Trudeau on Trial

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Repeatedly wearing blackface (even as a twenty-nine year old adult), Justin Trudeau put the issues of racism, privilege, empathy and morals front and centre on the Canadian and International stages.  It has caused bone-rattling anger and soul-crushing disappointment within the Indo-Canadian and Black Canadian communities.  His debacle is now testing Canadians’ appetite for political and race discussions as we reevaluate Mr. Trudeau’s character and assess his consequences.  For a man who has always claimed to be woke and to live a woke lifestyle, this does enormous damage to his brand.  

Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.
John 8:7 (KJV)

A commonly quoted verse both religiously and secularly meaning, of course, that no one is without sin.  All of us are a muddled mess of good and bad, all of us have had, at one time or another, to beg for mercy and this week Mr. Trudeau has asked for our forgiveness.  Let’s be perfectly clear here – the only people who have the right to grant that forgiveness are those with brown and black skin.

How do you look someone in the eye that has mocked the lived reality that I have lived – but, more importantly, what a lot of Canadians have lived?
[Jagmeet Singh] 

Therein lies the crux of the matter; whether or not we are aware of it or choose to believe it, certain doors are still closed, opportunities are still lost and inclusion is still denied to people with brown (and black) skin.  Still.  In 2019!

As for me, I’m left with more questions than answers:

  • The act, committed by an adult Mr. Trudeau, is inexcusable.  The act is unforgivable – is the man?  Should he be?
  • If Mr. Trudeau wasn’t previously so well-liked and well-respected, would we even be having the forgiveness discussion?
  • If we forgive Mr. Trudeau, do we also forgive every other politician who has worn black face or made fun of people because of their skin colour or made racist remarks?
  • If not, why not – or – why are we contemplating forgiving Mr. Trudeau?
  • Are we using a type of ethics accounting (offsetting entries) to excuse Mr. Trudeau’s behaviour:  Do his good words and deeds (credits) cancel out his overt racism (debits)?  Should they?
  • Is there a path to forgiveness that doesn’t involve condoning the behaviour?
  • Will forgiveness undermine the hard work and exceedingly slow progress made by leaders in the black/brown/Asian communities?
  • If we forgive him, are we allowing Mr. Trudeau to continue as Prime Minister (even if it is just for four more weeks) without the burden of punishment and consequence?
  • Is the damage irreparable?  Has he already lost the respect of foreign leaders with whom he must partner, collaborate and negotiate?
  • Crucially, is Mr. Trudeau genuinely remorseful, does he have a sincere compassion for the people he hurt?
  • Has the trust and respect – the fiducia – that endeared Mr. Trudeau to those communities been hopelessly damaged?

One thing is clear – Canadians, from Beaver Creek to Cape Spear and from Cape Columbia to Pelee Island are confused, disappointed, angry and saddened by this week’s revelation.  The blackface images and imagery are a stark contradiction to the squeaky-clean persona that Mr. Trudeau’s team has carefully crafted, cultivated and marketed since 2013.  Now that we’ve been given a glimpse of his weakness and transgressions, Canadians must once again appraise Mr. Trudeau’s moral fibre, prudence and sincerity.

Thursday evening, a visibly subdued Mr. Trudeau said There is still a lot of work to be done.  Truer words were never spoken.  

’Til next time, y’all…

Joyspotting: Issue #2

Gear used on the images in this post:  Nikon D500 and Nikkor 18-300MM F3.5-6.3

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I wasn’t the only one experiencing joy today.

By introducing Ingrid Fetell Lee’s Joyspotting checklist to my photography outings, they’ve become so much more enjoyable and I am much more focussed.  There are twelve cues and today they were shot in Bethany (Cham Shan Buddhist Temple and retreat), Omemee (Pigeon River and Trans Canada Trail Trestle Bridge), Cavan (Maple Leaf Park) and Scriven Road and environs (always, right?).  Not a great day for photography; it was way too bright and breezy.  Still, so much joy today!

#1 LOOK UP

Contrails:  The exhaust vapour from jet planes turns to ice mid-air which we see as white squiggly “writing” against the blue sky – contrails.

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Steering wheel in the sky?

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#2  LOOK DOWN

What do you see?  Flipper?

