Tuesday, August 18, 2009

No Previous Experience



I am always on the lookout for Canadian authors I have yet to discover. It was while reading a fellow blog called ChickLiteracy that I became intrigued by my next new find, Elspeth Cameron.

Now, this author is by no means new to the world of Canadian non-fiction or biographies or academia, no, Elspeth is simply new to me. Having authored such biographies as Robertson Davies: An Appreciation, The Other Side of Hugh MacLennan and Irving Layton, A Portrait (I have reserved the latter, it shall be my next read), she manages to tell her very own life story with ease. I was absorbed in this book from the start and finished it the next day.

No Previous Experience is an intriguing and engaging personal memoir by Elspeth Cameron about self love, which she discovers rather late in life (not unlike me). This life account is a gripping and honest story about turning your back on the socially constructed expectations and really finding your happiness. For Elspeth this is discovered through a relationship with someone who is her intellectual and emotional equal and who also happens to be a woman.

Although this story is most known for the ‘coming out’ of Elspeth Cameron, for me it was less about the lesbian relationship and more about, well, the relationship. She fell in love with someone. She struggled with judgment and self doubt and a myriad of other outside forces that whispered their interference. She was still married at the time to her third husband. She stayed in this abusive relationship to her husband, managed to get out, but then returned, full of hope. This, for me, is likely the strongest element of the book that I related to, for I, too, have had such relationships. I, too, have either stayed out of fear, or left and then returned, only to find that this was a mistake. It was after reading this book that I was able to see that it was hope, not weakness, that made me return, and it was time for me to let that go. There was just something about reading that lesson, sharing it with the author, that empowered me.

Elspeth Cameron is reminded, and in turn reminds the reader, to cherish female friendships, to hold them closer than any others. In the book, Janice Dickin McGinnis is this life changing female friend and she says to Elspeth,

“Our society is set up to keep women from connecting. We’re all trained to think catching a man is a big deal. Says who? It’s men who want to get married. Women are the ones who sue for divorce. In 80 percent of cases these days. I think. As long as we buy into this, women will view other women only as competitors for the big prize. Divide and rule. That’s what the patriarchy has managed to accomplish. Behind this, of course, is a tremendous fear of the power of women.”

A strong message delivered with courage and honesty, I recommend to you No Previous Experience.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Namaste

From the blog for Namaste Publishing

The Meaning of Namaste

Namaste” is a Sanskrit word that acknowledges the inestimable value of each individual. It is often used to greet and honor others. Translation: “As I acknowledge and honor the Spirit within myself, so do I acknowledge and honor the Spirit within you.”

The extended meaning of the word has been written as: “I honor the place in you in which the entire universe dwells. I honor the place in you which is love, of truth, of light, and of peace. When you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, we are one.” To all our readers, I say, “Namaste”.

I honor the place in you which is love, love of truth, of light, and of peace.

Hamsa
Janet

Monday, August 10, 2009

The "Hello" Connection

Running along the waterfront during my lunch hour today, I was drawn to the people there, in particular, their eyes. On this sunny hot afternoon, the trail was peppered with kids out of school blading, biking, and many were escaping the heat in the river. There were walkers, a few runners and those using the memorial benches that are intermittently placed along the way. There are times during my run when I come in rather close quarters with others enjoying the use of the trail. At these moments, when my eyes connect with someone else, there is always a friendly hello, may it be by way of a smile, a simple nod, or the word uttered outright. (I wonder many times how loud I am since I listen to rather fast loud music during the run).

I commonly enjoy this familiar connection with the strangers I share my day with. I was reminded that everywhere I have lived or visited I have had this relationship with the locals. I scanned my memories for all of the different places I have been in Canada where I have made this connection. From the small fishing towns in British Columbia, to the bigger cities on the Island and even in Vancouver, a simple ‘hello’ connection was always reciprocated and appreciated. Here in Ontario, I, above all, enjoy my ‘hello’ connection in smaller towns as it can lead to a discussion and then a friendship. I have experienced this friendly connection in many average sized towns, in addition to the larger ones enjoying the response in Ottawa, London and Kingston. The only exception being Toronto where I was pursued by many of those I ‘connected’ with, some just looked at me as if I were a crazy person, some pushed me to accept a flyer, and one stranger scared the hell out of me after he followed me onto the subway. It was dangerous. I quickly learned not to practice this human relationship there! But don’t get me wrong, I still love that city. This is just a warning, ‘when in Toronto…’

Toronto aside, I continue to make my ‘hellos’ part of my day.

Of special note today, I met a blind man wearing large dark sunglasses playing a striking bongo under the train bridge. He was not busking there, just playing. I had to pause my IPOD as I approached. He played beautifully. He could hear me coming; he turned, smiled and nodded in my direction as I slowed my pace. I uttered my ‘hello’. He stopped playing for an instant, raised his hands to the bridge he was under and praised the acoustics of this location. We chatted briefly, inconsequential daily stuff, I did advise him that the train was due in a few minutes, he was excited about that. He made me excited about it too. I could envision his sensation when the train rushed by, the thunderous noise the train would make, the shake it would create in the earth under the bridge, this man was excited to experience this, feel it.

I resumed my run with a smile and an uplifting that I really cannot explain. Although I could not see his eyes, I saw this man, and we connected.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Freedom

Change your thinking
Let new experience
Be your torch
Chloe liked Olivia
Your torch now lit
Let this experience
Change your world

Take the torch
With courage tell it
Forge ahead of all
Chloe liked Olivia
She will forge further
With courage tell her
How to take her torch

Take truth and freedom
Your mind to the edge
“Fullness of expression”
Chloe liked Olivia
Full of expression
Step out to the edge
Freedom equals truth

Quote from A Room of One's Own, Virginia Woolf

Freedom to express, try The NaiSaiKu Challenge