A friend had a truly horrifying experience recently and I give thanks that all are OK. Sadly many others, instead of showing love and support, feel it is justifiable to criticize and place blame.
Why is it that people feel it is OK to judge, bully and shame others who are vulnerable? On social media, personally or with rumours. Why continue to traumatize those that are already hurting?
Stop throwing rocks at those who are already vulnerable please.
Before people go and start saying nasty things maybe they should first stand and look at themselves in the mirror.
See those wrinkles? We all have them; regardless of your age.
Each wrinkle has a story line. Some stories are what the universe has thrown at us, when life has unexpectedly gone sideways.
More of those wrinkles are a result of the stories we ourselves made up. Our very own blunders and errors in judgement.
NOBODY is immune to making mistakes. We all have faults.
We will all slip up again… and again…. and again…..
Lets just hope that all those slip ups have small consequences and do not end in tragedy. It is also said that mistakes are the best opportunities for learning. Lets build resilience, not shame. By throwing words and turning our backs on others, we all lose. Show support and assist others to recover from adverse events. It is then that we ALL have the opportunity to gain wisdom.
So when you look in the mirror remind yourself of the story behind each wrinkle. Sure, you can try to hide the wrinkles. The wrinkled story may be disguised behind botox or redirected at others with cruel words. Regardless, the wrinkles will always reappear. Botox cannot hide all our years of aging. Regrets will aways come back to get you in the end.
We are all spinning on this green and blue spaceship together. Nobody gets out alive. So why not try being kind. As Mary Ann Evans; AKA, George Eliot said,
“What do we live for, if not to make life less difficult for each other?”
If you walk away from your reflection and you still insist on throwing rocks, make sure you first open the door to your own glass house. If you keep tossing, eventually your own house will shatter, and you will find yourself surrounded in broken glass.
Hoping that others will show compassion and help you rebuild again.
“We do not stop exercising because we grow old;
we grow old because we stop exercising.”
because if I don’t
fat conglomerates in body and mind
life becomes joyless and stagnant
creating a road to unhappiness and poor health
I have broken the monotony of
that work has demanded of me
muscles now fire up
the heart pumps beats of delight
mind blooms with synapses of jubilation
inspiring and encouraging
habits that promote
health and happiness
I was a acute care nurse for 18 years. A lack of fulfilment, due to increasing work load demands, left me exhausted and stressed out. I do however, miss the movement that acute nursing provided.
Now I am a home care nurse – WHICH I LOVE – with one exception. It has led to being more sedentary. I sit too much, at a desk or in my car. Clogging my own and the world’s arteries.
I have always found time to play in the outdoors outside of work. Without the forest runs I would not be a sane person. Regardless of this extra time for other activities, the sedentariness of work was causing aches and pains I had never had before. Time to find a solution and make a change.
So I have purchased a cargo electric assist bike. I am now spinning into wellness as I commute between clients’ homes.
Many are skeptical and ask, “doesn’t it take more time?”. The reality is that I have been able to get to where I need to be within 5 minutes of what it took in my car. A few times I even beat a driving co worker to the same home. Plus – parking is a non issue!
I would not be able to do it without the cargo space; I carry a lot of supplies. I also need the electric assist due to the many hills where I live. Assist or not, my legs are always moving.
The following is a great video addressing the hidden health risks of a sedentary life style.
I am already seeing the results after doing this for just a few weeks. The emotional, physical and mental stress that can result from my job is releasing with each pedal stroke. Movement creates a healthy body, mind and spirit.
My carbon footprint is less. If Glory can carry it (of course I named her), I bike to get myself around the city when not working as well. With the continued threats on planet earth, every little bit helps.
Life is rich and full with many demands. If we do not show compassion and care for our own well being, it becomes more difficult to care for all the others in our lives. The burdens are greater, all those demands become arduous, and the stressors immobile us.
