Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dear Stephen Colbert

Dear Stephen Colbert,

I wonder, sometimes, what it must be like to be you. I envy your amazing skill, shake my head in awe that you pull it off, night after night. I imagine the behind-the-scenes scampering that must go into producing a high-calibre show in 24 hours, and hit those bang-on lines fast enough for prime time. I wonder how much of that daily stress you own yourself, how much is done for you. I’m intensely curious.

But even more, I wonder what it’s like to live a double life. To be a husband and father, not-quite-normal but wealthy-normal, and to be Stephen Colbert, cult icon, voice of reason and showman for millions of people each day. It makes my paltry contributions to consciousness-raising seem small, I’ll tell you. But at what cost? And is it worth it?

I hear you, lately, putting those questions out there. You’ve got the payment, you don’t owe anyone anything. It’s hard work, being a voice, changing the world one day at a time. What if it is killing your spirit? What if you’re caught up in a tornado of your own making, trapped in a Jeckyll/Hyde nightmare that reality twists from your dreams? If I were you, I might be wondering if it isn’t time to shut that whole thing down.

From those to whom much is given, more is expected. If you grew up Catholic, as did I, you understand that the balance of the universe depends on your choices, every day, to keep your soul clean. Even if, like me, you eschewed religion and even god, you would know this is true like gravity is true, regardless of belief. We are responsible by simple virtue of being alive, awake and privileged. We owe.

You may wonder what it’s like to stay in stealth mode, and I can tell you it has its own frustrations and challenges, ones I daily imagine the easy bulldozer of celebrity would clear away tout de suite. But it’s calm here, as long as I don’t worry about missed opportunities and impending bankruptcy. I do my work every day, surprising anyone who meets my eyes, throwing little pebbles to crack the armor on the stubbornly restricted. I resist judgment and encourage care. I rail against injustice and simple, selfish viewpoints.

I write my little stories, dream my giant dreams, and love my family and myself with all the energy I save up from denying the world more of my time. I take pictures and paint pictures, listen to people and make their stories real by mixing them together. It’s a good life. But my count is low. I won’t settle all my soul debt in this lifetime with one-at-a-time piecemeal approach like this. Your debt may be bigger, but your count is stellar, your influence great. I envy that.

All this to say, what you do next can change everything. You can take this cusp we’re on and help us ride the rim. Thank you for putting out in the world each day. What you share, create, question and push matters.

Best wishes,

Thursday, November 8, 2012


It's about time Humanity stopped acting like a whiney teenager, clinging to the easy ways of childhood and resisting the growing demands of responsibility with angst.

Here's the tough talk someone, somewhere along the way gives to most of us: living with other people carries certain responsibilities.

Enough with haggling about how much responsibility you should have. Reality is reality. If life were fair, a whole lot of things would be different. Some people have to do more, pay more, be more than others, and that's just the way it is. Some people get a free ride, one way or another. Who cares? Suck it up, buttercup. It's not about what's "fair" or "right" from our miniscule perspectives, what we "should" be doing. It's about something very basic - a life. Each one.

Not a life without pain. Not a life without suffering or loss or difficulty - there is no such thing. But, there is no reason on Earth, with all humankind has accomplished, why every single human could not inherit, as birthright, at least basic safe shelter, hygiene, and access to the necessities of life.

There is not one reason on Earth that this is impossible. Wait, there is. One reason. People suck.

That's the only reason. We don't want to do it. We don't want to announce, with one large, Human voice, that we are going to set the minimum at basic safe shelter, hygiene, and access to the necessities of life.

The cynics say, why SHOULD I be responsible for other people's failure to thrive? Fools. We are responsible. We are just not taking responsibility. Should has nothing to do with it. Quit worrying about whether we should have to, and accept that the human community owes itself at least this much.

The bleeding hearts say, survival is not good enough, what about DIGNITY? Fools. All over the Earth, Dignity is so far away you can't even see the bus station to get there from here. Quite wasting time and insist on the minimum floor, instead of rejecting it. Don't stop there, by all means - fight for your beliefs. But accept the minimum as a first step.

We don't want to stand up for the minimum, for all sorts of interweaving reasons that have nothing to do with whether Kara dies of thirst today. We don't want to, so we don't.

If we wanted to, we would say it loud and clear. We would engage a ten-year study into the ways to make it happen. We would establish short and long-range plans. We would guess what it would cost, and insist that our economic system provide that through a combination of pricing for resources, fair wages, human life-cycle benefits (pensions and family requirements included) and public infrastructure. We would embark on a fifty-year planetary goal of making it happen. Or a hundred year. Or a thousand year.

And we would do it.

But we won't. And that is why people suck.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Why humans don't trust each other

We can’t trust each other because we suck.

I don’t mean as a species, although that also holds. I mean you. Personally. You suck.

And me. And my grandma and Mother Teresa and everyone ever. Somewhere, somehow, hidden or visible, despised or embraced, each one of us sucks in our own special way.

But it gets better.

Not only do we suck, but we also judge.

I don’t mean as a species. You. Judge. You judge. Yes you do. Me, too. Even the judgment that you are not judgmental is a judgement. Even my judgment that you are, and your judgment of my judgment.

We are a judging species. It’s one of our keys to survival.

We judge every single input our brain receives, the first and largely unconscious judgement being to notice or not notice something, someone or somesense. Every time someone tells us, shows us or accidentally lets us see a little of how they suck, we judge them. Yes, you do. Yes, I do. Our judgement happens like a reflex. We can decide to ignore that unfair judgment, act on that wise judgment, pretend we never judged and move on. We do that all the time. But that doesn’t mean there was no judge. Somewhere, somehow, every single day each of us judges other people.

Judging is our fundamental process of living – taking in data, categorizing and prioritizing it, and responding to it to ensure our continued survival. We judge that data against an every-growing, ever-blending, ever-foggy memory database of experiences, trying to determine whether whatever we’ve noticed will harm us, help us, or leave us unchanged. Driving too fast, too slow, at the limit. Coffee too strong, too mild, just right. Clothes too skanky, too fancy, too worn, not matching, ill-fitting, out-of-style, plain. Liar. Bitch. Classy. Friendly. Trustworthy. Hot. Fat. Gay. Religious. Teacher. Vetran. Dangerous. Safe. Stupid. Right. Wrong. Judge judge judge judge judge.

