on shining

A ceiling light in our house. Photo credit: Lori Claerhout.

A ceiling light in our house. Photo credit: Lori Claerhout.

Shine: this word has been circling around me for some time, now. Weeks, and probably almost months. There's the song still stuck in my head. I've been attracted through social photography, where I go to have fun and sort out my days. And then, in a yearly ritual that I nearly didn't participate in this time, Amy Palko connected me directly to Amaterasu: the goddess of choosing to shine. I've written before about this ritual and my resistance to it: earlier, of a different kind. This time, my resistance was beforehand. I wasn't sure that I "needed" a goddess this year. I felt like my year already had a plan (ha! I laugh even as I type it), and I was solid (again, ha!). I wasn't going to ask for any goddess guidance. In a moment of whim-following, I signed up. And when Amy presented Amaterasu to me, I laughed with how close I feel to the goddess known as "Shining Heaven." Maybe it's how much I feel attracted to her, but also how I am drawn to her story of both rejecting and embracing her need to shine.

Now I begin to explore our connection. That is, my connection to Amaterasu and her story, and my connection to the concept of shining. Amy's collection of images is the first place I've looked. Because the dictionary is also a close friend of mine, that was an easy next stop. Here's what Dictionary.com has to say.


Right now, I'm considering each of the meanings listed: how they relate to how I see the world and how I move through it; how I reflect on objects and back to others. What wants me to put a polish on it? How will I glow with light? What animates me and others? In what areas do I want to excel and do I actually excel? Where is it that I can direct the light, and how will that be received?

These are among the questions that I'm considering as I commit to the year ahead. To play with them, I'd like to take more photographs, and document this foray on Instagram in the coming year under #365shine.  

*edited on January 3, 2017 to spell Amaterasu correctly. (Yes, I've been a career editor since 1998! It's true: we make spelling and other errors.)

Paris in March: this sabbatical's beginnings

Cafe Marly at the Louvre by Herry Lawford on flickr by Creative Commons license.

Cafe Marly at the Louvre by Herry Lawford on flickr by Creative Commons license.

Ten days ago, we booked our flights.

Today, I'm checking into the Card Paris Museum pass and considering where I'd best like to spend my time. Where the professor and I might want to share our time. And really, I simply want to breathe the air. To eat fresh pastry and feel the sense of the movement on the streets. Or stillness, if that happens too.

It's a sabbatical year. Mike is preparing to research, write, and present papers, and I'm preparing to work alongside him. I'm thinking of it in terms of "our sabbatical." And that leads me to the word's—and the concept's—origins. 

sabbatical: leaving a seventh year uncultivated + unpruned

"Sabbatical," in my trusty Canadian Oxford Dictionary, refers to a leave "granted at intervals to a professor or teacher for study or travel, originally every seventh year." Makes sense: that's what this is. And also, "of or appropriate to the Sabbath." Again, it's break-taking. Wikipedia sends us deeper into cultural shaping, and directly to Leviticus 25, where all workers were implored to leave a seventh year fallow, or their crops uncultivated and orchards unpruned. Then it goes on to trumpets, bound labourers, and release by uncles. Of any book in the bible, Leviticus is one I'd least want to follow to the letter: but the sabbatical part interests me. 

It makes sense that we need to take breaks. We need rest, so that we can offer our best work—or fruit, in the sense of the fallow crop—to our communities. Maybe a change of scenery also allows for the re-shaping of time?

Paris is just the beginning: it offered the lowest cost on flights into Europe. We'll stop over in Reykjavik on our way for a few nights, and carry on to Barcelona and beyond. I'm buzzing with curious anticipation, and grateful for all of the possibilities that "uncultivated and unpruned" can bring. 

Instant Karma!

Music has always been a welcomed companion. Today: Instant Karma! with John Lennon, and Yoko crocheting beside him while blindfolded by a maxi pad. Oh, the brilliance and absurdity! it's energizing.

Instant Karma! lyrics

Instant karma's gonna get you
Gonna knock you right on the head
You better get yourself together
Pretty soon youre gonna be dead
What in the world you thinking of
Laughing in the face of love
What on earth you tryin to do
Its up to you, yeah you

Instant karma's gonna get you
Gonna look you right in the face
Better get yourself together darlin
Join the human race
How in the world you gonna see
Laughin at fools like me
Who in the hell dyou think you are
A super star
Well, right you are

Well we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Well we all shine on
Evryone come on

Instant karma's gonna get you
Gonna knock you off your feet
Better recognize your brothers
Evryone you meet
Why in the world are we here
Surely not to live in pain and fear
Why on earth are you there
When youre evrywhere
Come and get your share

Well we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Yeah we all shine on
Come on and on and on on on
Yeah yeah, alright, uh huh, ah

Well we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Yeah we all shine on
On and on and on on and on

John Lennon performing Instant Karma! on Top of the Pops, February 11th 1970, ON BEATLES BY DAY.

John Lennon performing Instant Karma! on Top of the Pops, February 11th 1970, ON BEATLES BY DAY.

whims + whispers with Tanya Geisler

Last fall, Tanya and I met to talk whims. . . and the internet objected. We tried several times. It seemed as if we could talk about anything else—friends, work, the weather—and all was fine. And once we began digging deep into whims, our call would crash. (What does this woo-woo mean? I'm still wondering.) Thankfully, I managed to piece together a short snippet of Tanya's effusive personality on the topic of whims. And, the way I see it, we'll just have to catch the rest in person.

Tanya is a Life and Leadership Coach (CPCC) who uses the metaphor (or reality!) of your life as a grand [artistic, theatre] production. Because it is, isn't it? Tanya studies the Imposter Complex and has talked about it from the TEDxWomen stage. Her Step Into Your Starring Role program approaches that unhelpful beast that commonly stands between our earned knowledge and our sharing it boldly with the world. And Tanya is bringing her Step Into Your Starring Role one-day retreat to the forest in September 2016. Join us in Athabasca


*also featuring prominently on the call is my "I'm kind of a Big Deal" mug, which I think everyone should have and use. Go and find yourself one! And that's an order.

whims + courage with Tania Wojciechowski

For Tania Wojciechowski, "The courage comes pre-packaged" with whims. If there's fear, it might not be a whim. Whoa. For me, this brings us to the essence of whim-finding. Whims feel good. And, as Tania says here, "If it doesn't feel like a whim, it may not be the best thing for me." Tania goes on to talk about how following a whim led her to co-found and produce a creativity retreat for women, twice (!), in another country. 

Tania runs Manusmade: create your sanctuary, a business and concept rooted in getting out of your head and into your hands. Tania invites us into discussion at The Harvest Table at Manusmade. She is a home stager and created a series of organizational videos based on the Marie Kondo book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up this year: her video demonstrating decluttering clothes using the Konmari method currently has nearly 30,000 views.

Whims and courage: a perfect pair.