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Thursday, October 20, 2011

An Examined Life is Worth Living...

Today is the birthday of one of my mentors in life, an example of the Stoic Sage in many facets of life, my Father.  William Arthur Lindley was a human being, and although he would say he had faults, I honestly don't remember many.  Some times he could have a bad temper but he would have to be extremely provoked and another person would never feel the brunt of it.  He controlled his temper and ruled it with an iron fist.  Someone who was not as closely connected would never have known that he had poked the fire of dad's ire and come very close to being burned.

Dad was a loyal husband, adored my mother and always referred to her as his best friend and the love of his life, a patient and loving father, and a cherished friend.  His memorial service, after a six month struggle with a brain tumour, was standing room only.  They were actually standing in the hallways of the funeral home in order to hear the service.  I am sure that Dad would have been surprised by the effect his brief life in Canada (26 years) had on so many people.

After being made "redundant" by his firm at the age of 45, Dad decided to sell everything and move half way across the world to Canada.  He had tried to find an equivalent position in England but the economy was in a slump and executive jobs were hard to come by.  When we came to Canada a job offer from Lennox was in the works but Dad, taking one look at the large metropolis of Toronto, came to the decision that it was not an environment that he wanted to raise his girls in.  Dad took the job that was available to him as a janitor on the maintenance staff of Sir Sandford Fleming in order to keep his family in a smaller city with some relatives around them.  Dad often said there was no shame in doing whatever job was necessary in order to pay the bills and put food on the table.  Dad proceeded to make a job for himself at the college working his way up to a position that used his air conditioning/heating engineer skills, becoming the Environmental Engineer for all of the campuses.

Dad treated everyone he met equally no matter their race, creed, or economic circumstances.  Whenever I was nervous about meeting someone important my Dad would say, "They get up in the morning and put their pants on one leg at a time, love.  The same as everyone else."  He taught me to focus on everyone's common humanity rather than status or lack of it.  I learned to always take a breath before reacting in anger and to not hold grudges, "It's all water under the bridge..."  I learned to think carefully before acting on something, "Measure twice, cut once."  I learned to resolve any differences with my loved ones, "Never go to bed angry."  I also learned that material goods, while nice, were not the most important thing in life, "There's no pockets in a shroud."

My Dad was a spiritual seeker who kept an open mind about most things and believed that true spirituality was found in kindness toward your fellow man and all living creatures.  Dad loved nothing more than watching a magnificent sunset, staring at a starry night on a summer evening, and marveling at a flock of geese in flight against a vibrant dawn sky.

My Dad taught me that I was unique, beautiful and most of all that I was loved unconditionally.  I miss my father every day but, with the memories and time that we were blessed to spend together, I have a rich store of experiences to replay on day's like today when I miss him more than usual.

I love you Dad!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Not sure what to write...

It's a grey and windy day outside...  I am echoing the weather with my mood today and trying to fight it off.  Having a hard time focusing on much lately...  found out last night that EI is much less than we thought so we will hopefully have a solution or solutions to our financial deficit before the Yuletide season starts.

It is a strange place to be in having not really had any real financial worries in years really.  We are very rich in the most important things though, family, pets and friends.  :)  As long as I have my husband and my children all else is gravy.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Back to it...

Yesterday I didn't write in my blog.  I guess, I was feeling a bit down yesterday and chose to wallow for the day.  I am human and I guess the shock of last week was starting to catch up with me.  The Stoic reading for today was definitely applicable:

FOR, amidst perturbations and griefs and fears, and disappointed desires and incurred aversions, how can there be any entrance for happiness? And, where there are corrupt principles, there must all these things necessarily be.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §22. ¶6.

When we are disappointed and depressed over what life has handed to us, it is because we put value on the wrong things. We held too much importance in things rather than valuing our character above all else.

This morning I got up, emptied the dishwasher, loaded the dishwasher and had breakfast with my hubby and daughter.  Time to start planning for the future, making the best decisions to allow more freedom to adjust and make changes. Life is certainly never boring and the sun is shining!  :)

Today is a day for banking, checking mail, etc. and running some errands.  Tonight we are out for supper with good friends.  :)  All in all a good day ahead of us.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Where Do We Go From Here?

Today's Stoic reading reminded me of the necessity to act to change our circumstances, situation, or "world" ourselves.  We are responsible for what we perceive as important in life.  If we are unhappy with our current situation we must do the work in order to change it.  We need to have a Vision and then break that Vision down into manageable Goals that are necessary in order to have the possibility of that Vision.  The Goals are in our control and achievable, the Vision, while out of our control, is the "big picture dream" that we wish to end up with at the end of our Goals.  As my mother-in-law said to my husband when he was growing up,  reach for the moon and at the very least you will end up amongst the stars.

Good words to ponder on a rainy Friday morning.  :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Out of the blue life changes

Life has taken one of those turns that you just don't see coming today.  My husband was laid off after working steadily in his field for 14 years.  Now we take some time and rethink and figure out where we go from here.  He was given a decent severance package so we aren't in immediate need so we can take some time to figure out things.

