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10 08 2016

In Buddhist belief, there is an abstract idea that as humans, we are all ONE. It’s a tough one to grasp, it’s trippy and surreal. For years, my interest and love of all things Yoga and Buddhism led me on a wild goose chase for this obscure enlightenment. I will likely never really achieve this but let me tell you one thing, I had a delicious wild taste of this last weekend.

Shambhala.

Definition: a Sanskrit term meaning place of peace/tranquility/happiness. OR: the name of a mythical sacred place.

I set up my camp at the Farm last Monday, got my bearings, my pass, my wristband and parking pass. I toured “downtown” with a sweet couple from the UK I picked up hitch hiking. Fast friends we became. It was at this point I realized I wasn’t nervous anymore. I was excited and hopeful and full of anticipation of what I was about to experience.

I arrived Thursday night, unloaded all my stuff and met up with my camp buddies. As we walked the 15 minute walk to the Stages, my belly and nerves crept on me. I could slowly hear that bass get louder, I could see the lights, I could hear the joy uttered by thousands of people. Strolling by campers, hearing all the excitement…. We arrived, and entered the Amp (Only one of two stages open Thursday evening, the other was The Living Room).

OH. MY. GOD. The bass, the beat, the lights,  the dancing. A smile erupted from the depth of my soul and took over my face and I just couldn’t stop. We danced and danced and danced. Then we meandered down to the Living Room, marveling at all the hidden paths, cool seating, funky people, costumes, lights and all the crazy creative signs that people make and carry. As I danced, I felt my soul loosen up from some sort of shackle and start to free itself from the restraints of normalcy. I let myself GO. What a release. To just be and dance and look around at all these amazing wonderful human beings releasing and dancing and feeling joy.

I sadly had to call it early, as my first 12 hour medical shift was at 8 am the next morning. I worked with a fantastic crew, we laughed and danced and helped people all day long. What a sweet balm to my heart to help with zero judgment for anyone seeking help. Instead, it was all about this mythical “Shambha-love”. Oh hell, call me a bit kooky, but it was real. Tangible and so pure.

After my shift, I donned my tutu and fishnets and corset, I grabbed my water bottle and danced my ass off until the dawn. I met and danced with so many amazing and open-hearted people. I can’t tell you how many hugs I received and gave. I was in constant wonder and bliss and awe. I never once felt in danger, it was never a yucky over-sexualized ass-grab that can occur when alcohol is consumed. Honestly, it was all about our innate Human-ness. Our deep desire to be connected with one another on a level that is beyond our every day life. There were moments that I felt so deeply connnected, I almost cried. It was the most authentic I have felt in a very long time.

My 12 hour night shift was just as fun and exciting. I saw my team truly caring about others, regardless of what was going on. I experienced a depth of humanity spun between Medical, Harm Reduction, Security and ravers. There was no disrespect, there was no disgust, there was no disdain. There was only a level of compassion and protection and honest empathy. I wonder if we could all just tap into this, just maybe this world would be a better place.

One friend told me a while ago that Shambhala changed his life. And now I know why he said this. This authentic honesty and Humanity I felt, received and gave has nestled into my heart,  pushing out some negative judgment, making more room for simple and honest Human love. A love that can connect with all of us.

I fell in love with Shambhala. And I will most definitely be going back. And I hope to see you there.

 





Comfort zone

11 07 2016

This August I’m stepping out of my sweet cozy little sweatpants-wearing, bed by 9.30 every night, goose-down duvet comfort zone.

I’m packing up my tent, my crazy eyeliner, that funky outfit I bought at a second-hand store, my nerves and my 45-year-old-ass and I am going to Shambhala for the the very first time ever.

ALL BY MYSELF.

I submitted my resume as an MOA to volunteer at the festival, not knowing if they’d be interested in having me on board with Medical.

Lo and behold, I was placed on “Team 3” and I am working two 12-hour shifts at Shambles.

I’m gonna tell you something. I am scared SHITLESS.

I’ll be on my own, even though I know two of the docs I’m working with, as well as one of the EMTs and several other amazing folk who work with harm reduction and medical. I’ll be driving there, not knowing a single thing about anything. I’m greener than green, a Shambles Virgin, a middle-aged gal ticking off shit from her bucket list. Jesus, I am stressed. I do NOT know what to expect. I hear stories, I have had many many people tell me all manners of tales about Shambhala.

