July 31, 2009

Day 4 Creative Words- In me

Scalloped edged ornate walls,
water on the floor.
I am sore.
Slight discomfort is comforting,
slight odour is comforting too.
Curious then that I try to wash it away.

Downy hairs on the inside of my thigh
bleached golden from summer sun.
As the calendar flips images of winter emerge,
images devoid of you.
You do not live in the snow.
You live in a life less boring.

Cloud shadows lie cross quilted scape
as we move towards relations.
Can the summer breeze exist anywhere but the fancy of summer?

Wind drives the turbines, the promise of power without impact
a way of erasing, or at least making amends.
Foolhardy perhaps, a horse after a cart,
and still the odour lingers.
Water and paper towel do nothing to hide
hopes, fears and little girl dreams
of a mark left, my impact.
A mark as plain to see as crab pincher bruises inside downy haired thighs.
Bruises which will fade by the time the snow flies
along with the odour
which I managed, at last, to wash away
And with it its comfort.

Clean, empty, the turbine now still
no breeze
Just a cold, still, grey winters day.
No impact, only amends to make to a heart with no courage.

A lovely perk of poetry is how it allows the writer to speak about things out in the open, express their angst, fear and rage, without having to actually tell the story. Cryptic self expression that makes for excellent art.

“Do you have a story which you are afraid to tell?” is the question in 12 days journal #109

“If I was all pure and shit where would my art come from?”
-Bernice Raabis to K.D.

July 30, 2009

Day 3 Creative Words- Blessing

On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.

And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

John O’Donohue

This is the poem Michael read in the first Journey I co-facilitates with the L.O.V.E Collective, my penultimate journey. I loved the way he spoke it, his voice so strong and reassuring. I want to remember the timber of his voice always, remember the way I felt when I heard him read this blessing for the first time. This was nearly a month ago. So much has changed since then.

“What do you see as the most significant change you have ever made in your life?” is the question in 12 days journal #108

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
Maya Angelou

July 29, 2009

Day 2 Creative Words- Mud Puddle

I wrote this when I was feeling bruised, when I was afraid of moving forward, when I wanted to run away rather than face my own feelings of not being enough. I am reminded today, as I reread this writing, that I have the choice to live in this fear, or to accept my imperfections, acknowledge my strengths and gifts, and remember that stumbling, not having all the answers, is what makes me human and therefore loving, loveable and loved.

This was written for a Valentines Day erotica poetry reading. It is a little racy, read no further if allusions to sexuality frighten, offend or disturb.

Mud Puddle

This mess of skin and cravings, once so sweet, has found it's inevitable bitterness. Please let me go back, back before the personal mythologies of us both, made murky our once magical mud puddle. Do you remember my love? When the water of our lovemaking lay still, translucent, atop the soft velvet of undisturbed silt. Do you remember when I put my finger in? Plunged it deep, through the wetness, till I found its spongy bottom. With a gentle come hither motion I gathered the slippery concoction, an alchemy of mothers moisture and matter, and lifted its stickiness, not fully experiencing the wet passage, not knowing I should savour it. How could I have fathomed that i was feeling it for the last time?  I held the gooey poultice on the tip of my finger, exposing it to the air. I don't know what I was thinking. I was a fool in love I suppose, hungry to show you what I believed to be the prize.  I spread it across my face. I remember how it slid on, no resistance, as though it had been waiting there under the water for this purpose alone. My skin was changed, cold against warmth. I felt met, nourished. I closed my eyes, and in that moment all that existed was that swath of skin, wrapped in slippery filth, our combined essence. When I opened my eyes, you were watching me. I saw in your expression something I imagine to be contempt. My heart decided that you despised my silly romantic ways. This is when I felt it. The silt paste began to suck my sweet nectar through my pores. My skin tightened, became parched. I felt the first crack appear in the mask. I wanted to take it back, wash it away, yes, go back in time. But what would you think of me then? Admitting to my foolish notions of romantic love meant letting go of a dream. The dream of being love drunk, intoxicated by sweat, saliva, and musky fluids, not only during penetration but all the in-between times as well. I must have looked a fool, walking along the path, dirty with this spent lubrication smeared cross my cheeks. I pretended, forced conversation and smiles, but by then I knew it was done, that we were done. As we past by the puddle on our way back home, I tried not to look. Hated myself for being so brash, stirring up this murky cloud in water that might have stayed clear even a few precious moments longer. In clear water our bodies communed, slid into and over, salty sweat on flushed skin, cavities engulfing swollen flesh, endless possibilities. Things not possible once the particles of mistrust, self hatred and defence have been stirred up, saturating, leaving an aqueous solution so thick that movement becomes disjointed and contrived. As we continued walking, no longer holding hands, I stifled tears and consoled myself with the idea that I took control of the situation. Rationalized that I sped up what time would have taken care of anyway. Eventually our fluids would have evaporated, our muddy silt would have bore the humiliation of a slow painful dehydration. Who knows how long we might have endured this, better to end it when it was sweet and wet. There is I suppose the chance that the rain may have come, may have reconstituted our love, but hoping makes me feel desperate. I can abide tragedy, but never desperation. No... It is better this way. 

12 days journal #107 has the question “What do you think about the idea of perfection?” in the front cover.

