Boundaries, Balance and Bounty

Featured Quote: “From mind to heart is the longest journey one can take in life.

I recently participated in a few workshops tied together by the theme of balance.

Balance was covered in 4 senses:

  1. physical (vision, vestibular, muscular, nervous system and sematosensory system),
  2. sense of humor (Sage Age Improvisational Seniors’ Theatre to look at life’s oddity and predictability with laughter),
  3. spiritual balance (a Native smudging ceremony with the burning of sage) and
  4. life balance (a workshop on boundaries in balance).

I shall describe the last two of the four.

The picture above is from the smudging ceremony. For some reason I had in my mind smudge being like Ash Wednesday where some symbolic ash would be stroked onto ones skin. In fact, the fire of the smudge is smouldering sweet burning herb, in this case, sage. It is used to cleanse negative energies. The smoke is swept over respective parts – over head, over thoughts, over eyes to see clearly, ears to hear well, tongue to speak wisely, hands for good action, over body overall to cleanse one’s spirit of the past and come fresh into life.

An eagle feather is used because the eagle is said to take our prayers to the Creator. The one pictured comes from the east coast of Canada and the container for the smouldering fire is in an Abalone shell from the west coast of Canada. The sage grows locally and widely. It has a smell that is not intense like incense. [I had some apprehension since since I am sensitive to atomized smells, but burning sage does not coat the tongue in perfume, nor burn the eyes and throat even though the room got a light haze of smoke.]

The people from Wabano Center for Aboriginal Health explained some of their traditions for renewal to balance such as sweat lodge, moon lodge (traditional women’s circle during a young person’s menstruation), a prayer said over a pinch tobacco which is then scattered back to the earth and ultimately cycling up to the Creator.

The second of the three sessions on balance, I would like to describe while it is still fresh in mind was given by a respite care for the caregiver service. Their full workshop lasts 9 hours but this was only a scaled down sampler.

The Boundaries in Balance session, and service, is based around the notion of an airplane’s emergency oxygen masks — Put on your own oxygen mask first. You are of no help to anyone if you do not help yourself first.

[But common sense is always a bugger to follow, ain’t it?]

First, let me explain the terms. A Boundary is the sense of “where I end and the next person begins”. They are our sense of what is private and to be shared with whom.

Contral to the notion is balancing our needs with whatever needs the group we are in has as separate from what might be nice to have/do/say. Boundaries are our sense of what obligations we have to support others and to renew ourselves.

A boundary can be something such as a topic that is off-limits or a topic that is safe, the amount of personal space needed during conversation, the amount of favor or emotional disclosure one can reasonably expect, the degree to which one may disagree, comment, touch or question.

Boundaries are things we act on, react to, but may not be able to verbalize. We know when lines are crossed but may not be able to express why or where exactly. It makes it no less of an incursion. We know something has gone amiss. We may be aware of feeling discomfort or tension but wave it off and plough on into life, assuming it doesn’t need addressing. Sometimes it doesn’t.

One would exhaust oneself attending to each pling of one’s far perimeter defences. One would never sleep or let anyone else rest while co-corickoeing from the guard tower. To say someone has crossed your boundary is to say they overstepped their bounds of familiarity. It is a corrective thing which makes for such potential ruckus because mistakes mean one may lose face or need to make ammends or change habit. Any of which could be easy but the very explicit drawing attention is of a different mindset and culture than I am used to. I am schooled in the Miss Manners thinking that if one does soemthing uncouth, the most elegant response s to not mention it, to save the person from embarrassment. Boorish people may never be able to figure out or never care that they are breaking some unwritten rule and while the intent is honorable, the effect is deteriorous. One enables the boundary breaking to continue by not mentioning the gaffe.

If one is stringent about one’s boundaries always, one could get stiff and make undue awkwardness in the dance of each person readjusting constantly.

On the other hand if one’s boundaries are too porous, everything is fine, fine, fine, the thinness starts to come in eventually. One doesn’t know even in hindsight where exactly things stopped being fine. The adaptability takes more and more energy because one has not just pushed ones envelope but fallen completely out of it, a husk.

Whether one is always in the position of wanting to get, or of trying to find a market for what you want to give, one is isolated off into a closed loop of martyrs. Lot of stagnancy there. You can live, even thrive for a bit but not nearly as good for a soul as balanced give adn take.

