~ K is for ~

An animated GIF of a kaleidoscope.

An animated GIF of a kaleidoscope. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kaleidoscope is the first word I thought of that begins with K. I do not know why. I remember having a kaleidoscope as a kid and being totally fascinated by the colours and changing patterns. I could get all deep here and say that a kaleidoscope is a great metaphor for life and that constant phenomenon we all have to put up with: CHANGE.  I have read that the only thing we can really rely on in life is change, so I guess we should enjoy it in all its glory.

Did you know that a synonym for kaleidoscope is phantasmagoria? What a great word! Its synonyms (thanks to that handy-dandy thesaurus someone thought to put in my computer—I know it is part of my word program, but I would rather think of it as a more magical force) are dream, hallucination, mirage or fantasy.

A kaleidoscope does show us a kind of dreamy fantasy world–and an ever-changing one at that. Gail Sheehy I think said it best, when she stated:  “If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.”

My favourite definition of change from the Encarta Dictionary is the word “deepen”. I think change gives us the opportunity to “deepen” and “to become”.

“To become” means we are not stagnating, or as Ms. Sheehy said more eloquently: not growing.

If I were honest, sometimes I don’t want to grow. Sometimes I get tired of change. Sometimes I just want to be comfortable and stable and content. But that gets old. I was asked recently if I am retired, and  my response (after being exceedingly surprised to be asked this as I think of myself as youthful—although it could just be immaturity in disguise) was to say a simple “no”. But I thought to myself: I am just getting started.

Now, I know that people retire young from some professions, and they too are just getting started on their next life. Personally I think the term “retired” should be re-tired. I have lots of tread left.

A toy kaleidoscope tube

A toy kaleidoscope tube (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Published in: on September 12, 2012 at 3:15 pm  Comments (33)  
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Woo woo

English: Magic wand icon

English: Magic wand icon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“…….expand your horizons, dream….dreams filled with miracles and surprises.” ~ Andy Baggott

My nouveau mantra: make the best of what you have. Right now. My way of doing this may seem a little… what is the term my friends have coined of late—“woo-woo”. It is an all-encompassing term that covers all those things we do not understand, that maybe we are a little sceptical of, that we laugh at, but that we are not really sure there is not a grain of truth to.

For some reason I woke up at 3:00 a.m. this morning, and because it did not seem in the cards for me to get back to sleep, I picked up a magazine I had at my bedside. It is an annual edition, called—wait for it—-the “Law of Attraction”. Now, my dear sceptics do not stop reading here—I will try to make it worth your while. I once belonged to the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” school of unrelenting and unforgiving thought. As the decades have gone by, I have softened my stance (no, I am not soft in the head—that is my story and I am sticking to it) and have become open to more ways of thinking than one.

The article I happened upon was called “Setting Your Day” written by Andy Baggott, author of the book “Blissology”. Apparently, Andy “helps people connect with their own inner wisdom to achieve health, happiness, and fulfillment.” As I am not so sure I have “inner wisdom” I read the article in order to find out how to unlock it. It seems my “inner wisdom” is being somewhat coy, so for now, I will have to be satisfied with learning how to “set my day”.

There are five simple steps to what Andy calls “The Practice”, but he says that the more you work with the technique the more your life will change for the better. He says that you might notice that people are nicer to you, that you don’t seem to attract conflicts, and you will “expand your horizons and dream bigger and better dreams filled with miracles and surprises.” I am all for a better life, less conflict,with a few miracles and surprises thrown in for good measure, so I thought I would give his practice steps a whirl. So for your illumination, and possible experimentation, here are steps:

1. Find a quiet place to sit and take three relaxing breaths.

2. Think about all the positive things in your life. Sit in appreciation of your amazing body, your friends, your home, or anything else in your life that makes you feel good.

3. Imagine your day unfolding in the very best possible way. Don’t hold back—think big. If you can imagine it, you have the power to make anything a reality. Whatever you have planned for that day, imagine everything unfolding perfectly.

