If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.
Sir Ken Robinson
This statement really struck out to me when I was listening to Sir Ken Robinson talk. (He’s awesome, by the way. Check out his TED talks to learn more about education and creativity.)
As a child, I was terrified of going to the dentist. I would feel stomach pain, throw up and sometimes even pass out. As the years went on and I became an adult, my fear withered away. Afterwards for many years I thought I wasn’t afraid of anything. Snakes, bears, insects, dizzying heights; bring it on. I was skimming the surface, unconsciously making the judgement that fears ought to be external.
After some introspection I realized that for many years I was afraid of being selfish. Whether it was because of the way I grew up, the way my role models were or whether it came out of my own depths – I don’t know. But I do know that being afraid of being selfish (for me) leads to self-carelessness and burnout. Once I got a few slaps in the face from the Universe, I started experiencing the balance between selflessness and selfishness, experimenting with self-care practices and trusting my intuitions. It was hard.
Swami Rama says that all of our fears can be put into two categories: 1) either we are afraid of not achieving/getting something we really want, or 2) we are afraid of losing what we have.
I find myself once more in fear. This time, I’m befriending it. It’s not a big deal. I’m not letting it control my decisions or my feelings. It’s there, and I’m here. I can see it; I can see its tendrils reaching out to me, but my glowing inner light is unaffected. I am in Love. Such pure, profound Love that I am afraid of losing it and the person that enables me to generate such Love. I found something that I never thought existed. But, I am so in Love that if things do ever change, I will stand back and keep generating my Love into the world. That is how you conquer fear.
‘The absence of a coherent political project, it is claimed, inhibits the development of a more radical paradigm in community work’, so said Cooke and Shaw in 1996 (1996, p.9). Since then, we have been through a long politics of partnership that has located everyone on the same side, a delusional tactic that has resulted in negating dialectical thought, colonising critical spaces and temporarily halting radical practice in a haze of managerialism, professionalism and the elevation of doing over thinking. Our focus has been blurred on the real issues at stake and left us as uncritical deliverers of policy, not really understanding why we are doing what we do anyway. We have lost our way (Pitchford and Henderson, 2008). At the same time, on a global level, escalating forces of neoliberal globalisation are steering us along a dangerous trajectory, with a free market principle based on a profit imperative systematically fragmenting people and planet. We are left with a world in crisis, a world of increasing social divisions and alarming environmental degradation. This is the radical challenge of our times, and my invitation is for you to join me in exploring just how straightforward it is to reclaim our radical agenda and to locate it in a more global political project for participatory democracy.
I just emerged from the Living Soils Symposium, held by Regeneration Canada, and I am more fired up than ever. The conference has reaffirmed my choice to be a farmer instead of pursuing higher education, as I see my job as the most practical way I can take action to try to reverse the climate crisis we are now facing. I stumbled upon Greta Thunberg’s TED talk this morning, which fueled my passion and conviction.
I hope this gives you power, and that it sparks a reflection on what you can do to participate in the change that needs to happen.
spring spring spring spring spring spring spring spring spring spring spring
Even the word brings to mind the feeling. I just want to hop around outside, in the sun, twirling through fresh new little plants. I can feel the Universe tugging me forward, breathing air underneath my wings. I am so ready to take on what Life has in store!
This feeling is very much in line with what is going on with Earth and the stars. We are beggining a new astrological year, but we are also at the beggining of the earth’s seasons cycle (at least in the northern hemisphere).
The past few weeks have been difficult. Lots of mourning – of old relationships, old habit/thought patterns, old paradigms. Mourning my past selves. Mourning the winter.
The air is filled with possibilities. I am so excited to get my hands in the dirt.
I started being more mindful of the environmental impact of my general consumption years ago. It started in the shower, when I emptied a huge bottle of shampoo and wondered what the heck I would do with it. My municipality had a recycling system, but it still took huge amounts of energy to transform this plastic into, well, plastic with a different shape. I always knew from school that plastic is made with oil or natural gas, but in that moment, it clicked. I could see the extraction operation; the damage to the soil, the damage to neighboring waterways… I was taken aback – as if I was slapped in the face by reality – I knew that I could make different choices. I knew that it was my duty to make different choices, especially after having that awakening, that click.
I started on a quest to make homemade shampoo, toothpaste and facewash, completely dropping to use of any other ‘toiletry’. I want to share my basic recipe for facewash AND toothpaste. The differing factor here is the choice of essential oil. I love how simple and versatile this is.
