Sunday, 28 November 2010


It's nearly Winter again and so we've been firing up the woodstove regularly. I really like lighting the fire, and doing so when there are still some embers from the night before has been a good exercise in the benefits of waiting. It can be tempting to throw a match in there or use the butane lighter, but more and more I like to just lay the wood on top of the embers, sit back and wait. I'm trying to do that more in life as well: set the proper conditions and then wait for the results in Nature's good time.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Mindful eating - revisited

I have struggled for a long time with my eating habits.

I have gone from whining in my head (and sometimes outloud) about 'how come other people can eat whatever they want?' to blaming western society in general for unrealistic body expectations, to saying, 'what the heck' and eating whatever I want, whenever I want, and then getting angry and belittling myself for not having the will power to eat less and exercise more. I've also found it maddening that I've been able to cut back consumption in other areas of my life, but not in the food area. I've blogged about that frustration before.

I've tried to be more 'mindful' while eating, and to not do anything other than eat when I'm eating. That worked for about five minutes and then I go back to doing what I've always done, which is chowing down while watching TV or reading. In short, nothing has worked (notice the disconnection here - it leaves me out of the equation entirely)...until now. Well, until about nine weeks ago. That's when (through the magic of facebook,) I noticed my sister doing an awesome job of losing weight, with the help of a website called .

Don't worry, I'm not going to use my nice, non-commercial blog to talk up some product or service. In fact there is no product or service to talk up, really - it turns out it's all about that whole connection/disconnection thing again. By that I mean that I was completely disconnected from the facts about how many calories I was burning compared to how many I was taking in. And I was delusional in a sense, because I seemed to have the idea that just because I felt guilty about what I ate, and really wanted to exercise but was too [insert excuse here] to get up and move, that the laws of biology and physics would change for me and I would lose weight merely because I wished I could so badly. It was the calorie counting tools at MFP that stripped me of those delusions and reconnected me with the truth of "doing the math." There was no way I could balance my input of calories with my output of energy until I knew how much of each I was consuming/expending. And so now, nine weeks later, the number on the scale is heading nicely downwards. :) It's another example of joyful moderation that I am glad to incorporate into my life.

So, at last, I am at eating and moving mindfully. Not in the sense that I am doing only that and nothing else at the time, but with an over-arching yet basic awareness of the connection between what I eat and what I do. And I really think that it is this kind of fundamental awareness between consumption and its consequences that we as a species have to get connected with, and soon. I'm glad that I can do this myself in an everyday way now, and witness the results!

P.S. - If anyone is using MFP, my username is themyriadthings, and I'd be happy to be your MFP friend :)

Friday, 30 July 2010

Good News!

Earlier this week, the United Nations declared clean water and sanitation a human right! The declaration was ratified by 122 forward-thinking countries, with no countries voting against. But 41 members abstained, and you guessed it, Canada was among them.

Stephen Harper, you are a short-sighted, greedy coward. So there.


Have a lovely long weekend everyone!

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Deep Ocean Heart

For the past week or so it seems like wherever I turn, something to do with water or water issues has come front and centre for me.

For example, earlier this week was the first talk in Tricycle's retreat with Sensei Bonnie Myotai Treace. In this talk, (which is free, by the way - check it out!), Myotai talks about a number of things water-related, in particular the koan, "give attention to water." (Note that this wording emphasizes something different than to "pay" attention.) Part of the practice at Hermitage Heart is the making and distributing of handmade ceramic bowls, in groups of 108, to form a 'water mala.' Recipients of the bowls give attention to water by keeping the bowl filled at all times, in the knowlege that the other 107 recipients are doing the same. I find this very compelling as I do my best to give more attention to water in my life.

Then, a few days ago, I saw on twitter that a new website and initiative was launched here in Alberta, by the name of . This initiative is in response to the Alberta government's wrongheaded and greedy idea to change how water is allocated in this province, namely, "a market system that distributes water based on the ability to pay." Because of NAFTA and other free-trade agreements, we won't be able to reverse this decision if we want to later. It is a totally short-sighted and completely irresponsible position for our government to take, sadly like a lot of their other decisions. (I could rant further here, but I'm restraining myself.) If you live in Alberta, and you want the government to actually look at more responsible ways to allocate water, say by fairness, ecological sustainability and the fact that safe, clean water is a human right, you may want to sign the open letter to Alberta's 'Environment' Minister, Rob Renner. I have.

