Bali.

After queuing for over 2 hours to get through immigration, I finally met up with my driver, Putu and a woman that had also arranged a ride through Agung into Ubud.  We then queued for close to 30 minutes in a sea of cars, mini vans and scooters to get through the toll to get out of the airport. Dusk quickly turned to night as we sped along, weaving in and out of traffic on our way to Ubud. The woman and I kept a conversation going for about 20- 30 minutes and then there was just silence in the car. Not that uncomfortable, should I say something else silence, but the kind that spoke of exhaustion, jet-lag and ‘I’m gazing out the window to see something familiar’.

It’s dark out, the streets mainly lit from the headlights from all the other vehicles on the street. We’re whizzing past buildings, shacks, roadside food carts and statues of Hindu deities.

There are many abandoned buildings along our drive, more than I remember. They are large and hulking and dark and for a minute or two I get caught up in the despair that the buildings give off.  Other small businesses are lit by only one, sometimes two light bulbs, casting a stark light within.  Because I’m tired and jet lagged, this starkness and despair starts to sink in and I’m left wondering where the magical place I remember is.

The air conditioning, which was nice at first, had become too cold so Putu turned it off and rolled down his window which signaled it was okay for us to do too. I rolled my window down and immediately the heat and humidity hit my face, along with the familiar smells of Bali, incense mixed with tropical flowers and smoke from fires burning on the side of the road.

With my window open, I watched people look up as we drove past. I wonder what they saw when they looked at me. Did they see the exhaustion in my wide eyes, even wider with trying to stay awake, mixed with the excitement of this adventure?  I smiled at each person that I made eye contact with, even if it was a brief second.

I was dropped off at my accommodation and checked into my lovely little garden room and immediately fell asleep.  When I got up the next morning, I opened my sliding glass door and all the starkness and despair I had felt the previous evening simply fell away.  I was back on Bali, the center of my Universe, the place that magic happens.

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Lessons from a pottery frog

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The picture above is the broken remains of a ceramic figure of a frog. Not just any frog, but Froggie, as named by a 3 year old in my neigbourhood.

Today, as one of the plumbers was coming out of my place, he accidentally knocked Froggie from his place on my stairs and, as he was made of clay, he shattered when he hit the ground.

Froggie came into my life in March of 2006 when I moved into my apartment on Burnaby Street in Vancouver.  My Mom bought him for me as a house-warming gift and he (always seemed a bit more on the masculine side) sat watch over the neighbourhood from the right corner of my balcony. He was there for so long, that there was an imprint of his base on the balcony.

Froggie travelled back to Victoria with me and since March of 2012, came to rest on the back stairs of my place, again watching over the neighbourhood from the top step.

I was out running an errand when this happened so I wasn’t there for his demise. When I came back, the plumber, Andrew, was coming out of my place and he told me he had some really bad news. I thought it had something to do with the pipe or it’s location for the plumbing he was working on, but no, it was that Froggie was no more. He told me that when he realized that he had accidentally kicked the statue that he reached down to grab him, but just not in time.

I stood and looked at the remains and I will admit that I was sad.  While he was an inanimate object, made of clay, I had become attached to him. So much so that I had assigned it a gender. ( My car is a boy too…his name is Jack.) At this point, I then had to do my best to reassure Andrew that it was okay, that it was just another thing that I had collected. He felt really awful that it had happened. Maybe someone else would have yelled and screamed or raged, but in that moment, I really truly took it as a sign that it was time to start letting go of ‘things’ and of anything that is holding me back. That we have stuff just try to fill the moments of silence and doubt within us. That things break, yet life still continues. That it’s time to see what other places in this world need some ‘Seanna-izing’ (Yeah, I just thought of that) and see what places on this planet will add even more sparkle and shine to my life.

Andrew came back later to tell me that he had taken the broken pieces of pottery and buried them in a patch of sand under the house. That way, he said, a part of me will always be here. That was the best way to honour Froggie and me.

