May. 23rd, 2011 09:32 pm
dreaminghope: (Bee Faerie)
Every year, the Gathering for Life membership votes on a theme for the next year's event. Every year, someone suggests "no theme" to allow it emerge naturally during the event. I always vote for "no theme", but it never wins. Still, unexpected motifs do always come up throughout the weekend, and this time was no exception.

It was a different event than in the past: colder and wetter due to the new date; smaller due to the price increase and date change; changed in more subtle ways due to our return to our original event location. The Gathering was intimate feeling - softer and more mellow - but incredibly inspired and inspiring.

Despite the small membership - only a third of the previous event - there were four skyclad rituals by three different groups on the schedule, in addition to several other rituals and a full itinerary of workshops. Every person except one, who was already known to be coming on Saturday, was on site before 7 PM on Friday. The turnout at the closing ritual in particular was the best we've probably every had, in proportion to the membership. Everyone just seemed so present and so grateful to be at the Gathering together.

The primary theme for my Gathering this year was "sharing". So many people were opening their hearts and giving generously of themselves. People gave up sleep to tend the sacred fire. Every time something needed to be done - from setting up a tent to chopping fire wood to moving a picnic table - people stepped up to do it with pleasure. People offered up their amazing talents: the Bardic was short but packed with amazing singing and music; the workshops were informative and interesting; the rituals were well crafted; the merchant area was tiny but full of beautiful things, mostly handmade. People were offering healing and their other skills freely. When it came to pack up and clean up the site, everyone pitched in and it was done quickly and easily. And all around, all weekend, people were thanking each other for sharing.

The generosity of the members of this community is not new, but this year, it seemed to be present in each and every person and in the community as a whole in a way I've never felt before. There have been Gatherings that have been more energetic, more powerful, more sexual, but I don't think I've ever experienced one more full of grace.

My secondary Gathering theme this year seemed to be "tell Melissa how great she is". I got so many compliments about the two rituals I ran. One woman gave me a little gift to thank me for leading her first skyclad ritual. Several people made a special effort to come up and talk to me about my themes and even ask for copies of the text. I also gave a bunch of Tarot readings and got great feedback about them as well. I even got compliments on my clothing!

I still have so much to process and I have some new ideas that need to be recorded before they fade away, but first, I need a lot of sleep. And I need to do a lot of laundry.
dreaminghope: (Zoey)
The earth doesn't care about new year's. If at midnight, a bird sang sweetly, or a cat stirred in its sleep, or the world seemed to hold its breath for a moment, it was coincidence only. The change in calendar doesn't mean anything to the Mother Nature, but you wouldn't think so in Vancouver today.

The day dawned with the kind of clear blue cold that the rest of Canada often sees in the winter, but that we rarely do. The air's so dry that the mountains look too close and overly real. The ground's frosted and shimmers in the sun. Everything feels clean and fresh and new.

I don't celebrate new year's eve (mostly for reasons summed up by I boycott by staying home, watching DVDs, cleaning, and going to bed before midnight. I can't resist new year's day, however. I love the symbolic new start and the feeling of optimism as everyone, for a least a day, attempts to let go of bad habits and start to floss, eat better, exercise more, be better.

I drank an eggnog latté, mailed Christmas thank you notes, walked a labyrinth, made bagels, read and ate bagels, walked with Russ through the sunshine, saw a bald eagle perched on a church steeple, watched the first season of "Red Dwarf", and did some writing.

It was a good new day.
dreaminghope: (Apple Picking)
We had one of those blessed sunny autumn days in Vancouver today. It was a day to love fall: bright, but cool enough to wear a hat and sweater, and the smell of crushed dried leaves was in the wind.

I needed vacuum bags. After failing to find them at The Bay earlier this week, I found them on a website for a local vacuum service store and headed there this morning after the gym and farmers’ market.

