Friday, December 19, 2008

My final post for 2008

The Sky Rides ticket
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In December last year, gripped by the need to cross water, I took a spontaneous trip to St. Lucia to visit my friend Mel and renew myself. It was well worth it. We had a great time.

We decided that on the 1st day of 2008 we would do something to confront a fear, symbolising our fearless approach to whatever the year would bring. As we both have (had ...?) a fear of heights, we decided to embrace that in a big way.

So the year, 2008 started off with us bright and early on the morning of January 1st, symbolically plunging from a height thousands of feet above sea level into the depths of the forest. This exhilarating experience, for me, was the inspiration for the eleven platforms of my life (in which I asked the Universe to surprise me):

1. Self
2. Spirit/Spirituality
3. Love Life
4. Relationships (friends/family)
5. Career
6. Creativity
7. Geographical Location (travel/abode)
8. Recreation/Social Life
9. Learning
10. Finances
11. Health/Exercise

Each of those areas was indeed addressed by the Universe in some form or fashion. As a result, 2008 has been a full, intense and life changing year in many amazing ways - new experiences, new relationships, new ways of eating, feeling and being, new interests, new directions ... and much more. Seeds, planted in the Garden of Life ... to grow and bloom in time.

I am very thankful for this year and its gifts. Looking back, I'm amazed at how much it has all been!

I am also very thankful for all of you who read my blog regularly, take interest, give encouragement and support in whatever way(s) you do, share your comments and feedback and offer friendship ... both online or offline.

Another spontaneous December moment is here. As much as I enjoy blogging, this will be my last blog post and my last blogging day for 2008. It's like yoga. The whole year has been one long kriya and now it's time for the rest period. I intend to assimilate the energies of this (kriya) year and spend pleasure time nurturing and tending to the seeds, seedlings and flowers in my Life Garden.

My sincere wish for each one of you is the manifestation of whatever is for your highest good and the highest good of those around you.

Enjoy!

See you again in 2009.

Love,

Elspeth

Monday, December 15, 2008

rEVOLVE (my first hooping video)


Soundtrack & Hooping: Elspeth Duncan
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Remember some time back I mentioned my new mission ... to learn to hoop and get good at it? Above is my first hooping video. It's very simple ... no fancy moves and impressive spinning yet. At this point, basically trying to keep the hoop up. I am using a child's hoop (the small, lightweight ones we get here) because it's the only one I have right now. But to get into it properly, I'm going to have to get (or make) a real hooping hoop, which is much larger and weighted. Working on that ...

I'll be documenting my progress over time and sharing those subsequent videos as I revolve.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

My heart flew into the Angelic Kingdom

One of the little boxes in which I packaged my raw treats.
I wrote a quote or words of a mantra on each box.
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This morning I took my yoga students on a special outing. My friend Glen came to pick me up in his jeep. The first thing I saw as I walked onto the driveway was a heart shaped leaf. I picked it up to carry with me.

We met the others and drove together to the Botanical Gardens, where we had our class under a bamboo grove. In the relaxation periods between postures, lying on the mats took on a whole new meaning ... with the creaking and rustling of bamboo above us, the sound of birds and wind and the dappling sunlight through the leaves. I placed the leaf heart in my Tibetan singing bowl while the class was going on and, in the final few minutes of the relaxation period when I used the bowl to further relax the students, I left the heart in it ... symbolic of Love emerging from the centre and emanating with the vibrations of the bowl.

After yoga, we went to walk the labyrinth. It was the first labyrinth experience for all of the students and, for me, the first time walking with so many people. Normally I walk the labyrinth alone or with at least one other person. Oh no ... how could I forget? For my birthday last year I walked the labyrinth with five friends. We all walked together to the centre, where we each sat in one of the six petals and conducted a "Love Ritual".

Today when we got to the centre, I placed the heart leaf in the middle, along with a small box of yet-to-be-named raw creations (derivation of the raw brownie/Tongue Lingers recipe) which my students heartily enjoyed. On the box I had written Sat Nam (seed mantra) which means: Truth is my/your identity. When I raised up the box, the wind blew and the heart flew into the 5th petal of the labyrinth, which represents the Angelic Kingdom. Considering that the labyrinth holds many messages for us, I found this interesting ...

Angelic Kingdom Working/connecting with angels. Guardian angels. Archangels. Surrender, trust and listen, then take guided action. Connecting body, mind and soul. Ability to hear, listen and follow your soul's truth. Finding your purpose. Seeing with your mind's eye (third eye/sixth sense). Following truth. Vision quest. Inner guidance. Going within. Finding the centre of your being. Becoming integrated.

Source
I had taken this photo yesterday when I made these raw goodies. Quite fortuitous. Looking at the picture today it reminds me of all of us sitting in a circle at the centre of the labyrinth.
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We sat there for a while, each talking about what we had experienced during our walk and what we were feeling. We then walked back out and drove back to our 'base' (where we normally have our classes) where we had a small picnic.

It was a fantastic morning. A gift.

Friday, December 12, 2008

French results

Writing is backwards because I took the shot using iPhoto


Patience Pays


Patience pays. Wait. Let the hand of God work for you. One who has created you let Him create all the environments, circumstances, and facilities & faculties.

Tu kaahay dolay praaniaa tudh rakhaygaa sirjanhaar | jin paidayas tu kiyaa soee kardaa saar

Oh individual, why you are in a very doubtful state? One who has made you will take care of you. One who has created this universe, all the planets, planetary faculties and facilities on Earth, He is the One who has created you. Wait, have patience, lean on him, and all best things will come to you.

