Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Be Soft

Sometimes we simply need a reminder to hold onto ourselves and not let the coldness and anger harden us.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

You Don't Know What You're Missing

People like to define each other. If I was to label myself, I'd say I am just a girl trying to find her way to the wild flowers. If other people were to label me, they'd call me a straight-edge vegan. It's hard for people to comprehend the no-drinking and drugs thing. Even more so when I tell them I've never been drunk. Never smoked a joint. Never even tried a cigarette. And that's fine. I get it. Mankind as a whole are all about indulging, and alcohol and marijuana cigarettes seem to be at the top of the list of awesome things to do.

To each their own.

But when it comes to being vegan, I'm often treated to an eye roll, groan and sarcastic comment. Bring vegan isn't something I've done to be cool. Yes, I understand it's all the rage with the hipsters - but I haven't eaten cheese in over twelve years. Suffice to say, this isn't a passing trend for me. This isn't a phase. Except, even when people understand that, there are still many individuals who scoff over how difficult I'm being. Like I'm screwing up all their plans. Granted, I'm not too sure how my being vegan effects anyone else but me - but it must, judging by how many people act this way.

Here's the thing, I don't preach. I never have. If someone would like to learn more about my diet or reasons behind my choice, I am more than willing to inform and share and be lovely about it. The reason I don't preach is because I don't want to be preached to. I don't want people shoving meat in my face and taunting me with it. (Yes, that does happen, more often than you might think)

In fact, people often say to me, "You don't know what you're missing."

Well, the truth is, I know exactly what I am missing. For the first seventeen years of my life, I ate meat. Every day of my life. I loved cheese and eggs and tall glasses of milk with my cookies. The reality is, I made a decision and the convenient days of eating whatever I damn well please are long over. In so many ways, life was easier. I didn't have to bring my own food to every function I attended. People didn't define me by my eating habits. I wasn't considered difficult. You see, eating meat was the way I was raised. It went with every meal. And I loved Whopper Wednesdays at Burger King.

But I also loved my dog.

Wait a second, how do those two tie together...well, let me explain.

One day, I sat down with my Great Dane cross, Patches, and had a bit of a heart-to-heart.

You see, Patches came into my life when I was born. And he grew up along side me. I can still feel the weight of his head in my lap. I can see the one random patch of brown fur on his back between his shoulder blades. I can smell the musky scent of his coat in my nose. And when I close my eyes, I hear his bark - deep and unmistakable. He was my first love. My best friend. Today I love him just as much as I did twelve years ago. He taught me unconditional love and that animals possess the full spectrum of emotions that we ourselves do. Guilt, trust, fear, happiness, grief - he felt those things, and it wasn't just a matter of anthropomorphism.

So, we were sitting out back on the steps. His head in my lap. My hands stroking his floppy ears. This was towards the end of his life, but he still had the spark in his brown eyes. That spark that said, "I love you." Loyal and honest and true, my love for him was instant from birth and as natural as taking a breath. It simply was, and I never questioned it. But as I sat there listening to him breathe, knowing he didn't have all that much time left in this world, I realized he meant more to me than most people I interacted with on a daily basis.

Now, I've always been a bit of a lone wolf. People have this innate ability to wound me. I'm sensitive. Not only to people on an individual level, but the world and mankind as a whole. And ever since I was a little girl, I've branched off from people and navigated towards animals. Find me at a family function, I'm playing with the dogs. See me at a party, I'm keeping the pets company. It's how I've always been. And how I always will be. Animals give me peace, which is a massive point when I don't actually feel like I belong here at all. Here being Earth. This world is just too harsh for me. And it was back then, when I sat on the porch with Patches and told him every secret I ever had, good and bad, and he didn't judge me.

And then I realized. Patches, the love of my life, was a dog. Sure, he was considered man's best friend, but his life meant less. Was worth less. In some countries, they'd even eat him. That thought appalled me. It shocked and horrified me, but it was the truth. He was meat. And people eat meat.