It was like stepping back in time. Most of the stock was behind the counter, so rather than being on your own to find what you need and take it to the register, we stand in line and the man bustles about and brings everything to us. He was packing up someone's new vacuum when I arrived. The next person in line had a bag of parts with him and the man checked each one and let him know whether or not they needed to be replaced. He also explained to the customer how he could check to see whether or not his vacuum’s belt needs to be replaced – apparently a common problem for that type of vacuum. When it was my turn, the man brought me two options: the brand name bags and the aftermarket versions, which were half the price. He also told me about the most common repair needed for my type of vacuum and that I should make sure no one charges me more than a dollar for the part required to fix it. And he gave me a sticker with his shop information on it to put on my vacuum at home. I did it.

I went to the grand opening of a new location of a huge chain craft store. I have a lot of craft supplies (I am probably pretty close to S.A.B.L.E.: stash amassed beyond life expectancy), but there's always something else I need, for some definition of "need". Right now, I need a couple of tapestry needles. I have some already, but I can't find them. The store was chaotic. The whole time I was there, someone was ringing a big brass bell – the kind an old school marm would ring to call students in to start the day – which had something to do with a wheel people were spinning to win discounts and stickers. By the time I found my tapestry needles – a two dollar item – the ringing and the crowds were getting a bit much and I was done. I moved towards the front of the store but found that the line for the registers wound all the way to the back of the store. I didn't want to waste that much more of the beautiful autumn sun. I'll go back for the needles another day. I wonder if the vacuum guy would consider opening a craft store.

The Girl Guides were out selling cookies. Today was also Apple Day – the day Scouts sell apples as a fundraiser. There were adorable kids in uniforms on almost every corner. The Scouts were supposed to say "apples by donation", but the ones outside the SkyTrain station were enthusiastically yelling "apples for donation". I gave some little boys a couple of dollars but declined the apple. As I dug out my wallet, I told them that my husband used to be a Scout when he was a little boy and loved it. I doubt they cared, but they nodded and smiled politely. I remember doing the nod and thank-you when people used to reminisce about their days in the blue uniform while buying Girl Guide cookies.

I found Ivan E. Coyote's new book – Missed Her – in a bookstore even though I thought it wasn't coming out for another month yet. I immediately went to one of the ubiquitous coffee shops and read half the book over a pumpkin spice latté, while trying not laugh out loud or cry while sitting in the front window on a busy corner.

A lady in the coffee shop was trying to give away apples because she'd bought one apple from every Scout she saw, but she'd also already bought a bunch of apples at the grocery store. The staff took some off her hands and got themselves a nice fall snack. I went back out into the sun and started walking home.
dreaminghope: (Bee Faerie)
It happens every time I organize an event, even if it's just for the seven other members of Silver Spiral: I spend the week before thinking about it constantly. Until the ritual is designed, I obsess about it, and in between attempts to write it, I meal-plan and write shopping lists and schedule when I'll go to various stores to get speciality ingredients.* On the day of the ritual, I turn into a little whirlwind. Last Sunday, Imbolc, Russ was startled several times when I suddenly squeaked and ran out of the room, yelling "the timer!", "the bread!", or "the ginger beer!" over my shoulder.

Even after my guests arrive, I am rushing around, setting up the altar, assigning parts, getting drinks, finding cat-free places for jackets and bags. During the ritual, I'm trying to remember what comes next. Then, ritual over, the true chaos kicks in as everyone looks at me and says "how can I help with dinner?"

Last Sunday, the meal plan was simple: pasta with sauce. Of course, the pasta and sauce were both from scratch. Russ browned chicken and supervised stove-related items while a couple of people chopped veggies at one end of the table and a couple more made pasta for the first time, under the supervision of our resident home economics teacher. I fetched and gathered and assigned and set the table and opened wine... and in the midst of all of it, I suddenly feel the tension drain out of me and I remember: This is what it is all about. It is all about this steamy kitchen full of people laughing and talking and making dinner together. It's all about this family of spirit sitting down together with mismatched napkins and glasses of juice and wine. It's all about seeing everyone's face when my sister announces her pregnancy.**

It's all about needing a bigger dining room table soon.

