Thursday, May 6, 2010

Time travel

I've just returned from our trip to Munich and Prague and am fascinated by the many feelings the experience has stirred up. It's as though I've travelled back and forth through time and space, seeing connections everywhere.

Interestingly, the timing of our vacation was accompanied by a dramatic series of international events including the ongoing effects of the Icelandic volcanic eruption; the devastation of the BP oil spill; Greece's potential bankruptcy and its impact on the global economy; the intense focus on today's British election; and commemoration of the 65th anniversary of the end of WWII.

Being in Europe during this time provided a different perspective on these events, perhaps because we were in a different environment, beyond our comfort zones, and thus paying more attention. It also reinforced how, internationally, we're all tuned into many of the same things regardless of our geographic locations and nationalities.

More than this though, being away was a reminder that despite how meaningful each of these events may seem, so many peoples and cultures have gone through so many crises over the many, many centuries. While touring parts of Germany and the Czech Republic, their rich and deep history was apparent around every corner.

Visiting noted historical sites and walking centuries-old streets and pathways stirred in me the desire to understand so much more - to look back in order to move forward.

It also ignited a desire to pay more attention to the status of democracy in our own country. We've been so fortunate to enjoy the peace and personal freedoms we do and yet I believe we've come to take much of what we have for granted. Learning more about German and Czech history indicated how political climates and landscapes can take a dramatic turn that is real, to be understood, and not just to be read about in newspapers and/or history books.

For example, and without trying to be melodramatic, right now in Canada we really must keep our eyes open regarding the protection of our civil rights and freedoms, support for the arts and universal social programs, the transparency of government, and freedom of the media.

We don't want to lose all the things that many others respect and aspire to enjoy.

PS: We did have a wonderful trip - just had to express this as it's been on my mind.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Life, there you are

It has been a while since I last wrote - a combination of busyness and finding other ways to communicate. And now it's almost scary contemplating what to say. There's so much going on in the world - everywhere. On a micro and a macro scale. Right here in front of me, in this city of Toronto, across our great country, and beyond our borders, in all directions.

Our federal parliament is prorogued again - which has caused much consternation throughout the nation. What happened to that friendly, accommodating, democratic land we lived in? Now, to prove we care, we're forced onto the streets to say yes, Mr. Harper we care. And then he flies off claiming to have discovered a brand new cause - the welfare of women and children everywhere. Wow, he may be getting the message after all.

Right over the horizon, we're hosting the Olympics. So much work and sleepless, dedicated effort has gone into the games - from way before the bid was secured, throughout the official preparation and now in the last two weeks before the opening ceremonies. 2010 is here. Go Vancouver, Go VANOC, Go Tourism BC, Go Canada!! And more than that - Go Athletes, from everywhere, as you are the heart and soul of it all. Do well, have fun, make friends and enjoy. We're proud of you already. (And hopefully you, and not the politics, will prevail - as it should be).

Then there's Haiti. It's hard to know where to begin. We've managed to pretty much ignore their plight until now, despite the number of countries involved in their business over the decades. We're all there now for the right reasons. And hopefully the immense emotional, physical and monetary support will begin to have a real impact on immediate needs first, and then help to build a sustainable infrastructure in the future.

Everywhere you look, there are accomplishments to admire, heartbreaking crises to endure, and many challenges big and small. Then, there's the recognition that we're here and able to breathe it all in. Life, there you are.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Practising what we already know

Hmmm. Yesterday was a reminder to remain realistic about, as well as trusting of, external influences. While feeling on the right path toward more spiritual connection, and seeing the many options that are presenting themselves with that consciousness, I have to remember that not every channel is the one for me.

The holistic TCM health centre was interesting, though not at all what I expected. It unfortunately was not a welcoming nor informative experience, despite my desire to find a foundation on which to build a health & wellness base. My intuition tells me it's not what I need at this time, though it may simply be that the upcoming yoga classes were what I was meant to find there.

I'm still open to what else the centre might offer, and yet also acknowledge that much of what I'm looking for in a wellness practice I'm already tuned into and simply need to act upon myself. No panaceas. Authentic, balanced living with conscious exploration and action. Time to resume all I've learned over the years - and pay special homage to my wise friend Debrah while I'm at it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Renewal of spirit

West-coast living taught me some insights into maintaining a balanced life. Like almost everyone I know, I find balance to be an absolute - and yet incredibly fleeting - necessity.