It can be tough to find the time and we can make numerous excuses. It is said, best to get out of your own way to make change happen. Put those excuses to the side and find a solution.
So I have broke the sedentariness of my daily routine at work with cycling. Changing my routine to make it happen, when I can.
What do you already do to incorporate exercise into your daily routine? Or how will you change to promote a healthier body, mind and spirit?
“The groundwork of all happiness is health” L. Hunt
“KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN. LISTEN. FOLLOW YOUR CURIOSITY. IDEAS ARE CONSTANTLY TRYING TO GET YOUR ATTENTION. LET THEM KNOW YOUR ARE AVAILABLE”
Here we are the last day of April. My final poem for Poetry Month. Kind of crazy just how quickly the month went, but really, time is such a warped way to measure reality. When I started this blog I never thought I would be writing a poem everyday for a month. I have astonished myself. I truly enjoyed the experience. Being creative in this way actually changed how I perceive the world. I have always been fairly aware, but I am now tuned in to another frequency and I love it.
A poem ♥ are thoughts spoken and unspoken
What is Life ♥ but poetry in motion
When I began this journey of blogging I was worried about what others thought. I have succeeded in pushing my boundaries around vulnerability. Now I just don’t care. This is my journey, my imagination and it is inspiring me to keep evolving. Another favourite quote from “BIG MAGIC”
“IF PEOPLE DON’T LIKE WHAT YOU’RE CREATING, JUST SMILE AT THEM SWEETLY AND TELL THEM TO GO MAKE THEIR OWN FUCKING ART” Elizabeth Gilbert
I will most likely not be posting everyday from here on, but I will continue to carry pen and paper with me. When the creative adventure flows, my mind will take note. I encourage all to listen deeply to the world around them. There is so much inspiration that otherwise goes unnoticed.
The memories remain vivid and the learning continues. Travelling taught me many things. The biggest lesson was to slow down. For there is so much to be embraced.
My wise and wonderful friend Leila describes time as an accordion. Moments can be long and stretched seeming like they will never end or squashed with far too little of it. There is music in both if we are willing to listen. So my goal on my return was to remain mindful and listen to the music. Be it a slow waltz or a fast polka.
To take extra care and fall less off the teeter totter of life. I promised myself that I would do my best to not get consumed in the ever increasing demands of life. Instead of the mantra, “there is not enough” time or whatever else it may be; I comment on giving thanks for what I do have. To not loose focus on what is precious and true. To see the beauty and inspiration in the micro of life. To embrace the moment. To be patient with myself and others. To meditate and listen to the whispers of my heart more often.
Well, its been a month now and I am once again a hamster on the wheel of life. Wowsers, can that wheel ever pick up speed if I let it. The difference now is that I am aware of its speed. That most days the wheel is not spinning so crazy out of control. That most days I can keep the wheels speed in check and can even change directions if I wish to. Better yet, I am able to completely jump off the wheel and let it come to a complete stop. Even if only for a moment.
Breathing in the forests’ fragrance.
The sound of a song bird.
The full moon rising and the stars shimmering.
The gentle caress of the wind on my face.
The joy as a pod of dolphins jump, swim and play.
Street dancing with my son under the stars last sparkles before the sun wakes for the day.
Digging in the garden.
A friend’s laughter.
My children’s HUGS and I LOVE YOUs.
The crunchy crispness of alpine snow.
Walks with friends.
Walks in solitude.
My sons’ contagious joy of unicycles.
Dancing on hill tops.
Springs first blooms.
Dancing with patients.
The wonder of clouds.
Waking to a quiet house with a coffee and my journal.
Silence shared with someone who is dying.
A cup of tea and some poetry.
A deep awakening breath.
The difference is my awareness. I am not getting lost in the demands and chaos of everyday life as often. Life can be all consuming, or all embracing.
I choose to embrace life in all its variety and brilliance. In its harshness and its beauty.
I choose to stay mindful more often. To be true to myself and those around me.