Even if we notice, dismiss and get beyond our unhelpful judgments in relation to other people, most of us will live this whole lifetime maintaining a constant, running tally of how much we suck in relation to the rest of the people in our vicinity. We use myriad unconscious and conscious rating scales. Prettier than me or not. Fatter than me or not. Smarter than me or not. More accomplished? Less learned? Taller? Richer? No matter how we try to turn it off, no matter how low we get that volume, there’s always at least a little squeak of knowing that I suck and hoping I don’t suck more than other people, since that would threaten my very acceptance in the tribe if I ever let my guard down and let anyone see how I suck. Which I won't do.

We all want to believe maybe it’s okay that we suck, since everyone sucks, but we know it’s only okay with judgey humans if we don’t suck a lot more or less than them.

So anyway, you just KNOW that SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE is going to judge you, since not everyone is enlightened. Thus, we can’t trust anyone until we know how they suck, and we can’t let them see how we suck until we trust them. You can see why we go so slowly, most of the time. You can see why relationships are hard. We so often let each other down, because we suck and we judge.

Combine judgement with sucking and we get insecurity. Insecurity is a root cause for many of society's ills.

Combine insecurity with power and we grow cruelty.
Combine insecurity with loss and we grow despair.
Combine insecurity with winning and we grow egotism.
Combine insecurity with fear and we grow desperation.
Combine insecurity with outrage and we grow radicalism.
Combine insecurity with spirituality and we grow religion.
Combine insecurity with love and we grow trust.

Trust. We can’t trust each other. We test each other constantly because deeply we long to trust and be trusted, though we know (you know, I know, she knows, they know) that we don’t deserve trust since we SUCK, and we can’t trust even the best person because they will JUDGE US and plus, being untrustworthy may actually be the way they SUCK.

But we can try to love each other in spite of the judgement, in spite of not quite trusting them or ourselves. Maybe someday even instead of. We will fail, because we suck, but we can try, because we don't JUST suck. We also shine with the beauty that is humanity encompassed in our singular, unrepeatable, utterly unique experience and perspective. So we can try, every day, to love each other and to shine, and maybe to suck a bit less. That's what we can do.

Because friends, the alternative sucks. Trust me.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Watching the reflection
Looking, waiting, hoping, seeking, wishing for, demanding, aching for, begging for 
When suddenly I realize
I have been looking at their reflection all along
that's what Questions are. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012



A letter home (dictated)

I am a blunderer. Translating meaning into understanding confounds me. Intention transmitted to human receptors through language seems subject to endless distorting filtration. I cannot predict all the synapses and pathways in place for a given human, built through trial and error, experience and patterns, joy and pain, that might distort, filter or pollute one wrong word before the transmission even reaches central processing. I'm meant to convey reassurance without condescension, support without pressure, expression without overwhelming, response without reaction, understanding without judgement, love without expectation, all through external words, tone, and body appearance. I cannot know the map my words will follow once they enter the brain through the auditory nerves, yet I will be judged by the way in which my message is received, not just how I deliver it. No wonder these creatures cannot live together in peace. They already struggle to overcome evolutionary fight or flight programming, and they lack even the basic telepathic abilities that might support common understanding and empathy. Which is why story remains so important.

Humanity is a story-based species that has chosen social and economic paths to deny its own story, deny its members their stories, and treat story as inferior to a limited understanding of "fact."  Story has been relegated to low priority, entertainment or "spare time." Humans punish themselves by denying legitimacy to what they most love. Children love comics and hate lines, yet they teach children with lines. Adults love play and hate work, and yet they structure their society to maximize work.  So sad.

Humans have forgotten that the only truth is story, and story captures our collective truth. People are drawn to story because it provided the means by which they learned to live together in the first place, the means by which they became the dominant species on this planet. Story creates a collective telepathy to compensate for the lost sense of oneness, the way a blind animal's hearing might improve.

Can humans develop their sense of oneness without the mess religion has made of it? I still think so. Or at least, I haven't stopped hoping. And blundering my way through.


Friday, October 12, 2012

Unjust Justice

I am biting back tears of frustration. My heart-rate has sped up. I'm flailing my arms in impotent rage.

A woman gave birth in her jail cell. Doesn't sound so bad? How about this. She screamed in agony for nine hours with a breech birth that should have been a C-Section while guards moved her to seclusion so they wouldn't need to listen, and a nurse told her she had indigestion. She wasn't examined, her dilation wasn't observed, no doctor was called, and she was left to suffer. Her son's feet were coming out of her before anyone decided to call an ambulance. The only reason we are even hearing about it is that the woman in question happens to have a mother who still gives a sh*t, which many prisoners would not have, and the Elizabeth Fry Society stepped in to help with a complaint.

I've given birth, twice, in "ideal" conditions. My births were "easy." And I remember the overwhelmingness of the pain, the desperation I felt near the end. What this woman suffered is torture, no better than waterboarding or attaching electrodes to testicles - worse, actually, since they put her life and an innocent life at significant risk in addition to inflicting unnecessary pain and hardship on an already difficult medical issue. The people responsible were not only irresponsible, but deliberately, willfully neglectful. One might even say cruel, pending investigation.

The problem is prison. It dehumanizes caretakers and victims (aka prisoners) alike. We need a comprehensive mental health system to support those who cannot, for whatever reasons, live within the laws of civil society. Prisons don't work. They don't correct, rehabilitate or support. They make people LESS likely to become law-abiding citizens, and they destroy the humanity of people who work as guards, nurses and other roles within them. They create dependent, resentful humans out of people who were already struggling to participate in society. And they create conditions under which abuse is not only possible, but highly likely.

This is one example. Just one of thousands. People are not treated as people. We allow this, every day, and support it through our tax dollars. Stephen Harper is entrenching us even further into this world of incarceration that does not support the goals of rehabilitation. It makes me crazy, mad enough to spit, until I collapse into resignation that HUMANS SUCK and this species will never rise above its nastiest nature. Because most people won't care at all.

And the government response? An investigation, yes, but the statement I heard on CBC was basically, "we're sorry, of course, but these things happen." They don't just happen. They are the result of an entire system of injustice at the tail end of our "justice" system, one that makes nurses deaf to cries, makes guards insensitive to human needs, and reduces humans to mere vessels into which punishment can be poured.

It makes me sick.


Friday, October 5, 2012

An Open Letter to Barack Obama

(photo from Salon)

Dear Barack Obama,

I'm sorry you had a lousy debate. That totally sucks.

You have done more in ten years than most of us could do in ten lifetimes. The thing about people is, no matter how much you do, they will expect more. People expect you to be amazing, all the time, and they will suck everything good right out of you. That's their nature. You had to know that going in, so hopefully you let it slide by now.

