Sunday, January 23, 2011

Acknowledging hope and fear

I wrote this in response to an email I received a few days ago and thought to share it here:

Thanks for reminding me of previous meditations I have had on hope and for allowing me to reflect on where they sit for me today.

Years ago in a retreat we did individual meditation and then group exploration on the question "What am I without hope?"  
For some of us - we recognised that hopelessness also meant being fearless.  That when I found myself hoping, I could also look to the other side and see that there was something that I was fearing.  "I hope the roads will be good tomorrow." and "I am afraid the roads will be slippery." are two sides of the same coin.

In the years after this recognition - it doesn't mean that I have been able to become hopeless or fearless, but it does mean that I am able to check in with myself on where my energy is.  When I feel myself hoping or fearing - I look to the other to see what is there.  What am I afraid of?  Or What am I hoping for?  Being honest with myself, seeing that, and then letting it be a guide forward and not a barrier to action. (Our hopes can stand in the way of taking the next, best step just as much as our fears can.)

So it is not about working to be hopeless or fearless - but an acknowledging without attachment to.
And I find that helps me have cheer, be calm, and live into the future.


In addition - I was reading some poetry this week and this was one small verse by a Slovenian poet, France Preseren:
In hope, in dread long did I dwell.
To hope and fear I said farewell.
My heart, now empty, hold no cheer:
It yearns again for hope and fear.

Hi. I'm Brenda and....

I've been thinking a bit about introductions.  Specifically how I choose to introduce myself - what details do I share and how do I put them forward.  I'm always interested and attentive to how people introduce themselves when a new group is forming or a round is done.  What details do they want us to know?  What do they think is important for me to identify them with?  and (if I have met them before or know them) What is new or different or constant in the way they put themselves forward.

When I left Singapore and moved to the UK for my masters programme - there was a lot I wanted to leave sit.  Not to forget it but to allow it to rest and to have time to see what was important to take forward with me and what I could let go of.  This meant that I didn't want to talk about my past a lot.  Not that I was ashamed of it or wouldn't open up with individuals or in the right moment.  It just didn't seem that important to me or wasn't the reason I was there.  My focus was on the present and on living into the next phase of my life.  My internal process was to integrate my past but to not dwell on it or be attached to it.  But I didn't realise that this was really manifesting itself in how I was introducing myself and meeting others until months into our course.  There were a couple times that fellow classmates were surprised when I shared something from my past that seemed to be a fact to me, something I guess I just assumed everyone knew because close friends at the school knew and it wasn't something I was hiding.

Again - coming home and meeting people, working in new circles - I have had to go through introductions and revealings.  It's been interesting to see what parts of my past have been so integrated that they are part of my story and also to see what new elements have been important to put forward.  The last months have been about coming home and reconnecting so my introduction usually explains that - to some extent.  Summarising parts of the journey that took me away from and back to rural Alberta, letting people know that I from here but also new to here.

Yet this past week when, again, I was sitting in circle with a new group of mates - I began to feel like maybe that was less of what I needed to state.  That perhaps I am home and not coming home.  That I am involved and connected enough now, that the shoots I am putting up are more relevant and revealing than the roots I have been putting down.  Both will continue to grow but perhaps the focus of the story is shifting.

And these musings are not about finding what is most interesting or relevant for others to know about me - but me observing me, my journey.  In the sensation and reflection on the words and ideas I use to introduce myself - I am seeing a shift in my own journey.  And seeing each introduction as an opportunity to invite others to share my journey for a short (or longer) while.

Friday, January 14, 2011


I found myself writing out this email to a dear friend who has been through a similar transition, but a few years ago.  After writing it out - I thought I would share this 'out here' to see other peoples thoughts and experiences, if they have had them

An update is that I have been able to begin to work freelance and to create the kind of flexible, meaningful life here in Stettler that I am looking for.  I have a monthly contract with a nearby town to run their community sustainability awareness projects for the winter/spring and am also picking up some work at the local newspaper.  Am hoping to work with Waterlution as an Associate and also talking to Schumacher about going back to facilitate a course for them.  The summer should also be busy as V. and I are planning to plant a large garden and I have committed to working in it and also (if we get enough) taking things to the farmers market.  In between - I am also applying for some part-time roles like being an enumerator in the census which will bring some income, perhaps help me meet others but not take away from my other projects and ideas.

So it is as if - without much effort - after my thesis I have found myself living the life I have craved for a long time... or better: living into the life that I am wanting.

Yet, the last couple weeks have been interesting in terms of processing and living into the kind of life I am building here.

Now that the new year is here and I am picking up some work - it is like I am still adjusting to being self-employed.  Not a student, not employed by someone full-time, but not un-employed either as I do have contracts that are starting to bring in income and promising leads for the rest of the year.  It's like I wake up each morning - and sometimes throughout the day - amazed at the fact that I living close to the lifestyle, and living into the lifestyle, I had craved for so long.  One that is flexible and fluid with no major lines in my day and life between 'work' and 'life'.  I am working on projects (paid and volunteer) that are about creating healthier rural communities.  I have time to spend with my family and friends; cooking and knitting and other projects are not relegated to nights or weekends.  I am making less money but I also need less money to live this life.  But there is this odd sensation lingering - an uncertainty; something like anxiety about the instability or a guilt about not working hard enough or more hours.  I'm not letting it guide me in terms of seeking security or work in places that would take me away from doing what I really want to be doing and living... but it is there.  It helps that I have V to talk to about this and we support and encourage each other.  When I get the feeling - I just take a moment to reflect, to remind myself of what I am doing, of what's on the horizon and to be grateful for the adjustment because it means I am creating the lifestyle I desired.

I find myself wondering how other people have handled their transitions and journeys in building their practice and life.  What was hard (practically and emotionally and any other way) and what helped?