Dwell in God. Dwell in God. Dwell in God. Befriend your soul. Dwell in God and befriend your soul. Dwell in God and befriend your soul. All the faculties and facilities of the Creation, which are in your best interest, shall be at your feet. You need million things; million things will reach you, if you are stable, established, firm, patient. Remember, Creator watches over you and Creation is ready to serve you, if you just…be you.

So please take away the ghost of your life and stop chasing around. Consolidate. Concentrate. Be you. And may all the peace & peaceful environments, prosperity approach you forever. Sat Nam

- Yogi Bhajan –
Master of Kundalini Yoga and White Tantric Yoga

Source



Thursday, December 11, 2008

A plug for my sister & a great Christmas gift

One of the design sets
Attractively packaged in a soft clear box. Each box includes 6 blank notelets (4" x 6") - with 3 designs; 6 envelopes and a pen for your writing convenience. COST: US$8.00 OR TT$45.00 per box.
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For a really affordable, great quality and useful Christmas gift (or any-time-of-the-year gift) visit my sister Kathryn's Real Respects 'Catablog'. It features her current range of card designs (three different sets of designs are available), available for order and purchase.

All relevant information and details are at the 'Catablog'.

Who took it?


I mean the title of this post in two ways:
1. Who took (i.e. focused and pressed 'click' on camera) whatever photo you are looking at?
2. Who takes (i.e. copies and pastes elsewhere) whatever photo you are looking at and uses it as "theirs" without giving credit to the photographer?

I love to see an uninterrupted image - i.e. an image without a watermark all over it. I also love to see a large, clear image ... as opposed to a tiny one where you have to strain to see what's in it ... or a grainy low resolution one that looks like poor quality. However, I understand the need for small sizes, low resolution and large watermarks, especially when one has photographs online.

In the past, there are times when I've put my name small in the corner of a shot, but that can still be cropped by someone wanting to use the image elsewhere and not give credit. Usually I don't bother about 'claiming' the photo in that way. I certainly don't put my name in large letters (like what I've done above - and what I've gone back and done on yesterday's post). But that way, cropping out the name becomes difficult.

I don't know if anyone has ever copied photos I have here on my blog and used them elsewhere. Maybe they have. Quite by chance, I saw one once somewhere, but credit had been given.

Recently there was a discussion on TriniGourmet's blog re shameless copyright infringement. The main case in point was the Trinidad Express Newspaper (one of our three daily newspapers - if not the 'top' one?) taking photos from blogsites of local bloggers and using them in the newspaper without as much as even a mention of the person's name in even 8 point font! This is ludicrous. Bad enough having people online 'taking' your photos ... but a major newspaper?

TriniGourmet follows her article with some guidelines:
What to do when someone steals your content?
Protect your blog and counter copyright thefts.

I'll read up on these later.

And recently I got an e-mail from an acquaintance advising me of the following:

it may be a good idea to register your website and photography with the United States Copyright Office here: http://www.copyright.gov/

Take note of these tips, fellow online photographers. It doesn't matter if you think your photos are 'good' or 'not'.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Life!

This morning Jasper jumped through the window with something clenched in his mouth. I dived on him and grabbed it. It was this small Bananaquit ... still warm, body motionless, little heart thumping, beak open and gasping for life. I held it and gently stroked its upturned belly, giving comfort in what appeared to be its last moments.
After about three minutes she started to move, opening her beak more, vomiting a clear liquid into my hands. I took her outside ... by which time she sat up, clenching her little legs tightly around my finger. She seemed suddenly alert, as though hearing other birds calling her. (In the above shot, notice the little drop of clear vomit under her beak near the throat).
She gets up close to her captor from the safety of my hands.
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Within minutes she was getting stronger and would not let go of my fingers. It is an amazing sensation ... as though a half dead creature is absorbing the surge of energy from living hands to bring itself back to life. Akin to pumping air into a deflated tyre.
The captor loses interest and turns away, realising that the prey is no longer easy.
Within about five - ten minutes of lying in my hands looking half dead, she had regained enough of herself to fly away. That's one of the greatest feelings in the world - not only for the bird, but for me. Each time I've held an injured or stunned bird in my hands, I've felt a huge surge of happiness in the moment when it suddenly flies off from me and disappears over the trees.

I couldn't help but clap when this little one flew off this morning.

Later, as I stood under a huge samaan tree drinking a coconut on my way to a meeting, as my head tilted back to swallow the water, my eyes fell on a commotion high up in the tree. It was a lively gathering of small birds - they seemed to be bananaquits - playing and frolicking with each other among the branches.

Tongue Lingers


Yesterday I made two batches of raw mini brownies (coconut, carob, dates, sunflower seeds, coconut oil). The ones on the left are made with the same ingredients - only I added raisins and didn't process the mixture as much - resulting in the graininess. Both versions are very delicious! The taste lingers lightly on the tongue ... hence the name I've given them.

The recipe (for "Raw Brownies") is one I saw from "Alice, Raw Artist":

1 cup dates
1/2 cup dried coconut
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, dry
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 tablespoons cacao powder

Grind coconut and seeds together, put in the food processor. Add cacao and process. Add dates and a little coconut oil. Press into lined tin and set in fridge. Slice into small squares as it is quite rich.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Raw chemistry

Last week and over the weekend I felt like I was in a culinary chemistry lab, concocting and experimenting and coming up with new creations ...
Two from my first large batch of dehydrated 'crackers'. I can't technically call them crackers because I didn't dehydrate them long enough to make them crunchy/crisp. They turned out more like pliable granola bars or very thin slices of dark, wholesome German bread. The ingredients used to make them: soaked sunflower seeds, lentil sprouts, dates, sea salt, flax meal. They went down well with a combination of things: delicious, simple tomato paste I had made (tomatoes, sea salt, raisins - all blended finely), avocado, sprouts, apple slices, dates, spinach, 'cheese' spread ... or just on their own as a snack.

