Inspired by a book
With the glow of the Sochi Olympics fading, we recall the highlights, the winners, the exultant moments! There are too many to list, but I’m sure you have a few of your favourites in mind. I watched my share of it, which is saying a lot, since I don’t usually watch TV.
You know what struck me the most, as it does every time I watch the Olympics? The incredible composure some of those athletes have. Sure, they are in their prime physically, but I daresay, they are also masters of their mental state as well.
Speaking of masters of their mental state — and inspiring overachievers — I’m reading Col. Chris Hadfield’s book An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth. I haven’t finished it yet, so don’t tell me how it ends, okay? Here’s an interesting part about attitude.
In spaceflight, “attitude” refers to orientation: which direction your vehicle is pointing relative to the Sun, Earth and other spacecraft. If you lose control of your attitude, two things happen: the vehicle starts to tumble and spin, disorienting everyone on board, and it also strays from its course, which, if you’re short on time or fuel, could mean the difference between life and death…
In my experience, something similar is true on earth. Ultimately, I don’t determine whether I arrive at the desired professional destination. Too many variables are out of my control. There’s really just one thing I can control: my attitude during the journey, which is what keeps me feeling steady and stable, and what keeps me headed in the right direction. So I consciously monitor and correct, if necessary, because losing attitude would be far worse than not achieving my goal. – Col. Chris Hadfield
So, it follows that if I keep a watch on my attitude, I will not tumble out of control, feel disoriented, or stray from my course. I will be on track, feel like I am making progress, and have more overall contentment and lightheartedness. As Chris says, it is more important to maintain attitude than achieve a goal.
A lot of goal-setting, performance-oriented, time-management, efficiency-optimization shtick came out of the late 80’s and 1990’s. This was the heyday of books like How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. I’m not saying those aren’t good books, but I feel like the collective personal development mindset focused on achieving goals and nothing was said about attitude. And yet your attitude is the key! You can be happy even when you haven’t met all your goals, and you can look at life as an adventure rather than an obstacle course to conquer.
So let’s start a new wave where attitude is everything! I often lay in bed for a few minutes before getting up, just to check my attitude. I would rather go about my day cheerful and grateful, wouldn’t you? The world needs less grumpy people! As Chris Hadfield says, “losing attitude is far worse than not achieving my goal.” Would the world stop spinning if we all just tossed our goals out a window — or put them on the back burner — and started enjoying life? I think not.
As many of you know, I have two homes, one in High Level and one in Fort Simpson — actually, three places to call “home” if you count the farm I grew up on, which I think of often. Over the last year and a half, I have been shuttling myself and various stuff back and forth from northern Alberta to the NWT. In Simpson, I have a great little room in the attic of an old log house, and in High Level, my honey and I have a small, bungalow-style house.
When in my house, I’m often amazed how much I walk from room to room. Because all 1400-ish square feet of the house is on one level, it makes for a bit of back and forthing. It’s kind of annoying — a huge first-world problem, having to take fifteen or twenty steps to get from the kitchen to the bedroom. I know, it’s silly to even mention, when there are people who have no roof at all over their heads at night.
And then I discovered tiny houses. You see, I was looking for an option for my living arrangement in Fort Simpson — I know I won’t be able to rent the attic room forever. So, I started researching tiny houses, and by “researching,” I mean reading blogs, making drawings of possible floor plans, learning about construction methods, insulation options, heating solutions, and considering storage efficiency, appliance needs and alternative energy sources. It’s been a blast thinking about an adorable little living space I could create, perfect for me and perfect for my environment. I’ve asked myself how big a kitchen really needs to be. How much counter space does it take to make a batch of cinnamon buns? How much room would I need for clothes? Books? Hobby stuff? These are real challenges, since I love reading and knitting, and I have quite a selection of winter clothes for various outdoor activities. How many turtlenecks do you have, because I have 6. How would I pare it down to only the essentials? Why do I own so many bras, anyway? How on Earth would I ever decide what books to keep and which to give away?
As a result, my relationships with stuff is changing. I have started going through old stuff — all sorts of momentos, photos and other schtuff — and I am having fun turfing some of it. Until now, I’ve been a bit of a hanger-on — I’ve had a hard time throwing things out. I thought I needed momentos in order to have good memories; I thought I’d forget the best stuff if I threw out the trinkets, maps and old papers. I am starting to realize that I don’t have to keep stuff to keep memories, and that I am more interested in making some awesome memories in the future than reliving every nice memory from the past.