Maybe you want to take a minute to remember the big picture. You are a creature of light inhabiting a body, and in this mattering you have become the crux of a decision the Human Species is making about how we want to live together on this planet. You carry the torch of those who stood before and said that every person has an equal share in both responsibility and bounty; that the economic system is meant to support families, not the other way around. You stand for the children and not-yet-arrived who want to live together in a someday-world where no one suffers poverty or discrimination. You are the focal point for this thinking, even when you don't uphold it, even when you twist it to suit what you see as necessary, even when you let your humanity overcome your divinity. Because there is only one alternative, the alternative that says we are entitled to nothing, not even to sovereignty over our own bodies, while Power consolidates at the top of the economic spectrum.

When you allow the debate to be minimized to immediate details, the real debate becomes obscured, trees masking forest. You lose the chance to establish the most important conversation, the one that tries to answer two questions: what is the minimum we owe each other, and what is the maximum anyone should control? There are no easy answers, as you know better than any other human alive on the planet today. That's why we need a real debate. You have another chance. You can be the hero who comes out swinging and wins the day by reminding everyone what really matters.

You have taken on a giant responsibility and more still is asked of you. It must be tempting to look at Bill Clinton and Al Gore, and wish you were gallivanting around spouting big ideas instead of fighting in the mud pit for the right to keep the weight you hold for all of us. I hope you meditate. I hope you do yoga. I hope you have a hardwired connection to the divine that lights and sustains you. I hope you sleep well. I hope you laugh with your wife and daughters. I love you.

You carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. What a life!

Congratulations and Best Wishes,

Monday, August 27, 2012


I am a fearsome creature.

You may respond: oh, no, you’re not fearsome! and you will probably think you are reassuring me.

I am fearsome. I’m not unhappy about it. I am heartbroken that you’re afraid of me.

(which makes me turn my eyes away before I have to see it)

You may respond: well, yes, sometimes you’re fearsome, but you’re amazing in other ways! and you will probably think you are reassuring me.

I am fearsome. I’m not ashamed. You value what I bring in my contained smallness despite my inability to always hide my bigness. That is love in part. Thank you for it.

You may respond: but I see how hard you try, you’re getting better! and you will probably think you are reassuring me.

I’m not trying to fix it. All the time and energy I expend mitigating my overwhelmingness is for your benefit. I find it distracting and draining. 

I would rather spin my glory with loud voice and unmistakable force than get better at stepping daintily between the lines. I would rather be wind fire magnetic power if I trusted you to handle me, massive me, clumsy me, dark burning me, bright glowing me as I show up when I don’t protect you from me.

You can stand rock-strong amidst my gusts. You can bask lion-lazy in my shine. You can ride hawk-joyful on my roiling currents. I can be rock and lion and hawk for your weather. We can dance with love when we trust each other’s strength. When we trust our own.

I am fearsome and I am strong. I mean you no harm and I want no protection from you. I can protect myself. Can you?

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Dragonfly fly high 
fly high dragonfly 
dragonfly fly high to the sky
Take my dreams dragonfly 
steal them softly with a sigh 
untangle and unwind them from the lies

Dragonfly fly high 
fly high dragonfly 
I may gasp and I may cry dragonfly
Dreams are caught up in my soul 
I don’t want to let them go 
as life becomes a series of goodbyes

Fly high dragonfly
flitterzippy lovely guy
swiftly dash beyond my reach dragonfly
Fly my dreams away from me 
let my heart begin to breathe 
dragonfly fly them high fly them high.

Can you help them greet the sun 
searing heat can make them one 
can you bring them to the rainbow-dappled hills?

Can you share them your delight 
at this unexpected flight 
can you fill them with pure life affirming will?

Fly my dreams away from me
let them flourish let them be
let them transform in the sky dragonfly
Infuse them in the clouds 
up where they can thunder loud 
let them rain back down upon me 
wash my eyes

Sunday, August 5, 2012

What is the past?

Hope Shoots

I picked every choice I live with, and each made its own sense in its time.

Gnarled and cut but solid roots
Reaching still for the sun with green hope shoots

What is the past to me?

Only the way I got here.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Laughing Master

Play Recedes with Adulthood
If you're not aware, I host all sorts of characters in the spare corners of my mind.  

I’m currently hosting an ancient martial arts Master. He resents being stuck with a low-talent beginner, especially a woman. He says I’m no fun, pent up, and not a natural. In retaliation, I point out that he must have earned me, so he should be grateful for the opportunity to learn what I have to teach. He harrumphs. 

He was the Laughing Master, he shares, though the only humour he’s ever shown me has been at my expense. One thing's for sure: he's pretty serious about being ridiculous. 

MAKE NOISE! The Master decrees. I do not want to make noise. He prefers a deep, throaty Kiai, a death growl that isn’t, which sounds to me only like a silly girl trying to imitate a man’s sound. He wants me to yowl, howl, hiss and growl to add power to my strikes. (I feel like an idiot.)

MAKE FACES! The Master demands. Wide eyes, screwed up nose, teeth bared, nostrils flared – comic faces, extreme and grotesque. Appear slightly mad, he insists. When you make unexpected sounds and distracting faces, you take your opponent off-balance. You separate his energy. Your face is a frightening, changing mask, an integral part of your strike. Let the strike make the face. (I have no idea what that means.)

LAUGH! The Master commands. You find it funny to be forced to fight. It is funny! Laugh like it’s your privilege to be alive in a body in motion. It is your privilege! Your laugh creates anxiety for an opponent. What is she laughing at? Why is she not afraid? The aggressor loses focus. Laugh when you achieve a strike, laugh when you miss. Laugh when you win and when you writhe on the floor. Liberate your laughter, child. (I anxiously giggle.) 

I wish I could give him what he wants. I try. He's right - I am pent up. I'm working on loosening the screws I tightened for years with all my might. I'm trying to re-learn how to be playful with my own body. In the meantime, I suggest, he will just have to find me funny. The Master replies that when I can find myself funny, perhaps I will progress. Until then, he deadpans, fake it.

I’m sure he’s right. I force myself to smile in the mirror. And begin again.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Made My Day (another Bad Mom post)

A piece of advice. Don't ever take your 5 and 6 year old children with you swimsuit shopping. Swimsuit shopping is torture enough. And yet, today, I made the attempt.

Children don't keep their promises, even when you buy them a hotdog for lunch and bait them with a lollypop in the car and buy them a snack-sized Carmel Corn to share after nap (if they have a good nap and stay in their rooms at least an hour). Children are physically unable to prevent themselves from groaning and moaning, whining and complaining, pinching each other, touching things they shouldn't, begging for this ORDEAL to END, can't we just go HOME? While I search, end of season, through the dregs of swimsuits to find something that will hide the stuff I most want to hide and show off my precious assets. In my size and not hideously floral. 