* Speciality ingredients tend to be a must when feeding a group requires or has required in the recent past: no meat, no dairy, no nuts, no onions, no garlic, no gluten, and no alcohol.

** Russ and I had to keep that secret for six weeks, and it was hard. Now that she's put it on her FaceBook, it must be completely fair game.
dreaminghope: (Zoey)
What Mom taught me this weekend:

I come by my complete lack of sense of direction honestly.*

The secret to a long-term relationship is to never fall out of love at the same time.

If my uncle hadn't gotten married during a certain March break when I was a kid, my family would have gone to Germany for two weeks.

If you can't give something without expectation, either don't give it at all or make it clear what you want in return... even if it is just a "thank you".

Mom once dated a guy named Skip. She liked his friends much more than she liked him. She used moving to the Northwest Territories as an excuse to break up with him.

God has nothing to do with it: take responsibility for your own life and decisions.

Seeing the ancient cedars is worth getting lost on the highway, the long drive up the gravel road, and the breathless uphill hike.

Always be suspicious of guys who are too romantic. And having someone make pancakes for you is nicer than getting flowers.

* We got lost every time we left the hotel and every time we left any place to go back to the hotel. In three days, we never went anywhere without getting lost at least once.
dreaminghope: (Corset)

When traveling, I highly recommend choosing hotels that include breakfast. We had such a hard time choosing food for lunch and dinner sometimes (not because nothing sounded good but because everything sounded good) that I can't imagine what we would have done trying to choose a breakfast place before having coffee.

All three of our hotels included breakfast buffets that we took very complete advantage of. There were always pastries, fresh fruit, yogurt, and my new favourite breakfast: fresh buns and slices of mild provolone cheese. There was also cappuccino every morning, to my delight.


Russ and I are espresso drinkers at home too. Years ago, when Russ worked at Starbucks, we used his staff discount and a Boxing Day sale to buy an espresso maker. We gave up the regular coffee machine fairly soon after.

"I don't want all these fancy drinks – these cap-a-chinos. Why can't I get a regular cup of coffee? I just want regular coffee," the woman was obviously American by her southern accent. She is sitting with her husband and another couple at a nearby table in the breakfast room in our hotel in Florence.

Russ, ever helpful, leans over: "Order an Americano."

"An A-mer-i-can-no? Is that a regular coffee?"

"Kind of. It's espresso and hot water. It's like a regular coffee."

"Marvin? Marvin, go order me one of these A-mer-i-can-nos."

Marvin obediently gets up and goes to the espresso bar at the far end of the breakfast room. In the meantime, his wife turns to the other couple at their table: "Do you guys want some too?" When they nod, she yells across the room: "Marvin! Marvin, get two more of those A-mer-i-can-nos!"

We left for a tour while their order was being made, so we never did find out if they found an Americano enough like regular coffee or not.

On a friend's recommendation, we made another delightful discovery (in additional to bread and cheese for breakfast): espresso con grappa. This is not a breakfast drink, but best sipped after dinner, perhaps with a tiramisu. We brought a bottle of grappa home with us to enjoy.


We made it a tradition to celebrate our last night in each city with tiramisu.

In Rome, we had tiramisu on the Piazza Navona. We laughed again at the story we'd learned during our walking tour of Rome: Bernini, who created the famous fountain at the center of the piazza (the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi), and Borromini, who designed the church along one side of the piazza (the church of Sant'Agnese), were great rivals. The pope of the time set them to work at the same time in the piazza. Their rivalry is reflected in their great works: the four characters on the fountain are all turned away from the church – one has her face covered, while another has a hand out as though to ward off the church's ugliness – and on the church's front, the sole character – a statue of the saint – is turned aside so only her profile is seen and so that she doesn't face the fountain.