Even my husband was skeptical. “You’re really going to that dust pit? With all the ravers?”

Yes. I guess I am.

I’m excited. I’m scared. I’m thrilled. I’m reluctant.

I’ve wavered a million times, telling my fretful self at 2 am that I am TOTALLY emailing HR in the morning and telling them that I can’t commit. And yet morning comes and I am once again more excited than nervous. And I avoid sending that email.

So here we are, the countdown is on. I’m starting to plan on what to pack. I’m hearing tales of Shambalove. I’m told time and time again that I’m going to LOVE it. That I am suited to that place: the energy, the dancing, the love, the vibe.

I’m looking forward to seeing it firsthand without judgement. So many people hate this festival for the “bad apples” it brings to our area. I admit I was one of those. The week before and after is kind of a gong-show in town, with displaced people intent on a party without a whole lot of money in their pocket. But every festival has it’s own issues, and I am pretty sure that the discourse many locals detest is probably not indicative of the majority who attend.

So here I am, ready to go. My nerves are jumbled, my dreams are riddled. But I am ready.

I am ready.

 

 





Privilege

24 05 2016

A simple standard “Hey, how are you doing?” I asked, when I saw her at the grocery store. I hadn’t seen her in months, maybe over a year?

A perfunctory greeting, a standard blah blah blah. We’re good at those, here in Canada. We ask, but do we really need or want to know the answer? The honest real answer?

She smiled but it just didn’t reach her eyes. Her body and face looked so lost and sad. I stopped myself from pushing my cart onwards and stretched out my arms to her and her eyes filled with tears.

We hugged, there near the dairy aisle, we hugged each other so hard. I felt her break, her shoulders collapse and the tears fall. She cried on my shoulder, there among moms pulling wayward toddlers and employees stocking the butter and cheese.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I’m just so tired of telling people that I’m okay when I’m not.”

That hug felt cathartic, it felt like a gift, it felt sweet and loving and so so right.

I kissed her cheek as we drew away from one another, and gently wiped the tear from her cheek. “Never say sorry, don’t be sorry,” I said, “thank you for the privilege of letting me be here for you.”

I can never say I took her pain away that moment, her grief from her loss is too huge and deep. But the sweetness of caring and honest empathy is such a dear heartfelt thing to carry. It’s far too easy to brush away the needs of another in our busy lives. That moment, though, I will treasure forever, because her and I both paused, if only for two to three minutes. We paused, to give and to receive kindness and love and support. In her sadness of her loss she is carrying forever and me, with my coincidence (or fate?) of being there, how we came to share this one quiet moment.

This is what it is to be human.

So thank you for allowing me the privilege of being there for you, if only for a brief moment in time.





Crazy is as crazy does.

21 05 2016

After Tutter died, we found that our house and home was a bit too silent, a tad less full, a teense too clean, a smidge too empty of doggy love. So we decided to start “keeping our eyes open” for a new four-legged furball to welcome into our home.

Daily, I scoured sites looking for a canine that said “PICK ME”…. I encountered all kinds of dogs, many of whom might have been that perfect fit but were either a bajillion miles away or a bajillion dollars. My daughter especially seemed disheartened that getting a new dog would just never happen. I said to her to not worry, that the right dog will come to us and we just need to patient for the Universe to work it’s magic.

Last September I heard there were puppies at the local SPCA. I had resisted the idea of a puppy because, well PUPPY.  Chewing and barking and teething and digging and peeing and pooping and all that other stuff that comes along with raising a young pup. It’s a two year dedication to raise into a dog that is not an asshole. I know this because Tutter was an asshole for two long you-name-it-Tutter-did-it years. He was a little dick, but after some time, spent by me mostly swearing under my breath at him and fantasizing about him running away or playing in traffic (I kid FFS, don’t get your knickers in a knot), he grew into a righteous dog that kicked all other dog’s asses at being the most awesomest dog ever. So, yeah, puppies.. Definitely not my first choice.

So at lunch one day I walked into the SPCA to check the wee little fuzzy monsters out. A typical Kootenay mix, some Shepherd, Rottie and who the heck else knows what. They were cute, I guess. I went into the kennel, expecting my heart to rise up, little puppy angels to appear singing as I would be chosen by a four-legged fuzzy soul, as he or she toddled over to me to eagerly lick my out-stretched hand.  There would be a soul connection, I would pick the puppy up and lose my heart completely.

