Saturday, December 12, 2009

The most powerful poem I have yet to read


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul

Sunday, October 11, 2009


At this time of year, with the golden leaves falling and the first mornings of frost-bitten grass, we are reminded by society and our culture to be grateful and thankful for all we have. I may be wrong in my assumption but I think most of us equate being thankful with the "good" things in our life, such as our family, friends, the roof over our head, the food on our plate, our secure (or not) job, etc...
This definition of gratitude comes from a western philosophy because as I reflect on eastern religions and philosophies I discover the concept of having gratitude for all things that come into your life - those "good" and "bad", as we label them here in the west. On first contemplation of this idea of being grateful, thankful, for the "bad" things in my life, I notice my mind take up great resistance to this idea. It is almost unimagineable to consider these so-called "bad" events, emotions as anything but that - bad, negative, unfortuneate, and unwelcome. But as I ponder more and more these eastern teachings I begin to take away my labels of "good" and "bad" and notice a common theme. I notice a theme of challenge, perserverance, strength, and growth with all the struggles or "bad" things that life brings. I think of all the gifts those so-called negative events have brought and realize they truly make us who we are today; a combination of all the reflection, learning, and growth that allows us to evolve.

I also notice the dualistic nature of our world. Without negative there is no positive; we are either with or without. And that because of the very dynamic, changing nauture of the world, one moment we can be with and the next... without. Do we only learn gratitude for things in our lives if we have once lost them? Meaning we were once with and now we are without. Without this dualistic nature, there is no change, no reflection, no gratitude.

So this Thanksgiving I'm challenging myself and everyone who wishes, to have gratitude for all things that life brings them. To shift their paradigm on life to bring an attitude of peace, gentle curiosity, and compassion to all things in their life. With every challenge in life, to ask oneself, "what can I learn from this?", and then to embrace it with gratitude. I believe that only if we, as a society, make this paradigm shift, can we evolve. There is no changing the nature of our world, there is only changing perspective of it.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

"America the Disconnected"

Today I was fortuneate to have the chance to see "America the Beautiful: Are we obsessed with beauty". This documentary, directed by Darryl Roberts, investigates the etiology of the North American obsession with beauty; its driving forces, motivations, perpetuating factors, and its victims. What really resonated for me in watching this film, was the theme of disonnection. In his film, Darryl Roberts focuses on the disonnect in our society between the healthy self esteem that every parent wants for their child, and the harmful messages in pop culture/media that are hampering this goal. However the theme of disconnection can be seen on many other levels in the film, which I will explore here.

In one scene, director Darryl Roberts is asking a teenage boy why he has to have six pack abs and a very slender girlfriend. The boy replies that he wants these things and adamantly states that they are important to him. However, when he is asked why, a blank look covers his face as he is unaware of what is being imprinted in his subconscious awareness 24-7. He is disconnected from his own morals, values and standards. America, a free society, is not choosing its standards of beauty. The multibillion dollar beauty industry is, with its unrealistic standards of physical perfection that are blasted at us through all popular media - internet, magazines, T.V. and film. It is not a far cry to call it brainwashing, as its victims are not aware of the determinental effect of such 24-7 advertising. The consequence being this paradox of total obsession with our bodies, in the midst of total disconnection from them.

This paradox can be seen in the case of an anorexic teenage girl who disconnects from her body everytime she starves it, denying her natural, internal hunger cues. Everytime she does this, she is denying an essential part of herself, leaving her less grounded and as a result even more vulnerable to these fabricated ideals. Our society is telling this girl that she will only be happy when she looks a certain way. The irony being that when she reaches this physical goal she will be more unhappy than before. I don't know what could better define a disconnect.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I can't wait to be 60 and retire, travel.... and have babies??

So I thought I'd way in on the latest in-vitro debate. I thought I had heard it all when I read about that Californian woman who gave birth to octuplets, in addition to her already six children. But my vision of freedom 55 sure took a nose dive when I heard about the 60 year old lady who just had twins after journeying to India for in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Talk about outsourcing - you can travel to India for IVF, to the Phillipines for a kidney.......I'm guessing to a latin country for a heart? But thats beside the point...

My point is if your ICU bed is booked for post-op recovery after your c-section, then you might just be too old to have kids. Maybe I'm being a little harsh, but I'm wondering what these kids are going to do if their mom dies when their 15, which is not that far off as she would then be the ripe old age of 75. Is it too harsh to say that if there's 2 generations between you and your kids, you should have thought about getting a dog instead? The other controversial arm in this debate, is the fact that Canadian tax payers are paying for the after care of a patient who payed for initial treatment out of country - a treatment that is not legal in this country as the cut-off age of IVF in Canada is between 45-50 years of age.

I can't imagine how hard it would be to want children so badly in life, and then to have miscarriage after miscarriage. My heart goes out to this lady, it really does. But this is where ethics comes in, to make sure to do no harm and act in favor of the greater good and not to support individualistic desires. But I'll go out on an optimistic note in saying that there are many young parents who are unfit, so my feeling is that there are many older parents who are awesome, loving mothers and fathers. :)

Sunday, February 15, 2009


" I read somewhere about a family who had only one son. They were very poor. This son was extremely precious to them, and the only thing that mattered to his family was that he bring them some financial support and prestige. Then he was thrown from a horse and cripppled. It seemed like the end of their lives. Two weeks after that, the army came into the village and took away all the healthy, strong men to fight in the war, and this young man was allowed to stay behind and take care of his family.

Life is like that. We don't know anything. We call something bad; we call it good. But really we just don't know. "

- Pema Chodron

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Ode to Valentine's Day

As I was pondering this Valetine's day while on my computer this morning, I came across the picture before you. I'll have you know... I wasn't the only pervert who took this shot. But I shall leave him/her in anonymity.

I started to reflect on what our expectations of this day are. What is it that people want from this day? - gushy hallmark cards, Godiva chocolates, trip to the spa, romantic dinner with our significant other. And if this day didn't meet our expectations, would we feel resentful, unloved and unappreciated. I'm not sure what the answer is. But I'd like everyone on this Valentine's day, to try and put aside their human brain and its large neocortex. And take in the simplistic message of our reptilian friends, and " be grateful if you are getting any at all. "

- Love and Kindness

Friday, February 13, 2009

She wondered what life would bring
Uncertainty draping like a veil showers the shoulders of a young bride
Awestruck by the many forks in the road
Wondering if life would just throw her a frickin' spoon
Events of the past lure her back into the fog of illusion
Clouding the only true gift she has
A tremendous red bow engulfing the now
Awaiting to unravel the tie that binds her
From her life
Destiny... here I am