In Florence, we had tiramisu on the Piazza della Repubblica. First, we went to this very fancy restaurant and candy store – a candy store where we had accidentally spent €12 on two tiny bags of candy the day before – but after saying "sit anywhere", no one came to bring us menus or see what we wanted. After waiting for fifteen minutes, we moved on to one of the many other restaurants on the piazza. The staff at the snobby restaurant looked quite shocked that we were leaving, but at the second place we tried, we were served delicious tiramisu (my favourite of the trip, actually) and espresso con grappa in a prompt and friendly manner, and for several Euros less than the other place as well.

In Venice, we had tiramisu at the base of the Ponte del Rialto, along the Canal Grande. We briefly considered celebrating our final night in Italy in the Piazza San Marco, which is even more iconic than the Rialto, but one look at the prices quickly made us look elsewhere: the cost of a dessert was going to be more than we had spent on some meals. And the Canal Grande is gorgeous at night anyway.


Every restaurant we ate in seemed to have a house wine. They were all delicious, and they were all labeled "vino della casa", with no other information about how we could buy a similar wine at home. The Italians have a wonderful invention that I've never seen in Canada: the 375 mL wine bottle. It's just a half-sized bottle, complete with cork, and it is perfect for two to share over a leisurely meal without overindulging or leaving any behind. It is especially perfect to share over lunch, when you don't want to end up too tipsy or sleepy after.


Red wine and pizza go very well together. Red wine goes especially well with whatever wonderful drug is in Italian tomato sauce: it tasted so simple, but was undeniably some of the tastiest sauce I've ever had in my life. Since it is vegetarian and easily identifiable, I had a lot of pizza margherita in Italy, which was delicious, but I also had a most wonderful creation one day when we escaped from the rain in Venice by ducking into the first restaurant that looked warm: tomato sauce, bocconcini, asparagus spears, and an egg right in the middle. Sounds weird – it looked weird too – but tasted like the best of breakfast and pizza brought together.

Coming home

Since coming home, I've been eating breakfast regularly for the first time in years. I have a slice of bread, sometimes with jam, and I've been experimenting with different brands of provolone cheese to find one that tastes right (some are too aged to be eaten so early in the day) and is affordable (the pre-sliced one from the Safeway deli tastes right, but it is a bit pricey, and I'm perfectly able to slice my own cheese).

Today, walking home from the Central Library, I was getting hungry and thought I'd stop somewhere for dinner. The whole walk home, through a good part of downtime Vancouver and all of Chinatown, I kept looking for some place to eat, and nothing looked appealing. I wasn't sure what I was looking for – what I wanted to eat or drink, what kind of atmosphere I wanted – until I realized that I was looking for Italy. Realizing that I wasn't going to find wine and pizza or perfect melt-in-your-mouth gnocchi on a cobblestone street or lovely piazza, I went home. I made my own pasta dish and opened a bottle of Russ and I's own "vino della casa" (a Pinot Noir we made at a local u-brew) and consumed most of both on my back deck in the last hours of sunshine, reading my book. It wasn't Italy, but it was lovely, and close enough for today.
dreaminghope: (Quiet Gargoyle)
We're having a perfect autumn day. I walked to Main Street and went to an organic and fair trade café where the man behind the counter taste-tested the almond syrup before making my drink. He made my latté backwards – pulled the shots before steaming the milk – but it still tasted lovely. And he poured the milk so that the foam made a swirled heart on top. I drank the heart before putting my travel mug's lid on.

I sit outside of the café at a little ironwork table. I want to write – there's a certain mysticism to The Café as a place to write (or program) – but I end up just reading in the sun.

When I resume my walk, I pull my paisley hat down firmly against the fall breeze. When I get to the corner, I don't start walking at the light but wait until the bus comes to a complete stop. Buses in Vancouver often run red lights, and there'd be something just too silly about someone as bohemian-looking as I – paisley hat, tie-died dress, hemp shoes, naturally worn (out) jean jacket – being killed by public transportation.

There's no one out behind the Ivanhoe yet. I guess anyone drinking at noon on a Friday doesn't want to be out in the golden sun, even for a smoke. It isn't a place for business lunches.

