The Wild Within Us

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“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
― Albert Einstein

“Like the wolf, intuition has claws that pry things open and pin things down, it has eyes that can see through the shields of persona, it has ears that hear beyond the range of mundane human hearing. With these formidable psychic tools a woman takes on a shrewd and even precognitive animal consciousness, one that deepens her femininity and sharpens her ability to move confidently in the outer world.”
― Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

One of the greatest and most unfortunate misconceptions that has ever been instilled within human kind is the belief that we are somehow separate and disconnected from the natural world. You can take the beast out of the wilderness, but you cannot take the wilderness out of the beast. We are mammals at a core cellular and instinctual level and the denial of this has not made us more civilized, on the contrary, I believe it has made us forget our innate humanity.

I would argue that our understanding of our deep connection and responsibility to one another as human beings is intrinsically linked to our understanding of our connection and responsibility to mother nature. As with all things, I believe that to truly understand something and learn its value, exposure is essential. In our civilized western world, we live in concrete jungles, surrounded by synthetic materials with walls and doors keeping us separated from the wilderness from which we came. Entire generations of children are born and grow up without ever having set foot in the woods. If they are lucky, big city kids may spend the odd day in a green space or man-made park that neatly fits into a tidy area of well-planned order. While that’s better than nothing, there’s nothing natural about it. Nature is wild, chaotic, powerful, uncontrollable and breathtakingly beautiful. Much like some of my favourite women! Nature feeds you, clothes you, rips you apart and heals you again. She will warm you, clean you and sing you to sleep. She will remind you of the blood in your veins and the bone that keeps you upright. She will breath soft breath on your cheek and kiss your skin golden today, then make you bleed tomorrow. She reminds you again and again and again that you are alive.

To walk in the wilderness, is to feel that you are connected to everything and everyone. It reminds you that you have a place inside the glorious web of life. You are a part of something much bigger than yourself and you are integral.  You are a creator and destroyer. You are a lover or a havoc wreaker with every decision and move that you make. Do not be fooled by the concrete world you have built around you, you have impact. Just because you cannot see the majesty of the wilderness in front of you, does not mean that she is not there. You are a part of her and she sees you and feels your impact always.

I have been very fortunate in my life to have never lost my connection with nature. I was raised to marvel at the beauty of the stars and the moon. I was taught to be still and let my senses guide me. I learned to notice the signs of other life and the stories they tell. The footprints in the snow and fur on a branch. The spider webs that tell you winter is coming and robin’s song that sings of spring. The hairs on the back of your neck that stand on end warning you of danger, and circling crows that tell a tale of recent death. I in turn, pass this knowledge on to my children. They collect mushrooms in the spring and berries in the summer. They swim in cool waters and climb jagged rocks. They know that the dirt in the forest is clean and the dirt in the city is not. They collect bones, antlers and stones on the forest floor and call them treasures. They will tell their friends in the city that they saw a fox, deer, snake and bald eagle this weekend. They will grow up with freckles on their cheeks, leaves in their hair and scratches on their knees, and they will know that this means they are healthy and strong. They will know they are connected to all life and that they belong. They will know that if they are to reap the rewards of the natural world, they must respect her and protect her. They will learn who they are, while lying in soft moss under the shade of forest canopy, and there is nothing more beautiful or meaningful than that.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Michael Sanders, Electric Monk Media

STYLING, HAIR & MAKEUP BY: Tara Cole-McCaffrey, Patron of Dreams

CURRENT FASHION: Boots by Sorel Footwear

VINTAGE FASHION: Green coat from Found on Corydon (Metalphysical Moon). Thrifted pants, skirt, top and belt.

JEWELLERY BY: Sheppards Hook Jewellery (Antler and stone rings; Antler/porcupine quill earrings; Antler/moss stud earrings; Antler, stone, and beaded necklaces)

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I am an advocate for anything that connects us to and reminds us of nature, which is why I fell in love with Sheppards Hook Jewellery! Locally made right here in Winnipeg, Manitoba by Katie, an extremely talented creator! Each piece is made with organic and found materials and is one of a kind. A wonderful way to carry an artistically crafted piece of mother nature with you, even in the hustle of city life. I highly recommend getting yourself one of these pieces of wearable art. Katie’s creations are absolute statement pieces and conversation starters. They are both beautiful and ethically made with sustainable organic materials, and you get to support a small Canadian business in the process! Win, win, win! Sheppards Hook Jewellery will be launching their website on SATURDAY, MAY 19, 10 a.m. CST! Stay tuned to shop on-line (Canada only for now) and don’t miss out, her pieces move fast!

WHO IS SHEPPARDS HOOK?

Sheppards Hook jewellery has a wild, rustic expression for environmentally conscious individuals who strive to attain a bold, unique look that sets them apart from the crowd. Each piece is hand-crafted for a natural, artistic feel using naturally-shed white-tailed deer antler from the forests of Manitoba. This local maker is passionate about creating bold statement pieces for strong women with a refined use of colour and texture. Collections are accented using brass, high quality gemstones and other elements of nature such as porcupine quill. Get in touch with your inner wild woman when you adorn these one-of-a-kind pieces of art.

With strong roots in art and nature, Katie began taking Fine Arts and Biology at the University of Manitoba in 2005. She has always combined the two passions to create pieces of art inspired by the natural world around her. This shows in her wild, prairie-inspired jewellery.

Katie has been selling at various markets, festivals and pop-up shows since 2010.”

– Sheppards Hook Jewellery Website

WHERE CAN I BUY SHEPPARDS HOOK JEWELLERY?

