Monday, October 29, 2007

surrounded and supported

So, I'm a witch.

Just in case you didn't know.

I feel like what i write on this blog only really captures one element of who i am. That said, what i am drawn to write here really feels like it is nourishing and encouraging my authentic self.

Still, there are so many sides of me I keep fairly private.

That said, I'm not kidding about the witch part.

6 years ago I was initiated into the thirteenth house mystery tradition, which is based in victoria, british columbia. when i moved away from victoria to vancouver, I left behind a really wonderful collection of women that I miss dearly. We circled monthy for the full moon and for many years we did what is called the 'tree of life chakra process' in which we spend a month working, meditating, processing in each chakra. i love that process and it has become something really integral in my life.

i've been living in vancouver for more than 2 years now, and i haven't initiated any connection with the wiccan community here other than to attend some public rituals. each year when i go to the samhain ritual it hurts my heart that this part of my life isn't at the forefront anymore. I don't even really do solo rituals except when in nature and the moment strikes me.

last night was the 15th annual reclaiming spiral dance and ritual in vancouver. oh i love this ritual. its so powerful and the spiral dance is an experience that i can compare to no other.

one of my favourite parts of the ritual is when we remember our beloved dead. we do a guided mediation in which we have the oppourtunity to connect with these beloveds, whether they are an anscestor or someone you knew who had passed on recently or long ago.

i'm not the best meditator and i tend to 'think too much' in this meditation rather than let it flow. but this year was different. as soon as the guide led us to the place where we would meet this person i was overwhelmed with the energy of my great grandmother, someone i truly adored. thats the best way i can describe it. i don't know if i was actually connecting with her spirit, but what i do believe i accessed was the essence of the love between us. i loved her so much. that love doesn't die. one of the most beautiful lines that is said regularly in this ritual is

'what is remembered lives'

and that i so believe. my love for gaggy (thats what we called her) overwhelmed my heart and tears dripped freely down my cheeks. two words clearly emerged from this meditation.

surrounded and supported.

i can still feel it in my heart. the ritual is an amazing place for us to mourn, unabashedly and publicly. there are a whole lot of tears shed. they speak the names of the newly born and the recently passed. there is also a whole lotta joy, so much play and an abundance of beauty and connection.

after the main ritual we began the spiral dance. i don't know how many people were there this year, but i suspect a few hundred. during the spiral dance we pass by each person a number of times. we are encouraged to make eye contact and i so love that. giving and recieving connected eye contact between perfect strangers is such a profound experience.

i felt so surrounded and supported.

after the ritual we feast on food that everyone brought to share. and feast we do.

i feel such healing from the ritual. more than other years by far. i so needed it and ache for more of that energetic space.

the last few days i have been more social than i've been in months. and i don't feel so overwhelmed by it. i will continue to take lots of alone time, but i do look forward to the connection that i'm gratefully soakin' up right now.

i want to end this with the words that we sing during the spiral dance (we probably sing it about 500 times!). As we began singing these words i realized how much they were actually a mantra in the last year of my life, though i didn't conciously intend it as so. Each day has felt like a new oppourtunity. Each change or broken chain has been a darkness i've worked through back into the light. And it all has been with the purpose of living more conciously awake.

Let it begin with each step we take.
Let it begin with each change we make.
Let it begin with each chain we break.
Let it begin everytime we awake.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

finding quiet in the city

Lately, upon waking, i gently ask myself what this day will bring. I'm working hard to not get in the 'i must go somewhere, do something, be something, make something of this day' in a frantic way....rather to figure out what i need intuitively of the day and accept what it is...when you follow your intuition its much harder to be dissapointed!

So yesterday I awoke and the beach was clearly present in my mind. It was a gorgeous blue sky day in a city that so often is rainy. Armed with all my photo gear i hopped on my beautiful blue mountain bike and biked down to the beach.