Toothpaste or deep-cleansing facewash
3 tbsp unrefined coconut oil
3 tbsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt or himalayan salt
20 drops of peppermint oil for toothpaste or of tea tree oil for face wash
Mix it all together in a small jar and you’re golden. It lasts a month, maybe two. Don’t store it in a warm place – the oil will melt – but I keep my facewash in the shower and it’s fine with the intermittent heat. Be aware that this toothpaste is not foamy at all and needs some getting used to… some people like to put stevia or other sweetner in their homemade toothpaste, but I’ve found it unnecessary for myself, though it might not be for you (that’s totally rockin’ too!).
To this day: I don’t shave (although that’s a topic for another discussion), I use straight tea tree oil as deodorant, and the purest form of coconut oil as moisturizer (it’s suprisingly not oily!).
I’m extremely ethically-driven and have a strong sense of integrity. Having profound love for the earth as the sustaining force behind Life, I take the responsibility to eliminate all of my destructive behavior and consumming habits. Some things take more time and energy – like kicking green tea and bananas! – but I have patience with myself and take on challenges one at a time.
So much has happened since I last spoke. I spent two weeks visiting my brother and sister; I started conducting workshops for my community development course; I started teaching art classes to elementary school kids; I kept up teaching yoga, practicing yoga, swimming, painting, reading and writing.
All the while chaos was unfolding around me. I was caught in a riff between two people that I love immensely. Both sides were wrong. Both sides were right. I learned about the damages of near-sightedness, of being unyielding, and of miscommunication in cross-cultural relationships. When I sympathized with one, I insulted the other. I oscillated between the two, not quite knowing where to stand, feeling increasingly confused and hurt by the circumstances. Eventually, my partner left to go back to the United-States.
I still don’t know how I feel about the whole situation. At first, I was angry at them both; profoundly confused. Some days I want to lay in bed and cry because I love him and miss him. Other days I feel excited about moving on without him. Sometimes I’m frustrated because I can’t make up my mind. I’ve come to accept the process of not knowing; of questioning. My favourite poet, Rainer Maria Rilke said in his letters:
“I beg you, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”
This resonates with me so profoundly. It evokes deep feelings of gratitude within. Everything is exactly how it should be. Not knowing is perfectly acceptable – sometimes my perfectionist self tries to get in the way and control things… I see it clearly now when I write to you.
Meanwhile, I’ve been talking back and forth with my friend Brett, who owns the farm I will be managing with (and sometimes for) him this summer. Seeding calculations, production plans, garden plans, greenhouse schedules, convincing people to buy what we call CSA shares (which consist of weekly vegetable baskets – hey if you’re in Ottawa and you’re interested go to https://www.cadencefarm.ca/), amongst very many exciting farm preparation things. Most of our help with labour will come from youth groups that want to learn about growing food sustainably. I am thrilled to not only be a farmer, but also an educator.
I’m also painting a lot more. I am refining my skills, and I find myself less and less frustrated by the process and more and more in a state of flow. Which brings to mind a poem I wrote last summer.
it’s flow, obviously
stand up straight
there’s no time to wait
from the past
these things always pass
yet we quiver at the thought of separating from the mass
we shiver in anticipation knowing how fast
yet simultaneously slow transformation has
deceivingly betrayed us
intuitively guided us
Now, this makes me think of something Eckhart Tolle said in one of his talks. He was talking about how we’re always waiting. Waiting for lunchtime to come around, waiting for spring to come, waiting for someone to speak first, waiting to quit our jobs and start the next exciting thing. Waiting. Waiting. He says when we start cultivating awareness. I want to emphasize that. When we start cultivating awareness, we start being present. We start being here, Now. With whatever we are doing. We stop waiting.
And yes, blah blah blah, you could start contesting that with thinking “well what about decisions that I need to make? and choosing a ‘career path’? and planning a vacation?” Those are all legitimate concerns, truly. And maybe your life requires you to think in that way. But that might also be the reason that the human race is stressed out, anxious and unfulfilled. Which brings me to something touched upon by Osho. He talks about spontaneity and recognizing the flow within. If a decision doesn’t come to us spontaneously, from that unknown place within ourselves, then we are trying to control. We are lying to ourselves and fooling ourselves, in a very subtle, but profound way. Because then we are pretending that we know better than the flow does.
I have certainly been catching myself trying to control things and people and circumstances. Know that I am only sharing my thought processes and understanding of things with the purest intentions. I just want to learn through sharing, and I encourage you to do the same. I am always open to receiving your thoughts and ideas. I most likely will answer, though sometimes I feel like it’s unnecessary for reasons that depend on the immediate circumstances.