Fort Simpson Adventure

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Well I didn’t mean to keep you, my blog followers, in the dark, but I have been so busy, I just haven’t had a chance to blog until now. And what have I been busy doing? I have been getting ready to start my new job!

It was a big decision to take this job. I love being self-employed. I have the ultimate time freedom, and it’s allowed me to finish my book, write a paddling guide, edit a friend’s book, and spend an amazing amount of time on the water, (canoeing, kayaking and york boating)! The only drawback is the tradeoff — time freedom for money freedom. Ultimately, I decided I wanted some more money freedom, and that meant looking for work.

I only want to do what I love. So I had to ask myself “what else, besides paddling and writing, do I love?” Knitting came up quickly, but I wouldn’t want to try to make it into a job. Then, one day in December, I woke up with an idea “out of the blue” (the best kind) — I could work at the airport of the Diavik diamond mine! I used to love my job as a Flight Service Specialist, but had no interest in going back to my actual old job, but doing the same thing up north absolutely lit me up inside! So, I applied to Diavik, and then a couple of weeks later, I decided to also apply to ATS Services, the company that takes care of the Community Aerodrome Radio Stations (CARS) in the NWT, Yukon and Nunavut.

I got a call in January that they were very interested in hiring me. Diavik was interested too, and were looking to fill in for someone on sick leave, but ultimately, it didn’t work out. As I waited to hear more from ATS, I waffled back and forth on whether or not to go. Due to my tentativeness, the process went very slowly (the law of attraction at work, as always)! When I finally got clear that yes, I would go, I heard back from the manager. It was official, they wanted to hire me. Then, I waffled again — it was a very big life change! Was going back to a job like failing as an entrepreneur? Or could I keep running my business? What about things I had committed to do? What about living away from Darren — would he and I be okay with it?

On the plus side, I loved the work, the location sounded interesting, and I would, essentially, be paid to write (when it’s not busy, I can work on hobbies). And I love the North!

I couldn’t stand my wavering, so I decided to wait until the final details came in and go with whatever my feelings said at that moment when I got the phone call. When Darren told me that my new boss had called, I was thrilled! My heart thumped with excitement and I was doing a little dance of joy. How could I NOT go? I was so excited! I was moving to Fort Simpson and going back to an old job I loved!!

So, that’s how it all went down. Tomorrow, I will blog more about what the station, the town and airport here at Fort Simpson is like. I leave you with a map to ponder and marvel at! Zoom in to see more.

Cheering Up

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I was going to write this blog on Monday, but then the events of Tuesday (the bird day) needed blogging first, so this one waited ’til now.

I was in a seriously crappy mood on Monday. I don’t know what got into me. It wasn’t the common Monday-blues — since I work for myself now, I don’t get bummed out on Mondays. Come to think of it, I was a shift-worker before, so Mondays didn’t mean anything to me then either! Anyhow, this was a seriously nose-out-of-joint, stay-clear-if-you-want-to-keep-all-your-body-parts kind of mood. I don’t get these very often, maybe 3 times a year, which means I only have, um, one more occasion this year. Poor Darren!

I don’t just say “poor Darren” to be funny, I really mean it. I was pretty close to the edge that day, and he had to endure it. Not fun. I think I will be making up for it for a while — not because he makes me feel like I have to, just because I want to. I generally treat him really well, but man, it was ugly on Monday.

I eventually told him the main thing that was weighing on my mind, only after saying “I need to say something. I don’t want to hear any come-back, reply, comment, or anything. In fact, it would be best if you just listened to it — let me say it all — and then you were quiet for an hour or so. Not a peep. Think about what you want to say back, if anything, and in an hour or so, we can talk. Can you do that?” Crazy, eh? I had a medium-serious thing to say (I won’t reveal it here, sorry), but on a normal day, I would have just sat down on the couch next to him and said it. And I wasn’t trying to add drama, I just wanted to tell him without getting into a huge discussion. Is that so wrong? I don’t think so, but I sure could have been nicer.

