Saturday, October 17, 2009

October 23, 2009

This past week, the person filling in for the staff member on leave for a year announced that I would be getting a call from a prospective employer for a reference check. We talked about it for a while. Great opportunity - $20,000 per year more than we at our NGO [Non Government Organization] can offer. Young, bright, ambitious, wanting to get married and have some kids. How can I object to that? How can I ruin the opportunity by not supporting them? That is just a lose-lose. No promotion and me working with an angry employee who deserves recognition and an opportunity to better fulfill life dreams! Here we go again!!

The reference check arrived right as scheduled and the formal offer for the job was made the next day! Good for them. Kind of sad for me as the working relationship was just beginning to gel more positively than before.

During the 1st week in November, I will be going to Oklahoma - a spiritual community for me; a church and seminary that I attended in the 1990s. I will lead the Sunday service there, my first ever, other than my seminary completion requirement; although I have done lots of public speaking. The Pulpit has not been my cup of tea. Two hour hell fire and brimstone diatribes during my upbringing and too much orthodoxy come to mind as possible reasons – but my experiences in Africa inspired me to offer to lead the service the only Sunday I will be there and the church leader accepted my offer. My topic is entitled: The Commandments Revisited. I will also do a session on my Africa trip as a work travelogue and description using the Internet based Picasa web album for my slide show. Then the next day, I will do a workshop-seminar on addiction entitled: Addiction: Unveiling the Tortured Soul of Humanity.

I have done a workshop in this community each year for the past 4 years and this year is a busy one with the three offerings during the week that I am there. My best friend there and one of the important the reasons I go to visit, is moving to North Carolina in part to be nearer to her daughter and grand daughter. Oh, we will see what the future brings.

Had another lovely hike last week – a great bright, sunny, cool, fall day – probably one of the last as the west coast monsoon seems poised to start on Tuesday with the predictable forecast beyond that date offering rain every day. Such is the season in Vancouver.

I am planning to go to Oaxaca Mexico for Christmas to join my Seattle brother and his wife (Remember from a long time ago I have seven brothers who live all over Canada and the US) who are studying Spanish there as of November 6 in preparation for working as English as a 2nd language teachers there soon. My NY- NJ brother will join us there. I will fly from Seattle and take Linden, my dependent niece with me. I booked the flights and paid for them on Wednesday so the die is cast! Haley, my older niece, will join from her work in Northern California as will my brother from Jersey City. That will be our third Christmas together in Mexico. Baja was first, followed by Buscerias, just north of Puerto Vallarta the second year.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I am back - after a few months of hiking...

It has been a long time since I have updated my blog! There are lots of reasons for that, of course.

The main one is that it was summer and my priority was on the out of doors, taking advantage of the beautiful place that I live and the mountainous splendour that is at my fingertips. The pictures of this entry are from a 4 day backpacking trip in early September, 2009, that I took with 5 friends about 90 minutes from home in Garibaldi Provincial Park. We hiked in for 4 hours with our tents and our food on our backs going steadily up for an altitude gain of about 3000 feet and and a distance of9 kilometres and than made camp on the edge of glacier fed Garibaldi Lake. We got much exercise, lots of clear sunny days, gained great appetities, met interesting and not-so-interesting people and enjoyed the flora and fauna!

In the following days we did more great hikes each going up another 2500 – 3000 feet and 10 -15 kilometres to Black Tusk and Panorama Ridge where you can see snow covered peaks at the end of summer in a 360 degree spectacle.
On the way up to Garibaldi, we encountered a medical emergency where someone had suffered a stroke on the steep climb to the lake and the campground. A helicopter ambulance was roaring above the 200 - 300 foot tall trees. There we lots of people there 'helping' and so we skirted the scene as there was nothing we could do except get in the way. Later we heard that the individual had died on the trail.

I initially thought, “How awful, going out for a hike and you never complete it! You leave on a stretcher.” But later, after some serious reflection, I changed my mind. It is a wonderful way to go to the next level. Doing what one loves, in a spectacularly glorious setting on a fresh and

bright day. We all will make a transition at some time. This one was fabulous and to be celebrated. Hiking and obviously in general good health. There was no pain and no lingering on a hospital bed for several years with cancer or COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), no declining into oblivion with the dementia that steals one’s consciousness through the travesty of Alzheimer’s disease. Just a single step into the great divide, in chosen conditions and with chosen friends. Perfect!

In August, I went to a family reunion in Michigan and also spent restful time with my NY/NJ brother, visiting friends together in Toronto and lounging around the pool in Burlington, playing with Sammy, the golden lab on 30C days, looking after our youngest brother's home while he and his family are visiting family in Italy.

