August 31, 2009

Day 11 Time Off- Restless

It is beginning to happen. This feeling which frequently accompanies down time, boredom. The ennui begins to build, I feel uninspired, restless, like I am not contributing. It is strange, I suspect there is middle ground, somewhere between working to get hundreds of things done in a day and blahsville. This place exists right? This mythical place where there are a number of meaningful tasks to complete in a day and nothing more, so that by bedtime a person goes to sleep with a sense of satisfaction and nothing pressing on their mind; where things were accomplished but nothing is left nagging...please tell me it exists!? I feel like life either proceeds at a breakneck pace or a stand still, with no in-between.

I have been pondering my next commitment, feeling pulled to do something grand, recommit to the original commitment to commitment itself. I suspect that if I choose to do this that you will be reading an entry within a week where I am lamenting how run off my feet I am. Is this what it feels like to be bipolar? Seriously, with no disrespect to those who are effected by this condition, I often wonder if I create a sort of manic bipolar energy in my own life. Is there another way?

Anyway I am way over 150 words and since this is the penultimate day of my time off, I will chill, go enjoy this lovely hot day and stop stewing about this lack of inspiration. The lack of inspiration which has spawn the less than inspiring “What inspires you?”, which resides in 12 days journal #140

August 30, 2009

Day 10 Time Off- Simply

“How do you know when you are in love?“ is the simple, delicious, fruitful question in 12 days journal #139


(I inserted a picture here, but it was vetoed, then there was an attempt to take others, which I then vetoed....I will add more pictures soon...soon)

August 29, 2009

Day 9 Time Off- Grand Day Out and In

Today has been just a wonderful day. I didn’t do anything that might seem adventurous or worthy of story telling here on the blog, which is a bonus considering I am nearing 149 words and have done pretty well so far to stick to my commitment of less than 150. The day has just combined a whole bunch of simple pleasures into one glorious part is, it is not over yet!!

Based on a conversation Michael and I had this morning, and yet another suggestion by Nelson at the Nelson Express; “Is it ever ok to lie?“ is the question in 12 days journal #138

Tonight I will dance and spend more time with wonderful people. Life is GOOD!

Actually I only wrote 146 word, yeah me.

August 28, 2009

Day 8 Time Off- Avoidance... NOT!

I made a bunch of journals today...well 5, so a small bunch. I gave 12 days journal #107 to my friend Sean, then I left 12 days journal#108 at Oso. Then I did a whole lot of talking, milling, walking, musing. Life is grand.

And on a completely different note:

“Have you ever blamed someone else when you were actually responsible?“ is the question in 12 days journal #137

and no I am not avoiding there.

August 27, 2009

Day 7 Time Off- Inevitable

My 12 day holiday is official in the second half, it has been great. I still have only made four 12 days journals, I am OK with this, I know some day soon a bunch of my family will get together to help me make them, I will catch up soon. (HINT HINT)

Had a talk with Terran today, my web guy. Expect changes as summer turns to fall. I know I said the F word, some of you may be upset with me about this, it is true though, I saw leaves on the sidewalk today, fall is coming . This year is the first I have actually been excited for the kids to go back to school. The schedule is good for them, it is good for me. And so in honour of the approaching season of regularity,

“What is your favourite thing about fall?” is in the front cover of 12 days journal #136

Now my goal is to get this journal made before fall is over!!

August 26, 2009

Day 6 Time Off- Ahhhh

Thanks to Nelson of the Nelson Express I have a question for today without even working at it. Ahhhh....time off is good. THANKS NELSON!

“If you didn’t need money what kind of work would you do? What kind of work do you do?” is the question in 12 days journal #135

August 25, 2009

Day 5 Time Off- Burning

What is to give light must endure burning.
-Viktor E. Frankl

and then some!!!

If anyone would have told me it would have been this hard, I may never have come out. I suppose then it is a good thing I didn’t know.

I was given a few question suggestions by my friend Nelson, who publishes the Nelson Express, the one that seems most pertinent to today's quote and my state of mind is:

“Do you feel you can effect positive change?” is the question in 12 days journal #134

August 24, 2009

Day 4 Time Off- Cloning?

As I sit here in Oso Negro, I still have not made a single journal. After spending time talking to many people in my life, arranging schedules and trying to get everything done, I wonder, why do I feel pulled in so many directions? I LOVE my life, my family, my friends, my work, my art, my dance all of it, and yet I often joke about having a clone, and am not completely joking. I feel like there is not enough of me.

“How do you achieve balance between all the responsibilities and desires in your life?“ is the question in 12 days journal #133

August 23, 2009

Day 3 Time Off- In Alignment

I gave two journals away today. Both times I had them pull tarot card style from a stack. As seems to always be the case the questions were magically, divinely, perfectly aligned with the chosers purpose, speaking to what is alive in them at this time.

Elijah who I met recently is devising a board game which is all about communication, a very in depth, multi layered organization of cards and intention. He chose 12 days journal #94 which asks “How do you communicate?“

Next came a hour and a half long conversation with a man who I met recently, one I knew I had much in common with but as of yet we had not connected. Today we spoke about many things, the underlying current of the conversation being that all of humanity is connected, we are part of the fabric, how the ”us and them“ mentality does not serve. He chose 12 days journal # 99 which asks ”What are the common threads that unite us all as humans?“

”Are you living in alignment with your beliefs and purpose?“
is the question in 12 days journal #132

I know...way over 150 words. Some commitments are easier than others.

