Back to summer camp

16 WayI haven’t been to summer camp in many many years. But memories of those times are priceless.

Debriefing at the 16 way camp

As was this weekend’s camp. However, you see, this wasn’t your average weekend getaway.Rather, both slaDE and I enrolled in Doug Forth’s 16 way Camp. Yes, that’s correct. A camp for skydivers wanting to learn the subtleties and nuances of big-way skydives.

Saturday started out beautifully, with clear blue azure skies and ZERO winds. For Skydive Burnaby, this is a strange pairing and anomaly. Normally, the winds are howling with such beautiful weather. Yet, the whole weekend was forecast to be just that. Beautiful, calm and sunny. SWEET!

Apart from a strained shoulder (setting me down for three jumps), I was still pleased to fit in 6 skydives for the day. What an incredible learning curve! I’ve jumped many a big way, but have never had the opportunity to participate in an actual camp.

Gotta love those exceptional learning experiences, especially when they push me outside of my ‘comfort zone’ at times :).

Digital Memories

FamilyThe emergence of the digital camera was a life-changing moment in my growth, expansion, opportunity and education of all things photography. The digital era has led to a revolution on all levels in my life. I can remember for as long as I’ve had a camera, I was inspired hugely to create and capture those perfect moments in time. The only thing that held me back was the monetary costs of buying film and processing my visual moments of captured delight. And then along sauntered digital point and shoot cameras. Initially, the quality left something to be desired, but the concept of a minimal outlay of money with no aftermarket expenditures was exciting beyond words. But I waited … for at least 4 years before trusting in the technology, waiting for the opportune time to invest in my cre8tivity.
lawn mowerFast forward to this weekend. I went home to my Mom & Pat’s farm to tackle a project, which I’ve been requested to complete for several months now. Flashback to my childhood:  my Mother was very astute and diligent in capturing the magic moments of the early years of my two sisters and brother. Thoughtfully, she processed most of her photos as slides for the sole purpose of having yearly slideshows — our version of home movies.
Over the years, as an adult, I’ve come to appreciate the history behind family photographs, and since the digital era became a strong force in my life, I’ve wanted to digitize all the slides Mom had kept, neatly tucked away in organized and clearly itemized archives. Wanting to get away for a weekend home, Mom slyly persuaded me into tackling this project, which seemed beyond the measure of a weekend’s work. Yet in the form of 30 or so categorized slide trays, Mom and I efficiently and with ease went through each box, 1 by 1, deciding on whether to keep or throw away the encapsulated moment. Thankfully, Mom had picked up a special tray for viewing multiple slides. This made the job somewhat easier to sort through them all, and come Monday morning after two whole days of perusing, purging, scanning and cataloguing the memories from 1966 through to 1989, we had an assortment of 750 slides to immortalize the life of our family in its growing years.
I must admit, this indeed was a time-consuming arduous task. I wasn’t expressly satisfied with the quality of the scan right from the beginning, especially when Mom told me that she paid a steep $80 price tag for the hardware & software. However, Mom was happy with the result. And if Ma is happy, I am thrilled.
As an interesting side note, through the journey of trying to navigate the Windows environment with a mediocre product, I successfully installed Windows on my MACBook Pro with the help of VMWare Fusion. However, I didn’t get the Windows executable program for the slide scanner to boot up properly on my MAC. A shame really, considering that the processing speed of my computer would have completed the project in half the time of Mom’s PC. In all honesty, when I witnessed a working version of Windows XP on my laptop, I didn’t know whether to feign excitement or sob uncontrollably at the irony of it all. Here’s a quote from my Facebook status page:
Dear Windows … you are now a guest in my house of goD (i.e. the MACBook Pro). If you play nice, you can stay awhile. Any smart alecky moves — virus downloads, etc. — and you’re outta here!
ReggieEchinaceaHurrah to dedicated teamwork and persistent guidance / coaxing from all parties involved with our walk down memory lane. So happy that my sister and her husband were there to share in the overall experience. We also built a few new memories, welcoming my ‘sister’ Reggie to the family. She is a gorgeous 7 week old puppy … a Border Collie / Blue Healer mix. Reggie has sharp anxious teeth, but is extremely smart, attentive and playful as can be! Love her fluffy little heart to pieces. This was a grand weekend on a fabulous scale!