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Thank you Ingrid!  Had I not looked down over the side of the trestle bridge, I’d have missed this splendid Blandings.  

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Feather one; from a bird, of course.

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Feather two; a dried out marsh plant.

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#3  KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR COLOUR

(Obviously in a gold mood today!)

Spectacular gold statue.

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Beautifying the Trans Canada Trail.

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#4 FOLLOW THE CURVE

Submerged, sprouting stump.

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Buddha.

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#5  GO WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE

Heron fishing.

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Heron flying.

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Kingfisher eating a fresh-caught fish (right before my eyes!!!).

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Canada Geese.

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#6  SEEK OUT SYMMETRY

(Playing with symmetry.)

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#7  SEARCH FOR SIGNS OF ABUNDANCE

Here in Northumberland County, our main crops are soybeans, corn, apples and canola.

Soy beans.

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Corn.

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Apples.

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Farm gate marketing.

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#8  WATCH FOR WEIRDNESS

Pigeon river algae.

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Shrubbery thriving mid-river.  

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#9  ZOOM IN

Chicory.

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Marigold.

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#10  NOTICE THE INVISIBLE

Today, my invisible was a sound.  The breeze, which was constant, tickled the reeds producing the sweetest, most mesmerizing, soft, continuous white noise.  Delightful!

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#11  TAKE THE SCENIC ROUTE

Scriven Road.

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Third Line (facing west) at Scriven Road.

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Hannah Road at Scriven Road.

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Byers Road at Evertson Road.

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Bethel Grove Road at Jibb Road.

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Third Line (facing east) at Scriven Road.

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#12  USE ALL YOUR SENSES

Today’s sense is hearing.  Standing on the Trestle Bridge, looking down at the marsh and the swaying reeds, the Red Wing Blackbirds’ song was nearly deafening.  But lovely.

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I hope you enjoyed todays #Joyspotting and if you’re even a bit intrigued by this beautiful philosophy, I encourage you to visit Ingrid’s website, Aesthetics of Joy – you’ll be glad you did! 

One last thing:  All barns bring me joy, always; the more dilapidated the better!  Even those that are partially submerged in the Pigeon River!

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‘Til next time, y’all…

 

We’re All Wildflowers

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“Do you suppose she’s a wildflower?”
[Lewis Caroll]

Do you suppose we are all wildflowers?  Untamed.  Uncontrolled. Wildflowers are the diverse variety of blooming plants that grow in the wild, beautifying our woodlands, stream banks, meadows and rural roadsides. They’re neither planted nor tended.   Self-propagating, their seeds are blown by the wind, finding possible places to germinate, where they settle in, become established and spread their roots.  They are tenacious; even the smallest species develop deep, hardy root systems.  They endure everything Mother Nature throws at them, reaching their full potential in the summer months when they boom and generate seeds to perpetuate their circle of life.  It is their diversity – of shape, size and colour – that makes them so beautiful.

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Every week I read lots of blog posts, many of them written by women of an age similar to my own. Last week, one word kept popping up again and again in these posts – potential.   Each of these bloggers are extraordinarily accomplished, successful, brave, strong, creative, thoughtful, experienced and wise women yet too many of them feel as if they have failed to reach their potential…

Possibility and Potential 

Possibility (n)  A chance that something may or may not happen, a thing that may be chosen or done out of several alternatives, unspecified qualities of a promising nature; potential.  

Before sitting down to write this post I conducted a straw poll of my friends, asking them if they feel they’ve lived up to their potential. ‘Though my question was composed to elicit a simple one-word response, most added details from which I learned ever so much – about my friends and about me.  Answering this question requires a degree of bravery; this is a very personal and perhaps difficult self-assessment.  I am very grateful for and impressed by everyone who helped me out  with their candid responses.

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Question:  Do you feel you’ve lived up to your potential?
Survey result:  5/54 responded yes.

These responses do not seem based upon modesty; many folk provided well-considered rationale for their decisions which is why these results were both surprising and disheartening.  Amongst those canvassed are professionals in almost every field, highly skilled tradespeople, entrepreneurs, creatives, doctors, bankers, professors and scientists so I am very sad to think that so many feel unfulfilled, underdeveloped or incomplete in some way.  I’m now secretly wondering how they’d all assess me and my potential.  Trust, I’m really, really afraid of that answer!

