loft until filled, and the balance piled outside at the back of the barn in a large stack. Thus for a six to eight dollar outlay for cow feed, a family could be supplied with milk all winter These barns at the bottom of the lot were sometimes the leftover horse barn from the horse and buggy era (pre-1920) and sometimes it was a later structure built solely for a cow, with occasionally an enlargement or a lean-to on one side to be used as a chicken coop or pig pen. A family cow served two purposes: first, obviously, to furnish needed milk, cream and butter, and second, to give a job for the young boys of the town, to teach them responsibility and animal husbandry, and presumably to occupy their time such that they wouldn't be able to frequent the local pool hall... These animals belonged to a town herd in the summer time. Each morning after the cow was milked, I had to drive her to the edge of town to join about one hundred other animals, all of which were entrusted to the care of a local herdsman, who pastured them on the grass of the Blood Indian reservation adjacent to the town. At six o'clock in the evening they were driven into a large corral, from which the owners retrieved them, driving them home for the evening milking. In my mind's eye I can still see all these cows being distributed throughout the town in the hot, dusty summer evening sunshine. At least half of them had to be driven the length of main street to reach their barns. This was no great problem because all the stores shut down promptly at 6 p.m. Traffic was minimal by then (there wasn't too much traffic anytime, anyway) and to this day I cannot remember thinking there was anything unusual about it all. Didn't every town drive cows down their main street? Didn't all towns have cow pies splattered all over their roads to mix with the plentiful horse manure and dust and mud? The truth is that all towns of that era and area did. Overall it was then considered good husbandry and provident living. and an indication of a degree of prosperity. It was all of these, but it was also of a time and custom long gone. By the beginning of World War II it had vanished. Horses too, had practically disappeared by then. During the 1920s and the early 1930s (Great Depression time) they were still the mainstay of most of the farming of the area. They were also used in town dray service, delivering coal and wood. groceries and ice, gravel and lumber, and pulling the town hearse. They pulled wagons in the summer and sleighs in the winter, and were often more dependable than the Model Ts or Model A Fords, or Chevies or Stars, or McLaughlin Buicks, or Durants of that period. Our town had two harness shops, with the semisweet smell of oily leather mixed with the pungent acidy smell of horse sweat ever-present. There were three blacksmith shops also. where small boys would watch the smith rasp the horses hoofs, work the bellows on the forge. pound the metal horse shoes into the proper fit and nail them home onto the hooves of often skittish horses. The smell of the buming slack coal on the air-pumped forge. mixed with the always present perfume of horse manure gave a most distinctive "air" to the place. By 1939 all three blacksmith shops had gone, their workers had retired or died or joined the army to become welders and/or cannon fodder in the coming war. When the Palliser expedition was sent out by the Canadian goverrunent in the late 1850s it reported that, in effect, there was a large triangle (roughly, Edmonton. south to the border, east to Winnipeg, back to Edmonton) which was unsuitable for agriculture and settlement. Time has proven them only partly right. Most of this large area supports agricultural communities to the tune of several million people, thanks to better farming methods, machinery, seeds etc. The greatest physical problem is drought, although uncertain market prices are a perennial worry as well. During the 1930s when a major drought came hand in hand with a world wide depression, farmers in the western part of Alberta certainly had hard times. but were spared the calamity of total crop failure that occurred in areas farther east in the Great Plains region. Hard work and minimal rainfall enabled them to just keep their heads above water. My father worked in a town totally dependent on the farming trade, and so our family had hard times too. The strongest exterior influencing force on my life was the depression of the dirty thirty era. Hard as life became physically, it was even harder for people to maintain courage, hope and optimism. However, we were lucky to be living in a town containing many people who, by their influence, rallied and encouraged people to hang on. President Wood, our Church leader,spent his-life prevailing upon his many flocks to strive to lead honorable lives and to work hard and intelligently, promising us all that by so doing we would win in the end. His wise counsel constantly lifted spirits in those dark days. The calibre of men and women who taught me in grade and high school was also of the highest degree. As I have observed their lives over the past fifty years, I realize how fortunate I was to have been taught by them. From them I learned attitudes as well as facts. 33 A Portrait of Life in Southern Alberta The cultural events we had were surprising. both in numbers and quality. Due to the fact that we were cut off in a comer of the province. having poor roads and undependable transportation. we were forced to improvise on our own. There were quite a number of people who spent considerable time and energy promoting music. drama. dance. etc. Each year the community would sponsor and perform a different operetta. such as The Mikado or Once in a Blue Moon. or Once in a Pirate 's Lair. most of which are long forgotten now. They involved the efforts of fifty to one hundred people over several winter months. and were of a surprisingly high standard of performance. They were the highlight of our winter season. Church dances were held almost weekly. and thanks to a prepaid budget system. they were within the means of most people and provided much of their winter entertainment. School festivals taught the art of speaking in public, and at the very least furnished the opportunity for shy country kids to partly overcome their bashfulness."

