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 + gold with Amy Oscar

Amy Oscar is many things: writer, soul caller, encourager of love—to name a few. We first met in Amy's online course, Soul Caller Training, and then really got deep in the Pennsylvania hills this summer.

Here, we talk about following whims: and how, sometimes, a whim comes as a part of conscious reflection. That is, some whims take time in the making. And then, when we follow them, beautiful opportunities arise, opportunities that we could never have dreamed up. Amy also talks about the other kind of "good ideas:" ideas that seem good, but are more fantastical—and she suggests how to tell them apart. We talk about feeling and knowing. Questioning and allowing. Word definitions. In Amy, there is limitless love, and it's pure gold.

Coming up this weekend, Amy is offering her Soul Caller Virtual Retreat—on Sunday, September 20th. This is a one day online gathering, in Amy's words, "to touch your soul and renew your spirit." Sign up here, at the closed Facebook group

In a few weeks, Amy offers her next Soul Caller Training—starting on October 6, 2015. This course is an absolute opening to love—for yourself, from the universe, and as it relates to all relationships. 

Now, find yourself a warm drink, carve out fifteen minutes, and nestle in. I invite you to join us while Amy and I talk whims, renovations, and gold. 

I saw a bear

This is like my bear. Only it was more just the bum that I saw, as it fled.  Photo: Canadian Wildlife Federation 

This is like my bear. Only it was more just the bum that I saw, as it fled. Photo: Canadian Wildlife Federation 

I saw a bear, and it was some kind of magic.

I live three blocks away from the forest; it separates my home from my day job. About .05% of the population of workers walk to work, and about 5% more might use the trails regularly. 90% of people who are "from here" don't go on them at all.*

Fine. That means more trail for me.

There are "Warning: bear may be in area" signs. It's appropriate: we should be aware of our surroundings. But people are afraid. Afraid of the unknown: seems human. But what if--what if--we thought about our fears with curiosity?

When I moved here, I heard about the bears. I saw evidence of the bears. And I am not, nor have I ever been, Grizzly Adams. I didn't walk on the trails from about June until November, fearing that bears may be on the move and I might see one. And if I saw one, what would I do? But I love these trails. So, one day in 2007, I decided to study the black bear like it was my job. I read about habits and behaviours; about ranging areas and food choices (did you know that they eat dandelion roots in the spring?); I learned what to do if I ever saw one (hint: it involves thinking quickly).

And then I waited.

I walked the trails with my dog, daily, for years. Recently, I started walking to work through the trails. And this summer, I saw a bear. I was on my way home from work. It was a hot, sunny day, and I had noticed that the cranberries were ripe. I came to the creek-bridge that I cross every time, and noticed ripples in the water. There's a new beaver dam close by: I thought I'd see a beaver that day. The second I stepped on the bridge, I heard a slap on the water: just like a beaver would. Still calm and curious. And then I felt a rumbling out of the water and up the bank on the other side. I saw the butt end of a black bear. And in those few seconds while I frantic-flipped through the catalogue of my bear knowledge, it had bounded three times and dove into the woods. I can't say that I didn't feel fear. But more than anything, I felt a sacred moment. A bear cooling off: a human walking home. We coexist, somewhere between fear and curiosity, respect and utility.

I saw a bear, and it was some kind of magic.

*Clearly, these are not verified statistics. They are wild guesses based on observation.

(originally published on September 4, 2012, at my now defunct former space borealtrim.com)

on having arrived

hurdles race by Retrographique on etsy

hurdles race by Retrographique on etsy

"Are we there yet? Are we there yet?"

It's a familiar refrain, and not just in the back seats of family vehicles. So, what if, instead of focusing on the destination, we might already be there? What if we have already arrived? That there might be no striving, no "coming toward," no "if only?" 

What if we were each okay, just the way we are today? No dieting, no shopping, no "If I had that new outfit/ car/ technology," and had the right friends/ lover/ family?

It's a frame of mind: to have arrived.

It's not as if any of those things can actually change who we are. They are moments of delaying our real work. And our real work is to become pleased (or at least somewhat contented) with who we actually are. 

So quick bright things come to confusion
— Lysander, Act 1, Scene 1, A Midsummer Night's Dream

We are the bright things, in all of our shininess. And it's our doubt that confuses that, so quickly. It's easy to hear the words—that we are perfect in all we are, and came into the world this way—yet we spend lifetimes trying to get to a place of that knowing. What makes it so strange and far-reaching? What makes this bright thing so tangled in confusion? 