So, why was it okay for people to eat chicken, cow, and pig, but not dog and cat?

The answer was: it isn't okay. Not for me.

It felt hypocritical eating any kind of meat when I felt so strongly against someone consuming my dog. Because, in my heart, given the chance, I could love every animal on the planet. If, when I was born, I was given a piglet and I raised him, named him, loved him for years, there was no way I could eat him later on. It would break my heart. And from that moment forward, it didn't matter what sort of animal it was. It wasn't okay for me to consume it. I couldn't detach myself from it. Every animal was no longer a faceless, nameless nothing, but a pet, something I loved and respected, something who's life didn't mean less than mine. And what they produced, their milk and skin and eggs, was not mine to take, just as my skin and eggs and milk are not for anyone else to take.

People say, I don't know what I'm missing. But they are wrong. I know exactly what I'm missing - except, I'm not missing it at all. I simply made a decision. To be honest, it was the simplest one I've ever made.

Now I'm wondering how well it would go over if I started telling all the meat eaters that they don't know what they're missing.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Utter Piggery

I haven't ranted in a long time. Mostly because I've been trying to maintain my Zen. You know, the whole loving myself and all the creatures on this planet as I try to spread spreading joy while creating harmony between my head and heart business. Some days it comes easy. Other days, it's a bloody chore just getting out of bed.

Ever have one of those days? Where you just want to say eff it and pull the covers up over your heads? That's about Monday to Thursday for me. Just kidding. (Not really) Well, kind of.

The truth is, I don't even care that I'm about to wreck my awesome umpteen month rant-free-streak. What I am about to say is something that needs to be shouted from rooftops. This week, I've been tested. And I don't like being tested. Oh, but the people's have been out. Getting on my nerves. Poking. Prodding. It's almost as if they know I've been feeling under the weather. They have seen the chink in my armour. They have pounced. And now look what's happening. Words are spewing forth from my frenzied fingers as I create a virtual rant at least ten people are going to read.

Well, so be it. I give up. I give in. I give over. Which leads me into my rant...

People are pigs.

I mean, I don't want to insult pigs, because they are actually very clean comparatively. Unfortunately, we've managed to link pigs and disgustingness together for some inexplicable reason, kind of like how we associate snakes with deceitful behaviour. Totally not fair for the animals. But, when I say people are pigs, you all understand I don't mean they have cute curly tails or sweet wet snouts. No, I mean they are filthy, gross, dirty, loathsome creatures.

I'm using the broad stroke of the word 'people', by the way. I know a lot of individuals out there are lovely guys and gals who go out of their way to clean up after themselves and others. But on a whole, as in all of mankind, we are just nauseating. And I'm not even getting into how we mass destroy this planet. No, I'm talking about the smaller things. The kinds of things that make me want to punch people in the back of the head and run away, least they turn about and try to fight me. I'm really a lover, not a fighter, but people make me violent! They make me so mad I want to cry.

Yes, I cry when I'm angry. Get over it.

This week, I had the privilege of witnessing how piggish humans are.

First up, a retch worthy event I wish I could block from my memory. Since I can't, I'm handing it over to you. They say ladies are supposed to be cleaner than men, but after spending time in public washrooms for the "gentler sex" I've discovered women are barbaric. The things I have seen, the horrors I have witnessed, cannot be written down for fear the world would implode after learning about them. But this week, not only did I enter a stall that had fecal matter on the toilet seat (how does that even happen?), I also found myself standing in a stall, at my place of employment, that looked like a scene from a slasher flick.

How a woman managed to spread her menstrual blood over the toilet, wall, floor and door is beyond me. And why the hell didn't she clean it up? Not only is this gross, but it's completely uncalled for, and preventable. I had visions of the woman pulling out her tampon and twirling it over her head like a lasso.

The second instance of piggery didn't have anything to do with women or the monthly blood-fest in our lady gardens, but it did involve bodily fluid.

