Rain, Always

Inspired by a beautiful man – a poem by Nancy Fijan

 

Luscious drops descend on us like a thousand kisses –
Upwardly we gaze with curious intensity,
smiling and glancing at each other,
knowing.
With aqua pura from the heavens,
we cleanse our minds
and release our sins.
We are no longer cold, and tired, and old.

 

Landslides of tears, for days gone by, and for days to come,
Make us feel, deeply, from our still beating hearts –
a riotous passion,
an uncommon sadness,
and a boundless bliss.
And for today –
your angelic soul silently shines
from your glistening eyes.

 

Lifting our loving spirits, the velvet sound of
earthly mortality
lulls –
Clarity arrives with the ping of each wet timeless charm.
Quenching our rapture as we bathe in warmly soothing rain –
Ours
is the quintessential existence of prolific substance,
always.

The Day They Came

In my final year of high school, we learned about one of the most complex and controversial leaders in the early history of Canada, Louis Riel – an influential Métis leader who sought to preserve Métis rights and culture and led two rebellions against the government of Canada to protect the people – the Red River Rebellion of 1869 and the North-West Rebellion of 1885. He was captured, convicted and hung for high treason, and is also said to be the founder of the province of Manitoba, which now celebrates him each year with a public holiday held in February.

It was the first time I began to understand how disconnected human beings can be in their own humanity. Perhaps I was naïve in thinking that we should all be able to get along, no matter our origins, beliefs and daily routines – and embrace each other from a place of love, curiosity and giving rather than from hate, fear and taking.

One of the assignments we had to complete was to write something – e.g. letter, poem, news article, etc. – reflecting what it was like to be living during that time in Canadian society. I chose to write a poem from the point of view of a young indigenous woman, 18 years of age – the same age as I was then.

For reasons unknown, I never gave it a title. But 20 years after high school, I made a pilgrimage to Louis Riel’s grave at Saint-Bonafice Cathedral in Winnipeg, Manitoba to pay my respects. This history has had a profound and deeply rooted impact on me – shaping my core beliefs of inclusion of all and potential in everyone.

After reading my poem the other day to my sparkle and shine sister, Trina Maher – an Indigenous Inclusion Expert and Member of the Mattagami First Nation in Ontario – she graciously offered this title, “The Day They Came”.  She encouraged me to publish it, especially now, when Canadian society is coming to terms with, including sharing, listening and understanding, what happened in Indian Residential Schools through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, a component of the Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.

This federal commission was established to ensure the voices of all residential school survivors are heard and, with their consent, recorded as historical record and needed to develop a reconciliation agenda. These testimonies resulted in a report with 92 recommendations for action which is now monitored by the new National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba.

To learn more:  

http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/index.php?p=10

http://nctr.ca/map.php

 

What in history has had such a profound and deeply rooted impact on you, shaping your beliefs?

 

The Day They Came 

A poem written by Nancy Fijan on February 6, 1987
~ with the title graciously offered by Trina Maher on March 13, 2018

 

They came in as gentle rains
Bringing knowledge, God and peace,
She glanced.

 

They grew food and shelters built
Changing her surrounding home,
She watched.

 

They taught from their spiritual books
Revealing an unknown god,
She glared.

 

They left by slaughtering her elders
Exposing their true purpose,
She cried.

Fire and Light

A few inconspicuous thoughts on unleashing the fire within and lighting up the world ~

 

That feeling you get – a tingle or a shiver, or an awesome boom.

That spark of deeply burning flames from the far reaches of your soul – it’s there, breath in and feel it.

You just know.

This is what I’m destined to do, or to pursue, or to become.

It’s being certain, even with a furry beast of fear lurking around in your mind.

Pure joy fills every miniscule pore of you – you burst with illumination.

When mastering what is core to you, it feels as natural as exploring an unknown wilderness.

You know you will be safe, and you follow and watch the sun – every sunrise, every sunset.

To dare and to try with tenacious resolve, you become lionhearted in your own quiet way.

You are doing it for you, because you can – inch by inch, mile by mile.

You move forward with or without the luxury of support or platitudes of praise.

You dream, you create, you perform – and a piece of you imprints on the world, forever.

The spectacle of your heart and soul is aglow with a precocious luster.

You exude what it means to radiate as you wrap the world with your original goodness.

You are fire and light.

Eating Pancakes

Inspired by a transformative year of sharing and growing with a shining light in my life, a beautiful man – a poem by Nancy Fijan

 

Instant connection when the world is falling apart – you’re safe, no fear;

Exposing the deepest of meanings behind the saddest of songs,

Gentle soul, you, chivalrous heart –

Cheering on a zipped spirit stranded on a bus, a million miles from home –

Virtual streaming assistant at your side every inch of the way.