A much healthier loop has us sometimes receiving and sometimes giving. The sense of genuine communication between two people who are equals to each other and want to listen, nurture and be nurtured, unafraid to speak in trust with wisdom is the conduit to balance.

One phrase popped to the surface: Need is gift to someone else.

Some people, in a given sphere of their life, are givers. Some people, in a comparable sphere of their life are takers who cannot seem to give. Some are needy beyond imagining, others only feel fulfilled if they are in a flurry of humanitarian selfless acts. Neither are in full balance.

One can get in a closed loop of charitable thinking, putting others first, putting your own needs last, just as one can get in a closed loop of hunger for self-gratification, self-recognition, self-expression, self-prioritizing.

Exercise: Stand on one leg for 10 seconds. Now do it again but close your eyes. Try to do it daily for longer. It’s brain and body exercise.

Word Chain: boundaries, bound, zounds what mounds, bind, bindings, ties, connections, elect, select, perfect

Poem Draft:

swaddled in 90 degrees

scarf of water wraps
neck, chin, cheeks
forehead, traces
edges of lips like
moon’s highlighting
only cold nose
exposed like a buoy
two sandy islands
like warm hands
lower back supported
kinks float out
ears full of silence

Special Note: Today, at 4 pm local marks the anniversary of my Granny’s death. She was 94. Four of my aunts lit candles in memory simultaneously to mark the hour.

Glad Game: It is 15 degrees. I have had a couple hours to myself. The sky is blue and somehow that alone feels sufficient for gladness.

Soundtrack: blessed silence.

29 Oct 2005, 11:13pm
Poem Drafts

What to Do?

Posting scehdule is hard to setttle. I consider spreading out to days that are multiples of 3. To maintaining as is, or doubling back to daily, making alternate days heavy and other days only a picture or quiz or haiku or something fizzy. Or maybe, just whenever I have something to say. Problem is I could retreat to monk silence unless I force myself to say something and as soon as I move my fingers or tongue, something invariably falls out.

I have a number of thoughts to consider to post,

  • on expressing and being aware of one’s personal boundaries,
  • on Cree smudging ceremony I particupated in,
  • a play by play of making a Jack-O-Lantern,
  • the constraints of communication purely in text,
  • the value of refreshing oneself,
  • could relate minuatae observations of body language observations,
  • have pictures of frost, and calves,
  • of BMI and physical balance
  • could talk of music.

So much thought tumbles just from today alone. How to queue anything up and decide what is worth saying. Anyone want to back any of these nominations of what to speak on?

Poem Draft:

walk knee high in night

silences tucked under the tongues
as pills unswallowed, we tromp
a neckpalce unstrung along sidewalks
we the musketeers three unarmed,
unplugged, one two three with nature
and not a camera between us

we are windscattered
distracted across sidewalks
caught up
in this crevice or that. like leaves,

after us our capes flutter
but mostly, backs splattered
with gutter mud, grinning nonsense
bedragging to bedraggled tattered
natty naughty hems of supermen
S slurred off, unpeeled and dropped

have you noticed it rain?
nein, nay, hee-haw chortle
the skin-gully of hair-part
gets secondhand rain as buses
thunder shake dry the boughs
we take bows to the mailboxes
providing our own applause

So, that’s that something or other. Hrm.

28 Oct 2005, 7:49am

Halloween’s Almost Here

Mama Bear wants to know…

Still stumped on your costume for Halloween?

I completely knew. I tried on 2 costumes and went away to think about it. Then I went to buy it and they were sold out (!) so I’m back to square 2 (with a tiara, wand but no dress for the ball).

Fairy Godmother seems to be late for her appointment so I’ll have to do some innovation/magic without here. What’s that they always say, procrastination is the mother of invention?

CostumeZone has ideas, tips and costumes — from normal clothes with a sign around your neck saying “nudist on strike” — to tips for “Quick Transformations”, such as

An easy way to make a skeleton – use all white clothes and then put on electrical tape to form the bones. Or use all black clothes with white cloth medical tape. You can use tape to make stripes on clothes for a prison uniform, or to put stripes down the sides of pants legs for police uniform, etc. The beauty of this technique is that the tape comes off and you don’t have to destroy anything to make your costume.

