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Zeitgeist

13 Mar

I remember first being introduced to the term, Zeitgeist, back in my Grade 12 English class. My hippy teacher (yes, he drove a VW van and was a true dude!) explained that this was a term that meant “spirit of the time”. Wikipedia has confirmed it.

For some reason, this word has been milling around my brain lately, as I think about our planet and recent global events. It is difficult not to notice that the Earth is going through a period of unrest, on many levels. We are bombarded with events that make hard-core Christians positively orgasmic with signs of the second coming. And, no. I did not intend to make that sentence sound quite so sexual. Whoops!

I really became aware of this a few months ago, when a friend introduced me to some “conspiracy-based” websites. There is A LOT of information out there pertaining to the New World Order, aliens, 2012, Illuminati, and a general “elite” agenda to make us all into robot-like morons that will follow a Satanic rule. Crazy enough for ya? It does sound a bit paranoid on the surface, but I quickly got sucked into the theories and began to worry about the grains of truth that could be scattered among the information.

Alongside these theories, there are the Bible-thumpers, mentioned above, reading every recent event as a sign of the coming Apocalypse and urging one and all to REPENT, REPENT, REPENT! With massive animal die-offs, war, and natural disasters plaguing the Earth, it is hard to turn a blind eye to these theories, as well; despite the fact that I am not a believer in literal interpretations of the Bible.

And so, in the past few months I’ve become a little obsessed. I gather information and I become sad. I admit, I have not yet come to proper terms with the impermanence of life. Looking at my two small children, I desperately want to experience life. And I want my children to experience it fully and freely. My heart feels so heavy when I think of any suffering that they may have to endure. I don’t mean a broken heart due to a love lost or some hardship when they argue with their boss at work (although I wish I could protect them from these events too!) I mean living through natural disasters, war, famine, political unrest, etc.

So, against this backdrop, I began to think of the word, Zeitgeist, and I realized the obvious: the Zeitgeist of our times is fear. We are a planet of humans living in complete and utter fear. At the core, it is a fear of the inevitability of death. North American culture, in particular, lives in total denial of the fact that everyone must eventually die. This trickles down to just about every aspect of how we conduct our daily lives. Protecting ourselves from any kind of hurt, pain or suffering at all costs. This fear fuels a collective paranoia. We read into every major event, looking for clues and signs. Signs that drive whatever fear-based agenda we believe is ruling the planet. Our media intensifies this madness with doom-filled headlines that manipulate facts. A personal favourite of mine is when weather turns extreme. Soon the TV networks are confirming: The most devastating tornado to hit Kansas since record-keeping began!! Nothing like this has been seen in our lifetime!! The inevitable quote by a local elder: 90-year-old has never seen a storm this horrific!! Of course, we’ve only been keeping records for a few hundred years, and a “lifetime” is actually a split second in the grand scheme of things. But that fact just doesn’t have the same kind of punch.

On the flip-side of this, we have the Universe itself. The planets. The stars. The cosmos. Existing for billions of years. Earth herself has been home to a multitude of species. Some survived for millions of years until present day. Others were wiped out. The Universe makes no judgements and is not sentimental. Nature simply flows through a natural cycle, allowing birth, life, destruction and re-birth. And, in my humble opinion, as many philosophies and religions that have tried to understand this process, none of us truly comprehend the enormity of it all.

In the wake of the recent tragedy in Japan, I have been checking in with both mainstream and unconventional news sites. Of course, the unconventional ones scream of conspiracy. Some believe the event was planned. Government conspiracy. Population control. Those who feel it’s a natural event, add this to their Apocalyptic checklist. I found myself feeling angry and manipulated. Everyone seems to have some kind of agenda. The conspiracy theorists claim that they are revealing the truth behind the curtain, but I see nothing constructive or positive in their rants. They sensationalize as much as mainstream media. And, of course, mainstream media itself cannot be trusted. I’m pretty sure that’s common knowledge at this point. Their one common bond, though? Fear. If you don’t fear the natural world then make sure you fear the government. If you don’t fear the government then make sure you fear God. If you don’t fear God, well then you better be in utter fear of….oh yes….Satan!!!

On her latest album, Erykah Badu states that there are only two emotions: fear and love. I feel like I see that all around us now. If something is not rooted in love, a universal love, then it is rooted in fear. Even hatred and violence are fear-based. The levels of fear are many. From the most superficial ego-based fear, to the most profound philosophical fear. But it is fear that surrounds us.