While it has taken a few days of vacation time to start getting into 'letting go' mode, I'm finally achieving that combined state of relaxation and inspiration.

Whether reading or vegging in front of a video or listening to favourite music or napping or reflecting, I'm starting to feel that sense of groundedness again.

I've also been following through on ways to build a more spiritual life here in Toronto - something that's eluded me while getting the more fundamental aspects in place. I'm very excited to have found a holistic health centre that I'll be visiting tomorrow. I have just registered for yoga classes and related lectures there as well. Throughout the fall, I'm planning to attend a host of literary events at the Library, plus concerts and theatre around the city. And despite this ultra-urban setting, I'm determined to connect more deliberately with nature, as it's definitely all around.

With the arrival of Autumn, I'm feeling a renewed sense of connection and gratitude. That's more like it!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Precious time

As we get older, time starts to pass more quickly and the milestones accumulate.

This year has been exceptional in that regard - two uncles turned 80 and one 75, my parents are celebrating their 50th anniversary, my sister and her husband their 25th, and some old friends and I just marked 30 years since we started university.

Not one of us feels as though that many years have gone by. And yet these points in time serve to remind us to appreciate our accomplishments and each other. And more than that, to take the time to celebrate it all.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Going Public

The Political Spectrum Quiz
Dawn is a left moderate social libertarian. Dawn is also a non-interventionist and culturally liberal.
Dawn's scores (from 0 to 10):
Economic issues:+3.62 left
Social issues:+1.1 libertarian
Foreign policy:+4.79 non-interventionist
Cultural identification:+4.84 liberal
Category:political quizzes

According to the Political Spectrum Quiz on facebook, I'm a left moderate social libertarian as well as being a non-interventionist and culturally liberal. Regardless of the source, this seems pretty accurate to me and when illustrated on a graph, it appears that I couldn't be much closer to dead centre (though left-leaning all the same).

When situated near the centre, rationalizing a stand on various issues can be a bit precarious. Why supportive of government-funded health care, but not of government management of other activities? Why is it ok to publicly administer (un)employment insurance but not provide handouts to failing businesses?

The reasoning for me is that we must differentiate between a universal obligation to look after each other as individuals and the need to let bona fide businesses succeed or fail independently from government interference.

I believe that the mandate of government is to provide strong leadership while competently managing as transparently as possible. Of primary importance is the delivery of universal social services - those areas that would not necessarily deliver a short term monetary return on investment, but are critical to ensuring longer term quality of life for all.

With this lens in place, some recent events have resonated for me:
- this week's dismantling of crown corporation Tourism British Columbia, a highly successful destination marketing organzation, so it can be absorbed into the government of BC. This after 12 years of outstanding achievements on behalf of the tourism industry and many communities throughout the province. It seems counterproductive, as at risk is the marketing discipline and creativity of Tourism BC which has flourished at arms length from government.

- the recent bail outs of big banks and two of three big auto companies in North America. Should our governments be supporting businesses that have failed due to lack of vision and fiscal management? I don't believe they should, although the impact on so many individuals' livelihood, pensions and communities make this one a lot less clear. It seems that creative thinking in government and business, might have come up with wiser, more sustainable solutions.

- the ongoing debate re. universal health care in the US which is dragging other nations' systems into the discussion. This one is of course a no-brainer from my perspective. It's an excellent example of why universal social programs are required because if left only to business and right-leaning ideologues, anyone in need of health care without positions of wealth or power are left to flounder without a social safety net.

NB: As many know, I worked with Tourism British Columbia for six years and have much admiration for the operation, management and staff at the world-renowned and award-winning destination marketing organization.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Oh the joy of soaking in the scenery during a summertime getaway. Amid the day-to-day hustle bustle, it's rejuvenating to have some time to just be in nature. Last week while staying at a friend's cottage, I opted to remain fixed on the dock, simply watching the weather go by, reading from time to time, and mostly just enjoying regular visits from a variety of duck families.

An idyllic way to unwind and feel grounded once again. Ahhh...