July 28, 2009

Day 1 Creative Words- Bracketed

This is what is called a “stream of consciousness poem”. A therapeutic tool which allows the writer (in this case ME) to not censor, a chance to be released from the responsibility of owning projections and crap. Something I have come to call a “shit brackets poem”. The key to reading this poem is not taking it literally, don’t analyse it, that won’t work. Just sit with what resonates, what it provokes and discard the rest. (Oh and there are swears in it, if you don’t like swear words stop here)

Where is my hair clip, my wallet, my keys?
Is this laundry dirty or clean?
When did I last shower? Oh god I am falling behind.
Clogged drain, another mess made, water all over the floor.
I close my eyes and imagine leaving the shower running into the night,
I wake up, fresh in the morning carried away by the water,
live off coconuts and sing to the stars,
no school meetings or bottle drives to attend.
You want honesty? Ok
I don’t go to school meetings or bottle drives,
I forget them, then cover my ass,
make up some bullshit to hide my forgetful ways.
I forget because I am full.
There in no room at my inn,
in my head,
no more in at the inn.
So go away Jesus, go away.
You may be all I dreamed of, what I believe in to save my soul.
I know I asked for you
but this is too hard,
too careful are the words, too measured,
too hard, too fucking hard,
Too too.
This won’t work, my me does not fit in with your you.
We may have learned to love from the same erotica,
speak in words the other understands,
both discard the bread, each for our own reasons,
mine maybe not quite so real as yours,
...but that is your pedestal to live on.
This pedestal that I have taken over the construction of,
wondering who built it before I come along?
Who designed this fucking thing?
I remember back when I attached that last board,
thwack thwack thwack
nails through your hands, fastening you to your crucifix
and wonder...
did I leave my keys there?

Thanks for reading.

“How do you use creative writing and/or poetry in your life?” is today’s question and will live inside the front cover of 12 days journal #106, as soon as I get organized, and actually make it.

“Art is the finest form of projection”
-Fritz Perls

Latest Commitment! Creative Writing

I was going to do 12 days of organization, I felt I needed it. My life feels so very disorganized at the moment, my physical world, my emotional world, my mental world, all rooms piled high with so much stuff, very little of it in the “proper” place, if such a place exists. I decided instead to go the other route, rather than take a heady approach, I am going to use the expressive arts approach. Apply some of the knowledge I have gained at the Tamalpa Institute to my own life, make art from my life’s process.

I commit to using the next 12 days to showcase and explore my own creative writing and the creative writing of others. I will either write some poetry/prose, or post some of my existing work, or perhaps post the work of others. I will use these writings and the process of their creation or exploration to find clarity around my feelings of disorganization in both my internal and external world.

July 27, 2009

Day 12 Communicate- Waiting

It seems fitting that today, the last day of the communication commitment, I should finally receive a reply to a question. A written reply, a 12 days journal filled with answers to the question, “What is your definition of family?”

12 days journal #83 came home...only it didn’t really because it was actually 12 days journal #87, I had mis-numbered it. How ironic is that? That the first one to come back was mis-numberd. Gee Whiz. To add to the “what are the odds?” factor, the actual 12 days journal # 83 was in the possession of someone in the room when I discovered the mix up, I got to confirm that it had been numbered correctly...phew. This mix up partially happened because of how disorganized I have been with the the journals and entries lately...more about this tomorrow when I unveil my next commitment.

I am struck today with just what a task it is going to be to let you all know what comes back in these precious journals. This journal is filled with pressed flowers, pictures, incense, clipped poetry, it is impossible to just transcribe what has be written, the full flavour of the work put into these journals would be lost. So 12 days journal #87 will go into a shoe box until I figure out how to tackle this issue of how to best showcase the journals. I will give you a taste though, this poem was inside 12 days journal # 87, a poem written by Timothy Shay, the man who filled the entire journal. Thank you Timothy for participating and for writing such inspirational and thought provoking word.

Searching for Old

searching for old grandma
as hidden as spore
for her tombstone
through island rain
in green with two daffodils

being careful as a priest
not stepping on a single grave

stooping in the granite garden
in focus for grandma under
asleep and motionless
as bones or sand

dancing among dewworms
smooth creatures of dust
the curly lawn stiff
in made up manicure

grandma is your name
engraved on tree root here
or carried
by conquistador wind
dandelion warrior
from this meadow
a yellow unbroken hillside

grandma our fleshy lives shatter
as dreams or fire baked granite

-Timothy Shay

The rest of the journal will come later, once I have to decide just how to do this. Todays question which lives in 12 days journal #105 is “What have you been waiting for?”

July 26, 2009

Day 11 Communicate- What did you say?

Two conversations from this morning:

Bernice: “Were you doing yoga?”
Michael: ”Do I want a coconut?“

Michael in regards to Rosy’s pyjamas: ”Those look like little rabbits!“
Chris, shouts from the other room, believing he heard ”Raabis“ instead of ”rabbits“ : ”WHAT?“

Probably the most common break down in human communication is when someone says one thing while someone else hears another. These two examples from this morning are comical, they led to laughter. Often times though hearing something different than what is said causes pain, confusion and anger. Ever had a conversation like this?

Person 1: ”I don’t want to talk to you anymore, I am too angry!”
Person 2: “Ya well you make me angry too!”

Person 1 didn’t say person 2 ”made“ them angry, only that they were angry. Person 2 heard an accusation, a laying of blame, when it wasn’t spoken . It could very well be what person 1 does believe that person 2 ”made“ her angry, but this wasn’t what she said.

Saying what I really mean when I am angry can be difficult for me, hearing what another person really says when I am angry, can be even more so; I often hear things that were not said.

”When do you get angry?“ is the question in the front cover of 12 days journal #104

July 25, 2009

Day 10 Communicate- Big Love Crumbs

i like my body when it is with your
body. It is so quite a new thing.
Muscles better and nerves more.
i like your body. i like what it does,
i like its hows. i like to feel the spine
of your body and its bones, and the trembling
-firm-smooth ness and which i will
again and again and again
kiss, i like kissing this and that of you,
i like, slowly stroking the, shocking fuzz
of your electric fur, and what-is-it comes
over parting flesh...And eyes big love-crumbs,

and possibly I like the thrill

of under me you so quite new


And then there is that blissful way of communicating without words. sigh

“What do you say with your body that you don’t say with words?” is the delicious question in 12 days journal #103

July 24, 2009

Day 9 Communicate- Habit

Ack....so much time communicating, in this commitment and the last, has meant falling behind on the blog. It is becoming a habit. A habitual pattern that I do not want to continue repeating yet I am. “What are your habits?” is the question in 12 days journal 102. I would like to write a great entry all about habits and patterns, how they get in the way of communication, but this habit of mine has translated into me sitting here with 2 more entries to write and a bunch of journals to make. My habit is getting in the way of me communicating with you the way I want to. Today’s entry is an example rather than an explanation. So from here on there will be no more insightful words, just the facts.