You can imagine me, now, children in tow, at the Mall, my very very least favourite place to go other than WalMart, with a single bathing suit in my hand, the one possible fit, and then we can go home oh please please fit, just look halfway decent and I will BUY you, please! Calling: children, stay with me, children, with me, keep your hands off that, slow down, come back please, guys, you are giving me a hard time, please don't try my patience more, come on, hold my hand, thank you. Now may be a good time to mention that we have been to three other stores already. 

My son asks me, Mom, do you LIKE kids? 

He asks stuff like that with a sly little smirk, like a bratty enlightened master putting me through my paces. He makes a sport of reading me and feeding me back to myself. I don't call it mindreading, more like intention reading. He loves me enough to pay that much attention, so I try not to let on when I feel defensive. He knows anyway. 

I dodge. I say, I like you guys. 

Yeah, he says, but do you like KIDS? Like, other kids? 

Well, I say, I like some kids, but I don't know very many kids. I'm not really a kid kind of person, a person who would spend all day with lots of kids, but I like you guys, and I'm glad I'm with you. 

We enter a strange maze of the smallest possible box-like change rooms imagined by man (and you know it was a man). Certainly no place for me to wrangle a swimsuit without elbowing small faces. I ask them to wait in the hall. I point to a mirrored corner. I say, amuse yourself making faces in the mirror, don't leave this spot, wait here. Maybe sing a song so I can hear you. He says, nah, I don't want to sing.

She insists on coming in with me. I tell her, if you come in, you're staying in. It's tight in here. She's already squeezed herself beside me. She whines like a puppy and holds her hands like puppy paws. She tilts her head to one side. She stays. 

I try to strip without crushing her. I ball my clothes in a heap at my feet. I call out, Whatcha doing out there? No reply. I try again, already reaching for my clothes. HEY! What are you up to? This time he replies.

Nothing. Just looking. He's close. Okay, stay by the mirrors, right? 


I can hear that he's totally nowhere near the mirrors. He's in the last change stall. There were no other customers when we came in, but there might be now. I call out, don't get in the stalls! Please, go stand by the mirrors! I add "please" to soften the impatience which leaks through my best defenses into my Tone. I don't think it helps. 

I call again, Are you by the mirrors? YES! Okay, I'm just asking. 

I'm completely undressed and examining the leg-holes on my swimsuit find. Little Girl reaches for the barely-locked door.

"Do NOT open that door," I boom at her, already at the high-alert stage on first warning. She's not used to that, so I startle her into obeying for 3 seconds. I start struggling into the spandex "belly tucker" suction-suit and have it halfway up my thighs when she reaches for the door again.

STOP! Do NOT open that door. She looks up at me lazily, her finger on the trigger.

It's just for a second, she assures me. I'll close it really quick. My eyes widen and my head shakes side to side. No. No you won't. You will leave the door CLOSED. I'm kind of hissing to avoid yelling. Clearly an unhappy voice.

Now, the whine. I don't WANT to stay in here!

Her hand hasn't moved. I try to tell her it won't be much longer, but she's too busy groaning and rolling her head from side to side in frustration, eyes to the back of her head.

"Well, you will stay here anyway. Maybe you should have stayed out there when I asked you to. But you wanted to be here, so now you are here and you will stay here until I am finished and I hate this suit..." I peter off. DO. NOT. TALK. YOUR. THOUGHTS. OUT. LOUD. STOP. breathe. 

I put a stranglehold on my frustrated inner being, thrashing around ready to lash her tail. breathe.

Then I hear it:

Excuse me?

A woman, slightly tentative. Oh no. What is he doing? What has he done? Did he peek in on her? Is he still out there?

"Um, yes?" I ask, nervous.

And she says:

I just wanted to say that you're a really good mother.

My brain does a quick once-over on the last five minutes. Not my moments of shining glory. The booming. The hissing. The whining. And yet.

I stammer my thanks. She doesn't stop.
Your kids are really well behaved, and you pay attention to them, and...I just want to say that you're a good mother. 
I thank her again, embarrassed, half-dressed, in my stall-cell. Tears sting my eyes. My heart, which has been tightly closed and protecting itself throughout the Mall Mission, remembers to beat warm. I have no idea what to say. 

My daughter asks, What did she say? 

She said I'm a good mom, I tell her, trying not to sound surprised. Isn't that nice of her? 

Like "nice" describes it. 

Who is she? my daughter asks. And I find myself saying something I never would have expected to come out of my mouth. I say, maybe she's an angel who just goes around making people's days better. She made my day.  

We burst from our confinement to find my son making faces in the mirror. I look for the woman, but the three faces that turn my way are tired, bored and a little hostile, like, what are YOU looking at, lady?

I give them each a smile anyway. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Dear Jon Stewart (and Marco Rubio by proxy)

Dear Jon Stewart (and Marco Rubio, by proxy),

Even though I'm Canadian, I watched your interview with Senator Marco Rubio four times. I have struggled for several years to understand why smart people with similar goals see economic issues from different universes. Why does so much of what Senator Rubio says make sense to me, while I fundamentally know his approach will destroy what I love about freedom.

You said, “you’ve removed spending from value.” Ah, ha! A light began to bubble into the murk.

Senator Rubio said, “the economy must grow, we agree on that.” BOOM! That's when I understood - he sees the economy as Ever-Rising Dough.

When I was a kid, there was a popular phenomenon where housewives would pass each other the ever-rising dough. Basically, you can take this ball of dough, feed it every day as it grows, split it up, make your own loaf of goodness, and pass the other four loaves-worth along to other lucky housewives. The original dough just keeps reproducing itself in household after household. It's like free bread! If you don't count the stuff you have to add to it every day to keep it alive, the time and effort of remembering and doing it, and the hassle of making your own bread.

In any case, what Senator Rubio suggests is that the Economy is Ever-Rising Dough, so he's telling us to feed it. Public Resources feed it - low wages, low taxes, low-cost natural resources. Grow the dough. But does he feel that the public should receive a fair portion in return for their investment?

Capitalism provides a partnership in which initial resources (dough) are provided by the Public (Housewife #1) to a private citizen or corporation (Housewives #2, 3 and 4). The resources are transformed into value (four loaves worth of dough) by private citizens.