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I’ve thought of little else this week, and here’s what I believe and know so far: 

Potential is a possibility not a probability.  It is merely a perception.  True that it’s an incredibly personal perception, but one that is impossible to clearly define or to accurately measure especially as everyone seems to be using different gauges, for example:  Formal education, skill level, development of new talents, renown, employability, career success, financial status and artistic expertise. Few seemed to have taken into consideration the span between where they were as a youth and the spot in which they now find themselves – the entirety of the journey they’ve taken, how far they’ve travelled.

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Potential is merely an impression, an opinion, a judgment that is entirely subjective and, sadly, often a weapon, used against us.  Family members, friends, teachers and associates entwine potential with their definitions of success and are too often wrongly impressed by overt ambition, specific milestones or flashes of greatness. They seem reluctant to include abstracts, such as the observance of virtues – kindness, humility, loyalty, mercy, charity, patience and honesty – in assessing potential.  Few seemed to have considered the capacity for love as being a relevant barometer – surely to have loved well and been well-loved is reaching one’s potential.

I think it is important to develop and nurture the ability to recognize, accept and be content with where we are at this very moment.  Potential ought to be rated on self-satisfaction, exclusive of outside opinion or validation.  To achieve that inner serenity that only comes from contentment, we need to temper the harm caused by others’ blindspots and judgments and stop craving their  approval.  Sounds easy-peasy, right?  It isn’t, I promise, it’s the actually the very opposite.  

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Potential is a commodity to be cherished and, just like wildflowers, don’t let yours be tamed.  Reclaim the exuberance born of knowing that possibilities are limitless.  Cherish inspiration.  Become a master of hopeful thinking.  Feed your thirst for knowledge.  Just like the beauty of roadside wildflowers, embrace the diversity and scope of  your possibilities.  Stop wasting time worrying about how  your potential is being judged; instead celebrate, flaunt and delight in the sum of your accomplishments.  Be aware that you’ve spread beauty throughout your world just like wildflowers and know that you’ve reached your potential.   

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Do you suppose we are all wildflowers?

‘Til next time, y’all…

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My Compass

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“When it’s over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.”

[Mary Oliver* from “When Death Comes”]

Taughannock Falls State Park, Ithaca NY, #4 (2)-2-1

Two unrelated things cropped up this week, prompting me to revisit my compass.  The first was the monthly 53-Word** story prompt from Prime Magazine:  Making something last.  The second was a book club project:  Create a prospectus of one hundred personal goals, or a ‘life list’.  What I want to make last, is my life.  More specifically this season of my life.  Hackneyed?  Absolutely!  Still, very true.  Good health is too often underrated and undervalued.  Even by me.  How to make this season of my life last is, of course, with time management; using my personal compass to maintain my existing commitments plus whittle away, bit by bit, at my newly minted life list.

Taughannock Falls State Park, Ithaca NY, #5-2

It’s been four years since I last dialyzed.  My personal miracle.  Through this quadrennium my health has been good, I’ve taken photography classes, become very involved in wildlife preservation and documented many of my adventures here on WordPress.  This summer presented a couple of unexpected health challenges which derailed my plans and is why ‘my life’ is what popped into my mind upon receiving that 53-Word prompt.

Compass Origin

Someone once told me that life is like a vacuum; when one thing leaves, another immediately flows in to fill the gap and I’ve been acutely aware of this phenomenon post-dialysis.  Initially, assuming I had nothing to do, well-meaning folk on the periphery of my life – friends, neighbours sorority sisters and former colleagues – pushed me to join in, to visit, to do lunch, to go shopping, to help out…  And I did; I accepted every invitation and request not wanting to offend.  It didn’t take me long to realize that none of those activities were adding value to my life.  Indeed, they were a hindrance to doing the things that really mattered to me, and I really didn’t want to end up simply having visited this world.*

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“We only get to be in our bodies for a limited time,
why not celebrate the journey instead of merely riding it out until it’s over?”

[Jen Sincero]

I was merely tolerating my life when I ought to have been savouring every moment.  All that busyness was entirely at odds with the life I’d fantasized about for so many years – you know, just in case dialysis ever ended.  Let me be clear, though, there is nothing wrong with the ladies who do lunch, nor with retail therapy, nor with jumping onto countless boards to serve others.  They’re all splendid pastimes, they just aren’t right for me – not then, not now.