The cheese-looking spread came about after I had been shaving corn off the cob to put into guacamole. I put the corn in the mini food processor gadget and, after grinding it up, found it had a cheese-like colour. I added other ingredients until it looked like cheese paste ... then added others to create a cheese-ish taste. Next time I'll experiment by adding other ingredients to give it more of a 'zing'.

My latest batch of lentil sprouts on one of the 'crackers'.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Girl in hot pink with magic wand gets my garland

At the centre of the labyrinth one day recently with my friend Kris who had her camera with her.
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The day of the concert arrived and I still hadn't written more than one verse of the song. I wasn't feeling it ... and the worst thing is to force something that's not coming. So I let it go and turned to good old Dandelion ... who always lives up to her name (see below for part of the reason why I gave her that name):

In keeping with the dandelion as a flower, every time the drum is played, powerful vibrations will spread far and wide with positive results (reminiscent of a wish being made, the dandelion being blown and the seeds being dispersed.

I have a deck of the small Self Mastery cards, each of which has a different positive value or quality on it and a little message to go with it: Love, Peace, Transformation, Healing, etc. They sell them at the Raj Yoga centre for about $20 - $40TT by the way, if anyone is interested. Nice gift.

About one hour before the concert, with no new song to sing, this was my only hope. I decided to do a "call and response" song using several 'qualities' from this deck (as my lyrics) and the vibrations of Dandelion (as my music). When I went up to perform I told the audience I would be performing a call and response song called GLOBAL CIRCLE. I explained briefly that the positive vibrations of the drum will emanate globally and that the meaning of the words we use in our call and response will go out to touch people like gifts.

So ... I drummed Dandelion and sang/chanted various words I'd chosen ... and then the audience echoed what I had sung in the same melody.

E.g.
Me: Love, Love, Love
Audience: Love, Love, Love
Me: Peace, Peace, Peace
Audience: Peace, Peace, Peace
Me: Joy, Joy, Joy
Aud: Joy, Joy, Joy
Me: Release, Release, Release
Aud: Release, Release, Release

... and so it went for about 3 or 4 minutes, with different words. People were echoing the words/melodies and some were swaying to Dandelion's constant rhythm. While it was great as is/was, I wished that no one felt shy about being really loud. So for the last 'verse' where I/we repeated LOVE for each of the four lines, I said (before chanting out the last line): Okay, let's REALLY be loud with this last one!"

My request was instantly answered by a cute little girl dressed in hot pink (slippers, pants, tunic and headband) waving a flashing silver wand, sitting in the second row with her father. "LOOOOOOOOOVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVE!!!!!!!!!!" her little voice screamed out above the moderate adult tones, magic wand flashing.

My immediate response was to shout: "Woohooooooooo!!!!!!" into the microphone and start clapping and laughing. It was a great moment.

After the concert I went to the little girl. Her name is Sarah and she's "four and a half". We chatted for a while about Santa, her flashing magic wand and a few other things. I found her to be very open and brave. When her mother came along, I said: "Sarah is really friendly and chatty."

"No she's not usually at all," the mother said. "She's actually very shy, but somehow she's taken to you. I think it was the music. She was singing along ... and then the way she she screamed out at the end. She loves music."

"Maybe she was drawn to this as well," I said, touching my beloved pink garland which I had worn to the concert. "Looks like her favourite colour is pink."

"Not just pink. HOT pink!" the mother exclaimed.

When I was leaving I went to Sarah, who was playing with a little glowing bouncing ball.

"So I see pink is your favourite colour," I said.

"Yes."

"Do you like this?" (pointing to my garland around my neck)

"Yes!"

"You want it?"

"Yes!"

I took it off and put it around her neck. It was the same colour as everything else she was wearing. She looked up at me her eyes sparkling ... and went back to playing with her glowing ball.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Wowwwwwie! My new mission

My friend C has a daughter, A (12 years old now) who, at times when I was over (when she was still in primary school), often had her hula hoop out. I would always pick it up and give it a go ... but that talent which I'd had as a child seems to be dormant now.

My friend's daughter would laugh at me, then sigh with childish exasperation: "Spec, look let me show you. It's eeeeeasy!" She would then stand there, barely even moving her body, a placid, yawning, this-is-so-easy expression on her face as the hula hoop went zipping about her slim frame.

The other day I bought a red hula hoop in Excellent Stores so that I can practice. My new mission is to get really good at it. I will experiment on my own ... but I think I may also have to take some lessons (not sure where though) and learn some tips and tricks. This is a beautiful art. Whether it zips or floats around your body ... it just looks great ... fluid, sexy, relaxing, energizing, zippy, fun, wow ... Below are a few inspirational videos featuring other hoopers. When I've got the hang of it, I'll do one of my own.

(N.B. The music in the last embedded video automatically plays. Just press stop or pause so it doesn't conflict with the sound in the other videos if you're looking at them).

Unwinding at home
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(Sigh): Look Spec, it's easy!
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Simple, natural, effortless, surreal
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Effortlessly elegant

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The answers stretch back to childhood ...


It's been ages since I've done Sunday Scribblings. I happened to look at it last night and ironically the topic is something I had been thinking about a lot yesterday: TRADITION (in light of Christmas in particular).

The Christmas traditions I know were created by my parents and, as their children, we accepted them as ours and grew into/grew up with them. After all, that's essentially what the word tradition means: an inherited pattern of thought or action. Traditions are passed down from one generation to the next.