August 22, 2009

Day 2 Time Off- Clear as...

“Have you ever kept a secret and wished you didn’t?” is the question in 12 day journal #131

We went out tonight to the market Chris, Michael, Rosy, Lily and I. I held hands with both of these beautiful men as I strolled round with my family, all of them, no one hidden away. When we got home Michael, Chris and I were sitting in the kitchen talking about transparency. Chris and I were reminiscing about a friendship which was lost when we lived in Pemberton, one that was lost both partly because of transparency and partly lost because of the lack of it. Me not telling my truth meant people could only assume what had gone on, these assumptions ended other friendships. No more hiding for me.

August 21, 2009

Day 1 Time Off- Community?

“What does it mean to live in community?” is 12 days journal #130

Community has a lot of meanings for me, some grand, huge undertakings which take dedication, years of work and vision. And sometimes it is simply a friend who sees a need; an angel who comes and finds a sad friend and lovingly takes her to float on a raft in a lake on a stinkin hot day. Thank you Kim, I love you.

Latest Commitment! Staycation

I am taking 12 days off. If you read yesterdays post the answer to the question of “How do you find happiness when times are tough?” is I reconnect with family and friends and reduce stress. I love this project, and am committed to seeing it out to the end. I also recognize that the last three commitments have taken their toll, and that I have been running behind for each one, the the stress of this has been effecting my ability to be present. I need a vacation, or perhaps what I need is a STAYcation. To stay home, with my body, with my family, with my friends, to be right here and not constantly trying to recall events from days ago in order to write about them. I am also way behind in making up and distributing journals. I am going to use this time to be all caught up and fresh when I show back up with my soap box and run on sentences in 12 days. I will post a question each day, and if I know myself, perhaps even a few words or a quote; I am limiting myself though to no more than 150 words and am just fine with nothing more than a question and a journal number. Thank you to all of you who read this journal, I love you, and feel your support, I will see you in 12 days!

I commit to taking the next 12 days of from blogging, to continue posting a question and journal number and very little else. I commit to taking time to get present, to catch up on the journal release side of the project, to enjoying myself and those around me, to returning refreshed, caught up and with more ease.

August 20, 2009

Day 12 Jus Dance- Cookie Prophecy

Three for three. Three days of tears, three days of wondering how to make it all work. To be honest I didn’t really fulfil my commitment yesterday. In a metaphorical sense I did the anger dance, the sadness dance, the miscommunication dance, the feelings of deep abandonment dance, but no shakin my booty dance. The plan to go out, dance to live music at the Spirit Bar, to relax and have fun with friends, never happened. Instead I spent hours in a room, wanting to be heard, feeling that I wasn’t, with someone who wanted to be heard and felt he wasn’t.

I am glad this commitment is over, it feels like an ending to this period of unhappiness. What is it they say about bad things happening in threes? I don’t really think that the last three days were bad, hard, but not bad. Growth is sometimes painful, I get this. The last three days were really hard, the hard times are over though, cause I say so. I need some lightness in this heavy painful heart of mine.

And so it is! The sadness is ending because I need it to. And I know from a whole long life lived, that sad times do not last, they give way to happiness and more ease. I know that this too shall pass.

“How do you find happiness when times are tough?” is the question in 12 days journal #129

Just to end on a positive note, to show you all I really do know that things are as they should be, and that this time of coming out is worth this struggle, I will leave you with the wise words I found inside a fortune cookie yesterday.

“Your courage will guide your future”

We all know that fortune cookies are always right!

August 19, 2009

Day 11 Jus Dance- Swinging all the Way Round

Today I danced with tears streaming down my face....again. This time I was in the park. It was one hell of a day today, many crying breakdowns, in between lawyers visits and navigating the continued judgement and sticky, bumpy, twisting goo of coming out as polyamourous. Throw in my eldest daughters 14th birthday and the day was REALLY FULL. So full in fact that one small comment about my parenting style on the walk home from a well meaning member of my family, tipped the scales. It was just too much. I couldn’t handle what I perceived as one more finger pointed at an area where I am remiss or could do better. I had hit full and this comment spilled over me, engulfing me in sadness and a desire to run away. I walked to the park and sat on the swing, too numb yet to cry. I began to swing. I pumped my body hard, feeling my abdominal straining, I swung higher and higher. I was filled with the remembering of my childhood, how when things got hard, which they often were, I would swing. I spent so much time at the park. Most of it on the swing, working the pumping, filled with hope that if I swung hard enough I could wrap myself all the way around, that somehow this would make things all better. I tried again, for the first time in probably 20 years to achieve the wrap still didn’t work. I remembered at this point that I had also failed in achieving my commitment, so after what felt like the 600th failure of the day, i got off the sing and began to dance to my internal song. I spiralled round the basketball court, tears finally flowing. I would like to report that it made things all better, it wouldn’t be true though, I was still sad when I was done, but at least I had completed my commitment. Ah success!

Happy Birthday Ayla Bayla Boo....14 years ago today I became a mother. The hardest job I have ever done....and the most amazingly fulfilling one too, even when I feel like I am failing all over the place.

