Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Story/Poem

This past week, although all of my time has been dedicated to scoping out jobs (still no success) here in Halifax, I have also had some time to sit and write in my journal and/or read. I find while walking I do a lot of smiling and also see a lot of smiling go round, thus I wrote this story/poem. It is dedicated to my dad!

My Story of Smiles

My dad would tell me, when your sad just smile anyways
"BUT I'M NOT HAPPY" I would exclaim
"Just try it, it helps."

As if my dad would try to tell me what to do, but I listened
It hurt to smile at first
I felt as if my face was lieing
Why should my face whisper lies to unsuspecting passer byers?

Yet I continued, and the years passed as I continued in silence:
"Hi I feel like shit, let me whisper lies of happyness into your ears"
But slowly these lies became reality

Less days were shitty and more were sunny
My smile began to trump the shit
Shit was turned to gold

The best part of it all?
When I smile at you, you smile back!

Thanks dad for keeping me smiling, even when I didn't want to! Random post, but I hope you all enjoy!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Canadian Roots Trip

Two days ago I arrived back in Halifax from the Canadian Roots trip, a week long trip on which we traveled across Nova Scotia visiting three different aboriginal, Mi'kmaq, reservations. It was an amazing experience, and now that I have had some time to rest and really digest the trip it was even better. The group traveling consisted of 9 "youth", ranging from 19 to over 30 years old, and an employee from Queens who was algonquin and something else which I forget. The group in it self was so diverse, consisting of aboriginal people, jews, catholics, religiously confused, people from Singapore, and lots of experience traveling all over the world.

When visiting the communities I was constantly blown away by the generocity of the hosts/hostess. They always had things planned for us to do, were more then happy to answer our constant borage of questions, and often played games or changed their schedules around to accomodate us. We were fed, housed and toured around. The trip really taught me about the hospitality and generocity of human kind, and how powerful it is to approach one another with open hearts and a smile. It makes all the difference. We are all just trying to find happyness, and its so much easier to do so if we listen to eachother and work together instead of against one another. I can't wait to settle down so that I too may return that favor and be the gracious host that I have been blessed with so many times on my summer adventures.

Now for some things that I observed which perhaps were not so delightful. First of all, being vegan, I was constantly aware of the close relationship that the mi'kmaq people, and aboriginals in general, have with the use of animals. This was constantly difficult for me to face, especially when their reasoning was that the animals give themselves to us to use and/or it is tradition. Not to say that I think they are wrong, I understand their point of view, yet times change. It is also tradition to live in tippees or wooden lodges, yet that does not still occur. So I don't see how the "tradition" excuse can hold, especially when all aboriginal people I met don't just eat responsible hunted meat but also factory farmed chicken, beef, eggs, and milk. I think the ways of the ancestors can be respected without blindly adopting them. It also makes me sad to see the extremely high rate of obesity amongst the aboriginal people. Almost everyone was either overwieght or obese, most likely due to their lack of exercise and diet of refined carbs, meat, and junk food. Although it is not always the peoples fault, since their food access is often mainly junk food, it is definately something that I think needs to be addressed and changed. Everyone drives everywhere in these communities, which is not only detremental to their health but also bad for the environment. Finally, on the whole trip I only met one mi'kmaq person who did not smoke. Again the health.

Now that I have made that extreme rant, please don't interpret it as me saying "looking at how horrible these people are", thats not it at all. Rather, it is me observing and feeling concerned for the health and wellbeing of these beautiful, generous people that I met. During the trip they opened their arms to allow us to participate in a sweat, learn traditional games, attend a pow-wow, help maintain a brook essential to the salmon population, chat, play games, go on nature hikes, learn about traditional medicines, and learn how to make a dream catcher.

Thank you, and if any of them ever come to where I will live one day (currently unknown), I will be more then happy to welcome them and teach them about my culture.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Leaving the Shambala Retreat Center in Sadness

Its crazy how fast the past 3 weeks went by? I guess time flies when you are having fun! I have had a great 3 weeks at the DDL, the shambala buddhist retreat center in Nova Scotia. I met so many amazing people, both those I worked with, and others just part of the community, and I was spoiled with amazing nature, being able to go off for a run through the woods with a high probability of a deer sighting, is something I have gotten used to.

Before coming to the center I had no idea Shambala even existed, but now I feel like I am almost part of the community. I participated in morning practice, a 1.5 hr practice of chanting, sitting meditation, and a little walking meditation. At first i didn't do the chants and would only sit for 30min but by the end i was doing the chants (and was disappointed when i missed them) and sat for the whole thing! I actually really loved it too. I hope I can keep up some sort of daily practice in my life as I venture out into the none DDL (not DNL, sorry for the typo in my last post) world. While at DDL I found this place of peace, love, and playfulness in me, which I know has always been there, but was burried benieth so much stress, anxiety, and other rubble before that it was hard to find. I intent to continue to let this amazing place shine!

At DDL I had the amazing oppurtunity of meeting some really great people. And it was great to realize that no ones perfect, not even buddhists, and everyone at meditation centers arnt always happy, so its ok in the real world to not always be happy too. I know this seems obvious, but I think we often think that we need to be happy all the time and when we arnt we get down on our selfs (at least I used to and still do sometimes) which just makes things worse. Its so important to just accept ourselves as who we are, and rather then hate on ourselves, try to understand where these feelings come from, what reactions do they motivate, and how can these reactions be changed. Finding that place inside ourselves that holds compassion and love for ourselves and others is so important. Once I find this place its funny how things that could make me angry, could and do also make me laugh.

This past week was family camp at DDL! It was really great to have all the kids and energy around to add life and excitment to the retreat center. I went to two workshops, one on japanese flower aranging (since a lot of the asthetic traditions from shambala are adopted from Japanese trends) and needle point felting (super cool, I bought a needle from Angela)! I also lead a workshop in found objects jewelry making! The kids were great and I am totally going to miss them. They actually made me think that perhaps I want to work kids into my career path, since I really enjoyed working with them, and others commented on it as well!

All and all I am seriously missing DDL. I have been in withdrawl all day. I miss hanging out and cooking for others in the kitchen, i miss running through the forests and country side, I miss starring up at the stars, I miss the deep conversations. I miss so much, especially the people. I learned so much from DDL, something about the culture of shambala just clicks with me.

By the way, sorry about the lack of photos in this post, and perhaps the next one, I lost my camera at DDL, although its been found, so hopefully you wont be too long without visuals!