The Story of Cosmetics

The ugly truth of toxins going in, toxins coming out? That would describe the ‘Story of Stuff’ project called “The Story of Cosmetics“. In our current day society, a large percentage of what we consume and utilize on this planet has been over-processed, under-tested and mis-handled. The closer we get to natural, the better it is for us. Period. But petroleum products, plastics and chemicals have ‘simplified’ our life, compromising the health of our planet and our bodies. Any personal care product that we use is absorbed by our body’s largest organ, our skin! Whether we wash our hair, brush our teeth, launder our clothes, moisturize our skin or consume as a food / liquid source, the skin will absorb it all, the good, the bad and the ugly. Many people are finding themselves suddenly with chemical sensitivities (myself included in that one), and question why? Perhaps it’s due to the onslaught of continued product usage, and the body saying “enough already”? Or maybe it has to do with the fact that chemicals can stay in the body for a lifetime, so past exposures might be responsible for current vulnerabilities and symptoms.

The term cosmetics goes beyond the visage of ‘makeup’.

chemical in our stuffnoun (usu. cosmetics)

* a product applied to the body, esp. the face, to improve its appearance.

* Cosmetics are substances used to enhance the appearance or odor of the human body. Cosmetics include skin-care creams, lotions, powders, perfumes, lipsticks, fingernail and toe nail polish, eye and facial makeup, permanent waves, colored contact lenses, hair colors, hair sprays and gels

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which regulates cosmetics in the United States defines cosmetics as: “intended to be applied to the human body for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance without affecting the body’s structure or functions”. Soap is not included in this classification, by the FDA.

I think the true difficulty behind the issues of cosmetics is that North American Federal Agencies are not regulating or labelling many toxic ingredients (substances which may cause cancer or fetal, hormonal or reproductive toxicity), leaving the public at risk, confused and misinformed. I personally try to source natural ingredients with the basic cleansing functions in my skincare products necessary to achieve the results I’m going after (i.e. toothpaste, shampoo, face & body cleanser / moisturizer, etc). I strayed a long time ago from the use of makeup as I prefer au naturel. And Essential Oils fill my sensory needs for fragrance. Plant based authentic 100% aromatherapy. Simple joys, small pleasures. Let’s just hope that essential oils never come under the gun of federal regulation. Don’t get me wrong, quality control of any publicly offered substance is vital. Knowing the quality, grade and authenticity of our cosmetics is necessary, as I personally believe in making educated and qualified self-decisions. However, there’s a fine line between managing for quality vs controlling because of vested interests and misinformation / miscalculation of what constitutes afforded protection.

But that’s another post in the making :).

Check out the shockumentaryThe Story of Cosmetics” … well worth your time, for the sake of your health, your family’s safety and our environment.

There are different ways that we can make a difference.

» SHARE The Story of Cosmetics

» JOIN The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

» THROW A Story of Cosmetics Viewing PARTY!

A whole lot of Angry, a whole lot of Compassion

Today I read a blog that sparked a detailed response to a posting from a ‘celebrity’ who qualifies herself as an inspirational guru of health and fitness. Man, is she One Angry Chick (her words, not mine)!

I’m not sure if Brittany will delete my comment in moderating her blog entry of ‘The Revolution is On‘, but just in case she does, here’s my long-thought-out comment for your reading leisure. I actually suggest you read her blog entry first (http://brittneykara.wordpress.com/2010/07/05/the-revolution-is-on) before reading my response. And I welcome your thoughts, ideas and / or any additions!

Namaste ….

