Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing

A couple of years ago, one of my New Years resolutions was to start meditating. Even back then, everyone seemed to be talking about the amazingly restorative powers of meditation. But how was I going to accomplish this? The first quarter is a very heavy travel season for me at work. Almost immediately after the Christmas holidays end, I am off on my first long haul flight of the year.

I found a resource through the Tim Ferris podcast. Her name is Tara Brach. I love the timber of her voice. I was calmed by her guided meditation and felt good when I was finished. I could easily commit to a 20 minute session from my hotel room. That is the only upside of travelling alone. No extra responsibilities.

Early on in my practice, one of Tara’s meditations used the following passage from Rumi. I liked this so much, I wrote it out from the podcast audio. (I didn’t realize I could just google a few of the lines and have the poem instantly).

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. Ideas, language, even the phrase each other doesn’t make any sense. – Rumi, Sufi poet

What I learned today, from a review of Tara Brach’s book called, “Radical Acceptance“, was very interesting. She writes, (in part):

“My guiding assumption was ‘Something is fundamentally wrong with me,’ and I struggled to control and fix what felt like a basically flawed self. I drove myself in academics, was a fervent political activist and devoted myself to a very full social life. I avoided pain (and created more) with an addiction to food and a preoccupation with achievement.”

The reason I find this so interesting is that for many years, I have had a similar guiding assumption about myself. Though, I never took the time to stop and think too much about it. I also didn’t connect the dots. My issue with eating too much of the wrong kind of food was one thing. Driving myself professionally at a very high level was another. Sacrifices I was willing to make for my job, another thing again. They were all separate and unique line items. I listed these things rather than connecting them.

Well maybe I would have come to this analysis sooner than today if I had kept up my meditation practice. Sadly I dropped it because I felt it was too much extra time on top of the 30 minutes I had set aside for training. Hmmm, that reasoning seems so weak as I write it now.

Anyway, join me – out beyond ideas of rightdoing and wrongdoing. I’ve published an e-book called, “Fruitless at 40: Rediscovering My Creative Power“.

If you have not expressed your voice on the subject of creativity, I would love to hear your thoughts in my survey.

I am always interested to hear your thoughts, either here in the comments or Christine@dailycreatives.com

Happy Creating!

Dust if you Must

I’ve always disliked dusting. I blame it on my allergy. It makes me sneeze. And it is so dirty. It is also pointless. It’s just going to accumulate again. Do you really dust it away? Or do you just move it into the air and then it settles after you walk away?

As the poem says, there is a “life to lead”. So many more fun things to do, rather than dust.

Dust If You Must
by Rose Milligan

Dust if you must, but wouldn’t it be better
To paint a picture, or write a letter,
Bake a cake, or plant a seed;
Ponder the difference between want and need?

Dust if you must, but there’s not much time,
With rivers to swim, and mountains to climb;
Music to hear, and books to read;
Friends to cherish, and life to lead.

Dust if you must, but the world’s out there
With the sun in your eyes, and the wind in your hair;
A flutter of snow, a shower of rain,
This day will not come around again.

Dust if you must, but bear in mind,
Old age will come and it’s not kind.
And when you go (and go you must)
You, yourself, will make more dust.

  • 10 Tips For Dusting – OMG, I’m not doing all these things…no wonder my house is so dusty!
  • Sorry, I can’t add 2 more references for how and why you should be dusting….get outside and have some fun!

Filling my cup

Years ago I was sitting with a dear friend on vacation and she was talking about her work. She mentioned an annual conference with great anticipation. She described it as a time when she “filled her cup”. It was important to learn in such a way that her personal reserves of energy, creativity and enthusiasm could be filled up. Otherwise, what would she have to give to others?

I thought about that for a long time. I wished that my work provided me with that kind of opportunity. Well, wishing was not going to fill my cup, so I found a conference on my own. That was WDS2014 and WOW is all I can say about that. As the conference ended, a discount for the next year was extended and I immediately signed up. I finally found a place where everyone, (and I mean everyone), was nice. They were interesting to talk to and freely expressed their deepest desires, for themselves and a keen interest to serve others. The main stage presentations gave me insights into a whole range of topics, some of which I didn’t know I was interested in. (I could rave on about WDS, but that is not the point here).

Recently my same friend and I were chatting about “filling cups” and she mentioned a further portion of that idea. That was the saucer. Always put a saucer under your cup so that when it overflows, (I was only trying to put something in my cup, I had no idea it might overflow), you have reserves with which to help others!

A quick internet search later, I found the poem below. Enjoy and may your cup overflow!

“My Cup Has Overflowed”

I’ve never made a fortune, and it’s probably too late now.
But I don’t worry about that much, I’m happy anyhow
And as I go along life’s way,
I’m reaping better than I sowed.
I’m drinking from my saucer,
Cause my cup has overflowed. 

Haven’t got a lot of riches,
and sometimes the going’s tough
But I’ve got loving ones all around me,
and that makes me rich enough. 
I thank God for his blessings,
and the mercies He’s bestowed.
I’m drinking from my saucer,
Cause my cup has overflowed.