Like most bike rides or adventures of the day, there is some sort of food-centred stop (i love food...). It may be the gluten-free banana bread on grandville island, rice pudding on mainstreet or as today...lunch at the naam. deliciousness! i sat beside the most beautiful painting of a cow! (thankful to be eating soy).

Then, once perfectly to the beach. i'm so happy to share some of the gorgeousness that i saw there with you.

Spending this time on the beach reminded me of my days in Hilton Head when I would spend hours walking up and down the beach collecting shells. Taking pictures of waves, bent down in my skirt (i'm pretty sure i accidently flashed the people dining at the yacht club...oops!) i felt so calmed. I want to find a way to have more time with the elements... a walk through the ravine a mere block from my house, biking through the endowment lands by ubc (so much calmer than biking on streets), more beach-walking-meditation-picture-taking.

I'm also so excited to be part of the 'Small is Beautiful' bazaar over at Magpie Girl's gorgeous website. Check it out and get ahead on your holiday gift buying by supporting small-scale artists!

Another internet moment that made me smile today was seeing my picture as one of the favourites at the Self-Portrait Challenge.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Self Portrait Challenge: food and me (week 4)

it feels like food has been the theme of my life this month (as well as being the theme of the self portrait challenge).

i've been negotiating with myself over my food allergies....trying to sort out what are the culprits and how do i eat anything at all if i can't eat wheat, dairy, sugar and soy (prioritized in that order)! and in the midst of it all, some inner strength inspired me to quit coffee! (my beloved coffee)

though i must let you know that this doesn't feel like its something i'm approaching with drudgery...i'm feeling super inspired about it. i don't eat gluten because my quality of life is so much better without it. i got ahold of the amazing book crazy sexy cancer tips which i knew would give me a nutritional kick in the ass. her book is directed towards cancer survivors but is super inspiring to all of us. also, although i've mentioned it before....gluten free girl is providing a super amazing resourse (lots of recepies on her site) to live joyfully gluten free.

all this brings me to the above pic. i've been working hard at changing the way i view my food. i love food. i mean love love love it. my mom laughs at me (and my brother and dad have been known to do this too) because as soon as one meal is done i'm pondering what the next one may be. but the way i approach cooking my food doesn't reflect this.

food brings me joy.
i want to create my meals with joy and passion.
to eat more consciously and enjoy the moment.

last night i made yam fries and cooked up tempeh, onions, garlic and kale (as seen above).
so delicious and i enjoyed every morcel of 'em.

givin' thanks to food and this challenge.

Friday, October 19, 2007

project vest reclamation

Now that I have a new llbean down vest in my happy hands, its time to end the two year saga i've called 'project vest reclamation'. Those of you who haven't heard the rant about this...I don't think you need to. Instead, I'd like to share the morals of the story.

#1. Don't enter the home of someone you don't know, put on an item of their clothing and leave, never mentioning it again. That is um, stealing?!

#2. Especially don't do the above act soon after said item-owner has been robbed in her home twice in one week (by the same dude both times).

#3. Don't ignore her polite requests for the return of the vest. Especially don't lose the vest! Don't pretend you didn't lose it!

#4. Own up, say your sorry when you steal something! (don't wait till they request it...especially don't wait over 8 months to really pisses people off!)

#5. Don't mess with a leo in her saturn return. Seriously.

#6. Don't avoid dealing with it. It will not go away! You will be called monthly, emailed regularly and endlessly until you deal with it (note #5 for the reason why)

#7. Don't be afraid to go to the next step and inform someone that you will be taking them to small claims court if they don't deal with a situation. It works! (in other words, don't be afraid to do something 'unkind' in order to stand up for yourself)

#8. Don't mess with Vivienne. She is working hard at becoming a tough cookie (while retaining a soft heart).

#9. Don't let yourself be stepped on or taken advantage of. Reclaim your inner bitch. Stand up for yourself in little ways and big ones (even when the little one's take 2 years to resolve!)

Um, and thank you to the lovely friends (and my family members) who had to hear me emotionally rant for almost 2 years about 'the vest' which was a situation obviously not actually really about the vest!