There’s also a discussion going on about costumes nearby.

Featured Links: Want to brush up on your Halloween History? Or go over to Hoarded Ordinaries and see some spectacular Jack-O-Lanterns . Here’s an rtf file on Halloween simplified from Wikipedia.

Poetry Note: The Beechwood Cemetery Foundation invites you to raise Ottawa’s literary spirits! Join us for Dead Poets Live —an evening of music, poetry and merriment, Thursday, November 17, 2005, 7:00-10:00 p.m., at the Beechwood Cemetery Reception Centre, 280 Beechwood Avenue, Ottawa.

The evening is a fundraiser in support of the Poet’s Hill project. Tickets are $20. To purchase tickets, or for more information about this fundraiser, contact the Beechwood Cemetery Foundation at 741-9530.

Meme: Well dash it all –

I’m a Hyphen
38% Sociability and 58% Sophistication!
You are comfortable around others. While you don’t have to go out every night, yet you take pride in being easy to get along with. This should not, however, be misconstrued as believing (as many do) that you are without subtlety. In fact, you have the power to inform the anal retentive that, indeed, they are discussing an anal-retentive issue. Who else can do that? Quotation marks intimidate you a little bit.

Link: The Which Punctuation Mark Are You Test written by Gazda on Ok Cupid

26 Oct 2005, 5:34pm
Memes or Quizzes Photos Ponderings
Comments Off on Little Things of More Value

Little Things of More Value

Small Stuff
Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Unless, in occasional moderation, you really really like to sweat.

I like the small stuff.

  • I like the winks of mica in common mixed crushed stone. I like the cheap ring that makes a green slough of skin that self-elects to peel off.
  • I like the single hair tickling my face (until it drives me batty) and I enjoy the meal-cooking that went fantastically horribly wrong.
  • I like the perfect conversational companion where we can think as one scaffolding on each other’s words and complementing each other’s knowledge bank with a body language that is totally open and transparent to me.
  • I like the person with the balls and good humor to not try to agree with me and everyone else.
  • I like ornary fellas who do things just cuz, like poet Raymond Lévesque refusing national $15,000 Performing Arts Award on ideological grounds. [That’s PR no acceptance could have reaped.]
  • I like the broad default adaptablity people have and the times when the narrow gaps of mind, like spaces between tiles don’t align between two people. Sometimes aesthetic dissonace breaking the pattern of symmetry allows one to appreciate the patterns more.

Boundaries of Personal Accountability
We volunteer a lot of responsibility to “them” to “government”. We assume the poor will work it out and improve their lot. We assume poets don’t also need to be marketers, and can live on a bread-and-butter-job and fit the art in around it with a government grant rather like a lapel pin for 20 or 30 years of loyal unbroken service.

To divest one’s self from being janitor or czar, environmental minister or account manager of the universe makes sense. It’s appropriately humble to assume the universe doesn’t stop or fall into chaos without our personal caretaking.

It is also our proper duty to assume responsibility for things under our immediate control, such as what touches us and goes into us and out of our hands literally. The government isn’t ultimately liable for watchdogging our choices.

The right to bellyache is a reaction earned by action. If you don’t vote, you erode your right to complain about who gets elected. If you do not speak to your government official your grounds are weak for saying he or she does not follow your wishes.

All of which are more the realm of speaker’s corner than to the end of making supper. A few other scattered notes I want to jot here before I go though.


I got my new issue of Ode magazine. it has a feature on organic and less-toxic products, forced by legislation, the EU’s 2006 Reduction of Hazardous Substances Law. This means alternatives have been found for lead-solder, flame-retardants, mercury, cadmium. Plastics and PCBs off-gas and leach things which half-fit the chemical slot of our body’s own hormones. Others are just straight-up poisons that accumulate in fatty tissues.

Did you know about the Social Planning Council of Ottawa? It has lots of urban and social planning nuggets as well as census data such as

  • 1/5 of the city’s population are foreign born
  • 1/3 are that, or else born to those not Canadian-born.
  • Immigrants aged 65 and over represent about one-third of Ottawa’s senior population.