Hi Brittany

disinfecting fruitBeing a yoga teacher myself who diligently lives a clean, healthy, hydrated life (all the while reading labels, like yourself, and meticulous about most things which enter my body), it’s so easy to see and experience the less than ideal choices others make — whether that be food, alcohol, drugs or the like. Aside from ones own personal choices about what we put into and onto our bodies, it’s truly heartbreaking to see the food and water we need to survive being sabotaged by chemicals, filled with potentially toxic and carcinogenic substances (such as artificial fragrances and harmful & needless antibacterial additions to our everyday household goods), along with the circus of false claims and advertising, inaccessible price gouging and shrouded ingredient listings.  There’s a lot of barriers out there for living a clean healthy lifestyle. Bombarded by a media which offers every kind of diet and product out there to maintain youth, beauty, fitness and everlasting mortality (tongue in cheek), it’s an incredibly complex task trying to maintain a lifestyle that is complete, wholesome and health-giving. One of the most challenging hurdles to living a healthy life is the lack or shroud of truthful education. So many conflicting opinions and (mis)information to wade through. I consider myself highly educated on the food my family consumes, and yet I still find myself confused and swayed by studies which are often backed by corporate and vested interest groups. A perfect example of this would be my belief in agave, a touted superfood, until the recent studies and findings on agave’s high fructose content (http://www.sacredchocolate.com/agave-blues-david-wolfe).

Living, breathing and advocating for a health-giving lifestyle is a full-time endeavour, truly. Considering this statement, very few people have the education, funds and time to apply such dedication and vigour. This is not an excuse but rather a fact of life. On top of this, living with and making ‘unhealthy’ choices is far easier and a whole lot less expensive. Our societal values have changed, shifted with the paradigm of a materialistic world that wants information / food / results quick, fast and with ease. This is a huge battle and wall that each and every one of us face.

Education is key. Access and clear honest information is needed. Building community which revolves around healthy organic grassroots living is an ideal situation. But laying fault and judgement on those that don’t necessarily have the means or information only creates a chasm between ‘us’ and ‘them’. I am so incredibly blessed to have a wealth of knowledge at my fingertips through consistent research on the Internet, through my studies of yoga and teacher trainings, mentors and friends.

There is so much more than what meets the eye on the surface to whether a person is actually living a healthy lifestyle. Who are we to deem what is considered ‘Fat’? Is being overweight by 10lbs, 20lbs, 50lbs, 3 lbs considered fat? In some cultures and certain epochs, extra flesh and fat is considered highly attractive. Curves, cellulite, breast endowment (breast tissue is both fat and muscle) …. what makes one more attractive and healthy than the other?  For example, the yoga teacher who you deemed overweight. Who knows what her background is? She could have been 100lbs heavier, found yoga and is on a journey to leading a healthier lifestyle. Perhaps she looked exhausted, dehydrated and unhealthy because she is a single mom who just had a baby, is raising that child solo, through postpartum depression and is struggling to maintain a semblance of health and vitality in her life by teaching others. The fact that people showed up to the class is a step in the right direction to health, making that choice to live and breath and move. Who knows what your yoga teacher’s story is? But knowing that unless we live in her shoes and her experience, how can we define what is best and healthy for her? A vision of a slim, lean, attractive teacher is very much a western ideal based on yoga as a fitness factor rather than that of a practise in preparation for meditation and conscious breathe.

I also disagree with your statement that ‘We are all capable of being in great shape and healthy’. We all have the potential for greatness, but again, what is considered ‘great shape and healthy’? Who defines such terms? Media has done a ‘bang up’ job on our societies vision of body image, beauty and physicality. Celebrity hasn’t helped the cause. All I really know is what I perceive to be best for me. I can help others through education, empathy, compassionate vision and offering constructive choices towards environmentally wise and physically healthy options available to us.

Choice. Circumstance. Environment. Education.