This ended up to be a pretty important part of my healing from the robbery and reclaiming of my personal power.

But I'm so thankful its over.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

words and images of a healing heart

i went out on todays adventures armed with my camera and spilling open by sabrina ward harrison. i didn't realize how much i needed to reread this book until i opened it up. i love how words and images can apply in such different ways at various points in one's life. last week was such a messy week...and reading spilling open so helped put perspective on working through self doubt. reading her words back then, they resonated, but they didn't hit me.

you know...hit you right there. they did that today.

and today they felt like exactly what i needed to hear. to not be ashamed of the rough patches and to work through your struggles in the most authentic way possible.

this week feels like i've taken that one step forward towards this continued healing of my spirit.

making sure i am showing up in my own life.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Self Portrait Challenge: food and me (week 3)


its pretty much my favourite thing about fall. cook one squash...with a bit of garlic and butter....the perfect meal. i love that i can get little squash that make a perfect one person meal. although i'm not one to use the microwave much, my sister told me that putting a squash in the micro-w for 10 minutes does a seriously good job of cooking it. it so much quicker!

its no surprise (if you look at my last few entries) that i was determined to take todays self portrait challenge using the through the viewfinder method. i very quickly realized that it is seriously difficult to one's face in the picture while holding the digital camera and focusing it...while precariously balanced on the contraption on the vintage camera. so i played around with what was possible! hence...the hand!

here's a few squash out takes (click on it for a closer view)!

on another food note...i've recently come across gluten free girl's site and am in blog heaven. a blog all about what consumes much of my everyday? why didn't i think of that! her post are charming, authentic and full of gluten free inspiration. i can't say i'm particularly inspired as someone who lives gluten free...its just the way it has to be. reading her blog and getting excited about her book...i felt something shift. what i get from gluten-free-girl so far in my exploration of her site is that this 'limitation' doesn't have to limit can open you up to living and eating a more ALIVE life!

happy eating to you.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

through the viewfinder: part 2

i asked that question those questions earlier so i could discover the answer, but i didn't quite expect the universe to respond so quickly. after writing that post i packed up my camera case and headed out for a walk.

and the magic happened.

i'm hanging all these photos up that i took today and i feel so sure that i need to follow the magic. maybe i don't shine under stress. maybe i need to focus on candids rather than posed shots. or maybe i need to actually do a lot more shoots to find my groove and feel confident in paid gigs.

i've been looking at so many photographers websites and the ones that resonate with me are the ones that really have a sense of their uniqueness.

here's a few of them

alicia block's ttv photos as well as her portraits.

the amazing leonie's sacred photography. she also is an amazing artist...her moto is 'joy is an option' and so lives it. her blog keeps me inspired regularly!

unravelling photos gorgeous images. her love for the holga camera and for experimental photos has me super inspired.

i'm eager to get outta this rut and
shine again.

damn girl. quit all this grumpyness and believe in yourself.
life's too short to not believe in yourself.

through the viewfinder

i've spent this afternoon building a contraption for the duaflex camera that i recieved in the mail this week.
oh deary me i think i'm in love.

i've been rather hard on myself this week as when i have a formal 'photoshoot' the negative chatter in my mind is so rampant, no matter what positive things people say. i don't have that feeling when i am taking pictures of people candidly or on one of my photo adventures.

really, its the same dilemma i face in other parts of my life. i need to give myself love before i can recieve it!

i'm pondering what to do about this, as lots of oppourtunities seem to be coming up.

i could:

~keep on doing requested photoshoots and find the magical way i see the world...even if i feel stressed under pressure