Hanging out on a lily pad, strumming a guitar, and humming the Rainbow Connection,

Seanna

This is about

This is about leaving the ground

It’s about leaping without looking

About what is out there and not in here

This is about possibility and passion

About what can be discovered, uncovered, and found

This is not about anyone but me

This is about what I have been afraid of.

Fear that is disembodied, no substance to it and disappears like smoke in a strong breeze

A breeze that blows through and brings with it opportunity and more possibility

It’s about what is possible.

It’s about a butterflies-in-your-stomach kind of feeling; a stirring of excitement; a reach into the unknown

It’s about time and what to do with the remaining hours, days, months, years.

This is about soaring above and seeing life, my life, from a different perspective

It’s about trust and letting go

It’s about knowing and feeling that the time is right

It’s about looking back at what is clinging at you, holding you, me, back, holding you to old patterns, holding me to old stories and gently asking them to let go

And if they don’t let go…

It’s about grabbing a mother-fucking samurai sword and severing those things that cling, that are holding me back

Because this is not about what came before

It’s about what is in front of me now

Skinny dipping in Loch Ness

My friend Paivi, had decided that skinny dipping in Loch Ness was a thing to do when in Inverness. It was April of 2005 and we, Paivi, our friend Nadine and Paivi’s sister, were on a road trip through the Highlands of Scotland before I headed back to Canada and Inverness was one of our stops. We had already voyaged through Fort William and out to Glen Finnan where the Harry Potter train was often filmed going over the trestle there. We had crossed the bridge over the sea to Skye and visited Eilean Donan Castle which is the most filmed castle in Scotland…Highlander anyone? It also features beams of cedar from British Columbia in the great room.

We hung out at Dunvegan Castle on Skye which is the seat of the McLeod, which also happens to be the clan that I belong to. This was also the place that my Mom got me good with an April Fool’s joke. She had called to say that my work was trying to get in touch with me. I thought this was a bit weird, them phoning my parents in Canada, but not too weird as I driving through some pretty remote areas in Scotland so had no cell service. I asked what they had wanted and I think she held out for a beat or 2 and then said April Fools! She got me! I was impressed.

We stayed on Skye for the night, at the Pink Guest House, and left early the next day, continuing our journey into the hinterlands. And towards Loch Ness.

We drove along the road beside Loch Ness looking for a secluded bay in which to partake this possibly existing but more than likely new ritual of swimming nude in Loch Ness. We found a small bay, void of people and parked our minivan. Automatic by the way. It’s one thing to drive on the other side of the car and on the other side of the road, but my brain had challenges with the whole shifting with the left hand too.

The 4 of us got out of the van and made our way down the embankment to the rocky beach. Just to set the stage a bit. Loch Ness is the 2nd deepest loch deepest loch in all of Scotland and Europe. They say that still waters run deep. They are also damn cold! The water temperature rarely rises above 5 degrees Celsius. Standing loch side, we strip down, completely bare and start to make our way into the water. It was incredibly slow going as the other thing that deep waters produce is something like pond scum, but in this case loch scum, on top of the rocks at the shore line. As I walked along the rocks, slipping and sliding into the water, I looked down to my left as we cleared the shelter of our little bay and saw another little bay…full of people. Clothed people. People looking at us wondering why the hell we were doing naked in Loch Ness. I realized that I wasn’t going to get much further than I already was without the possibility of slipping and causing damage to every exposed part of my body, so I crouched down, splashed the extremely cold water over my body, stood up and turned to walk back to the shore. Just as I turned to face the shore, a tour bus drove past, full of tourists. My moment of Scottish notoriety was complete.

I scrambled back to the shore, as quickly as I could, hoping that I could get dressed before any other strangers saw me naked. The rest of the ladies soon followed and we got dressed and sat and stared out over the loch, lost in our thoughts. Just then, one of the guys that had been in the group of people that had seen us in all of our glory, came strolling past ‘looking for firewood’. Right. He walked past us another few feet and then turned around and walked back, seemingly disappointed that he hadn’t found any firewood.