In Capitalism, however, the goal is no longer to feed ourselves with free bread. The goal is to sell the bread for a profit. In this model, the created value is provided to all citizens at a price the market will bear. The sale of value provides revenues to split among the private citizens involved in the transformation to value - the shareholders who backed the venture financially, the employees who did all the work, and the suppliers and distributors. Those private citizens can then use their share to purchase created value, in a virtuous cycle.

Of course, if no public resources had been provided in the first place, the virtuous cycle could not begin. In order for a virtuous cycle to begin, someone needs to put something in and take nothing out - someone needs to make the starter-dough. So the publicly-owned resources were put in, and "The Economy" was created - dough plus what we put into it every day.

There is only one economy. In a town that is running out of flour, yeast, sugar, salt and water, that dough is the only dough we have. It has two key stakeholders:  Public Citizens who collectively own all Public Resources, and Private Citizens, who are the same people as Public Citizens, but playing a different economic role by contributing to value creation through investment or direct effort. Public Resources consist of everything that exists within the boundary-lines of the territory citizens live on together - for example, a township, country, province or reservation. All land, water and other natural resources, as well as the time and labour capabilities of humans living there, represent Public Resources.

My thoughts aren't new, but perhaps now is a moment to re-iterate. It is becoming increasingly clear that governments the world over and at every level do not extract an adequate price in exchange for resources, if they want to advance a goal of steady overall improvement in the quality of life for most citizens. Because governments have sold resources cheaply, they have depleted public citizens’ commonly held resources, including their time and health, without replacing those resources in revenues.

Cut-throat competition among governments creates a false race to the bottom price for everything from electronics to wheat, to human time. This system serves no one except those who own and accumulate Private Resources. Worse, it is inhernetly unsustainable since the true costs of production and distribution are higher than the revenues received, yet the transformations still earn profit. Those costs are externalized outside Corporations, where they land on governments (representing Public Citizens) and, ultimately, on Private Citizens, in order that Private Resources can be accumulated. Yet, Governments have done very little to ensure those Private Resources get reinvested into the economy as a whole. Quite the opposite.

Governments have made a deal with private corporations to indenture all citizens.

By giving public citizens’ share of the resources away, governments create an environment where each private citizen must submit their body, mind, labour and time to a larger system that is controlled by private interests, as a cost of participating in the society in which they are born. This larger system is meant to drive innovation and the transformation of resources into value in human lives, but has instead been accumulating the value into the Private Resources of a small percentage of people, primarily through speculation and the provision of cheaply produced mass preferences, rather than humanity-serving production.

As more of the total economy moves from public ownership to private ownership over time through the transfer of under-valued resources, governments continue depleting our public resources, leaving most people dependent on obtaining and keeping a job in order to meet their basic needs, even while corporations are directed by shareholders to divest themselves of paid employees as fast as possible.

The need to begin the virtuous cycle with cheap/free resources and labour was met long ago. The public sector is in no position now to be feeding the starter-dough. It may be time for corporations and shareholders to feed it, by paying the true cost of value creation and extrating less profit. Not no profit, just the right amount. If resources are valued appropriately, it's true that many businesses could not be sustainable. They are not sustainable. Maybe we should be making only products that can earn a profit when the true value of resources is included, if we really want a free-market economy to work.  So businesses won't be encouraged to take the lazy way out and make 79 kinds of gum instead of solving real problems.

The economy (aka the Private Sector) cannot grow without being fed by diminishing public resources, or by using those resources more effectively (getting more value for fewer resources), or by creating or bringing in new resources (mining minerals from meteors, alchemy, some quantum magic). 

In the absence of adding resources into the earth system, we have only one finite-sized economy. We can shift the balance between public and private ownership within the single economy, but it will only ever be as big as the potential value of the world’s resources. As long as governments continue to undercut each other and sell resources to private interests at a loss, competition is a joke. Nothing is "valued" at its actual value. Everything is too cheap, including our time, the most precious thing on earth.

The practice of low-cost/no-cost resource provision, including incredibly poor return on human hours, continues. Governments continue dragging us into a destructive cycle by competing with each other. It’s like not letting go of the kite soon enough. The moment has come and gone to catch the wind. We keep running, holding on, and now comes the big JERK back.

Can we take another run at this, work together to catch the wind?

A U.S. Republican argues that lower taxes and cheap resources for corporations allow corporations to include more people in the creation of value (ie. “create jobs”) which spurs the private-sector economy and reduces the government’s responsibility to people. As Sen. Marco Rubio said, when you lower corporate taxes, they create jobs and “you’ve got yourself a tax payer.”

What that means to me is:  let corporations have the public resources cheaply, and they will distribute them to the people as they see fit, by extracting labour that they need, in order to innovate for the human race (or in this case, the U.S.A.). This would make sense to me if corporations didn't extract a high percentage of the value created from previously public resources (trees, water, energy, land, human time, human labour) into very few hands through low pay for citizens who are now dependent on participating in the labour force in order to meet their own needs. U.S. Republicans seem content with the idea of private interests controlling the resources of the country in a type of benevolent dictatorship, arbitrated by the free market (which strikes me as letting the kids vote for candy every supper).

From my seat in Canada, U.S. Democrats, on the other hand, seem to say that government must gain back the value of the cut-rate resources through taxation in order to help with quality of life, since that is the only way the government can raise funds if the government is selling resources below the actual value. Even Democrats do not, however, seem to question the practice of giving resources away. Competition with other governments depletes the world's resources, but seems the only path considered.

In the meantime, employee Stakeholders are not treated as equal, investing humans, but instead as indentured labour that has no choice but to work for the company’s interests for their livelihood (and lucky to have a job). Corporations, by law, focus on only select groups of stakeholders, keeping “costs” down through labour reductions and below-Living Wages in order to move more of the pie (or dough) to small groups of senior leaders and shareholders. Labour is treated as a cost of transforming  value, but the private citizens who provide the labour using their time are actually investors, creating an ongoing benefit that accrues solely to the employer and far exceeds the pay received. Even so, employees are not entitled to any portion of the profits in exchange for their risk and investment in the value creation, beyond meager pay for an hour of labour. This is not a system of cooperation, because it exploits human “resources” in just the same way as it exploits our other resources. We have a system that exploits one group of stakeholders for the benefit of another and calls it economic growth by relegating those stakeholders to the category of "cost." We have a system that equates human labour with machine labour.  