And then today, just as I was getting into the shower actually, David Suzuki's CBC Radio program, The Bottom Line, began playing on my handy shower radio. He was interviewing deep sea diver Sylvia Earle, and they began talking about all sort of profound things. Like how we have environmental reserves for 12% of the land surface of the Earth, but only less than .1% of the oceans under protection. How there are only 10% of blue fin tuna left, and how if aliens saw our planet from space, they would undoubtedly think it odd that it is called Earth rather than Water, given the relative proportion of dry land to ocean. And, what really struck me was their conversation about why we prefer to shoot ourselves into space rather than learn about and understand our oceans. They mused about it for a while, without postulating anything. But I will postulate a little:

I think it's because we as humans are (in)famous for looking outward instead of inward. For looking away rather than toward. For distracting ourselves from what is right in front of us. For going for the brass ring instead of appreciating the horse. And I think we're a little bit scared to look into the deep, mysterious place that is the ocean, even though our very lives depend on the water it contains. Just like we're usually afraid to look inside ourselves and see clearly what's really there. It takes more courage to look there than it does to look away.

I hope, as a species, we grow up pretty quick now and start doing the hard work of looking inward at the source of our universal vitality. Because we are water, in a very literal sense.

Picture of one of the water mala bowls courtesy 108Bowls

Monday, 21 June 2010

Happy Midsummer!

Wow, I can't believe it is the Summer Solstice already - it seems I just planted the garden and now the days will start getting shorter again already. Lots going on around here, but I'm taking the time to get outside almost every day and enjoy some aspect of nature. Meditating outside has been a really nice practice to start, but the mosquitoes are starting to make that a bit more difficult these days. And putting on bug spray before going out to meditate seems a bit counter-intuitive, but maybe that's better than swatting at them the whole time!

The garden is coming along, but slowly. The weather has been better than last year so far, but there were some cool days that seemed to have put things back a week or two. And some cats have been using the garden as a place to dig, which has been annoying. They've taken out a couple rows of parsnip and fennel, for sure. But the carrots are up, the endive is thriving and the beans, peas, chard and kale have made brave appearances. I'm still waiting on the potatoes (planted two weeks later than everything else due to weather and poor planning on my part) and there is no sign of any fennel anywhere, which I had really wanted for the seeds. I'm keeping on top of the weeds at least, so far, and I'm trying to be less worried about the garden this year, given last year's ongoing frustrations.

Anyway, that's a bit of a ramble about how things are going here. How are things where you are?

(Gorgeous sun graphic courtesy Feeding Curiosity)

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

The price of greed

This CBS 60 Minutes show on the Deepwater Horizon travesty, and the story of one of its survivors is amazing and horrifying. When will we ever, ever, ever learn? When? WHEN!!!!

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Spring Snow

We've been getting some precipitation lately, which has been good news given our drought situation here in Alberta. It hadn't begun raining yet on Friday as had been forecast, and when it was still dry Saturday morning I was a bit apprehensive that the rain wouldn't come. But mid-morning it did, and by mid-afternoon it was snowing!

It snowed well into the evening, to the point where I went out twice to shake some of our trees to get the snow off of them. I was worried most about our chokecherry and willow trees, which we planted shortly after we moved here to our acreage in 2003. These trees have done really well, probably tripling in height, and I really didn't want them to get damaged. It would have been no big deal if the snow came a few weeks ago before the trees all leafed out, but now they're full of leaves and blossoms, and so the heavy, wet snow builds up on them quickly.

It was a bit of a strange experience, going out at 9 pm (when it's still light out at this time of year), and shaking the leafy snow-laden tree branches, getting soaking wet, all the while smelling the gorgeous scent of the cherry blossoms - a weird combination of sensations! Gratifying though, to see the boughs spring back up into their more normal position once their burden was lifted.

And this morning the snow is mostly gone, melting away and soaking into the ground. Things sure do look green. And as a bonus, when I went to check out my garden this morning, the kale seems to have sprouted up overnight!