So about half way into Darren’s Hour of Silence, I realized it was self-pity that I was all gummed up with. Like the stickiest of mud, it had me completely mired. I didn’t recognize it at first, perhaps because I get it so rarely, or because it was so strong. It felt more like anger/depression. I am actually glad, now, that I experienced it, because I need to know what it feels like and how strong its pull is, in order to help others better. I think I can have more compassion for someone who struggles with this.

Luckily, a very good friend of mine called and reminded me that we were doing training that night, and I needed to prepare for it. I found the material and read it over, highlighted the most important parts, and started to feel much better. Want to guess what the subject was? Sudden Death. We were training our Victim Support Unit volunteers on how to help people dealing with a sudden death (I’ve been a VSU volunteer for a while, and now I help with training). Later, at the end of the training session, we did a “round table” to talk about how we feel, if any of the areas were difficult for us, or if any parts really struck home. I shared how I had been in such a terrible mood earlier, but now I felt much better. I meant that it was good to be with friends, discussing serious things and helping people. But everybody teased me “sudden death just cheered you right up, did it?” Ha ha! Well, it did. I was able to remember that I have it so good. No one I love has died suddenly a long time. I have nothing to complain about.

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P.P. (Post Post): If you have experienced a sudden loss of someone you love, and you need help, please call your nearest Victim Support Unit or find out if your city has a support group for people like you. You don’t have to go through this pain and grief alone. Let someone help you, and listen to you... You are loved.

P.P.P.: I am starting a “Personal Growth Coaching” (similar to life coaching) service soon, so if you’d like to talk to me, please email me (teresa {at} madphilosopher.ca) and I’ll be in touch to set up a free session with you.

Celebrating Life

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Today has been an amazing day. Darren and I went to Willie’s funeral today.

I didn’t know Willie directly, but I’ve heard of him lots. He helped out at a couple of the organizations I volunteer with, donating his time and equipment to spray paint some bookshelves, for example. He owned and operated a painting business that painted anything and everything, but mostly interiors. He was known around town to be very helpful, always willing to donate time or help someone out. He was active in his church, and the pastor kept saying how he loved the church, and the people in it. His impact on the community was evident in the number of people there — around 400, we figured, which in a town of less than 4,000 is a lot! (That would be like over 100,000 people showing up for a funeral in a city of a million.) I know his wife a little, and I’m very good friends with one of her very good friends, so I feel a kinship.

Even though I didn’t really know him, I cried a little. What made me cry? Thinking of how Barb, his wife, must feel. Imagining myself in her place, a new widow. Thinking of how the kids must feel.

Darren and I debated about whether to stay for the fellowship afterwards, and we decided to stay at least a little while. We ended up sitting across from some strangers who turned out to be very nice people, and we chatted quite a while, sharing philosophies on life, how to stay out of a rut, that kind of thing. We also chatted with our neighbours, friends, and people we know around town for various reasons. There was a wonderful feeling of community, and although there was some sadness, it was not completely mournful. After the funeral, the interment, and the luncheon, there was a memorial service, which we didn’t stay for; it had an open-mic component and I am sure it celebrated his life even more.

A page from a photo calendar I made (photo by me).

The truly amazing part happened after we got home. My honey and I sat and talked and talked and talked. We talked a little about what we’d like at our funeral or where to be buried (neither of us is very picky), and then we talked about what we had observed at the funeral, how we felt about it, and what the preacher had talked about and how sometimes we related to it and sometimes not. It was all good, some things we just see differently. We both also noticed how we were easily able to just allow others to have their own funeral experience, and not judge or mentally comment on them. Darren said that it’s quite a change for him and an indication of how comfortable he is in his own skin, and I agree! I have come a long way from the awkward, self-conscious, anxious, fish-out-of-water that I used to be in many social situations. I just wasn’t comfortable.  I guess I wasn’t always like that — sometimes, I wonder what my mom thinks when she reads my blog (my dad doesn’t use the computer). Does Mom say “that’s not right!?”  I bet my perception of myself is different from others’ view of me… Mom, feel free to comment any time! But I remember feeling quite insecure and fearful of some social situations.