When I was growing up, I could ask my mom where anything in the house was — “Mom, have you seen my Merlin game?” — and even if the item hadn’t been seen or used in years, she knew where it was — “On the shelf in the basement, beside the box of Tinkertoys.” I think I may have inherited my mother’s ability — I usually just know where stuff is. Lately, however, with all my travel between two homes, I am losing track of things. I spend more than a little brain power trying to remember where stuff is. “Didn’t I used to have a blue toque? Where is it? Didn’t it used to be in the box of winter stuff? Maybe it’s in Fort Simpson…” Maybe for other people this isn’t a big deal, but it can get pretty frustrating for me.
I am definitely realizing I don’t need as much stuff as I think to be happy; in fact, I feel lighter and happier owning less stuff. Over the last year or so, I have been gradually getting rid of clothes I don’t enjoy. You thought I was going to say “clothes I don’t need,” didn’t you? Well, those too. For me, clothes used to just be something to cover me up (or to keep warm). Sure, I gave some thought to being dressed right for meetings or whatever, but it was never about fashion for me (I guess I’m a tom boy that way). I like eclectic stuff from second hand stores, but that’s mostly about not dressing like everyone else. As my relationship with stuff changes, I find I want to keep only the clothes that I truly enjoy and appreciate — only my favourites, things that make me say “yay! I going to wear THIS today!” The clothes-purging process is going to take some time, but since I’ve started, I really like having a little empty space in my dresser and closet.
Which, of course, won’t last if I move into a tiny house! Most houses I’ve seen — the ones that are being lived in 24/7, not just used as RV’s — are filled to the gills with stuff, tucked into every nook and cranny. And I’m okay with that too! As I think about layouts and storage, I am reminded about how, as a teenager, I used to design houses. I considered going to school to become an architect, but pure science called to me instead.
So, I leave you with a few images, scribbly drawings and such! Is it crazy to think of living in a space 200 square feet or less? Maybe… Do you think you could do it?
(click for larger versions)
(Yes, they are rather scribbly… sorry!)
I enjoy playing Solitaire. Okay, sometimes, I don’t really enjoy it, but I play anyway, usually to kill a little time. [We’re all killing something.]
This morning, I was in a bit of a foul mood, after reading something in the newspaper. It doesn’t really matter what created the mood, but let’s just say I was cursing in four-letter-words under my breath, over and over, incredulous and ticked off at the same time. I was even adding in religious curse words — that’s the kind of mood I was in.
So, to use up a little time, I started up a game of Solitaire. Only, this time, I decided to do an experiment.
In the past, I have noticed that my overall mood seems to affect the way my game of Solitaire goes. If I am in a crappy mood, I don’t seem to get any of the cards I need and it never takes very long before I’m stuck with no moves. If I am happy and looking forward to the future, it usually goes pretty well and I am able to win. So, with me cursing-in-my-head, I started a game. (To help you count ’em, I’ll tag them like this: .) I’d never played in that state before, so I was curious about what would happen.
It went terribly, to say the least. I was only able to make 1 move from the starting cards, and I didn’t get a single ace in the face-down cards. In about 6 moves, I was stumped, although I kept cursing away and going through the dealt cards, hoping there was a move I hadn’t noticed.
So, I decided to do take-two of the experiment. I actually had to laugh at myself, cursing and clicking and cursing some more! So, my mood had lifted and I felt more-or-less “pleasant.”  I focused on this idea — being pleasant, having a pleasant day — for a moment before starting a new game, and kept that word and general mood humming along as I played. The game went quite a bit better. I had about 7 starting moves from the cards dealt, and by the time I had gone through all the face-down cards once, I had made several more moves and had all 4 aces up. But I wasn’t able to win. I made quite a few moves, but in a typical way, I got stumped later on.
I wondered why I didn’t win when I was “pleasant?” I decided that the underlying mood was more of boredom than happiness. So, I decided to try the “boredom” vibe  for round three and see how it compared.
It was very similar; I made a few moves off the start and had 3 aces before the face-down cards were done. I made quite a few more moves, got a couple of chains started, but I just wasn’t getting the cards I needed. I was so bored!
A little bit of time passed — I started writing up this article — and I started round four. I mustered up the most positive, eagerly-anticipating-all-the-awesome-things-to-come feeling,  sat with it a moment (the same amount of time as I had for round 2 and 3 preparation), and started up. I had one ace in the first lay-up, which is always a nice bonus, and about 3 initial moves. After that, for the first 10 face-down cards, I was able to play each and every one. I tried to keep the positive vibes going. It was going quite well! But, for some reason, I still wasn’t able to win the game.