Isn't that interesting? Don't you just crave this smaller world, where you can make a difference?

I do. I think it's wired into me on some deep level.

Ok, this is my thought-seed for this blog posting. I really notice that people seem to crave fame, especially young people. We want to be KNOWN. Everyone wants to be somebody in this world, and there is always this sort of cognitive dissonance when you grow up, and realize that you only have to power to play this tiny little part, as a bus-driver, or whatever it is that you are doing. Many of us desperately seek fame, only to often live unhappily at the intensity of fame once we have it. Why do we seek fame? I think our instincts are wired for these smaller communities where we play a guiding part-- and we feel like nobody when we can't change or have a say in our big huge world.

Modernism has brought us all this stuff we supposedly want-- but we haven't been able to change ourselves. We carry with us the same brain, and basic or primitive nature-- well, the same human nature. I believe we want to live in small, community oriented groups where we have a say and are somebody, and if we don't have that we feel lonely and unsuccessful.

We can change our society, but not what truly makes us happy.

Then I watched a documentary on Vikings, and also Goths. (History Channel Barbarian special that I got from the video store.) No, not the modern black wearing sub-culture, the real people called Goths, ordinary natural people who farmed and traded at the time of Roman conquests. I was sickened by the cruel Vikings, but drawn forever to the story of the Goths, a people who retained their ancient "pagan" traditions. They lived under chiefs, and lived happily until the Huns started attacking them from the East, killing , raiding, and terrorizing them. Finally they decided to leave in one group and seek Roman protectorship from the Emperor Valen. Anyways, it's a long story, but they become refugees, and are treated terribly for decades by the Romans, fighting back many times until they finally completely rebelled and sacked Rome, winning a proper territory for themselves-- although forever partly Romanized, and definitely Christianized.

I felt a real affinity to these people who, unlike the Romans, hadn't become violent for greed. They were stuck between a rock and a hard plac. You really got a sense of people naturally living somewhere together, but having the terrible possibility of another group coming down and destroying them. So the old days weren't all perfect either. You didn't live on each other's doorsteps, as we do now, with thousands of strangers in your largely populated area, which to me sounds lovely-- a small village of people working together-- heaven! But as a down side you could get totally wiped out. Perhaps this is what it's all for-- the civilization-- started by the Roman consolidation.

So, Western civilization has come directly from this Roman phase, consolidating all the barbarians-- against barbarians-- here is civilization. You are a part of it, or not. Bringing above all, security.

But living in this late incarnation of civilization, I ask-- what else might we have lost?

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Waking from a long sleep

People are waking up from a long sleep. After a few centuries of lying to ourselves, we are allowing ourselves to use the other half of our brain again; in public. The "left" side.

The return of craftiness. People are starting to get interested in crafts again. Although unecessary due to factory products, we are realizing that such work made us happy. To tune in to materials and become a craftsperson is an amazing gift.