Sometimes they are outgrown. Sometimes they fizzle out, change/evolve or are lost in time. Sometimes they are consciously broken and new ones created ... or not.

Christmas Eve is still the part of Christmas I like best (I'm not keen on Christmas Day itself). When I think about why, the answers stretch back to childhood. The excitement of what Christmas Eve meant to me then lingers in my blood, even though those traditions are no longer with us.

On Christmas Eve my parents, my two sisters and I would drive around all afternoon into early night delivering gifts to friends (ours and theirs). This was an exciting highlight for me and my sisters. Not only did we love going for drives, but at every stop we would visit a while, enjoy Christmassy eats and drinks, receive a gift (or gifts) ... before moving on again merrily to the next stop. Often we would all be singing Christmas carols in the car.

Christmas Eve was also the day we used to put up our Christmas tree. In those days it was a fresh tree (Latin name: podocarpus) which Daddy would cut. It had a sweet, piney smell and lasted until the 6th of January when we would take it down.

On Christmas Eve night we would go over to Auntie Pat's house for her traditional Christmas Eve dinner. While grown ups chatted and consumed the fare, we children would be out in the garden with sparklers, playing various games and munching on Christmas snacks before going in for a plate of 'real' food.

Christmas Eve also held the anticipation of Santa's arrival ... something my sisters and I pretended we still believed in (just to get the extra gifts) even after we found out that 'Santa' was our parents.

I was never too fond of Christmas Day however, because it involved waking up very early to go to church. Waking up early wasn't the problem because as children we were up early anyway to see what Santa had brought. It was the going to church part that we didn't like ... sitting through a long drawn out Christmas service when there were gifts at home waiting to be ripped open. We would then come home and have breakfast (pastelles, etc.) ... before opening gifts! This too was difficult ... the prolonged suspense of waiting. Then finally we would gather around the tree and take turns opening the presents. When that was done, we would play with whatever toys we got, read whatever books, etc ... until lunch time, which was usually a big family lunch. Either the cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. would come over to our house or we would all gather at one of theirs. Then after all the eating and playing, back home ...

Every year that was the way it unfolded ...
Yesterday as I thought about 'traditions' it struck me for the first time (believe it or not) that I don't have any Christmas traditions of my own. What is something that I really enjoy doing, sharing, getting excited about and looking forward to about Christmas now ... in the way that I looked forward to Santa, gifts, sparklers, freshly cut trees and going for gift-giving drives as a child? This year in particular I'm feeling that it's time to create/experience/celebrate/share something different and special of my own ... a new tradition.

Maybe raw.

Friday, December 5, 2008

An unexpected response

Earlier today musician Kwesi Michael Stewart sent me this link to something he created upon hearing the mp3 of the first verse of my 'Christmas song'.

Have a listen to his offering (about 1 min long)

I love when someone is inspired to spontaneously interact and create like that. Imagine if different musicians and/or poets were inspired to create a new verse each, following on from my first verse, then Kwesi's second verse ... resulting in a whole string of new verses of an eternally ongoing global song.

The first verse of my song (mp3) & Interactive Update!

Since writing the below post this morning, I've come up with an idea to make this 'Christmas song' interactive on the day of the performance itself ... but I need your assistance in order to do it. I would really appreciate it if you could write a short personal paragraph about (a) what makes Christmas special for you or (b) why you love Christmas - either as an individual or as shared with your love/loved ones ... and leave your answer as a comment below.

Very important that I get your answers by end of today preferably or end of Saturday for the latest. After Sunday I will fill you in on what I did with your offerings to this project.




This is a rough, first-time rendition/recording of the first verse of my 'Christmas' song.
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Thanks to all who offered suggestions yesterday for my 'Christmas Challenge'. I did eventually find inspiration/it found me/we found each other at the same time.

Around 6 p.m. I picked up the mini travel guitar and started to play simple notes on two strings. These notes immediately inspired a melody, from which flowed four lines of simple words. So ... after days of procrastination and nothingness, within five minutes, I had my first verse. Hooray! Something at last. I quickly recorded the melody/words in Garage Band to commit them to memory.

I'll work on other verses today, keeping them just as simple (which, incidentally, is what I am calling the song: "Simple").

In recent times, Christmas for many (most?) is a commercial whirlwind of traffic, frenzied shopping and a long list of stressful, expensive have-to's: have to make cake, pastelles and sorrel, have to have to paint the house and put up new curtains, have to organise a huge Christmas lunch, have to get ham and turkey and grog, have to buy X amount of gifts, have to do this and that ...

No, it doesn't HAVE to be that way at all! It can be very SIMPLE!

Basically, whether or not 25 December is the day that Jesus was actually born, it's the day that's chosen to celebrate the Christ birth. One does not have to be religious and dogmatic or even Christian to acknowledge the Spirit of LOVE introduced to the world by one of the great beings who walked this Earth: Jesus, who was a Hippie. Love is really what we need to give, receive, share and celebrate ... not only on this one day of the year, but every day, if we can.

If one of our great Teachers showed us (by example) to love each other as we love ourselves ... (is that it? Or is it 'Love each other as I have loved you'? Or both?) ... then where have we gone wrong? Maybe we don't love ourselves enough to really love others!

I think this is what my 'Simple' song will be about.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Please help me with my Christmas Challenge


This mini travel guitar was left behind by Cédric, the camera man for one of the French documentary crews I worked with last year. When I dropped them to the airport he told me to get it from his hotel room and keep it.
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The other day my friend Glen (who used to be very involved with the Raj Yoga Centre) called and said: "Spec, will you perform for the Raj Yoga Christmas concert this Sunday?" (i.e. Sunday coming).

Without thinking, I said: "Yes."