I have given away 6 journals today:

Jesse Lee got 12 days journal #95, “What are you addicted to?”. He told me had found another of my journals, he drew a picture in it, which is now his facebook profile pic.

Chris got another journal. 12 days journal #86, “How do you stay centred when life gets hectic?”

Kelly is a part of our family and so as I was passing out journals to love ones it was time I gave her one too. She got 12 days journal #80, “What special talent/light/gift do you share with the world, making it a richer place?”

My poet friend, Timothy, got 12 days journal #87, “What is your definition of family?“

Erin, the dancing goddess of commitment got 12 days journal# 98, “Who do you feel safe to share your deepest despair with? Why?”

And Finally I gave one to my dear dear love Richardo. Really I hardly know Richardo, we met in California, I recognized him, at Harbin Hot-springs, as the beyond gorgeous god of a man I would often drool over at Oso Negro back in Nelson. We spent an evening together, he introduced me to another friend, Tal, who had a profound effect on my life. Richardo and I see each other here in Nelson now and then, and although we only speak rarely, I love him, deeply, words are not always necessary. Richardo got 12 days journal #89, “How honest is/was your relationship with your parents?“ Ok this paragraph was a tiny bit insightful after all.

July 23, 2009

Day 8 Communicate- Out of the Way

Difficult conversations....ugh. Communication can be tough at the best of times, add a racing heart, triggered emotions, in not only myself but also in the people I am attempting to share with, and things can get intense! Today I let slip something that I didn’t mean to, something I had been asked to hold in trust. I misunderstood the progression of the conversation, thought the information had already been shared, and subsequently unveiled what was still being held close. This was the catalyst for a heated discussion which ended in tears in one, anger and accusations in the other, both left. I was left, as the dust settled, going over what had transpired, realizing my slip. Ugh.

So what now? Running away felt like a good option in the moment, but not a great long term strategy. I want these two to be my friends for a good long time, and have hopes that they will see their way back to friendship. How could I fix this?!

See, my thing is I often feel responsible for others feelings, I am addicted to caretaking. It is true; My name is Bernice, and I am a caretaker. I engaged in my habitual pattern of caretaking in deciding it was my responsibility to sort this whole debacle out; since I catalysed it, I had to un- catalyse. Problem is this does not give these two friends much credit that, as fully functional adults, THEY can sort out what happened between THEM. As it turns out, miracle of miracles, this is exactly what they did. Each owned their part, one that she was projecting “her shit”, the other that, bit by bit, she needs opportunities to speak her painful truth. My babysitting was not necessary. Sometimes the best way of communicating is simply staying out of the way. THIS is something I am working on.

“Was there a time when you involved yourself in something when it might have been better to leave it for others to sort out?“ is the long winded question in 12 days journal #101

July 22, 2009

Day 7 Communicate- Celebration

Today 12 days journal # 100 is going in to the world today. I think this calls for a celebration!

To celebrate clear open communication, I am going to use the tool of asking for what I want. What I want is a reduction in work load from this project, to get a break and to catch up. I am going to satisfy this want by taking the day off of blogging! A day off to celebrate 100 journals out there in the world!

“How do you like to celebrate?” is today’s question.

July 21, 2009

Day 6 Communicate- Needs

I woke up this morning to a Oregon State Trooper pulling up behind our parked vehicle. We spent the night sleeping at a rest stop, we do this often when on the road, my kids probably think rest stops are campgrounds. We were parked in an area where we were not suppose to, we did this because there was less light and noise over in this tucked away corner. I was wearing very little, we are driving through the desert, the nights have been hot and due to mosquitos we can’t crack the windows, by morning we are sleeping in a sauna! Despite having spent a lot of time around Police, there is still an element of fear that comes right to the surface when I am approached by an officer. I became instantly aware of how much skin I had showing, grabbed something that would cover more of me, and threw it on, then got out of the truck.

Officer McCool, said “Good morning” as I, still groggy from sleep, pulled nervously at my clothing. He then got straight to the point:

“Can I ask why you are parked over here and not over in the rest stop area?“

”It was just so noisy over there last night, with all those trucks running, so we moved over here.“

”Oh it was really noisy? Ok that makes sense. This is area where you are is not a good place to park, it prevents the trucks from being able to get out, this is the reason for the no parking signs.“

”Oh ok, I understand, we are going to leave right away.“

”OK, great, Thank you, Have a good day.“

”Thank you officer, you too.“

That was it. Smooth, trouble free, easy. Just two people working out an issue. I thought back over the conversation, and all the things that made it go this way. First, Officer McCool, said ”Good morning“ before proceeding to ASK why I had made the choice I had. He gave me an opportunity to explain, before launching into the rules and regulations. Then he acknowledged the validity of the reasons for my choice. Then it was my turn to be accommodating. Officer McCool has a job to do, if I can facilitate making this job easier without giving up something important to me, then there is nothing lost, and for us both some ease gained. The truth is the trucks were having no problem getting past us, I could have brought this up. It was likely one of the truckers who called our infraction in, someone else upset at the breaking of a rule which they felt was effecting them. It is officer McCools’s job to honour that someone else is taking issue with our choice to ignore this rule. Rather than begin an argument about whether or not the trucks could get through, I just accepted that this officer had a need to uphold the rules, I came up with a solution that worked for us both. This doesn’t mean I said ”I have done something terrible and should be punished.“ or on the flip side, ”That is bullshit the trucks can easily get through!“, all I had to acknowledge was that I understood where he was coming from, we were about to leave anyway, our day was not effected. The conversation ended with mutual good wishings, and was done.