Yes, it is a difficult balance. Yet the balance is easier to maintain if I just take that extra moment to breath and give thanks. The more I breath it all in, the more of the moment I embrace, the more brilliant and colourful the world around me is.
Everyday I wake with gratitude to the sleep and silence I did have during the night. I dream of what the day will bring. Then I go to bed every night and believe that
Our time in Vietnam started off on a wonderfully surreal note with meeting our great friends Mike and Kathleen in Ho Chi Minh. HUGE THANK YOU for making the trip to the other side of the world to come play with us. We would travel anywhere anytime with you two. It was a joy to experience Vietnam with you and looking forward to our next trip to explore the places we didn’t get to this this time around.
I quickly and easily fell in love with Vietnam. For the incredibly friendly people and the stunning geography. The cuisine was my absolute favorite this trip as well. Which plays a large role in the love of a country when you are eating out for every meal. They also make the best coffee. Even better when you add condensed milk or coconut ice cream.
Below are only a few of the wonderful people we met while in Vietnam. All truly wanted to make our experience memorable. The Vietnamese are full of kindness with gracious hearts.
There also remains a strong element of community and keeping it local. Fields of produce were everywhere. Families knee deep in mud planting rice or harvesting other crops. Even some of the larger resorts have their own fields the size of a city block.
Communism certainly has its attributes. Now that Vietnam’s doors are open to foreign investment and travel, the marriage of communism and capitalism has created a pleasurable country to be in. I realize that this is only my perspective as an outsider and corruption remains a concern. One of our guides reported to me that she has a degree in education but would have to pay the school to teach. Hence, she is guiding. It is a means to an end for her as it is a great way to become fluent in English. Her dream is to teach high school English. She is determined to succeed.
Never the less, Vietnam appears to be doing a fairly good job from an outsiders look. Time will tell though, as the amount of effort and funds that is going into the infrastructure of roads, rail and buildings is truly mind blogging. Everywhere one looked there was a crane or cement factory smoke stack on the horizon. New highways and bridges and more to come. It is a booming country in many ways. Can they withstand the corruption that accompanies a capitalist society? If only they could maintain the best of both as they forge ahead?
Tourism is playing a large role in the boom, both with foreigners (especially Chinese), as well as the Vietnamese themselves. The large resorts that are being built in DeNang and Cat Ba are for those with money and not a lot of time. It is not the flash packers such as ourselves that will be sipping drinks beside the infinity pools. I just hope that they are considering sustainable tourism model? Doesn’t look as such as the beaches at Cat Ba have been blown to bits to make room for these massive resorts. Capitalism at its best.
The Vietnamese people are definitely résiliant and strong of will. They were colonized by the Chinese for over a thousand years. Then came the Portugese and the French. Lets not forget the Americans and their agent orange and napalm. Despite all the adversity they have had to over come, they maintain a sense of graciousness and unwavering strength.
Vietnam is full of colorful chaos that leaves you mesmerized intermingled with scenes of serenity to keep you calm. Most use “hondas”, the catch term for anything motorized on 2 wheels. The masses cannot afford a car and a pedal bike is too slow. In the cities walking was always an exercise in reflexes and wits, as they would drive those scooters even on sidewalks. I started saying a silent prayer every time we went out, on the advice of a guide. First say a prayer then walk slowly, never stopping and no sudden movements. It really does work. Kind of makes you feel like Moses parting the sea.
Then moments of beauty would bring stillness and calm.
We were travelling “tourists” in Vietnam.
Debate to yet occur over a few glasses of wine. Traveller or tourist? Is there a difference? If so, what makes one a traveller and the other a tourist?
So we triapsed around Vietnam as “travelling tourists” as time and weather was not on our side. There was so much to see, and the country is sooooo long. It was sooooo cold. So our trip consisted of boats, caves, trains, planes, beaches, jungles, mountains, hikes, hand line fishing and bicycles. With a lot of great food, wonderful company and a cucumber face mask thrown in.