Only when I said "Yes" and put down the phone did it sink in that (a) it's a Christmas concert (b) I don't have any original Christmas songs (and I wouldn't want to sing an existing one) and (c) I would have less than a week to make up a whole new song.

When I called Glen back to tell him this and to say that I didn't think I would play after all, he had already told the Centre I would be performing. "Take it as a challenge," he suggested cheerily.

So I accepted 'the challenge', thinking I would be inspired to whip up something in the coming week.

However, the concert is 3 days away and (a) I have not yet touched my guitar or drum to compose anything (b) I don't feel inspired (c) I don't feel Christmassy

Can any of you offer ideas to prompt me?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Learning from Mistakes

(Final French exams ce soir ... and that's all for French until next year, 3B)
Photo taken with iPhoto - hence reversed writing
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As quickly as I write some more of my French novel I send it to le professeur for him to read and correct whatever erreurs are there. Sometimes when I get back the submission I'm amazed at the pencil marks all over it. Sometimes less, sometimes more. They have to do with spelling, articles (male or female) and sentence construction that is particularly French (as opposed to English). Writing in French involves thinking in French - a whole new structure. It's like approaching 'life' in a whole new way, new patterns, new ways of thinking, being and communicating.

The pencil marks are more informative than daunting. I learn from the mistakes. Doesn't mean I won't make them again, as I've realised ...

In the context of this French novel, I am a small child, learning to walk and talk in a vast new world. I entered all gung ho - without thinking of whether it would be easy or difficult. As I write that, it reminds me of the opening two sentences of Chapitre Un:

La porte vaginale s’est ouverte et elle est entrée dans ce monde. Sa nouvelle vie commençait et elle était prête.

The vaginal door opened and she entered this world. Her new life was beginning and she was ready.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My pie tastes delicious but ...

The pie that I made last night leaves much to be desired (visually) when a 'slice' is cut from the main dish.
Photo taken with iPhoto, hence dark appearance
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Clearly something went awry with my pie filling. It was too liquidy and the resulting serving which I had for breakfast was a mass of nut crust and pawpaw-banana filling. It tasted delicious ... but it looked nothing like the firm, triangular slices I've seen from other raw pies! See below example of Raspberry Chocolate DreamPie from the Raw Inspiration weblog:
One day I'll get there.

Monday, December 1, 2008

My first raw pie: The Hippie

It's time to start getting more inventive now that the 'festive season' is around. Tonight I experimented by making my first raw pie. I amended a recipe I had come across (i.e. by using ingredients I had instead of only what the recipe called for).
The crust is made of sunflower and sesame seeds, raisins, pine nuts, a bit of orange juice.
No baking necessary. Just pure raw ingredients.
The filling is pawpaw and banana (with a tad of orange juice for extra flavour), garnished with black seedless grapes. I think I made it a tad liquidy ... but I'm sure it will solidify sufficiently in the freezer (where it is now). I'll leave it there for an hour or so.Can't wait to taste it.

The 'flowers' in this recipe (i.e. sunflower seeds and the grape flower design on top) made me think "Hippy". But for the sake of naming this pie "Hippy", I'll spell it Hippie (as in Hip pie ... a pie that's hip). Double entendre.

To market, to market ...?

When I went to the market this morning I was surprised to find it all locked up and like a ghost town. Very odd. I'd never seen it like that. I had to go to a small fruit/vegetable shop fairly near to home. While purchasing a few items I said to the shop owner: "I just went to the market and it was all empty and locked up."

What he told me in response reminded me of this Mother Goose rhyme:

To market, to market, to buy a fat pig,
Home again, home again, dancing a jig;
To market, to market, to buy a fat hog;
Home again, home again, jiggety-jog;
To market, to market, to buy a plum bun,
Home again, home again, market is done.

"This is what I've heard," he said. "I'm not sure how true it is, but I wouldn't be surprised. Where are the health authorities in this country?! They closed down the market because of a health hazard. HUGE RATS!"

To market, to market to buy a fat rat ...


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Wuthering Maracas

In the life guard booth at Maracas
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On Friday I went to Maracas with my friend Tamara. Our last jaunt, as she returns to Toronto tomorrow. It was a grey day and the waves eventually got so huge that they were coming up the beach and partway up the little red plank leading up to the Life Guard hut where we were 'camping out'. One English tourist even thought we were life guards and asked for advice on where he could swim and what the red flags meant.

I love the colours in the above photo. Moody and windswept, like the tropical, ocean version of Wuthering Heights. I was thinking that ... then googled Wuthering Heights and found the Youtube video of Kate Bush's song of the same name, which I used to love. Ironically, the colour scheme is very similar to that of my Maracas Day photo.


Friday, November 28, 2008

A Synchronicitous Thanksgiving Conversation

Last night was the opening of a friend's first photography exhibition (Robyn Cross: Breathe). I went with my friend Glen, who was driving. We are not Americans, hence we don't celebrate Thanksgiving, but I thought it would be nice to celebrate anyway by giving thanks for things as we drove into town.

I said to Glen: "How about if we gave thanks - like a conversation? You say something you're thankful for, then I say something I'm thankful for and we go like that until we get into town." (i.e. about a 20 - 30 minute drive).

So we did that.

Glen began by saying: "I'm really thankful for having you as a friend."

I followed by saying: "I'm thankful for having you as a friend also."

We continued, listing different things, situations and people (ourselves included) that we were thankful for in our lives. Sometimes we would just say the thing, situation or person. Sometimes we would add an explanation or give a little story to flesh out why we were thankful.

Sometimes we can have long conversations with people and at the end wonder what we spoke about and why (i.e. empty chatter to fill space and time). But the Thank You conversation felt meaningful and intimate. As friends we were learning new things about each other and our selves through what we were thankful for and why.