As some of you may know, I own a condo (gaff, apartment). I pay strata (maintenance) fees to live in this place. And they aren't cheap. Each year, they go up. And each year, I sob a little harder. The things is, if people weren't such heathens, our fees wouldn't be as high as they are. Except people either don't know how to be clean or they simply don't care. And people should care. We all interact and share this place and a little respect goes a long way. *cue Aretha Franklin*

This morning, in the underground, as I walked to my car, I noticed spit on the concrete. Gob. From someone's mouth! First of all, I hate spitting. I think it's disgusting and there isn't any reason for it. Swallow your spit. It lubricates your throat. And if there's something gross in your mouth, go to the bathroom and get rid of it the proper way. Don't hock a loogey on the ground for all to see, and possibly step in. So, now that you know my stance on this disgusting habit, you might understand why I was repulsed to see it in the parking garage. I mean, this isn't even outside. It's inside people! Do you spit on your living room carpet?

Actually, don't say anything. I fear what the answer would be.

But it didn't end there. In the hall, right outside my doorway, someone dropped their fast food. Did they pick it up? Nope. Did they kick it away from my door? Nope. Did they at least not step on the food and grind it into the mat? No, no they didn't. They stepped on the burger and every single one of the fries. How awesome is that? So awesome!

So, I repeat, people are pigs. (No offence to the pigs)

No wonder we can't clean this world up. How can we expect to get people to recycle and compost when they can't even pick up after themselves? How do we expect to reduce pollution when people aren't even capable of common decency?

And the worst part, I honestly think most people just don't care. It is laziness and this 'who gives a shit' attitude that makes me want to pull my hair out.

Of course, there are people who care. Who have respect. And I love them. I love the people who aren't just trying to live a cleaner, healthier, happier life, but who are going the distance.

Can't we all just go the distance?

Or at the very least, not shit on the toilet seat. Or, if we do, clean it up.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Love Is Good

The heart is a strong organ, high in demand, and relied upon to keep us alive. In the matter of organs, it's kind of a big deal. Without it, life isn't as lively. So to speak. Except, we kind of take it for granted. It beats day and night, but we don't count the pulses. And the thing is, it doesn't get weekends off, or go on holidays. You'll never see the heart planning a day at the beach for the Fourth of July or Canada Day. No, the heart is a work horse. Not only does it keep us alive, pumping blood through our bodies, but it also is the epicentre of who we are.

The heart is a home for our love.

But what is love? (Oh, good, another hippy blog!)

Yesterday, I was talking to my friend Rae-Anne and asked her what she thought love was. Unfortunately, I wanted a nice and simple answer, a couple words max, something to calm me and direct me back to my path when I've strayed off into frustration and my misanthropic tendencies start taking over. Sadly, she didn't have an easy answer. What a surprise. Much to the annoyance of my exasperated head and tested heart, we ended up talking about love for a couple of hours. Yes, I am a sucker for punishment.

She pointed out how love means something different depending on who you're talking to. A child would explain love in a very different manner than an eighty-year-old man who has never been married or a twenty-three year old who just fell head-over-idiotic-heels for the coolest dude at her college. The child might attribute hugs and bedtime stories to love, but the young woman might think of roses and fantastic sex.

And my friend also said you have to consider the types of love. Like how we feel about our dogs versus our boyfriends, mothers, children, friends, and booty-calls. That you don't harbour the same feelings for all of them. That there are changes in the degrees of your affections. You can love your dog unconditionally, but can you do the same for a person? Is a love for a child purer than the love for your spouse?

Well, those questions only prodded my heart and mind even more.

You see, we kind of got stuck on what love should be. We sort of figured there should be respect. And freedom. Trust. Ideally, love is natural and isn't forced or contrived. It'd be wonderful if it was easy and fun and sweet and came without worry, fear and doubt. But from what I can tell, the love manufactured by movies and books and television, the love so many of us are striving for, revolves around wants and needs and unrealistic demands and ridiculous grand gestures. To me, this misses the mark. It's what we fill our lives with in hopes of avoiding heartache, but it only ends up making us feel empty, and alone.

