Monday, January 29, 2007

An interim follow up

I've been working on a follow up to the last, very brief post. My topic is that of self-awareness. This piece just came in by email from L., and is right on topic! So, I've decided to share it with you, and I look forward to your comments. You'll hear from me on this in the post to follow - probably tomorrow.

Ten Keys to Happiness
Deepak Chopra

Physical well being is inseparable from emotional well being. Happy people
are healthy people.

The wisdom traditions of the world tell us that happiness does not depend on what you have, but on who you are. As we begin the New Year, it may be worthwhile to reflect on what really creates happiness in us.

The following ten keys may give us some insight.

1. Listen to your body's wisdom, which expresses itself through signals of comfort and discomfort. When choosing a certain behavior, ask your body,

How do you feel about this? If your body sends a signal of physical or emotional distress,watch out. If your body sends a signal of comfort and eagerness, proceed.

2. Live in the present, for it is the only moment you have. Keep your attention on what is here and now; look for the fullness in every moment. Accept what comes to you totally and completely so that you canappreciate it, learn from it, and then let it go. The present is as it should be. It reflects infinite laws of Nature that have brought you this exact thought, this exact physical response. This moment is as it is because the universe is as it is. Don't struggle against the infinit scheme of things; instead, be at one with it.

3. Take time to be silent, to meditate, to quiet the internal dialogue. In moments of silence, realize that you are recontacting your source of pure awareness. Pay attention to your inner life so that you can be guided by intuition rather than externally imposed interpretations of what is or isn't good for you.

4. Relinquish your need for external approval. You alone are the judge of your worth, and your goal is to discover infinite worth in yourself, no matter what anyone else thinks. There is great freedom in this realization.

5. When you find yourself reacting with anger or opposition to any person or circumstance, realize that you are only struggling with yourself. Putting up resistance is the response of defenses created by old hurts. When you relinquish this anger, you will be healing yourself and cooperating with the flow of the universe.

6. Know that the world 'out there' reflects your reality 'in here.' The people you react to most strongly, whether with love or hate, are projections of your inner world. What you most hate is what you most deny in yourself. What you most love is what you most wish for in yourself. Use the mirror of relationships to guide your evolution. The goal is total self-knowledge. When you achieve that, what you most want will automatically be there, and what you most dislike will disappear.

7. Shed the burden of judgment and you will feel much lighter. Judgment imposes right and wrong on situations that just are. Everything can be understood and forgiven, but when you judge, you cut off understanding and shut down the process of learning to love. In judging others, you reflect your lack of self-acceptance. Remember that every person you forgive adds to your self-love.

8. Don't contaminate your body with toxins, either through food, drink, or toxic emotions. Your body is more than a life-support system. It is the vehicle that will carry you on the journey of your evolution. The health of every cell directly contributes to your state of well being, because every cell is a point of awareness within the field of awareness that is you.

9. Replace fear-motivated behavior with love-motivated behavior. Fear is the product of memory, which dwells in the past. Remembering what hurt us before, we direct our energies toward making certain that an old hurt will not repeat itself. But trying to impose the past on the present will never wipe out the threat of being hurt. That happens only when you find the security of your own being, which is love. Motivated by the truth inside you, you can face any threat because your inner strength is invulnerable to fear.

10. Understand that the physical world is just a mirror of a deeper intelligence. Intelligence is the invisible organizer of all matter and energy, and since a portion of this intelligence resides in you, you share in the organizing power of the cosmos. Because you are inseparably linked to everything, you cannot afford to foul the planet's air and water. But at a deeper level, you cannot afford to live with a toxic mind, because every thought makes an impression on the whole field of intelligence. Living in balance and purity is the highest good for you and the Earth.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Turning 27... no... 37. Yes, 37.

Today is the day. I'm really tired, and in the spirit of taking care, I will make this post brief, considering the hour. I am working on a longer, more detailed post, but didn't want to miss my own birthday - that would be bad... very bad, indeed.

I spent the bulk of the day at the pottery studio, wedging clay, throwing pots and generally making a mess of myself. Yesterday I ran shuttle-service for a funeral at the Anglican Cathedral. On Friday, caught the film "Night at the Museum" with Ben Stiller, Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney and Robin Williams. It was delightfully light-hearted and funny.

...part 2 to follow...

Saturday, January 20, 2007

To build a new perspective

I haven't been blogging much lately. I haven't felt all that moved to do so. Ironically, it's in part due to my English literature course. One might ask how taking an English course could possibly demotivate a guy in his writing. Well... lemme tell ya... *sigh*

I received a bit of a lesson in humanity yesterday. At her invitation, I met with my prof. for a coffee - off-campus. It's my understanding that this kind of invitation is rare, indeed. She had my second essay marked and wished to discuss the results with me.

