Every week I speak to three subjects: books, ideas, people, products, or innovations that I believe are peace-building, heart-opening, community-celebrating, love-spreading vehicles. Complaining and criticizing are easy traps to fall into, but I am convinced that building up holds far more power and transformative energy.
So, my sweet friends, here goes…Our world is a beautiful village and peace does begin at home.
1) Raccoon Rescue
A few of our neighbours jokingly call me ‘Snow White’ because I have an uncanny ability to attract wildlife.
We have had our share of mice and a few birds in the house over the years, all the cats from miles around seem to favour our yard, one day I came home and found a bat hanging from the window ledge in our kitchen, and for the past few years a mama raccoon has decided to make her nest in our attic.
So, either I am channeling some sort of friendliness to all creatures or we have a lot of accessible openings in our yard and house. To be fair, it is a very old house.
Either way, I have become (a little) less apt to shriek and panic when surprised by a new ‘visitor’.
After dropping Olivia off at school one day a few weeks ago, I returned home and discovered fragments of pink insulation spread out over our driveway. My lovely neighbour Lorraine saw me standing there assessing this surprising situation and came over. We both quickly concluded that Madame Raccoon, industrious and determined as she is, had returned.
Dan and I (13 years together have made us increasingly adept at problem solving) decided that there had to be a peaceful and easy solution to this problem and we would find it. I know that many folks (esp. our friends and family in Toronto) have consistent raccoon issues and might not have ANY patience for our willingness to work with Mrs. Raccoon, but so be it – raccoons are a little less common here.
We knew we needed help though. She was likely creating tons of damage in our attic and we needed her to move on out before she had her babies because that would be a bit of a game changer.
I googled pest control in our city, and called ‘Killer Pest Control’. The name seemed a little harsh but there weren’t a lot of options.
‘Mike’ agreed to help us.
He set up a trap, routinely checked on it, and debriefed us on raccoon behaviour.
When we came home from a weekend away and found our friend trapped, we called Mike and he came right over even though it was a Sunday afternoon. (Fortunately, her trauma may have been lessened by the full can of sardines in her trap). Along with his young daughter, Mike drove our masked mama down to the river bottom a fair distance away and made sure that was safely on her way to a new life.
Mike also phoned me right after the relocation mission to assure me that she was actually surprisingly non-aggressive and seemed content. He also reassured me that we did not need to worry about having a roof full of babies, rather the babies were still most definitely tucked inside her.
If that wasn’t enough, when Mike stopped by a few days later with our bill, he gave me yet another full report and yet more assurances that Ms.Raccoon was most likely doing just fine down by the river.
Who would have guessed that even people under the guise of startling names like ‘Killer Pest Control’ can be peace-building, collaborative sorts finding creative ways to do their jobs with the very best level of kindness and integrity.
2) Make-up Free Selfies
Many women have had the experience of being nominated to post a make-up free selfie on Facebook recently, myself included. I had immediate qualms, however, and decided against participating.
There are already pictures of me on Facebook sans makeup, I didn’t particularly feel like inviting new comments on my appearance, I didn’t know what this movement was for really, nor did I want to put pressure on anybody else to participate.
Despite my misgivings though,
I felt that the concept did have some merit in a culture obsessed with the perfect image,
but I didn’t think much more about it.
Then, I saw this article in the Globe and Mail and found myself agreeing with every word.
Later on that day, I came across an article from a blog called ‘Your Daisy Dose’, written by Daisy Raphael. Daisy is the daughter of our recently deceased beloved family doctor who died of pancreatic cancer.
Daisy wrote this intelligent piece from the depths of her heart and it is a devastatingly beautiful commentary on why she wouldn’t post a make-up free selfie.
Through her moving description of her father’s experience, she shows us the real face of cancer which has very little to do with make-up free, healthy faces.
Daisy, I truly appreciated hearing about your father’s last year, in all of its wholeness, and not just about the ‘good’ days.
I, too, watched my mom die of cancer and there is nothing glamorous about watching your too-young parent deteriorate before your eyes.
Also, thank you Daisy for having the courage to talk about death and dying. As a culture, we generally seem to be afraid of this subject and so many of us, as a result, are shockingly ill-equipped to deal with it when it happens to us.
Collectively, we are not properly taught how to support those who are grieving either. Telling our stories is an important step in the healing process, though, and I am so grateful for your openness and willingness to be vulnerable.
We desperately need to create more spaces for all of our stories.
Lastly, thank you Daisy for talking about the beautiful moments that invariably accompany watching a beloved one die. When the veil between life and death is thin, it seems that all emotions, and life itself, is amplified.
You described this perfectly.
3) ‘Archetypes’ by Caroline Myss
Long before I understood what the word ‘archetype’ even meant, I loved the idea of there being central themes and recurring common human traits. I was an English major after all. I love symbolism and have been drawn to things like fairy tales and tarot cards since forever.
Don’t we ALL love categorizing ourselves though?
Amost every day on Facebook, it seems, a new quiz can be found that will tell you what rock group, colour, animal, ‘Frozen’ character, or city you are. Today it was ‘Which 80’s cartoon character are you?’ (I got She-Ra, Princess of Power, in case you’re interested).
Generally, we do love this stuff. It is a quick and easy way to gain validation for being the way we are.
It is also affirmation that we are not who we are not.
Often, though, I am mostly annoyed with whatever quiz it is and I often don’t even finish because it never delves deeply enough and I don’t resonate with most of the choices given. And really, 5 questions to neatly categorize a person!?
These are some of the reasons that I bought Caroline Myss’ book ‘Archetypes’, after hearing her speak in Vancouver last year. In her new book, Myss offers her version of 12 modern day archetypes as well as a full gallery of further archetypes with which we may identify. She even has a website whereby you can –wait for it…..take a quiz and find out which archetype you are. What is refreshing, though, is that the results indicate your top archetypal influences rather than having it all be narrowed down to just one.
To be honest, as I read through Myss’ book, I could relate to elements of most archetypes (except the athlete!) but certainly agreed that certain archetypal influences fuel and motivate me more than others.
To a certain degree, it even gave me more permission to be me.
I yearn to write and create, for example, because I am a ‘creative’ and a ‘seeker’.
Simple as that,
but how often do we stifle our deepest yearnings and talk ourselves out of them? (I have done this for most of my life).
I think that is quite useful and freeing, as well, to be reminded that we are simply all not driven by the same forces.
Furthermore, we need diversity of thought and action.
The world requires advocates, artists, caregivers, intellectuals, executives, rebels, spiritual seekers, visionaries, and athletes to blossom into fullness. It can even be argued, quite convincingly, that we need ‘fashionistas’.
Collectively and personally, we are melting pots of stories, mythical influences, ancient longings, triumphs and challenges that simply get re-told over and over.
Though there is always the danger of over-labeling which negates the beautiful complexities and limitless potential within us all, we can remember what I deem to be one of the greatest archetypal stories ever re-told,
that of the rising phoenix from the ashes, assuring us that we can and will overcome and transcend (thanks to J.K. Rowling for re-kindling the phoenix image for yet another generation).
Oh yeah, and use our powers for good.