My passion filled life
Thoughts and threads of passion and experience that have woven the fabric I call my life.
My passion filled life
For the whole of my life I have been a learner. A learner and a reader, and I'm glad that as time has gone on, that has not changed. What bothers me is that as a 'learner', there is so much that I am only now beginning to understand and begin to try and make sense of. So many things that I, like the rest of society, should have been learning much earlier in our lives. If we had maybe today our world would be less of a mess. I often worry that our learning is coming too late and too little, with so many people locked into their skewed ideas and belief systems. Even so, I write this with the hope that maybe one person's heart may be challenged to take a different view of things, and nudge our world one more step forward and closer to the place where we can all have more open minds and open hearts to the journey of another.
To be clear, I have no knowledge of any First Nations geneology in my family lines and my perspective and views do not come with the life experience that many of my friends have lived. My ancestry is as Irish and as Scottish as you can get. But that does not keep me for having a love for other people and a thirst for information that will help me to better understand my world, so that I can pass that understanding along to others. I do believe that our society is past the point where it is okay to turn a blind eye to what has been created. We can believe there might have been good intentions, but we can't ignore that whatever the intention was, the outcome is bad. One way or another we need to lean into that and start growing forward. For me that means to listen, talk, read and learn and work towards having a better understanding so that I might become a better advocate and a better person as a result.
Last night, I finished my reading of the book 'Black Elk Speaks'. It took my a long time to get to the book in it's entirety, but for a long time I have been fascinated and drawn to his words and his wisdom. Nicholas Black Elk (1863-1950) has been working to get my attention for a long time it seems, through so many coincidences and experiences in life. But when we're ready, the teacher does arrive. This teacher died in 1950, but fortunately for our world, he opened his heart and shared his wisdom.
The book was originally published in the early 1930s, after Black Elk met with John G. Neihardt, the author, on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. His intent was to share his powerful and inspirational experiences and message to all that would be open to them. During their time together, he relayed the stories from his earliest memories as a boy in th 1860s through to the Massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890, and the final efforts of his people to maintain their freedom and their way of life. He was a warrior, a hunter, a medicine man and a healer who lived his life in an effort to move ever closer to the vision he had experienced as a young boy of 9. He shared his visions in the book, trusting that John would pass them along to a world that needed to know and understand what he had seen. He did this at a time when it was not common for a man of his stature to talk about those things with a stranger, but Black Elk felt the deep need for that message to be shared and so he did.
Through his story, we are given an opportunity to see that horrific time period through the eyes of those who lived on the receiving end of the decisions being made to secure the United States as a nation. A story that is very much the same as our own story in Canada, with it's brutality, battles and manipulation. Black Elk shares his memories of what the First People were experiencing throughout those years of Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, Custard and the army's continued movement west. It is a much different perspective from what we are taught by history books.
He tells the reader about many of the horrible battles that took place between the Indigenous people and the soldiers. One of the paragraphs that haunted me really made me think about the things we see happening today, in 2016, at Standing Rock. "Wherever we went, the soldiers came to kill us, and it was all our own country. It was ours already when the Wasichus (white man) made the treaty with Red Cloud that said it would be ours as long as the grass should grow and the water flow. That was only eight winters before, and they were chasing us now because we remembered and they forgot." (pg 83)
The book is full of the broken promises and broken dreams of a people who were forced to bend to the ways of the invading world, and reading it, I couldn't help but see the role that is still playing in what is happening around our continent today, but most noticibly with with what is happening at Standing Rock. As he talks about the treaty agreements that were made by a few on behalf of the many, treaties and agreements that pushed them further and further from the land and the life they had known he relays "only crazy or very foolish men would sell their Mother Earth. Sometimes I think it might have been better if we had stayed together and made them kill us all." The people lived through heartbreak after heartbreak as he shares stories of the battles, the hunger, the massacres, the Ghost Dances and the broken promises.