Love doesn't come from gifts, grand gestures or romantic encounters. But where does it come from?
It feels like a complex and deluded subject. But is it?

I kept coming back to the simple question, what is love? My mind has been spinning its wheels, right along side my heart, trying to come up with an answer. People say love cannot be defined, but I think it can. I think it is simpler than we give it credit for. It isn't so complex or mind-twisting or heart-wrenching. You see, I don't think there is room for hurt with love. Only understanding and peace.

To me, it isn't about being taken care of. It isn't about gifts, pet names, feeling protected or wanted or needed or cherished or adored. It isn't about sticking beside someone for twenty years through thick and thin. Love isn't expecting someone to shower you with affection every moment of every day. It isn't hugs, kisses or amazing sex. It isn't laying in bed eating cupcakes and listening to Tom Petty. It isn't.

There are no shoulds or coulds or woulds with love.

Stripped down, in its truest, simplest sense: Love Is Good.

It comes from a good place. Surrounded by good intentions. With good feelings. And it is given without reservation. It comes naturally. There is no room for ego. Or obligations. There is no fear or worry or pain or disappointment. There are no demands.

They say love never fails and that we should love one another. But more importantly, we need to love ourselves. It comes from inside us first. It isn't until we can be happy with ourselves that we can fully understand what it means to unconditionally love. Then it will come for everyone we make contact with. It will come with understanding, patience, compassion, kindness and freedom. And forgiveness. It comes with forgiveness and never leaves. It will envelope the earth, and all the creatures big and small.

Love is simple. And, if unpolluted by our unrealistic expectations, it is easy, like laughter. It is constant like the sun, moon and stars. And natural as breathing. It is as strong as the raging rivers and rolling seas. And as refreshing as raindrops hitting our upturned faces. Immovable as the mountains. Deep as the ocean. Expansive as the universe. It is in every sunrise and sunset. It is in us all.

Love is good.

Or at least that's how I see it.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

What Goes Around

This morning, about an hour ago, I stumbled across something on Facebook that made me pause and think. Yes, I have to pause to think. It's early, for crying out loud, you're lucky I am thinking at all before five in the morning.

Regardless, it was a simple enough thing. A picture that said: Karma - I Believe What Goes Around Comes Around.

This, in and of itself, is fine. There is nothing new about this saying. It didn't bowl me over or knock me on my arse. I wasn't struck dumb by how unique or refreshing this quote was. No, I was distracted by what the person who posted it posted along with it. In all her passionate glory, she said how she couldn't wait until the bad things started happening to all the assholes who have done her wrong.

Well, let's just take a moment to think about that. (Yes, another pause. It deserves it.)

Karma - and the saying of 'what goes around comes around' - always meant, to me, that good things will happen to good people and bad things to bad people. Now, with that in mind, you might understand why I stopped to ponder over what this woman wrote.

Here's where I stand. If you take joy from another person's suffering, whether that be someone who hurt you or not, it sort of implies you aren't exactly going to be fairing well on the old Karmatic scale yourself. The whole purpose of Karma, and this saying, is to reassure you that people will either be blessed or punished depending on their actions - that you don't have to concern yourself with 'getting someone back' for the harm they have caused you, that the order of the world will pay them in return for what they have done. Not to mention, Karma kind of promotes the idea of actually forgiving, forgetting, doing nice and pleasant and lovely things for people, because you want the good Karma to come back to you.

Or maybe I am way off base?

It seems to me there are a lot of people out there (there being the treacherous terrains of the world) who are comforted by the pain of others. This is, if nothing else, counter-productive and goes completely against the whole 'Karma is a bitch' attitude, because getting pleasure from another person's pain, even if that person keyed your car or slept with your ex-boyfriend, is breeding negative thoughts, feelings and contributing to your own personal bad karma.

There's another saying that I think goes hand-in-hand with this one. Rise above it. Now, this doesn't mean you ride about on a horse saying pompous things to other people, looking down your nose at them. It doesn't mean you post celebratory statuses on Facebook and Twitter when someone who hurt you 'gets theirs'. And it certainly doesn't mean you sit back and wait patiently for the day when all your enemies are put in their place. No. In fact, that's actually the opposite of rising above it. That's stooping below it, and, if I may be so blunt, acting like a complete fool.