I was originally afraid and understand my reaction. The police have a long history, much of which is scrutinized when they are perceived to have done the wrong thing. I do acknowledge that there is a power imbalance and therefore a fear reaction is somewhat warranted. But I wasn’t dealing with just the ”Police“ I was dealing with a man. Likely one with a family, who loves and desires many of the same things I do. He more than likely had no desire to power trip on me. He more than likely desires ease and harmony most of the time. We are just two human both with needs. He communicated well with me, I communicated well with him, an we both got our needs met. Imagine that.

”What are the common threads that unite us all as humans?“ is the question in 12 days journal #99

July 20, 2009

Day 5 Communicate- More Mary

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
- Mary Oliver

The line “Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on.” speaks of my experience today.

Michael and I are finally on our way home. I have spent exactly two days in my own home town since June 13th, it is time to re-root. As we drove for hours and hours, we talked about our lives. I remember hearing once that if you really want to know if you are compatible with someone, you should take a road trip together. Well today makes 18 days on the road, living, working and growing together, it would seem we are compatible. Getting to know each other has been like peeling layers from an onion. As we tell each other our stories, there is a definite order to things. The layers closest to our hearts and sometimes closest to our shame and despair are some of the last to be peeled.

My teacher Soto once said “Every humans deepest desire is to be seen, while every humans deepest fear is to be seen”. The despair that every one of us holds down in our core, stories of childhood, remorse, shame, deep trauma, abandonment, the list of the human condition, are often what we are afraid to share, and yet at the same time these are things that connect us, we all have these stories. The stories may differ in content, for one it may be being neglected as a child, for another being a loner at school, the core of both is abandonment, questions of worth, and anger at not having needs met. These deep layers that take time to reach, and courage to peel, are what allow us to overcome the fear of being truly seen, accept that we are not alone.

I encourage you to find a trusted friend, and be present and supportive for their peeling, and when you feel safe begin to peel some of your own. When shame and hurt see the light of day in a supportive environment, they have a way of transforming, sometimes even melting. This is called growth.

“Who do you feel safe to share your deepest despair with? Why?” is the question in 12 days journal #98

July 19, 2009

Day 4 Communicate- Unveiled

My friend KD enacted her self portrait performance yesterday at school, a dress rehearsal for a performance she will unveil at Kuli Mela. Her audience will be 1000 of her brothers and sisters. KD was raised within the Hari Krishna movement. She lived a good part of her life in segregated ashrams, away from her parents. Her community brothers and sisters were and are her family. Her self portrait performance is moving, raw, and blatantly truthful. Her intention is to stand in front of her community, and speak about her truth. A truth shared by many, one they have collectively and non- verbally agreed to not speak about; the opposite of clear, open and honest communication.

In her performance she removes her clothes, she exposes the use of drugs in her culture, the covert nature of forbidden sexuality; and will do so within a 15 minute spot on stage in L.A. next week; her entire community as her witness. Brave doesn’t even begin to describe my friend KD.

I am moved to think of myself, of my return home, of standing naked in my truth, in front of my community. It is time.

“How well does your community know you?” is the question in 12 days journal #97

July 18, 2009

Day 3 Communicate- 3 level check

Talking to ones self is usually thought to be a sign of insanity. When a person walks in public muttering to their other self, people generally move to the other side of the street. Certainly verbal ranting to oneself in public is not usually healthy, but communication with ones self is imperative to being able to communicate with others.

I cannot effectively communicate with others in my life if I have no idea what is really going on for me. If I am feeling strained physically, tired, hungry or in pain, but am not conscious of it, it effects how I am relating. Have you ever had an experience where you were trying to explain something to someone, and were feeling irritated. Then decided this was because that other person was “being difficult”, only to realize that you have to pee? That it is actually your own irritation which you are picking up on, not theirs. I have done this many times. I have also experienced feeling something on an emotional level, frustrated, sad, angry, but was not conscious of it, then had a conversation with another and confused the existing emotion with a new one, one elicited from the present exchange. The other level is the mental, when I have a list of things to do, and a whole bunch of stories and ideas running round my mind, with no room for anything more, I will sometimes snap when asked a question, not dealing well because I am unaware that my brain has hit capacity.

At Tamalpa, where I go to school, I have learned a very simple tool for dealing with this. It is called a three level check in. A self care tool to check in with me, to ask myself where I am at physically, emotionally, and mentally.

The answers to the what am I noticing on a physical level involve physical sensations on the inside and out side of my body. I am feeling grittiness in my eyes, or a warmth in my stomach or a tickle in my throat are all good examples.

The answers to how I am feeling emotionally involve only the emotion, sad, content, excited. What is not included is the story behind that emotion, this is left for the mental check in, which is all about what thoughts and ideas are driving our physical and emotional feelings.

Try this sometime, perhaps right before a conversation with a friend. See what a difference is made in the communication when you have taken care of communicating with yourself first.

“How are you feeling physically and emotionally?” is the question in 12 days journal #96

July 17, 2009

Day 2 Communicate- Addiction

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice --
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life you could save.
~ Mary Oliver ~

What happens when communicating honestly and openly is not met with the same? What happens when stepping up is not met with stepping up, but sitting down, with resolve, and resignation, with accusations of resentment rather than admissions of personal responsibility?

Have you ever had to let go of something you loved because it was just not good for you anymore? “What are you addicted to?“ is the question in 12 days journal #95

July 16, 2009

Day 1 Communicate- Non-Violence

Brief History of Non-Violent Communication

Growing up in an inner–city Detroit neighborhood Marshall Rosenberg was confronted daily with various forms of violence. Wanting to learn what he could about the causes of violence and what could be done to reduce violence he chose to study clinical psychology and received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Wisconsin.

In addition to his studies in Clinical Psychology, he also studied comparative religions, the lives of peacemakers throughout history, and other research to identify what human learning contributes to violence and what human learning contributes to compassionate giving and receiving. From his research, he identified thinking, language, communication skills and means of influence that reduced violence and supported compassionate relationships. He integrated what he learned into a process he named Nonviolent Communication.