"Do you think of life in terms of failures and success?"Why?“ is the question in 12 days journal #128

August 18, 2009

Day 10 Jus Dance- Change

Tonight I slow danced in the kitchen with Michael, I cried as he held me in his arms. He cleared a spot for us, moved the kitchen table and chairs, as I lamented not having not done my commitment for the day on top of everything else.

Things didn’t go so well today. I wish I could say that the blending of our family was smooth like butter, but if I claimed that you would likely know I was lying. Lily is having a hard time with the prospect of being different. Of course the idea that she is the same as any of her classmates is an illusion but I suspect this response sounds like bullshit to a 10 year old. There has been a rash of divorces amongst her classmates parents in the last 2 years, and while she is happy her parents are not getting divorced, it is tempting given that at least she would be “normal”. She loves Kelly, is warming to Michael and is not unhappy with our blended happy family, but the idea of her schoolmates finding out that her family arrangement is different from EVERYONE else's, is tortuous. I don’t know how to make this better, I mean the obvious would be to let go of what I believe about consciously choosing a model of family which I feel is more conducive to ease and lasting stability; reacting and jumping back to status quo in hopes that this will alleviate her discomfort. Then I have to live with the message I have sent to my children that conformity in order to have comfort over choosing ones own path is desirable. When Lily and I spoke about Chris and my relationship I asked if she would prefer we divorced, she said “NO!”. I explained to her that sometimes in life we have to choose between what is easy, and what we really want. She really wants her parent to stay together, and we have never really considered other wise, but doing so with other partners makes Lily different. I hate that my choices make her different than her classmates, that by having parents who believe in not limiting each others experiences, she has to explain that divorce is not a part of her parents having other partners, that we all live together in harmony.

Parents generally want to do everything they can for their kids to have a joyful and easy life, and we all discover at some point that there are some things that we just can’t save them from. I know it will be ok, that my children are, as my friend Kath says, “Brilliant”, that change is hard no matter what, and that change is inevitable. When our family moved here to Nelson it was change, it caused my children to have to adjust, a new baby requires adjustment, divorce definitely requires adjustment, this change of ours just happens to not be a common change, but commonality doesn’t speak to the health of a change. A new diet low in sugar and refined flour is a change which can be difficult, but it is towards health. I believe that moving toward living in community, where the responsibilities don’t fall to just two parents is a change towards a more supportive environment, where needs are more easily met, that said, it is still change and change is hard.

To end this post I want to share this picture with you. This is my husband Chris and his sweet partner Kelly. These two are in love, and a change that involves this much love is not one I am going to forgo just to facilitate the easy way. I am confident that choosing love is the way.


“Who do you love?” is the question in 12 day journal #127

August 17, 2009

Day 9 Jus Dance- Pespective

Of all my dances today, the one with Laura from Southwest airlines was my favourite.

The airline misplaced my bags while I was flying home. When I noticed they did not come down the luggage shoot I was not surprised. I had a funny feeling today would be the day. Southwest Airlines is a phenomenal company, they know how to treat customers, and I don’t mean in that sugary “the customer is always right” sort of way. If you miss a flight, you simply get a credit for another, and they fill your seat with he inevitable plane missers or stand byers. Simple. If I want to change a flight, I go online and do it myself, easy, and with no change fee. Best of all they have great rates, best out there. So I am a dedicated Southwest customer. I had no doubts that the luggage hiccup would go in a similar smooth fashion.

When Laura at the baggage services desk learned about the luggage having gone missing. She gave me options; I could have it sent by UPS to me over the border, or I could stick around and wait for it, if I choose to wait I would receive a $100 travel voucher. The choice was easy! Michael had come to pick me up at the airport, since we had to wait until after dinner for my bags, they offered to pay for our dinner. After a lovely meal we returned to find my bags had still not made it, again I was given options. I had already received a travel voucher and a meal, now I had the choice of again having UPS deliver it, or they would put me up in a hotel until it arrived. I was dead tired, again the choice was easy. My luggage arrived sometime that evening long after we had gone over to the hotel.

For many having luggage lost is a huge hassle, for me it was an adventure. I am not sure how much of this has to do with Southwest and how much has to do with my perspective, I suspect it is a sprinkling of both.

“How much does your perception of an incident shape its outcome?” is the question in 12 days journal #126

August 16, 2009

Day 8 Jus Dance- Friendship

I danced in school today. The dance that I did though, the one I consider to have been most fruitful, was the dance back into friendship with my friend Jeremy. Things got rocky for us for a while, there were times I wondered if our friendship would dissolve. Today we snuggled and talked about his new love interest. It was nice to be able to hold space for him. I used to stay with him when I came to school, his home was mine too for those weeks. It felt comfortable to be able to revisit this place of respite, it gave me a chance to reflect on all that has happened and how far I have come in the last year. Funny how when I am flying along, so much work and change, being caught up in it can make things appear to be progressing at snails pace.

“What does it mean to be a friend?” is the question in 12 days journal #125

August 15, 2009

Day 7 Jus Dance- Right and Wrong

The East Bay Ecstatic are starting a Saturday night dance jam in San Francisco. KD and I ventured into the city, the land of no parking, to go dance to the mixings of our friend Ron Tofanalli. The space was great, beautiful altar, inspiring music. Not too many people yet, but they have built it so eventually we will come. For us this meant heaps of room on the dance floor. I was feeling rather introverted, just wanted to dance with Bernice. There were many contact opportunities there, and I did yearn to connect, but not enough to make eye contact, much less body contact. KD on the other hand made contact with a man named Philip, and they had an absolutely beautiful dance. With eyes mostly closed they moved round each others bodies, I watched, felt as though I was receiving a gift. KD is a beautiful kirtan dancer, she has done almost no contact improv, and yet she channelled something during this dance, she looked like a pro. When it was over she came over to me all a glow and told me how wonderful it had been, how respectful and gentle Philip was with her, just the healing my friend KD needs right now at this crazy time in her life.