A block down, at the next corner, there's a slick faux-brick condo building, six floors high. The top floor has a larger balcony with a wide cement wall for a railing. Someone has placed a gargoyle on the corner of the rail, overlooking the corner of Main and Prior. He is very easy to spot, but only if you look up; most people don't.

I sit on a short cement wall across the street, where the gargoyle can see me, and that's where I write.

I think about what the gargoyle can see. He can see the daily parade of buses and cars up and down Main Street. He can see the old Italian immigrants heading into the European Deli Warehouse – the import business and warehouse that almost burned down in the rash of arsons in the summer of 2006 – and leaving with their fancy cheeses and French sodas. He can see the sign that says "Welcome to Historic Chinatown" and the graffiti that offers the cryptic comment "I have never been out of love with the mall".

And the gargoyle can see the people who shoot up and who sleep under the underpass across the street. It must be frustrating to be a gargoyle – see it all, and never be able to do anything. It isn't demons we need protecting from anymore, but that's all he knows how to do.

I think about going into the deli warehouse, but entering a dark maze of rooms doesn't appeal, and we have a lot of cheese at home already.

I go home and read science fiction in the sun on my back porch while drinking a glass of red wine, and feel so decadent that it's like there could never be any despair in this beautiful city.
dreaminghope: (Starry Starry Night)
I swagger when I wear a tank top. It's a tight white tank top with wide shoulders; the kind often called a "wife beater", but I don't call them that because that's an ugly name, though I understand where that comes from because wearing one does give me a sense of bravado. When I wear it, I swagger, I stand with my legs further apart and with one hip out, and I take up more room on the bus. A tank top brings out my inner Tough Broad.

I'm restless today. The weather's nice but cool - sunny late summer meeting early Autumn - and the Tough Broad wants to go.

I want to grab my keys and a twenty dollar bill and walk. Walk out. Walk until my feet are sore and the sun has dipped below the tree tops, then stop and spend all twenty dollars on whiskey shots in a bar that plays Tom Waits too loud. Tell anyone who tries to buy me a drink or strike up a conversation to piss off. Keep walking.

What do you do when your other self – your wild self that only comes out when you wear those boots or hear that song - tells you that you are too domesticated, too tame, too content?

Keep swaggering.

I need to hang my laundry.
dreaminghope: (Bee Faerie)
As I'm walking down the sidewalk, two kids are running towards me. Their father, or maybe grandfather, is half a block behind them, ambling, smiling at the kids and at the world.

The older of the two kids is a girl, maybe seven years old. She runs facing forward. She's focused, but not in the way that adult runners are focused. Adult runners are concentrating and pushing themselves; they are working. The little girl is flying. Any destination is arbitrary; the goal is only to feel the wind and to run because she can run and she wants to run.

The little boy who runs beside her is about five years old. He runs fast enough to keep up with his sister's longer stride, and he watches her as often as he looks ahead. He runs to be beside his sister; he runs to not be left behind.

I'm on my way to the Chinatown post office, some Swap-Bot postcards in hand needing US stamps. I'm forcing myself to walk at an unnaturally slow pace; it's my day off, and I'm trying to at least imitate relaxation. I've promised myself some ice cream on the walk home from the post office.

When I was little, we used to camp at Esker Lakes Provincial Park almost all summer, every summer. We'd set up our motor home once at the beginning of the summer, then Dad would drive up to camp with us on the weekend and then back home to work during the week. Mom, my sister, and I would stay at the camp ground, and walk to the beach, or the picnic site, or the hiking trails, or the cabin where they show movies at night. And once in a while, we'd walk to the park store.

The park store was magical. There was ice cream and candy, used books (mostly romances that park patrons would trade in when they were done with them), bug spray and necessities, and, one year, the owner made big stuffed animals that all the regular summer kids ended up buying at $10 each. My sister got a pig wearing a vest and I got a seal that I named Suzi. Suzi the seal lives in my craft room now, with Ogie the bear and Fred the dog.