Offering Nonviolent Communication to others and seeing how it empowered people to create change nonviolently and its to contribute to compassionate ways of living, he founded the Center for Nonviolent Communication. Marshall and members of the Center for Nonviolent Communication organized and trained teams of people in the following countries to apply Nonviolent Communication where it can best support compassionate ways of resolving conflicts and fulfilling the needs of all.

The Center for Nonviolent Communication now has more than 200 people certified to offer the training in these countries. In addition to people developing the process with the help of certified trainers, thousands of people around the world receive it from friends and family members whose lives have been enriched by it fulfilling the adage, “Each one teach one.”

“How do you communicate?“
is the question in 12 days journal #94

I am going to communicate this very clearly and concisely. I NEED SLEEP! I am going to bed. Goodnight!

Latest Commitment! Communication Skills

I have spent the last 2 days in a car, talking. I have laughed, cried and everything in between. Michael and I share a passion for communication; we have both, in our own way, committed our lives to it.

I am committing to focusing on my communication model for the next 12 days, to renewing my commitment to clear languaging. To using existing models and tools; and to seeking out new ones. I am committing to looking inward, seeing where I can grow, and acknowledging my strengths. I commit to allowing what emerges from this inquiry into communication to formulate the questions for the daily journal.

July 15, 2009

Day 12 Body of Water- Surprise!

I had today's entry all worked out in my mind. I was going to say something about the 12 days of swimming also turning out to be the 12 days of Michael. He arrived in Nelson on day one of this commitment, to drive me to the coast to work with the L.O.V.E Collective. We swam together that first day at Red Sands Beach. I have spent this entire commitment with him; him alone, him and the Love Collective, him and my husband and girls, and finally him and I alone again, as he drove me down over the border as I head back to school. The idea was for him to drop me at the Seattle airport after a swim, thus concluding the 12 days of swimming along with the 12 days of Michael.

Life is full of all kinds of surprises.



This is Michael and I swimming in Chehailus, Washington, an hour beyond Seattle. As things turned out, I missed my flight. Since Michael had a bit of time before he needed to be in Nelson, we decided to drive to California. I will go to school, I am not sure what he will do. You just never can tell how a day is going to end.

“Is there a particular surprise which stands out in your memory?” is the question in 12 days journal #93 the final journal for this commit.

July 14, 2009

Day 11 Body of Water- Hiccups

We finally left the festival grounds today, time to let go of the experience. As we drove away, just beyond the gate the car began to sputter. We ran out of gas.

We chose the best spot to run out. It was just a matter of putting the car in reverse and rolling back into the festival site, no walking required. We went looking for friends with a vehicle to drive us to the gas station. We found a bunch, they were eager to help, offering suggestions along with offerings of food and comforts left over from the festival. A couple offered to let us syphon some gas from their vehicles, another to drive us to the station. Yet another suggested that there may be some gas left over from the generators which powered the music and lights. This, we decided, was the best first course of action. We wandered round looking for some one who looked official. A number of folks led us to Casey. Casey, one of the festival organizers, had run out of gas as well, he was going back to town in an hour and said he would take our jerry can and fill it. Then added, “There is that one jerry can over there, I doubt there is anything left in it, but if there is, it’s yours.” There was more than enough to get us across the island, over to the ferry and beyond. It was a bit of a hiccup, but one that could not have went more smoothly.

When we arrived at Blubber Bay for our first ferry we missed the 3:00pm by minutes. We wanted to park our car in line to make sure we made the next one, this meant waiting around for 2 hours at the ferry dock. I wondered how we were going to get in a swim. Just as this thought was turning to a worry, a van pulled up and a friend asked ”Do you guys know where the swimming quarry is?“ Before I could marvel at this synchronicity, Michael piped up, ”Ya sure, we will come with you and show you where it is!“ Another little hiccup which worked out fine, better than fine, it worked out refreshingly!

Michael and I took our longest swim yet, in the warmest water yet. It was warm because it was quarry water, no in flow, no out flow, just a big puddle of water which is warmed by the sun and the rocks each day. I grappled about whether it was a ”natural body of water“. Michael asked if my intention for the commitment had been fulfilled. My intention was to take a refreshing swim under the sun, in water without added chemicals. To swim surrounded by the Mother. My intention was fulfilled.

”How important is the intention behind a choice or action?“ is the question in 12 days journal #92

July 13, 2009

Day 10 Body of Water- Continued

Diversity Festival is a 4 day, 3 night music festival that features artists from BC, Canada and abroad.
Festival highlights include 1 Band Stage, 1 Dj stage, workshops, art installations, interactive visuals, a vendors village, performance art and so much more.....

The festival grounds located on Texada Island at Shingle Beach Forest Service campsite are nestled amongst old growth trees, mossy bluffs covered with wind swept arbutus and juniper trees. Diversity Festival”

Today the festival ended. It was quite the time. I would elaborate but things are just too busy to do anything but say, life will never quite be the same!

We all (Chris, Michael, Kelly, Rosy, Lily and I) swam at a rock quarry on the way off the island, well that was the plan anyway. After the swim we realized we had to take a friends computer back to the festival site. We got back and there was still a huge crowd, music pumping. Looks like the good times don’t need to end just yet!

“How do you like to celebrate?” is the question in 12 days journal #91

July 12, 2009

Day 9 Body of Water- Howler

“B.C. man presumed drowned off Texada

A Vancouver man is presumed drowned after swimming in the ocean off Texada Island Friday night.

David Kevin Fletcher, 35, was reported missing on Saturday by friends who were with him at the Diversity music festival on Shingle Beach, on the island's lower west shore.

Fletcher's untouched clothes were found in a pile near the water, which indicates the man went in for a swim and did not come out, said Powell River RCMP staff Sgt. Andy Brinton.

Brinton said the waters were calm Friday night but the current can be strong along the coastline.”

I didn’t know that the man I have come to know as “Howler” was named David. I never met Howler, but I met many people at the festival, including Michael, who did. Howler it seems decided to walk into the ocean and ,by choice or circumstance, didn’t come back. It seems fitting that today was also the day that the winds howled, picking up the ocean, chopping it into waves making swimming impossible. So instead of swimming I ceremoniously washed my face, hands, and body in the cold ocean water, and thought about Howler. I thought of all the things I had learned about him. He almost always wore a jester hat, liked to bike naked and loved people with a deep and passionate heart; always willing to help. I will never know Howler, this is something that makes me sad.

