Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Ki (Hap KI do) is the idea of moving past an obstacle - at least, that's my interpretation.
In martial arts, you can't punch a brick. You punch through the brick.
If you aim through your obstacles, they move out of the way. The trick is to aim your focus at where you want to go - not at the objects you think have a strong possibility of stopping you.
If you have a fear of public speaking, imagine the future on the other side of that event;
If the world is dark and depressing, look past the moment and into next summer.
Depression is commonly described as "not being able to get out of the moment or see the future". So, I figure, training myself to look forward is not such a bad idea. If it becomes a habit, sticky situations are easier to deal with.

In horseback riding there are a lot of factors outside your control. You're tired or sick; your horse is tired or sick; the turns are too tight, the jumps not spaced right; your horse is being difficult - "He never listens to me, that's why I blew the turn!"
One of my friends would reply, "Whose fault is it that he never listens to you? If you want things different, make them different. You're the trainer, not the victim."

My textbooks are glaring at me, but the other side of my final exams is just around the corner! OK I'll stop procrastinating. Time to study!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

16 Things

Normally in school seminars people don't start crying, but I sat in on a very interesting exercise this week and more than half the people in the room were in tears by the end. Not me, of course, I never cry ;-)

We were given 16 pieces of paper and told to write down the following:
4 People (ex. Mom, Dad, Grandmother, etc.)
4 Things (ex. a house, car, computer, paints, spices)
4 Values (ex. friendship, love, loyalty, ambition, passion)
4 Abstract things (ex. beaches, sunsets, hugs, God)

The 16 things we chose would be our entire world. If it wasn't written down on one of our pieces of paper, it didn't exist.

Then we were told to take 4 of these things and rip them up. As though our lives hadn't become deprived enough, with only 16 perks, we had to eliminate 4 of the things that were most important to us.
Most of us got rid of our "things" first. We could live without cars, but not without hugs.
We were asked to rip up 4 more.
Now, whittling it down to only 8 cards, the selfish factor starts to play in. Yes, Grandmother is wonderful, but people don't live forever anyway, right? And I can't do anything useful without my computer. What else could disappear from my life forever? Art (which would include dancing, painting, vibrant colors and life), nature, passion, stories...
Finally, we were left with only 4 cards. We heaved a sigh of relief. That was hard, but at least we had identified the four things that were most important to us. Actually, the exercise was kind of fun; kind of useful, even, right?
Then we were told to rip up 3 of our 4 remaining cards.
The tears start.
How do you choose between Mom or Dad? Who do you "kill off", as though they never existed at all in your life? If you're left with only one thing that would become your entire existence, what would it be? One girl pointed out in frustration that she'd kept "friendship" but killed off all her friends. What's the point of that?

Backing up a few stages... As we were writing down our initial 16 things, I threw God in almost as an afterthought. I didn't really think about Him at first - maybe because I know He's kind of always there whether or not I think about him; maybe because I'm self-centered and forget to bring him into the most important parts of my life even though I am a Christian.
Anyway, as I was narrowing down my choices throughout, my method was to hang onto the cards that implied the same values as cards I was throwing away. I tossed "paints, paper, passion, and nature," but kept "art". "Art" could include all those things, right?
So, when it came down to picking my last card, I decided that "God" could include everything I'd thrown away. He made everything in the world in the first place - if I still had God in my life, he would make sure I had all that I needed. Turns out He's the most important card in my life, and I'd brought him in as an afterthought.
I know there are people who don't believe in God. There were lots of people in the seminar who didn't, but (call me biased) those were the people who were crying. They had to choose between their Mom, Dad, Sister and Grandma. Even after the exercise, they were distraught. They wanted a re-do. They couldn't give up their Mom - but that would mean giving up Grandma instead...
I wasn't upset in the least with my choice - and because I wasn't crying I felt like a cheater. I felt like I'd worked the system. I still had God, so I essentially still had all my cards, wheras most of the other people were forced to give up the people and things they loved the most in the world.
If keeping God in my life means I can have a kind of comfort that will keep me safe through anything, I confess that I love cheating. I'm not technically breaking any rules - and if there's that option, why shouldn't this game be easy?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Monk and the Scorpion

This one's from Michael:

As two monks sat beside the ocean they watched as a scorpion fell into the water and began to drown.
The first monk stood up and pulled the scorpion out of the water. As he set the creature on the beach, the scorpion lashed out and stung him.
A short time later, the scorpion fell into the water again.
The first monk stood up once more, but his companion said to him, "Why do you keep saving him? It's in the scorpion's nature to keep stinging you."
The monk replied, "Yes, but it's in my nature to keep saving him."