In addition to immigrants coming from abroad, Ottawa also attracts secondary immigrants from other Canadian cities. The 2001 mobility data for recent immigrants reveal that 11 percent of recent immigrants currently residing in Ottawa (7,065) moved from other Canadian cities during the 5 years preceding the Census. Of these, 42 percent moved from other Ontario cities, while the remainder moved from cities outside of the Ontario province.

5. A majority of Ottawa’s recent immigrants (51 percent) came from China, Somalia, Lebanon, Caribbean and Bermuda, and from the former Yugoslavia; whereas in the previous decade the top five source countries (which accounted for 38 percent of the new immigrants) were Lebanon, China, Vietnam, Caribbean and Bermuda, and the
United Kingdom. In the 1971-1980 decade, the United Kingdom was the most frequently reported country of origin. ~ Immigrants in Ottawa: Socio-cultural composition and socio-economic conditions PDF

Soundtrack: Eminem’s The Conspiracy Freestyle and Les Jours tristes by Yann Tiersen (It’s hard not to sit on your hands, bury your head in the sands…claim you’ve done all you can, all along…it’s hard to stand up for what’s right. It’s hard not to break down and cry when every idea that you’ve tried, has been wrong. You must carry on anyway…It’s hard but you know it’s worth the fight… It’s hard when you’re here all alone. When everyone else has gone home, harder to know right from wrong, when all the objectivity’s gone…)

Featured Links: song lyrics of protest for activists “on topics including poverty, environmentalism, racism, police brutality, greed and even landlords” compiled by Ontario Coalition Against Poverty and Immigrants don’t steal jobs, a rant by Maddox (with language warning)

Featured Quotes: “Your heart was always in the right place even though your body would be about 10 minutes late getting there.” ~ Stephanie’s memorial to Danny at 1000words

Alarmed by the censorship from the right? What can you do about it?

“Easy: get out of the freakin’ closet.[…]I’m talking about being open and public with your sexuality REGARDLESS of what your preferences may be,” says Garrison

Menu: Looked at Pulses of the Nation , made marrowfat peas salad with celery, onion, yellow peppers and summer savory. Fresh sun-dried tomato loaf and olive oil, fresh veggies.

And dessert…hm? Fridge cleanout called for.

Whee, but that worked! Dessert: unpaleatable granola mixed with butter and wheat germ microwaved and mushed into a pan with a little quinoa flour and sliced almonds to make a sort of oatmeal squares. Top with layers of wrinkling lost peaches and apples and mincemeat, dash of cinnamon. Mix more quinoa flour, wheat germ, butter and some oatmeal for the crumble. And voila a peach cobbler/apple crisp/oatmeal square that is probably fairly nutritional.

Glad Game: The banking machine’s made-you-look-beep hasn’t “got me” for several consecutive times now. (Does your bank do the extra beep after you finish punching in the transaction to draw your attention to their service advertisement?)

Winter coats are sort of low resistance weight training.

Returning the hat of the fireman’s dress uniform to a fire station. I got it auction long ago and it feels right that it should “come home”.

Gratuitous Memes:

You Are A: Mouse!

mouseSome people are scared of mice while others find them cute and cuddly. As a mouse, you forage for food and manage to sneek into everything, but prefer to stay out of sight. The phrase “quiet as a mouse” isn’t for nothing, however surprise one and expect a squeek! Your small size and quiet nature are partly what makes you a mouse.

You were almost a: Monkey or a Parakeet
You are least like a: Groundhog or a DucklingTake the Cute Animal Quiz

My blog is worth $43,469.58.
How much is your blog worth?

Where the number comes from is based on who I link to. You make me what I am.

24 Oct 2005, 8:20am
Divertions Poem Drafts

You Can Feel When It’s Good

For a change of pace, a mostly poems post on things transitory and worth holding onto.

Poem Drafts

Life needs both

Openings without
matching closures
is a heart stopped.

fried? not

does the
to batter
to a salt
a life
with abuse?