“Is there someone you would like to know or know better?“ is the question in 12 days journal #90.

Be well Howler, wherever you are. My wish is that you have found what you were looking for. God speed.

July 11, 2009

Day 8 Body of Water- Transparency

Today Michael met the rest of my family. Kelly, Chris, Michael, Lily, Rosy and I spent the day swimming in the ocean, listening to music, dancing and getting to know each other at the 7th Annual Diversity Festival on Texada Island, British Columbia, Canada.

“How honest is/was your relationship with your parents?“ is written in the front cover of 12 days journal #89

July 10, 2009

Day 7 Body of Water- Crossing the Water

Today is a travelling day. Our journey includes 4 ferry crossings, it likely will take us 12 hours, to make it 30 kilometres, as the crow flies, from our starting point. This is the reality of island travel. The up side is we have to “hurry up and wait” a lot. Waiting for 4 ferries means lots of visiting, meeting new people, unexpected events and lots of down time. On the first trip cross the water this morning we met a man. He told me his name, but I won’t attempt to write it. He told me in his native tongue and it includes many sounds not represented on this limited keyboard. He was born around Powell River, his people have lived in the area for thousands of years. He sang us a traditional song which is sung when crossing the water. As he sang I danced, Michael sang along, Noel drummed. I didn’t know at the time but Steve took a photo, I am glad he did. I am happy to have had this magical moment to share with you.


Just before leaving Cortes Island a crew from the L.O.V.E collective swam (NAKED), for likely the last time this summer, in Hague Lake. I have forgot to mention before now that I have swum naked everyday except once. Perhaps I should have made this the “swimming naked everyday for 12 days commitment”!

“What do you love about summer?” is the question in 12 days journal #88

In the summer I am naked more than in the winter, and this nakedness often happens around other, usually when swimming or sunbathing. When I am naked more, when I am around others who are naked more, I am kinder to myself about how my body looks. I find I am gentler with the idea of what my body is “suppose” to look like in the summer, this is one of the many things I love about summer.

We are off to the Diversity Festival on Texada Island. Festivals are another thing I love about summer!

July 9, 2009

Day 6 Body of Water- Family

Laundry day! As the washer cycled, Michael and I went for a coffee at Trude’s Cafe. This is where I left 12 days journal #81, and where I decided to give 12 days journal #84 to myself and 12 days journal #83 to Michael. While our clothes dried we paid a visit to The Gathering Place, where we were given a tour of this amazing community, ate breakfast straight from the garden, and caught up on each others lives. Back to fold the laundry, then off to the debrief from the show last night, and a closing circle which would decided the fate of the L.O.V.E Collective, and finally a group swim in the ocean at Galen’s Beach.

As I am keeping my entries short this commitment, I will leave the description of the meeting at this. While the L.O.V.E Collective is not continuing in this current incarnation, it is still alive as a concept and a force. It will, by either the same name or another, reconfigure at some point, when it does I will be a part of it. Until then the members are scattering. Some I likely will not see for many moons, others I will see often. Michael announced to the group he is moving to Nelson to start a family.

“What is you definition of family?“ is the question in 12 days journal #87

July 8, 2009

Day 5 Body of Water- Just Not There

Still no pictures, the days have been too full of performances, rehearsals, circles, and travel to do anything but keep up. No words either, just a question

“How do you stay centred when life gets hectic?” is in 12 days journal #86, which doesn’t actually exist yet as I haven’t had a chance to make it yet.

Oh wait I do have some words. I went swimming in Hague Lake with Joelique today. I actually SWAM, like for real swimming. The day was warm, the lake was great, the company sweet. Cortes Island is a true paradise being here with the L.O.V.E Collective makes it that much sweeter.

July 7, 2009

Day 4 Body of Water- Moonlight

Radio shows, ferries, cars that won’t start, good laughter, relational deepenings, relational strains, dogs, pee stops, food, scattered travellers on an epic road trip, all added up to me realizing, at nearly midnight, that I had yet to swim. I considered lying to you all; I was freezing and the idea of going out into the rainy night to slip into a mountain lake sounded torturous. Michael lovingly encouraged me, nudged me out into the clouded full moon night. We walked slowly towards the lake, wrapped in blankets. Talking about the journey we had been on this last few days. Michael is in the last leg of his tour with the L.O.V.E Collective, his brain and heart child. I am with them for the first time, just as this particular incarnation of the group is ending. Michael and I have formed a very deep friendship steeped in mutual goals, loves, and desires. We are blessed with similar communication models, which makes understanding each other so easy. Ease...blessed ease.

We arrived at the lake and jumped in. By “jumped” I mean walked very slowly, hands clutched round our bodies, making a huge fuss about how bloody cold it was. The lake here on Cortes Island, Hague Lake, is actually incredibly warm for a Canadian lake, but this didn’t seem to make any difference. It was COLD!

Since this commitment began I have been curious as to what exactly constitutes “swimming” in a natural body of water? You should know that I haven’t exactly been swimming laps! Michael decided that so long as both my feet come off the ground, it was “swimming”.

As soon as both my toes breached the surface of the water, I was out of there! Michael was braver, he dove in, but quickly followed me out.

We walked home, wrapped tightly in our blankets. The rain let up, a small patch of sky appeared, and the full moon made a cameo appearance. Michael and I have known each-other for exactly a moon cycle and a day....I think after many, many more cycles pass that we will still be walking in the moonlight together, working as partners, doing the work of our hearts.

The question of what constitutes “swimming” made my friend Joelique think of “What is enough?”. I wondered how I could mould this question into something that would be easy to answer, but decided the question was enough. And so this is how it is written in 12 days journal 85, which will be given to Joelique.