Currently Sheppards Hook is sold at the following locations:

  • Winnipeg – Voila par Andreanne (303-421 Mulvey Ave)
  • Winnipeg – WAG @ The Forks (Johnston Terminal)
  • Winnipeg – Tara Davis Boutique (246 McDermot Ave)
  • Kenora – Fragile Glass Studio (529 3rd Ave)

Sheppards Hook will be at the following festivals and pop-ups in 2018 (more to be announced soon!)

  • Winnipeg Folk Festival – July 5-8 2018
  • Edmonton Folk Festival – August 9-12 2018
  • Third + Bird Spring Pop-Up – May 4-5 2018
  • St. Norbert Farmer’s Market – Every Saturday, starting May 19th 2018

Opalescence

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Opalescent: Something that is opalescent reflects light and changes colour like an opal.  – Cambridge Dictionary

Opal: A precious stone whose colour changes when the position of the person looking at it changes.  -Cambridge Dictionary

The opal, also known as the “Eye Stone” is known for it’s ability to bring a person’s personal characteristics and traits to the forefront as well as bringing unresolved patterns or tendencies that require self examination to the surface. This self evaluation can lead to profound personal transformation. Opal boosts creativity and originality. It is considered to be a karmic stone, showing us that what we put out into the world will come back to us. Also, how we perceive the world, will be shown to us like a mirror reflection.

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Each of us are like the opal, a complete spectrum of colours that changes from different perspectives. When people look at us, they see a reflection of themselves. You show them their hopes, their fears, their insecurities, their desires. They look at you and they see what they like and what they don’t like about the world in which they live, which is really just a reflection of who they are, or rather, who they believe themselves to be based on their life experience. People look at you only in relation to themselves, which is why no two people see you in exactly the same light. Every person who lays eyes on you sees a different colour depending on the perspective they are coming from. People see you in relation to the stories they tell themselves about the world. In truth, no other person can really see you, even though you are there in all of your glory. You are the only one who can actually see yourself, but you will never see your true self in a mirror. When we see with the human eye, we see only a reflection of our beliefs, our world views and our current state of mind. Who you really are is deep within you and can only be felt with the heart and the spirit, not seen with the human eye.

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Although we cannot see people as they truly are, what we can do is feel people, but we are so trained in our society to see with our limited sense of eye-sight, that we have neglected to develop and maintain our ability to experience and know one another through feeling. This ability, which all of us have, requires a deep sense of compassion for others and the ability to feel beyond the sensory information coming in all directions from our basic five senses. The five senses while important and useful for moving around and experiencing our physical world, can be very distracting and overstimulating which keeps us trapped in a constant state of reacting to our surroundings. It is difficult to live an intentional life with focus, direction and action when we have become a slave to our senses and are continually responding to stimulus. And let’s face it, we live in a society that is designed to bombard our senses with stimulation. We take the sensory information in and believe it to be truth, instead of just information reflecting our current attitudes and perspectives. What I mean to say is that your state of mind effects your mood and your mood can make your sensory perspective very different from one moment to the next, and very different from one person to the next. For example, loud music when you are in a bad mood can be irritating, but the same loud music when you are in a good mood may make you want to get up and dance. Both situations are the same, the truth if you will, but your perspective means that you experience the same stimulus in a very different way. What this means is that your reaction or perception of the situation has nothing to do with the situation, but has everything to do with your personal perspective and current state of mind when you experience the music.

Do you see what this means?  It means that how you experience the world around you and the people in it, is really just a reflection of your inner state and relationship with yourself. It is a reflection of your beliefs, your views, your expectations, your understanding of the world from your life experience and your current attitudes. You tell yourself that it is truth, but there are billions of people on the planet and each of us is experiencing our own personal story as truth. This is why you can have two people being exposed to virtually the same circumstances, yet each of them experience it very differently. It is not your circumstances that determine what kind of life you have, but the way in which you experience and react to those circumstances. There are so many examples of people born into poverty, abuse, and horrendous circumstances who manage to rise above it by sheer force of will and attitude about life. There are many other examples of people who have been born into wealth and affluence with every need being met, and opportunity given,  yet they waste their life away doing nothing of consequence and often loosing themselves in a life of drugs and disfunction. If the victim narrative is deeply engrained in you, this is going to be a bitter pill to swallow, because ultimately, it means that you have far more control over your life experience than you think you do, and you have to take responsibility for your own happiness or misery. You may not be able to control the circumstances or events that occur in your life, but you do have a choice about how and what you react to.

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Here is the true freedom gleaned from this understanding. The way that you see other people and experience your life is constantly acting as a mirror to tell you what your state of mind is and the current state of your relationship with yourself. Every reaction to other people or situations is an opportunity to learn about you and become more self aware. How strong your reactions are can tell you a lot about your pain, issues you haven’t dealt with, and it sticks a pin in exactly what your fears and insecurities are. Ugh, I know, it’s rough, but it’s also a gift, if you self-examine and use the new found understanding of who you are to transform into a better version of yourself. Here is the other gold nugget. If your reactions to and understanding of others is a reflection of you, then their reactions to you and understanding of what you are all about is a reflection of them. Their perception of you, good or bad, has absolutely nothing to do with you. Their opinion of you and reaction towards you is not your responsibility. Whether they are criticizing you or praising you should not determine how you feel about yourself. All you are responsible for is working on yourself, taking responsibility for your feelings and emotions and how you react or don’t react to people and circumstances. When what you say, what you do, what you wear, or how you live your life causes people to respond angrily, or with judgement, it shines a light on the things they themselves need to heal. Often the differences we see in others invokes deep seeded feelings of fear of the unknown and triggers all the ways in which we ourselves have adapted who we are in order to fit in and belong and not make others feel uncomfortable. Deep down many of us are hurting because of this because all we want is to be loved and accepted for who we actually are. We are tired of suppressing ourselves to be more acceptable to the status quo.