Our Stoic principles definitely came into play.  This is a situation that is not in our control.  The only thing that is in our control is how we handle this news, where we plot our course to for the future.  As I have frequently said today, "it's all good" and "we have a lot of different options".

Well I am beat and I am heading to bed.  Talk to you all in the morning.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Appearances are not only deceiving but are unimportant

TO live happily is an inward power of the soul, when she is affected with indifference, towards those things that are by their nature indifferent.

Today's reading from Words of the Ancient Wise involved three separate readings all dealing with appearances and how they are indifferents.  Our moral compass must be set on virtues to find its heading, not appearances.  Appearances can be easily changed to make them appear different than the reality of the situation really is.  We can be "photoshopped" to appear thinner, and younger than we actually are.  Humans can also use various techniques, press, lying, etc. to make ourselves appear to be different than we really are.  How many criminals and serial killers have evaded capture by using these techniques.  
Although it is nice to have a good public reputation it is much more important to be able to face ourself in the mirror and know that we have no blemishes or hidden facets in our moral character.  To Thine Own Self Be True is the best adage to live by.  When we fool ourselves and others we are only hurting ourselves and denying ourselves the joy of being completely free.  The joy of loving one's self and accepting who we are is an elusive quality in this complicated world that we live in.  Let's decide what our "best" self looks like and strive to be true to that "best" self in this life.  Building the moral framework and foundation to "be" the best self that we can be.  Someone who is able to greet the world without a mask, able to be truly honest with self and all others.  Honesty is a wonderful goal to take the rest of our lives to achieve. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Today's reading was all about finding happiness in life and flourishing.  I had many moments of deep happiness over the weekend visiting my family.  One of my happiest moments was actually visiting my Father and Godmother's memorial sites with my Mum and husband.  It was a perfect, peaceful, autumn Sunday morning.  My mum and I sat for awhile, after having placed some flowers at their sites, and enjoyed the beauty of the day.  Reminiscing about both of them and knowing that they would have loved the weather.  Although  both are deeply missed, their love and lives made a huge impact and they are remembered for the places they both took in our hearts and lives.

I had the opportunity to see a lot of my family this weekend, mother, sisters, brother-in-laws, nephews and nieces.  The family is growing with lots of little ones to carry on for us when we are gone.  The wonder of life was renewed within me.  I have a renewed bounce in my step and a new determination to seize each day and embrace the wonder of life here on earth.

Blessings of harvest to all!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Thanksgiving and Thankfulness

This weekend is the Thanksgiving weekend in Canada.  I am heading out for the weekend to visit my mother and sisters and the gang.  We will be back for the Statutory holiday on Monday to have a turkey feast with my own children.  Given the time of year I thought it was only appropriate to write about gratitude, thanksgiving and thankfulness in general.

Today I feel incredibly blessed to have everyone and everything that I have in my life.  I have an amazing husband who continues to surprise me in little ways even after being together over 25 years.  We continue to learn and grow together which is really quite fun and gives life an extra thrill.  I have three outstanding children who are now young adults and making their own marks on the world.  Each one of them are unique and incredible in their own ways and I am so blessed to have them in my life.

I am blessed with having grown up in amazing family with a father and mother who made sure that we knew we were loved every day.  My father died in 2001 but his legacy continues in my heart and in the choices that I make on a day to day basis.  My parents taught me to be strong and independent but to always think of others and act with kindness.  My mother would still give her shirt off of her back to anyone if she knew that they needed it.  This kind of generosity and warmth can be quite rare in our cynical world but I grew up with it on a daily basis.  This nurturing atmosphere definitely helped influence and mold me into the person that I am today.  My sisters, although older than me, have always made it clear that they are proud of me and that family is all that matters, no matter what.  I am blessed, indeed.

I am blessed to have spent the majority of my life in this amazing country called Canada.  This land of far open spaces, wilderness and Victorian influenced cities.  It is a young country when compared to Europe and more eastern countries but it has a warmth and hospitable charm that is hard to find anywhere else on earth.  I live in a city where I am not afraid of my neighbour, there are no shots heard in the night and I have no worries of religious intolerance or being jailed for my beliefs.

Let us all ponder and give thanks in whatever way we feel fitting for all the blessings we have in this life.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Somewhere Over the Rainbow...

What if somewhere is actually where we are?  What if we are wasting so much of our life chasing for a rainbow without seeing the technicolour display in our own life?  The Stoic reading today was again from Epictetus.  The theme of how our fear of death can actually prevent us from living.  Fear is a huge factor in our lives, in my life it has often reared its ugly head to stop me from moving forward.  I battle fear everyday, although most people, except for my husband and children, are unaware of this fact.  I know that I am not unique in this respect, most humans battle fear on a daily basis or have battled it in some form for a long period of time.