After the Massacre at Wounded Knee, when the people gave up their fight he was quoted as saying "I did not know then how much was ended. When I look back now from this high hill of my old age, I can still see the butchered women and children lying heaped and scattered all along the crooked gulch as plain as when I saw them with eyes still young. And i can see that something else died there in the bloody mud, and was burried in the blizzard. A people's dream died there. It was a beautiful dream. " pg 169
Black Elk died believing that he had not accomplished what the Grandfathers had set out for him to do. He never saw his people regain the footing lost or their old way of life, traditions and spiritual belief systems reestablished. What he had visioned for his people was not possible in the world that had been created and with the restrictions that were placed on our Indigenous people, throughout North America.
But I wondered, as I read through it, if Black Elk wasn't also fortelling of some of what is happening today? His vision fortold of the days ahead, the disappearance of the buffalo herds, of the 'black road' that his people would be forced to walk. But it also fortold of a day when "I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one Mother and one Father. And I saw that it was holy." (pg 26)
As I look at the gatherings that are happening in Standing Rock to support the people who are fighting for their water, I begin to wonder if that gathering may be part of what Black Elk envisioned? People from all tribes, faiths and races coming to stand for the common goal of preserving and fighting for what is here, before everything is gone. People starting to take notice and realize the wisdom that was embedded in the beliefs that lived here long before my ancestors arrived.
My heart aches for the old man who returned to the place of his vision one last time. "Hear me, not for myself, but for my people; I am old. Hear me that they may once more go back into the sacred hoop and find the good red road, the shielding tree." (pg 172)
It has been a slow resurgence, but I believe it is beginning to happen. Idle no More, people saying no to the big corporations, our commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation work. Change is in the works, and the winds have shifted direction. And from the Voice of Black Elk's vision, "Behold this day, for it is yours to make." So I ask, what are you going to do?
Great day, but long and busy. We were up and going shortly after 6am to get packed and head over to the Hotel Diana to leave on our 4 day tour. The last legs of our journey through Italy, heading north to eventually end up in Venice.
We got going out of Rome about 8 am, after loading all the tour participants from 3 or 4 different hotels, 37 folks in all. After about an hour, we had a pit stop at a little roadside cafe that looked like it had the most amazing pastry. Sadly I wasn't ready to eat any more after having had the hotel breakfast prior to leaving. I still regret that missed opportunity, it looked so good!
Our first stop was at Assisi where we had the opportunity to tour St Francis Basilica. We had the opportunity tour of both the chapel and the crypt where he is buried. It's amazing to see the response of dedicated Catholics at his tomb, almost 900 years after his death. I was truly moved by their passion and love for the man.
We ate lunch at a great little restaurant in town, then carried on where our next stop was Siena.
There we had a 20 minute walk to get to the Middle Ages town square, and had another hour or so to tour and relax. We decided not to go to the museum, instead enjoying our time in the square, taking pictures and exploring the courthouse. Finding wine corks representing the area to add to our collection, we went and had a couple of drinks at a cafe that offered free wifi. Deciding to have a bite to eat there, we ordered an appetizer that we assumed to be a 'fondue' of some sort, based on the name 'fondue' but what we got was a plate with arugula lettuce covered by some mild meat, maybe pastrami, with some cheese melted on. It wasn't what I'd expected, and the dish didn't do anything for me, but the bread they served with it was great. Nice, white crusty bread. Another reminder that we should have learned more Italian!
Upon leaving Siena we carried on for our first night's destination as we headed on to Florence.
After lunch, we continued the tour, but it was already almost 4 and decided we'd had about enough bus riding and touring, as my foot was starting to throb after my attempt at jogging last week (really, who did I think I was kidding :) ), and Cecil was still not feeling 100%.
We checked out a few of the shops closer to our hotel, went to the rooftop bar for a drink, then headed out to explore the route we'd need in the morning so that we would know where we were going the next morning to catch the tour bus.