So what is the lesson in all of this? Well, what I have come to learn is that many people are holding other people and circumstances responsible for their own happiness. They believe that they would be happier and their life would be easier if other people and situations changed. This is a terrible and disempowering trap, that can only lead to depression. I have learned to become more aware of my own reactions towards people and situations and do my best to explore and investigate why I feel the way I feel and determine if what I am perceiving is indeed truth, or if my reactions are just a symptom of my own personal fears and insecurities. Because of this, I have felt more empowered, more in control of my own life experience and far less emotional and volatile. I have been taking responsibility for my perspective and spending a lot more time understanding myself and nurturing my relationship with myself, and a lot less time holding other people accountable for my happiness. We tend to focus our attention on understanding others and how they appear to be towards us. This is the ego perspective. Try looking at yourself instead when something that someone says, does, or doesn’t say or do hurts you or upsets you in some way. You cannot change them, but you can heal your own perspective. Also, you don’t have to agree with someone’s lifestyle, world views or appearance, but you also don’t need to allow that difference of opinion to make you volatile, or feel you must impose your opinion or educate another about the way it actually is. That’s your self-important ego talking. You can have strong opinions and views without losing your sense of inner peace. Social media is a perfect example of people running rampant with volatile reactions to every post they don’t see eye to eye with. Either blatant personal attacks of character, or my personal fave, the self-righteous armchair activist who seem to say “There, I’ve given you a piece of my well-educated mind and taught you a lesson with my well-sourced arguments! It’s all in a days’ work!”, like they’ve actually accomplished something by arguing with people on Facebook or Instagram. You are giving all of your power away when you do that because you are robbing yourself of peace and happiness in that precious moment, while you type angry, hateful, or self-rightous truths from your perspective towards another human being. All the while blaming them for robbing you of peace and happiness, and convincing yourself that it’s your job to change them. You quite literally poison yourself with the poison you are trying to shove down someone else’s throat. Hurt people, hurt people. You react so strongly because of old pain or fear, that has nothing to do with the person you are directing your anger at, they have just touched a trigger point within you. A hot button that needs your attention. A place within yourself that needs healing. When you become aware of this, you become aware that the entire human race is experiencing the same thing. This knowledge plants a seed of compassion towards others in your heart. Even if their anger or negativity is directed towards you, you can maintain a state of peaceful awareness because you recognize that they have their own pain, fear and insecurity that they are living with, and they are possibly completely unaware of it. When it spills over to you and you react strongly, it just feeds the monster that you are disapproving of.

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“A life of reaction is a life of slavery, intellectually and spiritually. One must fight for a life of action, not reaction.” – Rita Mae Brown

“Non-reaction to the ego in others is one of the most effective ways not only of going beyond ego in yourself but also of dissolving the collective human ego.”

– Eckhart Tolle

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Here are some of the philosophies that I try to live by. When you heal yourself, you heal the world. Stop giving your power away to those who have no capacity to understand who you actually are and are not responsible for your happiness or life experience. Take responsibility for your own life and your self-worth and stop letting the praisers and criticizers decide how you are going to feel about yourself. Make your own personal growth and healing your top priority because it is your relationship with yourself that will determine your relationships with everyone and everything around you. Every time you are about to criticize someone else, stop and self-assess. What is going on inside of me that makes me feel this way? There is always a gem of self-discovery in there that will make your life easier if you face it. You can only respond to the world from your current state of awareness and consciousness. When I look at people and situations, I want to see all the colours of the spectrum like an opalescent symphony from a place of self-awareness and compassion. I know that this requires me to work on myself. To get honest about my issues, to stop holding others accountable and take responsibility for me. I want to live in a world where people would rather spend their time bettering themselves than trying to force others to change because they understand that you can’t control other people, but you can control how you react to people. And one by one, each of us begins to react to one another from a place of self-awareness and compassion, and before you know it, we have transcended a pain and fear-filled society and we can finally begin to feel one another for who we actually are. It is then, I believe that we will begin to discover what we are truly capable of, and just how colourful and opalescent we really are.

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Michael Sanders, Electric Monk Media

STYLING, MODELLING, HAIR & MAKEUP BY: Tara Cole-McCaffrey, Patron of Dreams

VINTAGE FASHION: Dress from Wildwoodrose Vintage Market (note: the next market is on June 9th in Winnipeg at Old Market Square! I will be selling vintage there this year!!!). 70’s leather skirt from Shop Take Care . Shop Take Care is sells vintage, consigned fashion and goods from local makers and artisans. Vintage coyote-fur hat. Vintage scarf.

CURRENT FASHION: Thrifted Mukluks from Manitobah Mukluks. Sunglasses from Urban Waves Winnipeg. Rose Quartz necklace from BCP Jewelry

LOCATION: Red River Mutual Trail in Winnipeg. PONTAGON, the Faculty of Architecture’s warming hut installation at the Forks, in collaboration with the City of Winnipeg’s Walk/Bike/Bridge project.

