Sunday, October 31, 2010

Profoundly Present to Life's All

Profoundly Present to Life's All
by Desiree Leigh, Wake Up to Live

Driving on Georgia Street in Vancouver to visit a friend across town, I was injected divinely through the heart understanding my humanness. I felt surges of various feelings showering me every few seconds, dissolving as quickly as they came, as I drove towards Burrard Street. The feelings of being swayed hither and thither felt like I was being played in a pinball machine. I being the ball, very conscious and present of these hits of feelings piercing through my body.

The surges of different feelings are part of life and part of being a sentient being. They can take us for a ride either down hill or up. We have the choice on the direction, and how long we want to be with them. Experiencing these feelings, the complete presence of them, and understanding how they come and go so quickly doesn't always make the process of moving through them easy.

As I drive, I'm happy, smiling, and enjoying the scenery of the bay and the morning sun. I look to the left and see a homeless person sleeping on the cold concrete, huddled under a thin blanket and under a door way leading to an apartment building. My heart sinks with sadness. I look to the right and see a flower shop owner opening up shop, one hand with a plant to hang out side and another hand full of seed spreading them on the ground to feed the pigeons. My heart elevates to joy. I look back to the left, a few blocks up, and notice a young boy, I'd say about 19 or 20, fidgeting, twitching, assuming on street drugs, looking intently at the ground for something as he was walking. My heart sinks to emptiness and loss. I turn around the corner onto another street aligned with beautiful trees with their leaves glistening from the morning sun. My heart fills with gratitude. Back and forth my feelings fluctuate profoundly present to life's all.

How often are you aware of your feelings? Only when you're happy or when you're sad? Do you carry the mornings traffic jam with you all day or do you move past it and observe and see what's next? The more you are aware of this god-given gift, the more you'll be able to move beyond the hurdles in life. The more you are aware of your feelings, the more you'll be able to be present to them all and move through them to another. This is a sure way not to get stuck and to experience life to it's fullest.

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween
Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Here are some Halloween Jokes,
don't peek!

What do ghosts serve for dessert?
When is it bad luck to meet a black cat?
What was the witch's favorite subject in school?
Where do baby ghosts go during the day?
What monster flies his kite in a rain storm?
What do the birds sing on Halloween?
Who did Frankenstein take to the prom?
What is Transylvania's national sport?
Who won the skeleton beauty contest?
What do skeletons say before they begin dining?


Ice ScreamWhen you're a mouseSpelling
Dayscare Centers
Benjamin Frankenstein
Twick or Tweet
His ghoul friend
Drac racing
No body
Bone appetit!

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Non-Violent Crisis Intervention

On Saturday, I attended the Non-Violent Crisis Intervention training program at Douglas College in Coquitlam, BC. Most of the young attendees were going into some sort of health care field, such as nursing or dementia care. Others, were working with at-risk youth and children with autism. I chose to go to learn more about better communication, in general, with everyone, and to be more pro-active in how I can handle a crisis situation and prevent acting-out behavior, whether it's in a family situation, dealing with people that have addictions, or someone at the super market. After attending this workshop, I came out with greater awareness on all forms of communication, such as verbal, non-verbal, and para-verbal, and the steps to take, without over-reacting, even while you're in a state of fear.

Jill Bloom, a psychiatric nurse and our instructor, shared many wonderful and crazy situations she had when she was a primary nurse. She stated several times, that if she knew these basic skills of non-violent crisis intervention, she probably would've avoided many situations that caused her harm, one a broken jaw. Not knowing how to handling a patient not wanting to take her medication, and with her consistent badgering, the patient chose to punch her in the face breaking her eye glasses and her jaw. Her mouth was wired shut for about seven weeks. Laughing, she states, she'll never have a strawberry milkshake ever again!

When someone is in a crisis situation, they are hypersensitive and acutely aware of others' communication through body language and the verbal part of speech such as tone, volume and candence (rate). And, when someone is in a crisis situation, no matter how they got there, anything is possible, anything can trigger them. That's why it's extremely important to deal with the situation proactively in a calm, neutral and attentive manner, not with anger, ridicule or avoidance. And, in the end, after the tension has been reduced, it is extremely important for all persons to debrief and reestablish communication with the individual that had the crisis. One step, that many of us forget to do. Most people that have experienced the crisis are shocked afterward, after they've lost control. They can't believe the way they've behaved and are usually remorseful, ashamed, and apologetic.