I'd like to sit in the knowing, in the distinct possibility that we have already arrived.

love is for you

As seen on one king's lane by rebecca plotnick on etsy

As seen on one king's lane by rebecca plotnick on etsy

On love day, all I could think about was how hard it seems to be to befriend ourselves. . . let alone fall in love with our minds, our bodies, our hearts. Our own minds, bodies, hearts. 

And it took me some time to put this on the screen. I have a lengthy history of body and weight obsession. 

Let’s see . . .

I’ve been on the “It’s not a diet, it’s just watching what you eat and recording it and adding it up” diet. Age ten. I realize that the raisins I put on my Wayne Gretzky cereal amount to almost two servings of fruit. So if I want an apple with my lunch and a banana when I get home, I have to stop. Two tablespoons is a serving of fruit, before they were on a points scale. I was eighty-five pounds. It was okay, because my mom was on it, and asked us all to join in.

Then there was the “It’s not a diet, it’s just a wedge of iceberg and some ground beef for a week” diet. “No, it’s okay, you can have dressing on the lettuce, just so it’s only vinegar.” And breakfast was a grapefruit. Age twelve. It was a hardcover book, and probably had a name, and everyone followed it. I was ninety-one pounds.  

How about the “It’s not a diet, it’s just a plan for eating” diet. In a teen magazine, age fourteen. There was a grid for what each of your meals and snacks would be. It included super-skinny slices of bread and tuna. I lost thirteen pounds and fit into a drop-waist chambray skirt with white eyelet trim, to wear on an away game trip. It was a size seven, and I wore that skirt three more times. One hundred and eighteen pounds.

The inappropriate “It’s not a diet, it’s just what we use when we’re tapering for a figure competition” diet. “No, you can eat whatever you want on Wednesdays—like, a total carb binge—but the other days you limit them. To pretty much zero. It’s best to get a good calorie counting book, so that you know how much everything is.” Tuna, straight up with no-fat salad dressing, straight from the bottle (what is in that stuff?). Veggie wieners with cottage cheese, microwaved. I was not training for figure competition. Twenty-four years old. One hundred and thirty-five pounds.

The looks-good-to-observers “It’s not a diet, it’s just training for a triathlon by exercising twice a day at two different sports for three months so that I’m ready for it.” Twenty-nine years old. Size nine, one hundred and forty-one pounds.

Survivor: the “It’s not a diet, it’s just that after trying five antidepressants in seven months, and none of them work, and gaining ten pounds one month and another fifteen from the rest, and now I’m starting to feel better and my clothes are loose again” diet. Noticing. Thirty-six years old. One hundred and sixty-five pounds.

Or the “It’s not a diet, it’s just you buy these shake packets, and you’ll eat those for five days” diet. “No, really, it’s not a diet, it’s just lowering your blood sugar so you’re not at risk for diabetes and some people also drop weight on it” diet. Thirty-eight years old. I’ve lost count. 

And then, the “It’s not a diet, you just bless your food for it’s best purpose in your body, and you'll either gain or lose weight, whatever you want” diet. Forty-one years old. I can’t take it any more.

It turns out that the “bless your food” diet took me to my tipping point. After raging about why I need to be anything other than what and who I am, I spent a full year eating whatever the hell I wanted. Full, family-sized bags of kettle chips. Ice cream (I don’t even much care for ice cream). Chocolate. Every day. And not fancy cacao nibs in my smoothies: Cadbury’s family size bars. Whatever. I. wanted. Forty-two. My weight: who knows. My clothes still fit.

And it turns out that I crave vegetables. Not all the time: sometimes I crave meat. And bread. And sweet things. But by listening in, and not hating on myself, I feel some peace. I tend to eat when I’m hungry. And, when I’m hungry, I find food that fills me. Sometimes, it’s ultra-nourishing. Other times, it fills a gap. And that’s life.

I can’t say that my life-long diet-habits are over. I can say, though, that it feels a lot more humane and human to simply eat. Not to count and measure and obsess, and dislike “results.” Because that’s what I was doing. To simply eat feels good. To find love for my body feels good.

And I feel so, so much happier.