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


There was some writer somewhere that I probably creeped a while ago, and while creeping I happened upon a bit of insight:
Writing consists of two parts: Building a story, and tearing it down.

A good story needs several drafts - several dozen, sometimes - and a draft is not just the same words rewritten. Things need to change. Change is risk. Risk is scary. The whole, precarious story you've been constructing is at risk of collapsing. And it will, in a good rewrite. You need to tear it down in order to rebuild something much sturdier and well-executed.

If you're too scared to touch or modify your spindly, fragile first attempt, it will forever remain a spindly, fragile first attempt.

In life, there are lots of points where we need to rebuild. It's an acquired skill to notice these areas, acknowledge them, and then pretend they never existed. After all, if you touch them they might collapse. You would be left with nothing. You would be forced to rebuild from scratch; to take a few jumps backwards; to admit you weren't as far along as you could once pretend.

But in no situation in life ever are you ever truly screwed.

You can't be left with nothing because you ("you" being a noun) are something. You've been building things all your life, and you will always have the ability to rebuild.

So why should you fear the risk of change, or fear a second draft? It's bound to be better than sticking with your spindly, fragile first attempt!

The sweet thing is that everything is temporary anyway. Everything. Things you love; things you hate. Everything passes away. People are kind of like evergreen trees, in that we hardly notice when the dead needles pass away because there are a dozen new ones to take their place. But still, everything is temporary. If we screw up, it's temporary. If we're depressed, or anxious, or bitter, or cynical, it's temporary. No one ever said that the life you live today is guaranteed to reflect your life 5 years in the future. You can always rewrite it for the future.
*Note to self: Make it what you want to be.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Daily Essentials

BE LOUD in the morning (talk to someone, dance to music, go for a run)
Sleep is kind of like maple syrup. It spills over so easily, but if you have too much you feel really gross.

BE QUIET when things get too fast (write, nap, walk, stretch)
If the world is spinning, you're supposed to give it time to settle before you jump on another ride. Unless you want to lose everything you had that morning... ;)

LEARN from everything, even yourself
Apparently I need to write to stay sane - in other words, I've discovered a cure for insanity!

TEACH someone, even if it's only by example
Ex. Accepting an insult with humor/grace. Makes your life easier, and their life exceedingly frustrating.

GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT BOX, so you can think outside it
Apparently pickles and peanut butter go well together, but I still haven't tried that one...

A friend or family member is good. If all else fails, remember that toasters are brilliant inventions. And not just for toast...


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

State of Mind

I heard an anecdote once about a boy who was sent into a palace with only one task: he couldn't spill any water from the spoon he carried. He navigated his way through the halls without spilling a single drop. When he returned, the Taskmaster asked him what the palace was like. "I don't know," the boy said. "I was concentrating on keeping the water still."
He got sent in again. This time he spilled all of his water, but could relay every detail about the palace levels and decorations. The Taskmaster informed him he would need to try harder next time. He could learn, in time, to both hold the water steady, and appreciate the world around him.

It's easy to focus in on one aspect of life and ignore everything else. On the other hand, it's easy to live in a state of constant "distraction", and try to experience every single aspect life that may or may not exist. The Taskmaster story alludes to the idea that we can do both at once, and maybe hold more than one layer in our minds at once.

In horseback riding if you try and focus on one thing at a time you're screwed. Heels down, elbows in, back straight, chin up, wrists even... it's impossible to remember all the rules and tips. However-- once you understand the nature of your horse, you can simply move forward (through jumps, dressage moves, etc.) and your cues to the horse (once you learn how to execute them properly) will be automatic.