I think some of my uncomfortable feelings were rooted in a deep inability to handle any kind of conflict between differing points of view. I just couldn’t stand the thought of debating with someone about something personal. If someone became too assertive, I just wanted to run. I’m not really like that any more; I enjoy exchanging views with people, especially if they are able to stay calm and logical, although I am also better able to witness/handle other’s raw emotions, even grief. It’s something I’ve learned how to do by necessity because of the volunteering I do. I’m able to put up a little distance between me and the other person and yet stay engaged in the situation — not withdrawing into a shell or wishing I were somewhere else. Sometimes I have to tell myself “you are not a sponge. This emotion/feeling in the air can go right through you” and that helps me somehow. And I never used to think of myself as very empathetic/touchy-feely, since I was so uncomfortable with others’ emotions, but perhaps I’ve grown in that area too.

Anyways, I just wanted to share that little bit. I will be thinking of Willie’s family, and thinking of ways I can help in the coming weeks and months. There are always lots of people around at first, but that tends to drop off, while the grief yet lingers.

Emotional Jellyfish

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I should warn you straight off — I am very tired from midnight shifts and should be in bed sleeping, but I have been wanting to blog and for whatever reason, I felt the urge to do it right now!

I think there are two basic ways to approach the world, in particular, when it comes to emotional issues. When someone you care about has to talk to you about something uncomfortable, or one of you has hurt the other, you can take one of two stances: become a tank, or become a jellyfish. Let me explain.

You can choose to become a tank (as in, indestructible vehicle of war, not vessel for holding liquids!). You can choose to put up your strongest armour so that you are completely un-touchable, un-hurtable, impermeable, etc. Nothing the other person says will sink in, and you have the ultimate in defenses. You also, if you choose to, can go on the offensive; you can hurl the weapons of hurtful words, bring up past issues, or simply bulldoze over the other person by totally disrespecting them, making decisions for them as if they were a child, or making huge, gigantic assumptions about them so you don’t have to really get to know them. And you can thrive in your denial and ignorance — after all, your view is only out one small window in one small direction. This is what it means to be a tank.

jellyfishOr you can choose to be a jellyfish. You can be free-floating, allowing the emotional situation to surround you, and be in it. You aren’t defensive in any way, simply accept what the other person says, while taking in the full surroundings, including the temperature of the water (the spirit the words are said in). You aren’t mortally wounded by what the other person says or does, it sort of just bounces off you. But you are not in denial either, and have incredible clarity, presence and focus. This is what it means to be a jellyfish.

Now you may be thinking “ah-ha! Jellyfish have tentacles that sting, how come you haven’t talked about that?!?” Well, yes, they do. But these are used to kill their food, and if you’re eating someone close to you, you need more help than my simple analogy can give! 🙂  Or, we could say that even jellyfish have some form of defense, and also propulsion, so if you need to leave a situation that’s continually hurtful to you, to survive, do it. But you don’t actually have to be a tank to do it. You can be a jellyfish, and be in the reality of your situation, even if it’s something traumatic, and you will not die from it, but be stronger. Denial clouds your thinking, and it’s much better to just breathe deeply, stay present, and realize that you are surrounded and supported by a loving spiritual environment, like warm ocean waters. Get in the flow, breathe.

This analogy can work for life, work, or any conflict, difficult situation or relationship. Be a jellyfish, not a tank. You get to choose!

For an excellent podcast on the truth, denial and awareness, see Steve Pavlina’s page. Thanks, everybody.

Related posts: Letting Go and Trusting | Balancing Act

Memeza Africa Brings Hope

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On the weekend, I got the opportunity to go to Edmonton and hear the Memeza Africa Choir – wow! They were incredible! They had such energy! They were at the Centre for Spiritual Living doing a few songs to tease us into buying tickets for their concert on April 24 at the Centre (which I am sure is sold out by now) or another on May 29 at the Winspear Centre. They’re doing concerts all over western Canada, and I would love to go see them again.Memeza Africa

Memeza consists of about 18 young adults (9 women and 9 men) who are the most amazing singers I think I’ve ever heard. In addition to their clear, far-carrying voices and stirring harmony, they have choreographed movements that would spell disaster for most choirs! Rhythmic clapping, finger snapping and lots of other motions, and they smiled all the while! If it were me, I’d probably have a look of intense concentration to make sure I didn’t goof up! They danced, too… some high kicks that were amazing! From Memeza Africa webpage:

Memeza Africa was born out of the dream of Holly Wright’s to re-record her song “The World Shall Love Again” while living in South Africa.  She connected with Jimmy Mulovhedzi and through the mutual passion for the message of this song, soon developed a strong bond and common goal; to bring their two cultures together through music and spread a message of love and tolerance. This ultimately led to the unique and powerful musical collaboration Memeza Africa, bringing together the songs and styles of South Africa and Canada.

They sang 2 African songs and one “Canadian” one. The first song, an African one, had rhythms that positively unlocked something in me! It was incredible — unidentifiable emotions welled up in me… I felt incredulous, joyful, and inspired… amazed, grateful, moved… words don’t describe very well what I felt. They performed a song about hope, and it reminded me that no barrier is impassable, no trouble too great, no trial so bad that it can break the human spirit. I wish everyone who is discouraged could hear their music and know that there is hope! It is real, tangible… you can recover from whatever’s in your past, you can stick to the path you’ve chosen, you can overcome the difficulties you face! You’ll make it!

If you have a chance to see Memeza at one of their concerts, don’t hesitate to go! They are incredible, uplifting and inspiring… and who couldn’t use more uplifting or inspiring?  🙂


Heart Versus Head

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Why is it sometimes I need to “listen to my heart” (Roxette flashbacks!!) and other times, fight to keep emotions from taking over? Why is it always my heart versus my head?
In general, I am a thinker. I like to ponder things, try to figure out why they are they way they are, how things work and whatnot. This is usually fairly easy for external physical, visible things, but I also think a lot about the invisible parts, my interior – my thoughts, emotions and beliefs. And I’ve come across a very strong theory that our emotions are actually controllable by our thoughts. Think about it – our emotions are constantly changing. We can be cheered up by someone saying or doing something nice to us. We can start out a day in a good mood only to have it fouled by someone being mean or rude. And if we choose to dwell on that event, replaying it in our minds, we’ll let it ruin our entire day and more. So, even though nasty things happen to us, it’s up to us if we choose to expend mental energy on it and ultimately it’s up to us if we let it bother us at all! Some things are easier to let slide than others, no question. So, is it too much to say that it’s possible, using our conscious mind, to determine what our emotions will be? Can we decide how we will feel at any time?
I think so! I don’t think it’s unreasonable to attempt that at all! I’ve heard that thinking certain things causes certain chemicals to be released, which has effects on the body – an easy example is how thinking you’re going to die causes adrenalin to flow which causes all sorts of stress responses (fight or flight stuff). But there are far more subtle ones too, like thinking you’re not good enough or that no one loves you. I don’t know what chemical soup is involved, but it’s not too hard to see what effect that will have on your body – I suspect a slower metabolism, poor posture, depression, even wrinkles would be the result! So the more we can control our thoughts – choose to think certain things and to not-think other things (even if the thought pops into your head, not to dwell on it) the more we can take charge of both our bodies and emotions.
So getting back to whether or not to trust our emotions… I think that if we know we are thinking clearly, not affected too much by exhaustion, hormones or fears (phobias, panic, everyday fears, etc) then our emotions must be trying to tell us something that our conscious mind cannot – similar to how dreams can speak to us. So we should listen to that voice inside us while it’s still small. If we ignore it, it’s going to get loud, even showing up as physical ailments! But if we are feeling overwhelmed and completely stressed (with other emotions piled on top of that) then we should be cautious when listening to our hearts, because we aren’t thinking well and those muddled thoughts are probably causing the emotional stew. In those cases, we need to focus on what we know is true, reinforce our thinking with good diet and sleep, and counteract negative waves with positive ones – consciously thinking positive whenever we realize we’re on a negative train of thought.
I’m not saying I have it all figured out, either… One downside to being a thinker is the stuff that cannot ever be completely figured out! So I am learning how to accept what can’t be explained and not worry about it! And I’m getting better at it all the time! Take care, everybody!