I don’t claim to be above it all. On the contrary, it affects me at a core level that I cannot deny. Fear has literally been my personal disease. However, my goal is to replace it with love. It’s a lofty goal, I admit, but it fills me with hope and it feels so right. Perhaps the world as we know it is spiraling toward irreversible destruction. Or perhaps this is just another moment in human history that shall pass and be analyzed by our children’s children. (Naturally, I hope for the latter scenario.) But, I cannot control this. I can only control my own reaction to it all. My hope is that I can tap into the beauty and love that surrounds me. My family, nature, my close friends, the joy in each day. I am blessed with love.

The current Zeitgeist is powerful. Fear is something I must fight every day. But it’s a good fight. And I hope you join me.

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Big people

11 Nov

Lately, my mind has been occupied by very “adult” things.  Responsibility, our house, schooling, money.  Honestly, it’s no fun!  I would so much rather be thinking about Hollywood gossip or a nice pair of black boots.  But I suppose that after getting married, buying a house and having 2 kids, it might finally be time to grow up.

One of my closest childhood friends and I would often have long conversations about how we don’t want to become “big people”.


Shoot, maybe we were wrong!?

I think the most significant place that this has revealed itself is in my professional life. Or lack thereof.
I have avoided situations that would advance me in any career like the plague. I made up a million excuses but for the majority of my life I coasted in retail jobs or “assistant” positions. Always praised by my employers, I made sure to do a great job, but never so great that it would mean I should be striving for more. Of course, part of this is my low self-esteem and maybe even a bit of laziness, but I’ll save the psychoanalysis for a shrink.

Finally, 5 years ago, I made a very conscious and responsible decision. I wanted to raise my kids. I wanted to be fully present and accountable for these lives that I am helping to develop. It has been the hardest and most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. Truly a personal and professional decision that I feel great about. But one that naturally creates a financial burden. So, as I blogged before, I set out to find a part-time job. And I found one. Not one that I had hoped for, and in fact, one that I feel extremely conflicted about (no, not phone sex) but it’s an income nevertheless. However, this has made my mind churn with the angst of wasted opportunities and wasted time. I should have spent my 20’s building a meaningful professional future. Instead, I spent that time worrying about growing up. Now that I am grown up, I am stuck working with a bunch of 20 year olds, for minimum wage, at a job for which I am simply overqualified. My university degree, my dreams of doing something meaningful, my life experience…not of any consequence. And it’s entirely my fault.

Now, this is not to say that I would rather be working than raising my children (Also work, of course!). On the contrary, no matter what career decision I would have made, I feel strongly about my husband and I doing the majority of parenting. However, I do feel that had I allowed myself to become a grown-up a little earlier, I would now have a more fulfilling part-time job. One that I could be proud of and that I could grow with.

Ironically, I am experiencing the part of “big people” that I feared the most: having to give up your beliefs and ideals, no matter how superficial, in order to make a dollar and be part of the system. But to add another layer to it, I supposed being a grown-up means sucking it up and looking at the big picture. Like the fact that the money will provide a better future for my kids. It’s a tangled web.

Class of 2010

2 Oct

I am no expert on social issues. Some may say I’m the worst candidate to comment. I’ve lived a middle-class life and I am an Eastern European woman with blonde hair and blue eyes. I have, however, attempted to remain aware of the world around me. I try to live consciously.

I had always thought that race was one of the biggest issues plaguing our society. Hatred of others because of their heritage or the colour of their skin. But lately, I am finding that there is another disease, equally damaging and one that often goes hand in hand with racism. Classism.

Since I’ve become aware of it, I feel like I see it everywhere and it shocks me. It’s usually subtle and occurs in the most unlikely situations but I guarantee that just as I have been, you have been guilty of it.

I think having kids and being around other parents has been one of the most revealing experiences for me. People are fierce about their values and beliefs when it involves their children. Which also means they become more transparent. Things you are willing to overlook in terms of your own self become unacceptable when it comes to your kids.

What scares me most about classism is that it is so subtle. So easily overlooked. And, of course, in its most basic manifestation, it simply stems from people wanting to feel better than others on some level. But it breeds hatred and separates people. To me the perfect example of it is the old cliche: you discriminate against a race until a person of that race becomes your friend, or brother-in-law. Then all of a sudden, he’s different. Not like the rest of them. He’s of a different class.

I find it often rears its ugly head when I am around people of the same race as me. I am married to a South Asian man and we have 2 kids. We have thankfully never been subjected to any direct prejudice. But it amazes me how the same people who are SUPER open-minded when all of us are present, begin to utter the stupidest things when only I am around. All of a sudden a comment that would be (and is) inappropriate to say in front of my husband, flies out of their mouths with frivolous confidence. I guess the fact that we are the same “race” and “class” makes it ok?