That didn’t happen. Not one of those little fuckers even acknowledged me. They just kept on doing their thing while I felt utterly disconnected.

I left the kennel, not really feeling much, as I knew the right dog would come along. As I was ready to leave, one of the volunteers came in with a dog on a leash.

I asked if this was her dog, and she said, oh no, he was just surrendered yesterday.

And there it was. The moment. I knelt down to see what he would do and he came up to me with a sweet eagerness and a goofy charm. I scratched him around his ears and he laid his head on my shoulder.

He was almost three and had been given up by owners who had adopted him after he was abandoned around the age of one. I brought him home, intending on a weekend trial run, but by Saturday I had this funny feeling he was ours, and so we adopted Jed. We chose to be his third and final home.

Little did I know how absolutely gong-show nutters he was.

He settled in okay, and we quickly learned he was shy and skittish. He has a slinky nervous mannerism if he is around people he doesn’t quite trust. He stretches and yawns constantly, and after some internet reading I learned it can be a sign of anxiety. He disappears sometimes to hide upstairs even though we are all downstairs hanging around. He loses his mind if we cheer at the tv when our team scores. He likes to target the odd person walking down the road by nipping their calf and running away, but he jumps our fence when in the back yard when we try to contain him. (Believe me, this was and is the main issue with my dog. Thankfully it has not happened in a very long time. Biting is no joke) Tying him up is NOT an option after speaking to a professional about this, as it will only exacerbate his issues. He paces and pants sometimes for no reason. He rolls his eyes and shows the whites when he’s in a full-blown “Sketchy Jed Episode”. Sprinklers and hoses are a source of utter terror for him.

We stay calm, we don’t give him too much attention at most of his behaviour, but we instead focus on praising him when he acts normal. When we see him doing something towards others, he is corrected immediately. A visit and concern by our vet prompted us to put our dog on anti-depressants for anxiety. LOL.

The medication has helped. He is less crazy, but still kind of nuts. I wonder what goes on in his little brain sometimes. He’s not the dog I wanted, but he is the dog we needed, mostly because he needed us.

He gets quad rides and trips to the farm, walks with the kids and lots and lots of bedtime snuggles. I take him for hard runs almost every morning and the mere mention of Do You Want A Bone has him heading towards the freezer where they are kept. He is smart as a whip, he is a sweet little guy with a penchant for pleasing us, especially with his “funny face” he makes at us when he’s excited about whatever we are doing. Leaving your door to your vehicle open is an open invitation for him to jump right on in, ready for a ride.

I feel for that little guy, and all I want for him is to know that he is in his “furever” home and that we will never ever give up on him… He’s an absolute crazy-pants but you know what? That’s ok.

Last night, as I was wondering where he was, I found him tucked up at the top of the stairs in complete darkness. He wagged his tail apologetically at me and I just said “It’s okay Jed. You do what you do, man. You’re a good boy.”

And he is. He’s a good boy. A little lot of crazy going on, but hey…. who isn’t a little cray-cray?

 





One Year Ago.

5 05 2016

I stood in the kitchen that day, numb and empty. My hands moved, wiping counters, prepping food, washing dishes. The silence of the house was marred only by the ticking of the clock and my son’s breathing as he sat, iPod buds in ears, listening to his music.

Was it only a few hours before that our sweet Tutter lived and breathed? I had shed no real cathartic tears when his life left his body, as his head drooped heavy into my hands and his eyes closed. I gently held him, knowing his body was all that was left.

I was so proud of my kids that day, how they fiercely and defiantly wanted to be there, to be present for their sweet dog’s last moments. So that Tutter would know he was not alone, that he was loved and adored beyond measure. My motherly instinct to protect them from hurt was honestly understandable. But…. Oh how proud I was….That my kids, regardless of how heart-breakingly devastating it would be, knew that they both needed to be there.

We had all returned home after, and buried our family pet. And we all went our somber, separate ways for a while, to assess and try to begin to mourn.

I stood, looking about my sparkling kitchen and felt the dam break. I cried and cried. Nick stood in front of me, simply there, all that I needed at that moment while I wailed and sobbed.