We all have our own battles in this life. We here in North America are blessed to have so many viable and healthful options. Travel to a third world country, and you will see how truly privileged we are. Clean water. Fresh air. Food in abundance.

I invite you to share your breath, compassion, education, inspiration, and motivation to each and every person, regardless of age, race, size or deemed physical stature. We are all one family. We all deserve the best in life. We are all human. And most of all, we all deserve many chances to learn and grow.

Good luck in your life ventures. I wish for you much success in making our world a better place, one breath at a time.

Just one of those days

One of those daysEver have one of those days when you just want to throw in the towel and go home to Mom and family? I had one of those today. So I’m thinking that I will, go home and nest. Solo. To be with family for the weekend, enjoying my parents’ new puppy dog ‘Reggie’. I’ve been forewarned however. Now that I have a new ‘sibling’  sister in the family, I better bring Reggie a new play toy and housewarming gift! Egads, my Mother is certainly smitten with her new baby (part Blue Healer but mostly Border Collie). Bonus that my younger sister and husband will be there! Fabulous :). This visit has been a long time coming and I’ve promised to spend some time scanning in slides so that they can be accessed and viewed digitally. This is a BIG job, as there are thousands of photos from our childhood to be gone through, sorted and then scanned. This just might be the first of many trips this summer to Mom and Pats, especially with this scanning job. :).

It was interesting, speaking with my sister today. How she feels that in as she ages and grows, she feels a need to spend more time with our parents. That semblance of mortality closing in, of only having this present moment, and wanting to make each moment ‘count’. And knowing that our family are around for a finite, undetermined time, the desire to go home is strong and true, for both of us, especially with my track record for travel and winters spent in warmer climes.

Truly, Madly, Deeply

True BloodHave you ever found yourself sucked in by something that took you totally by surprise? When I was a teenage, I devoured every Stephen King and John Saul book that I could find. I loved the horror genre with tales of terror, mayhem and the supernatural. I also loved anything fantasy based that weaved a world so beyond the grasp of reality whilst inspiring a child-like wonder … Marion Zimmer Bradley (I read the Mists of Avalon twice), Tolkien, Anne Rice, Terry Brooks, time travel escapades in any form: pure unadulterated escapism.

But there came a switch when I went to University. Any reading that I tackled had to do with Law & Psychology. I lost my edge and my passion, entangled by the adult world of real life mystery and twisted haunted realities. I basically grew up. And then my tastes in literary content swung a complete 180. Documentaries, non-fiction, reality based life stories kept me fascinated and grounded. Perhaps all the years of psychology studies wielded a new profound meaning that added depth beyond the fantastical and imaginary. It was perhaps the time to grow up and realize that LIFE beyond my imagination was physically real, painful and often not-so-magical and ethereal. The time for escapism within the written word had exploded into my need for exploration beyond flight and fancy. The first step in truly growing up and developing my burgeoning wings with the hard knocks of life.

And then another switch occurred, less tangible in time or sense …. anything that exuded violence or blood or spawning pain triggered a reaction of withdrawal within me. I couldn’t read, watch or hear about the induction of brutality or savage human cruelty, especially if it involved bloodshed or guns. I’m not quite certain when that sensitivity to such genre emerged. Even knowing that violence in any form may be fictional or reality based, I to this day sequester my senses to a tamer more peaceable pacifist reality based form of thinking. Perhaps that is why I lean towards a yogic way of life, that which seeks peace and harmony in my daily existence.

Back to the reason why I started this banter … today I was introduced to something very out-of-character to my viewing and literary senses. It’s filled with violence, blood and carnage. And surprisingly, I am madly in love with the series of ‘True Blood’. I was loaned the Season 1 dvd set, and for the first two episodes, I was riveted to the screen, unexpectedly drawn to the ferocity and the explicit gory and raw sexuality. I’m hooked! And can’t wait to get through all 3 seasons.