What was going on? Why couldn’t I win with those amazing vibes I had going on? Maybe they weren’t real? Maybe I was fooling myself? Maybe it was just too far to go from cursing up a blue streak to pure positivity in less than half an hour, or from boredom to chipper in ten minutes.
I took a break, and did something I enjoy (knitting), and let my mind relax. I realized I was actually kind of tired and a little hungry, and my overall state could be described as tired-but-okay.  So, another round.
It went moderately. Not nearly as smoothly as my positive round; it was very similar to “pleasant.” By the time I was stumped, I only had one ace up, 4 small chains underway, but I was just not getting the cards I needed. My mind had wandered to family illnesses and conversations from yesterday. I was pensive, not positive, and my Solitaire game showed it well.
Was I playing badly? Not particularly. Was I making mistakes? No. The cards just weren’t coming up right. Something that by all accounts should be random wasn’t — the cards were worse when my mood was poor. I decided to try one last round, with the best attitude I could muster without faking.
I gave myself another break. I really spent some time appreciating the day — the sun, the clouds. I had some chocolate, sat in a sunny window, and did a few light exercises to get my blood flowing — all the things that I know help my mood improve. I was feeling pretty good when a friend called. He always makes me laugh and we have such great banter, I decided to play a game with that light-hearted, appreciative feeling going on.  While we were chatting, laughing and teasing each other, I started up a new game. Can you guess what happened?
I won. It wasn’t the absolute best game I ever played, but I had all four aces by the end of the first run through the deck, and a few good chains on the go. Almost every card I flipped over was playable. I had to do a little fiddling to get to the last few cards — if you play Solitaire, you know what I mean — but it wasn’t hard. It was play!
My Solitaire experiment showed that my mood has everything to do with the “random” way the cards are dealt, and I am far more likely to win when I am upbeat and positive. I can even use Solitaire to gauge my mood — a “mood-o-meter”of sorts — as the progression of the game is directly related to how I am feeling. When I am bored or bummed-out, I won’t get far. When I make efforts to feel better, the game goes better. And lest you think I am a totally crappy scientist, drawing conclusions from only 6 samples, let me say that I have actually noticed this trend over hundreds of games over the last year or so. When I feel better, the cards come up better and I play better.
Can you see the profound wisdom that comes out of this experiment?
- Things that you think are random are not.
- You affect everything in your surroundings and your life.
- Your mood indicates where you’re at and what kind of things you can expect to come your way, from random things to proactive things.
- You can change your mood and therefore change your life at any time.
- Your mood is not a result of what happens to you; it causes what happens to you.
- In scientific terms, your mood is an independent variable. You pick how you want to feel.
- A playful attitude is crucial to being successful and happy!
This is the Law of Attraction at work, yet again! How you feel, or in metaphysical terms “vibrate,” is the direct cause of things that happen in your life. The Universe brings you what you ask for, whether you are asking in words or, more importantly, in vibration. You can’t fool the Universe, as was evident when I tried to muster up “pleasant” but was really stuck near “bored.” The game went accordingly. You have to play your way to a truly better mood to see the results!
I recently finished reading Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat. I bought it at a used book store, and the copyright in my book says 1963, 1973 and 1993, but it must be out of print now. I’m pretty sure my parents hid this book from me when I was growing up. They must have known the effect it would have on me, and they probably didn’t wish to lose their daughter to the wilds of northern Canada for years at a time. Well, they weren’t able to avoid that altogether, but at least I have the technology to keep in touch with them.
Since living in Wrigley, my curiosity about wolves has been piqued. They are often talked about, because they are never very far away. At the airport, which is about 2 km from Wrigley, the wolves were coming onto the runway on the weekends and chewing on the wires going to some of the runway edge lights. When it’s particularly cold in winter, they come closer to town and sometimes attack and eat the local dogs. In December, wolves killed the alpha dog in town — dogs there run in packs and are not very far removed from wild, wolfish behaviour. In fact, some of what Farley Mowat talks about has helped me relate to dogs better, such as reading their facial expressions and understanding that they live by their own, non-human code. They have their own reasons for doing things, because of their canine culture.