July 6, 2009

Day 3 Body of Water- Freedom

Michael and I swam in the Pacific ocean today off the coast of Victoria. It was likely the shortest swim I will take this commitment, it was damn cold!

I also left 12 days journal# 78 and 12 days journal #79 at the Moka House on Cook Street in Victoria.

“What is freedom?” is the question in 12 days journal# 84

“So freedom and love go together. Love is not a reaction. If I love you because you love me, that is mear trade, a thing to be bought in the market;
it is not love. To love is not to ask anything in return, not even to feel that you are giving something- and it is only such love that can know freedom.”

J. Krishnamurti

July 5, 2009

Day 2 Body of Water- Anger

We woke up this morning in Rock Creek, then took a morning swim in the Kettle River, one of my all time favourite swimming spots. What a wonderful way to start the day! Then we drove, and drove, and drove, fuelled by so many cherries that my belly is SORE! When we arrived at the coast we boarded a ferry to sail across the George Straight to Victoria BC. We had a strange, sad and frightening experience on the ferry.

Before boarding Michael and I were giggling, rolling around and being very playful on a the grassy patch which is mostly used for travellers dogs to relieve themselves. I usually explain to people that dancers can seem unusually cuddly, that we are used to playing and expressing ourselves with our bodies. Others can find this behaviour overt, they become uncomfortable. As I type this though I wonder if it is the dancing part of us which makes us this way, or the deeply compassionate part of us, that part so tapped into love that it shows up all over us, all around us? As we were being silly and having fun, finally out of the car after hours of driving, I became aware of a man in his mini van, spitting on the ground and saying “disgusting!” over and over again. I felt like it was directed at us, I physically felt the anger penetrate our playful bliss bubble. My mind though, being its eternal logical self, brushed this off. I couldn’t make sense of it; I mean why? Why would anyone be offended by what we were doing? Sadly my mind was wrong, my heart knew it was being judged. The angry man became more and more aggressive. I told Michael I needed to leave, I am very sensitive to this kind of energy. I would like to say I can roll it off my shoulders, not care what others think but this is just not the case. As we got up to walk away the man gave us the finger one more time with a huge smile on his face, I can only guess he was happy that we were leaving. I was shaken, and happy for the whole ordeal to be over.

We had planned to sleep in the car for the ride over the water but decided to go to the upper-deck first, to get drinking water. I went to the bathroom. As I came out I was washed over by a feeling which still makes my heart pound. Michael was not outside the bathroom waiting for me, I knew something was not right. I started searching for him, it was not hard, all I had to do was follow the yelling voice of a man filled with hate. A man who was saying terrible, violent things to Michael. When I came round the corner the man had already shoved Michael's face, sending him into a trash can. Something about my arrival had the angry man retreating, still saying terrible things, but less willing to be aggressive. I wondered later why this was, but was just grateful at the time. Michael was handling himself with composure and grace, staying true, in this moment of intense verbal violence, to his empathetic heart. He had removed his glasses because the man had already hit them, it was a reasonable thing to do, but I was afraid things would become more physical, that the angry man would take the removal of glasses as a sign of aggression. So I asked Michael if we could just leave, not try to work things out. Michael agreed. Then just as we did I spun on my heels, filled with a sudden rush of protectiveness, and asked the angry man to talk to me now. I could not understand what he was so angry about, I wanted to understand. What was it he thought was so “disgusting”? He refused to speak to me, he left. Later, in the car as we processed this experience, Michael wondered how this man could believed that what we were doing, or even what he PERCEIVED we were doing, could in anyway justified to hitting another person and telling him “Your lucky I don’t rip your throat out and throw you over board”?

All I can come up with is that this man saw two people experiencing joy, laughter and love, and that somewhere deep inside he wanted these experiences, these feelings more than anything in the world, realized that he didn’t know how, and instead reacted with the only emotion he could access. It is my deepest wish that this “angry man” finds peace, love and joy, and that he never attack anyone like he did Michael ever again. And since I am an optimist and believe that anything is possible, I am going to add...and so it is!

“What scares you about love?“ is the question in 12 days journal # 83

July 4, 2009

Day 1 Body of Water- Haute Kooture

ACK! I give myself permission to slack of on writing and here I am two days late on this entry. So here is the skinny!

Michael arrived today. He came all this way knowing I had to make the trip to Victoria, a 14 hour journey, in a very short period of time. He hitchhiked out to share the driving, and so we could get to know each other better before doing the show with the L.O.V.E collective on the 6th. I am so happy he is here.

We went to Red Sands for my very first swim in the commitment. It was freezing and wonderful. There are great rocks on the beach to sun yourself after the cold plunge into the Glacial waters of Kootenay Lake. Red Sands is a clothing optional beach so I also got to go NAKED!

Later I modelled in the Day and Night fashion event, showcasing local designers. There are so many funky fashions which come out of Nelson, many of them from eco and recycled fabrics. I was in yesterdays show as well which show cased Day wear, tonight was evening wear. I got to wear some of the very talented Becky Norris’ fashions. As soon as I was done on the runway I dash out, to start the long drive to Victoria with Michael. It wasn't until it was too late to turn back that I realized I was still wearing the dress I had modelled, a gorgeous sparkly brown frock with an abbreviated asymmetrical hem line, lots of ruffles and a deep plunging neckline. My hair was big, my make up bold and when I walked into 7-11 at midnight to get gas, there were a fair number of stares.... high eco fashion is the perfect attire in which to start road trip!

None of the photo’s from the fashion show turned out, but perhaps some will show up on facebook, apparently due to the minimal length of my dress, there are a number of shoots which are intimate in nature, I can only hope people are kind enough to NOT post these ones!

“Do you have a story from a memorable road trip?” is the question in 12 days journal 82, which I am going to give to my new friend Seth who I met through Micheal, he was in the kitchen at the Point Street House when I was trying to come up with today’s question, it sounds as though her just came back from an epic bike trip, I am sure he has a few stories!

Latest Commitment! Swimming in Natural Bodies of Water

Ok it is time again for a new commitment. I can feel that it is time for a commitment which is easy and fun, not a lot of work. Something soothing for my soul and body.