We agreed to meet at 10AM at a coffee shop convenient to both of us. I showed up in good time, settled myself in a seat by the door, readied my books and waited... and waited... and waited. She didn't show. My immediate reaction was that she had again turned ill and was unable to make our appointment. Sad, sad thought! I waited an hour and after having left a message for her, went on about my day. Later in the afternoon, my cell phone rang. It was Professor M.

"I didn't write our appointment down, absolutely inexcuseable... could we meet this afternoon?"

I MADE time for her... this, after all, was a rare opportunity!

We did in fact meet, and on entering the coffee shop I greeted Prof. M. Immediately, she asked what I might like to drink. My intention was to buy HER a tea for her trouble.

"David, they've informed me that your money is no good here... you'll have to allow me to get this for you. And would you like something to eat?"

Amazing. Truly amazing. One of the life lessons I've learned along the way is how to be a gracious receiver. I shouldn't argue over who should or shouldn't pay... it would be an insult to refuse M.'s offer. I therefore, accepted. Graciously.

By way of academic grade, I didn't fare all that well. By way of learning experience, I cleaned up! This grade, after all, came with a personal tutorial and an additional exercise. My assignment: To rewrite the second essay, minding the topic of our discussion, how to write an explication!

My writing was caught somewhere between an explication and a critical analysis. I had confused the two, and really had done more quoting and plot summary than actual explication. M. related this little bit to me:

"Think of an explication as unwrapping a sweater that's been folded up. Explore the sonnet line by line, quatrane by quatrane, and really explain, in your own words, what it means."

We then went on to discuss the significance of grades.

"I don't like them.", she said with a rather stern tone in her voice. She then proceeded to acknowledge all those who remain in our class. Having started with over fourty, to my count we have less than half remaining.

"These are the dedicated students - the ones who are here to learn."

A lot was said about grades and the grading system, but for the sake of this exercise, I'll spare you the lengthy banter.

Near the end of our appointment, M. made it very clear that I had been taking this, and the previous assignment, far too seriously. I was aiming for something up in the sky when the reality was that the requirements were at eye level. I was trying too hard. Simple as that.

My praise to M. for being a true teacher. I've been learning far more than simply how to write an essay. I've been learning how to learn -- and a lot about myself along the way.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Yesterday I was grumpy

I hate being grumpy, but it happens on occasion. I had one of those days when, all around me, I seemed to notice everything that was wrong.

Everything seems to be out of balance this week. I'll spare you the details, but will share with you my thoughts on school.

Over the last number of weeks or couple of months, I've lost sight of why I initially signed up for the English literature course. I've found my sights set more on achieving "the grade" than receiving the "education". Wasn't it only months ago I swore off this inane focus?

By way of email, I received this much-needed reality check. A bit of encouragement from a friend, the essence of which was that I really should return to focusing on why I took the coures in the first place.

This morning I opened my copy of 365 Tao. The meditation for today read as follows:


Fire cools.
Water seeks its own level.

No matter how extreme a situation is, it will change. It cannot continue forever. Thus, a great forest fire is always destined to burn itself out; a turbulent sea will become calmer. Natural events balance themselves out by seeking their opposites, and this process of balance is at the heart of healing.

This process takes time. If an event is not great, the balancing required is slight. If it is momentous, then it may take days, years, even lifetimes for things to return to an even keel. Actually, without these slight imbalances, there could be no movement in life. It is being off balance that keeps life changing. Total centering, total balance would only be stasis. All life is continual destruction and healing, over and over again.

That is why, even in the midst of an extreme situation, the wise are patient. Whether the situation is illness, calamity, or their own anger, they know that healing will follow upheaval.

All good words to live by.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

At least the pressure's off...

Both essays from first semester are in for grading. The pressure's off, at least for now. The 2000-word comparative essay is yet to come, due March 27. The new reading schedule looks full and rich with lots of names I've never heard of, and some I have... (like Margaret Atwood, for instance...)

Got the mid-term back today too.

Our class is decidedly smaller now. Did I say decidedly? I meant definitely. Yes, definitely smaller.

I think I'll have lots to read over the next few months... perhaps it's time for an audio post here at the Armchair... but whatever to talk about?


Monday, January 08, 2007

Poetry and the many different ways to look at it

Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme;
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone, besmeared with sluttish time.
When wasteful war shall statues overturn
And broils root out the work of masonry,
Nor Mars his sword, nor war's quick fire,
shall burn
The living record of your memory:
'Gainst death, and all oblivious enmity,
Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room
Even in the eyes of all posterity
That wear this world out to the ending doom.
So till the judgement that yourself arise,
You live in this, and dwell in lovers' eyes.

What does it mean to you?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

A good stiff... neck

So I've been visiting the chiropractor for a few weeks now. This week past has been the first since the Christmas break, so I was scheduled for four visits over four days, the most recent adjustment being Friday.