I can see why this book is considered a classic! It is an excellent read. Farley is a phenomenal storyteller, and his story is a fantastic one. He is dropped off by a kamikaze bush pilot at an unknown frozen lake somewhere off the map in Northern Manitoba. His mission is to study wolves, their feeding habits and appetite for caribou. He plans to live among the wolves. Does that mean he crawls in their dens? Only once, and his reaction to what he finds within shakes him to the core. He adapts himself to the wolves’ ways — he learns to take wolf-naps so that he can observe them for long periods of time continuously without getting tired. And when the caribou return from their wintering grounds, he discovers, contrary to what the government has been told, that wolves are not responsible for the decline in caribou population.
Fast forward 50+ years, to this year, 2013. What is on the cover of the news/north newspaper this week?
Fifty years have gone by and the problem remains! Farley Mowat correctly identified the cause of the caribou slaughter when he found a field of caribou bones near a trapper’s shack — the trapper was killing hundreds of caribou a year to feed his sled dogs. Back then, they used nearly the whole animal, but now, killing for the sake of killing makes me ill. Trigger happy people should go to a gun range and shoot paper targets, not beautiful, majestic creatures. And there are a lot of trigger happy people in the North, and they think they can get away with it, and they think they have a right to kill what they want, and they do it because their twisted sense of humanity thinks it is fun. That newspaper article speaks of 50+ animals killed with only very small portions being taken for food, a practice very much against what the elders teach. (Wolves, by contrast, kill very few caribou, and only the weak and elderly ones, and, of course, eat it all.)
Part of me desperately hopes they find out who did it all (the carcasses were found in 12 different sites, so it was probably lots of different people), and part of me knows it won’t help. Not unless the local people — the people from that community — decide it is definitely wrong and their internal culture changes. Part of me thinks that if no witnesses will come forward — and who would want to rat on their friends and family? — then the whole community should lose its caribou hunting rights. They have a grocery store; let them buy their meat there. But, that’s our ugly friend colonialism back for a visit, telling native populations what to do and disciplining them like they are children. No, the government needs to stop interfering and the people who live there need to start acting like responsible, life-respecting adults. Own up to what you have done. Admit you feel bad about it (if you do, don’t lie if you don’t). Stop killing just because you can.
I would love to ask one of these trigger happy people “what will you do when all the caribou are gone? Elsewhere in Canada, when the native animals were killed off, domestic animals were brought in. Beef replaced buffalo, pigs in place of antelope. Are you going to become farmers? That will be challenging with the wolves and bears and so much wilderness. Will you cut down all the trees to make fields? Will you grow crops to feed your cows?”
It would be infinitely better if those who live among the caribou could learn to appreciate what they have in them — an amazing, healthy food source — and protect the caribou population, to prevent their extinction. I am a stranger in a strange land; I am not from here. I wasn’t raised among the caribou, among the wolves. I was raised on a farm (which you may have already guessed), so if I want to be an activist, I should do so in the realm where my heritage is — agriculture in Canada. To be an activist here makes me judgmental, as so many environmental activists who go far from home to make a stand are. And I do have some thoughts about agriculture in Canada… but they will have to wait for another day.
To my regular blog readers, sorry for the “oddly specific” nature of this blog post. To those from the AvCanada forum, hope this helps clear up some confusion!
As an Observer/Communicator in Fort Simpson, I sometimes get flight logistics people calling me from charter companies in Edmonton or Calgary, asking about services or runway surface conditions for an upcoming flight to CYFS. Sometimes, I even get pilots calling me on the radio who seem a little confused about what services they can expect. They click 5 times for ARCAL that isn’t on — I have control of the lights. They call up with a traffic broadcast, not realizing I’m here to provide services. So, I decided to write this little discourse to help you southerners know what type of airport you are flying to when you’re headed North.
The Canada Flight Supplement is a monster source of data, isn’t it? Suppose you have a charter to Awesome Place (CYAP), a fictional but clearly awesome place north of 60. I’m not being sarcastic here (I’m being cheeky) — it is probably awesome, and how would you know? You’ve never been there. Keep an open mind! You might wonder if the CYAP runway will be cleared, or if it’s paved. Find it in the CFS. You wonder if you will be landing on a strip with nothing but snow and trees around? Look under PF for “public facilities.” Next, take a look at the “FLT PLN” section. Skip down to where it says “CARS.”
1. If there is just a phone number listed, then it is a 24-hour station. You will also notice “METAR H24” immediately below, next to “WX.” Someone will always be there, so you can say “Awesome Place Airport Radio” when you call up — no need to broadcast. You can expect to get current weather, RSC’s, assistance with fuel callouts, whatever you need from the helpful Observer/Communicators who work the radios. You don’t need to activate the ARCAL, because we have control of the lights. We don’t normally close IFR flight plans (although we do for VFR) and won’t be able to give you clearances — contact centre directly.