~take the pictures i love to take and try shoots when i feel more confident and ready for it

i'm feeling so inspired by my duaflex camera, my holga, my macro lense and my camera in general. i'm so grateful all this inspiration has come into my life. i'm especially grateful to have the oppourtunity to make further progress in my mission for self-love....even though it feels hard right now.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Friday, October 12, 2007

time for change

i went to the gym today for the first time in ages! there has been a civil worker in vancouver for 3 months. while the outside workers (garbage, recycling...) and the libraries (go librarians!) are still on strike, the inside workers are back to work. this means that the community centres, day cares, and all the offices at city hall are back to work (i hear there was a line at the permit office that started at 4am today).

though i really really support civil workers getting better treatment, i am excited that they are back (as i bet they are too!) i know a lot of this has to do with making sure that they don't get screwed over when the olympics which are happening in vancouver in 2010.

i've been feeling really messy for the last few weeks. rather low energy. feeling low about my body and my self worth. grr. it comes and goes it waves and this wave almost knocked me over. i know that exercise really helps me keep in bright spirits so i'm so glad to be able to have the setting to do that in. i hadn't felt very inspired to run or go for bike to be feeling pumped to go to the gym is a momentum i'm eager to follow.

inner working

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Self Portrait Challenge: food and me (week 2)

i love eating with my fingers. as you can see i'm simply holding my fork, which my kitter elliot is taking interest in!

this is the company i keep while i eat. i live alone, so my cats often sit by my side while i enjoy my dinner. i do miss eating with other people, but with my multitude of allergies, its actually easier to just cook for one!

i had a funny experience this week (well, not so funny at the time, but in retrospect!)

while on a bike ride along the seawall i stopped for lunch at a cafe on granville island. i had a lot on my mind so i was looking forward to some delcious food and time to ponder life.

i first noticed something was awry when the staff, who all looked strangely like paris hilton, walked past me like i was invisible. after working hard to catch their eye, someone came over to me.

'one?' she said 'just for one?'

then she passed me to another lady to be seated.

'just you?'

it was like these ladies had never pondered, let alone gone out for lunch by themselves.

then another came over.

'um, can i....bring you a magazine or something to do?'

i accepted the magazine, but was so shocked at the way these people were acting. i felt a bit sad at first (taking on someone elses opinion...that i should be embarassed to be alone...which i so don't believe!) and then decided that perhaps i should feel sad for them as they haven't discovered the beauty of enjoying your own company!

thank goodness this has only happened one out of the hundreds of times i've gone for a solo-dinner-date.

i eat alone and am proud of it!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

thankful for the goodness (and letting go of the rest)

beautiful company was kept last night.
i laughed so hard my cheeks hurt.
hilarious story telling
lovely people i'm glad to now know

and then after the sweets and vino
folks were heading to a dance party.

i challenged myself to go, as i don't go to
that kind of event very often.
plus, i had so much fun at that dance party in portland...
i wanted to give vancouver the benefit of the doubt.

alas, i challenged myself to go.
but not to stay.
i lasted three minutes before being totally overwhelmed.
a dark room with bouncing dancing people
with an energy i just couldn't relate to

on the bus ride home i felt teary.
i don't want to be here in this city that feels so closed
um, yah...did i happen to forget what a lovely night i had before this 3 minutes
at some crowded warehouse in east van?

i want to let go of my expectations of this city.
its not going to be like toronto or portland.
its energy is all different.

and good lordy i'm thankful for all the lovely people
this city holds. and to be able to meet them in settings
that we can
and laugh and get a sense of who people are, not how cool they are.

i'm trying to rediscover what connection means.
i sometimes have trouble relating to other people
because i spend most of my days relating to myself.

though that is way better than having trouble connecting with myself
because i'm too busy relating to other people.

middle ground vivienne, middle ground. happiest moment of yesterday was sitting in zinnias big chair laughing so hard
that i did that laugh where i stopped making sound! i love that feeling.

i want to hold the excitement of what this city can be, rather than what it is not.
cause what its not isn't likely to change,
but the potential of what it can be
just might surprise me.