Crisis is inevitable in our world today. Earthquakes, war zones, hurricanes, mass destruction, a loss of a loved one, a loss of a job, a loss of an investment, the list goes on. Dealing with it isn't. Knowing what to do, in the most effectively manner, will keep us and the person in crisis, especially if it's a loved one, most protected and from harm. I highly recommend this workshop for educators, mothers and fathers, siblings, anyone dealing with addicts in the family or friends. The list goes on for whom this course can benefit.

In a crisis DON'T:
  • overreact
  • get into a power struggle
  • make fake promises
  • fake attention, rather, give the person undivided attention
  • be threatening
  • use jargon
  • use sarcasm
  • interrupt

In a crisis DO:
  • remain calm
  • isolate the situation/remove the person if possible
  • enforce limits
  • give options (if possible)
  • listen
  • be aware of non-verbal communication
  • be consistent
  • validate your understanding
  • show empathy
In class, we learned the basic non-violent ways to get out of chokes, grabs, kicks and strikes. However, we did not learn self-defense for life threatening situations. A self-defense class would be helpful for that.

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Friday, October 22, 2010

We Can Learn to Love with Our Crooked Heart

We Can Learn to Love with Our Crooked Heart
Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

By working with the repressed emotion in the body - anger, for example - we realize that we are human, and that there is no such thing as a perfect human being. In fact, the better we think we are and the more we imagine we are, the darker our shadow is, and the darker the material that we have to release. When we know how much rage and grief and jealousy and greed and lust are in us, we have to forgive ourselves for being human.

To forgive is to transform what we otherwise reject. Some people find that very hard because they've been brought up to be perfect. But once we know that we can love ourselves with all our human warts then we can love others from that same place. Or, as W. H. Auden said, "We can learn to love each other with our own 'crooked heart'."

~Marion Woodman, in The Forsaken Garden

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

The Path Prescribed by Your Unconscious

The Path Prescribed by Your Unconscious
Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh
If you want to go your individual way,
it is the way you make for yourself,

which is never prescribed,

which you do not know in advance,

and which simply comes into being of itself

when you put one foot in front of the other.

If you always do the next thing that needs to be done,

you will go most safely and surefootedly

along the path prescribed by your unconscious.

~Carl G. Jung, Letters, Volume One

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh
"I did know, instinctively,
that to play was to be."

~The Soul's Code

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Speak to Us of Joy and Sorrow

Speak to Us of Joy and Sorrow
Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Then a woman said,
Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow.

And he answered:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.

And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being,

the more joy you can contain.

Is not the cup that holds your wine
very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?

~Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Thank You


"If the only prayer you said in your whole life was,
'thank you', that would suffice."

~Meister Eckhart

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Friday, October 8, 2010

'Just Be Grateful!'

Just Be Grateful
by Desiree Leigh, Wake Up to Live

I was perusing the internet to see what Thanksgiving meant to others. I was dumbfounded to see the criticism, mockery, righteousness, and blame, as well as strong advice in stern voices saying 'just be grateful!'

You can't tell someone to 'just be grateful' when they have a lot of blame, hate, guilt or shame lurking within them. They'll have to go through the process on their own. Making righteous comments won't work either. It'll make you look like a jack ass and them resist your opinions more. I see this over and over again with many, forcing the issue down someone's throat. When you feed your child a new vegetable or pablum, do you force it in their mouth, demanding that it's good for them and they'd better eat it? I'd hope not.

How do we get to the true feelings of gratitude and not the gratitude that is a facade? Understanding and empathy of others breed acceptance and gratitude. If you want someone to be truly grateful, lend them your ear rather than your tongue. Listen to them rather than forcefully stuff your words down their throat.

Many of us are plainly righteous, wanting to force our ways into changing someone in hopes to make a better human being or world. Instead, we should be looking at ourselves and our way of thinking. Who is it that I must be to spread gratitude? It's easy to push something on someone else. First, try it on yourself. I'll bet a lot more compassion will seep out and into your words and shower the one's around you where true gratitude will automatically flow. Your 'just be grateful' will no longer be needed.

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Monday, October 4, 2010

Doukhobors, 'Spirit Wrestler,' Beliefs & Acceptance

by Desiree Leigh, Wake Up to Live
I had two choices to write about for an assignment for my writing class. One was to write about a fact about myself that I am interested in, whether it be a character trait, my date of birth, my ancestry, or my appearance. The other was to seek out an article from a newspaper that caught my eye from the month and year I was born. I found the events: The US President, Lyndon B. Johnson, and his top-ranking advisers meet to discuss plans to bomb North Vietnam, and, Beach Boys' bassist/keyboardist Brian Wilson suffers a nervous breakdown on a flight from Los Angeles to Houston, eventually precipitating his retirement. Good topics, but no real true living experience at that time in my life to talk about.