Governments must regulate and administer the inputs and outputs from businesses, but they are not the ones who will grow the private-sector economy. The only real way the private sector economy can grow is if the private sector innovates in ways that increase our natural resources, reduce our dependence on them, or do more with less. They need to create value without using as much stuff. Period. Any other "growth" is just moving resources to the U.S. sub-economy at the expense of other countries, or moving their value from public to private hands. The resources of our planet are currently finite - nothing’s coming in, nothing’s going out. So growing the economy means finding ways of using what we have better so more people can participate in high-quality lives. Anything else is just a fancy shuffle.

Government is responsible for the quality of life of its citizens. Governments expect citizens to provide for themselves but have not provided people with adequate return on investments from the trade of our natural resources. For the private-sector economy to thrive, it currently feeds off the public's teat through low wages and taxes, instead of mining minerals from asteroids or investing in smart cars and innovative distribution. If the economy (aka Private Sector) grows, it does so by shrinking what is commonly owned because that’s easier and less risky than innovating. That’s what we encourage with our current taxation and regulatory approaches.

I believe every human is born entitled to their share of the earth. I think we all deserve a share that allows us to participate in achieving a high quality of life. That's the point of the ever-rising dough, and it's the only way it will work - put in, pay forward, put in, pay forward. For generations to come. We can't have our dough and eat it, too, Marco Rubio. There is only one economy and we all share it.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Pot of Gold?
I can't make a rainbow with my spray
It's always there
Waiting to be.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Employees are a pain. They complain. They expect. They need training. They need benefits. They get sick. They don't always get along. They ask challenging questions at All Hands presentations and set each other off. They make mistakes. They show up late. They always want more money and less work.

It's not that employers don't appreciate what the employees DO provide - that's what they're paid for. If they didn't provide value, they certainly wouldn't be there. So the rest - the rest is additional cost, the overhead of using human machines to produce value. Employers tolerate it, but they want to reduce those costs. They want fewer human machines involved in the production of value. It's an unspoken preoccupation.

To be fair, having employees is expensive. It's considered one of the most expensive parts of doing business. Employers are on the hunt for ways to save. Employees, unfortunately, are not like the nuts and bolts that don't mind when you switch suppliers. 

Employers love a contingent workforce. People who are trained and capable, ready to work, but if you don't need them today you don't need to pay them. Sometimes you need them every day for years, but when you're done, you say, thanks, see you around. That is ideal. 

We have failed to provide a contingent workforce. 

First, we have allowed our education systems to lapse in an industrial-based model that does not adequately incorporate principles of learning and human development explored in the last 20 years. This education system produces too many assembly-line humans and far too few custom or high-end-general-purpose humans. The cost of post-secondary education acts as a dissuasion for any exceptional humans that could be further refined. By not investing adequately in individualized learning focused on developing and expanding on each human's strengths, we have failed to keep up with the employers' need for talent.

In parallel, we have established a jobs-based system of economics that under-values and de-values critical components of the economy (such as the work of households and the work of caring for dependent humans) while establishing employer-paid work as the primary source of basic bodily needs. Thus, the human machines we produce from our education system must, themselves, find and secure continuous paid employment in order to remain alive among their own society. Unfortunately, since most are not qualified for the requirements of employers, they vie for lower-skill jobs, undercutting each other and even the government's regulations in order to work cheaply. They must. 

And those are also the humans responsible for the learning, nutrition and care of other humans, especially those who are children being educated in our outdated systems. Those individuals who did not become expensively trained, who are working very long hours for very little money, are left with little time, energy, patience or enthusiasm. They do their best for their kids. Their best, under their circumstances, often provides inadequate supplementary learning to permit their children to "pop up" at the end of school as eligible for scholarships or as capable of participating in the post-secondary education necessary to ensure consistent employment.

So we've screwed people both directions and we leave more behind each year. It's not getting better. The "labour shortage" to come is only in expensive jobs, needing expensively-trained humans. With automation, we will continue to need fewer and fewer assembly-line human machines doing low skill work.That's what robots are for, and they are far, far better machines. What do we do with all those people we produced when we can't sell them to employers to pay for their feed and shelter, even as contingency?

I attended a conference on Basic Incomes a few weeks ago, and became increasingly intrigued with the idea of somehow tying a basic income concept to what employers really want - a ready, contingent workforce to whom they owe nothing but an hour's pay (and not even that if you can get away with it...) I wonder about a negative income tax approach where a person who worked would never make less than LICO (the poverty line, for most intents and purposes). What would happen if people could live as a contingent workforce without the constant threat of income instability?

But what about the poor employers, happy to have their hourly contingent but still waiting for their high-end Custom and General-Purpose "knowledge" workers? 

I've observed that, when humans are not feeling desperate, they start thinking and acting with more hope. I often converse with people called "working poor" (people who work at least 35 and often up to 85 hours a week, but still struggle to make rent and food due to low pay, transportation and childcare costs) When I ask what they would do with $1,000 a month, no strings, it's amazing. Almost invariably they say one of four things*, two of which are relevant here. One: they would put the money into their children - lessons and activities, saving for University. Two: they would go back to school themselves, evenings or even full time. 

It's just possible that creating more security for the humans produced by our existing systems might lead to more people taking their own initiative and managing to "pop up" into the Qualification Zone for the jobs employers most want filled. Now imagine if we combined that strategy with an education-system reboot.

Oh, and it's not too expensive. 

In fact, when you look at the whole person, whole society, and all the costs across government levels, it's cheaper. Start here if you don't buy it, and move on to a full report. 

What we lack isn't knowledge, ideas or even evidence on what works. What we lack is effective political leadership sharply focused on making our country a great nation where most citizens can live and work in peace, with as much freedom as possible. The political focus has become diluted with other concerns. Freedom and peace have taken a back seat to "security" and growth. 

So, what's next?

*The other two things people would do with $1000 a month? savings for emergencies, and paying off debt. No one has ever said they would quit their job or even reduce hours worked, except to upgrade skills and education, or spend more time caring for young children. I have asked at least 150 people this question.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Look away (I dare you)

I often wonder about characterizations of dark and light
Light as goodness, clarity
Dark as evil, blindness
When for me, it is the light that blinds
While dark beckons gently with its sweet promise of
restful nothing.

Either way, on what can I rely but my sight? 
Staring too long into extremes fries the retina. 

Between scorching and oblivion light dissipates with distance 
And so I ride its currents, after all. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Austerity (Cheryl Ives, Kitchener, 2012)

If Corporations are the producers of goods and services in the economy, responsible for the economic benefit of their shareholders, Households are the consumers of those goods and services, responsible for the livelihood of their members. And governments are the arbiters of the arena.