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Fairness and Generosity

I'm a "Libra." I've always liked being a Libra, because I've always considered myself a fair person (on average) and the scales of the Libra sign reflect this. I don't put a lot of weight into astrology, but in my case I thought that for what ever reason, my personality really did seem to match what the Libra scales represent: fairness, justice, equality, etc. Fairness is a quality I really value in others and in myself, and I have reasonably good 'self-esteem' in that area, I guess you could say.

That is until I was at work the other day and found myself getting all grumpy because no one had filled up the filtered water container for tea, again, and I had to do it, again, even though lots of us at work drink tea or some other hot beverage that we use the filtered water for. I was grudginly filling up the water container, all the while thinking, "Why doesn't anyone else ever do this? Why am I stuck with doing this all the time? It's just not fair that other people don't take their turn."

Then it hit me: all my concern about fairness was sure putting a crimp in my ability to be generous. It washed over me all of a sudden: putting such a high value on fairness was really just a cover for only doing my "fair" share and no more. And resenting others for not doing their "fair" share gives me an excuse to feel all superior and better-than-them-y. Silly Theresa. I broke out into a big grin and shook my head at myself. And proceeded to fill the water container with a much lighter heart and generous spirit.

In the days and weeks since, I've embraced my role as "water jug filler," doing my best to top up the container in the daytime and making sure it's filled in the evening so that there is water to put in the kettle first thing in the morning. And I enjoy my first cup of tea of the day much more now that it is flavored with generosity rather than resentment.

(Here is a nice little dharma talk by Clark Strand on generosity, in the context of the practice of 'green meditation')

Monday, 24 May 2010

Better late than never...

Gord bought me this "starter" greenhouse last year, in the mid-summer I think. So I didn't set it up then, and of course it sat in its nondescript box over the winter and when Spring came around I completely forgot I had it! Then, a couple weeks ago I was at WeeStock, (where my talented sister had a table for her home-based notable business) and her friend was there, talking about all of the tomato plants she started from seed that were thriving in her mini-greenhouse. D'oh!

It took me another couple weeks, but I finally got it set up today and it fits perfectly on the porch, where it will catch the morning sun. It's probably too late to start tomatoes from seed, but I have put my two sturdy echinacea seedlings from last year in there. And I might just start a few other seeds in there and just see what happens...

Super Sprouts!

I planted most of my veggie garden last weekend, and I think the record for fastest sprout ever has to go to......endive! I decided to plant these particular leafy greens this year because our guinea pigs just love them, and it is a type of green that we don't get from our CSA farm share. I popped out to the garden yesterday afternoon, not expecting to see anything, but there they were: three rows of adorable endive seedlings! Usually it is the beans that sprout first, but these little guys just couldn't wait!

We've been fortunate and had several days of rain last week, but it was also very cold (with even a frost warning last night) so I figured sprouting would be delayed for everything. The garden has new lessons to teach me all the time...

How are your gardens doing? How has your Spring weather been?

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Sore back, Full heart

Today was my first work day this year at Sparrow's Nest Organics, our CSA farm. This is the third year we're participating in the CSA and it really feels comfortable and cozy when I go there now, which is really nice. I always like chatting with our farmers, Graham and Allison, and with the sharers that come for their work days. We talk about things like food security and eating locally and growing our own gardens and things like that. Today several of the people there had just watched "Food, Inc." on PBS and so vegetarianism and veganism were also discussed, while we were doing our assigned tasks. Even Graham and Allison's adorable son Ben (pictured right) gets in on the action, toting pails and taking charge of the garden hose!

Today an abundance of potatoes were planted, and we got about five thousand of little onion seedlings out of their germination trays and tucked into the cultivator bins ready for tomorrow's crew to plant. We helped get the drip irrigation system set back up in the fields, and took down the ripped plastic sheeting and webbing off of the four big greenhouses.

Graham and Allison have constructed two cabins and are in the process of building a cookhouse/laundry/shower building for their international practicum students - they are studying at Olds College and have come from Mexico. They're also setting up a windmill, the power from which will be used to circulate the water in their irrigation dugout, to keep algae from getting out of hand. With the help of the practicum students, they will also be contructing platforms for raptor nesting, with a view to keeping the ground squirrels and rodents in check. The two cabins, cookhouse and harvest shed all have metal roofs, and Allison and Graham collect rainwater into a huge cistern, which is now full after our recent rain/snowfall - ready to water the raspberries and rhubarb!