The park store was a long walk from our regular campsites. Well, it seemed like a long walk to our little legs, anyway. And there was a long winding hill leading up to the store, getting you all hot and ready for your ice cream treat when you arrived. Sometimes I would get bubblegum ice cream. I liked that it was bright blue. Sometimes I would get an individual pack of Twizzlers, because I liked to bite a little off each end, then suck Twizzler-flavoured air through my Twizzler straw. Also, a package of Twizzlers lasted a lot longer than a chocolate bar or even a box of Smarties (the chocolate Canadian Smarties, not the American candy). I don't remember when I last had Twizzlers.

After Mom would do whatever errand she needed to accomplish at the park store and my sister and I would get our treats, we would head back to our camp site. If we'd finished our ice cream, or if we'd chosen something that would last, my sister and I would run down the long winding hill while Mom followed. I ran facing forward; running for the bottom of the hill, and running because I could and because I wanted to.

I haven't been looking ahead this weekend. I’ve been watching Russ instead. Friday night, we went to see The Average White Band - my anniversary present to him. I've never heard them before, except for the covers Russ plays with Leisure Lab. It was an excellent show; I loved watching Russ get so entranced by the music and so inspired by the sax player's solos.

Today, it was Russ' godfather's memorial. His great-uncle Geoff was 91 years old when he passed away suddenly a couple of weeks ago, and today was the service. I had the honour of meeting Geoff several times, and he was a warm and happy man. Still, I was there for Russ, and I watched him just as much as I watched the pastor.

I walk back from the post office. I stop at the corner store and look at the ice cream freezer. There's no bubblegum ice cream, but there's some higher quality ice cream bars. I choose one of those, and walk slowly – as slowly as I can bear – homeward, thinking of the memorial service, of the band, and of kids running. Even though I walk alone, I don't look straight ahead.
dreaminghope: (Apple Picking)
Through my dark living room window, I can see the occasional leaf falling. Lots are falling tonight, because there's a ferocious wind tossing everything around. The leaves catch the light as they spin, flashing orange in the glow of the street light.

I think the leaves are bigger this year. On my walk home, maple leaves bigger then my hands were falling all around me.

I love the Autumn wind. On my walk home, that wind carried the dry smell of leaves and the perfect fall smell of pipe smoke.
dreaminghope: (Cave Gargoyle)
I woke at about 4 AM. It's the quietest time: the bar hoppers are already home or drinking coffee in twenty-four-hour restaurants; the early-bird commuters haven't started out for their worm yet – the worms are still asleep.

Through the silence that woke me, I hear something. It's the whisper of leaves; the sound of her gown rustling as she descends upon Vancouver. Autumn glided in at 4 AM, unseen and unheard by any but me.

There was my favourite kind of wind this afternoon; a wind that blows my hair and skirt around – makes me into a wild girl – but that doesn't cut through my jean jacket.

The late afternoon sun is golden. The air is cool; not crisp yet, but it's coming. The wind smells of dry leaves, orange and brown. The maple trees seem to have dropped a million leaves over one night, though the branches are still laden.

It will soon be sweater and apple crisp weather. It will soon be knitting weather. It will soon be hot chocolate and soft blanket weather.

Welcome, fair Autumn!
dreaminghope: (Firelight - Cinnamonsqueak)
There's a European food warehouse down the street from us that is open to the public for a couple of hours each day. We bought some Czech and some German mustard. Russ will have to report back on their respective merits; I don't eat mustard.

You would think I would have had enough chocolate* in the past couple of months, but there's something about a box without any English on it that makes the contents seem even more delicious. We did resist picking any up this time, but I make no promises about next Saturday – the discounted brandy beans were singing quietly, and a little obscenely, to me. That's how brandy beans are.

Walking through Chinatown, I feel very tall. And very young.