But it’s not restricted to when I’m around other white people. I have seen classism among EVERY race. And it makes me feel like even though we live in this multicultural world where equal rights is a common term, we really haven’t come very far from the time of Kings and Serfs.

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Time

21 Sep

Not to sound overly dramatic, but lately I have become overly aware of the weight of time. I feel like I’m running out of it. Don’t get me wrong – I am not making any morbid predictions about my future (touch wood!) – it’s just that there are still so many things I’d like to accomplish and I wonder where I can find the time…

It’s really such a cliche. When I was a teenager, the adults around me laughed at my bravado. I acted like I would live forever and they would give me that knowing, nay, patronizing look… They knew better.
In my 20’s, life was a flurry of discoveries and I experienced every high and low with passion and excitement. I met the love of my life and I formed a strong bond with friends who remain close to me today. I was full of ideas and the possibilities seemed endless. There were so many things I would do!! Meh. Tomorrow.

All those ideas…ideas that were achievable and realistic…I put them aside “for another day”. I did not pursue anything wholeheartedly because there “would always be time”. Even such a simple thing as establishing a solid yoga routine or drinking more water…simple things that take no effort at all, really…I always put them off for another day. Never mind getting certified to teach ESL or re-learning piano.

I am now 36. Far from old. But then again.

I have achieved many beautiful things. I am proud of the life I have created for myself. But have I really been pro-active? I feel a kind of urgency that I can’t fully explain. I want to forge ahead and make choices actively and consciously. I’m in a stage of my life where, ironically, time
is a luxury. Perhaps this is the very reason that I am realizing how I have taken it for granted.

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I think I can, I think I can…

14 Sep

I’m suffering from a superiority complex and I think it’s preventing me from getting a job.

For the past 5 1/2 years, I have happily taken on the role of stay-at-home mom.  Honestly, I love it and I cherish every moment I spend with my children.  However, I also have delusions of grandeur which make it extremely difficult to live on one income.  As such, I’ve accepted the fact that I will need to go back to work part-time.  I know, I know.  The horror!

Now, this won’t be the first time that I take on a part-time job.  But I am coming off a summer high, where I was able to enjoy lots of quality time with my little family and I think I’ve become spoiled!  Shush, my dear hubby, I was not already spoiled before!!

What I am getting at is, now that I will be giving up my family time for work time, I feel a little more choosy as to what I want to do.  I have set up a number of criteria regarding what my ideal job would be, and I’m starting to think that my little list is preventing me from getting any job at all. Work from home, with relatively flexible hours, and do something challenging and interesting that may eventually lead to a creative career when I am ready to return to work full-time.

When I first started to look for a job, I thought I would simply work in retail.  Perhaps a big box hardware store? Returns counter?  I know this is something I could easily do. I’ve got the experience and I’m good at it. But when I realized that I would receive minimum wage to spend every weekend arguing with grouchy customers, I thought, is this really worth my time??  So, I turned down an interview that was offered to me by one of these retailers. Except, it is at this point where I began to fear that I was getting too big for my britches.  Who did I think I was?  I would be lucky to get any job!  And we need money, fast. But wait. I have a University degree!  I’ve been praised for my job performance by many of my past superiors.  Surely I am better than “this”!  And so the internal dialogue continues…

The truth is, I find it scary to take this road.  It is very new for me.  My entire life I have been filled with self-doubt and I think I tend to aim lower, rather than higher.  It’s safer that way, of course, because I am more likely not to fail.  Psychology 101?

Now the stakes are even higher.  After all, although my other half is carrying the brunt of the financial burden, if I don’t contribute something soon, all of us will suffer.  So it’s kind of interesting that I would choose this time to decide that I want to work somewhere that fulfills more than just our monetary needs.  Especially considering how limited I am in the time that I can contribute to such a job!

Regardless, the seed has been planted in my mind.  Maybe I am better than I thought I was.  And maybe it’s okay that I don’t want to take pizza orders at 11 o’clock at night.  Then again, who the hell do I think I am??!

Ugh!!  And so it goes…

From cynic to believer

23 Aug

I fear that I’m becoming a cynic, and I need to stop it.  I’m pretty much angry at the world all the time.  This is exacerbated by my daily dealings with various bureaucracies, such as Enbridge or Sears or  Bell… it seems that they are intent on making a perfectly sane person lose their mind.  However, I think it goes deeper that this.  Yes, being put through the various levels of the Enbridge telephone system is absolutely enraging and nearly made me smash my phone against the wall.  But, I digress.