So even though my back is a bit sore, my heart is full after a day of working with people who are committed to a healthy, safe, local and just food system for all!

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Spill Baby Spill

I'm sure I'm not the first one to make that twist on Sarah Palin's "Drill Baby Drill" mantra. In fact I saw Elizabeth May use it in one of her tweets earlier this week, referring of course to the horrible oil spill off the coast of Louisiana. This spill keeps getting worse and worse, and no one seems to know how or when to make it stop.

A metaphor for the stupidity of off-shore oil drilling keeps coming into my mind and I thought I'd flesh it out a little and share it:

Let's say you have a jug of nice clean drinking water. You're thirsty and it's important to keep the water clean, for the drink you're going to have now and the one you're going to need later. You keep the covered jug of water on the counter. In the cupboard under the counter is where you keep a small container of bleach. You think you need that too, because it is a quick and easy way to keep your white laundry really sparkling white. You are careful with the bleach and keep that container well-sealed because the bleach can really wreck stuff or burn your skin if used improperly. You sure don't want the bleach getting in the water unintentionally. A very very tiny amount of bleach in the water isn't a problem, but too much would contaminate it and maybe even be lethal to anyone who drinks the water, including you and your pet dog Rover, not to mention the ficus plant in the front room. You know that you definitely want to keep these two substances separate from each other.

So the one thing you definitely DON'T do is drill a hole through the bottom of the water jug and the countertop and stick a hose down through the water into the bleach bottle in order to have easy access to the bleach. What's more, you don't need to actually try this out first to see it's not a good idea; just imagining having bleach running up through your jug of drinking water is enough to know that this would be a really stupid thing to do. Even with the best quality hose, the best quality seals and someone watching for leaks all the time, it is a really really dumb idea.

Especially when you (and Rover, and the ficus plant) need the water to live, and you only 'need' the bleach to keep up appearances.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Eww! Weird tree growth

Does anyone have any idea what this rather disgusting looking thing might be?

At first I thought some sort of extraordinarily agile cat, or perhaps an inordinately large crow, had pooped on our Schubert Chokecherry tree, but this stuff is definitely not poop. Could it be some kind of fungus? The portion of the branch on either side of this thing is enlarged about 30-50% for about two inches. There are three of these things on our tree, which until now has been really healthy. And I'm sure these things weren't there in the Fall, but what kind of...uh, growth, grows over the Winter? We picked at it a bit and there are no eggs in there, it is just solid brown material all the way through.

I'm trying to decide if I should cut off the branches where these things are located, or try to pick it off as best I can, or what? Suggestions welcome!

Update: One of my twitter people quickly identified the problem as Black Knot Disease, which seems to be getting quite bad here in the prairies. Looks like I've got some surgical pruning to do...

Monday, 5 April 2010

Compassion is hard

When I sit on my meditation cushion and (try to) meditate, one of the types of meditation I seem drawn to the most is 'metta' meditation. During this type of meditation, you work at cultivating feelings of loving kindness and friendliness to all beings, including yourself. In your mind, you say something like, 'may all beings be safe, healthy, happy and at ease." You say this to yourself as well, and then work outwards to people you know and like, eventually including people that you find difficult and may not like very much at all.

When I'm sitting there, doing that, I seem to have no problem saying these kind words to people I dislike or find difficult. I can even say that I genuinely mean it when I'm saying it, because I know that if those people were feeling safe, happy, healthy and at ease (i.e., not suffering) they probably wouldn't be so difficult. I truly feel compassionate towards them, because I know they must be angry, hurting, defensive and confused, just like I am when I am difficult and unlikeable.

That's while I'm 'on the cushion.' It seems I have some work to do when it comes to real life. The good part is I've at least recognized that fact!