Creation of rock star moments over many sleepless joyous nights –

Tweaking and fine tuning – songs and sounds, always yours – pure in delight.

Tenderly listening to hours of life stories bravely told –

Unfathomable, undeserved selfish cruelty, barely survived.

Unwinding with beautiful smiles, accentuated laughs – rendering heated desires

Soothing numbing years of trampy troubles over spent.

Sharing our dirtiest of secrets and our wildest of dreams –

Greatness in trust and excitement in paving new world gold.

When the scariest of news suddenly lands two ways – we hold on forever,

Telling each other it’s going to be ok – a gentle lady and her strong knight.

Cherishing magical mornings together – eating pancakes, enjoying every bite.

Every Day Your Future Can Begin

There are two phrases that caught my attention last year – both have become affirmations of mine as part of my self-care routine. One is the title of this blog – more about this uplifting source of musical inspiration at the end. And the other I read in a book last year – “self-care is a form of social activism” – declared by the brilliant Dr. James Rouse in his beautifully crafted book made lovingly with his wife, Dr. Debra Rouse – Think, Eat, Move, Thrive: The Practice for an Awesome Life. In addition to their truly magnificent treatise on living well, three more books by amazingly talented human beings – Dr. Emily Nagoski, Jacquie Somerville, and Dr. Greg Wells – gave me life-changing insights that I’ve incorporated into my routine, my way of being – with brilliant results and elevating me to a higher starting point for this year of awesomeness.

Let me share with you what stuck with me and hope you explore the books, and the music at the end, to find what is meaningful and motivating for you. What books did you read last year that have made your life better? What lyrics do you sing over and over again to move you forward?

Come as You Are – The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life
Emily Nagoski, PhD

To buy on Amazon: https://www.amazon.ca/Come-You-Are-Surprising-Transform-ebook/dp/B00LD1ORBI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1517414492&sr=8-1&keywords=come+as+you+are

As Emily notes at the beginning of the book, ‘the science of women’s sexual well being is young’. She has crafted a brilliant resource for every adult no matter their gender or stage of their sexual journey. It is full of useful insights backed by science and complementary examples of real-life stories of relevant experiences.

It is laid out in four parts – Part 1 includes the topics of anatomy, sexual personality, and context; Part 2 includes emotional context and cultural context; Part 3 includes arousal and desire; Part 4 includes orgasm and meta-emotions.

The concepts of context, brakes and accelerators resonated the most with me. As did her sleepy hedgehog model of emotional management, which essentially is a process to help work through the doubts or insecurities playing out in your head and limiting or preventing a beautiful experience with your partner:

  • Step 1 – give it a name, e.g. sleepy hedgehog.
  • Step 2 – sit peacefully with it on your lap.
  • Step 3 – figure out what it needs.
  • Step 4 – tell your partner.
  • Step 5 – collaborate to help the sleepy hedgehog.

She encourages replacing self-criticism with self-kindness, common humanity and mindfulness – ‘allowing negative meta-emotions, feelings to complete their cycles and release them to create space for the new goal’. In the context of her book, she indicates that – ‘the right goal is whatever is true about you right now’.

This book is a bridge to understanding each other more as human beings and it will, I believe, change the conversation.

Think Eat Move Thrive: The Practice for an Awesome Life
Dr. James Rouse, Dr. Debra Rouse

To buy on Amazon: https://www.amazon.ca/Think-Eat-Move-Thrive-Practice-ebook/dp/B00GEEB096/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1517414566&sr=1-1&keywords=james+rouse

Dr. James and Dr. Debra share beautifully brilliant strategy for complete life wellness with ‘loving, empowered proactive self-care’. Having had the pleasure of hearing Dr. James speak twice over the past two years, I know that anyone who reads this book and implements any of its practices will evolve into the very best human being possible. He exudes love and is on a mission to change the world – one bite of kale at a time.

The four sections of this book, Think, Eat, Move and Thrive, are complemented by supporting routine templates and recipes to aid you on your wellness journey.

What resonated the most for me in the Think section is WWLD – or what would love do? This is a practice that I do my very best in applying each day – especially when life’s situations get complicated. It serves me well – and is hard sometimes. As they say, ‘when you come from love, you come from a place of wholeness, a place of service’.

Taking heed of their advocacy for plant-based food – specifically dark leafy greens, blueberries, turmeric and avocadoes –  in the Eat section has had the biggest impact on my health. Along with regular exercise being ‘present in my body and mindful in every movement’ as they write about in the Move section, I dropped two dress sizes by the end of 2017 and am on my way to three – and now having a great deal more energy, in general.