Corporations maintain a budget to allow for the operations required to be able to produce goods. Ideally, corporations would pay nothing for activities related to transforming materials into value. Ideally, they would have slave labour or all-purpose machines, so that their only cost would be materials. Ideally, they would have no need of marketing, because their products are so critical to the customer that all the marketing dollars can go into profits. That is the state Corporations would achieve if they could. They would maximize profit by reducing operational costs and owning the market. As it is, Corporations allocate budgets for marketing, accounting, transportation, legal, etc., and they pay people for their work.

Households maintain a budget to allow for the consumption required to be able to live in the society in which people find themselves at birth or by choice. Ideally, people would not require food, water, shelter, clean air, medical attention, emotional attention, teaching or caring. The fewer needs a household has, the more resources can be allocated to consumption. Ideally, they would have no need of learning – like so many species, so much more could be instinctual and learned through observation. Ideally, they would not require particular kinds of consumption (basic food and shelter, etc.) and could maximize consumption for an otherwise safe, happy and healthy lifestyle. As it is, Households allocate budgets for shelter, food, utilities, transportation, etc. Unlike Corporations, however, they do not pay people for their work.

Like a charity, a Household expects you to work for free. Like you’re a volunteer. No one pays me manage the budgets. No one pays me to go grocery shopping, plan nutritious meals, prepare and serve them, clean up afterwards. I’m not paid for my hours of reading and talking with other parents to remind myself every day how to coax the genius out of each of my children. I’m not paid to be here when the bus arrives, to help them think through the emotional upheavals of their days and remember the lessons they learned in class so that they can progress in education and emotional intelligence into productive adulthood. These are all activities I would not be doing if they were not required for participation in society and responsible parenting of new human units for the world. Yet, no one even acknowledges that any of this is worth anything, is of VALUE at all. 

If I don’t do these things that the household can’t pay me for, the household will grind to a stop or become disfunctional. The employment that earns money could be affected. The kids behaviour and learning could be affected. Their long term mental health. If my household grinds to a stop, if my kids become criminals or fail to thrive in society, it may not be that big a deal. But if thousands of households experience the same thing, the entire economy, and the thin veneer of society that rests gently upon it, will collapse. 

Women needed economic freedom and the only way to get it in the industrial age was to demand entry into the male arena of “work.”  We did that with a vengeance, so that now we have more education among us and participate in workplaces in record numbers. Many of us are financially independent from men (or have the capacity to be), but we can’t forget that most "women’s work" - the work of Care and of Households - is still low paid and treated as though it has low value. Many of us are not financially independent in this world of work. And we still work ourselves to the bone, serving the household.

I'd like to see a change to how we value work in this culture. Entering the private or public sector workforce cannot be the only path to financial recompense for work of value to society. I would like to widely acknowledge and validate the vast amount of critical work that no one is willing to pay for, but without which, we perpetuate poverty, crime, and general human failures to thrive on so many levels. 

Emerging from the Household into the wider community, there is an entire army of volunteer workers propping up our under-funded hospitals, schools, health centres, our mental health system and the widespread food and housing insecurity that keeps so many people on the razor's edge every day. All this work is of value, not just to one household, but to society as a whole. Neighbours helping neighbours. People having the time, energy and capacity to take on what matters to them. We are not building this up, but squeezing it out. 

Unlike Corporations, which exist to earn profit, Households do not exist to consume. They exist so that people can live, and try to make happy, safe lives for themselves, together.  There is a lot of overhead in the running of a consumer household, and a lot of overhead in creating a safe, happy family environment that produces humans (child and adult) capable of learning and becoming productive. We don’t pay for any of that overhead. It’s all slave labour. And not everyone does it well, nor can.

When women joined the workforce, we agreed that paid work was of value and the rest was menial. We let the work of Caring and Household Operations continue to be devalued and ignored in the economic system. We just piled on more work for all of us, men and women alike, by expecting two incomes per household and setting up society on the basis of an accidental red herring called “full employment.” We let our governments get convinced by corporations that their only role was to arbitrate the consumer society, not to protect or support citizens' lives. Because we didn’t actively or vocally disagree. We went along with it because we couldn’t imagine another path to equality.

It’s time now, for society to re-evaluate. It’s time for Government to take responsibility for some of the overhead, or force employers to pay enough that no families live in day-to-day terror of whether they can pay the utilities, rent and feed their kids on what’s in the fridge. Begrudgingly I see that maybe there was some merit to the idea of paying a family man more than a single, after all - but it didn't have to do with the man. It wasn't fair, but neither is ignoring those costs. It’s time for all of us to take a look at the Same-Old-New indentured servant/slave class of Household Workers. It’s time society considers the costs for propping up our crumbling economic system. Maybe if we do a good job on the foundations, the rest won't topple over. 

4 Minutes to Go (another Bad Mom post)

4 minutes to go. 

We need to be out the door and walking down the hill in time for the bus. I'm expecting to put on my shoes and GO! But no.

S. has boots on but no splash pants. B. is taking off his boots because the pants aren’t in right. They are not ready to go.

He doesn’t want to wear rain boots. They hurt his feet. They rub his legs when the pants ride up. He wants to wear his new shoes. I tuck his pants into his socks, complaining that we don’t have time for this. He agrees to wear the boots and bring the shoes, but Daddy said they are too heavy for his pack so he will carry them. I don’t like that idea, and I’m surprised Daddy would agree to it. I grab a plastic bag for the shoes.

Time to go. He’s not wearing a hat. She has removed her boots so I can tuck HER pants into her socks and help her put her boots on. More high pitched “Oh, come ON, we don’t have time, we’re already late…” from me, I’ll admit.

3 minutes after time to go, I push them out the door in front of me. Daddy’s behind with the backpacks, and he’s saying something about the shoes. I just want to get out of here! Give B. the pack and the shoes and let’s GO! But they are tusselling and Daddy has said B. can’t take the shoes and B’s crying and melting into a full pool of disappointment, not just because he can’t have the shoes but because he thought he had a deal, he thought this was SETTLED already and now Power is interrupting at the last possible second and taking away what he thought he had accomplished. Or maybe that's me. 

I want to talk with him about it but I can’t. He’s getting more worked up, he can’t think let alone articulate, and it’s getting worse. He’s in no fit state to talk. I tell Daddy that I already agreed to the shoes and it’s up to B. to handle the heavy load. Daddy is worried (rightly!) that boots or shoes will be left at school or lost. To me, that is B’s responsibility, but now is not the time to be trying to talk with him about responsibility when he’s in full meltdown and it’s now 5 minutes past time to leave.

