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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

On Our Way From Misery To Happiness

The photo essay below depicts our initial arrival at Westwind, Oregon, USA. I attended a Buddhist mindfulness retreat along with my two eldest daughters, sister and niece. The Buddhism is in Thich Nhat Hanh Zen tradition.
We drove down from Canada, spent one night in Portland and the next day arrived on the coast of Oregon. I didn't take any pictures of our night in Portland but Mist (below) my sister and I took the Max train down town for the evening and dined at Rock Bottom Brewery and Restaurant. It was a whirlwind, fun night in Portland. Mist got to try Rock Bottom's homemade rootbeer. It was surreal for me as I'd dined at that exact restaurant in Portland only 8 months earlier. The 14 hour road trip took us through the very beautiful Washington and Oregon States. We arrived, slightly weary but excited travelers, ready to leave our miseries behind...
Mist on the Salmon River, Oregon-- awaiting the ferry crossing.
Tabs--thrilled to have arrived after a 14 hour road trip.
Biologists at play on the Salmon River shore.
Crossing the Salmon River to Westwind.
My niece and I on board the ferry.
Safely on shore. The sand is crunchy on top and soft underneath.
We're on our way---following Duncan's 85 year old mom Fern to the camp site. She is an  inspirational woman full of eloquence, vitality and warmth.
Mistaya, ready to explore the biosphere.
Caught in a sandstorm of emotion (sorry ABBA-it just seemed appropriate).
Duncan Berry, one of the retreat's hosts, explaining the history of the land.
We have arrived in happiness: Westwind--the dining halls.
The steep narrow path to our cabin was the only escape route for the camp.
Toilet on cliff's edge--unbelievable ocean view when sitting in front of this small building, quite challenging finding one's way in the dark.
Our mountain-top sanctuary: Tyee Cabin

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I Breathe In Peace

Buddhist Mindfulness Retreat 

The Photographs below are of the Pacific Northwest Coast at Westwind Oregon, USA
by Mix Hart

I had a surreal week in Oregon. The retreat was on the North Pacific Coast in a protected United Nations Biosphere: where the Salmon River meets the Pacific Ocean. The area has a Tsunami every 300 years. One is due. An earthquake off the coast of Washington last week left me a little nervous—I kept this from the children. I felt blessed though, that our rustic cabin (Tyee) was high on a mountain top above the beach—along the designated Tsunami escape route—at least we were safe while we slept. At night, we climbed the steep mountain path to our cabin. Only three of the cabins were located on our mountain—so quiet and secluded. There were no artificial lights to guide our way—we used a flashlight. The toilet was an outhouse on the edge of a cliff with amazing view of the ocean. One false move in the dark and over the cliff you went!

The Monastics attending the retreat were from the Deer Park Monastery in San Diego, California. They practice Zen Buddhism and follow the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh of Plum Village, France. Thich Nhat Hanh’s Buddhism is new to me. He has successfully transformed and packaged Buddhism to attract North Americans. This type of Buddhism is very accessible to me (as a North American with a family). The focus is on living a good life full of compassion, awareness, and connectedness with others and nature along with daily meditation (but not the several hour long meditations as I have been accustomed).

I traveled with my sister, her daughter and my two eldest daughters. The girls had the time of their lives: meeting new friends, exploring the coast and learning a little dharma. As well, the girls received new Dharma names.

It is difficult to summarize the retreat in blog post. It was an amazing week of unbelievable natural beauty and wonder, combined with intimate social connections and Buddhist Dharma. I spent the entire week bare foot. Modern society was so very far away—existing in a parallel universe.

It was a joyful celebration of nature and human connections. We sang many songs, ate healthy, natural foods and practiced meditation, dharma talks and Qi Gong (dance-like style of martial arts). It was also challenging on many levels and revealed to me some personal fears and the route of some personal anxiety.

In the next few posts I hope to capture a glimpse of my experience through photographs. 

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

United Nations Bio-Sphere

Picture from www.mindfulnesscamp.org
I am leaving the country for a short while. This is where I am going to (above pic). I am attending a Buddhist mindfulness camp inside a United Nations Biosphere on the Oregon Coast. The mindfulness camp is organized in collaboration with the monks and nuns from the Deer Park monastery who practice under the Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. We have to reach the Salmon River by Thursday morning and then will be escorted by ferry to the site of the camp.  
I'm afraid there is no internet at the camp. 
I will update Modernista Mama on my return...
Much Metta

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Listen To The Sound Of The Mohawk Beat

*Thought I'd post this pic as I stumbled upon it yesterday and I believe a little of these girls' exuberance is needed to motivate my adult self into much work.