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Around that time, over breakfast, a very dear friend of mine told me she had purged all unwanted activities from her life.  She has a strong moral compass and understands her personal ethos very clearly.  Whenever asked, she politely but firmly declined all invitations she knew did not align properly with her values – without making excuses.  Pure amazingness, non?  Believe you me, I was in awe. I wanted to do just that, but realized I’d need a healthy dose of courage and a personal compass of my own to help me get back on track.  Nothing so prosaic as a moral compass, mind you, simply a homing device tuned to my priorities, a beacon to help me navigate my chosen path which has constantly been wending its way in the most baffling but awesome trajectory.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.*

So, a compass then…  I believe that a compass is a personal thing.  It’s your own and is meant to guide only you.  In designing my compass I first considered which people are most important to me and how much time I’d ideally like to spend in their company.  Then I thought about the activities that are most important to me and how much time I’d like to spend on each.  Making the decision to say no to requests that don’t specifically fit my mold – and finding the gumption to do so – made me feel as if a tonne weight had been lifted from my shoulders.  I do give generously (both time and money) but that giving is now very focussed. A word of warning – saying no is not a popular response, I promise you.  There will be blowback.  

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Since then I’ve been so much happier, I eagerly anticipate every new day, I’ve taken thousands of photographs and I’m bubbling over with excitement at all the brilliant opportunities I’ve been given – helping to geotag turtles, helping to band birds, and monitoring Common Terns and Piping Plovers.  I’ve definitely found my sweet spot!

If you find yourself floundering.  If there is a yawning chasm between the way you spend your time and the way you’d like to, please do think about defining a personal compass of your own.  Consider what nourishes you and set that as your goal.  The trick, of course, is first understanding your priorities for right now and being prepared for them to change – which they will!

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A Life List?

There is very little distinction between a life list and a bucket list in my mind (though many people have tried their damndest to convince me otherwise).  Circa 2008 we went to the cinema to see “The Bucket List” which, with the amazingness that is Rob Reiner at the helm, was always going to be funny and sad and sweet and poignant and somehow worthy of our time.  That movie being my touchstone, I always thought bucket lists were for the terminally ill, the dying or the elderly.

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So why am I writing one?  It is a project we’re working on at our book club – each of us is to compose a life list of 100 items.  Just imagining what I’d write on mine caused a million and one thoughts to swirl crazily in my mind like a swarm of gnats yet I stalled at #50 and am perfectly content at that.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.*

We’re not talking goals here.  Dreams?  Perhaps.  Aspirations?  More likely.  Wishes?  Absolutely!  For me it has become another point on my compass; not to hone in on my final destination, rather a tracking system, to gently guide me and to indicate I’m headed in my chosen direction.  The thing is, one’s life – ‘though finite – is immeasurable to us.  Only God knows the limit of our days so this list is simply a record of my inclinations.

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Imagine my surprise, then, that the very act of putting pen to paper made these goals feel very real and now I am a little nervous, excited, scared, and emboldened about my coming months and years.   I know with absolute certainty that if I manage even half of those fifty activities I’ll feel fortunate.  This is my Life List When (if) you read it, you’ll appreciate that it is entirely randomly ordered – everything jotted down as it flitted across my brain with neither practicality nor priority at top of mind. In need of direction.

A compass, then…

‘Til next time, y’all…

Taughannock Falls State Park, Ithaca NY, #4-1

*Mary Oliver
Anyone who has read this blog for any time at all knows that Ms. Oliver is my favourite poet.  A lover of wildlife myself, her words resonate with me more than any other poet or writer because of her affinity with the mother nature – my own passion.  Ms. Oliver was the winner of many awards including the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for American Primitive.

**Does anyone else do the monthly Prime Magazine 53-Word Short Story Contest?  I do it each month.  ‘Though I’ve never won, it presents a regular and interesting challenge so I continue, undaunted.  Just in case you’re interested: 53-Word Story Contest

Full text of Ms. Oliver’s beautiful poem:

When Death Comes

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

[Mary Oliver]

Joyspotting: Issue #1

Gear used on the images in this post:  Nikon D850 and Nikkor 50mm F1.8 (nifty fifty).