I remember times when things went wrong,
My faith wore somewhat thin.
But all at once the dark clouds broke,
and the sun peeped through again.
So Lord, help me not to gripe,
about the tough rows I have hoed.
I’m drinking from my saucer,
Cause my cup has overflowed.

If God gives me strength and courage,
When the way grows steep and rough.
I’ll not ask for other blessings,
I’m already blessed enough.

And may I never be too busy,
to help others bear their loads.
Then I’ll keep drinking from my saucer,
Cause my cup has overflowed.

Author: unknown


Winter wind

As the wind howls outside tonight, I am taken back to the poems of Dennis Lee from Alligator Pie. It was probably about 1977 when I first came across this book. The combination of kooky illustrations and rhythmic prose provided hours of entertainment, old school style. We stared at the drawing, read and re-read the words, it all making a little more sense each time. It might be days or weeks until you spoke to a friend about the book, if at all. These were quiet times, except when the wind blew.

Bed Song

When the wind is blowing hard,
Like a giant in the yard,
I’m glad my bed is warm;
I’m glad my bed is warm.

When the rain begins to rain,
Like a giant with a pain,
I’m glad my bed is warm;
I’m glad my bed is warm.

When the snowstorm starts to howl,
Like a giant in a towel,
I’m glad my bed is warm,
I’m glad my bed is warm.

And when the giants realise,
That no one’s scared of their disguise,
They go to bed and close their eyes.

They’re glad their beds are warm;
They’re glad their beds are warm.


First Frost

It is official at my house. The warm days are gone for 2013. We had our first frost on Thursday night.

Every day up until this point, I like to fantasize that we can still get some decent heat. It would be great to get more than brief moments. A burst of sun on a patio, but the angle is wrong. The light is there, but the effect is not the same, we have tilted away.

The signs are all around me, no matter how I wish to blink my eyes and be back in the long lazy days of 2 months ago.

  • The central heating has been turned on. My husband broke down in the first week of October. My daughter thinks she needs even more heat down in her room.
  • The rug colors have changed from the bright greens of Summer to the reds of Winter. (That changes up the whole look of the house every 6 months).
  • My garden is almost tucked in for the winter. A bit more trimming to do.
  • The patio furniture is ready for a big tarp, the cushions are in storage.
  • The deck will get a long runner of carpet to allow a trail of safe passage through the frost.
  • My kids have fallen back into the routine of school. The field trips have started. First one on Thursday to go skating. (Indoor rinks here on the Coast).
  • Evening family movies start-up again. With the long days of summer, we spent all our time outside, doing stuff.
  • Knitting big chunky wooly things doesn’t seem crazy anymore. I knit all summer too, looks a bit strange at the beach.
  • Nature puts on a fantastic show before heading into the long slumber.
  • The “V” formations of birds heading South are tracking overhead.
  • The last days of the Farmer’s markets, offering so many kinds of squash!
  • We start to feel more introspective. We read, we learn.

Steve Sabol wrote this poem called, “The Autumn Wind”. A humorous look at the weather which can either beat down your mood or cause a stiffening of resolve to soldier on.

The Autumn Wind is a pirate,
Blustering in from sea,
With a rollocking song, he sweeps along,
Swaggering boisterously.

His face is weather beaten.
He wears a hooded sash,
With a silver hat about his head,
And a bristling black mustache.

He growls as he storms the country,
A villain big and bold.
And the trees all shake and quiver and quake,
As he robs them of their gold.

The Autumn Wind is a raider,
Pillaging just for fun.
He’ll knock you ’round and upside down,
And laugh when he’s conquered and won.

The last day

We have a couple of very happy children today. It was the last day of school and is now the eve of summer break.

I can still remember how that felt. There was euphoria, (although I didn’t know what that word meant in Grade 4) from the long year finally being over. There was a little melancholy at the thought of not seeing dear friends for a while. Anticipation for all the fun and free time during the long summer days ahead. And mostly a sense of accomplishment for the reasonably good grades achieved.

It is times like these that I wish the passage of time in the corporate world could have a bit more ceremony. Instead of scaling back and almost relaxing a bit before holidays, we have the pedal to the metal working long hours to try to not have so much work piled up when we return. It is no wonder people don’t take long enough holidays or relax enough while away.

It goes back to what Robert Fulghum said about learning everything he needed to know in kindergarten:

ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sandpile at Sunday School. These are the things I learned:

  • Share everything.
  • Play fair.
  • Don’t hit people.
  • Put things back where you found them.
  • Clean up your own mess.
  • Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
  • Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
  • Wash your hands before you eat.
  • Flush.
  • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
  • Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
  • Take a nap every afternoon.
  • When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
  • Be aware of wonder.
  • Remember the little seed in the styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
  • Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die.
  • So do we.
  • And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.
  • Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.
  • Take any of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or your government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm.
  • Think what a better world it would be if all – the whole world – had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had a basic policy to always put thing back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.
  • And it is still true, no matter how old you are – when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

It appears that smart adults are forgetting most of what we learned as little children. Maybe it is time to post these reminders back on our office walls and put something special into our working days. It might be surprising to see the kind of dividends these kind of endeavours would pay out.

