About Me

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Born in the US, raised on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, lived in Italy, the US, and Canada. Lover of language, travel, colour, and the natural world.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Photo by Ariana Salvo. May not be reproduced without permission.

I came across the word "crepuscular" tonight in a novel I am reading in which the main character describes himself as being "crepuscular." I had heard the word in Italian, but never heard anyone use it in English before. Grabbing a dictionary, I came across a number of meanings, including: 

1. Of, resembling, or relating to twilight
2. A period of dull/faint light at either dawn or dusk
3. Light that has not yet reached its fullest brilliance/potential 

I like the idea that light is hinting at, but not yet achieving its fullest potential both when it is growing towards brilliance and when waning into the inky blackness of the night. I also am intrigued by the idea that things other than light can be described as being crepuscular. In my last blog entry I wrote about seeing the light in those around us. Do you see the crepuscular light in those around you? Do you see the crepuscular light in yourself? How can you nurture it to make the transition from half-light to brilliance? 

Monday, March 26, 2012

A friend's light

As I type this millions of white ice crystals are swirling earthwards outside my window--the beginning of a spring snowstorm predicted to leave us with 10cm of snow and winds sweeping the island with 60-90km/hr winds, just in case we were thinking winter had packed her bags early this year. I love the snow. I love how different snow feels to rain--not just in how much more softly it falls, but in the effect is has on the world that it blankets in its whiteness. It gives off light, makes everything and everyone slow down, and seems to be saying "shhhhhh.....be quiet. Tread softly. Notice the details."

I was reading a blog entry by one of my favourite bloggers, Karen Walrond at Chookooloonks.com this morning entitled "Look for the Light."What this blog entry is about is looking for the light not just to take the best photograph (Karen is an incredible photographer), but to look for the light in every single person around you as well. This idea is in line with my own belief that is a person has nine not so awesome characteristics and one great characteristic I should focus on the one good characteristic and overlook the other nine. Easier said than done, I know, but it is what I aim for nevertheless.

It being Gratitude Monday, I thought I would take some inspiration from Karen's title, and share something with you about a friend of mine whose light has been quite literally flooding my life lately.

I met Honeylyn in 2009 in the laundry room in the building I used to live in here on Prince Edward Island. It amuses me even now that we met in the laundry room. Some people are obviously just *meant* to cross paths. Honeylyn is from the Philippines. She comes from a family of nine children, and her parents are rice farmers. Officially she moved to Prince Edward Island to study nursing, but I have a growing suspicion that the real reason she migrated around the world was to transform hearts by sharing her own light and helping those around her seek out and brighten their own light.

Since returning to Prince Edward Island at the end of December I have started spending a lot of my free time with Honeylyn. I have been watching how she both gives her light, and finds light in others. Honeylyn works very long hours at an elderly people's care facility, which requires a great deal of patience, perseverance, kindness and compassion. The rest of her time she spends at the university or the hospital progressing towards becoming a fully qualified nurse. When she is not working or studying, Honeylyn is actively involved in serving her community. One activity she is actively engaged in is leading a local junior youth group. Every Friday evening she meets with this group of youth, prepares food with them, enjoys social time with them, and then leads a session during which the youth develop their power of expression, discuss social justice and environmental issues, and learn what it means to be active agents of positive change in their community.

Honeylyn is quiet and soft-spoken. She does not impose her views on others, but shares them lovingly and with humility. She is rarely the centre of attention yet I often find myself noticing that if she were not in the room things would not be going nearly as well or as smoothly as they are. When the youth finish their meal and most of us are sitting at the table chatting, Honeylyn has usually quietly withdrawn to wash dishes so that we can quickly move on to the next part of the evening. She has her hands in the underlying mechanics of what is going on in a very subtle yet effective way that empowers those around her and encourages them to learn, grow and serve.

In the past few weeks Honeylyn has been a terrific friend to have around. She has accompanied me to movies, on walks, and out for tea and for supper. She and I have shared home-cooked meals, studied/worked together, discussed our challenges and our hopes, shared a lot of laughter, and sat and said prayers together. Last week when I heard that one of my best friends may well be very unwell, Honeylyn said she wanted to say the Baha'i Long Healing Prayer for my friend -- which moved me deeply. Last night I had to walk downtown on a rather chilly night to take photos of an open mic evening at Timothy's coffee shop for their Facebook page. I had a fever and a sore throat and did not really feel like going anywhere but was preparing to head out anyway when Honeylyn called to ask if I would like some company. She had been out all day at work and at community events, but she was still offering to accompany me downtown on a cold night and expose herself to whatever germs I was spreading around last night. Her presence for the walk down and back, and the couple hours that we were downtown made my night so much lighter and full of joy than it would have been if I had been alone. This evening I was sitting here sucking on throat losenges and waiting for my laundry to dry when the phone rang. It was Honeylyn calling to see how I was feeling. No matter how old a person gets, receiving a phone call to ask how you are feeling when you are under the weather is the best gift a friend can offer. More light.