Sometime later a man who I know from the dance community came over and said to her “Can I dance with you? I saw you doing contact earlier, I want to show you how it is suppose to be done.”

This idea that there is one way to do contact dance is not something I subscribe to. KD was peaved with this mans intrusion. She was perfectly happy with her heart opening dance, and felt no need to know how it was “suppose” to be done.

I love contact, no matter how it shows up, human connection through dance is the only “suppose to” that matters to me.

“Do you believe in right and wrong?” is the question in 12 days journal #124

August 14, 2009

Day 6 Jus Dance- Blue Birthday

Yesterday was Lord Krishna’s birthday. We went over for cake; danced and sung past midnight when the days fast was finally broken, and then we feasted! I attended this event with my good friend KD. A raging goddess, rocking the Hari Krishna world with love, compassion and an invitation for open eyes.

Dancing, singing, and feasting with Lord Krishna and KD was a wonderful way to complete today's commitment.

“How would you describe your spiritual belifs?” is the question in 12 days journal #123

August 13, 2009

Day 5 Jus Dance- Day 40

I have a little time before school this morning, I want to spend it catching up, alleviate the stress I am feeling because of being so behind. I am also feeling another pull. A pull to be really transparent about what is going on for me, a pull to use this space as a way of creating some ease for myself and others around my choices, and acceptance of who I am . It is interesting that because I still am back logged by 6 entries at this point, that what I write today, will not be seen for a while yet, not until I have written and proof-read the entries which come before this one...geez I hope I don’t change my mind!

If I were to be with Michael today it would have been our 40th day together. We met on June 6th, and were in contact through phone and email. Then on July 2nd he came to Nelson to get me, take me to the coast and begin working together. Up until this point I have spoken of our work relationship, but I haven’t spoken about our personal relationship. Truth is I don’t really buy into the illusion of there being a separation between these two, and certainly with us this is the case. Michael is my partner, in many ways. We work together, we are friends, and we are also lovers.

I imagine for some of you reading that last line was shocking, others will likely be laughing and saying “Well it is about time!”. I imagine there are many more reactions, and I imagine a number of those involve sadness, fear and confusion. So let me speak about some of the logistics to hopefully minimize at least the confusion. Chris and I have had an open relationship for many years. There was a time when we were “in the closet” about this, there are so many misunderstandings about what this means, often it was easier to just not deal with them. The problem with this was, that it meant hiding. Hiding has a way of taking something and turning it into a dirty little secret. There is nothing “dirty” about the choices I have made when it comes to family, relationships and sexuality, I am actually quite proud of these choices. I am proud that I am willing to look at how us human beings relate to each other, with our friends, lovers, children, and partners and admit that there is much that is not acknowledged.

There is a name that has been coined for the choices we have made for living in our truth, it is called Polyamoury; loving more than one. Not really a radical idea. Most people love more than one person. What is radical in our culture is the idea that a man can be close to more than one womyn and this does not detract from his love for either, or that a womyn can be sexual with more than one person and that this is not “cheating” so long as everyone’s needs are being met. This idea tends to fly in the face of our cultural ideas of relationship based on monogamy. Generally it takes a very big paradigm shift for a person steeped in a monogamy based culture to see polyamoury without projecting a whole bunch of attributes that do not belong to it. The biggest one for me is that it somehow lacks in integrity. Before I address anything else THIS is what I need to explain. Polyamoury for me, and I feel confident to say this for Chris and Michael and Kelly as well, is all about living with integrity, being transparent, honest, and respectful of ALL people involved. It is not about “cheating”, “having affairs”, “or running around”. It is not related to polygamy or polyandry which both tend to polarize power and permission in the direction of one gender. It is not about being “promiscuous” or “slutty” or “a player”. Polyamoury addresses sexuality, sexuality is an integral part, but polyamoury is not about having sex with whoever you want, and for me is about relating to human beings on a deeply connected, spiritual level which most often does NOT involve sex.

Polyamoury is scary, mostly because it flies in the face of the foundation of what our culture was built upon, the nuclear family. A house, lot, car, and lawn mower for every man-womyn-children unit it our western world, and we have grown accustom to this. If you are comfortable with this configuration HOORAY! I am so happy for you that you are able to live in the way you choose. I personally am not happy with this way of doing things, I find it limiting. I want to live in community where there are many parents and many children who support each other. Often in communities such as this relations tend to deepen, boundaries blur. I see this as a positive thing. Again, if you don’t that is just fine, I am not trying to convince anyone of anything. What I am doing is coming out of the closet.

I am polyamorous, so is my husband, his partner Kelly and my partner Michael. I am asking for your compassion, understanding and acceptance. If you have any questions, PLEASE ASK, I will be happy to explain that our way of being a family is beautiful, and not something I want to hide anymore.

Thank you.

“What is the hardest thing you ever had to tell someone?” is the question in 12 days journal 122

And you know what? It really wasn’t that hard to tell this one, the idea of telling was a lot harder.