4. Smile to yourself as you visualize having a day filled with consistently improving feelings.

5. Now go and enjoy your day.

There is no hokus pokus here. No magic wand (though if you come upon one tell me where you found it), no drawing on the spirit world. It is just a simple little exercise to get you ready for the day. While he may lose you a little in his statement that if you can imagine it, you have the power to make anything a reality—I think of it as just another way to have hope.

Maybe, just maybe, this little “practice” honed to suit your lifestyle will provide some much needed respite in a world sometimes gone mad.  That and the very fact that we are still able to take those first “three relaxing breaths” is something to celebrate and appreciate. And if all else fails, eat chocolate.

Published in: on May 11, 2012 at 8:20 pm  Comments (6)  
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Christmas: “Magic At Its Core”

English: Thomas Nast's most famous drawing, &q...

English: Thomas Nast’s most famous drawing, “Merry Old Santa Claus”, from the January 1, 1881 edition of Harper’s Weekly. Thomas Nast immortalized Santa Claus’ current look with an initial illustration in an 1863 issue of Harper’s Weekly, as part of a large illustration titled “A Christmas Furlough” in which Nast set aside his regular news and political coverage to do a Santa Claus drawing. The popularity of that image prompted him to create another illustration in 1881. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“No matter how tired and cranky, how jaded or cynical, how utterly tiresome Christmas becomes, there is always a kernel of magic at its core, isn’t there?” – Will Ferguson

The magic at the core of Christmas is what makes the season enchanting. Whether it is the wonder of the original Christmas story, our family traditions that lighten up the dark days, or even belief in that jolly old elf—the feeling that the season elicits is magical.

Canadian author, Will Ferguson wrote a charming little memoir called “Coal Dust Kisses”, which harkens back to his childhood days. He and the other children brought up around the Cape Breton coal mines had proof positive that Santa had visited their houses on Christmas Eve. The proof was not in the presents beneath the tree, but in a smudge of coal dust on their foreheads.

Ferguson’s grandfather had worked in the mines before he found a job at the Canadian National Railroad—but Ferguson himself said that he had never seen the inside of a mine shaft, and “God willing, never would”. Born in Cape Breton, he became part of a tradition that only comes from being in a coal mining area. He says that it only makes sense, “as any person—a miner say—who dealt with coal knows, if you spend time crawling through chimneys, you’re going to get covered in soot.”

It was Father Christmas that Ferguson’s father waited for on Christmas Eve. And on Christmas morning he had evidence that the gentleman “had tiptoed through houses, late at night, covered in soot…” He “would stop to kiss children on the forehead when they lay sleeping…” When the children awoke in the morning, there on their foreheads were “coal dust kisses.”

The author  waited for Santa Claus, who had replaced Father Christmas over the years, but the tradition of “coal dust kisses” carried forward to his generation. He remembers Christmas morning as “a stampede of feet towards the bathroom mirror” where he and his siblings crowded into the bathroom and “stared in awe and wonderment” at the smudge on their foreheads—providing the elusive proof positive that Santa Claus had left his calling card. This, he said was “a moment of magic” captured in countless yuletide photographs.

He has continued the tradition with his own family, taking the “Scottish coal-mining tradition…from Cape Breton to the northwest woods, from Ecuador to southern Japan, and back again to Canada.” Tradition, handed down from generation to generation travels the miles with no loss of meaning. The jolly old elf, Father Christmas, or the more modern day Santa Claus takes his magic with him wherever he goes, or as Ferguson’s story illustrates, wherever we go.

The magic of Christmas belies the sometimes gaudy pomp and circumstance of commercialism (which we have to admit has its place and puts food on the table for many). Believing in something for the sake of believing without question does not seem to be a simple thing. We need proof, whether it be in “coal dust kisses” or something else that we can see, touch or feel. I am guilty of this, and in many cases asking for verification is not a bad thing. But sometimes, we have to just believe in the magic of Christmas and not dissect it until we no longer recognize its wonder.

My wish for you this Christmas is to recapture the essence and spectacle of the season and enjoy “the quiet beauty of a peaceful holiday.” (a sentiment from one of my Christmas cards)