At one point there was a lapse in our Thank You stream. Everything fell silent but the radio in Glen's jeep. In that space, the Universe joined our conversation as the synchronicitous words of the song on the radio wafted to our ears ... Alanis Morisette's Thank U!


THANK YOU
How about getting off of these antibiotics
How about stopping eating when I'm filled up
How about them transparent dangling carrots
How about that ever elusive kudo

Thank you India
Thank you terror
Thank you disillusionment
Thank you frailty
Thank you consequence
Thank you thank you silence

How about me not blaming you for everything
How about me enjoying the moment for once
How about how good it feels to finally forgive you
How about grieving it all one at a time

Thank you India
Thank you terror
Thank you disillusionment
Thank you frailty
Thank you consequence
Thank you thank you silence

The moment I let go of it was
The moment I got more than I could handle
The moment I jumped off of it was
The moment I touched down

How about no longer being masochistic
How about remembering your divinity
How about unabashedly bawling your eyes out
How about not equating death with stopping

Thank you India
Thank you providence
Thank you disillusionment
Thank you nothingness
Thank you clarity
Thank you thank you silence

yeah yeah
ahh ohhh
ahhh ho oh
ahhh ho ohhhhhh
yeaahhhh yeahh

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Inspiration in Cancellation

Altered screen shot of part of the introduction of mon roman.
*
Hier in French le professeur told us that the Language Centre's Christmas concert/dinner has been cancelled because the person who was organising it is ill. So ... I won't get to read mon roman.

It would have been enjoyable to share some of it in that forum ... but I'm actually glad about the cancellation. I now have a great idea of what to do with my French novel once je suis finis. It is exciting and full of possibilities and I don't think it would have occurred to me had the Christmas concert not been canceled.

Albeit on a much smaller scale, this kind of reminds me of when I went to Canada in May last year to do a course in reflexology (which got canceled unexpectedly 2 or 3 days after my arrival) ... and I ended up receiving a totally different opportunity ... working on a film ... and having a greater overall experience (not only work, but play) than imagined. I was so glad the reflexology didn't happen.

The point I'm making is ... whether large or small, there's inspiration in cancellation. Be open to the great things that are waiting and wanting to happen in its aftermath.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My first Amazon Wishlist

Early morning at Macqueripe
*
Yesterday I left home before dawn to go and help my friend Emilie with an early morning experimental video shoot at Macqueripe. Upon returning home I was so absorbed in writing my French novel that I forgot to blog.

However, I did take time before my (unusually) late bedtime to make one small addition. If you look to the right you will see an Amazon Wishlist. The books aren't listed in order of preference ... just in the order in which I added them. I may add more in time.

I was inspired to create a wishlist when Girlblue added one to her blog some time ago. It looked like something exciting to have. I already have a Cosmic one posted on the intangible Universal webpage ... but this Amazon one is for anyone who feels inspired to buy me a gift for Christmas or a belated birthday gift or a "just-felt-like-giving-you-a-gift" gift at any time of the year.

Monday, November 24, 2008

My debut: reading some of my French novel

A photo I took in October - of small decorative lights on the trees during the Greenlight concert
*

Today, by chance, I came across what is now one of my favourite French words: éblouissant -(e)

Not only does it sound good, but I love its meaning: "dazzling, staggeringly beautiful".

The French words that I come across and love (their sound and/or meaning) end up in my novel. E.g. When I came across the word "luciole" (firefly) it ended up not only in the novel, but it has a starring role as part of the novel's title.

My new éblouissante will go into the novel today and help to advance the story.

Ce soir (this evening) in French class it will be my turn to speak to the class again on a topic of interest to me. We each have to do that twice this term, for the aural part of our exams in Level 3A. Last time I showed Invisible, then (in French) spoke about the production process and the aftermath - the efforts to get the house built (which it now is).

Today I'll talk to them about mon roman (my novel), what inspired it, the process of writing it and I'll read a bit of it for them. This will also be a practice session of sorts. Whenever I write bits of the novel, I send them to my French teacher (who is French) and he makes whatever little corrections need to be made. His comments so far have been: "Excellent! Vraiment! Toutes les corrections ne sont que de détails!" (Excellent! Really! All the corrections are just details) ... and "Ouah!" (an expression of 'Wow!')

The Christmas party/concert for the Language Centre is coming up on 6th December and each class (French, German, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, Italian, Hindi, etc) has to do something. Le professeur suggested that I read about five minutes of my novel (in French) and project the English onto a screen - possibly with images (since not everyone there will understand the French). He said it would be interesting, as "no student has ever decided to write a novel before."

Passionnant!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Update and some photos from Veronica's House handover

Veronica's House (2 bedroom, pre-fabricated). Still some work to be done: plumbing, painting and finishing touches inside, landscaping outside. It should be ready for occupation in at most 2 weeks time.
Hanging at the front entrance, the bow on Veronica's 'gift'.
Standing in front of the house with members of Habitat and one of the sponsors, FCB who gave proceeds from their golf tournament toward the house.
The shovel for breaking ground.
*
The ceremony was to be a very short one, starting at 4:30 p.m. and, ideally, would have well been over by 5:30 p.m. My friend Tamara and I were there from 4:00 to lay out refreshments. Some Habitat staff were already present, tying bows and preparing small details. Other staff, along with the sponsor, arrived by 4:30-ish.

Unfortunately however, the Lady of the Manor and Moment, Veronica, never made it ... due to a combination of (i) leaving her destination in south late (the person who was to bring her to the ceremony arrived at that typical 'Trini time') and (ii) the unfortunate ever-presence of severe traffic on her route.