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Daisies (especially the wild variety) have always been my joy!

 Joyspotting (n.)*
A simple practice of tuning your attention to the joy in your surroundings.

1. LOOK UP

Peterborough Airport.  Honestly, I could watch these puddle jumpers take off and land all day at YPQ; it’s a relaxing, almost hypnotic pastime.  Also looking up, marker balls.

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2. LOOK DOWN

Monsieur la sauterelle sunning himself on Scriven Road, Otonabee-South Monaghan, ON.

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3. KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR COLOUR

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4. FOLLOW THE CURVE

Silo, apples, berries and turtles.

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5. GO WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE

Turkeys and turtles.

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Check out the daft chap up in the bush! ???

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6. SEEK OUT SYMMETRY

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7. SEARCH FOR SIGNS OF ABUNDANCE

Corn field** and Solidago Astereae (Goldenrod).  Wildflower or weed?  I’m firmly on team wildflower.  Goldenrod is thought to be a sign of good luck in many cultures.

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8. WATCH FOR WEIRDNESS

Confession:  I don’t find very much to be weird so this will always be an interpretive element in these posts.

Moss on the 4th Line bridge over Squirrel Creek and the interesting growth both below and at the water’s surface.

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9. ZOOM IN

In the 1995 blockbuster “Goldeneye” two of my favourites collided – the divine Alan Cumming and James Bond.  Mr. Cumming played a character called Boris, who called all his foes and anyone he disliked “Slug”.  Since then I’ve never looked at one without smiling.

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10. NOTICE THE INVISIBLE

Today’s invisible is the sound of rushing water – the cascade over the dam on Baxter Creek.  It is always a mesmerizing sight, of course, but its powerful sound is exhilarating, somehow invigorating, captivating and utterly delightful.

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11. TAKE THE SCENIC ROUTE

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12. USE ALL YOUR SENSES

Three sounds, all birds – the raucous squawking of a Heron as it took flight, the screeching of gulls as they danced and frolicked high above a swamp and pond, and two Kingfishers happily playing uncaring of me and my camera.  The last is texture; the weathered surface of a guard rail post.

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‘Til next time, y’all…

*Ingrid Fetell Lee
Joyspotting is the brilliant idea of Ms. Lee.  I encourage you to visit her website (which is extraordinarily comprehensive and well-worth the visit):  Aesthetics of Joy

**Corn might not, by many folk reading this post, be considered a sign of abundance but, in our county this year – with its very late start due to rain/flooding/high water levels – the sight of so much tall, healthy, thriving corn is absolutely abundance.  

 

Let’s Shine Redux: Mentoring

 

 

a practice of mutual investment*

Bravo!  Now that we’re all happily ensconced in communities of women – networking with our peers and active in our friendship circles – what can we do with this marvellous achievement?  How do we build on it?  Where do we go from here?  

I’ve been a little obsessed with Aminatou Sow’s and Ann Friedman’s Shine Theory:  A practice of mutual investment with the simple premise that I don’t shine if you don’t shine. It describes a commitment to collaborating with rather than competing against other people — especially other women.*

A practice of mutual investment: What a beautifully appealing idea!  It seems to lend itself perfectly to the practice of mentoring and wouldn’t that be a fine legacy!

 

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
[Isaac Newton]

Standing on the shoulders of giants is recognition that without the conflicts, frustrations, protests, suffrage, and other movements of the generations before us, we’d never be where we are today.  So many of our accomplishments, our victories are because of their hard work and tenacity, because they fought for the vote, for birth control, for citizen status, because of their stellar efforts towards gender equality and mostly because they fought so valiantly and successfully to improve women’s rights.  In short, stewardship.

a practice of mutual investment*

 

Far beyond mere governance, stewardship is leaving the people who follow in our footsteps a little better off than we are and leaving our planet a better place than the world we inherited.  Just as we have stood on the shoulders of giants like Ishbel Hamilton-Gordon** Nellie McClung*** Emily McCausland**** and Dorothea Palmer***** the moral obligation inherent in stewardship demands that we protect and preserve their legacies, that we  defend against regression and that we impart that heritage to the girls and young women in our lives.

a practice of mutual investment*

 