Gardening. Garden centres are seeing record numbers of young people interested in food gardening. And learning the old arts of how to preserve the produce of their gardens into jam, into bottles, or cook with it.

The environment-- people have finally listened, and are thinking about their lifestyles, about what climate change means, and they are starting to change.

Television programming. I see an interest in "psychics", and spirit mediums, but for the first time this question is taken seriously. I have seen various programs gingerly begin a process of incorporating this level back into our society. How will this work? Maybe we do need to understand that which we cannot measure physically.

The world has begun communicating, so all of its countries, parts, are talking and becoming closer to being one. Humpty Dumpty is getting put back together. Catalyzed by the internet, organizationally there is alot of bridging and cross-cultural exchanges. I can see people who have written books from other countries being interviewed on popular talk shows, bridging financial schemes such as micro-investment, allowing money to travel from richer to poorer countries, or such as Childfund or Unicef, Intrepid volunteering transfers people over to help... We are grappling with the problem of creating a world culture, and we don't want some of the world's people to live in suffering or chaos.

That horrible and degrading show, the Flavour of Love "reality" show could exist, but a show called "Charm School" came up to battle the spiritual retardation.

Some people still strive to become ever-more-specialized and harder-bigger-better-longer-taller than ever before, but those who are starting to use that underused left side of the brain, the intuitive side which "puts it all together" are finding that our world's modern culture is like an "idiot-savante". We are very clever at certain tasks, but break down at doing basic functions. (We don't clear our wastes away, we gather pollution, etc. Hey that's more like a broken kidney. But the brain is still forming, and needs to include the function of a clean whole, because there is no dialysis available for the Earth...)

The awakening intuitive side of humanity asks, actually shouts, before now unheard: What is the point of building a tower higher and higher if doing so drains our source of strength of its nutrients, like a fetus that drains all the energy of the mother?

Why should I train in a super-specialized area, such as athletics, if most people grow increasingly unfit?

Why should I become the sole creative genius out of millions, if most people are too intimidated to ever write a poem or paint anything at all?

Or why should I become a super-specialized researcher that finds the secret of making people live even longer, when the world is already overpopulated?

I think we are wanting to have gardens.

To experience some wind and mud and pain.

I am.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ideas

Hey everyone. I have wanted to post a blog for awhile. I have alot that is going to come out, but I am actually going to start it, and add to it as I remember and think of ideas. This blog is philosophical. There are alot of premises out there that are out there, not because we find them true as humans, as ourselves; but illusions from the larger culture.

Like, don't you find it strange that ads bombard us between the shows we like, until one day this strange event seems natural. Don't you think that instead of having messages designed make us feel weak, and to lead us to doing unhealthy things like shopping and spraying our pens with germ killer, we should have messages from people in our society designed to encourage and guide? We all know this. I think all young people feel this way. But what is less easy to understand, and takes a few years, is why our huge and complex society does this, and also how we used to be a long time ago. And how we don't need to be like this now.

How intuition and logic are intertwined in our culture, and in our culture how we have battled with these in "recent times" (last few thousand years), and how our thinking may have gotten unbalanced. From farming, to the massively rapid--in the blinking of an eye rapid--rise of the city way of life we lead today. A world of disconnection, of suspending part of our minds, a deep spiritual part, to become socialized.

But I am not even worried about it. This is because I am not trying to solve it with logic, or rationality (as they like to call this thought-strand). I can feel, and it feels right, as I see things in the world, I can see evidence of our culture experiencing an amazing renaissance. People are starting to awake from the long sleep of a self-induced nature, actually it was the dreams of their fathers and grandfathers.