One of my all time favourite summer activities is swimming, in lakes, oceans, and especially rivers. I grew up on a river. Riding the currents and rapids of natures water-slide represented freedom, self reliance, and was often an escape from some of the not-so-nice parts of my life growing up. I travel with a bathing suit clipped inside the passenger side of my car where it can dry, this way I am always prepared for a swim. The best swimming though is done when I can leave the suit in the car. I adore swimming naked.

I will swim in a natural body of water everyday for the next 12 days. I am travelling to the coast with my dear friend Michael, through the southern part of majestic British Columbia. There are literally hundreds of rivers and lakes along the way, and eventually an ocean to welcome us upon our arrival. I will swim in each during this commitment. It is my goal to take lots of photos and share them with you. Admittedly this is partly because I also plan to take a break from longer entries for this 12 day commitment, a bit of a 12 day vacation from the 12 day project. So you may often get photo’s in lieu of words.

I invite you to join me in this commitment and whenever possible...SWIM NAKED!

July 3, 2009

Day 12 One on One- 100!

Well this is the 100th entry for this blog, and to celebrate I am going to keep it under 100 words....this means I only have 74 words left! YIKES!

I finally got my one on one alone time with sweet Ayla Bayla. We went for Thai food and a bubble drink, but I had to leave earier than expected because I got a call to go early to get my hair and make-up done for the show. This made me sad, our time together is so short. She is nearly 14, I still think of her as my little baby. I can feel her slipping away into adulthood, ultimatly I am very happy and proud of this, but a little sad too.

“What is something you have done that you are very proud of?“ is the question in 12 days journal #81

My answer is Ayla.

154 words...not bad I suppose.


July 2, 2009

Day 11 One on One- Starting Point

Sometimes the things I see on holiday that are fabulous and thought provoking are famous, like the Hearst Castle, apparently the most visited monument in the State of California. Other times though, the neatest thing I see in a day is random. Today we came around a corner on a fairly deserted highway between Grass Valley and Kent Oregon, to find this:




There is no pay parking lot, no gift shop, just a dusty pull out. I wondered aloud how it all started. The smart ass answer was “with one pair of shoes”. This came from my teenager, complete with an ample serving of sarcasm. What I meant was that I wondered at the story behind this shoe tree. Again since this is a random site, not sanctioned by any government or group, there was no placard to explain. I am left to come up with my own stories. Perhaps a pair of shoes got thrown out of a passing car, got caught in the tree, another passing traveller saw this and in a moment of whimsy added another. I imagined the trend continuing until the tree grew to its quirky and magnificent current self. Or maybe this art installation is the work of the property owner? Maybe they had seen a similar tree elsewhere and wanted one of their own. It is possible they work at a goodwill store and make use of all the shoes which can no longer be used. I will probably never know.

It is interesting to look at how things get started. This 12 days project was started on a whim. The first entry talks about how it was born out of my exercise neurosis. Having not sweated from activity while on an unexpectedly intense 12 days cleanse, I came up with a 12 days sweat cleanse, which grew into 12 days up Pulpit Rock, which grew into...well this entry, which I just realized is number 99. Wow. Far out.

Yesterday the conversation, on our long day of travelling, turned to the first day Chris and I met. We both remembered what we were wearing, where we stood, and how we had a deep appreciation for the shape of each others butt! Imagine if we knew on that first day that this meeting would become a defining moment of our lives...do you think we would have continued? or freaked out and run away? I am not sure myself, I guess this is why the Universe (God, Goddess, Powers that Be, Grand Pooh Ba) keeps us in the dark. I think that sometimes knowing our potential is the scariest thing of all.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
by Marianne Williamson

You know it Marianne! Truer word have rarely been spoken.

“What special talent/light/gift do you share with the world, making it a richer place?” is the question in 12 days journal #80. In which I will write the quote by Marianna Williamson.

Oh and as for today's one on one time...we are all trapped in a vehicle and have a total of 11 hours worth of ground to cover before the day is done. I couldn’t avoid one on one time if I tried, and believe me, with the amount of bickering in the back seat, I have considered riding on the roof.

July 1, 2009

Day 10 One on One- Gadyo

There was a change in plans. Ayla and I were suppose to fly to Spokane tomorrow from Oakland. Chris, Rose and Lily were going to continue camping on their way up towards the west coast of Canada. Ayla needs to go home to start rehearsing for a performance she has at the end of July. I need to go home for a performance on the 3rd and 4th, then I am leaving again, making my way to the coast with Michael and leaving Ayla behind with her Nana. Well Ayla and I are still on our way home, but instead of being carried by a plane, we are being carried by our trusty truck and camper. Chris decided he wanted to come home, camp in Canada instead. We decided this last night at Seaside, and are now at the Oregon/California border. Just two States to go!

We were slow getting going this morning, then stopped to fish and swim. We haven’t made a good deal of head way yet. I think Ayla is freaked out we will be late for her rehearsals. The sun is going down, this is when we make consistent progress once the little ones fall asleep.

I have really enjoyed these last 4 days. Wandering round California, house on our backs. I am descendent of many peoples, a proper Heinz 57, but I identify most with my Spanish Gypsy heritage. I am told the term “Gypsy” is not PC, that I should call myself one of the Roma people or the Gadyo people. I am not sure about this, I have always loved the romantic associations of being a Gypsy. I find I am at my most relax when I don’t know where I will be the next day. Nomadic blood runs through these veins.

“What part of your heritage or ancestry do you most relate to?“ is the question in 12 days journal #79

I have been stockpiling journals again, this journal as well as the last two sit in my bag. I am travelling, which is a great time to give them away but haven’t sat still long enough. Our family has been very insular and to ourselves these last few days, I suppose this was the point of this commitment. I am going to make a better effort to leave the journals daily and get out of this new stockpiling habit. Part of this is getting back into the habit of making up the journal each day and not leaving it to be done 3 an 4 journals at a time.