Winter Blues

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Trouble in Mind

Trouble in mind, Lord I’m blue
Honey I won’t be blue always,
Sun’s gonna shine in my,
Lord, shine in my back door someday.
I’m gonna lay,
Lay my head
On that lonesome railroad line,
And let the 219 train
Ease my troubled mind.
Trouble in mind
Lord I’m blue, now,
I won’t be blue always
Yeah, that sun’s gonna shine in my,
Lord, shine in my back door someday.  Janis Joplin

 

Golden Years

Don’t let me hear you say life’s taking you nowhere, angel
Come get up my baby
Look at that sky, life’s begun
Nights are warm and the days are young
Come get up my baby
There’s my baby, lost that’s all
Once I’m begging you save her little soul
Golden years, gold whop whop whop
Come get up my baby
Last night they loved you, opening doors and pulling some strings, angel
Come get up my baby
In walked luck and you looked in time
Never look back, walk tall, act fine
Come get up my baby
I’ll stick with you baby for a thousand years
Nothing’s gonna touch you in these golden years, gold
Golden years, gold whop whop whop
Come get up my babyDavid Bowie

Winter. It can be a bitch. Not enough sun and not enough fun. It’s the result of that funny universal pendulum that keeps everything in balance. After December, a month of total excess and too much of everything, we get slammed with a harsh reality check, and it leaves us feeling the polar opposite of December, like there’s not enough. I think the trick for conquering this, is awareness of this pendulum phenomenon. When you can shine a light on the patterns that repeat, and the ever swinging pendulum of extreme opposites, you can start to anticipate it, laugh at it before it even happens, and mitigate it’s effects. You can also realize that all you are really in control of is your own emotions. You can let your reactionary feelings take you on a roller coaster ride through your own personal misery, or you can get yourself into the driver’s seat and decide exactly where you want to go and how much attention and energy you want to give to the things that don’t make you feel good.

It took me many years of teenage and twenty-something angst to realize that the flexible and ever changing nature of our emotions allows them to be adapted by us if we can make it a personal practice to be aware of what’s happening inside of us. Let me be clear that I’m not talking about combating clinical depression or anxiety disorders. I realize that no one dealing with these difficult issues can just flip a switch in their brain to feel better. Those of us not dealing with that still experience a struggle to get the winter blues under control. It should also be said that I’m not talking about avoiding serious emotional issues or traumas that you need to work through either. Those nasties have a way of returning over and over and over again until you do the emotional and spiritual work of facing them, working through the painful emotions and healing yourself. I’m talking about the general funk or malaise that seems to go along with lack of sunshine, maybe less money, less hustle and bustle, some unwanted extra weight, and where I’m from, the frigid cold that on some days requires more will power than it’s worth just to get out the door.

I’m here to tell you that we all have a magic button. A silver bullet that smacks us out of our negativity before we find ourselves in an emotional tailspin. We always have a choice. We do have the ability to switch gears and decide that our foul mood is pointless and not helping us in any way. The only purpose it serves is to challenge you to overcome it. There are little over-riding tricks you can employ to consciously decide to change your mood in an instant. For me, and I imagine for a lot of you too, music is that magic button.

When I was younger I ended a crappy day with moody music that kept me drowning in self pity. I chose tunes that matched my misery and fed the monster of festering despair. I’m not sure when or why it happened, but at some point, I just decided I didn’t want to feel like that anymore. I was tired of dragging these unproductive kill-joy feelings out any longer than absolutely necessary. I recognized that no one was going to save me, so if I wanted to feel better I’d have to save myself. Music is a very powerful tool for this. It can work almost instantly. Do yourself a favour and conduct a little experiment. Next time you are feeling a little rough, put on some of your favourite music that typically ilicites the polar opposite mood to the nasty one you are feeling. You may find at first that you feel annoyed by it, because it doesn’t match your current vibe at all. The reality is, that irritation is still a better feeling than despair. You may also find that if you stick with it, irritation quickly becomes indifference, which turns to optimism, which leads to joy. And voila, you just changed your mood and decided to create your feelings intentionally instead of just allowing them to run on auto-pilot where all the drama sneaks in. You are now on your way to an intentional life.

Managing one mood at a time, one day at a time by remembering to be aware of your feelings and directing them intentionally is completely life changing. It’s just part of a healthy lifestyle. Like eating more fruit and veggies, or getting enough exercise, it’s a commitment. When I started this lifestyle change, I needed LOTS of reminders. I would slip into autopilot all the time and forget to be aware of how I was feeling, and before I knew it, negative thoughts had led me straight into a bad mood. But, just like committing to a workout plan, I made a commitment to it. I put sticky notes all over my house that said “How are you feeling?”. I know it sounds nuts, but WOW, it’s amazing how that question immediately creates an awareness and presence within you, and sheds an immediate light on what you were thinking and feeling. You become aware of how little your feelings have to do with what’s happening right now, and that they really reflect where your thoughts had taken you and what feelings transpired as a result of those thoughts. Auto-pilot. Your mind will drive you, if you aren’t intentionally driving it. Here’s where choosing up-lifting music, inspiring books and positive people around you makes all the difference, even in the middle of a dark, deep freeze winter when life feels extra challenging. Get intentional, become aware of your feelings and decide to take charge of your moods. Your future self will thank you, I promise! Until then, get into the music and out of the winter blues.

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Michael Sanders, Electric Monk Media

STYLING, HAIR & MAKEUP, ART DIRECTION: Tara Cole-McCaffrey, Patron of Dreams

VINTAGE FASHION: Re-worked vintage wide-leg jeans by Patron of Dreams. Vintage blue Chinese satin jacket from Atomic Age Vintage. Blue sequin top from Ruby Slipper.  Vintage blue suede, Penny-Lane style coat from Value Village Thrift.

CURRENT FASHION: Blue aviator sunglasses from Urban Waves. Black ankle boots from Rooster Shoes.

The Future is Feminine

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“I want to thank everyone who broke their silence this year and spoke out about abuse and harassment. You are so brave. So people out there who are feeling silenced by harassment, discrimination, abuse, Time’s Up! We see you, we hear you and we will tell your stories.” – Reese Witherspoon, 2018 Golden Globe Awards

“Today I will wear black in solidarity and gratitude with all women in all industries, acknowledging our mutual power and vulnerability. #TimesUp on silence, on imbalance of power, on inaction.” -Susan Sarandon

“What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have. And I am especially proud and inspired by all the women who have felt strong enough and empowered enough to speak up and share their personal stories.” -Oprah Winfrey, 2018 Golden Globe Awards

We live in a Man’s world. Designed by Men, for Men. I know that for some of you, that elicits a defensive response. I’m sorry it’s hard to hear, but it doesn’t make it less true. Some find it hard to relate, or understand when hashtags like #MeToo and #TimesUp are made popular by Hollywood, a demographic of society which many of us can’t relate to. It’s important to understand that the struggles, inequalities and horrors that Hollywood is only now blasting a spotlight on, on TV’s, phones and computer screens all around the globe, happens everywhere, to every girl and woman, for all of our written history. Those with power and position in Hollywood who choose to use their platforms to bring the truth to light and make change, should be commended. Their experiences aren’t different than ours, they just have the world’s attention.

I am just a regular woman, living a regular life, but I too have a story. Too many stories to share them all here, but none of them are new or exceptional or special in any way, that is what makes them significant. The fact that they are common-place enough that even I have been programmed to accept that this just how it is to be a woman in this world. I had become complacent about my own numerous experiences with inequality and sexism, simply because they were just a normal daily part of being a woman. Well, as the world has said loud and clear, TIME’S UP!

I have been groped, sexually assaulted, and cat-called by Men on many, many occasions. Too many to remember all of them, but enough for it to have damaged my self-worth. I’ve been pulled away at parties, cornered and aggressively held against my will at least 3 times by 3 different Men during my teen years. When I was a pre-teen, I slept over at a friends house when her parents were having a party. Her very drunk Uncle cornered me in her bedroom, had me backed up against the wall and started trying to touch me. My friend ran from the room and went to get her teenage brother, who got his Uncle out of the room and slept in a sleeping back on the floor against the door all night to keep us safe. I fear for what may have happened to me on any one of those occasions, had good friends not come for me. Far too many are not so lucky.  I learned from those experiences that I was not safe in this world. I had to always be vigilant and guarded and keep an eagle eye of protection on my female friends when we went out into the world. If I am alone at night, I fear for my safety. This is the world we live in.

As I got older and pursued a career, I experienced an entirely new form of sexual discrimination. Working as an Environmental Consultant at an Engineering Firm, I was sexually objectified out in the open, publicly on job-sites by both co-workers and clients alike. One time I was asked on the sly by a co-worker for the details about what was going on between me and another male co-worker. I learned that a rumour was going around my office that I was having an affair or at the very least, fooling around with one of the only friends I had at work. Keep in mind that there were only about 5 women in my entire office at that time. Yes, he was a Man and was happily married, I might add. I was also happily living common-law with a Man, who later became my Husband. Of course nothing happened between us. It didn’t have to. Just being friends with a Man was enough to arouse suspicion and start a vicious rumour that damaged my reputation at my workplace. On another occasion, I was asked to provide a character reference for an old school-mate who was applying for a job at my company. I told them that yes, he’s a great guy and a hard worker, and they should definitely hire him. I later found out that although I had been there for years already, had more experience and authority than him, and the same level of education, he was making more money than me. When I addressed it with the Office Manager in confidence, he told me that the new co-worker and his wife had a baby on the way, so he needed the money more that I did. I think that this was the first time I truly understood the nature of sexual inequality, and that it was indeed still alive and well.

Despite these experiences, I went on to work at a much bigger and more significant company, in a more responsible role. All went well, until I got pregnant with my first child. My intentions were to go back to work after my 1 year Maternity Leave, so through my pregnancy, I worked harder than ever to make sure all my ducks were in a row to ensure things would run smoothly in my absence. A few weeks before I was to leave, I brought some concerns to the table in a meeting with my department as well as several consultants I was responsible for managing. My Boss, said that since I was to be leaving soon, I “shouldn’t worry my pretty little head about it.” My concerns and suggestions were dismissed without further discussion. I was devastated, and humiliated in front of my peers and subordinates.

About 6 months after leaving for Maternity Leave, I spent hours on the phone to Human Resources about the daycare that was supposed to be going into my building for employees kids, that now wasn’t going to happen because the company had decided they could make more money renting the space for events. This left me in a very difficult child-care situation, where 1 year waiting lists for daycares was the norm. I also tried to negotiate more flexible hours, or the possibility of job-sharing, but alas, they told me my position held too much responsibility, required too much travel and wouldn’t allow for that flexibility. In addition I asked HR where the designated room is for returning Mothers to breast pump. I fully expected that for a huge company in a brand new, multi-million dollar state of the art building, full of women of childbearing age, that they had taken that need into account and provided a room for those returning from Maternity Leave who are weaning their babies from nursing. To my dismay, they had no such room, or fridge to store the breast milk until the end of each day, and a mini fridge at individual desks was not permitted. It’s important to note that at the time, Maternity Leave was 1 year long, and the Health Canada recommended duration for breast-feeding was also 1 year. For anyone who has never breast fed a baby, it isn’t like a water tap that you can just turn on and off. A woman’s body produces enough milk to meet the demand of the baby, so weaning your milk production down until you no longer produce milk can take weeks, sometimes months depending on your baby’s needs. So, if you plan to breast feed for a year as recommended, you will likely still need to pump once you’ve already returned to work at the 1 year mark. That’s not to say anything of the choice to breastfeed for longer if you wanted to, which I did. Currently the Canadian Pediatric Society recommends,  “…exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life. At about 6 months, your baby will be ready for other foods, but you can continue breastfeeding until your child is 2 years of age and beyond.”  My employer expected me to sit in a bathroom stall on the toilet to pump my breast milk, so my baby could eat and my breasts wouldn’t end up engorged, painful, or worse, with a mastitis infection. So, needless to say, with so many frustrating obstacles to face, in addition to the stress and emotional nature of returning to work after a Maternity Leave, I quit. It was just one more example of how the world I was living in was not designed for women. I payed back my Maternity Leave top-up money and I never looked back.

So yes, we live in a Man’s world, that has not been designed for women and all the changing roles they may have within their lifetime. A world where in the past women have had to use their physical beauty and manipulation to get what they needed or wanted because asking directly was not an option. We evolved into a time where women had to be quicker, smarter, have a thicker skin and more aggressive ambition than the men around them just to play on the same field, let alone be successful at the game. We have had to prove ourselves, being tested again and again to gain permission to play, and once we make it into the game, we have needed the resilience of a warrior to carry on through the sexism, objectification and the endless justifications required for our ideas to be heard, and our needs to be accommodated. Not to mention the sexual harassment, belittling and disempowering. Even in this environment, women have stayed their coarse. We have gained legal acknowledgement as “persons” instead of property.  We have won the right to vote and own property. Despite the horrors of watching our sisters burn for their knowledge of the cosmic cycles, plant medicines and the natural processes of birth and death, we have gained the freedom to practice our crafts and arts, love and marry who we wish, and the right to keep our own name if we so choose. We have come so far because we have rallied together and not given up. We have learned to hold each other up, cheer one another on, and be companions and comforters through dark and difficult times. We have shared our knowledge, experience and gifts with one another through the generations that Her Story did not make it into History. We have been each other’s strength. A secret sisterhood. Keepers of the divine feminine, nurturing, protecting and blowing gently on the embers to keep the warmth and light going until the time comes to build a fire the likes of which the modern world has never seen. A fire that will cleanse all the pain and oppression and fear that has kept our world imbalanced for so long. A fire that will draw the women and men back together like moths to a flame and restore the balance.

Until then, women of the world, we must continue to rally together. We must gather and share our personal stories. We must honour one another and celebrate one another’s efforts and successes. We must support and sing one another’s praises. We must shed light on all the characteristics we have always had that have not been recognized in the past. We must cheer women on for their intelligence, creativity, innovation, and ingenuity. We must celebrate our intuition, emotions, sexuality and motherhood as divine. We must reclaim our sovereignty. We must love each other and hold one another up so fiercely that our love and encouragement resonates so deeply between us that it shatters the glass ceiling. We must fill future HERstory books with the power of love and compassion that make the history of war, fear and power struggles look like primitive child’s-play. Above all, we must love ourselves and stop looking for external approval and validation. There was a time not that long ago, that our sister ancestors were owned as property. The time has come to look that ugly past in the eye, allow it’s pain to rattle our bones and then step past it into our empowerment. Stop looking for a permission that will never come. Own yourself and take your position. The future is ours. The future is feminine.

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Michael Sanders, Electric Monk Media

MODELS: Leanne Sanders and Tara Cole-McCaffrey

STYLING, HAIR & MAKEUP, ARTISTIC DIRECTION: Tara Cole-McCaffrey, Patron of Dreams

CURRENT FASHION: Embroidered parasol from Prairie Sky Books, and sunglasses and glasses from Urban Waves.

VINTAGE: Lace dress on Tara by Precious Threads Vintage and embroidered elephant vest from Metal Physical Moon (Found on Corydon).

Create A Chrysalis, Transform Your Life

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“New moon’s kick-ass list: feel the feels, release your pain, get present, be grateful, ask for help, pray, make change your greatest ally, allow every chapter to reveal a new superpower, set your own pace, don’t worry about “time”, stop competing and belittling, walk the path of your own authentic heart, love how you wanna be loved, relax into your life, travel inward to places you haven’t been before, forgive and cut chords, be patient and dedicated to your higher self, and remember to sparkle, bro. That’s it.”  – Tanya Markul (Thug Unicorn)

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” ― Maya Angelou

As I sit here typing this on my laptop, there is a warm golden sunbeam shining on me through my front window.  I am snuggled on my antique couch I scored dirt cheap and I’m wrapped in an insanely soft leopard print throw blanket I just snagged for a double-discount. I’m sipping the perfect cup of coffee made just how I like it. Comfort and serenity does not require a 5 star resort, or day at the spa.  It can be created within your own living space and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune, in fact, it shouldn’t. Keeping it simple and affordable will keep the emphasis on meaningfulness and authenticity which will make you feel more satisfied with your creation in the long run.

I have come to recognize through my own commitment to personal growth and doing the work of intentionally transforming my life into what I want it to be, that our environment can be incredibly helpful to us. Doing the work of getting to the core of who we truly are through balancing the mind, body and spirit, is definitely a joyful and meaningful process, but let’s face it, it’s sometimes also painful. Facing your fears, healing old wounds and pushing personal boundaries can be uncomfortable, lonely and scary.  It’s also a daily challenge to stay inspired and motivated and not slink back into unhealthy lifestyles and old destructive patterns. Like a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly, our own transformation leaves us vulnerable, sensitive and feeling raw. Taking our cues from the all knowing wisdom of Mother Nature, we too require a protective chrysalis when we intend to transform ourselves. The good news, is that this doesn’t need to be a difficult task and the gains can be quite literally life changing.

While we are limited by only 5 well-developed senses, they are powerful tools that can help put us into the right mindset for personal improvement. Maybe you would like to spend more time meditating, doing yoga, dancing, reading, journaling or just taking a rejuvenating nap. By intentionally creating a space within our home that ignites peaceful feelings within us, we make it easier for ourselves to commit to doing those things we love that are so transformative. Just the simple act of filling a small space with things that make us feel good is a start. Once your eyes are happy, maybe some tranquil music or a little trickling fountain will provide the right sound healing. Make yourself some tea or hot cocoa to warm up your tastebuds. Put on some clothes that feel really good on your skin, light a candle for ambiance and wrap yourself in your coziest blanket. Now that you’re feeling wonderful, take the whole space to the next level by appealing to your sense of smell. Often overlooked, our sense of smell is incredibly powerful and is significantly linked to memory. Many of us have experienced memories triggered by certain smells and we are continually creating new memories linked to new scents all the time. So, why not intentionally choose to introduce scents into your mind/body/spirit practices that you will learn to associate with peacefulness, tranquility and your own personal evolution?

I have recently been introduced to Brie’s Botanicals, which have become a go-to, to immediately boost my mood and make my home feel like a haven. There is something so simple yet powerful in the experience of returning home from a hectic day and being greeted by a comfort-inducing scent like their Holiday Spice Air Freshener, or Festive Forest Oil Blend. I give myself and my pillows a spritz of Lavender Love Mist (hair, body, face and pillow spray) before I go to sleep each night, and it feels luxurious. My kids now ask for me to spray their pillows with I Love You to the Moon Mist, or Serenity when I tuck them into bed, because it helps them fall asleep. Every day when we return home from school pick up, they say “it smells so good in here!”. That is a little piece of happiness! Brie’s Botanicals are a simple and affordable way to make a real and immediate impact on your feelings of well being. Arriving home and getting to spend time in your self-created space should be therapeutic, comforting and a joy you look forward to. Our home should be our sanctuary where we are able to lighten our heavy load, recover and recharge.

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Here’s the best part, Brie’s Botanicals are made with 100% pure, all-natural essential oils, spring water and are charged with Reiki, as Brie Henderson, the product creator is also a Certified Reiki Master and Yoga Instructor . All of Brie’s Botanicals are biodegradable, antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antiviral and CHEMICAL FREE! It’s no wonder their Multi-Purpose Cleaner and Om Shanti Yoga Mat Cleaner are customer favourites! I’m particularly enamored by their Gem Infused Mists which each have different gemstones inside (eg. quartz, rose quartz, moonstone, green aventurine, amethyst, etc.) that are purposefully chosen for each of their different blends. Soon to become treasures for my kids when it’s time for a re-fill! To top it off, Brie’s Botanicals are committed to being environmentally, ethically, and socially responsible. You can return your used bottles for a $1 discount off of new purchases. Wait, it gets better! They are a locally-made Winnipeg company! You can order directly from their website here, or find their products at their partner businesses throughout Winnipeg!

Do yourself a favour and get familiar with the transformative powers of Brie’s Botanicals! I promise you, they will be a welcome addition to your daily rituals inside your intentionally created chrysalis space and they’ll make it just that little bit easier to get down to the business of transforming yourself into the best possible version of you!

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Michael Sanders, Electric Monk Media

STYLING, HAIR, MAKEUP & ARTISTIC DIRECTION: Tara Cole-McCaffrey, Patron of Dreams

Special note: The painting in these photos was created by my two sons Lief and Finnley, my Husband Gregory, and I all together on the beach last summer. We captured the process which is included in a previous blog post The Art of Life.

MUSIC *S.O.S (since 1962)

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Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to                                                                                                              get through this thing called life. *1                               

What have they done to the earth?
What have they done to our fair sister?
Ravaged and plundered and ripped her and bit her
Stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn
And tied her with fences and dragged her down
I hear a very gentle sound
With your ear down to the ground
We want the world and we want it
We want the world and we want it now *2

And when the broken-hearted people
Living in the world agree
There will be an answer
Let it be

For though they may be parted there is
Still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, Let it be *3

How many ears must one person have
Before he can hear people cry?
And how many deaths will it take ’till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friends, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind *4                        

So the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same
And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They’re quite aware of what they’re going through                                                                            Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes Turn and face the strange Ch-ch-changes *5

Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?
Mmm, mmm, mmm
Well, I’ve been afraid of changing
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older and I’m getting older too *6

Well, I won’t back down
No, I won’t back down
You can stand me up at the gates of hell
But I won’t back down
No, I’ll stand my ground
Won’t be turned around
And I’ll keep this world from draggin’ me down
Gonna stand my ground *7

Let’s get together to fight this Holy Armageddon (One Love!)
So when the Man comes there will be no, no doom (One Song!)
Have pity on those whose chances grows thinner
There ain’t no hiding place from the Father of Creation. Sayin’: “One Love”!                                                                                        What about the One Heart? (One Heart!) What about the – ? Let’s get together and feel all right. I’m pleadin’ to mankind! (One Love!) *8

Lay down your funky weapon, come join us on the floor
Making love and music’s the only things worth fighting for
We are the new power generation, we want to change the world. *9

But it’s been no bed of roses, no pleasure cruise. I consider it a challenge before the whole human race, and I ain’t gonna lose. We are the champions, my friends.                       And we’ll keep on fighting ’til the end. We are the champions. We are the champions.                                                                                                                            No time for losers ‘Cause we are the champions of the world. *10

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will live as one *11

I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make a change
You gotta get it right, while you got the time
Cause when you close your heart
Then you close your mind *12

*1 PRINCE (Let’s Go Crazy 1984)

*2 THE DOORS (When the Music’s Over 1967)

*3 THE BEATLES (Let it Be 1970)