In human relationships I've heard a lot of "rules and tips" as well. Play hard-to-get; two people will get sick of each other if they spend too much time together; opposites attract; don't talk about your past unless you want to scare people off... Umm - really? I'm pretty sure if you try and follow all the little tricks you'll end up acting like a paranoid and inconsistent therapy candidate.

Life can seem complicated. It's like there's a 5-dimensional (does that exist?) spiderweb of rules and tricks and little paths that may or may not lead anywhere, and everyone's sliding around like beads on a multilayer abacus (those wooden bead things for counting/math). But how, if this is true, can a human work through all the distractions and myths and opinions in order to direct the actions of a horse that is 6 times their size. How can so many unique individuals stay lovingly married for a lifetime?

Maybe they can see through the web. Maybe, for them, life's many different layers and aspects are guided and shaped by their ability to see through the spiderweb to a fundamental truth. Maybe they can hold more than one layer and aspect of life in focus at once, and gain a sense of perspective and understanding despite all the factors and distractions that arise. Both of my examples, by the way, are clarified by the idea that every living creature wants to be understood. In relationships (both with people and with animals) if your actions are motivated by love, everything is simplified.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Huge word, right? According to google it's real. But I'll get to that. I wanted to ramble for a bit about a snake-headed dilemma called potential. When all your options lie before you, you can appreciate the beauty of potential. For instance, there are millions of people in the world, and each is a potential friend. There are millions of blank pieces of paper in the world. Beneath the white monotony of a canvas may await an otherworldly work of art waiting to spring into existence; or, in a Word document, a portal to world where our deepest hopes and fears become reality through the venue of a great story.

A world full of untouched, unknown potential is a magical place, but when a clumsy human comes along, he/she will inevitably fudge up any potential for greatness.
One embarrassment, and your crush will realize you're retarded and move onto a new, perfect mystery woman. One scuff of a paintbrush, and a decent painting is suddenly destroyed. And how can one person possibly write a story that will bring out all the emotions and wonder that have a mere potential to exist? Why not simply enjoy the fact that these things could exist, if someone greater than yourself took the trouble to bring them into existence? Um, because waiting is boring. Do it yourself.

Vacansopapurosophobia is the fear of blank pages. It's a fear of committing to one decision, because in the instant you choose one door, a million others are lost. A wall of doors might be clean and neat but eventually (hopefully) you'll realize that you are, in fact, spending your life staring at a wall. Dare to get messy, and to screw up, and to make an ass of yourself. Risk losing a friend, if it means being honest with them. Risk writing the first story in the world that will make everyone who reads it want to instantly kill themselves. Maybe the military will buy it from you and then, hey! it's not such a failure after all!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"Don't ever look away"

I don't like boundaries. I don't like having to tell myself I can't talk to someone, or that I can't ask a particular question because it would be "insensitive". When someone dies, for instance, people have a tendency to tread lightly around the topic, or pretend it never happened. We assume that the people grieving simply want to forget and move on and keep busy, and somehow they'll fool themselves into thinking that whatever happened is not a big deal.

I'm revealing my geekiness here, but I think this is along the same principle as what JK Rowling said: Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself. All of the characters in Harry Potter refuse to say the name Voldemort. They want to believe he doesn't exist but in refusing to look at the reality they magnify his fear factor - and everyone is too scared to confront him.

The issues we refuse to acknowledge blow up in our minds until it's something we're convinced is too big for us to handle. We think the only solution is to look away and move on and pray to God that we never need to encounter the issue again. But things are never so black and white. Issues are not Satanic forces that will swallow us hole if we turn back to face them. The more we can face them and talk about them and work things through without fear, the smaller and more reasonable the issue becomes.

Call me nosy, but I don't like boundaries. I refuse to accept that part of my life is over, never to look at it again. I'm moving forward, but I'm not running away.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Boulder

I heard a story once about a man whom God told to push a rock up a hill. It was a huge rock. It was taller than the man's head. But the man said OK - if that's what you want me to do, God, I'll push that rock up that hill. So he tried. And failed. And when the sun set he went away frustrated, telling himself he'd try again in the morning.

For nearly four years the man would wake up early every morning and push against the rock. Every morning, the rock stayed put. He wanted to please God, or at least prove he wasn't completely incompetent, but no matter what he did he could not get the frigging rock up the frigging hill.