Here's what I mean. This past weekend a letter to the editor was printed in one of the local papers. In a nutshell, the couple writing the letter are opposed to a Habitat for Humanity project being considered for a neighborhood near theirs because they feel their hard-working family doesn't deserve to live near people of lower incomes who would bring crime and disorder into their upper-middle class community. Here is a quote from the letter , just to give you its flavor:
Like it or not, the children of St. Albert are high-standard children and have no place for low-income classmates. When we first moved to St. Albert our teen had a hard time fitting in because of money and it was hard on him. Now he is good, but it did not go away with just a loving hug — his status was accomplished once his friends saw our house and other possessions. It sounds cruel but that is how it is; ask your children, they will tell you.
The bigotry in the letter is quite astounding really, and it has generated a LOT of controversy, to the point that it was mentioned on the national news. If you read the comments that follow the letter, you'll see that most of them decry this couple's opinions, and some do so in very harsh terms. And I must say that my reaction was pretty much in line with theirs: my first instinct was a feeling of disgust and then many disparaging thoughts. I wanted to write a comment too, voicing these feelings and thoughts, and condemning the couple for their shallowness, snobishness and ignorance. Fortunately, in order to submit a comment I had to take the time to register on the newspaper's website first, and while deciding whether or not I wanted to do that, my urge to comment faded. Which was a good thing. I ended up donating to Habitat for Humanity instead, in the name of the couple in question. Nevertheless, I still took a lot of pleasure in other peoples' comments and their call for a boycott of the couple's business. Truth be told, I'm still taking pleasure in it, and I need to let that go.

Today I will do some metta meditation for this couple, to help me let go of it. Because it is true that if this couple could feel more safe, more healthy, more happy and more at ease, I'm sure they would soften at least a little towards the H4H development project. I will do some metta for myself as well, so I can extend to them more compassion and less judgement. And that will be good practice for the next time my old habit of judgment and derision jumps to the forefront.

Have any of you had a tough time being compassionate lately?

Monday, 22 March 2010

It's World Water Day!

In celebration of World Water Day, take a look at this excellent video called, The Story of Bottled Water. It's made by the same folks who brought us the similarly excellent piece called The Story of Stuff.

Take a few moments today to be mindful of the water you drink and use, and be thankful for your glass of clean tapwater. Clean safe water is a human right, not a commodity to be sold only to those who can afford it!

Monday, 15 March 2010

Drought Thyme?

It's been really warm around here lately, and the snow is melting really quickly. When I went outside this morning I noticed that a lot of my herb/flower garden was uncovered, even though I have been moving snow on top of it when I get the chance. When I scrunched down to take a closer look today, lo and behold the thyme was greening up already. Usually the chives are the first things to get growing, but not this year.

Seeing green this early in the year - it's not even technically Spring yet - is a relief to the eyes, which have seen just white, brown and gray for so many months. But I'm worried actually. Because we have had so little snow this Winter. So little precipitation of any kind for much of the past year. Last year's growing conditions were tough, and I worry that we're in for yet more drought.

Last week we got another batch of propaganda from the local MP, and in it was something useful for a change: a link to Agriculture Canada's website on drought monitoring. I checked it out and came across several disturbing maps, showing just how dry its been and for how long. Here's one that shows data for this past Winter. You can see that everywhere in the prairies has had lower than average rain fall, and in the Edmonton area (where it's brown on the map) we have had between 40 - 60% of the average. Areas further north are even worse off.

World Water Day is coming up on March 22nd. I'm going to see how little water I can use on that day. We do fairly well around our house for conserving water, but we could still do better. Canada's per capita water consumption is quite dismal. I think we have the false perception that we have an abundance of fresh water in this country. But maps like this one show that appearances can be deceiving.

How much water does your household use? Could you use less?

Friday, 26 February 2010

Week of Wellness: Day 5

It's Friday, the last day of my retreat-style week. There is absolutely nothing on my agenda for this morning and this afternoon, and in fact the electricity is scheduled to go out for the entire afternoon, which will mesh nicely with my intention to start reading one of the four books I picked up from the library yesterday. I've got a bell on my computer set so that it chimes on the hour and quarter hours, and when it does I stop what I'm doing for a minute, breathe, and just appreciate that I am here at home, relaxing, while the sun pours in the windows.

Tomorrow the weekend proper begins, but it should be more laid back than usual this time because I'm caught up on some laundry and other chores. Then it's back to work on Monday, and I think I will be ready for it. It's been good to get some peace, to watch some of the silly habits of my mind, and just have some space and time to slow down. Hopefully I can carry some of that spaciousness back to work with me, at least for a little while.