Country of joy and curiosity
Smiles of genuine friendliness
Welcome hugs that speak of gratitude
Friendships that blossom, with adventure and laughter
Cuisines that are celebrations of taste
Fields to markets, keeping it local
Bicycles and scooters, balanced with silent prayers
Families knee deep in fields of mud, working together
A nation built on community and faith
Investing and building
Exploding with dreams of the future
It was a sad day saying goodbye to Mike and Kathleen. Not one of us were ready to say goodbye to one another or Vietnam. I do want to venture back to Vietnam in the near future. Before the charm and essense is lost to the incredible growth that is occurring there. I want to travel slower and embrace more of the beauty that encompasses Vietnam and her people.
For now I must say farewell to the life of travel as we are at the end of our trip. A last trip to Bangkok before travelling home. It all feels like a dream. A wonderful, exotic and beautiful dream.
I went into Cambodia with no expectations. All I knew for sure is that it remains one of the world’s poorest countries, that is was still recovering from a cultural genocide and it was home to the world’s largest religious complex.
What I witnessed was a culture of people who greet you with smiles and grace. Who are resilient and beautiful. People who despite the inequality and poverty that still exists, find faith in their culture and religions. People who have lost entire generations to genocide, remain strong and compassionate. That in their sorrow they have found the capacity to forgive. An environment that shines brilliantly green with fields of rice and other crops. Of fruit trees that are ripe with the taste of sweetness. Temples and ancient trees coexisting, each the skeleton of the other. I witnessed thousands of individuals from every race and religion, gathering in peace and solidarity at a place of worship that has existed for 900 years. I always heard the laughter of children wherever I went. A country where monks of every age tread lightly on earth with grace. Shrines can be found everywhere, as a sacred place to focus the mind and to promote gratitude. Others honoured the ancestors that have passed with offerings of flowers, water, food and incense. A country of citizens who believe in truth. A country of healing hearts that hold forgiveness and compassion tenderly.
Everywhere in the country I would meet men and women selling their wares. Be it a remarque driver wanting to tour you around his city or another selling pineapple. Persistent but always with a great sense of humour. Truth is, many needed those sales to supplement their income so they could perhaps send their children to school.
Then there were the children. Always trying to sell postcards or bamboo flutes. They really pulled on my heart strings. They should be in school. Purchasing their wares would only encourage them to stay out of school. Sadly though, the public education system is said to be corrupt and poorly funded leaving the future generation with little in the way of education. All intellectuals in Cambodia were killed during the genocide, which would play a large role into the poor education system of today. There are many NGOs working hard to educate Cambodia’s youth. Some are succeeding, such as Phare Ponleu Selpak. An NGO that is making a difference in the lives of many youth and their families. If the circus is any indication of their successes, this organization is made of passion and love. Check them out here .
Siem Riep was bustling with tourists from everywhere. All drawn here by the Angkor Wat, a Wonder of the World. This temple complex was breathtaking in its scale. At one time home to a million people while London had a population of only 50,000. To walk among these ruins and those of many other temples was a privilege.
This area truly is the world’s largest hands on museum. I was just as thrilled as my boys to wander all the dark passageways and pretend I was a character in the “Temple of Doom.” So much history collided here and it leaves you with a grand imagination.
Photos from Prom, Bayon and
Photos from Ta Prohm, Bayon and Phrea Khan
I woke early one morning to join the other thousand of tourists to watch the sun rise over Angkor Wat. As I sat and gazed at the brilliance of the stars and listened to the quiet hum of early morning chatter in many different dialects, I felt a spiritual sense of peace. So many people from so many backgrounds coming together in awe and wonder. If anything, travel and tourism promotes diversity and peace.