How do we begin this practice of mutual investment?  It could be a bit of a sticky wicket, depending upon the young women in your life and your relationship with them. Our years and experiences make us uniquely  qualified to share our accumulated wisdom with the next generations – our daughters, granddaughters, nieces, students, parishioners, neighbours and friends.  One way of doing this is to be a good role model; demonstrating by example that we are keen to spend time within our own communities and that we look out for and care for those people.  From a mentoring perspective, the kindest and most enduring exemplar we can share is the wisdom to recognize true friends, the value of shaping a friendship circle of their own and the importance of networking.  Their communities.

a practice of mutual investment*

 

How can we introduce the topic of community in a way that is current, relevant and engaging?  A good start is to ask questions and I (thanks to the genius of Mary Oliver) have a brilliant, imaginative and provocative suggestion: 

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
[Mary Oliver]

Wild and precious… Just imagine the responses!  My experience is that, in a safe, comfortable environment, most folk really do like talking about themselves.  Your questions could include cues about their activities or their favourite subjects and teachers or their job and career aspirations.  You may hear tales of injustice, bullying, racism, homophobia and stereotyping – the majority of Canadian students deal with one or more of these indignities every day; at college and university, in the school yard, the cafeteria and even in the classroom.  This probing allows you to introduce not only the concept but the benefits of and your personal experiences with community and networking.  With a bit of luck, your conversation will become the intersection of feminism, friendship and activism.

a practice of mutual investment*

 

With mentoring, a cautionary tale best expressed by Mr. Steven Spielberg:  “The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.”

Let’s begin our practice of mutual investment.* Let’s generously share our history, our knowledge and experiences, the lessons we’ve learned and our hopes for their futures.

’Til next time, y’all…

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*Please, please click Shine Theory to read more. Ann Friedman is a magazine editor, journalist, podcaster, and pie chart artist. She writes about gender, politics, and social issues. I encourage you to visit her website: https://www.annfriedman.com

**The National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) was founded on October 27, 1893, by Lady Aberdeen, Ishbel Maria Hamilton-Gordon, Marchioness of Aberdeen and Temair, GBE, wife of the Governor-General of Canada.

***Nelllie joined the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) to help stop the problems associated with alcohol abuse, and this led to a passionate interest in the women’s suffrage movement as well. In addition to the WCTU, Nellie joined several other reform groups focused on the advancing women’s suffrage movement, and became a founding member of the Political Equality League.

****SHORTT, EMILY ANN McCAUSLAND (Cummings), journalist, publicist, activist, social reformer, and office holder; b. 11 May 1851 in Port Hope, she was the Globe’s first society reporter, and the first woman appointed to the editorial department of the Globe (in fact, the first on any Canadian daily newspaper’s editorial board).

*****Right-to-birth-control advocate, Dorothea Palmer, played a pivotal role in the movement to legalize birth control in Canada. She was arrested in 1936 for promoting birth control but was cleared of charges after her lawyers proved her work had been for the public good. Her acquittal was a major victory for the birth control movement in Canada.

 

Let’s Shine!

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I don’t shine if you don’t shine.*

 (For months, now, I’ve been utterly fascinated by Aminatou Sow’s and Ann Friedman’s “Shine Theory”.)

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Some of the most rewarding, nurturing and enduring communities are those formed by women.  Universally, circles of friendship form the lion’s share of those communities and are, for many women, fountainheads in their lives.

Interconnectedness within female communities is intrinsic; we understand that our individual strength is symbiotic with that of our community.  Part of the woman code is that together we’re better – when we care for even one other woman, we are really caring for womankind.  Two of the most powerful feminine values are solidarity and support – helping each other is where female communities truly excel.

I don’t shine if you don’t shine.*

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“When you’ve worked hard, and done well,
and walked through that doorway of opportunity,
you do not slam it shut behind you.
You reach back.”
[M. Obama]

Survey data repeatedly tells us that women, not men, are most critical of other women and that women who support each other are more successful and are more content with every aspect of their lives.  We need to learn from that paradigm and amplify each other at every possible opportunity.  It’s trite, but each of us needs to be the change.  We must practice collaboration, partnership and generosity – sharing ideas, tips and experiences.  And most especially, listening; with curiosity, empathy and – as Mary Oliver said, conviviality.  Those are the ways we’ll raise each other to the heights we’re meant to attain, how we’ll inspire one another and be the filaments illuminating each other’s lives.  Who wouldn’t want to be in that community?