Work has been interesting, to say the least. Just when I think I have many things working the way I think they ought to be, as they say - "shit happens" - and I am back at the drawing board.

I have six staff members that report to me and after 2+ years at the helm, things seemed to have stabilized for me. But let’s not get too comfortable!!!
One of the long term staff announces that he is taking a year’s leave of absence for an extra $10,000 per year and a new experience. With long term staff that is to be expected and even encouraged in order for staff to stay fresh and motivated. And in a non profit Non Government Organization [NGO], the money is always low, so people building a career, deserve every opportunity to get ahead and get some reward. In the NGO setting those opportunities and increases in earning are rare, so go for it –we’ll manage. (More about the $$$ later.)

Scrambling to make alternate arrangement ensues, is successful, and all is well......Well, maybe.
Then another staff member, working in a totally different area, has to go on long term sick leave. Totally unexpected and unavoidable. This is some one who has taken no time off for illness in a dozen years – not a malingerer or goldbricker – for sure. Scramble some more. I hire some casuals to fill in and get some fast training done before the sick leave begins. All is well again. I am giving more supervision and given more opportunities for more hands on involvement (read more hours-on, on-the-job training, guiding and just doing it!) It is fun, although busy, I enjoy it and I learn a lot at the ground level where the front line action all is!

Stay tuned! The production is laying out the next episode as I type and that will be in the next blog entry.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

500 New Friends

I got 500 new friends today!! I invited them all home with me and they are here to stay. They are the Red Wriggler Gang. I got into balcony composting sponsored by the City of Vancouver today. They support this as it means less people picking up garbage, less trucks running around looking for places to dump it all and free fertilizer, to boot. A real win-win.

I got 500 red wriggler worms - the best composters. I just feed them once a week with fruit and veggie waste; keep them from freezing and they will leave me with a bunch of red wriggler crap - er,.. the proper term is: compost. ...and they also leave me with compost tea. Both of these products are great for plants and gardens. So good, in fact, that you have to dilute the tea or it will be too strong for the plants. I hope to reduce the total of the garbage of my household to a 3" x 5" baggie per week. The red wrigglers even digest newspapers, although they will probably regurgitate any FOX News Network publications! Pretty helpful guys! eh (that's canadian for "whadya think?)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Addiction and Detox

The bottle had been opened and the genie slowly came out. The stopper had been removed from my expression of self. Emotions that had been suppressed for decades, now clamoured to be expressed and heard by more than me. And the deeper the feeling had been pushed, the louder it came out.

The triumphant freedom seeker was my anger. Anger at feeling unseen, controlled and made to feel wrong, always feeling wrong for who I am, for feeling inadequate and not good enough because of who I am. This was initially directed at my father for obvious reasons and I did some careful forgiveness work to deal with that ,… or so I thought.

The anger was still there, however, and would not be denied. It had found a voice and it spoke. I was angry at just about everyone who got in my way. People who walked on the “wrong” side of the sidewalk annoyed me. People who smoked in non designated areas, people who broke simple conventions and courtesies, people who whispered during public events – all incurred my unspoken wrath and muttering. It gave me a buzz and feeling of superiority since I did not commit those infractions – at least not where they could be seen by others!

But the greatest explosion was for those who accepted responsibility and then, in my opinion, did not live up to it. Governments ignoring the obvious problems of the poor, doing nothing about it; claiming a lack of funds when there were billions spent in propping up business and the establishment. But it came closer to home and more personal for the people I worked with. If one did not live up to their commitments, I gave them an earful, expressing my ravings almost irrationally. I became almost addicted to the high I got from it and the feelings of self righteousness that I relied on.

Then after I returned from Africa, I caught a glimpse of myself and the emoting I was doing. I started to look more closely and did not like what I saw. I worked at it and then realized that I had more unresolved 'stuff' to clear – and I did. I now know that I need to watch myself at all times that the work is never completely done. I detoxed.

I watched my self change once again. I became calmer. I see people’s efforts and limits more compassionately as I need to see my own. I became more tolerant and forgiving – all in line with doing that for myself first. Other changes happened. I have been clearing out old stuff – my desktops and computers at home and at work, accumulated papers and files, old clothing. I feel less driven. Where I am is OK and I do not need to move off to “save the world” in another venue right now. If I am to work elsewhere that will happen. In the meantime, I am much more content than I have been for a long time.
I am enjoying my season.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Long and Winding Road

A few years ago, I started working with a therapist due to a deep depression triggered by a serious loss in my life. After some time the depression came under control and lifted. I, however, wanted to work to relieve the underlying issues and stresses that had formed the basis for the depressive trigger exploding into a life-darkening mushroom cloud. I knew the issues were there because I had been impaired by depression at an earlier time. I found out through the effects of my therapy that I had a basic and chronic low grade depression that was with me at all times throughout my life. I did not recognize it until I was dealing with it, because I had no comparative memory of another way of being that would allow me to know that I was depressed. In other words, I did not know what living without chronic depression was. Being depressed was “my normal”.