"Oh, but Tyson, I've seen you go toe-to-toe with a vast array of people who have annoyed, irked, irritated, and pissed you off. Haven't you ever wished ill-will on someone who has hurt you?"

Of course I have! I'm no saint. My halo is not only tarnished and crooked, but has been misplaced from time-to-time. We all have found a smug bit of satisfaction in knowing someone who tore us down, damaged our self-esteem and rallied their troops against us has slipped, fallen, skinned their knee or gotten egg on their face. But those days are my past.

Not only do I spend my time trying to understand the actions of people, but I work to let go of the anger and frustration I myself have. Why cling to it? In the end, these feelings of wanting someone to suffer as we ourselves have suffered are completely toxic. And backwards. And derailing. Could you imagine what this world would look like if we all forgave our petty past grudges and let go of our pain?

Me neither!

On top of all of this, I've done some bad things. I suppose that comes as a terrible shock to you, but I have. Things I am ashamed of. Things I wish I could take back. Things that used to keep me up at night. So, I figure I have a bit of bad karma coming my way. And when that bad karma strikes, I don't want people dancing around and eating cake in celebration. No need for someone to send me a 'you got yours' card in the mail. Because I am perfectly aware of what I have done wrong and recognize that amends must be made. Gloating, laughing people need not rub it in.

You see, our paths are long. It goes without saying that we are going to mess up along the way. I am not your judge and jury. I am my own. Which is why I am focused on the bad things I've done. Not the bad things that others have done.

All I have to say is, leave it to karma to sort out. It isn't until we start wishing the best for others that others will start wishing the best for us.

Monday, June 11, 2012

With Unbearable Sadness, I Say Goodbye

First, I will start with the truth. It's been a long, haphazard haul for me and Kobo.

We came together about a year ago. At first, it was rocky. I didn't want to recognize the importance of him. He was too stubborn to accommodate all my needs, even though he reassured me he could. There were lost documents, synching issues, formatting errors and, worst of all, files he simply wouldn't read. Not to mention the communication issues. How was I supposed to understand the difference between 'sleep mode' and 'power off'?

But then we hit our stride. I changed for him. I only used RTF and EPub, made sure to charge him often, and told him on a daily basis how much easier he made my life. And, in return, he didn't fail me. He made my life easier. You see, he opened my eyes to the possibility that BETA reading didn't have to be a chore. We found a groove.

Me - sitting on the exercise bike peddling away.
Him - perched on the bike, allowing me to read as I worked.

Unfortunately, like so many great relationships in life, ours has come to an end. Too soon, really. The hardest part is that this is all out of my control now. You see, Kobo wasn't built to withstand me. I play rough. I'm clumsy. Accidents happen.

Sadly, in this day and age, there is no room for oopsies with technology.

Up until this point it has been unbearable to talk about, but today I found the courage to come here and tell you my story. And to pass along the news that Kobo is no more. We spent one last wonderful night together, cuddled up in bed, him pleasing me, and me taking what he had to offer. It got late. Maybe I was too selfish. Exhaustion crept in. My eyes closed. Safety precautions were not taken. And the light went out.

The next morning, tragedy struck.

Like the careless baboon I am, I rolled over and crawled out of bed. This is where it gets hard to recount. In the process my Neanderthalic knee crunched down on Kobo...the sound was horrifying. A gritting, crunchy, snappy sound that will be ingrained on my brain forever. Instantly, I knew.

Kobo was dead.

There were tears - mine. But I assure you, Kobo did not suffer. He was gone too quick. It was painless. I've kept his lifeless body on my night stand in hopes he'd come back to me, but I fear there are no miracles to bring him back. It is times like these that I am hit with the cold, hard reality that there really is no magic in this world. What comprises the stories I weave and read does not really exist at all.