After that we sat for a good 30 minutes and watched sun move behind the clouds and occasionally poke through the clouds casting beams of light across the loch and in that moment I felt the presence of my Grandfather.

He died before I was born and I had come to Scotland to connect with my roots. I had visited the town that he was from and the cemetery where my ancestors were buried. I looked at the names of 7 generations of Nichols whose names were on the grave marker and it was humbling and awe-inspiring to look at the names on the marker and realize that I, we, any one person alive, is not an accident, that each of us, no matter what our story, is meant to be here. Because this person met this person and married and had this person who married this person and had this person who married this person and had this person…it’s a wonder that anyone of us could ever doubt that we were meant to be born.

I found it surprising that for the first time during my time in Scotland, that I felt connected to him here, on the banks of Loch Ness, far away from the town that he had grown up in, had left behind for a new life in Canada and had never returned to and mere weeks before I was set to go back to Canada. I think he was proud, not necessarily that I had gone skinny dipping in Loch Ness, but that I had felt it important to connect with my roots, his roots, through the country he had been born into and that stayed in his heart for the rest of his life.

From the moment I arrived in Scotland, she captured a part of my heart and didn’t let go. Her haunting, majestic beauty is the stuff of epic poems, emotional laments, and rousing pub songs. Her people are fierce and loving and proud. Scotland lives in my heart and in my blood and in still shots in my head. My name is Seanna Nichol and I am a grand-daughter of Scotland.

The outside

When did it become a thing to look outside of us for answers?  When did we start asking others, who are just living their own lives, for what we need for ours? When did other people start becoming experts on my life? Or when did I start let them?

All the answers we need to everything in our life is already inside of us.  My take on it is this: there are others who have gone through something similar to what we are going through or are living similar lives to our own and we can look to them for guidance, for advice, but not answers for our own lives. The answers for your life lie with you and you alone.

I am incredibly guilty of looking outside of myself for answers more often than not and becoming cynical when they do something or say something that I don’t agree with. I know that the answer to whatever I am questioning is inside of me already. And lately, I keep coming back to a place inside of me that I have been afraid to face.  It’s possible that all the planetary movement has shifted something or it’s just quite possible that I am tired of carrying all the extra weight of the walls that had been built up.

From a very young age, I was told by outside voices that who I was wasn’t good enough to be friends with anyone. That there was something very wrong with me, with my looks, with my voice, with my knowledge. So I started to build walls within me, defensive barracks to keep out the attacks. And my inside voice who knew all of those outside voices were wrong, was silenced for a very long time.

As I grew, the walls grew with me and became bigger and harder to crack. The guards on the top of those walls became reactionary to anything that looked like it could hurt me. I would lash out from this place of reaction, from a place of not wanting to be hurt. And recently, I realize that I still exist in that place of reaction, instead of love. I create stories that compliment (not in a nice way) this place of reaction, this place of seeking validation from places outside of me.

So this is me, working on coming from a place of love and light and trust. And letting go of anything that doesn’t serve my highest purpose, my light. I am in the process of breaking down those walls with a huge fucking sledge hammer. It hurts. These walls have been a part of me for so fucking long that breaking through them brings a physical pain.

There are still times that I struggle, times that I pull back or have the urge to curl up, away from the pain of moving through the layers and walls that have been built up. I haven’t had kids, but the labour scenario seems fitting. All this pain, all these walls, have grown inside of me, ‘protecting’ me from hurt, from attacks and in order to release them, to let them go, there is a birthing of sorts that happens, a pushing through, a release. Maybe a bowel movement is more apropos. I’m getting rid of the shit that has built up inside of me and needs to be released. Labour tends to produce babies, which are a form of creativity. Shit just gets flushed down the toilet and away from you.

I have amazing friends walking along beside me, supporting me, loving me and holding my hand when I need it. I have a coach that guides from a place of intuition and instinct and for her and all my friends, I am incredibly grateful.

Seanna: So hey Universe…ummm…I’m kind of scared here. This is hard and it hurts. (looks down in embarrassment)

The Universe:(tilts my chin back up) I’ve got you. Just keep looking forward and doing the work.

Only love,

Seanna

 

 

The dark and the light

I have been told that for all that I share, for all the heart on my sleeve wearing that I do, that I am, at my depth, a private person. Yet, aren’t we all like that?  How much of the struggle to we really allow people to see? How much of the yuckiness of what we are going through do we share without sounding like we exist in a perpetual victim state?  And how much do we really want people to know?

I have days where everything just sucks. That the sunniest of sun patches cannot bring me out of this place of drab and dark, despite my wish that they would. But that darkness and muck and mire is all part of me. And it’s ugly, and awkward, and so damn uncomfortable, but it’s also beautiful and strange and makes me feel like the light does not need to be a constant theme in my life.The light eventually works it’s way back in, as light is want to do, and I welcome it back with open arms.

I still have a hard time opening my arms to my drab and dark side, because the light is so much warmer. But we know that without darkness that there is no light. That in the muddiest of waters, blooms the beautiful and noble lotus blossom.  We seem to want to push away the dark, the awkward, and deny it a place in our lives. But by denying that part of us we deny who we are.  As we grow in our mothers womb, we are in the dark. In birth we are forced into the light and into a world that does it’s best to balance the two.

At a time when there is so much darkness in the world, we need more of the light.  When I see in the news that a 2 year old girl is murdered and I wonder how one person can commit such an act of violence, I also see a community rise and come together for the family.  When I see that a child drowns crossing an ocean trying to escape war and destruction with his family and so many others, my heart hurts deeply. And then I see a world come together to provide shelter, clothing, jobs, food, teddy bears and open arms for the survivors.

There will always be what we percieve as ugliness in our world. There will always be trolls who will comment on a HONY Facebook feed and try to drag people down to their depths with their words.  There will always be people who preach the message of hate.

However, if we take into consideration that darkness exists so that light can shine bright, it’s possible to see that darkness is in fact, a gift. How we greet the darkness is fully dependant on us.

We have passed the darkest day here in the northern hemisphere and we are heading back into the light seasonally.   Hopefully, it’s also a symbolic sign of our world moving into the light.

Shining a light so bright even David Bowie could see it tonight,

Seanna

 

 

Loss

How is it that someone that most of us have never met, triggers such deep feelings of sadness at their death?

I didn’t ever have the opportunity to meet Blake Edwards, yet his movies defined my childhood. ‘Thar she blows!’ Jim Henson. Every Thursday night at 7pm, I welcomed him and his Muppets into my living room. Freddie Mercury, you did, you did, rock me! When Robin Williams died, it was like losing a friend that I had grown up with, a friend with a multitude of names, starting with Mork, along the way Mrs. Doubtfire and Genie. Dave Brubeck. Audrey Hepburn. Peter O’Toole. James Garner. Maya Angelou. The list goes on.

Although I had never met any of them, I cried when I found out that they had died.

When I saw the posts last night that David Bowie had died, out loud I said ‘No, no no!’ thinking it must be one of those hoaxes. But it wasn’t. A man who had changed the world by being himself, so many different shades of himself, died, without letting us, his fans, that he had been sick.

I remember the day in the doctors office when the cancer doctor told my Dad and my Mom that his cancer was terminal and that there were no treatments possible. There was disbelief from me, and I remember looking at the doctor and saying that there had to be something we could do. It broke my heart that he was so finite in his response, not even wanting to explore options.  I can’t help but think that the circumstances were similar for David Bowie and his family. Sitting in a doctors office, with some white coat telling you that that the cancer was going to end his life sooner than later. 18 months and one more birthday, he died, leaving us his final gift of his music.

We shall never know another like him. His resonance will be felt for generations to come.

Travel well Starman, travel well and thank you.

“I’ll paint you mornings of gold, I’ll spin you Valentine evenings, though we’re strangers till now, we’re choosing the path between the stars, I’ll leave my love between the stars”