I will not take you through the “scary” details of the work that I did with my first ever therapist in the year that followed. Suffice it to say that it was frightening at times; that I resisted it at some times, that it was exciting at most times and that it was life changing in the end.

It was life changing, because depression for me was based solidly on my perception of myself as not being OK – i.e. I had/have low self esteem. My inner work helped me to allow me to change those perceptions/beliefs about my self and will continue to be a focus for a long time to come.

I began this work years before this therapy and had invigorated my self esteem to the point that I was able to speak comfortably in front of groups. I became a reasonably effective adults educator, even enjoyed working for 15 month as a professional seminar leader. I experienced it as a great freeing up of part of my self – a liberating and jubilant experience of self discovery. And now some people claim that they cannot shut me up!

This liberation was limited, however, to areas that were reasonably impersonal and "safe", i.e. I did not expose much of the inner me – my emotions and core beliefs. My sexuality was/is the core of self disregard and needed/needs to be reconciled with my deepest beliefs about myself, some what like a realignment to run more smoothly on life’s road. This has been the work that I am now more seriously engaged in and have made great steps forward as a result.

This work, like most of life, is layered, and is accomplished by working through one level at a time. And it is not always what it seems, either internally or how it manifests in actions and reactions!

One of the big issues that came up after I started to integrate my rational knowledge of myself with my emotional and spiritual knowledge and acceptance, was the anger contained in me that has been suppressed and repressed for my whole life. I went through considerable self analysis to understand the causes of the rage I have and actively worked a conscious forgiveness process to clear it away. I did reasonably well because I was consciously very eager and ready to do the work, no matter how tough it felt or was. I felt that I finished much of this about 14 months ago and was ready to move to other things – and I did.

About three months ago, shortly after my return from Africa – trying to reintegrate myself back into my life routines in Vancouver; I reflected and, in hindsight, saw that I had let the genie out of the bottle a year earlier!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Meditation is spiritual, not religious

Spiritual has to do with actual experience, not mere beliefs; with God as the Ground of Being, not a cosmic daddy figure; with awakening to one's true self, not preachy and churchy moralisms about drinking and smoking and sexing; with Spirit found in everyone's heart, not anything done in this or that church….
Meditation is spiritual; prayer is religious. That is, petitionary prayer, in which I ask God to give me a new car, help with my promotion, etc., is religious; it simply wishes to bolster the little ego in its wants and desires. Meditation, on the other hand, seeks to go beyond the ego altogether; it asks nothing from God, real or imagined, but rather offers itself up as a sacrifice toward a greater awareness.

Meditation, then, is not so much a part of this or that particular religion, but rather part of the universal spiritual culture of all of human kind – an effort to bring awareness to bear on all aspects of life. It is, in other words, part of what has been called the perennial philosophy.

Ken Wilber, Grace and Grit, 76.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Adriaan-on-tour to expand directions

Until now, from the beginning of my blog, which started in February of 2009, I have been focused on the external aspects of my life, particularly my trip to Africa and my ongoing, abiding interests and concerns re: poverty, religion, marginalization and HIV/AIDS, to name several.

I have come to a point where I wish to add to the focus somewhat by adding some internal perspective to the previously predominant external perspectives. I am aware of changes happening to me/in me, as I continue to grow and absorb some of the (more subtle) influences in my life like the long term effects of my travels and the results of long term personal inner work and contemplation that I try to conduct on a daily basis.

I will write about some of those changes and influences that inspire me, such as the change in the expression of my great anger – which you have been exposed to on many topics in my blog – some of which I see as rightful anger and some of which is just lashing out on my part – toxic and addictive. The discussion will be expanded to include the (subtle) changes in my approach to life, by my interpretation, of course; and will include my ruminations about what I think is happening in the inner me. I will also share some dialogues that I am having with others, such as one with an American Ivy League academic about our disparate views on gun control; topics that I think are worthy or interesting enough to record and share with those of you who care to read about them.

As always, this is my personal record – and I welcome your comments if you are inspired to make any.

So Adriaan-on-tour will continue, but the tour dimensions and journeys discussed will shift to include another realm, a realm that is different, but no less real that the one explored up to now.