How about you friends? Is there someone in your life whose presence not only sheds light, but encourages you to find and share your own light?  Have you told this person how much you appreciate their light in your life? Happy Gratitude Monday, friends!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Red chairs & coffee cups

I have too many email accounts. I made this realization this evening when I opened an email account that I have not checked in a couple of days to discover that I had an email asking me to babysit tonight. In other words I could have been making money tonight if I had fewer email accounts. Lesson learned. Time to cancel the other two accounts.

I always have believed there is a reason for everything. I am home tonight because I did not check one of my older email accounts. If I were babysitting I would not be home. If I were not home I would not be writing this blog entry. Moral of the story: being irresponsible can promote one's creative endeavours (albeit while simultaneously perpetuating the widely held perspective that the creative life is synonymous with poverty).

I am neglecting the red chairs and coffee cups.

Today I went for coffee with my friend Honeylyn. We went to Young Folk & The Kettle Black, the newest coffee shop in town, located on a tiny little street called Water Street that runs parallel to the harbour. I have been to this new coffee spot twice in the last week, and am very quickly becoming rather attached to the place for a number of reasons:

1. I love the way it is nestled into the row of some of the oldest buildings in Charlottetown.

2. I love the large windows, and the way the light falls in from all sides, illuminating the wood floors, whitewashed tables, coffee roasting machine and glass dessert case, and the red chairs. I also love the fabric art decorating the walls that is made by Rebecca, half of the husband and wife team that owns the cafe.

3. I love the art in general. The building actually has an art gallery on the second floor that is the domain of Rebecca, a fabric artist. The gallery displays artwork by various Canadian artists -- jewelers, painters, knitters, weavers, and much more.

4.  While Rebecca is busy upstairs her husband Adam is managing the cafe downstairs, and I have to say -- he is doing a superb job. Every little detail is seen to, from the white Christmas lights coiled around the pipes running the length of the ceiling to the cash register, which is an ipad mounted in a wooden frame which is in turn mounted onto a tea kettle base.

5. I had not seen one coffee shop in Charlottetown that actually caters to its child customers before entering Young Folk, and now I wonder why more places haven't. I mean what a brilliant idea -- provide a special place that kids can enjoy while their parents savor their coffee and conversations....

6. Not only is the atmosphere peaceful and light, the tunes they play are awesome (Bob Dylan), and the drinks rock. I had a cafe mocha. It was creamy with a thick layer of foam on the top and just enough chocolate to take off the bitter edge. Today I also had a smoked turkey, provalone and cranberry goat cheese sandwich with slices of tomato -- they do not yet have gluten-free bread, but they DO make all their sandwich selections wrapped in romaine lettuce leaves. It is not nearly as filling as bread, so I am hoping they get some gluten free bread in there soon, but it was still delicious. I especially enjoyed the cranberry goat cheese. My friend Honeylyn had a Tiramisu which she said was divine, and a latte (also very good). I had gluten free passion fruit mousse for dessert, which, once I had examined it and determined that the cake filling in the centre was truly gluten free (it looked an awful lot like regular cake), was pretty good. I would have liked it to have more passionfuit mousse in it, less chocolate, and perhaps a little less sugar. Next time I will try something else. I was surprised to see that all of their desserts are being shipped in frozen, which I hope they change at some point given what a great opportunity they have to get local bakers to supply them here on the island, but they have only been open a couple weeks, so I figure they will figure these things out with time. They are also planning to start roasting their own beans in the near-future, which will, I believe, be a first for Charlottetown. I cannot wait to taste the result!

This is what my dessert looked like.

Preparing to taste my gorgeous-looking dessert:

This is me inspecting the supposedly gluten-free cake filling suspiciously (unaware that Honeylyn had snuck my camera away from me and was snapping shots of my inspection process!):

This is me subjecting my mousse to closer inspection:

My reaction after Adam assured me that it was most definitely gluten-free, and I had taken my first bite (Apparently I liked it more than I realized!):

My mocha was pretty damn good too:

And of course the company, sitting opposite me amusing herself with my camera, was awesome!

Yup. Pretty happy all around!

I know I missed my Wednesday and Friday posts this week. Hopefully this post makes up for my absence this week! More soon! have a great Saturday night, and a relaxing Sunday. See you here for Gratitude Monday, friends!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Monday gratitude masquerading as Tuesday

So I realise that Gratitude Monday is technically over given that it is after midnight, but throughout the day today I found myself feeling deeply grateful for a number of things, so I am calling this Gratitude Tuesday instead. Here is my gratitude list for today:

1. Today was a cold but gloriously sunny day. The snow is melting, the sidewalks are easy to navigate again, and I enjoyed my walk with Chloe this morning. There were birds perched in the bare branches of trees singing sweet tunes, people were smiling as they passed me on the sidewalk, and I even noticed the first buds starting to appear in people's front gardens as the snow retreats.