Daddy tells me that we’re just teaching him to whine and complain for what he wants. I try to explain the bigger context of the current emotional firestorm that is brewing on the other side of the screen door, how quelling it is currently the primary goal, but there just isn’t time, and he’s not up to listening anyway. I tell him I agreed to the shoes and we have to go, NOW.

I think Daddy’s mad at me, but he puts the shoes in the bag. I’m already out the door and taking a brisk pace down the hill so the kids are forced to run to catch up. B.’s calmer. They both hold my hand.

“So, that could have gone better,” I say.

“Yeah,” B. replies, and I feel him take a deeper breath, relax his grip. I’m a little afraid of how tense he was, too tense for a small child to be allowed to feel. I realize he’s often like an animal in flight mode, ready to duck and repudiate whatever he said to offend, just in case. I feel terrible to create an environment where he feels that way. The world of adults must seem brutal to small children, where their perceived needs and wants are so often subservient to those who are bigger and more powerful.

“It could have gone a lot better if you would have asked Daddy reasonably to talk about it, instead of freaking out.”

“Yeah. I was upset.”

“Daddy thinks you made a bad decision.”


“One: he told you the shoes are heavy. Two, he’s worried you’ll lose one. Three, he’s worried you will forget your boots at school.”

“I won’t!”

“How do you know that?”

“I’ll TRY hard to remember. And if I do forget I’ll get them tomorrow.”

“What if it rains tomorrow?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, if you forget your boots and it rains, I guess you’d have wet feet!”

He laughs. “Yeah, my feet would be SOAKING!”

“So, are you going to be responsible for your shoes AND your boots?”


“Okay, I expect to see them when you get off the bus tonight.”

Poor little S. doesn’t get much conversation or attention this morning. But she’s had her tantrum mornings too.  Listening is probably good for her.

We get to the bus stop, and within a minute the bus pulls up.

“He’s early today,” says B. I laugh.

“No, we’re late!” I tell him. I kiss them both and put them on the bus. I wave goodbye.

Phew. I feel my breath let out, another morning rush accomplished.

I start back up the hill, practicing my kung fu sideways movement until I lose my breath, then walking slowly, taking deep breaths in and letting them seep out. I think about what my husband said, and I know it’s the conventional wisdom, but I’m not sure about the cause and effect. When B. cried today, he wasn’t whining or complaining, at least that's not how I saw it. I saw him expressing the outraged disappointment of a person being wronged in a deal they thought was made. And I do want to teach him to stand up that way, against unfairness. I hope he will refine his definitions and learn what battles to pick, but I don’t want to stifle or punish that impulse.

I also wonder what he can possibly learn when he’s all freaked-out worked-up. It seems to me that continuing to hold back what he wants and just say NO, done, finished, when he’s already upset, just erupts the volcano and directs the anger and upsetness outward, at the Power that is withholding. If we hold out to avoid teaching him that crying works, is he also learning that standing up against Power is pointless and he should just shrug his shoulders and give up? Is he learning that he is not responsible, because Power will just decide what it wants even if he is willing to take the consequences of a different decision? Is he learning that you can’t be responsible for something just because you’re not good at it yet?

I think we need to be careful to understand the unintended teachings that come with the lessons we think we’re giving. We can’t know the child’s context for receiving the intention of our action. What we are transmitting may be very different than what they receive. Just last night, I lost my temper and my words and told S. that I wanted her to stop doing bad things on purpose. She started crying uncontrollably. I asked her why she was crying, and she spat at me “Because YOU said I was a BAD GIRL!”

Not only did she hear me say SHE was bad, not that what she was doing was bad, but it turns out that just that afternoon, a “big girl” at school had told her she was a bad girl and to stop always bugging her. The raw hurt she expressed scraped my heart. We never know their context. And the world looks very different on the receiving end of Power than on the initiating end that sets or fails to set intention.

If we're trying to teach independence and self-sufficiency, I'm afraid we will have to take the smaller risks that don't affect their long-term health and well-being, and let them take those risks. If his pack is heavy, it's him who will carry it. It won't kill him. If he loses a shoe or forgets a boot, we can hold him responsible to rectify it - look in the lost and found, scour the school yard, check with the bus driver, etc. It's a pain for us, especially if we have to replace something lost (and I DO understand that worry, too), but it's practice. If he doesn't get to practice what he's not good at yet, and feel what a pain it is to lose something, I'm not sure how he'll learn to be accountable.

But we can't let him rule us through tears. We can't let him make decisions that are too far beyond him. We can't let him take huge risks or put himself in danger. Not yet. One day, we will need to let go even of those protective power applications. The lines are not clear nor steady. The answers are not black, nor white. We're navigating rocky waters with a partially-functioning compass each. Different answers apply to the same questions in different contexts. Learning doesn't happen in one, single incident, it happens over time through practice and observation that reveal patterns to our sub-conscious and conscious minds. 

I don’t know the answers. This parenting thing is like an immersion course in being human. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Butterfly Nature

Butterfly Nature
Yesterday my yard was filled with Red Admiral butterflies (so I'm told). Twenty or more dined in my dandelion yard, flitting here and there. When the kids ran back, they all took off at once into the forest behind - amazing!

I went into my yard with my camera. I sat very still and comfortably on the ground. I closed my eyes and focused on my breath. Breathe in the worlds's nature. Breathe out my separation from the world. After a few minutes, I opened my eyes and saw a butterfly drinking on a dandelion beside my knee, posing from side to side like a model.

I thought about how butterflies are lovely to watch. Colour flitting about, on a creature we know cannot harm us, captivates old and young. Most everyone smiles for a butterfly. When a butterfly landed on my arm, just briefly, I felt honoured, blessed. Would I feel that way if a wasp did the same? Or a harmless spider?

Like us, butterflies build a reputation on show. They don't actually care if we think they are beautiful. We don't see their little alien faces, their fuzzy-spiked black backs, their strange proboscis tongues wielded like spears to efficiently suck the lifeblood from the flowers. We see their beautiful wings.

Without the wings, they are still just fuzzy caterpillars on spindly legs after all. Caterpillars who can suddenly fly! They revel in the boon of their newfound superpower as transport, protection and menace to predators. But they can't see their own wings. They don't know they are beautiful. They only know they must flit flower to flower, feeding their life with life. Like us.

What is the human nature?

To see more from that shoot, visit http://www.ivesagency.com/Butterflies.html

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Blanket of Consolation
What grows over the wound
Can also be considered

But nothing beats being a tree.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012



Believing myself unworthy,
squirmy, unwantable
So afraid to burden, I didn't dare offer my love
as a gift

a kindness
a sweet compliment

what else can I do, but offer what is mine
to give?