I am hearing impaired, was born that way, and it does cause me to lose my way in social situations.  I also experience quite a high level of social anxiety.  I imagine there are a number of contributing factors to my social anxiety but there really is no sense in dwelling on them.  The reality is that I still need to function in this world.  I need to "put myself out there" on a daily basis.  I have my own consulting business that I am able to run from home so I am spared some of the daily contact required in "normal" employment situations.  I have lately become more vocal in my community, opening up my home for workshops on Stoic philosophy and a local community group for seasonal rituals, etc.  I am overcoming my fear and continue to work on this on a daily basis.  I am growing and moving forward because I refuse to allow my social fear to win.

When we allow our fear of death to win, we rob ourselves of many beautiful experiences in life.  We need to accept that, just as a flower blooms for a time and then withers and dies, we too bloom, wither and then die.  We ALL must die.  We have no idea if death is final or if there is another life beyond this one in some form or another.  We can believe, depending on our different religious or spiritual paths, that there is something more, but none of us have ever been shown an incontrovertible proof of life beyond this one.  Rather than being so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good let's go out into the world with a renewed purpose.  Let's find our bliss and make a difference with the lifetime that is left to us.  Let us greet each new day as a brand new opportunity to change the world that we live in for the better.  I want that to be my legacy.  When I am no longer on this earth I want those who I knew and loved to know that I loved them and cherished them.

Let's move forward and cherish our lives as gifts from the Universe and make a difference today.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Morning Ramblings...

Today I am preoccupied with the world and the state that it is in.  The protests on Wall Street, people rising up against the weatlthy and the priviledged...  I am reminded of France before the revolution.  Situations that are caused by humanity's lack of caring for each other.  It is easy when you are living the "good life" to forget those who you have used and climbed up on to reach the pinnacle of whatever ladder it is you are climbing.  There are those who live at the top of the ladder and live there with principles and caring, doing what they can to make the world a better place.  Unfortunately, they are not nearly as vocal as the ones in the one percent that have caused this ninety-nine percent to rise up against them.

I cannot magically change the world to be a just place.  My small contribution is not felt on the streets of New York where people are hurting but I can be felt in my community, in my family, and in my home.  I can create an oasis of calm in a crazy hurting world where all are welcome.  I can grow gardens and help to replenish the earth in my small corner.  I can raise my children with principles and virtues, who in turn will be kinder to others and raise their children with the same principles and virtues.  I can teach a spiritual path that I believe helps us make sense of this world and gives us a beacon to cut through the darkness of confusion and apathy.  In my small way I can make this world a kinder place.

One small grain of sand is the start of a beautiful pearl.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

When Death Comes...

 Today's Stoic reading was on facing death, the reality of death, not shying away from the reality that just as a human is born, a human must die.  We are not eternal creatures but mortal.  The fact of our mortality must be embraced and understood if we are to live our life to its fullest.  We need to craft our lives like a work of art; a treasured pot crafted on the potter's wheel, a painting full of colours and shading, subtle nuances that make a primitive craft a work of art.

Crafting our life is the work of a Stoic, living according to Nature and OUR Nature is the way that this work of art can come to see the light.  Reducing our lives to what truly brings us bliss and peace, discarding the excess and living authentically.  This is my quest, my "sacred" charge from the Universe.  To live life fully according to the best of my nature and Nature itself.

When Death Comes – A Poem by Mary Oliver

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps his purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;
when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering;
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,
and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.
When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was a bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

I want to be the bride married to amazement and the bridegroom taking the world into my arms.  I want to know that I crafted my life to be something real.  I want to have fully lived and not just visited this world.  Let's all strive to find our bliss, get rid of the affluenza, embrace the Stoic life and live fully in this world of wonder and amazement.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Looking Through Rose Coloured Glasses...

MEN are disturbed, not by things, but by the principles and notions which they form concerning things. Death, for instance, is not terrible, else it would have appeared so to Socrates. But the terror consists in our notion of death that it is terrible. When therefore we are hindered, or disturbed, or grieved, let us never impute it to others, but to ourselves; that is, to our own principles. It is the action of an uninstructed person to lay the fault of his own bad condition upon others; of one entering upon instruction to lay the fault on himself; and of one perfectly instructed, neither on others nor on himself.

We need to learn to accept things as they are without colouring them with false circumstances and outcomes.  We all bring our particular biases and predispositions to situations in our life.  We don't actually see the situations for what they are but pile a bunch of baggage left over from past experiences and judgements onto the new situation.  This baggage becomes a lens or filter that we see the world through. We need to try to greet each circumstance as a new experience without automatically ascribing a variety of emotions to it.  We need to rationally analyze each experience or circumstance as a new land with a brand new landscape.  When we prejudge a situation or circumstance irrationally we predispose ourselves to failure, doomed to recreate mistakes from the past.  We also rob ourselves of the possibility of growth as we don't acknowledge the newness of the experience but greet it as a familiar occurrence and relegate it to the mundane and mediocre.

The Stoic practice of recognizing what is "in our control" and "not in our control" can help us eliminate a lot of these filters, allowing us to make new judgements and have new experiences.  I hope to cultivate an ability to analyze each situation as a new situation, making correct decisions without carrying negativity from the past.  Let's all strive to greet each new day as a new canvas rich and ripe for painting new vistas on.