When we became unbalanced, it has taken some time for balance to restore itself. Specifically, I "posit" that, as I gathered during my university years, there was a time when our culture discovered that the world was not flat. (The time of Copernicus vs. the Church.) Also, the Earth was not in the centre of the universe, but more like a dust mote floating in a vast room. Apparently people felt let down, like their intuitions had failed them. They wanted to not trust their intuitions, since the worldview they had felt, had been a lie. So the scientific method vowed to be a fair, unbiased way to explore the world, and find whatever other secrets could be found-- we would only believe what we could find proof to support. Unfortunately though, this led to a worldview myopic towards only believing that which could be tested in a physical way (they say "empirically").

That led to a non-logical response, but real all the same, of valuing what could be controlled in the physical world.

But our logical and intuitive minds are meant to work in tandem, the one keeping the other in check. There are areas which the logical mind needs to be dominant, and areas which the spiritual awareness needs to guide. Some examples where logical thinking should dominate are areas where conscious thinking is important, like how to do something cleverly in the world; you can't just feel around with intuition for every move, you are meant to use your brain. But for areas such as making ethical decisions, for doing what you are meant to do, there are times you have to trust the subconscious. Some things are actually too complicated, you won't know why logically it was important until later, or we just aren't capable of understanding with our limited animal minds. Such as, I believe that you can feel, at any time, if you listen and are open to the truth (which can be hard to want to know), whether you are going the right direction, or blocking something that would require going the difficult path (in the short term). If you are unhappy, have "cognitive dissonance", you go the wrong way until you break down and start "listening". If you listen, then your intuition will guide you to the best path for you, in the long run. If you're not strong, then it will guide you to a path where you will gather strength. This is because we are all connected in a spiritual, non-empirically testable way.

Does it feel right? You will know the answer. Is this really what I want to do? Have the courage to try asking yourself right now.

Anyways, why bother writing all this? Because it is clear to me that our world is very blind to its own true behaviours, and we need to turn on the floodlights on our own selves, on our cities, and our futures. Is this really where we want to go? Do we feel good about where we have gone? About our cities? All the concrete, and the strangely rushing cars? A world where we don't usually bond or talk to our neighbours, where that need to help each other, or be a part of each other's business that we have always had, is not there. Mostly, where we are being wasteful, and polluting etc etc. Like an earth with a failing kidney-- we can't clear the wastes, and there is no available dialysis. Life wasn't meant to be as "easy" or destructive. That is not how it has grown to its marvellous state of today (that wants to keep growing).

There are so many little points one could cut, like about how men take claim of ideas and inventions, that are all just natural processes. How odd. This is the thinking of an intuitive-strong mind (me, these comments). How people were never meant to be self-contained geniuses, or individuals. We aren't complete at all. We are meant to communicate with each other, and think as a group. Each of us have fragmentary consciousnesses and talents. I can think everyone in the world who doesn't understand what I understand is an idiot, and they will enjoy thinking the same of me-- it's a growing process to understand we really are all different, and are meant to help each other. It's the only way that humans succeeded.

From the caves of prehistoric times, when we "had nothing", but our schemes around campfire, strategically planning our hunting battles to gain control over the animals, to a time where we feel we are gods because we have consumed everything. We feel we are like birds, in airplanes that storm the sky. But the intuitive, gentle mind notices how rudely the jet-plane forces its way through the sky, having to use so much power to do it. (Perhaps not the light, less-wasteful planes.)

We need to balance ourselves now, and the revolution has already begun. It is so exciting! I see so many signs-- one is on TV, various formats of shows from news to fiction to reality shows--where I can see our society trying to understand spiritual mediums, and spiritual matters. We are trying to take this back into our understanding again. I see many people trying to make a change, and contributing to the world in a very exciting way.

Everyone will have a strength. I hope you find that strength, and use it. Because another thing I know, as an intuitive-strong person is that it's going to be close. The environment is the most important issue, will rise as the most important issue (well, it already has), but for every person. We are going to be going back and finding that amazing strength that we have as humans. We are going to start caring about who has survival skills for long--term--survival. As in for future generations.

Thanks, these are my theories.

Nonavee Dale
New Zealand