On occasion, my chiropractor would say something like,

"Now you may feel some tenderness here...", or
"It's likely you'll be a bit sore for a day or so... here..."

For the most part, nada.

Until yesterday.

All day I felt as if I'd been in a car wreck, steam rolled or beaten from the bottom of my shoulder blades to the top of my neck. I was stiff, sore, almost to the point of feeling bruised.

I've been here before, and it's normal. You're probably saying,

"Right, Dave... the doctor's supposed to make you feel BETTER... repeat after me, B-E-T-T-E-R..."

Suffice it to say, it's all part of the process of changing the shape of my spine... for the better.

A hot tub last night made things a might easier to take, but I feel like I should be wearing one of those neck braces.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Catch up

No time for the "winter blues" here at the Armchair.


Life is just too full and rich. I appear to be just as busy in "down season" as I was in December. Last night I went to bed at 10:00 - unusual for me, as I'm usually an hour into work on a Friday night at that point. The upshot? I was awake at 2:00 AM. For about 45 minutes, I putzed around. All of one interesting email to read, so I replied... at length! Close to 3:00AM, I was tired again, so returned to bed.

I haven't been "blue" as much as I've been tired. I get lots of rest, but still don't feel energized. Yesterday, my day started at 6:00AM. I spent the bulk of the day travelling around the city by train. First it was a visit to the Chiropractor at 8:00 AM. (preceeded by a stop at the nearby Starbucks -- that place is going to be the death of me, financially at least!) I made a downtown appointment 10 minutes early, so popped into a local java shop there for a tea. You can imagine what the next stop might be, right? Anyway, moving forward...

I received a call from a client via cell phone while I was on the train. We'd done a party for the Alberta Sherrif's Department at Christmas. He had my money and wanted to know when and where we could meet. I had a quick stop to make at the library, then met my Sherrif friend at yet ANOTHER coffee shop. He showed up in full uniform, including sidearm. We sit ourselves at a table while he proceeds to count out over five hundred dollars in cash... right in the middle of the coffee shop! He then says,

"It's O.K. If anyone tries to rob us, I'll just shoot 'em."

At this point I had my head down, counting bills. His comment broke my concentration as I broke out in absolute laughter. I think HE got a laugh out of the fact that I laughed so hard!

With fist-full-of-dollars, I decided the best thing to do was to hit the bank... and fast! So, back to the train. On the platform stood not one, but two Transit Cops. They will normally board a given train and check for fares and such. I struck up a conversation with one of them, not much more than "Hi, how are you?", mind you.

Once inside the bank, I felt a might safer.

Deposit made, I then turned to leave.

Then, I recognized a face. It was A., mother of one of my DJs (and a good friend from years back, J.) We stood and chatted for some time. I found out that J.'s sister, T. had been in a car accident on Christmas Eve. She was now in the local hospital recovering from a massive head injury and varous other major body bumps and breakages. It's on my ajenda to visit, however I don't really know her that well. Her folks and my folks have been friends for years and J. has been a friend of mine for as long.

Today is dedicated to cranking out a first draft of my second essay assignment, so best I be going.

Here's to rest and things accomplished.

Monday, January 01, 2007

My 2007 resolution

I hate New Year's resolutions.

Or at least... the lack of conviction that comes with them.

As I look over the last year of my life, I realize the tremendous strides I've made by simply poking away, consistently, at one thing or another.

Last January I was among those who had big notions and took little action. This year, I realize just what can be accomplished with determination and focus. I think with determination and focus, I can achieve a resolution, so I don't feel bad broadcasting one to the world.

In my effort to be "self-aware", I've become more comfortable looking at the not-so-good stuff about me, and truly acknowledging the gifts I possess. In the spirit of this new-found comfort level, I resolve myself to not only acknowledge some of this "not-so-good" stuff, but more importantly, look it in the eye and change it.

Those of you who know me personally know that I have two rather nasty habits:

One is that I ramble. Tangents and digression are woven into much of what I do. In my essay writing this week it was brought to my attention that I've held on to a lot of this "randomness" in not only my thinking, but my writing and speech as well. I aim to change that.

Also, although I'm insanely diligent being on time for crucial meetings, school, work and business, I do tend to relax that rule more-so than I should when it comes to being on time for personal social engagements. My friends have just accepted the fact that Dave will be 5 to 20 minutes late for anything they plan. This too, will change.

They say that one of the ways you can become aware of yourself and your habits is to ask other people how they see you. For those of you who know me, be prepared... I may approach you with some very direct questions.

As for visiting the blogosphere, I will be around in a short while as life returns to normal. I haven't forgotten about you!

Happy 2007!

About Me

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Calgary, Alberta, Canada
English student, Pottery enthusiast, Yoga novice and lover of all people. I make friends over a warm handshake and a beverage. I discover, every day, someone willing to help me along my path.