Happy Friday everyone, and do enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Week of Wellness: Day 4

Thanks everyone for all your encouraging words yesterday! It's funny how minds will get into ruts they didn't even know they had! Today I'm taking the time to enjoy each moment. After a little bit of yoga, some tai chi exercises and meditation this morning, I'm doing a little baking and then this evening I'm meeting up with a friend from my high school days. And I don't have to worry about how late the visit goes, because I don't have to get up at any particular time tomorrow -- bliss!

I hope you all enjoy your day as well!

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Week of Wellness: Day 3

My mind is playing tricks on me today. It's barely halfway through my week off, and already I'm worrying about how little time I have left. I'm stressing out about what I wanted to do that I haven't done, and I'm resenting having to drive into the city when I am comfy and cozy at home, even though my 'schedule' is far from busy. Silly, hey? I need to just decide what I'm doing and then do it. Ok. I guess I'll go do that.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Week of Wellness: Day 2

It passed, it passed! Unanimously even!

Hundreds of people came to Edmonton City Hall last night to show support for the municipal development plan that now includes amendments that ensures food security issues will be considered in any developments that would impact farmland.

Here is a summary of about 3 1/2 hours of meeting time by comprehensive local blogger, Mack Male. This picture is from his website as well, and I'm even in the picture (find the lady with the red hat, and then go left one person and down one person - I'm the one with the black coat and white hoody sticking out). There are more pictures at his website, and in one of them you can see I'm scribbling furiously in my little notebook. :) Counsillor Don Iveson posted his thoughts about the municipal development plan and his closing speech in support of it here.

It was an amazing experience! There were so many people there, of all ages - from babies to people probably in their '70s or maybe even '80s. What was so heartening was the range of all ages that were there - lots of school-aged kids, and many people in their 20's. Lots of young families, and multiple generations of families.

The GEA organizers had asked people to come for 6 pm, but all the presentations for and against the municipal development plan (MDP) had spoken in the afternoon session. But the GEA speakers all took the time to say their speeches again to the gathered crowd, before city councillors returned to resume the council session. The speeches were terrific, and were made by people including a three-generation potato farmer, and the 12 year old daughter of a new berry farmer, all of whom have farms on Class 1 farmland that was, until today, at risk of being paved over for new 'development.' The new berry farmer got a huge cheer when she revealed that she had turned down the offer of an "energy company" to buy her 9 acres of land last year.

One of the best lines of the night came from Monique Nutter, GEA organizer: "local food requires local land." That says it all, doesn't it? It's so obvious, yet so profound! She went on to say that this MDP recognizes that we have a "fundemental dependence on nature's bounty" and that in passing this document, the city has given a "gift to future generations."

After the speeches, we were encouraged to talk to someone there who we didn't yet know about why we came to the meeting. I spoke with a mother and daughter next to me who came because they saw the city's subdivisions encroaching on the natural and farming areas surrounding it, and worried about where we were going to be getting our food 20 years from now. The daughter talked about how depressing it was to talk with people of "older generations" and their focus on "development only." I was inspired talking to her, because I worry that the younger generation doesn't think about anyting other than video games or what new phone to buy: she proved me wrong, and I'm glad.

At about 7:15 pm council reconvened, and the nitty gritty debate continued. I was impressed overall with how committed the councillors seemed to be to crafting a document that incorporates environmental considerations into it, and which guides development towards sustainability on a number of levels, including more firm targets for in-fill development rather than urban sprawl, protecting the river valley from "resource extraction" - i.e., gravel pits, promoting public transportation, preserving wetland areas, and now, incorporating a food and agriculture strategy into all future 'development' considerations.

At about 8:30 pm one of the organizers said that we could leave if we wished, since council knew we were here and the presentations had been made. I stayed for another half hour or so, finally packing it in as the debate on various wording changes wore me down. I turns out I should have stayed another 20 minutes, because it looks like things sped up considerably after that and the MDP passed second reading unanimously! I found that out by searching twitter's #yegcc (Edmonton City Council) hashtag this morning.

It was a great experience! Democracy in action. Beautiful.

And now today I have a day at home, which I will enjoy immensely. I picked up a new book at the library yesterday, I will meditate, do some tai chi, do a few chores, make a healthy supper, and mostly just putter around. And that's beautiful too.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Week of Wellness: Day 1


Is there anything better than a week stretching out ahead, to be filled with good and relaxing things? I think not!