We had fresh green onion pancakes for lunch, cut into greasy quarters and stuffed into a bag. The man at the counter seemed a little bemused by Russ' full knowledge of authentic Chinese food. I'm not sure many white people venture into his plain little storefront in the heart of Chinatown,** much ones that know red bean pancakes from chive and egg pies.

My dinner, many hours later, was in Little India. [ profile] tareija and [ profile] bob_lazar invited me out to all-you-can-eat vegetarian Indian food, which for me means all-you-can-eat naan bread and Chai tea, with some curry and rice on the side. I enjoy spicy food a lot more then I used to, but I am still a carb-lover first.

Multiculturalism may be challenging, but the benefits in food alone make it worth while.

*I won a year's worth of Purdy’s chocolate back near Christmas… that really does deserve its own post.

**Vancouver’s Chinatown isn't really a tourist destination like Victoria's or San Francisco's.
dreaminghope: (Bee Faerie)
It struck me today that is it sad that most posts that get tons of comments are drama-based posts. We need more happy posts! We need lots of happy comments! I need lots of happy comments - let's beat my record!* So: a game!

Here's the game: Comment on this post with something that makes you happy. Choose something that you think most people have experienced or should appreciate more. Then, comment to all the comments that are about happy things you have experienced with a story or observation about it. Be detailed! Engage the senses! Share the joy!

Even if you are seeing this post days, weeks or even months or years after it was posted, play anyway. I get comments emailed to me, so I may still get your happy notes.

*I think the most comments I've ever had on one post has been about 45, on a question and answer post. I don't have a lot of drama on my LJ.
dreaminghope: (Zoey)
I'm in my livingroom, sitting on the floor before a warm computer in my pjs, with a kitten in my lap and another cat napping on the couch behind me. It is snowing (a rare thing in Vancouver), and I can watch the snowflakes fall against the background of bare tree branches from where I am sitting. I have an eggnog latté and a couple of seedless mandarin oranges.

In this moment, everything is perfect.

Be happy!

Nov. 22nd, 2005 09:50 pm
dreaminghope: (Giggle)
Introduction: I am widely considered to be a happy person. I get comments on my cheer almost daily. A surprising number of people ask me how I stay so happy, though none of them seem to expect an answer. Most people seem to assume that I'm just naturally happy, so they accept my answers ("lots of coffee", "it's Friday", "it's sunny out", etc.) as the blow-offs they are. But, the truth is, I often work hard to be happy; it isn't always natural. So, in the public interest:

Melissa's 10 Rules for Happiness*

1. Make an effort to be happy. It isn't always as easy as happy people make it look.
2. Realize that you are small and insignificant in the face of an incalculably vast universe.
3. Realize that you are a unique miracle; there will never be another person quite like you.
4. Pay attention. Notice beautiful things, and ugly things, and painful things, and things that make you laugh. Use all your senses deliberately.
5. Walk.
6. Do everything you can, even if you do it imperfectly. Maybe especially if you do it imperfectly.
7. Pretend to be a cat. Or pretend to be a dog.
8. Listen more; talk less.
9. Choose compassion and grace whenever you can.
10. Realize that you are a unique, insignificant, meaningless, amazing, beautiful miracle.

*Disclaimer: I have normal mental and physical health. I'm not assuming that my advice will overcome hormonal or chemical imbalances, deep physical or emotional pain, etc. This information is not intended to provide a basis of action without consideration by a health care professional. This LJ shall not be liable for any damages or costs of any type arising out of or in any way connected with your use of the rules, etc., etc.
dreaminghope: (Giggle)
10 things that make me happy in no particular order:
1. My meditating gargoyle statue.
2. Chocolate and peanut butter.
3. A thermos of hot tea at work.
4. Listening to the rain while cuddled up in bed.
5. The really soft and warm blanket my grandma made for me.
6. Round knitting needles.
7. Hot showers.
8. The smell of dried rosemary.
9. Being able to surf the Internet while sitting on my bed.
10. Wearing my pumpkin hat.
dreaminghope: (Firelight - Cinnamonsqueak)
I am obsessing about the Silver Spiral Mabon dinner. I should write a ritual too, I suppose.