As our song plays

for our foundation
let’s snap an elasticized-line
make our house of cards
on your abdomen –

laugh like a starter engine
that can’t turn over, flooded
I’ll run the blade of joker
to part navel hair. set to business stacking
teepees of aces, mock stern, stay still,
no wriggle even if everything tickles
— be watched while absorbed
distracted and distracting
trail inside wrist across side, find

a king. flick and fan him.
palm read? take you up on offered hand
playing card held on edge
bumped across the ridges
feeling lifelines like braille

thick of thumb massaged
as if it is the only
square inch of
anything in existence

eyelash passion
changes our animation
to stop frame
by frame. Don’t move.

trace the pace of
expanding space,
time and selves

take sparse sips of holy air
lightheaded as wined

gulps plant daffodil bulbs
in the throats, words gaudy
blossom more hope than
dreamed possible.

swig privileged air
that entered those passages

thin isthmus between nostils
cool turbulence whorls
nose near nose

mood thickening
at moonspeed
lines, yours mine,

Alternative Responses (f)or Irritants

Let (b/s)ad d(r)awn in sand
(s)lapped by waves, and forgotten.

let us turn towards
the G(o)od,
car(v)e in (s)tone those things
that make us (w)hol(e/y)

knock out
the (s)hard in the shoe
and be (d)one with (sh)it
not memor(ial)ize.

Sensible (im)passivity
to what doesn’t work –
(O)pen the mode(l)s
of well and right

(sp/t)urn from all
save G(o)od breathing
this (brea)thing we need

Light Link: Comical real epitaphs found via The Presurfer

(Made with the Tombstone Generator)

Word Chain: Pat answers, lover’s spat, spatula, pattern, pitter-patter, paternal, patronize, patronage, diss this bliss kiss? (Hiss) This is remiss Miss Fritz-Ditz. Newsflash, ad blitz smucks ya in the glitz and wits. Feel the pits risk or clits’ ritz, it hits ya that he fits ya.

Soundtrack: Offertorium by Warsaw Chamber Choir’s Requiem dla mojego przyjaciela

Menu: Seeds of Change 7 grain pilaf, potato blintzes, cauliflower, spinach, sweet potato and nut pancakes with gooseberry spread and pineapple.

Glad Game: The yellow and orange marigolds ressemble the dandelions of spring but the grass is not the golden-green counterpoint but turning ashen readying for snow.

Libraries allow such a wealth of resources for free. A mind boggling personal/public bookshelf when you think about it. It saves cost of rent and mortgage to not have to hosue all these things oneself and yet access them.

Donating dozens of books to the library rather than selling them. If I sell them to a bookstore I get 25 cents per book, (some of them which were $30 only a few months ago). If I donate them to the library, they sell them for $1 each which puts the whole world further ahead.

At least it’s not still swollen

Late additons: I got my Quills issue in the mail today! :-)

With the new setup, if your name/email/site has been approved for a comment before, you can skip right through comment moderation lineup and your comment will appear right away.

Reading: A Place of Silver Silence by Ardath Mayhar, Stanzas, Issue 42 of the tight, compelling poetry of Kingston’s Jan Allen, such as an excerpt from page 018,

“as far as the eye can see/lines of camels/step through needles/and rich men go to heaven/every Sunday” ~ Jan Allen

Also Reading: St John’s Ambulance First Aid Activity Book and The Solitary Outlaw: Trudeau, Lewis, Gould, Ganetti and McLuhan by BW Powe,

“Lewis set out to stiffen his readers’ resistance to propoganda and coercion. He made his devil’s-advocate persona strong to make us strong. A writer may say, “No, I won’t add to the darkness of my age”; but if you want to shock the public out of its moral sleep, you may not be able to avoid responsibility for a negative result when it wakes up. Lewis demanded independance: his and ours. (His deathbed remark: “Mind your own business”) (p. 57)

Thought Occurred: Other advantages of posting only every second day: it keeps it in proportion to the rate I read so I’m not saying more than I’m listening to. It asks less of the reader and runs less chance of making one feel “late” and far behind and thus less enables reading to be more doable, allowing time to react before I’m off to the next post.

Chocolate Link: Dagoba is releasing new products

PACUARE – COSTA RICAN CRU – Mild with low acidity, upfront red fruit and herbal overtones, finishing with golden raisin and light caramel. Made with cacao from an exemplary estate in northeastern Costa Rica and named after the wild Pacuare River.

LOS RIOS – ECUADOR ARRIBA – Strong upfront cacao, leading to hints of citrus rind and ending with a balanced astringency speaking to the chocolate connoisseur. We’re working with a group of farmers revive Arriba Nacional, Arriba’s parent strain and a threatened ancient treasure.

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