When I think about my life, I feel absolutely blessed in every way.  I have a beautiful family  (a wicked husband and awesome kids!), great friends that stand by me and share my values, a home that I complain about but am still happy to return to every night and I’m generally healthy and well.  This is when I would like to request you all to knock on wood, turn three times and spit or put up the hand gesture that protects against the “malocchio”, please!!! Despite all these blessings, though, I think about the world around me and feel a quiet sense of despair.  But even worse, when I hear others speak of revolutionary ideas that will bring about change, I find myself internally rolling my eyes and nodding in agreement, while thinking “Whatever!”  As such, I am becoming my own worst nightmare.

I’m not sure where this cynicism began.  I recall as recently as 10 years ago feeling more connected to the universe, more positive about the possibilities of true change.  Reading Tarot cards and contemplating the secret messages of the stars, my friends and I would discuss for hours the idea of aliens living among us and that the Freemasons were running the world.  All this was tied directly to a strong sense of spirituality – a sense of connectedness with something greater than this Earthly existence. As the responsibilities of everyday life took over my time, though, I found myself moving further and further away from these ideas and becoming more immersed in how I would cover the next mortgage payment.  Spirituality took a back seat.

So I’m trying to be a little more conscious lately. Replace my cynicism with a sense of wonder. Be aware of the beauty of each moment. No easy feat, I assure you. I’ll keep you posted as to my progress…

Input / Output

13 Aug

Our thoughts are energy.  This is not a philosophical statement; it is scientific fact.  And it is something that has been on my mind (ha!) over the past couple of weeks.

Let me digress for a moment… I am famous with my family and friends for complaining about things.  I feel like there are so many injustices in this world.  I want to fix them all!! However, this trait is strongly juxtaposed with my utter fear of confrontation.  Case in point: while jogging a few weeks ago, I was bitten lightly by a fellow jogger’s dog.  Although I initially yelled out in pain and the owner did scold her dog, I then continued running!  Thinking back on this, I find it absurd, but in fact, quite common in terms of how I react to others.

As such, what often happens is that I encounter some “injustice” throughout the day and I don’t respond at the time that it occurs.  I seethe about it for hours, maybe even days.  Then I either unload on my husband or my best friend (thank you both!).  Or I write a complaint letter.

And, oh, the complaint letters I have written!

Yesterday, I was met with another “injustice”.  I was treated extremely rudely at my local coffee shop.  At the time, of course, I hung my head and fumed silently.  Then I got home and the venting began.  Finally, my husband said, “You should write a letter to the owner.”  Yes!!  I was super-charged.  Oh, this letter was going to be a doozy!

So, last night I sat at the laptop and began firing off my tirade.  But as the words emerged on the screen, I began to feel drained.  And even after pressing Send, I didn’t feel any better.  If anything, I felt worse.  To add insult to injury, the contact email on the establishment’s website was out of order, so my scalding words were staring back at me a few seconds later.

This is when I, once again, began to ponder the concept of thoughts and energy.  Whatever our intentions are, this is the energy that we emit into the world.  Yesterday, the rude barista, for whatever reason, was emitting pure negativity and I was her direct beneficiary.  That negativity plagued me silently throughout the day and probably subconsciously effected many of my responses to other situations.  When I tried to resolve the issue with a letter, though, it was I who emitted the negativity and this drained me completely.  I was filled with rage and venom and I tried to relatively nicely transmit this into words.  But I wonder, if I had confronted the barista at the time…perhaps called her out on her behaviour…would I have been able to destroy the negativity?  Maybe I would have made her realize what she was doing and the energy would have been transformed into something more positive.  (This happens all the time.  My kids will be driving me crazy and I’m filled with anger, yet a simple hug or smile from them can transform the heaviness of the room into light and love.  Our intentions are that powerful.) Of course, it doesn’t always work this way.  I easily could have been met with an even harsher response from the barista upon confrontation.  Or maybe she would have reacted with complete indifference.  The variables are endless.  But the constant dance between our energies cannot be denied.  And here, all the famous clichés spring to mind…

Every action has a reaction.

To receive love you must give love.

Karma is a bitch!

Oh wait. How did that get in there?!?

So my ultimate goal?  Meet every confrontation head on and speak with love.  Allow each situation to be a lesson to myself and others and try to always be aware of the energy I emit. (My post about delusions of grandeur and Joan-of-Arc syndrome to follow shortly.)