Saturday, October 06, 2007


my happiest moment of the day yesterday was watching my favourite musician live through the viewfinder of my camera while singing. it hit me at that moment that i don't have to give up any of the things i love...all three can exist together! music has definitely gone to the wayside since i fell for photography...and now i feel so inspired on all fronts.

that fabulous performer in the pic above is the great Martin Sexton. i've been a big ol' fan of his music for a long time now and had yet to see him live. oh lordisa he was so damn amazing. its practically a religious experience seeing him live!

He's just put a new album out called Seeds...which is most definitely the most flowing, yet rockin' cd he's put out yet. Yum!

Wild Angels -By Martin Sexton

We are born with all this music in our heart
We tend to forget a little each day right from the start
In a dream I rolled on back the clock and found another way
To remember the words
That we are wild angels
Believing in our childhood dreams
We're just trying to find our way
back to the source of the stream

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Self Portrait Challenge: food and me (week 1)

Oh food.
My favourite thing and my biggest frustration. All packed into little morcels of deliciousness.

My relationship with food has been at the forefront of my life. I've been dealing with food allergies for oh so long. I had to laugh when I first read that this months Self Portrait Challenge theme is 'food and me' as I had just decided that for the month of October I was going to stop eating dairy and refined sugar. I don't eat gluten and haven't for a long time now, but its become clear that gluten isn't my only challenge. i think one of the other major culprits in my ever-bloated-belly is dairy. sugar is just wrong (and an addiction). i so yearn for a happy state of digestive health and am ready to leave the staples of most peoples diet behind if thats what it'll take to get me there.
the belly knows best!

so i wanted to start with this pic, which was the most delicious of apples that i got at a farmers market. although it often feels like a struggle to navigate the world of ingredients to figure out what i can eat...good ol' organic fruit is good good goodness...without question!

on being inspired to work in your pajamas

in the last few days i've been feeling a transition to becoming someone who
'works from home'

my job as a postpartum doula is a business that i run myself, but contract to another company, so i don't have much paperwork involved (until it comes to tax time). but there are some growing plans in this work world and i'm finding i have lots of work to do...research, taking new courses and the work that comes with them.

the other part of this has shown up full force without ever knowing i would ever find myself here. it is the work of an artist! i'm super busy finishing up a previous photo shoot and preparing for the next, researching photography courses to take (cause there is so much more i want to know), putting together plans for a show with my art collective, sitting at the table and making art, going on daily photo adventures. these wonderful tasks have been the way my life has transformed itself. out of depression came this beauty and adventure i never could have imagined then.

and this idea of the way i spend my days being potentially beneficial to my future worklife is scarey and wonderful! i've known for a while that i would like to add another type of work to my doula-life and that it would have to be self-employed as well. its almost ironic (to me at least) that i am my own boss, because i've struggled so much in my life with to be faced with doing the opposite is just a lovely turn of fate. though i guess we are always accountable to ourselves though!

so, i'm slowly discovering tricks which seem helpful to get me to sit down and get to work! any suggestions or ideas that work for you are oh so welcome!

-listen to the CBC radio (pretty much the canadian version of NPR). i think i need that sort of auditory action to get me to do other work.

-take time for healthy meals...either at home or go have that delicious greek salad at the cafe nearby. this keeps me from distracting myself with snacking!

-make a pot of tea! its grounding and calming

-pick one day to just clean clean clean the house. it seems like monday works best for that. having a clean space makes for clarity in the true!

-if at all possible, get up early to work. this seems to be the most productive time of the day for me (though doing night shifts makes this challenging). that said, night shifts are perfect for getting lots of work done!

-find a rhythmn...paperwork/research/reading in the morning and arting/photoworking/creating in the afternoon

what are your tricks for feeling productive at home? (because whether one's work is raising kids, healing your own body, or running a all vital work!)

other work inspirations:

this post by jen lemen on dreaming and working.

a post a while back by jen gray. go down the page a bit to the August 22 entry called 'on starving artistry'

and especially this piece by superhero andrea scher is an amazingly beautiful answer to the question i posed above!

happy home healing/working/mothering or off-to-work-you-go-ing to you!