Finally, certain that he'd been set an impossible task, he blew up at God: "I've been killing myself every day to move this freaking rock, and it won't move! Why would you give me a task when you knew I would fail?"

But God, in his omnipotent way, said simply, "It was never your job to move the rock. I only told you to push it. I will move the rock." And he did.

The man, exasperated, demanded, "Why bother getting me to push against it all these years?"

So God told him to look at himself. He's grown strong and lean; he now had some sexy muscles; he'd learned persistence, and had become more fit and energetic; he was a great critical thinker, after trying thousands of methods of moving the rock. He'd grown in many aspects, all from those long, hard mornings of pushing against the rock.

It's easy to get frustrated when we feel like we aren't accomplishing things, but maybe the accomplishment isn't the point. The attitude we do things with is more important than the things we actually do. That's the part we have full control over.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Last Day at White Spot

So I leave Vancouver today to head home to Calgary. Yesterday, I had my last shift at White Spot. Let me paint a picture: my belongings are strewn everywhere across the apartment, dirty dishes are in the sink, tiny ants are scurrying around (as usual), there are a billion plastic grocery bags filled with garbage to take out (also normal), I still haven't cleaned (...), and it is 20 minutes before my shift at White Spot is scheduled to start. This is a shift I'd been optimistic my manager could find someone to cover, being as he'd told me initially I wouldn't have to work this week.

20 minutes before my shift no fellow worker has come to my rescue, and I realize I've thrown away the shirt I used to wear at the White Spot Restaurant. I need to wear a white shirt. I call into White Spot 10 mins before my shift asking if they have any spares. "Of course not, and why don't you have a shirt??" was my response. So, I take 5 minutes to wash some dishes and then, with 10 minutes remaining, sprint out the door and 5 blocks away, into Winners where I grab any white blouse off the rack, pay for it, and dash 3 blocks to White Spot. (I made it on time, by the way. God bless downtown and it's tiny blocks.)

It is only then that I realize the shirt I grabbed is down to my knees, semi-see-through, and has no stretch whatsoever. Therefore, as I walk onto the floor for my last shift, I have a shirt that is completely bunched up under my pants where I tucked it in, it is extremely obvious I'm wearing a bathing suit under the shirt, and every time I move my arms a large section of shirt gets pulled loose of my pants and floats around my midsection so that I feel like a ghost from Mario and Bowser's world. One of the waitresses said I look like a hussy. Not sure if she meant it in a nice way or not, but I suppose I can be proud to at least be able to say I looked like a retard my last day at work =)

When my shift ended I returned the shirt. (It was still clean!) "What's your reason for returning the item?" "It makes me look like a mushroom." "Oh. OK then."

Cheers to Vancouver and terrible blouses everywhere.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


For any art form, talent is measured by an artists ability to convey something huge with the least amount of "effort".

Dancers can't just add a bunch of steps in.
Painters try and bring an image to life with the least amount of brush strokes.
Writers can't ramble on tangents in the middle of a poem.
Etc, etc.
It's the purity of the message being conveyed that is so beautiful to appreciate.

For those artists who are blessed with talent, I'll just say that I am exceedingly jealous.
For the rest of us, art is the product of much cursing, terrible first-drafts, falling down, smudging paint, and things that are sometimes truly ugly. We need first, second...fifty-second drafts, and marks on the floor to guide us, and sometimes a graphed-out Paint-By-Numbers Canvas to paint on is really awesome.

The truly great thing about Paint By Numbers is that YOU CAN PAINT OVER IT AND NO ONE WILL KNOW!
No one knows or cares how many drafts a novel went through before it became what it is; No one cares how many bruises a dancer has if they put on a great performance; And, if you created the Paint-By-Numbers grid for yourself after much experimentation and several layers of paint, no one will know that those ugly first attempts were the key to having so few brush strokes on your final canvas.

In short - just because the final product will be polished, don't be afraid to get messy in the earlier stages. Take risks. Experiment. Paint a bush orange to see what it looks like. Try writing from the perspective of a bunch of rabbits. Even if it's a complete failure, who cares? There can always be another draft. In the meantime, you'll be creating a paint-by-numbers diagram that is full of depth and creativity.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


Science suggests that we can only see 10% of all the matter in our Universe. Matter is all the "stuff" that makes up our world, which includes liquids, gases and solids - The Universe contains 90% more "stuff" than we've discovered (called Dark Matter).