In the Thrive section, their thoughts on ‘excelling and going beyond self-imposed limits’ rang true for me. They proport that to thrive is, ‘to really know yourself, know your passions, your purpose, your deepest longings, your mission and your vision for your life’. Simple naked insights that often stare at us blankly waiting for us to choose to act – and when we do, the results propel us to continue moving forward on fire.

This book, made with a deep love for all of humanity, will inspire you to take the most amazing care of yourself.

My Scandalous Little Rule Book: A Scandalous Guide to Sensational Success!
Jacquie Somerville

To buy on Amazon: https://www.amazon.ca/Scandalous-Little-Rule-Book-Sensational/dp/1590793005/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1517414635&sr=1-1

Jacquie’s book is as vivacious as she is – having first-hand knowledge, cocktails with her and a bunch of conference mates last June at the Ritz in Toronto. It is a fun-loving raw introspective of what is means to truly be a woman in the world today – full of her personal stories and stark advice on how to tap into and live to your full potential, and as a woman. It is the most honest, hilarious, blushingly shocking at times, and helpful book about women, for women, by a woman that I’ve ever read in my entire life.

She begins with some simple advice – ‘Stop being so cautious. Take a risk, achieve some major stuff, and have some fun’. Many more such insights from her resonate with me, including:

  • There are no coincidences in life
  • When life presents you opportunities, trust yourself and jump
  • I have so much love to give – love kept suppressed for fear that vulnerability would leave me weak and pathetic
  • Regret will hold you back from ever being fully you
  • Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure
  • Clarity is my life coach and my voice of reason
  • It’s your energy that is causing you grief
  • We all come by our issues honestly
  • Most of us don’t have any idea what our true limits are – we haven’t come close to tapping into our full potential
  • Love others fully and with an open heart
  • Look for lessons in your challenges
  • Grab life by the balls

This book is a must read for all women who march to the beat of their own drum – or really want to!

The Ripple Effect: Sleep Better, Eat Better, Move Better, Think Better
Greg Wells, PhD

To buy on Amazon: https://www.amazon.ca/Ripple-Effect-Sleep-Better-Think/dp/1443436933/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1517414890&sr=1-1&keywords=greg+wells

Dr. Greg Wells is a truly brilliant orator. I’ve also had the pleasure of hearing him speak twice in the past two years. He shares meaningful, complex information about living the best life you possibly can and does it in such a thoughtfully crafted manner that you feel like you’ve just taken a half-semester 3rd year medical sciences university course in the span of a couple of hours – understanding every word of it! His book is just as eloquent and has had an equally positive transformative effect on the routines of my life.

In the Getting Started chapter, the section about dream setting stood out for me probably because I forgot what it meant to dream big along the way. Dr. Greg highlights the power of dreaming big:

‘Dreaming BIG, then making small, consistent improvements,
can revolutionize your health and your life.
If you really want to achieve something, dream yourself into doing it.
Dream setting is powerful.
And it is the most effective way to change your life for the better.’

Supporting the concept of making small, consistent improvements, Dr. Greg’s 1% Tips are well peppered throughout the book and are easily implementable routine changes. As well, his approach in dealing with ‘insurmountable challenges’ that we are often faced with in life aligns with my Dad’s approach of practicing patience. Dr. Greg states that we don’t have to necessarily ‘try harder, react and charge ahead’ – he espouses the benefits of stepping back, resting, recovering, regenerating, and responding strategically. This is one of the best changes I’ve made, try hard to stick to, and is making a noticeable difference in every aspect of my life.

Many of the 1% changes I’ve made are found in the Sleep Better section of the book. Dr. Greg believes that, ‘the foundation of human health and performance is sleeping soundly’. One of the research findings that he shares that says it all for me is that, ‘you can literally wash your brain of waste products and damage each night, if you sleep well’. And even more important than sleeping 7 to 8 hours each night is sleeping on a regular schedule.

In the Move Better section, he shares with us that some research shows that ‘as little as 15 minutes of exercise each day is enough to decrease our risk of certain cancers by 24 – 50%’. This is an incredibly compelling reason to get and to stay active every day. He also shares with us one of his big dreams in this section, specifically – ‘that exercise, physical activity and training become part of life for almost everyone on the planet, and that we are all as healthy as we can be as a result’.