2. If it says “ltd hrs (see COMM)” beside the phone number, then you are flying into a part-time CARS airport. These stations run somewhat less than 24/7, some just Monday to Friday, daytime (details are listed under COMM). You will also notice below that, in the WX area, it says “METAR dur CARS hrs of ops.” In this case, if you’re arriving during the hours of operations, you can say “Cool Place Airport Radio” and expect to get a current altimeter, weather, and have runway lights operated for you (all the same services as a full-time station). If you are going to be arriving outside operating hours, you can certainly call ahead and arrange for the Observer/Communicator to be there for a charter.
In either case, if there is no answer — because the full-time station is temporarily unattended or the part-time station is closed — then feel free to go on with “Cool Place TRAFFIC, Lear Jet…. (location, estimate, intentions, you know what to do)…” In the part-time stations, if it’s after hours or on a weekend, go ahead and activate the ARCAL and watch for traffic — you’re on your own. You may even want to overfly the field to make sure there’s no snowplow out there and to have a look at the runway condition.
3. If the CFS has nothing to say for CARS or WX under the FLT PLN section, then you know you are headed somewhere really small (Nahanni Butte, for example). There won’t be anyone on site, except perhaps a snowplow operator, so feel free to get right to your traffic broadcast and don’t expect an answer back. Use the ARCAL, if there is one (look under “LIGHTING”). If you are wondering about runway surface conditions, and there aren’t any in the NOTAM files, try calling the regional APM or local operators (for Nahanni Butte, try ones in Fort Simpson) to see what they know. These small places are supposed to do daily RSC’s, but aren’t always diligent.
There are only a few exceptions to this — places like Norman Wells and Inuvik have Flight Service Stations, so it doesn’t say “CARS” but it does say “METAR H24,” so you know there are good services there. You should know what to expect from an FSS — this post is meant to clarify a few things about CARS.
Hope that helps you in your research when you are flying into somewhere new.
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” – Helen Keller
I first heard the phrase “security is a myth” from Steve Pavlina, a personal development guru-of-sorts. He’s a bit unconventional, but a very interesting guy and author of Personal Development for Smart People. I went to one of his Conscious Growth Workshops where I met some amazing people, many of whom are still great friends of mine. So, I’d like to talk about the idea that “security is a myth” to share my insights.
My husband listens to a podcast called “Security Now,” where a couple of very smart computer guys discuss the latest issues in computer security. It seems there is always something new in this arena, and as soon as one hole in security is plugged, another is found (or made). It seems to be an unending cycle of trying to beat the hackers and keep a system secure.
What about personal security? There are dozens of different home security systems, car anti-theft systems and personal defence items like pepper spray or nun-chucks.* All this, because we want to feel secure. We feel, because we’ve been told, that our security is at risk. Consider the United States’ national security alerts — with all the colours of the hot part of the rainbow, it can tend to make people nervous.
Yet Steve Pavlina says security is a myth. Is there no way to be secure? Is there no way to be sure that you’re going to be okay? Sounds like a formula for worry! Well, if so, remember that the cure for worrying is to trust. We simply have to trust that we are going to be okay. We can learn to trust that our true self cannot be harmed. Our physical bodies are just weak impressions of our true, multi-dimensional selves.
All this emphasis on security is a sort of distraction. By trying so hard for something that is unattainable, we expend a lot of energy that we could be using for something else — personal growth that is helpful, expansive and life-changing. In many ways, struggling for security just puts walls around us, walls that prevent meaningful friendships and fun adventures. The biggest change is felt by releasing ourselves from the quest for security, so we allow ourselves more freedom — freedom to go have fun and make mistakes, to be unafraid of our neighbour and stop looking for the threat in everything.
What if you told yourself “there is just no way to be secure.” Would fear overwhelm you? For a few minutes, perhaps. What if you followed it up with “security is a myth. It isn’t real, so maybe the things I have been afraid of aren’t real either.” At the very least, they are probably inflated, made to be bigger than they really are. If you think about that, and keep breathing, you will soon be able to come to peace with the idea that security is a myth. You will feel a release, a lightness, and as this truth settles into your core, you’ll feel like your spirit is a cork, bobbing on the ocean of the universe, unsinkable and free.
Another way to think of it is “do I get my security from external things or internal things?” Obviously, feeling secure from the inside is the way to go… and then we can get on with having our “daring adventures!”
*No nuns were harmed in the writing of this blog post.