Reality is bigger than we can imagine. Even when we're trying to open our minds and look at the big picture I'm sure we're only seeing a fraction of what's out there and of what's possible.

Maybe animals really can talk. Maybe things like telepathy, intuition, psychics and hypnosis really do exist. Maybe God is sitting right next to me. Maybe there are such things as ghosts or alternate universes or magic. Maybe there used to be dragons in the time of the dinosaurs.

Maybe not. There's no proof for any of those things. But we're never going to discover the things we're missing if we dismiss ideas too quickly and limit ourselves to the status quo of common perceptions.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

No Handlebars

Lyrics to Handlebars (Flobots)--
I can ride my bike with no handlebars
No handlebars
No handlebars

I can ride my bike with no handlebars
No handlebars
No handlebars

Look at me, look at me
hands in the air like it's good to be
and I'm a famous rapper
even when the paths're all crookedy
I can show you how to do-si-do
I can show you how to scratch a record
I can take apart the remote control
And I can almost put it back together
I can tie a knot in a cherry stem
I can tell you about Leif Ericson
I know all the words to "De Colores"
And "I'm Proud to be an American"
Me and my friend saw a platypus
Me and my friend made a comic book
And guess how long it took
I can do anything that I want cuz, look:

I can keep rhythm with no metronome
No metronome
No metronome

I can see your face on the telephone
On the telephone
On the telephone

Look at me
Look at me
Just called to say that it's good to be
In such a small world
All curled up with a book to read
I can make money open up a thrift store
I can make a living off a magazine
I can design an engine sixty four
Miles to a gallon of gasoline
I can make new antibiotics
I can make computers survive aquatic conditions
I know how to run a business
And I can make you wanna buy a product
Movers shakers and producers
Me and my friends understand the future
I see the strings that control the systems
I can do anything with no assistance
I can lead a nation with a microphone
With a microphone
With a microphone
I can split the atoms of a molecule
Of a molecule
Of a molecule

Look at me
Look at me
Driving and I won't stop
And it feels so good to be
Alive and on top
My reach is global
My tower secure
My cause is noble
My power is pure
I can hand out a million vaccinations
Or let'em all die in exasperation
Have'em all healed of their lacerations
Have'em all killed by assassination
I can make anybody go to prison
Just because I don't like'em and
I can do anything with no permission
I have it all under my command
I can guide a missile by satellite
By satellite
By satellite
and I can hit a target through a telescope
Through a telescope
Through a telescope
and I can end the planet in a holocaust
In a holocaust
In a holocaust
In a holocaust
In a holocaust
In a holocaust

I can ride my bike with no handlebars
No handle bars
No handlebars

I can ride my bike with no handlebars
No handlebars
No handlebars

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The "What", Not The "How"

"I have a great idea for a story..."

"Oh yeah? How the hell are you going to write this story? How could a 20-year-old female possibly know what an 80 year old blind man feels like when he's bitten by a lemur?"

So hey, I have a great idea for a story."

Dreams and goals are made of "Whats". Obstacles and deterrents are made of "Hows". It's easy to get bogged down in the technicalities (the "hows") and forget to keep looking at the big picture; the future; your biggest goals and dreams; the "What's" that you really want. It's hard to keep going.
Shoulder Devil says: "You've already worked hard. You've gotten this far. You could just settle with getting by. You'll survive if you never know what it feels like to be bitten by a lemur once you're an 80 year old blind man."

But... that would be boring.

But if I want to write a story about a transgendered geriatric with a love of lemurs, there's absolutely nothing standing in my way that I can't overcome. No matter what I choose, society will have it's perceptions: You're insane. You're weird. You're obsessed with lemurs. How do I overcome these obstacles? I don't. I keep my eyes on the "What", ignore the "How", and the world will deal with it.

"I'm going to be with my boyfriend again..."
"How are you planning on supporting yourself in a different country?"
"... And we're going to go to the zoo and find a lemur and..."