I went with the ancestry. In the end, I didn't complete my assignment, though. What I did was gain a lot of knowledge on my Russian Doukhobor Orthodox Freedomite Christian background that I was brought up in.

Many of you probably know what it's like when you're young. You resist your past, whether it be the religion you were raised in, or the parent(s) values you were brought up in, what ever the case may be, many of us resist our past and, in the process, tell ourselves adamantly, "I'm never going be like my mother/father...!" "I'm not going to do what they did."That comment makes me laugh today. Oh, how I was 'not' going to be like my mother. That was a for sure for me. I resisted everything about her. Her religion, her submissiveness, her settling, her lack of voice and so forth. "I knew better." "I will never be like her, ever!"Well, let me tell you, "whatever you resist persists." What happened last night was truly amazing. After reading about the Doukhobors, meaning 'Spirit Wrestler,' and the Freedomites, I gained much awareness on my character, my beliefs, and my way of being. I was directly affected by the religious community, but not as intensely as my mom was. My mom was harshly affected. Her mother and her grandmother were in the midst of it. I see how my mom still struggles in her community and with her family with these core religious beliefs that were instilled in her from childhood and still have a major grip on her. Here's a brief history of these people.

Peter Vasilyevich Verigin, their leader, was in exile in Siberia and was unable to migrate to Canada with the Doukhobors, while many emigrated from the Caucasus in order to escape religious persecution. He had great influence on these people and how they should live. He often emphasized, though, that his expressed views appear as "fantasies" or "theories" and did not, in any way, think that these fantasies and theories would be accepted by the Doukhobors as law in their life. This was clearly stated in his "letters" sent to Canada while he was in exile. When they did, he was there later to support their conviction all the way.

Freedomites were extremely opposed to education. Eventually, they accepted the conditions that the children will attend the schools only to the age of twelve. They believed education corrupted a humans mind. They didn't believe land should be sold, either. "Land is God's gift. It shouldn't be an object of trade," they'd say. They refused to pay taxes or interest, too. They believed everything was free. Even the horses with their harnesses were considered to be a restraint and against their religious beliefs, although they eventually assimilated to that.

Before 1921 and 1922, when eleven schools burnt down (Saskatchewan or BC), the Freedomites and their eccentricities did not bother the surrounding communities, and they had little conflict with the authorities. When the authorities intensified the Russian Orthodox blamed the Russian Freedomites for the burning of the schools, although no one was directly accused. They were prospects for the burnings because of their extreme opposition to education.

In 1924 Peter V. Verign was killed by an explosion in a railway coach. With this event, the Doukhobors ceased to allow their children to school showing their protests, once again, by disrobing and walking naked down the streets and burning buildings. Authorities used repression and confiscated their belongings. Some went to jail. After long discussions with authorities, the Freedomites were allotted an area called "Krestova." It was looked upon by all as a leper colony.

There is much more detailed history to the Doukhobors I can talk about such as the residential schools and the abuse within them, although, that should be a book written by the survivors. Anyhow, besides their home area being called the leper colony, they were also called rebels and traitors because they fought against militarism. Even to this day the Freedomites protest against the Canadian system in general. Many, are now speaking of migrating back to their motherland, the Soviet Russia, to find that empire that would allow complete freedom.

I found reading about my ancestry fascinating and enlightening. I can, perhaps now, understand my mom's, or my aunt's, and my grandparents point of views. It's not that I condone it, but I can relate to them. I can really see them, now more than ever before. I can see how easy it is to fall deep into a conviction brought on by generations of conditioned thinking. No one's a bad person for being raised a particular way. No one's a bad person who doesn't see eye to eye with everyone else. And, nor should we see the same as everyone else. That would be scary. I do hope, however, we continue to encourage free thinking. It's the acceptance of diversity that is challenging, for most, and it may not be so fascinating to others.

Going back to the comment about resisting my past. By resisting, I never really got to know my great grandma on my mom's side. We didn't speak the same language, so even if she did talk to me, I wouldn't understand her Russian. I always thought about what her past was like, even when I was a small child. She had many deep lines on her face, never really smiled, and never talked much. What was it from her past that her so? I guess I'll never know. As I grew older, resistance started to set in. Trying to follow the crowd. Trying to fit in was 'in.' I wasn't about to go back to my past.