2. I said a whole bunch of prayers for my meeting with the owner of a local media company this morning. I have been feeling really discouraged this week by the lack of progress I am making in my search for full time work here on the Island, so a good dose of prayers was essential before I walked into yet another networking meeting. Amazingly the owner of this company, who had told me just last week that he did not have any jobs, ended up discussing the very real possibility of a position opening up with his business that I might be able to fill. I am not sure how this will turn out, but it was the best meeting I have had in weeks, and this fact alone reminded me that truly believing that things will work out is 99% of the battle already won. I will hear back from him within the next week. Fingers crossed.

3. I had a great supper with my dear friend Honeylyn. We have had a standing Monday night breaking the Fast date for the past 19 days of the Baha'i Fast. I have thoroughly enjoyed our suppers together at one of my favourite restaurants, Tai Chi Garden--a Taiwanese restaurant in downtown Charlottetown.

4. Post-supper myself and Honeylyn met up with our friend Jalal for hot drinks at Timothy's. We had been planning on attending an open mic at one of the local pubs, but when we found out it only started at between 10.30 and 11, we thought maybe not....we do have to be up before sunrise again tomorrow! It turned out that hot drinks and social time was just as good. An evening of sharing our horror stories from high school and breaking out in fits of laughter at the craziness of those years=perfect way to end the first day of a new week. 

5. I am grateful for my health. This is the first time I have made it through the entire Baha'i Fast without getting sick, and I am feeling incredibly thankful to have managed to have the blessing of Fasting for the past 19 days with a healthy body.

That's my gratitude practice for today. How about you? What are you grateful for today?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Request for prayers

I received news this morning that one of my best friends may be very sick. She is flying to England this weekend for tests and possible treatment. She has been on my mind all day. As walked the dog, as I did social media work for clients. As I had a business meeting this afternoon. As I rode the bus. And even tonight as I helped host a movie night for the junior youth in my community.

Thinking about the possibility of her being unwell got me thinking about what my world would be like without her in it, and realizing that I truly cannot imagine my universe without her in it. I have known her for over twenty years. She has been, and continues to be one of those friends who is there for me no matter what. She doesn't judge me, or criticize me, but she does remind me to always strive to be the best person that I am capable of being. She reminds me to hold onto my religious values. She shows me, through her own unshakable faith what it means to truly trust wholly in God. She is an example to me of what being a strong, hard-working, endlessly patient and unwaveringly determined mother means. She is a great cook. She can be serious, but knows when it is time to sit back, relax, and laugh out loud. She is courageous and creative, optimistic and open-hearted. She is a beautiful person both inside and out, and I feel blessed to know her as one of my best friends.

It is hard to know that someone I love is going through tough times and that I am not able to be near them, so I have been thinking all day of ways I could contribute something positive to her process. What I came up with is this: I am already saying healing prayers for her. I believe that saying healing prayers sends positive energy out into the universe that will inevitably assist her through the toughest part of this journey she is on. I would like to invite you to join me by saying some healing prayers for my dear friend. If you would like to join me, just leave your name below in the comments section letting me know that you will be joining my healing prayer campaign.

I look forward to praying with you, friends! Let's send out a flood of healing energy!!!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Trust. A.k.a. realizing I am not in control, nor am I meant to be