On today's 'agenda', so to speak, is to do some tai chi and meditation in the morning, look through my seed catalogue in the afternoon, and then head to Edmonton's City Hall for an evening city council meeting about food security and land use planning.

I'm actually skipping my tai chi class tonight in order to go to the meeting, but this is a one-time opportunity I don't want to miss. Organizers are hoping for as many as 750 people to come to this, the last of three city council meetings on the topic. At the last meeting in November, amendments were passed that set the stage for the protection of farmland in Edmonton. The next step is to have the entire municipal development plan passed, so that there is a "city wide food and agricultural strategy" to which future city development must adhere.

It seems silly, doesn't it, to have to debate this, rather than have it be self-evident. It should be a no-brainer to have arable land protected and spared from "development." The word "development" itself implies that the land is just empty and useless, sitting there doing nothing, lacking any buildings or roads or other such "improvments." Anyway, I will take some notes and blog about what happened at the meeting tomorrow! Hopefully I will have good news!

Picture courtesy Edmonton's City Farm

Monday, 15 February 2010

Something about February

There's just something about February that says Spring is on its way! Just the word "February" itself sounds much warmer and friendlier than January, wouldn't you say? Even though it has been cloudy outside much of the time and snowing now and then, I just feel better knowing it is February!

My Week of Wellness is now just a week away, and thanks to Claire at I Love Alberta Beets, I have already made significant headway into my budgeting goal, freeing up even more time for tea and reading - yay!

I'm considering adding one more thing to my list of wellness-related activities for the week: attending a public meeting at City Hall on Edmonton's food and agriculture strategy. After all, ensuring that our valueable farmland doesn't all get paved over for suburban development is a matter of wellness for everyone!

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Week of Wellness

So I have decided to take a week off work next month for no particular reason other than that I need some time off. March and April are shaping up to be extremely busy at work, so I decided that the last week of February will be my time for a little space and rejuvenation.

I have dubbed it 'Theresa's Week of Wellness" because I'm going to do all sorts of nice and healthy things during this time off. Sort of like a retreat, but I am going to do it at home. And this blog post is part of how I'm setting my intention of what I'm going to do. (Thanks to EcoYogini who introduced me to this intention-setting concept!) So here are some of the basic things I will be including in my W.o.W:
  • Meditate each day for 20 minutes (this can be in two, 10 minute sessions)
  • At least twice during the 7 days, meditate for one sitting of at least 30 minutes.
  • Do 10 minutes of Tai Chi warm up exercises every day. This would be best to do right before meditating.
  • Practice doing a set of Tai Chi at home from start to finish at least twice.
  • Attend my two regularly scheduled Tai Chi classes
  • Drink 6-8 glasses of water each day.
  • Catch up on my sleep - this works better by going to bed earlier rather than sleeping in later, so I plan on being in bed by 10:30 p.m.
  • Notwithstanding the above, sleep in if I want to (although if I go to bed on time, even getting up at 8:30 a.m. will be sleeping in).
  • Stay at home for 4 of the 7 days - i.e., on these days I don't have to wear anything other than pajamas, and I don't have to put on any makeup or do my hair. If the doorbell rings (which is unlikely but possible,) I just won't answer it!
  • Have at least one warm bath during the week with candles on and nice music playing.
  • Read to my heart's content. I plan on putting my library card to full use, and I have also given in and ordered Noah Levine's "Against the Stream" book, which should have arrived by the time my W.o.W. starts.
  • Listen to some Noah Levine, Gil Fronsdal and/or similar podcasts.
  • Get a massage (this is already booked - hooray!)
In addition to these healthy and relaxing things, I also plan on doing some catching up on stuff that I have fallen behind or which I never seem to get a handle on, and which then stress me out in the background of my mind. Some of these things include:
  • Making a new, Mac-based budgeting spreadsheet that is simpler and less time consuming for data-entry.
  • Doing some cooking of soups, chili, etc., that I can freeze for later use. I have quite a lot of stored beans (dried and canned) and I want to use/eat some of them to keep my 'stores' in proper rotation.
  • Bake some bread again - I haven't been doing that lately and I miss it.
  • Submit some insurance claim stuff I've been putting off.
  • Place my vegetable seed order.
I may end up making up some kind of daily schedule for myself to ensure: (1) that I do what I intend, but still (2) leave enough time for tea throughout the day and week so that I don't have to rush through things. That would sort of defeat the purpose after all.