She will receive the keys during the week.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Veronica gets her house today ... and what about us?


Faith makes all things possible.
Love makes all things easy.

- Dwight L. Moody -The Dream Trees when they were small.

*
Today is the handing over ceremony at which Veronica and her two children will get the keys to their new home. In a twist of synchronicity, tonight is also the night that Invisible the Dance will compete in the Best Village finals at Queens Hall (from 6:30, for those who wish to be there).

The Veronica's House initiative began in January 2008 with the seemingly impossible task of Katie (my production assistant on the documentary (Invisible) - who soon after had to return to Toronto) and I deciding to build Veronica and her children a house. People told us: "Great idea, girls, but ... that's a huge undertaking! You all know anything about building a house?"

Even with 'obstacles' (for a very long while not much support financially or physically) there was never the feeling that this was impossible. It would be long winded of me to go into details of the entire process, but suffice it to say, there is indeed an Invisible (pun intended) Force that moves us and moves with us, pulling the necessary elements together when something is to be manifested.

Earlier this year when I made the Dream House window lamp, it was primarily to promote the cause of building a house for Veronica. However, I felt that rather than it just being about her dream (a house), it would be even more powerful if it was about our dreams too.

I had said back then that the day Veronica gets the keys to her house is the day that something special will happen for all of us who placed our dreams into the Dream House Window Lamp ... (dreams thereafter planted with the Dream Trees featured above - now MUCH larger than they were back then).

So ... today is a very special day. Not just for Veronica and her children, but for all of us who trusted/trust our dreams to the Invisible Force.

The 'seemingly impossible' task of what started as 'two girls setting out to build a house' is now AN ACTUAL HOUSE (thanks to help from the Invisible Force and Habitat and anyone else who came on board along the way).

Have no doubt that our dreams are manifesting big time also.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Message

Yesterday at the labyrinth
*
Let it go.

Let it come.

Letting go
Is the same as receiving.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

True Love

True Love kept me company in traffic on the way home
(... and N.B. I wore my pink garland today as a bracelet)
*
Today browsing in RIK Bookstore with my friend Moka, I came across the book "True Love" by Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh. I stood there leafing through the pages, reading snippets and being absorbed by certain passages. All that I read felt true and resonated with things I had been thinking and feeling as well as things I (we) would do well to observe and practise. "Wow, I've got to get this book ..." I decided.

It was the only copy on the shelf and it was a bit dirty from people having fingered it often. I asked the woman at the counter if they had another copy.

She ascended the stairs to their stock room, calling out as she did so to a girl (let's say her name was 'Sally'): "Sally, you have any True Love up there?"

She came back down soon after. "No more True Love. This is the only one. I'll give you for $79."

(Ten dollars discount).

"Can you see if any of the other branches have it?" I asked her.

The woman made a few calls to other branches.

"You all have True Love?" she asked Long Circular Mall branch.

"You all have True Love?" she asked Grand Bazaar Branch.

"You all have True Love?" she asked West Mall Branch.

By that time, I had decided that this one last copy must be meant for me. Dirty or not, it seemed to be the only True Love left anywhere. Plus, I found it endearing that the woman was actually calling stores and asking them if they had True Love. This quaint verbal exchange made the little book seem more precious than a clean one could ever be.

"No one has any more True Love," the woman said to me as she came off the phone.

I told her that I liked the way she had been asking the other stores for 'True Love' and she chuckled - having not realised that by asking for the name of the book she had actually sounded as if she was asking for the thing itself ... True Love which, she then deduced, no one has any more of.

"Well you have it," Moka pointed out to me as I purchased True Love at a further $4 discount (seventy-five dollars).

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Validation

A friend shared a link to this lovely short film yesterday. It's only 16:23 minutes long and worth looking at.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Raw-newing my commitment

Lentil sprouts and date.
(An archival shot)
*
Tomorrow, November 17th will make it 6 months since I've been raw. I don't regret it at all, for a number of reasons. And I can safely say it is not a 'fad' or 'diet' but a lifestyle change. However, I admit I have slacked a little lately with my preparations and have not been making the elaborate meals, smoothies, juices, etc that I used to in the beginning. I have not been exploring exciting combinations and concoctions, have not been going to the market every other morning to buy new produce and I've not been drinking my (at least) four litres of water a day. Instead, when hungry, I toss together something quick and simple and eat it. When thirsty, I drink anywhere from a glass to a litre. When I need ingredients I run down to HiLo (supermarket). I have not even been thinking about the raw recipe book I wanted to do or taking photos of my concoctions (not that there have been any exciting ones anyway, as I mentioned above).

Raw can be/is fun when alone, but is better when shared - at all stages (shopping, preparing, consuming), as when T was here. It's also great having someone else who can prepare such great eats and drinks. So ... I guess I got 'spoiled' by that experience and became temporarily 'lazy' in the raw solo aftermath. Also, I've been 'distracted' by various things and have not been spending as much time in the kitchen as I used to ...

However, the time has come and I hereby raw-new my commitment to myself and the journey.

Incidentally ... in today's yoga class, after doing our kriya to exercise the chakras, my students and I will be embarking upon our 5th week of the 7 week chakra journey we are on. We just emerged from the heart and are moving into the throat/5th chakra/Vishuddha. I had thought it would be refreshing to celebrate our progress by sharing some 5th chakra foods (fruit and liquids) after the class. I'm thinking of preparing a simple raw 'Vishuddha' fruit feast (see here for foods that feed the various chakras). So I've got to dash off to the market now to get my 'ingredients' ... since I'm having the class at 10 a.m. instead of 5 p.m.

A bientôt!