I remember saying “I didn’t know it would be this hard.” And Nick nodded and came to me, arms outstretched to offer me love and comfort.

None of us knew how hard it would be.

For days, weeks and months, we healed slowly. We heard Tutter from time to time, pawing at the door, walking down the hallway, or scratching himself. I smelled him too and one time, while sitting by his grave that is tucked up under our birds-nest bush by the fish pond, I swear I felt him lean against my thigh.

Ghost Tutter was there and we celebrated that. As the hurt lessened, we began to feel lighthearted about the idea that his kind spirit lingered in our home.

Tutter, you were a good goddamn dog. You were one of the best. Not a single day goes by that we don’t think of you, mention you or just have you in our hearts. Thank you for giving us unconditional love, idiotic goofiness, tender protection and the sweetness of your devotion.

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I admit it.

18 02 2016

One time, when I was in grade 10, I was asked to join my English teacher in the hallway for a little chat.

I likely rolled my eyes at her, which she might not have actually even seen. You know, because of the blinding glare from my giant 80s glasses, reflecting the fluorescent lights above. My perfectly back-combed hair stood rigid above my brow, and I was wearing my favourite skin-tight pink dress. The same kind of dress that I’d like to think Christina Applegate’s character on Love and Marriage would have worn. What was her name?

Kelly. Kelly Bundy.

Anyways. I don’t really remember exactly why I was in trouble but I do know that I 100% deserved it. Whatever it was. Mouthing off in class, talking, being rude. Just a regular day for me.

I stood in front of her, as she stared up at me, her furious little face pinched in hatred and anger. As I looked down on her, me: 5’8″. Mrs. C:  5’2″ or maybe 5’3″… I remember that I crossed my arms and gave her my absolute best version of the  epic 15 year old bitch-ass teenage girl STARE DOWNS. Oh, you know the kind. The glare.  The pursed lips, the sullen eyes. The sighs. I stared her at her little face with the Dorothy Hammill bob. Oh my god, I hated that hair-do, and I kept staring her down. I knew she probably wanted to haul off and slap my face off my face.

She had had enough and said to me:

“Kristine, you are a little BITCH.”

And I.. I was all… I… she called me a bitch…. I said to myself. I was left open-mouthed in awe of her epic rudeness. How dare she?

After our altercation, I think I left class and went outside, I actually can’t remember what I did.

This memory popped into my mind this week after dealing with an issue about personal accountability with my kid.

I remember being so indignant, that Mrs C was in the wrong and that I was so fucking hard done by and that she was the little bitch, NOT ME… But I do remember a few years later, that I realized… HOLY SHIT YOU GUYS….

I was a LITTLE BITCH.

It opened up dialogue about owning up to our own short-comings in relationships we have with people in our lives. Sometimes, I think about some person who pissed me off and like 99% of the time, I grudgingly admit and silently recognize a part of me that contributed to the situation.. Just like we are part of good laughs among friends, we are equally a part of the negative shit too.

Well, it’s a journey I am no where near mastering, this is for sure. It’s tough as hell to admit when you’ve helped create the bad stuff. To admit what you’ve put into that circumstance. To accept responsibility.

But then you learn from it and move forward.

 





Krisitis. It’s contagious.

27 11 2015

If you don’t already know this mundane fact about me, I work as an MOA (medical office assistant) in a local doctor’s office. I work with a fantastic bunch of peeps, including a nurse Paula, who has quickly become a very sweet and dear friend of mine. She’s lovely, kind, supportive and lots of fun to work with.

The other day, she had a requisition to fax up to the hospital for a patient. As I was busy on the phone, she faxed it and then went to answer the other line when it started ringing.

As I chatted with the patient on the phone, I could hear my fax machine stop ringing and a voice say “Good morning, Kootenay Medical Center. This is Paula. Hello? Hello??” I leaned over and clicked the cancel fax button, as I realized Paula had faxed our office number and then answered her own fax.

I tried my best and failed miserably to not giggle uncontrollably while finishing up my own phone call, when she came back out to my desk, we both looked at each other and collapsed in a fit of guffaws.

After we both caught our breath, I told her she had caught a severe case of Krisitis and as a life-long sufferer, I advised her there was no known cure and she just had to deal with it.

Good times indeed.