August 12, 2009

Day 4 Jus Dance- Overworked

I am sitting in downtown Oakland eating sushi. I have spent today travelling, saying good bye and catching up on this blog. I am WAY behind! While I write this here on day 4 of dancing I haven’t actually even updated the site yet to let you all know what I have committed to! YIKES! I am committed though to catching up before I come home...actually I am committed to catching up before Saturday...maybe even Friday. Geez, I just want to be caught up, this behind thing is stressful! Anyway I am off to the Sweet’s Ballroom to dance. If it weren’t for this commitment I would likely spend another 4 or 5 hours on this computer catching up, so HOORAY for the commitment to dance!

As I was sitting at the Oakland airport waiting for the rental car shuttle bus, “What do you feel has had the greatest influence on your life?” popped into my mind. I have no idea where it came from, but since it just condensed in my brain from nowhere I decided to trust it, and so this is the question in 12 days journal #121.

Ok off to dance. I promise you will read this by Saturday.

August 11, 2009

Day 3 Jus Dance- Small

“Dancing through life”.

I am not 100% sure what this metaphor means. I CAN tell you what it means to me; to elegantly navigate whatever happens, maintaining grace and integrity, taking the crunchy with the smooth, accepting them both as integral parts of this life's journey. I have been told I tend to read into things, and it is possible this is one of those cases, I am ok with that. I am going to continue to ascribe this meaning to the beautiful metaphor of “dancing through life”.

It is probably no secret that dance is among my most favourite joys. It has been my solace and celebration since I can remember. I dance through life as best I can, and I consider life to be a dance, one long delicious dance of many different forms.

I love big dancing; Legs and arms pumping, flying round the room, drawing a crowd.

I also love the small dance, the kind when I can feel my own muscle fibres sliding over each other, millimetre by millimetre. I danced tonight in a slow and delicate way, my partner and I were barely moving. If I had to give it a name I might call it contact dance. There was no flying or rolling around though, only our heads were used. We slowly rolled over and through each other, sensing skin, smell, texture, moving so slowly that others watching may have thought us still. The gentle rise and fall of my chest was the most monumental of my movements. This dance may not have looked like a dance from the outside, I can tell you though that it felt delicious on the inside, and to have shared it with another, another who was also tapping into the small dance, was intimate and sweet and connected us in a way that the big dance can’t touch.

“How do you dance through this life?“ is the question in the front cover of 12 page journal #120

August 10, 2009

Day 2 Jus Dance- Continued

As yesterday slipped into today, Michael and I spent hours in the chill tent, contact dancing, and climbing up, over, and round the exoskeleton of the geodesic structure. The limitless nature of Shamabala meant I could do this without asking for permission or being asked to stop. So I didn’t stop. I swung round like a monkey, using the climbable walls to move what Michael and I had created on the floor up into another plane. The lack of limits spurred creative play and movement that I had not tapped into before. I witnessed this same phenomena all over Shambala.

There were men who I saw arrive in the Alberta-esque uniform of a Volocom tee-shirt and board shorts, who by the end of the festival were dressed in pink tutu’s, huge afro wigs and very little else. The lack of limits led to unexpected possibilities to give and receive as well.

There were altars, and sacred spaces everywhere. People left offerings on the altars, other came and received offerings. I found some candy my daughter had caught in a parade a week earlier, I placed some it an altar. A few minutes later I saw a young man enjoying some with much gusto. I told him it had come from my 10 year old daughter, he expressed gratitude to us both, “You guys fucking rock!” he said, his tongue purple from the lollipop offering.

There were art tents to create whatever you could dream up, spaces filled with art and installations, water features and of course the ever-present boom boom boom of the music in every direction.

As the sun rose I danced at the beach stage with an amazing dj that I never got the name of. The pink morning sky filled the river with millions of brilliant sequins. There were many people sleeping on the beach, cuddled up under blankets. The light had a way of making the beauty in each face shine. It was a magical experience to celebrate the last day of Shambala by staying up all night to greet it. I saw a beauty in this intense electronic music festival that I could not have known without experiencing it for myself and in this way.

Just before we left the beach stage, a womyn who had been asleep began to convulse and vomit. She was experiencing a bad reaction, presumably because of some sort of drug she had taken. It was disturbing to me, to watch her go through something that I have never even come close to experiencing, a state that I have a deep fear of. I used the term “overdose” to describe it, Michael disagreed. I suppose that like me in the jungle gym, this womyn had decided to test her limits in a limitless culture. I ended up with a knee injury and a sore lower back. I don’t know what her lasting effects will be, probably I never will. We all make our choices about how and when we will decide what boundaries define our own personal experience.

“How do you test your limits?” is the question in 12 days journal #119

August 9, 2009

Day 1 Jus Dance- To be....

As some of you may have noticed, I got way behind on the blog. I have been spending a lot of time workshoping, doing some deep work, travelling and going to school. Today though I played!

Early is this morning we walked over to the chill dome, sketchbooks, pastels and altar in hand, to run another workshop. We were both tired, and agreed that if our names were not on the workshop sign that we would take the day off. Guess what...we were not! A sign from God to let everything go, just enjoy each others company, have fun. We danced all day, from stage to stage, stopping to visit with friends, eat, and spend time together talking about our future plans. It was lovely. At Shamabals there is a definite score. It is a place to explore without limitation. There are some of course, the law of the land still prevails, but then again maybe not. There was overt drug/medicine use everywhere. My sensible mom self, my public persona protecting self, wants to dumb this down here on the blog, gloss over the topic, not express my real feeling about drugs, substances, medicine, etc. I worry you will judge me for my views.