My sister Catherine and I (on top) during our high school cheerleading days: The Medicine Hat High Mohawks. With our arms at our sides, the green trim on the sweaters formed the letter M. Yes, the real Mohawk Nation exits thousands of miles East, far from Alberta--just don't tell the Medicine Hat folks that ;)

Any current spine issues Catherine might have, can possibly be traced to this stunt. We performed this stunt  nearly every basketball game, as it made up the right side of one of our team's performance pyramids. I still suffer from a few long-lasting damage  from cheerleading days--very high impact and once I had to hold a short, yet stalky (HEAVY) fellow cheerleader on my leg for about ten minutes during a pyramid rehearsal (a workshop hosted by the Calgary Stampeders' Cheerleaders). My leg was numb for four days after that stunt... But I loved being a cheerleader and would research and design dances and pyramids for our team. This is where my Zumba love all started...

 I leave early Wednesday morning for The Oregon Coast. Not ready on either the leaving front or the packing front. Hard to leave this place when the sun shines endlessly and the temperature is near 40 oC. All I want to do is plan my days around trips down to the beach. I'm teaching Pip to ride a 2 wheel bike too--hate to leave mid training! We don't have much time to practice each day, must do it early or late when it's not too hot.

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Friday, August 17, 2012


True Happiness.
I sit on the front balcony writing--editing my novel. Pippi sits across the table colouring, cutting--designing early Halloween costumes for her stuffies.
A Perfect Place in Time.

*Below are a few of her creations. I admit, the preciousness of their creation makes me weep.
Georgia as Cat
Mexican Hat-Dancing Mouse(complete with maracas)
Rock Star Chicken (microphone on wing)
Harry Potter
Pug as Super Hero
Mouse as Zombie
Hamster as Ladybug(antennae in front)
Fernando with Duck as Quinn(Cheerleader from Glee--with a blonde ponytail on her head)

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

An Accidental Application

"I accidentally put some eyeshadow on my skin," said Pip.

"Ah...yes, the accidental application...know it well," said Mom.

Pip and I have been spending some time together (just the 2 of us) the past few days. Her sisters are away. Tabs is visiting her Granny and Granddad and Mist is visiting a friend at the lovely Bastion Ranch.

Pip is so much fun to be with. I am never more joyful than when I am spending time with my daughters. Pip kept the entire beach entertained the other morning with her wild dance races into the water. I'd say, "1,2,3, GO!" She'd begin her wild hip swaying routine while I counted and at GO! she'd race down the beach and into the water. Then she'd stand and do a water dance. Her finale was a dive into the water and an under water swim. Then,she'd resurface,run up the beach to me and we'd start all over again. 

I am enjoying my saviors at this moment. Some people call them vices but I call them saviors--the small routine things we do for ourselves that allow little pleasure breaks during each day. My saviors involve dark chocolate squares and a cup of hot black/green tea combo,sometimes it is a giant cold black iced-tea (no sugar but lemon) and other times, it is a half a glass of red wine in the evening. Though my favorite Savior is my evening mediation time, just before bed, it includes a green tea meditation time too.
--When there isn't enough time in the day for anything, that is the exact time one should indulge in a savior.

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Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Monkey's Girls

It's easier to make a movie of what my house is like in the summer time. So here it is: most of my monkeys on a summer evening:

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Sweet Summer of 2012

Below are family pictures of fun days at the beach in our home town. Today's post is short as I have been busy hanging out with my girls (swimming, hiking, picnics) and then writing all day.
Swimming lessons for the littlest girls end tomorrow and then I shall drive Tabs and niece Nemi to my parents house--2 h away.They will visit with their grandparents for a few days. 
Summer is wrapping up too quickly. Much travel makes it go by fast. My next trip begins in less than 2 weeks. I will be traveling out of the country again. This time driving straight south--along the West Coast down to Oregon. I will be attending a Buddhist mindfulness camp with my 2 oldest daughters, sister and niece. Little Pip will head to Granny and Granddad's for a visit while we're away in Oregon as her dad, Peter, will be at work each day. 
The camp should be unbelievable. It's located in a United Nations biosphere--2 pristine miles of Pacific Ocean beach, only accessible by ferry. The nuns and monks offering the camp follow Thich Nhat Hanh's teachings.

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