"Glory be Thee, O my God! But for the tribulations which are sustained in Thy path, how could Thy true lovers be recognized; and were it not for the trials which are borne for love of Thee, how could the station of such as yearn for Thee be revealed? Thy might beareth me witness! The companions of all who adore Thee are the tears they shed, and the comforters of such as seek Thee are the groans they utter, and the food of them who haste to meet Thee is the fragments of their broken hearts." -Baha'u'llah
 I do not usually write on Thursdays, but tonight I feel the need to write, so here I am. I went downtown this morning to walk the dog I am currently taking care of. Last night I did not sleep more than two hours. My mind was racing, my legs would not stay still, and by the time my body and mind were tired enough to sleep a snow plow had arrived to dig the entire parking lot outside out from under the thick layer of snow that blanketed it last night, shining its lights in my window and revving its engine as it worked its way across the lot. 
 After walking Chloe this morning my body was ordering me to go home and sleep, so I obeyed, managing to get two solid hours of sleep in before I had to bundle up and head back out into the swirling ice crystals and wind to walk to the University for a meeting, and then back downtown to walk the dog again. This evening I was supposed to be attending a birthday celebration for a close friend downtown. I was not only looking forward to some down time with people I love, I was also hoping to catch a ride home so I did not have to do more walking in the swirling ice. Unfortunately the birthday was canceled, so I found myself downtown at the end of another long day feeling completely wrung out and without the energy to trek all the way home again. I am nearing the end of 19 days of the Baha'i Fast, which I find to be physically very exhausting, and all the extra walking in combination with not eating is tough some days. I decided to stay put and grab some Thai food and then go sit a Timothy's coffee shop and enjoy a good cup of Lady Baker's Tea before I began my long walk home. Sitting on the couch in Timothy's I felt like curling up and going to sleep right there -- telling the guy manning the cash register to lock me in for the night. Instead I immersed myself in my book, sipped my cream earl grey tea, rested, and enjoyed some awesome French tunes that were playing in the background. 
 Walking home tonight was tough. The wind was blowing pretty hard, and tiny ice crystals kept flying at my eyes, blurring my sight and making me wish I had worn goggles. It was a long walk, and when I reached home I felt as if my legs would not carry me one step further. But of course they managed to get me upstairs and into my bed. While I was walking home tonight a number of quotes kept coming to mind. One was from Baha'u'llah's Fire Tablet: "Thou wast created to bear and endure, O patience of the worlds." Of course my never-ending job search and physically exhausting walk home tonight are nothing in comparison with the life of imprisonment and abuse that Baha'u'llah led. Another quote that came to mind tonight was this one, from Abdu'l-Baha:
“The Chairman [Mountfort Mills] … mentioned his recent trip to Haifa and brought vividly before the minds of the friends pictures of his experiences there, particularly of the Master himself. He mentioned the recent illness of His Holiness Abdu’l-Bahá and how, when the pilgrims, their hearts touched, expressed t...heir hope to Him that He would be careful of His health, He said:

‘With one prayer I could have health the remainder of my life, but it is necessary for me to suffer to show to others that these things can be borne and overcome. I must first undergo all hardships. Then you will be able to undergo them. I must experience every difficulty that I may teach you to do likewise. I must be an example that you may learn to do the same, resisting all difficulties, that firmness and steadfastness may be shown. Strength will be given to sustain work for God if the purpose is to aid Him.’ (
Extract from “Minutes of the Thirteenth Annual Mashrequ’l Azkar … April 26-28, 1921”).

We all have challenges in life, and the biggest challenge for me is to see them as blessings while they are happening. While I was walking home tonight wishing that I had a car, I started thinking about this, and reminding myself that I was exactly where God wants me to be in that moment, doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing. Yes, trudging through the snow was exhausting and in ways unpleasant, but this experience, and many more like it recently are also forcing me to grow in new directions.

A good friend of mine asked me today what my plan is now. I sat and thought about that for a few minutes. Indeed. What is my plan? My answer is that my plan is to keep trying my hardest, being grateful for the moments of challenge and hardship, and leaving the rest to God. Presuming to be the planner of my life is very palatable, but it is not how life works, and I need to keep reminding myself of this fact. My sole responsibility is to do my best to serve, and put my life in His hands. If I really am doing this, things happen--quite magically. I have experienced it before. But it does require a certain degree in renunciation and courage to truly, truly let go of what I think should be happening.

It is late now. Tomorrow I will be up again before sunrise, embarking on another day of fasting. It is amazing to me how fast this period of Fasting has passed. five more days before the Baha'i New Year. Spring is right around the corner! 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A place to call home

It is snowing outside. Not the whirling kind of snow, or the horizontal kind. The kind that falls soft and thick, millions of flakes falling endlessly quiet like an early summer shower of apple blossoms--the gentle release from branches, the graceful, weightless descent and the carpet mosaic that it seems wrong to walk upon -- cloud-like and moist.

I was downtown this evening. Went down to meet my good friend Margie for supper. I took the bus downtown, arriving too early, as is common now that I walk/take the bus everywhere I go. Instead of going straight to the restaurant where I would have to sit smelling the aromas of other people's food while I waited for the sun to set, I decided to go sit in the basement of the Confederation Centre for the Arts. The basement sounds dark, but in reality this building that houses a large theatre, the public library, a restaurant/cafe, giftshop and galleries has been built in such a way that there are courtyards into which the skylight falls, and large glass windows looking out onto the courtyards that allow the winter light to filter into the building.

This evening I sat and said some prayers for the Fast -- gratitude prayers for making it this far through the Fast without getting sick as I usually do--and some prayers for grace and strength as I continue to move forward in my job search. Then I sat and watched the snow fall into one of the courtyards. There are two trees in the courtyard that I looked out into, and the snow was collecting in fine, weightless ridges along the tops of all the bare branches. The branches were strung with white Christmas lights that were on, but the sky was still light enough that the chain of tiny lights appeared faint -- almost not visible. I sat and watched the snow fall and fall. I find watching snow fall to be extremely calming. Mesmerizing. I could sit quietly and watch it fall for hours and be entirely content.