Anyone else out there planning on a week (or day) of wellness?

Photo courtesy

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Things I've been doing when I'm not blogging...

So even though my energy level is at somewhat of an ebb these (many) days, I have managed to do a couple things. Today for example I finally collected seed from the snack pea and radish plants I've had drying on a laundry rack in the basement since September. I have a new appreciation for seed savers and collectors, because what you see in the picture here is the sum total of seed I collected from three radish plants, and about six pea plants. Now I know why good seeds seem 'expensive' and why you sometimes get what seems like a tiny amount in each seed packet.

I had also collected bean seeds from my 3' by 5' patch of Golden Rocky Beans in September, and I shelled those about a month ago. After setting aside the best of these gorgeous indigo blue beans for seed, I had enough left over to make one pot of soup. Again, a good realization of how much time, effort, and resources (human and earth-given) go into the making of one seed. The soup was delicious by the way - it was almost an entirely local soup with dried kale from the CSA farm, dried thyme from my herb garden, and potatoes from my garden as well.

I've also been corresponding with my local MP's office via email about my unhappiness with PM Harper's decision to prorogue parliament AGAIN! My MP, Brian Storseth, doesn't want to converse with me via email however -- his office staff says this is because email correspondence could be "altered" and then forwarded, and because they can't be sure I actually reside in the riding if I don't give a mailing address. Never mind that if they checked their files they would see that they already have my address because I've corresponded with them in the past. I was hoping for a bit more of a spontaneous and personal exchange with my elected representative this time, but I guess I will have to settle for another delayed regurgitation of Stephen Harper's talking points, AGAIN.

I've been reading a number of books as well - Gord and I signed up for library cards last summer, and we've been enjoying the benefits ever since. I've been soaking up all sorts of Buddhist books, some of which include: "Waking Up: A week in a Zen monastery," "Joyful Wisdom: Embracing change and finding wisdom", "Sit Down and Shut Up," "Finding the Still Point: A beginner's guide to meditation," and I've just started reading "Zen Mind, Beginners' Mind."

I've been getting better at working in a 10 minute meditation period into almost every day - it doesn't sound like much, but from what I've read, meditating for a short period every day is better than longer periods one or two times a week. Both my butt and my brain are slowly getting used to this meditation thing, which is like a whole lotta nothing and absolutely everything at the same time. Who knew that sitting still and breathing could be so profound?

And I think I may have taken the first step out of my depressive funk today, after catching a few minutes of one of my all time favorite TV shows no less: Northern Exposure. In it, there was a scene where one character (Ed) is lying prone on a general store counter top lamenting the soon-to-be end of the world as we know it, and another character (Ruth Anne), the 'wise-woman' proprietor of the general store, tells Ed to just shoo, get out of her store and do something, anything: read a book, go for a walk, make a movie, anything. That advice makes sense: when you're mired in lamentation, just pick something and do it. And I know that of course. But the thing that struck me was how silly the character wailing and moping on the counter looked. That's been me. I've been moping and wailing. And it's time to stop.

So thanks Ruth Anne, I'll get off the counter now and get back to it.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010


Here is it already January 6th, 2010. I've had this enso circle graphic ready to go for about a week now, thinking surely the New Year would inspire me to write something about the emptiness of the circle, and the potential it represents. How the middle part of the circle, when you reverse the field, looks like a ripe peach, full of juicy goodness.

So far, I still just feel a sense of the big fat zero. I know I should feel renewed, I should feel hopeful, I should feel energized with the clean slate of a new year, a new decade, etc., etc. But nope, I'm still stuck in the state of zero. Zero motivation, zero optimism, blech, bla, yuck. The same state that ground my ponderings to a nearly complete stop last Fall.

I guess I'll just keep watching and waiting, knowing that everything's impermanent, and that this cycle will work itself out somehow, some time, some where.

To anyone who still wanders by here now and then, I wish you peace and contentment.

Picture of enso circle courtesy