I don’t shine if you don’t shine.*

P4

“Shine Theory is a practice of mutual investment with the simple premise that I don’t shine if you don’t shine. It describes a commitment to collaborating with rather than competing against other people—especially other women.”
[Ann Friedman*]

P5

I can attest to the value and impact of the Shine Theory.  I have been the beneficiary of advice, mentoring, guidance, coaching and endless encouragement from three established, professional female wildlife photographers.  Their company is one of the nicest gifts I’ve ever been given.  In a male-dominated creative niche, these women have, most unselfishly, with no benefit whatsoever to themselves, taken me under their wings with seemingly no worries that I might copy their ideas or poach their clients.  They’ve taught me that I don’t have to go it alone, that I don’t need to be afraid of difficult decisions – that they are always there, happy to have me bounce ideas off them, happy to provide advice and fortitude.

I don’t shine if you don’t shine.*

P6

The ethic of amplifying each other is the efficacy of community.  It is how each woman in the community gains strength and confidence.  Don’t we owe each other that much?  Or, as the divine Ms. Albright so famously (and repeatedly) said:

“There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.”
[Madeleine Albright]

P7

Far beyond the advantages of networking, friendships between women are some of the most important relationships in their lives.  A bedrock of support, friendship circles with other gals offer a safe environment for sharing our wins and losses, our hopes, dreams and darkest fears.  We know that they will be heard and that we will not be diminished in any way by that sharing.  Only loved.

P8

“Friendships between women, as any woman will tell you,
are built of a thousand small kindnesses…
swapped back and forth and over again.”
[M. Obama]

Though we do so love to celebrate each other’s successes and triumphs (many glasses bottles of wine consumed in the process), women shine brightest when one of their own is facing adversity, by lending a loving, tender hand. We sustain and buoy each other through life’s most devastating, tragic and trying situations – sexual abuse, career failures, domestic violence, broken relationships, financial woes and so, so much more.  We are the friend who is not scared off by the mysteries of mental health problems but who sits silently, comfortably with us through times of depression with the inherent anguish, confusion and anxiety.  When death, bereavement and grief invade our lives,  when we are robbed of a loved one, it is our female friends who stay close by, offering comfort and hugs and shoulders to cry on (and hankies) – any measure of assuagement that is needed. When we are faced with the C word, that most overwhelming and annihilating of diagnoses, it is our female cronies who are brave enough to share the burden of our helplessness.  Even then, even when there is no cure, even when thoughts of healing are futile, it is our gal pals who steadfastly bring the positive, the happy, the optimistic, the joy into our lives – for as long as they possibly can.

Women instinctively know exactly when to step up and how to be precisely what is most-needed in times of adversity.  We just know!

I don’t shine if you don’t shine.*

P9

Though most of us profess to prefer face-to-face association, an entirely new source of female community emerged with the creation of social media.  For some women, phone/tablet technology is their only connection to some of their relatives and special friends – folk living hundreds or even thousands of kilometres away.  I am the same; Instagram and Facebook are the platforms that support my long-distance relationships and make it feel as if that span simply did not exist.  They allow me to participate in joyous, rambunctious, silly and tender conversations – with special friends in Australia, Mexico and British Columbia, plus a host of cousins in the UK. I can now carry these dear souls with me wherever I go – they’re always as close as a simple click.  Despite the distances and the length of time we’re apart, we share a patchwork of current conversations – some frivolous, some meaningful, and some utter nonsense but special, each and every one.  Anne Shirley said it best:

“True friends are always together in spirit.”
[L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables]

Best advice:  Find your circle, your pack, your squad; be good to those women, amplify them and allow yourself to be magnified by them.  In their company, do not be shy about expressing your vulnerabilities and be compassionate when they share their own.  Aim to shine together!

I don’t shine if you don’t shine.*

‘Til next time, y’all…

P10

*Please, please click Shine Theory to read more.  Ann Friedman is a magazine editor, journalist, podcaster, and pie chart artist. She writes about gender, politics, and social issues.  I encourage you to visit her website:  https://www.annfriedman.com