As I heard some of the stories of family members 'parading naked,' I became disgusted and wanted to put it all behind me. Instead of trying to understand, I resisted, I suppressed everything, even mom's way of being and everyone else's. I didn't want to belong to the family. "How could I belong to such a family?"Today, I've changed. I've realized, if I want to accept, I must understand. I tried acceptance without understanding. It didn't work for me. Over the years I've learned, in order to love someone, I must understand and empathize, then acceptance comes naturally. I guess, that's why I love counseling, as well as coaching. You get to really understand people and where they are coming from. As for mom, we hit heads occasionally, well, maybe more than not. Perhaps we always will. The more I get to know where she's coming from, the more I get her, and that makes all the difference in our relationship.

I miss my grandma's. A lot. They gave me much learning. They made so many great things with their hands - wooden spoons, clothes, quilts, area rugs (grandma made huge area rugs with her old hosiery) and great food. Oh, how I miss their borsh. Community was important to them. Colors to the Doukhobors are important, too. You'd never see black and white. Rather, you'd see various bright colors. Now I see why my dad painted his houses so colorfully in the past. It's in his blood. Maybe they had something pretty cool going on, to some degree. Peace and freedom. A simple life, not complicated with too much 'stuff.' Strong community and family. It's a good thing.

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Friday, October 1, 2010

Write without Imposed Structure

Write Without Imposed Structure
Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh
"I get very nervous when people start talking about structure. It always sound like a cage over my writing...Structure imposed from the outside according to a preconceived formula is a cage. It does not allow the original and organic shape of the writing to emerge. Structure created before the fact of writing is artificial and limiting. Real structure comes from within the material itself, is not separate from it, which is why I like to leave a discussion of structure until plenty of writing has been done."
~Patti Miller, Writing your Life.

Right now, I have to tell you, I want to fly to Australian and give Patti a big kiss on the lips! Reading these words were breathtaking. They gave me goose pimples, I was so excited. I joined a writing class at the University of British Columbia Writing your Life's Story: Autobiography and Memoir. Last night was my first class. I was looking forward to learning more about writing and I was blessed to have the beautiful and well traveled Marlene Schiwy teaching the class.

There are many reasons why people, whether 18 or 80, want to write a story of their life's events. It is more about looking back in retrospect, rather than seeing the daily happenings. The motives can be for:
  • healing (so you can make sense of things, whether it be a divorce/abuse/loss/adoption and so forth),
  • history (wanting to share for future generations),
  • lineage (so your grandchildren and children will know more about you at a deeper level),
  • wisdom (the learning you've done from living), or
  • creativity (to explore the art and craft of writing...).
I've been doing a lot of writing for the past three years. However, I was not too focused on a memoir I've been messaged to write. Socialization can really get it's vice grips around me, stopping me dead in my tracks.

I heard so many people, from writing coaches, published authors, published author want-a-bees, various tele-class speakers and many more, telling me that I need structure to my book prior to writing. "This was really important to do," they'd say. This concept was hard for me to wrap my head around. I wasn't clear on how I was supposed to structure my book. I didn't even know what it was going to be about. Let alone figure out the title, chapters, and sub-chapters. I had some ideas but nothing was set in stone, and neither did I want it to be. But because I thought these other people (in loving opinions) knew better because of their experience, I believed it was best to listen to them.

My God, forgive me for not listening once again, to you, my higher wisdom! When will I learn? I had a way of doing the process, writing that is. I heard my Voice within. It gave me all the guidance I needed. Then, as I pursued more opinions and such, I got more confused and lost the belief within myself. Some were deep inside of me, a core belief of listening to others with greater experience, and following what they've done is my weakness. I relinquished my true and loving essence for another's opinion. It's not that opinions are wrong to follow. It's good to hear others out. We learn. We grow. We gain much clarity about what we want. We experience other people's stories, thoughts and feelings. But when we relinquish our own divinity, our own essence for someone else's, we stop living with integrity. We stop being true to our self.

If you've been reading my blog posts or my ezines, I've stated this several times in past stories - about listening to the small Voice from within. Every new experience brings on new challenges, more awareness, more insight and more growth. A new place of taking action. Divine action is about trying not to get caught up in the worldly stuff and staying true to ourselves.

Cheers to Patti Miller, once again, reminding me to writing with structure. Not to worry what it looks like initially. The structure will form from within guiding me gently every step of the way showing me what to do. My soul's journey is mine, yet still for the Greater Good of All.

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh