Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Very short absence

I may be unable to post over the next couple of days. I am on the road and also have an elderly family member very ill.

Monday, August 29, 2005

The Open Space of the Body

I have been blessed today with a wonderful experience. After working into the wee hours of the night and then again this morning, I finished up the funding proposal i have been working on just in time to go and have a visit with my friend K. Louise and to experience the amazing therapeutic massage she has been learning. In our conversation over tea beforehand, i was amazed to hear K. Louise speak of her practice in terms that sounded just like Open Space--but for the body! She spoke of opening and holding space in the body for me to rest in, to simply be with what is. And if i chose, i could experience what was there for me, what was held in the body--or simply rest and experience ease and bodily presence.

It was wonderful to hear her speak of her integrative practice--of truly embracing and caring for the body, mind, soul, and spirit--for the self and the social--of being present and fine with whatever arose, with whatever needed expression--in whatever way it needed to be expressed.

The experience was very deep. As i said to her, it was like going through a three day Open Space in an hour-and-a-half--in terms of the depth and openness achieved.

She finished by massaging my head which resulted in the most amazing state: total bodily relaxation, complete waking awareness, and dreaming--alpha and theta waves present at the same time--an experience i have only had before during meditation retreats--and this was definitely a result of what she was doing...really remarkable. (okay, okay...i was open to it and yah, have an awareness trained to recognize it...but cool)

And afterwards I was left with a sensation of complete permeability of the body. It's hard to put words to it really...not a sense of larger at all, but like all the atoms of me had been made more discrete and the space between more visible/sensable--and air and breath and sunshine and birdsong were passing through this light and open structure that was almost not there, but still very present and grounded...a truly unique experience.

So now i know...spirit is open space, soul is open space, heart can expand to be open space, mind can expand and relax to be open space...and the BODY can be open space too. What a gift. Thank you K.

(This should really help me to achieve perfection in Open Space facilitation--the totally present and completely invisible facilitator...[big grin, tongue in cheek]...)

One of the other things that we talked about was the real dearth of cherishing practices in our culture. Our bodies end up isolated and exiled and we are left with few ways to express how we feel for each other. There is this exhausting, malnourishing dualistic tension between the casual and the sexual, the acquaintance and the lover. Where is the place for the sensual and the dear?

We are a bunch of primates--for whom grooming activities (physical attention and closeness, non-sexual caress)are essential bonding, stress reduction and health improving behaviours. The narrow band of acceptable exchange creates needless pain and leaves many people literally starved for adequate physical contact. We know that babies thrive with physical touch, massage, and skin-to-skin contact of any kind. Why do we think that repressing this innate need for communion later in life is okay and has no significant consequence? Actually, i think a lot of us fully recognize the consequence, but, like me, have such deep conditioning, that it takes significant will and determination to break through the fear/shame/judgement to reach out across the abyss that divides us--for a simple touch of human kindness.

So, engage in an act of resistance on behalf of the revolution--next time you are out with someone dear to you--hold hands, link arms, give each other a shoulder massage, brush each others hair, pick nits...whatever...just do it...

Okay, i'm getting silly now...g'night dear hearts

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Dreaming in The Green Room

green room cover

Well, it's my 17th Wedding Anniversary today (and 20 years of being together) and George is working the afternoon shift on the boat. So...I am consoling myself by spending some time with the work of someone else I love dearly, my friend and colleague K. Louise Vincent. K. gifted me with a copy of her new chapbook of poetry very recently, The Green Room. I love that more and more often now poetry is being published in handmade chapbooks. The love, care and attention that has been put into the making of this book is palpable--it seeps into my fingers as i turn the pages--reflecting the love and care of the poet. As my friend Tim Landers writes into the copywrite statement of all of his chapbooks, "Do not reproduce without love."

With K's gracious permission, I will share a bit with you from the poem, A Fine Line:

The future is dark, which is on the whole,
the best thing a future can be, I think.
~ Virginia Woolf

As in inscrutable--
not terrible

As in transparent--
as in all the beauty

As in grief from left field--
knocking her flat

As in somewhere between
naked and protection

As in tree frog, as in child--
as in a fine line


This holding back from the sweet
receptive earth inside

is madness. This morning
she will be easy

with what is human. She will write
these words. She will remember

to dream. And dreaming is the one thing
we have that's really ours, vulnerably

and unalterably, ours.


We need dreamers. She will write this
simply and slowly. Our capacity to dream

is linked in marriage to the green world.
Dreaming is natural, is necessary.

Dreaming is non-strategic
space. Seeing the world as it is.

Dreaming is the deepest way
of thinking. Co-emergent wisdom.

Before language dreamed
endlessly in green.

Anything natural bends, trees
are complete circles.

~K.Louise Vincent

Ahhhh. Trees are complete circles. And our breath. And the space between us--all the beautiful open space.

Peace and love to you all, dear ones.

PS: If you are interested in K. Louise's work, please email me for contact info. The Green Room is published by Leaf Press, Lantzville, BC, Canada, 2005.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

non-profit tech and philanthropy

My dear friend Keira McPhee sent this wonderful excerpt along from Marnie Webb at ext337...

It’s really my fault. I try to make the hook fundraising because I think that’ll pull people into the conversation. But utilizing social tools on the web—wikis and blogs and RSS—participating in web-wide conversations, all of that, it’s not about the fundraising potential.

Sure, I’m convinced that translates into engaged users and those engaged users are more likely to support your organization in a variety of ways. But if we think of it as only about fundraising then it’s only about marketing. And if it’s only about marketing, it’s a trick. It’s a slick new version of a postcard dropped in the mail to 10,000 of your closest friends.

It’s about turning over part of yourself. In two essays (1, 2) Peter Merholz argues that it’s not about the technology. He writes: “Web 2.0 is primarily interesting from a philosophical standpoint. It’s about relinquishing control, it’s about openness, it’s about trust and authenticity. APIs, Tags, Ajax, mashups, and all that are symptoms, outputs, results of this philosophical bent.”

And that’s true for nonprofits. It’s about opening up your organization so that you can achieve greater impact and create the change you seek by allowing your constituency to take pieces of your organization and make something out of them. It’s making the ideas portable and actionable. In the language of David Allen’s Getting Things Done, it’s about giving your constituency the power to figure out their own next actions and the tools to do them.

Saddhu. Well said. Sounds like Open Space to me. The only thing I would add is that the same is true for good fundraising... it isn't about the money either--or marketing. It's about creating an open and inviting organization. It's about connecting to people at the level of what matters to them...what they have a passion for. And then inviting them to step forward and take responsibility for that--and creating the opportunities (holding the space) for them to do so. To paraphrase the above, the money is a symptom, an output, a result, of this practice.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Potty talk

Okay, happy little story for you today...

In my house, there is almost no potty privacy...something i am working at changing, but when you're four and two, it's just one more cool thing to share...

So...Beric (4) announces that he needs to go poo (warning...i will not be mincing words here) and that he needs my help...mostly he wants my company, so off we go down the hall to the potty. Gareth (2) announces that he is coming also, and that he is going to "sit down here" on the stool across from the potty. He has brought along two large rubber dinosaurs to entertain the bunch of us. The dinosaurs give each other big hugs and some kisses...and then at one point Beric says, "What did you say?" This phrase has obviously come to have a special and secret meaning between Beric and Gareth, because immediately Gareth grins one of THOSE grins and starts yelling.

Now, to really appreciate this next bit, you need to imagine Marlon Brando...with golden two...about 30" tall or so...doing an impression of himself screaming "STELLA". Only he is screaming "URSULA" (because we have been watching WAY too much George of the Jungle.) i mean really, just like Brando--top of lungs, red face, neck veins bulging--the whole bit...and when I remark that he sounds like Brando screaming STELLA, he immediately begins to oblige. "STELLA" "STELLA" Of course by now, all three of us are laughing our heads off.

You haven't forgotten that someone is on the potty have you?

At this point, Beric catches his breath, and says, "That was really funny. Even my poo was laughing."

Gotta love it...
Does this sort of thing happen at your house?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Getting esoteric on Open Space with Ken Wilber

Getting through the final...and i gotta say pretty dense pages...of Ken Wilber's One Taste...and this passage caught my brain as it seems to shed some light on the intuition i had in a previous post. Here's the pertinent part from my post:

Chaos draws the attention of the soul (rather than merely mind). Mattering is the quality of attention that drives the self-organising principle. So what is 'mattering'? The recognition/ mirroring of the soul's purpose?/passion? in another being/object/idea... from which connection, the chain of action/arising unfolds...thought, action, and so on...

And here is the passage from Wilber (pg. 275):

...the Self or Witness is the seat of attention, the root of the separate-self sense, and the home of the last and sublest duality, namely, that between the Seer and the seen. It is both the highest Self, and the final barrier, to nondual One Taste.

Nonetheless, the power of Witnessing is the power of liberation from all lower domains, and the Witness itself is present, even if latently, at all previous stages. Each developmental stage transcends and includes" its predecessor, and the "transcend" aspect, in every case, is the power of the higher to be aware of the lower (the soul is aware of the mind, the mind is aware of the body, the body is aware of matter). And in each case, the "is aware of" is simply the power of the Witness shining through at that stage.

Although the Witness is present as the power of transcendental growth at every stage, it comes to its own fruition in the causal realm. As the ego orients consciousness to the gross, and the soul orients consciousness to the subtle, the Self orients consciousness to the causal.

Now, i need to be upfront here and admit that this is the first of Wilber's books that i have read, so my grasp of his jargon is still unripe, and my capacity to translate from his jargon to mine, is even greener, so here, for those of you who enjoy the tartness of early my first go at it...

I will suggest that chaos is Spirit which dwells in what Wilber would term the nondual. So to translate the first line of my earlier post...Spirit (or the nondual; chaos) invites the presence of the Witness (the seat of attention). So, how does the presence of the Witness drive the self-organizing principle? The Witness roots in the causal, which is transpersonal and transformative by nature. So, perhaps, the presence of the Witness sets up a powerful harmonic that consists of the transpersonal and transformative vibration of the causal and the unique vibration of the separate-self sense. The causal vibration allows for the organization to occur as it synchronizes between the individuals present in the Open Space. The emergence and the transformative product we often see in Open Space are, if i may suggest, the visible evidence of the harmonic--a symphony created by the interweaving of the separate-self vibrations of the participants upon the underlying One Taste--the mystery and radiance of the nondual.

So, whaddya think? Am i totally in outer space here? Or can we build something on this?

Friday, August 19, 2005

Fearlessness and the Genuine heart of sadness

From Chögyam Trungpa , Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior:
The genuine heart of sadness comes from feeling that your non-existent heart is full. You would like to spill your heart's blood, give your heart to others. For the warrior, this experience of sad and tender heart is what gives birth to fearlessness. Conventionally, being fearless means that you are not afraid or that, if someone hits you, you will hit him back. However, we are not talking about that street-fighter level of fearlessness. Real fearlessness is the product of tenderness. It comes from letting the world tickle your heart, your raw and beautiful heart. You are willing to open up, without resistance or shyness, and face the world. You are willing to share your heart with others.

Before i went to OSonOS in Halifax and even more so since, this is a quality i have been working on in myself. This is one of the qualities that i hope to develop, share and explore with those interested in intentional community.

What i have been working on links directly to Open Space practice. How to be Open Space rather than do Open Space. How to open more...and then more...and then more...How to be ever more present in the moment, more able to authentically issue and accept invitation...How to sit and hold this raw and tender heart without closing, without giving in to fear of judgement or blame, without attachment to any outcomes or reactions...How to be more absolutely direct in relating to the world, with actions springing from deep connection of intuition, heart, mind and body.

The third morning in Halifax was really remarkable. Talk about being prepared to be surprised! Ever since my dear colleague, K. Louise Vincent, exposed me to an exercise in sustaining the gaze (where you sit knee to knee with someone and maintain eye contact while being directed to think about that person in various ways) where we were encouraged to think about that person's pain, strength, beauty...and ultimately that this might be the last time we ever see each other...i am always so aware of this...especially in gatherings where people have travelled a long way. There is such a presence of the sad and tender heart for me in these situations. So in the closing circle, i took the time to hold each person in my heart for a while...and felt so deeply appreciation, gratitude and joy in their presence and their unique contribution. A sensation of love for each person arose. And the sense of separation dissolved.

The session that morning had been opened with a message from the Hopi elders and the line: "We are the ones we have been waiting for", became the theme for the day. Another passage from that message came forward with great meaning for me: "See who is there with you and celebrate....The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves."

So let's begin to gather see who is with us celebrate...with raw and tender hearts...stretched on a gossamer web resonant with uncertainty...with a sweet willingness to be blown by the breeze of Spirit to an unimaginable new land, fearless.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

A Provocative Proposition

As promised, here is the post about intentional community...This post was originally written on June 30th.

I have been busy dreaming again. And what I have dreamed, i now want to share with you. i have been dreaming of a village. a village of artists and thinkers, of growers and teachers, of shapers and spinners. i have been dreaming of a village of beautiful, ecological, sustainable, self-sufficient design. a village where there is a core of members who work with and around each other, as well as a flow of visitors who nourish and are nourished by those around them. i have been dreaming of common open spaces surrounded by private spheres. i have been dreaming of having space for children to grow and flourish in the care and love of a community. this place would be a living experiment in culture-creation, in modelling a possible future, in co-learning, co-living, collaboration and joy. i have been dreaming that this place could be here now.

i know there are many others out there who want to bring their lives into congruence with their values and vision. i know a lot of us are trying to build this with our networks, our communities of practice, our business partners, our neighbours. i have recently read that radical change often works more effectively than incremental change. This is an invitation to share in this dream. I often ask myself, how can i write and think about all this and continue to live in a conflicted and non-congruent way? If it was just me, I think I would jump ship and make it happen tomorrow. Contemplating dragging my probably reluctant family along is deeply frightening. But i am starting to talk about it and ask what it would take to get to maybe. (Thanks Chris for that phrase.)

So here is a first provocative proposition. There is a 38-acre piece of land on Gabriola (it's been clear reclamation would be needed) that can be sub-divided into 7 parcels (Cost of land would be about $60,000 per parcel) (Take a look at for amazing potential living spaces.) Anybody out there interested in talking about jumping ship...putting our brain/heart/soul/spirit power where our mouths and keyboards are and trying to create an integral, model locus of radical thought, practice, and culture?

Here's a pic of the land:

The land is high up on the plateau of Gabriola. Would have been great if it had a view. Dave Pollard has suggested we could see about buying an additional piece on the edge to access a view. To the right on the picture. the land abuts a parcel of about 800 acres that is in the process of becoming rezoned as a wilderness recreation area.

My thinking has developed a bit since I first wrote this...but that can be for another day...

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Absences and non-safety

Many apologies. I can't believe that I have been away for so long...believe me it only feels like days...

I will chalk it up to inexperience. The next time I start to feel overwhelmed and blocked... the next time I start saving all my posts as drafts...I will know it's time for a short break and will let you all know. Promise.

I will also try to master the art of the short post. Way harder than it sounds. Tips anyone?

What have I been up to? Well, for the last three weeks I have been travelling. Some business, some personal. Went to Ontario with the whole family to visit my husband's family. His mom is quite ill with cancer and it was her 65th Birthday and we really needed to be there.

It was an interesting experience to revisit all of the major landmarks of my history--with my children...The Royal Ontario Museum was a hit (my favourite place since I was 3...and my brother-in-law works there now--way cool.)

Then my brother contacted the folks who live in the house I grew up in and we visited and had a tour and then had a walk "over the back" into the valley behind...the ground of my being...
house view
View to the south from the deck of my old house in Newmarket.

Beric and Jenna in valley
My brother and niece walking in the valley.

Seeing my children walk and play where I had walked and played at their a place that holds such precious and essential memories for me...was a profound experience. And to be back on that land was an experience like no other. I am most myself in wild places and that place most of all. There is no experience like walking the land that raised you...the land you know like your own body--no matter how the years have changed its face and contours.

Then we dropped by Rockwood Conservation Area where we were married (in the ruins of the old mill there--we were the first! And apparently started something...there was a rehersal there during our visit).

Then on to Sandy Lake in the Kawarthas, for a visit to my husband's family cottage (site of first kiss ;-) )The kid's and George stayed on there while I went back to the city and then off to Halifax for Open Space on Open Space. Which I had hoped to blog from...yah, right...I know better now. More inexperience. You can't blog and be capable of deep contribution at the same time. Presence is presence. I will unpack it here over the next couple of weeks.

Back to T.O. and a family reunion, then off to the Zoo. Then a fabulous lunch and conversation with Dave Pollard. Who knew he would be so open to exploring intentional community? So, we are getting serious about it...(That's one of those posts that got stuffed in the draft box. I shared it with Dave, and I will share it with you in the next couple of days...)More on all this will come later...

There were so many more places visited and connections made, but I'll save them for another day.

I'm so many more words than necessary...exhausted but so full.

And what has been on my mind a lot? The concept of non-safety. This has come up in so many venues, both personal and professional, lately. For many years, I have believed that safety is an illusion that serves to distance us from each other; that prevents us from expressing our most remarkable selves; and that hampers the growth of true freedom. Risk-taking, in the service of the greatest good, and life in general, is becoming a vital survival skill--at least for those who would see peace and sustainability grow. In thinking about this (and it really helps to have a real life situation to experiment with--like intentional community)I have been contrasting unsafe with non-safe. The kind of risk-taking I am considering is not so much about the unsafe, or dangerous, as it is about the non-safe. The non-safe to me is about non-engagement with the concept of safety--rather than an absence of it. It is about recognizing that safety isn't the issue--intimacy, connection and communication are. It isn't even about risk-taking, really, it is about openness, vulnerability, non-attachment, invitation, commitment, courage and daring in the face of fear and uncertainty. So I'm thinking about living in the non-safe zone. In that place where creativity, intuition and inspiration meet emergence and Spirit. What are you thinking about?

And here's a smile from the littlest angel to thank you all for your patience and caring.
little angel