Sunday, September 18, 2016

Digging Deep

I've done a lot of digging out at our cottage. The biggest hole we ever dug was eight years ago when we buried Sophie. Sophie was the first dog I ever had as an adult; a dog that was truly mine. She loved being at the cottage and when she passed we brought her out here one last time to bury her. I had read on the internet that the hole should be at least four feet deep to discourage wildlife from digging up the grave, no small feat.
We arrived late one afternoon and proceeded to dig. And dig. And dig. It was hard going. The soil out here on the Canadian shield is a relative gumbo of thick and sticky clay. If the clay wasn't enough to contend with, there is a massive network of roots stopping our shovels every now and again. Often the proper tool isn't a shovel, but an axe. Sophie's hole was indeed four feet deep, for the last while I stood inside it and tossed chunks of soil out. We buried her facing west, looking out over the lake at the sunset.
Two years ago I dug another large hole; this one to house the Sam Floyd memorial garden. Sam was an old friend and lover of mine who decided one night that her pain was too much to bare. A decision that still tears at the hearts of those who knew and loved her. She had a brilliant sense of humour and an infectious laugh. But her smile hid a darkness none of us suspected and just one day after Robin Williams, she ended her life.
I had recently been gifted a large quantity of lilies and  decided to plant them to honour her memory. I staked out an area off to the side of the yard, right along the bush line.  First I had to dig up the top layer of thick grass before I could excavate a long trench. Then I had to fill the hole with rich top soil before transplanting the lilies. It was a hot day and it felt good to toil and sweat. Hard labour always helps me work out negative energy. When I was finished it didn't look like much, but I had faith it would flower beautifully the following year.
This weekend I expanded Sam's garden. I'm beginning the process of moving perennials from my home in the city to the cottage, since that is where I prefer to spend my time. Eventually we plan to move there permanently, when the hubs partially retires. Once again I began the arduous process of cultivating clay. I had barely begun when I had to stop and get the axe. As I hacked away at the roots, it occurred to me how similar my journey of self awareness and education is to gardening. It is very hard work and often something that you have to do, even when you'd rather not. More importantly, sometimes you have to sever some roots so that new growth can occur. It became a meditation for me - the digging, the chopping, the heavy lifting and then the careful placement of tender plants. When I laid my shovel (and my axe) to rest and took a step back, I was impressed by it's ugliness. But just like my life, I have faith it will be beautiful.

Monday, September 12, 2016


Recently I came across an article that talks about how our usual mind is like a monkey in a house with five windows. The five windows represent our senses and the monkey represents our mental consciousness. The monkey is restless and bounces around from one opening to the next, always on the lookout for something interesting. 
It's an apt description of how I feel sometimes and the best way to calm it down is to focus on one thing at a time. Much like the grounding advice given to people experiencing an anxiety attack - find 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste - it does work. At night when I head to bed, my monkey mind can not settle down. I tend to create all kinds of scenarios and imagine how I would react. But if I can get that monkey to just listen, to the wind or my own breath or to the patter of rain, sleep will soon be at hand.
But there is another monkey in my memory. Years ago I was having problems holding on to an unresolved conflict. I knew I needed to let go of pent up hostility, but I just couldn't. I was struggling and my emotions were holding me down. So I asked an old friend (and part time spiritual guru) Denny, to help me, to show me how to let it go. His response was clear and concise and perfect in it's simplicity.
Denny told me of an interesting method used to capture monkeys. The monkey trappers would place a small cage in the jungle and place a bunch of bananas inside of the cage and lock it. When a monkey come across this setup their natural reaction is to reach through the bars and grab the bananas. The bars are so close together that the monkey can't remove his hand without dropping the fruit. Even as the trappers approach, the monkey will not unclench his first. He is trapped by his own instinct and he could be free if only he could let go.
It was a light bulb moment for me and a lesson that has served me well over the years. I often visualize my own fist being unclenched. I long to be free and every day it becomes a more solid reality. I will not allow a monkey to rule my life.
My husband and I with Denny in the middle. 

Tuesday, September 06, 2016


Days pass and I think 'I should write today'. And the days keep passing. Didn't I say I was going to write every day? Wasn't I planning to write more while I was on holidays? Didn't I get up early this morning, just to write? And more days pass and the (virtual) page remains blank.

I don't know how to break this cycle. Sometimes I find myself thinking 'you should write about this', and still there is just a blank page. I take the pictures for the post and the blankness persists. I read what others have written and nothing changes.

When I started this blog, I didn't mean for it to be a chore. I wanted it to be natural, just a byproduct of the never ending stream in my head. I thought it would be more organic; I thought I was ready.

I'm not giving in to this lack of spark. I've got to keep plugging away. I have to find a way to encourage myself more. I'm not sure what the key will be, but I know I have to keep searching.