When it was time to head over to the restaurant I collected my belongings, put on my down-filled coat, my scarf, my woolen hat, and my mittens, and headed back out into the snow. Margie was waiting for me when I got there, and we enjoyed a relaxing meal together -- me sharing about my challenges with finding a job, and she sharing a little bit about her recent trip to work with women market gardeners in Kenya. There are some people whose company I enjoy so much that I find the time with them always flies past....it always feels as though we just sat down for a chat and it is already time to go again. Margie is one of those people, and I was sorry when it was time to head home.

One thing that I love about Margie is that she always makes me reflect more deeply about how I am living my life, encouraging me to always be conscious about what I am doing, saying, thinking and feeling, and the impact of all of this on what is actually happening in the world around me. Tonight she asked me if I had thought about why I might not have found work yet, and whether there was something inside of me that was influencing the physical job hunting process. I am inclined to think "nope-- this is all Immigration Canada's fault, or the fault of the ridiculous citizenship laws that allow some people to have the right to work and prevent others from easily finding a job." But if I allow myself to reflect on her question, I think it is worth looking at. As she said: "You want so much to find a home and settle down. But is there part of you that does not think you are worthy of having a place in the world?" I am still thinking about this question, and it is resonating with me at some level, so i think I will keep thinking about it. Maybe I do need to make an internal shift....learn something and make some changes in my perspective before a job offer will come my way.

I am home now, listening to the snow plow outside, the clock ticking in the kitchen, and the sound of the keys tapping away beneath my fingers. Lots to think about, and a long snowy night ahead for finishing the novel I am reading right now -- The Custodian of Paradise -- and dreaming, once my head hits the pillow. Tomorrow morning I will be up before the sun again for another day of Fasting. Make my breakfast by the light of the stove top and eat it perched on a wooden stool in the kitchen, easing my body into another day. And you, friends? Is there something that you need to learn before the next door of your journey will open and lead you onwards?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Little island, big sky

I walked home tonight under an enormous, dark, crisp winter sky speckled with stars. It was cold, but not too cold to enjoy the walk, and the sunshine today had melted enough of the ice that the sidewalks are no longer treacherous to navigate, so I can risk looking up and enjoying the sky when I walk.

It was a gorgeous, sunny day, the light golden and warm. I began my day before sunrise, rising to say prayers and eat breakfast. It is amazing to me how quickly the Baha'i Fast is passing. Today was day eleven. More than half way through. I keep telling myself to enjoy every moment of this special period. To make the most of every hour and minute, and the blessings that they confer. It is too easy to get caught up in the physical reality of life and reach the end of my day without pausing to be grateful for this blessed time of fasting.

After walking Chloe, the little dog I now walk daily, I headed over to a friend's house to take in an online social media workshop by Amy Porterfield about the changes to Facebook, and how to make them work for businesses. If you have a business, and are interested in improving your social media marketing skills, I highly recommend checking her website out. She has a great deal of knowledge and is superb at sharing what she knows with the rest of us! I am now doing social media for three businesses, with one more coming on board hopefully in the next few months! I am really enjoying helping businesses grow and develop using social media, and am enjoying learning more and more every day to help the businesses I work for use social media to maximize their profits and strengthen their relationships with their customers.  Social media brings together my networking and conversation skills with my love for creative expression through writing, photography and artwork. It is a coming together of so much that I love in one place. I cannot wait to share this journey with you as I learn and grow my skills in this new profession!

This evening I broke my Fast with my dear friend Honeylyn! We had a lovely supper and then walked home under the vast sky. There is something about being on an island in the north Atlantic that reminds me of my humble place in this vast universe. I feel grateful for the sky. For the resources to get by until my work starts supporting me. For my warm bed when the night is so cold outside. For friends like Honeylyn to break my Fast with at the end of the day. For all the challenges and learning opportunities that the world of social media is bringing into my life. And for you -- my readers -- who continue to inspire and urge me on with my writing! Happy Gratitude Monday, friends!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Rainy day

I was woken up this morning by the sound of the wind howling around the apartment building I am currently living in. I peeked through the curtains to see rain pelting the glass, melting snow, slush, and grey skies so solid you couldn't find a dot of blue if you used a magnifying glass. After a quick breakfast, some prayers to prepare for the next day of the Baha'i Fast, and a lovely hot shower I bundled up and headed out to catch the bus downtown. This morning I walked Chloe in the rain -- wearing a miniature raincoat! The two of us set out, spashing through puddles, slipping over thin layers of melting slush and ice, my hair blowing every which way. Her ears flapping. I had to smile at the two of us out there getting drenched in the rain.