This is how I see it. Drugs are everywhere, they are a part of the human experience. TV is a drug, coffee is a drug, heroine is a drug, sex can be a drug, food can be a drug, or I suppose I should say addictive substance. I recently was in class and our instructor asked who in the class had a relationship with addiction. My hand shot up, I figured many would, but mine was the only one. Not fair! Everyone has addictions, everyone, no matter who you are I guarantee there is something in your life you have trouble controlling. So why all this talk of addiction? Well because it seems to me that there is a belief that drugs and addiction are synonymous. This is a oversimplification and simply not true. Some people are addicted to drugs, others use drugs and are not addicted to them. I can not have TV in my house, I am too susceptible to TV addiction to handle it, alcohol on the other hand I have no trouble handling, so I keep it in my house and drink it when I chose to. Addition is a huge issue, AND it is not the same as drug use. Drug use is a big part of Shambala, people use it for all sorts of reasons, some do damage to themselves, others open their minds and create wonderful ideas, art and events. Much of the beauty and ugliness at Shamabala comes from it’s acceptance of drugs as a part of our culture. I can not judge it, it simply is.

This day was magical, and continued to be magical as the day turned to night and eventually day be continued on Day 2.

“How do yo feel about drugs and drug use?” is the question in 12 days journal #118

Latest Commitment! Just Dancing!

I love to dance. I am sure most of you who follow this blog know this. It is a huge component of my life's work. I never managed to dance professionally, something that made my heart sad for a long while. Then I realized the short-sightedness of this idea of what “dancing professionally” meant. I have funnelled my love of dance away from the stage, and onto the dance floor, the therapy office, the group meditation, the pursuit of a career in Movement Based Expressive Arts Therapy.

Dancing is a key element in my chosen life’s work. Some of this work will pay off financially, this I trust. The other part of the work though, is the kind that pays in abundance, growth, and much gain which can not be tallied or accounted for with money. And so in honour of this I will dance everyday for the next 12 days.

I commit to dancing every day for 12 days. To noticing what it is I love about dancing, to be curious about where my mind goes while in movement, where the experience takes me, and using this experience to write the daily blog and question for the daily 12 days journal.

This one is going to be fun!

August 8, 2009

Day 12 Creative Words- Fruit

Today Michael and I did our first workshop together, as Bernice and Michael. I feel like a 6 year old on the first day of school. There were many obstacles, perhaps we can call them hiccups. Samba bands, electricity outages, lack of walls, and yet it came off wonderfully. Lots of positive feedback, some tears, some expressions of desire to do more art as a result of the experience....HIP HIP HOORAY! We did it!

And so it begins

Part of my work at Tamalpa is to take an experience, and rather than write or talk about it, instead create a piece of art from it. I scribbled down this poem shortly after everyone left. This is a piece of expressive art born from the experience of facilitating expressive art, the fruits of my labour.

The river flows red.
It could easily make me fearful.
Imaginings of chaos, death, ravage.
Imaginings born of stories,
ideas of an unsafe world.
not my world.

MY flowing blood,
rivers of blood.
MY blood coursing through MY body,
carrying all that I need to feel this. THIS.


Anticipation of the river as I conceal less,
expand more,
grow more.
Releasing the small muscle fibres of each blood vessel.
Allowing more space for expanded blood.
Blood super saturated with giant bubbles of all the things i need to be THIS womyn,
MY womyn.
Vibrant ,

I believe I have chosen my calling wisely, I love my work!

“How do you know when you have made the right decision?” is the question in 12 days journal #117

August 7, 2009

Day 11 Creative Words- Magic

Today was magical. Michael and I made our way over to the Labyrinth stage, with tea in hand. Our plan was to check in about our workshop timing, then go enjoy the beginning of the rest of the festival; this is not what happened. As we were standing chatting with Mira (the event co-ordinator) we were asked to be part of the opening ceremony for the Labyrinth stage. We were body painted, given a reading each to call in one of the 7 directions, and learned a circle dance which we were to then lead for a crowd of hundreds. It was such an honour to be part of this magical opening ceremony which focused on the sacred nature of our water; the water which makes up 75% of each of us, the same water which runs in our streams, and fills our oceans. The festival has only just begun and already I feel satiated, included and as though I have contributed. Love Love Love.

My afternoon was filled with Shambala wonder. This meandering poem speaks of bits and pieces of the happenings during the day. Don’t look for sense, in the state of mind I was in this wonderful day, there is none.


She holds the tiny promise of magic in her hand and decides to commit.
Time passes, the acrid taste slowly fades.
The frayed edges of two worlds begin to let go into one another.
Eyes glassy and telling,
salt water pools.
“I love her” he says.
The man he tells, blinks, nothing more, returns to mundane this and that.

The sand and rock make the feet slide in a new way.
She finds the rifts of import and wonder to move to.
What will come next?
What will inspire an old way, show it a new mind.
What will these two create together?

Magic in my hand and a decision to commit.
There is a rabbit hole fear, what happens if I can’t get out?
I have to go in every time to remember that this answer only matters at ground level.