*4 BOB DYLAN (Blowin’ in The Wind 1962)

*5 DAVID BOWIE (Changes 1971)

*6 STEVIE NICKS (Landslide 1973)

*7 TOM PETTY (I Won’t Back Down 1989)

*8 BOB MARLEY (One Love 1977)

*9 PRINCE (New Power Generation 1990)

*10 FREDDIE MERCURY (We are The Champions 1977)

*11 JOHN LENNON (Imagine 1971)

*12 MICHAEL JACKSON (Man in the Mirror 1987) patron_stvital-8137patron_stvital-8118patron_stvital-7946patron_stvital-7981patron_stvital-8040patron_stvital-8158patron_stvital-8011patron_stvital-8286patron_stvital-8362patron_stvital-8061patron_stvital-7958patron_stvital-8127patron_stvital-8049patron_stvital-8300patron_stvital-8213

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Michael Sanders, Electric Monk Media

STYLING, MODELING, HAIR & MAKEUP BY: Tara Cole-McCaffrey, Patron of Dreams

CONTEMPORARY FASHION: Booties from Rooster. Sunglasses from Urban Waves

VINTAGE FASHION: Denim bellbottoms from Vintage Glory.  Vintage military hat from Antiques and Funk.  Vintage velvet Indian caftan from Shakti.  

*S.O.S = Save Our Souls

 

Thinning of the Veil

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“To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep”

– The Byrds (Lyrics for Turn! Turn! Turn!) (Adapted from the Bible: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

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The days are shortening and the darkness and cold is seeping in slowly like a fog, a little more each day. I no longer feel fresh and new like the first sprouts of spring. This does not sadden or disappoint me. Instead, I feel ripe, potent and intense like the sweet heady scent of decaying leaves with wafts of cinnamon and smoke from burning stubble on farmers’ fields. The air feels crackly and thin giving me shivers and making the little hairs all over my body stand on end, telling me daily that I’m not alone. On the contrary, I am closer to all things than I am during any other season. It is the time of great dying, when Mother Nature transitions from a time of life and growth and prepares for a great sleep after giving us her harvested bounty and moving towards the season of death. All times of transition can be times of great reflection. The darkening days reflect the shadows within our own souls that we must attend to and heal. All of us carry darkness that we must not fear and turn away from, but instead, look deeply into and move through it, like we move through winter towards the light and re-birth on the other side. The fall transition is a time of gratitude for the abundance received all summer and a time of preparation for the dark cold days where we must create our own light and warmth by turning within and projecting outward.

The veil is thinning.

The realms of the living world and spirit world are transitioning and in flux. The memories of loved ones that have passed come to us in dreams. We feel them closer than we tend to at other times of the year. We are reminded of our own mortality. We are reminded that like the seasons, we too are markers of time, change and transition. This is not morbid or negative. It serves as a reminder that we are all an integral part of everything. All life and all death. All lightness and all darkness. Connected.

As we age, we are given signs that we are getting closer to who we actually are, which lays just out of reach on the other side of the veil. Every wrinkle, age spot and change within our physical body is not something to hide, fear or loathe. We miss the point when we do not honour that they are signs that we are coming back to our source. We are getting closer to ourselves. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. This has nothing to do with religion or dogma, it means that our spirit never ages, but gets clearer and clearer as time moves on and our physical form fades. Have you not noticed that as people age, they seem to grow into themselves? When you speak to older people, they tend to talk about how they have become more confident over time, more self assured and have learned to care much less about what other people think of them. They may become more free or eccentric as time marches on. They may take more risks and do things that they never would have done when they were younger. They may become quiet, introspective, thoughtful and peaceful. They are not as rattled or as emotional about things that happen in life. They grow more patient, compassionate and generous with themselves and others.

Aging is a great gift and a mirror reflection of nature all around us. Just like we cannot stop winter from coming, we cannot stop aging, yet there are endless anti-aging products and techniques out there that are sabotaging our personal growth. They teach us to fear and be ashamed of aging. They teach us to hide it and covet youth which carries a great illusion of power. It is one of the great many lies that keep us from our own growth. This is not to say that beauty products or adornment are wrong or do not have their place. On the contrary, they can help us celebrate ourselves and the beauty of our own evolution at every stage of life that we move through. It is when the culture of shame and anti-aging takes over and manipulates us into striving for the illusion of youth that it becomes so damaging to the human spirit. The constant effort and attempts to look younger, spending money, time and energy on a losing battle, instead of on the development of spirit and character is robbing us of so many opportunities to evolve and grow into our potential. It stagnates us, so we are so glamoured by our own reflection, we forget that the true meaning of our life lives on the inside, where no one can see. Aging, like the changing seasons is a great teacher which never stops giving us opportunities to learn and grow until our time earth-side has come to an end. Whether or not we pay attention to the lessons and decide to learn from them becomes a matter of personal choice.

You may have heard the expression “what we resist, persists”. We cannot resist age, just as a flower cannot bloom forever, nor does it try to. Instead, it spends it’s time reaching for the light and growing as vibrant and to it’s fullest potential as it possibly can within the time it has before it’s death. It does not fear death, or try to stop the inevitable. It knows that this would be a waste of it’s energy in the limited time it has. We can learn a lot from a flower. We can learn a lot from the natural cycles of nature. We can learn from the thinning of the veil that occurs every autumn that we are nature, and nature is us, and it is precisely in that place where the physical world and spirit world connect that we find out who we actually are. But only if we choose to pay attention and learn.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Michael Sanders, Electric Monk Media

STYLING, HAIR & MAKEUP: Tara Cole-McCaffrey, Patron of Dreams

VINTAGE FASHION: 90’s vintage from head to toe!

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