Lifted by the Wings of Grace

Feeling frustrated today. Willing and wanting my blog to be up-to-date. Lapsing further and deeper behind. So much to say, lots of lovely photographs to portray the events and good times. Not feeling the motivation to ink my thoughts so vividly, longing for my fingers to meander across the keyboard. Slowly, slowly. With patience and gratitude, a new day is before me and I WILL accomplish a few steps forward with my goals, my plans. Learning to forgive both myself and others is the first step, sometimes the hardest. It’s been a tough day of lacking in faith and letting go.

Chin up. Knowing I can be better. Will myself to be better, especially when I’m not soulfully feeling the much-needed inspiration. Deep breath and relinquish the control beyond my means, my abilities. There is no such thing as control. Something to remember. Always.

Return to the breath. The heart and soul of my being. This is the only truth I know, and perhaps the closest thing to goD that will ever be known. Until my last breath, forgiveness with each inhale and exhale. Knowing that greatness belongs and exists within each and every one of uS. Believe, act and I will fly and succeed, lifted by the wings of grace.

I love this poem, written by Alicia, as discovered on Facebook.

RV There Yet?You were born with potential,
You were born with goodness and trust,
You were born with ideals and dreams,
You were born with greatness,
You were born with wings,
You are not meant for crawling, SO DON’T
You have wings
Learn to use them and fly!!!!!

RV There Yet??

Flight … it’s an Attitude

Twin OtterFor me this past week, returning to Frontier was an emotional state of coming home. Arriving with a different mindset than from my last abrupt departure of flight. A walk down memory lane, a throw back to both the familiar and the pain, the gifts given to me and to my family of friends, both new and old. I’ve jumped at many a drop zone, savouring the freedom of flight as I know it, belly to earth, relative to the wind and others. Breathing in the joys of canopy flight. Graceful and grateful in my safe return to earth.

Like a slew of different lovers, each airport has its own seductive qualities, enticing me with its vast breadth of skills, knowledge, provocative lifts to altitude and playful tempestuous political philanderings. A love / hate relationship at times, but nonetheless, a necessary deliverance to my addiction for altitude and flight. A drop zone is a subculture. Frontier happens to be a club rather than a business per se. Member run and lovingly nurtured by those inclined to steer the course, for yet another year in its life.

Why would we return now, you might ask? For this sole reason: Frontierfest, an annual Boogie and odyssey — a time for vacation time accrued to be spent by many, with the return of the Twin Otter, the spaceship with a 21 jumper lift capacity. Our last time jumping here in Newfane New York? In 2005: slaDE~ and I headed west towards the Rocky Mountains (Calgary) and this happened to coincide with the time when our beloved Termin-Otter also left, for bluer skies and greener financial pastures. Since then, Frontier has been a Cessna 180 drop zone, (5 jumpers maximum) losing many of the familiar jumpers addicted to the convenience, lift capacity and efficiency of a twin engine plane.

So as you can imagine, the Otter would draw many a jumper from the woodwork. A family reunion of sorts. It was glorious and spectacular. As if time had stood still, I slipped on my packing hat and spent many an hour enveloped in canopy and lines, swaddled by the love of my trade. A packing fool I became, with a twist. I made the time to jump and coach and fly with my friends, opting out of the camera-wielding role of videographer. What a shift!

I truly believe that Flight is a gift, a tool, a passion and an attitude. I feel so blessed to soar from the wings of an aircraft with my own ability to cloud surf and soar. It’s an incredible blessing that I am so grateful to gift myself each leap into the unknown.

Flight indeed is an attitude. Here’s a perfect true story that is bound to tug at your heartstrings, penned by the author Roger Dean Kiser Senior (Roger is the little orphan boy in the story who carries his friend through the wind.).

Flying

Once upon a time there was a little boy who was raised in a orphanage. The little boy had always wished that he could fly like a bird. It was very difficult for him to understand why he could not fly. There were birds at the zoo that were much bigger than he, and they could fly. “Why can’t I?” he thought. “Is there something wrong with me?” he wondered.