Through the night, hand in hand till,
the pull towards tingling skin is too much.
The hunger becomes all there is.
She slides hands over the same landscape time and time again,
every time finding heat and newness in old skin.
A “skin bag” she thinks, laughing.

We are all, each one of us, hidden inside our skin bag
With the same organization, give or take.
What separates us is the magic,
Some of our own creation,
Some the creation of the universe
and sometimes the promise held in a hand and committed to,
one which doesn’t change the colour,
only the hue.

“I love you“ he says.
”I know“ she says,
and strokes the landscape for the first time again.

”Do you believe in magic?“ is the question in 12 day journal #116

August 6, 2009

Day 10 Creative Words- Being

Michael and I set out this morning for Shambala to teach a workshop, and to have some fun.

Shambala is a electronic music festival which draws 10,000 people to a wooded fairyland site near Nelson, British Columbia, Canada every August. There are 5 Stages that pump out music 18 hours a day, from 12:00 noon until 6:00 am. Each stage is multi story, elaborately decorated and not something I could have even conceive of existing inside a forest setting until I saw them with my own eyes. There is a river which meanders through the festival grounds and provided much needed bathing for hot, sweaty festivals go-ers who dance and invibe until they leave exhausted, toxified and open in ways they likely would not have expected. There is much opportunity for creative expression, costumes, personal shtick, camp decoration are but a few ways to establish how you are going to contribute to the Shambala atmosphere.

The following piece of writing was put into Michael's hand by a tall man wearing a wizard get up, he had a long cape, a staff and a hat (I think). Michael read it aloud to me over the thumping music.


I am inspired
Summoned to this moment
To stand and grant you
A piece of my soul

Yet you are Choice
Your reality is taking form
As each of these words
Fall upon your lips

For you have called to me
And I have answered
Manifested by your desire
You have chosen me

It has been said
We share more than you know
Love given is Love within
As you and I are One

Simply reflections
This Love is your Love
Accept me whenever
I am with you
-unknown wizard

Do you believe life is a manifestation of your own choices, thoughts and beliefs?
is the question in 12 days journal #115

August 5, 2009

Day 9 Creative Words- Hands, Arms and Shoulders

Today I had a fight with Chris. To tell the truth I don’t even know what it was about, it hardly matters, it seems that most arguments are not really about what I think they are about anyway. I remember once fighting with him when he decided to put his own wool hat in the dryer. I was livid at the time, convinced it was about him making poor choices, it was not. I actually was upset at feeling trapped in a life that I felt I had little control over. Some weeks later I wrote the following poem at Tamalpa. When I read it aloud in class one of my classmates was convinced I was going to divorce Chris. This was not what my poem was trying to say. I was again using the creative writing process to sort out the ickyness that was preventing me from keeping perspective. The hat was his to shrink, the life was of my choosing, and it is ok to feel trapped sometimes, but it is a feeling not a reality. Being aware of feeling trapped was the first step towards figuring out what my needs were, and then meeting those needs. Chris and I am still together nearly a year and a half later. I still feel trapped sometimes, I suspect he does too, but we make the decision to stay together and take care of our needs. We are taking care of those needs at the moment in a way that many in our community are struggling to understand, and that is ok, I am patient and committed and meeting my needs is worth a little scrutiny.

“He is wrapped around my finger.
This is necessary, necessary for my survival.
I felt safe in his arms at first. Their strength is what made me consider him,
they were big, bulging, rippled,
forcing veins through skin.

But it was their weeping willow ways that I submitted to.
Long lines of tension that draped with no expectation.
I allowed myself to move in slowly,
They did not grasp at me, but instead danced on my shoulders and neck, caressing my hair.
Tendrils caressing tendrils.
I rested here.

Now though,
now it is time to leave.

I am aware that they are not as they once were,
these arms.
They have grown rigour mortis like,
stuck in their task with torment and desperation.
They have become stalactites,
our every moment together the deposits that make my prison.

I kick, bite and punch, breaking what binds me.
Destroying what has taken years to create....for better or for worse.

Bernice Raabis
Spring 2008”

When this poem was written we were working with the hands, arms, and shoulders in class, combining metaphors in everyday languaging which relate to the hands, arms and shoulders, with movement which originates from them. The exercise resulted in a poem which was heavy in metaphors relating to these body parts. I am using a similar method to come up with today's question which is, “What weight do you carry on your shoulders?”. This question lives inside 12 days journal 114

August 4, 2009

Day 8 Creative Words- Possibilities

My friend Dariel once asked me if I ever write anything happy. I DO, here on the blog you can read countless entries which are positive and “happy”. Poetry and prose for me though are about finding an outlet for the thoughts, ideas, and pain that I don’t seem to be able to fit into my plucky everyday positive attitude. So here is another twisted bit of writing, based on hurt feelings and the clustered firing of synapses which resulted in the following creation. This writing does not adequately explain how I truly feel about what precipitated the hurt feelings, but it IS a little dark package of ugly truth, where my mind can go in an instant when I am feeling hurt, when I want to lash out and protect myself. I lash out instead here, on the page. I will eventually gain clarity about the hurt feelings; maybe even go have a grown up discussion with the other person involved. That he will read this frightens me, that he may decide it is my all encompassing big kid truth is scary, but I will give him more credit than that. As the poem says “This is who I am”, I trust that this is enough; more than enough, it is glorious.