The Eat Better section is full of research backed information about what and how we eat – for example, plant-based foods, Omega-3 fatty acids, safe sustainable fish, probiotics like that found in fermented food and hydrating with water. He recommends checking out the following food guides based on actual research: Harvard Medical School’s Healthy Eating Plate and Brazil’s healthy eating recommendations. Also, the section about the duality of inflammation in our bodies was eye opening one for me – specifically, ‘inflammation is a powerful process that helps repair and regenerate the tissues in our bodies and brains, but if we don’t eat well, are inactive, and sleep poorly, low-grade inflammation develops’- which can become incredibly dire to our overall health.

In the Think Better section, Dr. Greg shares amazing tips, such as how to think clearly to build mental health and happiness, recognize the presence of stress and minimize its negative effects, and get into a state of flow to perform at your absolute best.

This is more than a book – it is a rallying cry. I do hope that many components of it will become part of your daily routine to help you become the best possible healthy version of yourself.

“Every Day Your Future Can Begin”
Lyrics by Scott McMahon, singer and songwriter based in London, UK

To buy his music, go to his cool website: https://www.scottmcmahononline.com/

To understand more about the magic of this incredible artist and beautiful man, check out my Soldiers of Love post: https://anaphoraonline.com/2017/12/13/

Explore his website to find the album and the song that holds these precious lyrics, this powerful truth – then listen to the tone of his voice when he sings it – simply exponential inspiration.

You Were Made To Live

Discovered in my box of joy, one of my favourite poems written many moons ago – the words still ring strong and true and are deeply foreshadowing.

It was the beginning of the 80’s as you can see by the tasteful pink and purple marker accents.

Perhaps inspired by getting up early to watch Lady Di’s wedding to Prince Charles in July of 1981 or listening to Diana Ross and Lionel Richie’s Endless Love on 45RPM vinyl on my wee record player in my room for hours on end.

I remember writing it out long hand more than once to get it just so – no liquid paper allowed in school at the time.

O, the wisdom of youth!

 

You Were Made to Live

– a poem written by Nancy Fijan, January 22, 1982

 

You were made to live, to love, and to learn.

To live like human beings,

Not like animals in the wilderness.

To love everyone and everything,

Not to hate or deceive.

To learn from your elders,

From whom the wisdom will come.

And to be yourself,

Not what others want you to be.

You were made to live.

Little Red Battery Charger

~ in memory of a lovely neighbour who passed away 2 years ago on February 29th

We survived the first polar vortex of the season – one that reminded us of the quiet power of Mother Nature, and the anti-fragility of humans and fragility of machines. Contending with wind chills plunging well into the -30’s, most of us rode it out by hibernating indoors – looking out the window and opening the door every so often to breathe in the pure Arctic cold air. Many were stranded at home because dead car batteries rendered their vehicles useless – as was my Dad and his van.

Reaching out to get a boost or tow proved to be an exercise in patience and understanding as companies offering such services were inundated with thousands of calls and unable to keep up with the volumes. Situations were prioritized based on whether a customer was stranded on the road which made a lot of sense. After rummaging around his garage, my Dad happened upon a little red battery charger given to him by our late neighbour of over 30 years, Miss Wiggins, a retired school teacher. She couldn’t drive anymore and told him the winters were going to get bad, and that he would find it handy one day. Well, she was right as he certainly did. After a few hours plugged in, it boosted his van.

Many years ago, Miss Wiggins gave me a boost too – she helped me secure my first real job in a bank, introducing me to a local branch manager. It was in her nature to be kind to others, especially helping young people explore their full potential. She mentored many in our neighbourhood, teaching some how to play the piano. During the last six weeks of her life, she asked me over for afternoon tea often. While multiple myeloma deteriorated her body, her mind was sharp. She enjoyed having conversations and wanted to be in the comfort of her own home rather than in a hospice.

While watching the sunset, we spoke of many things – her time spent teaching at a Canadian military base in Germany at the beginning of her career, her travels abroad including her many trips to England and our mutual fondness of London and of Hampton Court, her childhood in Fort Frances, Ontario, stories about each piece of art she collected over the years, her concern about the plight of Syrian refugees, especially how the young children would adapt to our school system, and the books she was reading – specifically And The Mountains Echoed and Peony in Love, the latter intrigued me because of my love of peonies.

This time with Marilyn was the most spiritually moving experience of my life. The lessons she taught many of us are universal and part of what it means to be human – to be kind, to help others, to listen, to give, to share, to encourage, to dream, to push your own limits, to plan, to savour, to show compassion, to be understanding, to lift each other up, to be creative and value creativity in all its forms, to love and to respect each other, and most especially, to enjoy the art of conversation and truly connect with a person.

Who is the little red battery charger in your life? What do they teach you?

When was the last time you gave someone a boost?

It’s never too late – there is always time for it. Share your humanness today.