For Sale

There has been some drama in our house tonight. It started with the realization – there was some serious unfinished homework. At 6:15pm tonight with dinner still being cooked, my son was frantically looking for a poem to memorize and dramatize for a class presentation tomorrow.

There was, of course, ample opportunity to do this over the weekend. Even by doing that, he was really cramming because the assignment was given weeks ago. Some non-inventive excuses were thrown out. An attempt was being made to choose a poem from a book in the house by Rudyard Kipling. Like that was possible to memorize in a few hours!

I basically escaped. I couldn’t see a way to speak nicely to either my son or my husband. Groceries had to be done, so I dashed for the door. If nothing else, they would have at least eaten by the time I came back and hopefully devised a plan that didn’t involve letting our son “learn the hard way“.

When I returned, my son was calmly memorizing “For Sale” by Shel Silverstein. The poem talks about selling your sister to the highest bidder. There are times when he wishes he could do just that. Not a stretch to memorize this poem.

All is well that ends well, I guess.

We are more

Keeping with the post Olympic theme from the last post, it is essential to include the slam poet Shane Koyczan. I’m sure this poem didn’t make a pivotal difference, but along with everything else that went well for Canadians during the games, it is sure nice to take these words with us in memory.

The brilliance of Canadian slam poet Shane Koyczan:
We Are More

Define Canada.
You might say the home of The Rocket or The Great One
who inspired little 9’s and little number 99’s
But we’re more than hockey and fishing lines
off the rocky coast of the Maritimes
and some say what defines us is something as simple as
‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’
and as for “You’re Welcome” – well, we say that too
But we are more than genteel and civilized
we are an idea in the process of being realized
we are young
we are a culture strung together, then woven
into a tapestry
and the design is what makes us
more than the sum totals
of our history
we are an experiment going right for a change
with influences that range from ‘A’ to ‘Zed’
and yes, we say ‘zed’ instead of ‘zee’
we are the colors of Chinatown, the coffee of Little Italy
we dream so big
that there are some that would call our ambition
an industry
because we are vineyards
of good year after good year
we reforest what we clear
because we believe
in generations beyond our own
knowing now that so many of us have grown past what we used to be
we can stand here today
filled with all the hope people have
when they say things like,
because we are more than a laundry list of
things to do and places to see
more than hills to ski and countryside ponds to skate
we are the abandoned hesitation
of all those who can’t wait
we are first-rate greasy spoon diners and healthy-living cafes
a country
that is all the ways you choose to live
a nation
that can give you variety
because we are choices
we are millions upon millions of voices shouting
‘Keep exploring’
we are more
we are the surprise the world has in store for you
it’s true
Canada is the ‘What’ in ‘What’s New’
so don’t let your luggage define your travels, each life
unravels differently
and experiences are
what make up the colors of our tapestry
we are
The True North Strong and Free
and what’s more
is that we didn’t just say it –
we made it be

Leaving behind a thank-you note

Grant and Christine at Cypress Bowl

As we passed the first anniversary of the Vancouver/Whistler 2010 Olympic Games, we can’t help but look around the West Coast and be a little bit proud. We hosted a pretty good party here in Canada.

Being up at Cypress Bowl last weekend and enjoying the legacy of the games is just one of the many benefits.

It is a good thing that the cameras of the world are not here right now to see just how much snow we can really get in the Coastal Mountains!

One of the final reports that hit the news wire at the end of the Games was from Brian Williams of NBC. No more explanation is really required.

Enjoy the read!


Brian Williams, anchor and managing editor

After tonight’s broadcast and after looting our hotel mini-bars, we’re going to try to brave the blizzard and fly east to home and hearth, and to do laundry well into next week.  Before we leave this thoroughly polite country, the polite thing to do is leave behind a thank-you note.

Thank you, Canada:

For being such good hosts.

For your unfailing courtesy.

For your (mostly) beautiful weather.

For scheduling no more than 60 percent of your float plane departures at the exact moment when I was trying to say something on television.

For not seeming to mind the occasional (or constant) good-natured mimicry of your accents.

For your unique TV commercials — for companies like Tim Hortons — which made us laugh and cry.

For securing this massive event without choking security, and without publicly displaying a single automatic weapon.

For having the best garment design and logo-wear of the games — you’ve made wearing your name a cool thing to do.

For the sportsmanship we saw most of your athletes display.

For not honking your horns. I didn’t hear one car horn in 15 days — which also means none of my fellow New Yorkers rented cars while visiting.

For making us aware of how many of you have been watching NBC all these years.

For having the good taste to have an anchorman named Brian Williams on your CTV network, who turns out to be such a nice guy.

For the body scans at the airport which make pat-downs and cavity searches unnecessary.

For designing those really cool LED Olympic rings in the harbor, which turned to gold when your athletes won one.

For always saying nice things about the United States…when you know we’re listening.

For sharing Joannie Rochette with us.

For reminding some of us we used to be a more civil society.

Mostly, for welcoming the world with such ease and making lasting friends with all of us.