Last night my friends did something incredible for me. They hosted a supper at their home, followed by a round of prayers to support me in my job-search efforts. Sitting in their warm living room surrounded by seven people all of whom I consider to be family rather than friends, I felt so humbled and moved by the fact that I have friends who care so deeply about my efforts to re-establish myself here on the island. After a delicious meal of hot curry and rice we sat and said some prayers. It is difficult to communicate how moving it is to sit in a room bathed in warm light and, with my eyes closed, and listen to the voices of my friends praying for my success in this process of finding full time work. Gratitude does not even begin to describe the feeling of having friends who love me so much that they are willing to take time out of their busy lives to come together and lend their spiritual energies to my enterprise.

After our prayers we enjoyed hot apple crisp dribbled with yoghurt and cups of tea while we shared stories and experiences from our lives, laughter, and our thoughts/hopes/desires for the days ahead.

The past few weeks have been incredibly difficult, and at the same time incredibly blessed. I still do not know how things will turn out, but I have this very definite certainty that I am in the right place, and that I need to just keep moving forward towards my goal, and that the pieces will eventually fall into place. This afternoon a friend who owns a tea company called to ask me if I would be willing to fill in for a sick employee at the farmer's market tomorrow! Making tea! I cannot wait! I get to go learn how to operate the machines this afternoon! This evening I will attend a youth group that I help facilitate. And tomorrow night I am babysitting a sweet two-year-old while his parents get to go out on a much-needed date! My social media work is continuing to go well. I am reading lots of books and taking webinars to continue improving my knowledge so that I can better serve my clients, and I am beginning to start contemplating my dream of owning a farm again. Yup. Life is good. Cannot wait for my tea-making lesson!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The abundance of hardship

I am writing from the public library in downtown Charlottetown on a very cold but gloriously sunny day. It is always amazing to me how we get where we are (physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc)....I am on a tiny little island in the North Atlantic surrounded by snow and ice and feeling right at home. The reality of this is almost surreal!

Since I arrived on Prince Edward Island my computer has been very undependable, so I have decided that to keep it alive as long as I possibly can I am going to have to leave it at home during the day, using the computers at the library to do my social media work, job applications and writing until I save up enough to buy a new one. This means that I have to be strategic about what I do and when I do it. I found that initially this meant that I did not get much of my own creative writing done, but I am realizing that in the long-term it means that I just have to be better organized and more focused on getting my job applications and paid work done when I am in front of the computer so that I still have time left for my own creative writing and blogging.

This morning I woke before sunrise again. This is the sixth day of the Baha'i Fast, and, by some incredible blessing of the universe I am not only still healthy enough to Fast, I am actually feeling more joyful with each passing day. Hardship has a way of doing that somehow.

I was thinking as I walked downtown this morning to walk Chloe, the dog that I am currently taking care of, how many little blessings keep coming my way to keep me going. Last week it was the offer of this dog-walking job. This morning it was the request for me to babysit this weekend. And the response from one of the companies that I sent my resume to yesterday asking me to meet on Friday. And the response of another company to come by and speak with them next week even though they do not have any current openings. I am learning that even when meetings do not result in a job offer, the simple fact that I am meeting with people is an opportunity to learn, grow, and make new friends. Yesterday for example I attended an information session at a local hotel yesterday about doing an MBA at the university here. I have already done a Master's Degree in Island Studies, but with my interest in marketing and running my own business growing, I am kind of curious what it would be like to do an MBA. I am still not sure what I will not with this idea, but I am glad I went to the session. I not only met some great people, I also got to reflect on the idea of walking in a completely different direction for a while. It was refreshing!

Myself and three of the local youth in my community are in the process of organizing a screening of the documentary Education Under Fire. Education Under Fire is about the denial of access to higher education to Baha'i students and faculty in Iran. The situation there truly is very out of control, and thousands of young people are being deprived of their education and a future profession because of the descriminatory practices of the Iranian government. It is encouraging to see screening events sweeping across North American Campuses, and know that thousands of students will soon be standing alongside the young Baha'is of Iran, supporting them in their fight for access to education. As we were working on pulling the pieces together for our screening in Charlottetown last night, it was very inspiring to reflect on the fact that other groups are doing similar things all over the continent. To learn more about this exciting initiative and find out what action you can take in your community to speak out about access to education for Baha'i Iranian youth, visit the Education Under Fire website.

This afternoon I am taking part in a webinar on the new changes that are happening to Facebook at the end of the month, and how to use the new Facebook as a platform for marketing businesses. I am excited to be learning new skills that will help me to better serve my social media clients. This evening I will break the fast at the home of my dear friends Ann and Stephen. And tonight I will be attending the opening of a conference on the future of agriculture at the local farm centre.