Monday, February 8, 2010

"Whatever happens, make it your decision"

Life sucks, if you let it. But there are always two aspects to life - the sucky stuff and the fantastic stuff. Sometimes I need to hunt to find the fantastic stuff (whilst being bombarded by sucky stuff) but my mind-set is my decision, and I've made the decision to pull myself up and keep hunting. Even though:
My boyfriend just left the country
I don't know how to accomplish my dreams
I'm still learning to balance my time and energy

The flipside:
I have time to write today
All I need is patience and time and everything will work out
It's sunny! And I'm going to eat some vegetables =)

When I'm riding a tricky horse, lots of times things happen that are outside my control. The horse decides to gallop when I'd been planning on an easy trot; or stops dead; or decides to veer left instead of right around that pole. The best advice I heard was:

"Whatever happens, make it your decision."

Roll with it; reassess the situation; be willing to adapt and, most of all, keep moving forward.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


I owe this analogy to one of my two awesome roommates:

Imagine you have a bird in your hand and this is your relationship. You want it really bad - you want to be close to it - so your instinct is to keep squeezing. You'll kill it though if you're unwilling to let go. The bond between you will allow the bird to keep landing on your open palm, and a relationship with that freedom will flourish. But you can't cling to anything out of stubbornness or fear.

And I owe this bit to a good friend:

You could say that a relationship won't work because it's long distance, but you could also say a relationship won't work when you decide to move in together. There are always going to be challenges. If you can't overcome them the issue is probably the relationship, not the circumstances.

In other news: the Seabus crashed the other day when I was on it. No one thinks this is big news if they're from Vancouver, but there were a bunch of tourists who thought it was hysterical. Everyone was laughing; nobody was hurt. Good times ^^

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


"Keep your horse between your hand and your leg"

Horses are herd animals. Because (in their minds) there is a constant threat of predators, they are most comfortable when they are moving forward. Many a green rider has had this lesson pounded into them - if a horse is upset and you force them to stop they will either A) Buck or B) Rear. The best thing to do is KEEP MOVING FORWARD to work out the issue.

However, there is a difference between "motion" and "running like hellfire". A rider can't chase the horse faster and faster and expect the frenzy to whip away all the horse's anxiety.

A common phrase (with my trainer, anyway) is to "keep your horse between your hand and your leg." Your leg is a cue to move forward; your hand is a cue to stop. When a horse is balanced in between your hand and your leg (not running, and not at a standstill) he will be at his most comfortable state of mind. He will be able to process information, be flexible and adaptable to any challenges you present him, completely alert, using his body effectively, and - most importantly - content. A happy horse is a good horse.

In my life I feel like I'm alternately at a full stop, and running like hellfire. My heart and my brain are in constant conflict. I know what I want - what I need - in my life. I need creativity; I need writing. I need God. I need my family. And I need Stuart. My heart has made up its mind - now my brain just needs to figure out how to realize these dreams in a world full of challenges and possibilities.

The challenges:
- Finding a job in a creative industry is tricky and takes time
- I need to find financial security
- Stuart is American, and legalities are ___ (insert fun word of your choice here)
- I don't know what I want to do as a career

The upside:
It doesn't have to be settled now. My stress comes from my impatience. Wanting to have everything laid out and settled within a week. I've been racing forward in spurts, rushing to try and get to a place where I can relax, but I've been burning myself out. I get tired and frustrated that I'm not accomplishing things, and come to a full stop - only to realize I've wasted time and mindlessly race forward trying to fork out writing samples and finished projects so I can check them off my list.

Writing doesn't work like that. Life doesn't work like that. I need to find my happy place, where I can balance my ambitions with coming to terms with where I am at present. Moving forward, but at a comfortable, sustainable pace.

Turtle. (I threw out that word in a conversation with Stuart. He asked if it meant anything. I said of course, while frantically inventing possible meanings for the word "turtle" that didn't involve the Master of Disguise or Finding Nemo or Austin Powers. ("Turtle" is mentioned in all those movies. Randomly.)) In this context, it's meaning relates to the Tortoise and the Hare's race. We'll not get into the difference between Turtles and Tortoises, other than the fact "turtle" is more fun to say. Randomly.

I'm done.
Happy Tuesday