Endless possibilities exist in those first hours, days, weeks.
Slowly the side which is shown the light, the side which is tanned and coifed can no longer stand the spinal torque required to play these contrived antics.
The hips seize, the knees won’t track properly, as the forward walk into relational oblivion breaks into a run for the finish line.
Who can finish this first?
Who can walk away saving their face, a face which never really saw the light of day, but festered under the mask.

This is who I am! Fuck you if it is not good enough!
Who are you to judge me anyway?
You think you don’t have glaring holes? HUH!

Chest puffed out, hands on hips, seized hips.
I can feel the twisted flesh of this angry face, remember through countless generations the mask of hatred worn by so many womyn,
maidens, mothers, lovers, crones.
A mask I am told was forced upon me by men, men who are now here to say they are sorry, to save.
Well no thank you! I don’t buy your story, I am not a victim, and if I am then I chose this, I am NOT yours to save.
I got myself in, I can get myself out.
Don’t come to me wanting tender touch, open heart, open eyes, windows to my soul.
You can not live inside my soul if you will not cross the threshold.
You can’t have it, you can’t save it, you can’t own it, you can’t create life in it.
I will not allow you to be disappointed by me,
I will not be your “not enough”.

Look me in the eyes and tell me it is not true, that you were predicting this failure all along?
Because if it is me then it is not you,
Dear god don’t let it be you!
So ask about my dreams then tell me they are banal, and like the rest.
I will turn my head to the side, walk away.
and in this way we will begin to plant the seeds of silence together,
And they will grow into a mangrove of soiled possibilities and stinking rotten fruit,
hardly recognizable as descendants of the first hour, day, and week of possibility.

I am going to write one happy one before this commitment is over....I think.

“Do you have a positive outlet for your frustrations, sadness, anger and or pain?“ is the question in 12 days journal #113

August 3, 2009

Day 7 Creative Words- Lexdycsic

“A thousand plastic flowers
Don’t make a desert bloom
A thousand empty faces
Don’t fill an empty room”
-Fritz Perls

I have been reading a lot of Fritz Perls lately....well ok that is not exactly true. I am SUPPOSE to be reading a lot of Fritz Perls, Gestalt Therapy Verbatim to be exact. I would tell you “it is not as dry as it sounds”, but I can’t because I have only made it to page 7, and Michael read me the first 4 pages....sigh.

Reading has never been easy for me, to even write that makes me feel embarrassed. I was diagnosed as having dyslexia when I was about 7, I don’t buy it. I was put into grade 1 when I was 5, was “taught” to read really young, too young. I don’t believe that I have trouble reading because I am dyslexic, I believe that I have trouble reading because I associate it with the stress of expectation. My 13 year old daughter can read twice as quickly as I can. This is the biggest leftover from the struggle I experienced with reading as a child; I am a slow reader. I also still struggle with reading for content, which again is related to stress, if I feel stressed while reading the information doesn’t stick, not surprising what is known about how stress effects memory. so my body was simply functioning in the way it was suppose to to a situation which was not age appropriate. So now as a 35 year old adult who has a required reading list a mile long for school, I struggle with the word “required”. It is a complete mind trip, if I were to have chosen the book for myself, I likely would have no problem with it, it is the fact that someone else has decided it for me that makes the reading a struggle. Again being 35 I KNOW ultimately I am choosing the reading by the nature of having chosen the course, but it is not a rational thing. My little 7 year old who had to skulk off to the “resource” room when reading time came round, still feels powerless, misunderstood and embarrassed. Perhaps once I read Gestalt Therapy Verbatim I will gain some knowledge about how to get over this. Until then here are a couple of jokes for ya:

Q: What do the letters D.N.A. stand for
A: National Dyslexic Association.

Didja hear about that new group DAM?
Mothers Against Dyslexia.

Didja hear about the dyslexic devil worshipper?
He ended up selling his soul to Santa.

ADDED LATER BECAUSE I FORGOT TO INCLUDE A QUESTION! The question in 12 days journal #112 is “Do you have a good story about something you forgot?“

August 2, 2009

Day 6 Creative Words- Struggle

Do as I do but not as I say ,
or is it say as I say, not the other way?

Can I have this? It is what I need.
I promise it’s not my ego I feed

I’ll answer your question if you answer mine,
course I’ll make my transparency benign

If you want my number
make sure your willing to dial.
I’ll be keeping a tally
be keeping it all on file.
Every fear divulged
every perceived lie
when I need to cover my ass
The accusations will fly.

Don’t hurt me baby, you’ll pay if you do
It’ll be veiled and contorted but definitely true.

Conditional love is the name of the game,
I may call it “non attachment“ but we know it’s the same.

A cynical look at the new age languaging popularly used in my circles, hot on the tail of the communication commitment. It is the way of things, anytime a new movement comes along, as people struggle to make it their own, make it authentic, there is struggle. I know I struggle with making my inside match my outside; this poem is about that struggle.

”What do you struggle with?“ is the question in 12 days journal #111

August 1, 2009

Day 5 Creative Words- Dud

This gal whose blog you do track
bought a new battery for her Mac.
The thing was a dud,
a real piece of crud,
and thus the latest entries do lack.

My brand new battery is not working. My computer won’t hold a charge. So typing while on the road has been a real challenge.

“What challenges do you face?“ in the question in 12 days journal #110