Cambodia has been occupied and ravaged with unrest for centuries. The Cambodian Genocide of 1975 to 1979 was the peak of brutality. Pol Pot and his Communist Khmer Rouge Army killed 1.7 million fellow Cambodians. This remains more of a reality than a distant memory. Pol Pot’s twisted mind wanted to create an agrarian communist society. A culture based on farming. He mentally manipulated the minds of young peasant teenagers into believing that anyone who is not of an agriculture background was not worthy. Wearing glasses or having soft hands “proved” you were an intellect and you were murdered. There was an evacuation of all cities to the countryside throughout Cambodia. Even the peasants that survived his reign were put into forced labour under horrendous conditions. Many died of starvation and disease. If any army official disobeyed they were put to death. A choice of killing or be killed. Cambodians are people who are still reflecting and trying to understand what occurred only 40 years ago. Generations were nearly wiped out.
We visited museums and shrines that so harrowingly remind us of the massacre that occurred here. The Killing Fields, 300 total in Cambodia, are now places of remembrance. A place for locals and travellers alike to learn of the atrocities. So those who perished are not forgotten. So we can strive for peace by honouring the past.
The cure for pain is in the pain.
Just outside of Battambang Rowen and I visited Phnom Sampeau. A hillside standing tall and independent around fields of rice. We stood at the entrance of the Killing Caves where so many men, woman, and children were beaten then thrown to their deaths. Inside the cave, amoungst the shrines of skulls and at Buddha statues, incense cleanses the senses and many children play while the monks walk with quiet dignity. The past horrors rattles one spirit, yet the children and the monks balance this with compassion and acceptance. A sense of harmony pervades now.
“Judge nothing, you will be happy. Forgive everything, you will be happier.
Love everything, you will be happiest.”
In Phom Phen’s Choeung Ek Genocidal Center, tears of sadness fall from my very soul. As I stood beside the killing tree, a place of unimaginable horrors, my thoughts were only of the immense fear and grief only a parent could understand. The remains of the 20,000 killed here are still being recovered. There is the Memorial Stupa that holds the skulls of 14,000. A somber site to behold. Yet, as I walk these grounds I again hear children laughing and playing from the adjacent streets. I see Cambodians themselves remembering and honouring. A sense of forgiveness and hope is heard in the children’s chatter and the beauty of the songbirds as their chorus echoes across the pond.
When I stood with my children in the Tuol Sleng Museum, a school turned into a prison and place of torture for 12,000 men, women and children, I let my tears fall. I find it hard to even begin to understand what happened here. Photo after photo of so many haunted faces, babies in Mothers’ arms, and children years away from embracing any sense of responsibility. These memories were captured by the Khmer Rouge to identify everyone they would kill. To ensure that the “roots of all generations” were eliminated to creat a pure agrarian society.
My children walked through both these places of immense sorrow with me. They viewed the mass graves, the clothes and bones of so many victims that continue to expose themselves with every heavy rain. We previously discussed the genocide openly with our boys before we visited these two museums. What we might see, read and hear. It was a difficult decision as our youngest did not want to go. The thought of seeing human bones scared him. We spoke of how this story is just as important as the Holocaust. That all the sad stories of war need to be heard so we remember. He did not have to see the human remains if he did not want to.
We listened to the audio guide and/or viewed the next exhibit prior to our children to determine which were appropriate for their ears and young minds. I could not bring myself to listen to all as well. Some stories and photos were too horrific for even myself to absorb. I understood my child’s hesitation. I also struggle with the raw visual exposure of war museums. However, our past is made from beauty and from madness. Both deserve recognition to try and create a brighter future. Shea did view the many skulls stacked a top one another. There were no nightmares, only questions.