It is time to say goodbye, though they are so hard to utter. But the healing must start.

Please do not think I will be rushing out to try and replace Kobo. At this point, I don't think he can be. No, he meant too much to me. We fought through so much together. The ups and downs will be remembered fondly. And he will be missed.

Here is where I plead you to take care of your loved one. Always remember, safety first. I would hate for something like this to happen to you.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Set Your Heart To It

The other day, I wrote a simple sentence to someone: I can do anything I set my heart to.

It wasn't until he pointed out that the saying is actually "I can do anything I set my mind to" that I realized my error.

But, after a couple moments of pondering it, I decided it wasn't an error at all. Setting my mind to something won't ensure results, because if my heart isn't in it, the drive isn't there. There will be no passion for it. And passion is something we all need, whether it be for art, music, food, movies or anything else that evokes a sense of excitement and enjoyment.

These days we seem to be slaves to our heads. We do all this wondering and analysing. And some of us, a lot of us, completely neglect our hearts. It's all about pro and con lists. Over thinking. Trying to find the point of the matter.

Sometimes the matter has no point. Sometimes it simply is.

Once upon a time, I told a friend to listen to his heart, that it will guide him. Yes, I know Jiminy Cricket told us to always let our conscience be our guide, but in the the original story he was crushed to death. I think I've proven my point there with that random piece of nonsense. Okay, here's the thing, I know some of us have bad hearts, but if you aren't completely evil, your heart will tell you the right thing to do. I mean, it's in there, beating, keeping you alive, pumping blood through your veins.

I tend to think we owe it at least a little attention.

Not too long ago, I decided to try to move through life with love. I set my heart to it. And life has been very different.

You see, it's hard hurting people. It tears your soul apart a little bit at a time. Tiny rips appear in our fabric of being. And over time these holes and slits grow, making it impossible to function. Making existing seem so bloody hard. We hurt each other for all sorts of reasons and it damages ourselves and each other, but it's important to recognize and understand the motivations behind the vindictiveness we harbour and the intentional harm we cause. It often comes from a lack of knowing where we belong and of fear and unhappiness. It's hard to fault people when their misery makes looking at their own reflection impossible.

Lately, I've enjoyed looking in the mirror. Not in the 'look how big my head is' egotistical way. It isn't about a pretty face or rockin' body. It's about heart. And love. I'm not moving through life trying to teach people a lesson any more. I'm not here out of spite, anger, or sadness. I'm not sticking around to damn the man or show anyone I can't be beaten down. I'm here for love. To spread it around.

There are hard days. People can be so infuriating. But if I keep moving forward. If I keep moving with love. Everything will be okay. I've set my heart to it.

And I can do anything I set my heart to.

Monday, June 4, 2012

It's Camp Time!

This month I am looking forward to doing some great writing. Okay, okay. I'm looking forward to writing. The greatness will be determined by what it is I actually write about. Apparently, and I didn't know this, June is writing camp month over on the National Novel Writing Site. And since you don't want to hear all the gory details from me, I'll send you over here where you can read all about it yourself.

Now, how did I get suckered into going to writing camp?


You all remember Noelle from when I took a trip down to Georgia and a plethora of other occasions. She's my sister, my friend, my companion. She's a pain in the ass, really. See, she gets awfully competitive. And, I know, in my heart of hearts, her innocent "Are you going to write with me for June?" is actually, "I'm going to kick your ass and finish my fifty thousand words before you, Tyson!" And yes, she does use that type of language. I'm just as appalled as you are.

So, what do I have to do...well, at this moment, come up with a freakin' idea!

And then I have to catch up, because, by my count, I am behind by four days.

I'm counting today as a write off because I feel like someone hit me in the head with a bag full of beans. I don't know if that's ever happened, certainly not to me. And I don't know what it would feel like, but death got in a semi-truck and ran me over. Then reversed.

Well, that's what I'm up to. Are you doing NANOJUNOCAMPO? (I made that up, but basically I'm asking if you will be attending camp with me.)