There was another little boy who was crippled. He had always wished that he could walk and run like other little boys and girls. “Why can’t I be like them?” he thought.

One day the little orphan boy who had wanted to fly like a bird ran away from the orphanage. He came upon a park where he saw the little boy who could not walk or run playing in the sandbox.

He ran over to the little boy and asked him if he had ever wanted to fly like a bird.

“No,” said the little boy who could not walk or run. “But I have wondered what it would be like to walk and run like other boys and  girls.”

“That is very sad.” said the little boy who wanted to fly. “Do you think we could be friends?” he said to the little boy in the sandbox. “Sure.” said the little boy.

The two little boys played for hours. They made sand castles and made really funny sounds with their mouths. Sounds which made them laugh  real hard. Then the little boy’s father came with a wheelchair to pick up his son. The little boy who had always wanted to fly ran over to the boy’s father and whispered something into his ear.

“That would be OK,” said the man.

The little boy who had always wanted to fly like a bird ran over to his new friend and said, “You are my only friend and I wish that there was something that I could do to make you walk and run like other little boys and girls. But I can’t. But there is something that I can do for you.” The little orphan boy turned around and told his new friend to slide up onto his back. He then began to run across the grass. Faster and faster he ran, carrying the little crippled boy on his back. Faster and harder he ran across the park. Harder and harder he made his legs travel.

Soon the wind just whistled across the two little boys’ faces. The little boy’s father began to cry as he watched his beautiful little crippled son flapping his arms up and down in the wind, all the while yelling at the top of his voice,

“I’M FLYING, DADDY. I’M FLYING!”

~ Roger Dean Kiser, Sr., Florida
____________________________________________________

Play. It’s a lifestyle and a choice.

yogaFLIGHTplay |plā|

verb
  1. [ intrans. ] engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose : the children were playing outside | her friends were playing with their dolls.
  2. activity engaged in for enjoyment and recreation, esp. by children : a child at play may use a stick as an airplane.
  • To engage in sport or lively recreation; to exercise for the sake of amusement or enjoyment; to frolic; to spot.
  • To contend, or take part, in a game; as, to play ball; hence, to gamble; as, he played for heavy stakes.

Women skydiveAs children, no one questions our right or ability to play, to laugh and be joyous, to have spark, vitality, and take flight, to be whomever we imagine or desire to be, with no apparent reason. As a child, we give and laugh and love unconditionally. We plaY! But why is play limited to childhood development and growth? Why must we stop and grasp reality by the horns as an adult, often forgetting about our free and unstructured spirit of pleasure and release, of imagination and frivolity? If you seriously look at your spirit of play, is it limited to vacation time and summer holiday weekend getaways or drunken nights where one can let loose and reinvent the play somewhat forgotten? I’m relearning to play again, to let go and just be, as whimsy takes me, no commitments beyond that of my web work, my spouse and my family. To follow my bliss, of sorts. Playing with my yoga practice, yogaFLIGHT (which is ALL about play), my waking and sleeping hours. The release is incredible! I’m growing and flourishing, although it may not appear so on the outer edges. My inner world is expanding, joyously free. I am SO blessed. Learning to play and imagine and be authentically truly mE. No excuses. Loving life. Divine.

The best doctors anywhere!

The sun is shIning brightly and the temperature is just so perfect. Wanting to make the most of this postcard perfect day, I went for a gorgeous speed walk this morning, feeling alive, vibrant, happy and healthy. What’s the recipe to health and happiness you might ask?? Well here’s part of the answer for me, as quoted from a nursery rhyme written by Wayne Fields.

sun & sky on Canada Day

What the River Knows, 1990
The best six doctors anywhere
And no one can deny it
Are sunshine, water, rest, and air
Exercise and diet.
These six will gladly you attend
If only you are willing
Your mind they’ll ease
Your will they’ll mend
And charge you not a shilling.