Life is full and overflowing, friends. The universe, as a dear friend said to me in my kitchen back in California last summer, truly is abundant.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Back on track

It is the first day of a new week, and I am getting back on track with my blog. I usually do a gratitude entry on Mondays. Here is what I am feeling grateful for on this chilly Monday night:

1. I managed to raise my tired body from bed before sunrise for a fourth day in a row to observe the Baha'i fast this morning. Since I was 15 I have never managed to make it through the entire 19 days of the Baha'i fast without getting sick. My body does not handle it well, no matter how much my heart desires it. Every day I am able to rise before dawn and eat something and pray, and make it through the day without the first symptoms of getting sick I feel incredibly grateful. Each day of this fast is SUCH a blessing.

2. I caught the bus on my first try this morning. I got to the bus stop literally one minute before it passed, and it dropped me off about five blocks from where I needed to be. I cannot tell you how blessed I felt to be driven downtown instead of having to walk this morning!

3. I began my first dog-walking job this morning with a sweet 13 year old tiny little dog who is the cutest. I have never walked a dog this tiny. I have to keep turning around to be sure she is still attached to the leash she is so light. For the time-being I will be walking her every morning at 8.30am and twice a week again in the afternoon at 4. Things have been incredibly tough lately, and the tiny income from this dog-walking is SUCH a blessing right now. Walking Chloe is not only going to put food on my table, but it also makes me smile because I have never seen a dog more excited to be going on a walk. She literally goes crazy when I arrive at the door!

4. I lost an earring in the snow this morning. One of my favourite earrings made of coral and turquoise. I backtracked, looking in the snow, and ran into a complete stranger out walking her dog who asked me what I was doing. A few minutes later this same woman came running back down the sidewalk -- she had found my earring. Blessed or what?

5. This evening one of my best friends met me for supper downtown. We had a simple but delicious meal together after not having eaten all day long, and then walked home together beneath a big, crisp black sky, trekking across fields of snow and over sheets of ice, each step our boots sinking deep down, leaving a trail of footprints across the crusty snow. In the distance the lights of Charlottetown looked like Christmas lights. There is something timeless about walking across snowy fields at night here. It makes me feel like I have gone back in time somehow. I stopped at Honeylyn's house for some water before continuing on home over ice-slicked sidewalks crusted with salt and flooded with the futuristic ghostly light of the streetlamps, my breath expanding and diffusing into the air ahead of me, my heart pumping in my chest, cheeks and nose cold. I had a great, joyful evening, and was thinking how thankful I am for strong legs that can carry me such long distances when I do not have access to a car to get around in.

6. My bed. I am truly grateful for a bed to rest in tonight, so that I can rise refreshed tomorrow to embrace my fifth day of the Baha'i fast.

And you, friends? What are you grateful for on this Monday?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Wind, ramblings & a 2nd day of fasting

It is late Saturday night. I am sitting on the single bed in the apartment that I just moved into a couple of days ago. It is exceptionally quiet. Walking back into my bedroom tonight I feel a sense of relief to be entering a space that will probably remain the same for at least a couple of months. Since arriving on Prince Edward Island two months ago I have been moving back and forth between the homes of various friends -- trying to not overstay my welcome in any one place, just staying long enough to start remembering whether I should leave the toilet seat up or down, which burner on the stove I should not use, or which direction the cutlery should go into the dishwasher before I would move again and have to adjust my patterns to a new household. Don't get me wrong -- living with my friends has been awesome. Truly. Not only have a been staying in homes that are comfortable and cozy, filled with beautiful artwork, but I have gotten to come home at the end of every day and enjoy the company of people I love. But despite all of this, I have to say that it is nice to have my own space for a change -- even if it is almost completely empty.

The room that is currently home is bigger than any bedroom I have ever had before. One of my best friends loaned me a single bed, a table and a chair. I took a plastic box that I found in the cupboard and put it next to my bed as my bedside table, and another friend loaned me a little lamp. One end of the room is an enormous closet -- so big that I can literally get dressed inside of it (yes, I have tried). I arrived two days ago with one suitcase, a backpack, and a bag of food. It took me an hour to unpack my two pairs of jeans, one skirt, two dresses, four pairs of shoes, two sweaters, and ten shirts. Sitting on my bed looking around the room I feel a mixture of emotions: profound gratitude to the friend who asked her aunt if I could live in her spare bedroom for free for a couple of months while I continue to search for full-time work, and to her aunt who actually agreed; amazement that I am still here despite the reality that I have less money than I have ever had my entire life; disoriented in this large room with four white walls and almost no furniture; uncertainty about how I got here when only two months ago I was sitting in an overly-furnished room in my parents' home in northern California; and an equal amount of terror over my current reality and vulnerability, and deep-rooted certainty and faith that things are going exactly as they should be, and that I just need to put my trust in God and keep trying my hardest.