Forgiveness sees wisely. It willingly acknowledges what is unjust, harmful and wrong. It bravely recognizes sufferings of the past, and understands the conditions that brought them about. Forgiveness honours the heart’s greatest dignity. Whenever we are lost, it brings us back to the ground of love. Without forgiveness our lives are chained, forced to carry the sufferings of the past and repeat them with no release. Jack Kornfield
We hired a guide at Tuol Sleng Museum who was passionate to share his country’s story of truth. It was just last week that he interviewed one of the female Vietnamese Army Officials who first arrived to Tuol Sleng when Pol Pot was defeated. Her story must be told as it is critical to remind the world of all of the horrors of war. The unimaginable evil that can permeate minds, causing corruption, hate and death. It is only with honouring the truth and remembering the many who perished, that we can find hope and forgiveness. To read more click here.
I held my youngest’s hand as he stood and witnessed the sorrow and pain. He tells me after he has walked through most of both the museums, that he has seen enough.
He asks, “Why? How can people be so mean?”
We all ask why?
How could such hatred happen? How can we let such tragedies continue? Have we not learnt anything from our past haunts? The Holocaust, Ukraine, Rwanda, the North American Aboriginals, and most recently, the Royhinga in Mynamar. How can we as individuals promote peace? How can we help those who are the target of such hate?
Socio-economic inequality, poverty and lack of education can all too easily feed a governments campaign of hate. It is our duty to vote for governments that encourage equality, diversity, education, and adequate health care. We must invest only in corporations that protect human rights in developing countries. It is the corporations and governments that do not care about human rights that also may be funding, directly and indirectly, the very regimes that promote hate. Education is critical to promote peace. We must listen and honor the truths that have been and yet to be told. We must find room in our hearts for forgiveness. We also must assist those who are in less fortunate circumstances. At home and abroad.
As I watch the Cambodian students, in their crisp blue and white uniforms, walk through the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, where their ancestors once walked as students themselves; I feel a sense of hope. There are some support groups that are making a difference. See here. I believe that their Buddhist faith brings them comfort as well. These horrors are very much a part of who they are; they lost entire generations yet they still embrace life with smiles and laughter. They continue to remember and heal.
There are still Khmer Rouge Officials who are incarcerated, being convicted as recently as 2012. The courts still have yet to determine the fate of others who have been charged with acts against humanity. Pol Pot died in 1998 and was never held accountable for his spread of hatred and murder.
Our guide is not troubled by these facts. He stated with a sense of resolve, “the outcomes of these courts don’t matter, what matters is that these memories are not lost, we have to uncover and share the truth. To remember. So it will never happen again.” The people of Cambodia hold the pain and suffering with gracious hearts to find forgiveness and release.
The future of Cambodia is uncertain as there is still an unsettling energy with the present government. Human rights still remain a concern. Cambodia is still recovering and in transition. Hope for peace and equality can be found in the dreams and aspirations of the youth. As well as in their faith. Yet, no developing country can do it alone. They need assistance from outside forces that believe in human rights. Even small ventures are making a difference. Such as Sister Srey in Seim Riep or the Lonely Tree Cafe in Battambang. There are the larger enterprises as well such as the Asia Foundation. Foreign investment within the larger businesses has risen by 800% in the last ten years. Read more here. Lets hope these companies and individuals are considering sustainable investing and protecting the rights of Cambodians and their environment??
Chum Mey is one of the only handful of survivors of Tuol Sleng Prison. He lost four children and his wife, all murdered by the Khmer Rouge. He shows such incredible courage as he sits a stones throw from the very cell where he was kept and tortured for three years. He sits here most days that the Tuol Sleng Museum is open, to share his story and promote peace. A place where they tried, but never broke his spirit. It is in his smile and the laughter and smiles of the many Cambodian children, that I feel an essense of hope. Hope for individuals and for a country that is still remembering and healing. Hope for peace and equality.
The rest of the world could gain much by honouring Cambodia and their story. Of how they are finding forgiveness in their immense sorrow, and hope in their truths.
We are all citizens of earth. We need to cherish ourselves, one another and all that inhabit this world. Promote peace in all that you do. It’s ripple effect will create change. Encouraging a brighter future for all.