For supper we wandered just a little further down the street from where we ate the previous night. We found another little restaurant with tables on the street, and opted to dine there. I'd say it was likely one of the best meals we'd, Cecil having a Sicilian Salmon dinner, and I the lasagna.
As the place filled up and got more crowded, a couple were seated beside us, almost elbow to elbow. As we began to talk to them, we realized that they were from Kenora, Ontario!
They knew so many of the people we know there...it was a little freaky! We met more neighbors in one day in Rome than on any trip to Winnipeg! We enjoyed an hour or so of great conversation with them then headed on our way.
By 8:30 our day had caught up with us. We headed back to our room for an early night to be ready to be at Hotel Diana by 7:15 the next morning. Part of us felt guilty that we were not out exploring more of the sites and sounds, but the reality is that there are just more people, honking horns and rushing cars than we can handle more of for one day. That one of the challenges of being a hill billy in the twenty first century.
We'd never seen so many tour buses coming and going from any city we'd been in before, and the sheer number of tourists was mind boggling, considering it was the last Friday afternoon of September. Not at all what I would consider the busy season....so I wondered what the busy season was like here!
I still regret that we only had one day here to explore, because I am sure if we didn't have to cram it all into one day, we'd have seen so much more, but I felt blessed that we actually had the chance that we had. To see for ourselves, as much as we did, while we both have the good health to enjoy it. What a Great day.
So, as you know, this blog is all about living MY passions. My work with life coaching and being a Passion Test facilitator allows me to help my clients figure out and work towards their goals and dreams. I love doing that, there is nothing more rewarding, however, if I am going to be doing this work authentically, I need to walk the talk, and so here is where I share how I do that.
Don't get me wrong, I don't spend all of my time travelling, taking pictures and playing music. However, I do make those things a priority that I work towards on a daily basis, because those are my passions. It's been a lot of work to learn to say no to the things that matter least, so I can shout a resounding YES to those things that matter most to me.
In living this passionate life, I've always fancied myself to be a pretty good photographer. I've had a camera in my hand since the age of 6 or 7 when my Dad gave me his old square box one from the 40s. When at 19 my parents offered to by me a car, because they'd neglected to earlier, and had done so for both of my siblings, I chose instead that they buy me the Canon AE1 35mm Program camera instead, as it was the newest, hottest thing on the market at that time. And my passion continued to grow.
As time has gone on, I've come into the digital world and have gone through a number of good cameras, continuing to move up the ladder and love the snapping! Especially now that I'm not throwing money into the fire by having to pay for the hundreds of pictures that weren't really all that great once they were developed.
Over the years, I've continue to enjoy the hobby with no real training. Now that I'm living my passions more intentionally, I decided that it might be good to see if some of this passion could be translated into an income that would allow me to enjoy more time with it, and so it was that I recently signed up with Dreamstime. A new adventure has begun!
What I can tell you is that I have much, much to learn! That has been a really good lesson for me at this stage in my life. One things you've figured most of it out, but I've learned that in the world of stock photography I really don't know a darn thing. But that's okay! I am a life long learner, and this is one more lesson that has come my way. I'm loving it!
These photos , sadly didn't make the cut. But, the good news is that from what I'm beginning to learn from my mistakes is paying off in that now my photos are beginning to. This, like everything worth doing, is going to be a much slower, harder journey than I first thought it would be. But I know it's going to be well worth it in the end.
Now, do I mean well worth it in terms of money earned as a stock photographer? Not likely, but who knows about that. Time will only tell. But well worth it in that I'm giving myself permission and a push to pursue something I love, love, love doing. I'm looking at my photography through a different lens now you might say. Realizing that there is much more I can be doing to turn my passion into a craft. Taking time to read all the tips and suggestions and yes...getting better at it. Sometimes success lies in just knowing you're improving at whatever it is that you're passionate about. For now, I'm good with that....so off I go to snap away!
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