Connect with your purpose


Connect with your purpose. How do you know what is important to you? You feel it. Notice the small voice or sense of knowing inside when something is attracting you. Your body alerts you to what is dangerous or attractive long before your mind can explain why. Pay attention to those cues. This is your intuition, or sixth sense. Your deepest values and purpose are not in your head, but in your heart. What does your heart respond to; what touches your spirit? Purpose is the force that energizes. It inspires you to get up in the morning. What excites your passion for life?

Why it works ~ When your inner promptings guide you, you cannot make a mistake. These are signs that lead to your truest desires and lasting happiness. Joseph Campbell, the great mythologist says, "Follow your bliss". When you follow your true path or calling, you are invigorated rather than stressed.

(Tip #3 from this source)



Friday, November 14, 2008

Love is ... equal, not separate

Last weekend my friend K in Illinois sent me the below video. It is of a short speech made by the Mayor of San Diego on marriage equality. Upon watching it, I was moved to tears. Not only by what he said, but how he said it.



"I have close family members and friends who are members of the gay and lesbian community. Those folks include my daughter Lisa, as well as members of my personal staff.

"I want for them the same thing that we all want for our loved ones—for each of them to find a mate whom they love deeply and who loves them back; someone with whom they can grow old together and share life’s experiences.

"And I want their relationships to be protected equally under the law. In the end, I couldn’t look any of them in the face and tell them that their relationship—their very lives—were any less meaningful than the marriage I share with my wife Rana."

(
Excerpt from his speech)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

You can be like Obama


*
Everyone who is inspired by Obama and wants to be just like him, here is one great way to follow in his footsteps. You too can adopt a 'mutt' from a shelter.

The little wandering gypsy puppy in the above shot is a good start. She was found by a kind soul, taken in, fed, taken to the vet for worming and spaying ... and is ready to be adopted.

Please call 486 7017 if interested in giving her a loving home.

She is clearly a grateful and affectionate dog. Look at her long tongue, gently licking the hands of the kind one who rescued her.

Raw Communion: Holy Coconut Water

Close up shot of the 5 litre bottle of natural holy water
*
Today my usual coconut vendor wasn't there. He wasn't there on Tuesday either. I hope he's okay. Maybe he's just late or on holiday (although he seems too consistent and hardworking to take holidays).

I was craving noix de coco ('coconuts' in French) though, so I went to the vendor who sells near to the plant place across the road from HiLo. The 5 litre bottle that my vendor sells for $60 is $75 from this other vendor. I bought it anyway, because I wanted it.

While he was cutting nuts, I asked him to also give me some jelly to eat.

He cut the first jelly nut, broke it open and thrust it at me, saying: "Here! Take dis an' eat!"

It sounded like Holy Communion where they give the 'bread' and say: "Take this and eat in remembrance of me."

It is true. I never thought of it that way before. We are partaking in Raw Communion when we eat and drink from the cup of life that is a coconut.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Clients who pay vs Clients who don't

I just feel like having this image of the labyrinth up today.
It's not consciously related to the below post.

*
The other day, I was talking to a friend on the phone. Being a 'freelancer', she was grousing about what most if not all 'freelancers' grouse about ... clients who want their work "yesterday!" ... yet when it's time to pay, are nowhere to be found and suddenly don't answer phones or e-mails. Most, if not all 'freelancers' will echo those stories ... of 'chasing after clients' and calling them repeatedly to get payment for work done by the deadline.

To anyone who falls into this category, I suggest changing that label 'FREElancer' immediately if you apply it to yourself. I don't use it anymore. The word 'free' makes it sound like we do things for free. There was a time when I used to do many things 'for free', thinking I was 'helping' ... but now I don't ... unless it's something that I'm really moved to do for free from my heart - in which case I know the Divine is paying me (more than humans could ever pay me, might I add). You know, many Trinis do not appreciate or respect 'free ting' (like free open air concerts and free seminars). Only 'freeness' (as in bachanaal, fêtes, free rum and roti at political rallies and shameless copyright infringement).

While listening to my friend on the phone, my eye fell on the bright yellow plastic call card of a client I had done some work for recently. It was the first time I had ever done work for her. Not only had she paid the requested 50% down payment ('mobilisation fee') without question or hesitation before the job had even been started ... but, once the job was completed and handed to her, I received the balance within four days (two of those days being weekend days, so they don't really count). I did not have to call her repeatedly or send her e-mails to remind her to pay me. "What a rarity," I realised ...

So, as soon as I put down the phone, I called the client and, in essence, said to her: "Hi, it's Elspeth. I'm calling to thank you for respecting me and the creative process by paying on time and without fuss - both the down payment and the balance. Not all clients do that and I really appreciate how you were with me/us." (In the earlier stage of the job there was an artist who also got paid on time).

I suppose it was unexpected. She sounded surprised and touched. Maybe for her it was also a new experience ... someone calling to thank her for her work ethic.

On the other side of the coin ... I once wrote a letter of 'termination of working relationship' to a client who repeatedly disrespected the payment process. Perhaps he didn't 'know any better' and that was his work ethic. And perhaps I should have spoken up sooner. I always got paid eventually, but it was the process of calling repeatedly, without having calls returned that eventually added up. In the end it boils down to ... even if they don't respect you/the process, you have to respect your self.

No client is worth it - having to call repeatedly (we are not beggars) to get our due. It felt great to write that letter. I was losing nothing. The funny thing is, I posted the letter ... and once it had slipped into the mailbox, he called on my cellular to tell me: "The cheque is ready. You can come and collect it."

However, the deed had been done and I didn't regret it. I was free and I had chosen self worth above money.

This is what pays most in the long run.