This past weekend, I wandered through the Strathcona/Cottonwood Community Gardens on Sunday afternoon. They are less then two blocks from my house, and they are beautiful. It was warm with the golden sun of a late afternoon in the fall, and the bees from the nearby hives were buzzing about. There were tomatoes and grapes and squashes every which way, and it smelled like good dirt.

On the weekend (Saturday morning), Russ and I also did the Great Canadian Shoreline Clean-up with my work. It was quite fun, scrambling along the rocks for a couple of hours, picking up beer bottles mostly. It was cool and cloudy out, we got sprinkled with a little rain, but it was nice not to get overheated. And there was a vegetarian bar-b-que after. I've never been an Yves veggie burger fan, but they are OK grilled with lots of fresh veggies piled on top.

The rest of my weekend seemed to have been spent in Rona (the hardware store), so I don't want to think about that.
dreaminghope: (Faerie Wings)
I danced in the alley behind my house in a shaft of sunlight while fat raindrops mushed on my head and shoulders.

It was beautiful out today.
dreaminghope: (Zoey)
- Yeah and thanks to [ profile] misselaineeous for new underwear!

- Dinner out and a chance to see my Oma. She looks better then the last time I saw her, so that was really nice.

- Russ and I found another neighbourhood we'd be willing to live in (part of Strathcona). We wandered around, and there's some really nice houses and lots of work being done. And the streets just had a nice vibe, especially along the 600 and 700 blocks of Union and of Pacific.

- It was nice to spend time alone with Russ in the car to and from Beltane and while walking around Strathcona. We laughed a lot.

- Lots of creative stuff going on in my house, though it has resulted in a bit of a mess. I sure am glad that nothing's happening at my house this week!

- The ants have retreated!

- My part of the Gathering confirmation package is done and has been sent to the Board for final checks and comments. I should be able to mail/email them starting the first Tuesday in May!

- Oh, and [ profile] tareija, could I get Eats, Shoots and Leaves back from you tommorow at drumming? My dad is really eager to read it.

- The weather this weekend was simply gorgeous! I got to pull out my sun hat and I didn't wear a jacket today.

On those happy notes, I'm off to bed now!
dreaminghope: (Default)
Sometimes I envy those who live dramatically simple, disciplined lives, like monks and nuns. There seems to be such peace, tranquility and contentment in those lifestyles. As one who does not bore easily, I see the endless path of predictable days, of struggle only with one's self-discipline and faith, as a bit of an ideal life.

I have met people who live such lives within society, who haven't needed to escape to a isolated sanctuary to achieve inner peace. They live with little material goods, have simple needs and few desires, and are peaceful and content. They experience the depth of life.

The people I respect are those who have sacrificed material gain, conventional success and, sometimes, bodily comfort and pleasure in favour of a life that feels richer to them. They have chosen discipline as a lifestyle, choosing not to eat junk food, not to drink or smoke, not to have sex, or whatever, in order to achieve something spiritual. The best yet is seeing these people use the extra time, money and energy they have to achieve something beautiful and powerful in the world, making other people's lives better.

To me, this sort of life looks like a soft, baby blue blanket: comforting, warm, peaceful, strong, but constant, unvaried. In contract, some people live lives like eccentric quilts, with hundreds of fabrics, from rough linen to silk to corduroy, all patched together in crazy ways. They live highs and lows, moments of ecstasy and depression, always with waves of emotions. Their lives are always changing, they live extremes, they are always seeking variety and bigger and better experiences. It feels chaotic, unstable, like the fabric could unravel at any moment.

This also feels like it has value. These people experience the breadth of life.

I guess I fear that my life is always somewhere in between: neither deep nor broad, neither disciplined nor varied, neither content nor ecstatic. I hope there's a middle way with value as well.


dreaminghope: (Default)

February 2014



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