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity. I have stayed at five different houses; trekked through deep snow; been blown along the sidewalk by freezing wind; eaten meals in restaurants, homes, bars, and coffee houses; seen foxes running across a frozen river at dusk; woken to the sound of frozen rain against the glass of my windows; met with at least fifty different people and given them my resume; reverted to my legs as my primary mode of transportation; started helping with a youth group; contacted complete strangers about pet-sitting, babysitting, cleaning, and any other cash-making venture that I could come up with; watched every single one of my recently-arrived-on-the-island friends get interviews and job offers; started doing social media for Timothy's coffee house and Lobster on the Wharf for free; continued doing social media work for two other companies; created my own social media business website; studied books about social media marketing; been given so many people's house keys that I have to wade through fist-fulls of them to find the ones to my current apartment; gotten locked out of my current apartment because my new set of keys would not open my door and my friend's aunt was asleep in bed; developed a crush on a man who slept through what I had thought was going to be our first date; hosted my first musical devotional gathering; cooked supper for friends in many different houses; enjoyed many, many excellent cups of tea at the farmer's market in the company of awesome friends on Saturday morning after Saturday morning; learned to walk my friends' dogs and pick up (and discard) dog shit (an activity I had assured my friends years ago that I would NEVER engage in); made a snow angel; enjoyed many, many meals/coffee dates with people I love; had my bank balance fall below 30 dollars for the first time in my entire life; learned to love almond butter on toast; taken a bus from downtown out to the farm I used to work before dawn, on and spent the day baking gluten-free muffins with my former employer's mother in the farmhouse kitchen; destroyed almost every pair of shoes I brought here with me in the salty slush on the roads; read the book The Help. Read the book The Memory Keeper's Daughter. Lay in bed listening to the wind howling around the building (as I am tonight); wondered how I got back here and whether the universe is going to allow me to stay, or if every effort I make to find work here will end in another dead-end; wondered where I will go if I have to leave here at the end of April...and these are only SOME of the things that have happened in the past few weeks.

Today was the second day of the Baha'i Fast. I woke before dawn, ate almond butter toast and sat in the silence of the half-light before sunrise praying and reading from the Baha'i writings before deciding to go back to bed for a couple more hours. I am trying to remain present and conscious of the preciousness of these days i am immersed in. Spiritually the fast is, according to the Baha'i writings, generating power that will be reverberating through my life for the entire rest of the year. It is hard to remember that every hour has a special significance, but when I do it helps me to slow down and be aware of how precious every moment of these 19 days of fasting is. I have always thought of the Fast as being from sunrise til sunset, but this Fast I am realising that even the hours when I am eating during this period count as part of the Fast. Even sitting here now typing with the wind howling outside I am trying to be aware of the significance of this night, this hour, and that I will be up again in six hours preparing for another day of Fasting. 

It is almost midnight, and time to get some rest before the third dawn of the Fast. Outside wind pressing around the building. In here the sound of my fingers moving across the keys, my own breathing, the creak of floor boards as someone walks across the floor above.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Fasting & Interconnectedness

I woke this morning to the first day of the Baha'i 19-day fast. Woke before sunrise to eat and drink and sit in silence and pray and read from the Baha'i writings before I begin my day. I have now begun my first day of fasting. For the next 19 days I will be abstaining from food and drink from sunrise til sunset, and using this time to reflect on my relationship with God, how I can better serve hu...manity, and how I can grow spiritually. This is such a precious time for me as a Baha'i-- a time of prayer, reflection, and consciousness about what I am doing with my every hour and why. There is a quote by Baha'u'llah, the founder of the Baha'i faith, that I love. It says: "All praise be unto God, Who hath revealed the law of obligatory prayer as a reminder to His servants, and enjoined on them the Fast that those possessed of means may become apprised of the woes and sufferings of the destitute." I find that experiencing hunger and thirst for 19 days is only one of the blessings of this special time....but it is an important one for me because it helps me to better understand and appreciate what so many in the world are experiencing on a daily basis -- many of them for most of their lives. In this sense it is all about interconnectedness, this fast. About recognizing that I am a human being just like any human being, and that hunger and thirst are universal problems in our world today, and ones that those of us who are fortunate to not experience every day cannot and should not just brush aside as inconsequential because we have been blessed with plenty. This time helps me to be more compassionate, more aware of what I do have, more grateful, and more connected to all of my brothers and sisters around the world, and how my choices, voice, and actions influence their lives, and their experiences, courage, faith, patience and ongoing suffering influence mine.