goodbye nelson

"That nothing is static and fixed, that all is fleeting and impermanent, is the first mark of existance. It is the ordinary state of affairs. Everything is in process. Everything - every tree, every blade of grass, all the animals, insects, human beings, buildings, the animate and the inanimate - is always changing, moment to moment." ~ Pema Chodron, Buddhist Nun

I cling to the words of the Dharma for solace. The words hold no meaning for me. They do not comfort me. They do not encourage me. They do not help me see the truth. The only truth I see is loss. The only truth I feel is grief.

I walk the alleyways of Nelson attempting to capture in my memory and my camera the love I feel for this place. I love the alleys. I walk them regularly and in summer, constantly, when Baker Street is saturated with tourists. I love the rustic old telephone poles and the characters I meet between the buildings. Soon the poles will be gone. Removed because they are deemed dangerous and old fashioned. When I return the alleyways where I once walked will be different. Nelson will be different. I will be different.

The loss and grief that is permeating me is crippling. It sucks the joy out of my remaining days here. Replacing joy with sorrow at the sacrifices I must make to fulfill my dream. I wish for time to speed up. To propel me instantly into a new space, a new phase so I can be excited, anxious and overwhelmed. So that I will have no time or energy to dwell on what and who I am leaving behind. I wish to be reunited with my loves in Vancouver so that I may soften this horrible ache in my chest. So I may take a deep breath again without physical pain and emotional sorrow. So my mind and heart are occupied with newness and adventure.

The Buddha teaches that our emotions are controlled by our thoughts and my thoughts are toxic. I crave equanimity and it is fleeting. I crave acceptance and it is illusive. I crave peace and it is rare. My thoughts rob me of what could be a joyous moment.

Never give up on your dreams

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined." ~ Thoreau.

That's what I've been trying to do these past 6 months. Well, perhaps I've been going "tentatively in the direction of my dreams", but moving forward nonetheless. I knew in September I wouldn't be able to return to my job at the Coop. My body was saying no and it took me some time to listen and finally accept. It took me some time to let it go. Not that I wanted to stock grocery shelves for the rest of my life, even organic ones. It's just that it felt safe and secure in my little cocoon called the Coop. But as is the way of the Universe, sometimes the hard decisions are made for us.

"Desjardins Insurance regrets to inform you that your claim for Long Term Disability has been denied."

"The Kootenay Coop would like to extend an offer for you to return to your position in the warehouse on a gradual return to work program."

"Belle is unable to return to her warehouse position at the Kootenay Coop for medical reasons."

"Please accept this letter as my resignation from the Grocery Clerk position I held at the Kootenay Coop."

And so, six years of my life was summed up in four opening paragraphs.

On February 12th it will be 9 months since I stocked a shelf or cashed a paycheck. And I couldn't be happier. Because I've discovered my dream. I've discovered my passion. A passion that drives me with such energy and enthusiasm I am in awe of myself. I have never wanted anything so much in my life. I want to go to photography school. I want to be immersed in creativity. I want to explore my own potential.

I took my cues from my friend Reiko who left the Coop and moved to the big city for the first time so she could follow her dream. I sent that school application away and I held my breath. What do you think scared me more? Rejection, or acceptance? Definitely acceptance. Even though I put a stamp on that envelop I didn't actually believe that I would be accepted. I didn't actually believe that I could go to school at such a refined age. I didn't actually believe in myself. I almost peed my pants when I read the first paragraph. "We are pleased to inform you that The Vancouver Institute of Media Arts has accepted your application for our full-time Digital Photography Program."

For the past month I have been working harder than I have ever worked for anything! Hours and hours of research, interviews, paperwork, internet surfing, networking and beaucratic bullshit. There have been many challenges. It's not true what 'they' say. That if it's the right path all obstacles will be removed. Yes, the obstacles move. But you have to push a little. You have to envision what is on the other side of that enormous dense mass of fear and doubt. I can honestly say for the first time in my life that I am proud of myself. Proud that I haven't given up. Proud that I've worked past all the fears and insecurities and allowed myself to want something for me.

Last week I found out I was approved for a Canada student loan. On Tuesday I handed in the 5lbs. of paperwork needed for my Skills Funding application. On Thusday I used my RSP money and I mailed off the first part of my tuition for school. And today someone agreed to co-sign a student line of credit for me which I will hopefully be approved for. And now, I have one more obstacle. On February 5th I have 'The Interrogation' as I like to call it, with the EI Skills Funding people. I picture myself sitting on a solitary chair in a dark empty room. Trying to shield my eyes from the glare of the large piercing light that is shining directly in my eyes. Trying to see the figures moving in the shadows as they interrogate me. "Why do YOU think we should give YOU money for school?" (pardon my melodramatic Pisces with Leo rising imagination).

The future is uncertain, as it most certainly always is. I try not to revel in it because I know I am going to be devastated if I don't get the funding to go to school. I am trying to live day by day. Only focusing on each square of the calendar and not projecting into a future that is so uncertain. I am breathing, I am laughing, I am playing and I am allowing myself to dream.

The Golden Handcuffs

I am a Grocery Goddess. I have been flaunting the aisles of organic grocery stores for over 10 years.

For the past 3 months I've been having an extended summer holiday. You see, I have a fancy form of tendinitis. It's called De Quiervein Tendonisis. (I dare you to say that 10x fast) It is tendinitis in both my thumbs caused from repetitive gripping and lifting. A Buddhist friend told me I got it from grasping and clinging. (I think that might be an inside joke)

Why am I writing a blog? Well, I have a lot of time on my hands (no pun intended). I'm going through an evolution of sorts or an opening. My hands that have been clenched so tightly are slowly unfolding.

It's an exhilarating and frightening time for me. I'm not sure what the future holds and that is a good lesson in attachment for this little Buddhist. Because ultimately none of us know what the future holds. Do we?

You are NOT what you do. And yet, I am the Grocery Goddess. And right now the Goddess is hurling spit balls across my mind at my creative self the Photographic Philanthropist. I have no idea if I will be able to return to my former job working retail and sometimes I wonder if I really want to. For the past 6 years my creative self has been suffocating. Gasping for breath on those rare occasions when I had the energy to let her breathe freely.

These past few months I have exploded with energy, creativity and drive. I wish only to do my photography, to learn more and more. But my Goddess is nasty sometimes. She whispers in the background. "We have a good job with benefits and seniority. Why throw it all away? You can't live on your photography. You can't do it. You are not good enough!!"

SPLAT! Direct spitball hit!

I don't seem to be letting go of this dream though despite the battle waging in my mind. My excitement is a superior shield from the juicy onslaught. I still don't quite believe in myself. But I do believe in my dream.

So I am taking advantage of this time and the plethora of energy in my possession. I recently took a 4 day career development course and had the realization during the course that what my passion is in this lifetime is photography. So, I'm taking a one week photography course at Van Arts Institute of Media Arts at the end of this month. I'm creating my own temporary gallery, the Sub-floor Gallery, in my beautiful basement apartment. I'm having a show and sale of my photography this month in my gallery to help pay for the course I'm taking in Vancouver. I'm buying a business licence so that I have a solid piece of evidence that my photography business exists. And If I can get myself organized in time I'm taking a website development course online from BCIT that starts in September.

If I think about the possible or seemingly impossible future I overflow with emotions that run the gamet of the rainbow. So I'm trying to stay in the moment. It's difficult, but I try. I try to take it in steps. I'm taking baby steps until I'm ready to take that big step, that big leap. I've just got to build up my muscles first.

(Golden handcuffs are a system of financial incentives designed to keep an employee from leaving the company. Source: Wikipedia)