holy holy holy

The Only Thing That Makes Us Feel Alive

Loving can hurt, loving can hurt sometimes

But it's the only thing that I know

When it gets hard, you know it can get hard sometimes

It is the only thing that makes us feel alive

So it's been 10 days since I last posted.

During the day I've been trying to finish my photo editing so that I can have some relaxing time before I get started writing my book in November.

That's right - if you're a friend of mine and you’re reading this you might have forgotten already, or never really been informed that I'm writing a book.  I compiled a book of poetry a couple of years ago,  which I printed but was never really able to pick up most of the copies for financial reasons.  I still feel kinda bad about that actually,  and I'm not sure if my books are still at the library. If they are I’d really like to pick them up but I'll have to wait until I have a little bit more money. Story of My Life.

I've had a couple of really amazing moments in the last 10 days. I did a debrief session with Tim King, he's been one of my clients for Last Resort for a couple of years. We had stopped doing regular sessions not too long ago, I basically graduated him, and I wanted to do a session where I went through the same assessment that I normally do with clients initially. In his case he'd started so early with me as a consultant that I hadn't actually created the assessment yet when we started working together.  nevertheless, when we did this assessment it was a wonderful thing to behold.   He now lives his life in a state of relaxation and balance,  and what was his hard work that did the majority of everything required for this to be true,  I am extraordinarily proud that I was able to be a cog in the wheel of the process that allowed all this to happen, an effective and wise guide. In particular, Tim actually asked for a copy of the emotional inventory that I always do with clients. He was experiencing nearly everything on the positive side and the only items on the negative side he was experiencing were actually completely normal human experiences (like empathy for others) and nothing to be worried about.

To know for certain that what I do as a consultant affects other people's lives in a positive way is an indescribably powerful thing to know. It gives me joy to continue even when it seems like a difficult path to follow financially and personally.

Speaking of time management, for the very first time I did a Click-and-Collect pick up at Superstore last week. For those not knowing what I'm talking about,  last year Superstore started offering a service where by staff of theirs collect your groceries and all you have to do is shop online, pay, park at their parking lot in a two-hour window, and pay $3-6 for all of this, plus I intend on tipping the folks. I ruined it a bit this time by not fully understanding how it worked, and by caring so much about one item they couldn’t find that I went into the store and found that and some more stuff. I did find the staff to be extremely accomodating, at my store at least, and I am 100% interested in continuing this practice when Paul and I are both feeling busy, especially since I can make the order and send him to collect it, or possibly at some point even vice versa. I expect this service to become vital when we are finally able to have children as well.

During the evenings on my calendar, I've had far more than the usual amount of socializing, and it's actually been really good for me. Nearly every night on my calendar over the past ten days has been a time with friends, or trying to make new friends.

I had a really great time at the wedding industry mixer party, a biannual party that happens in early spring in late fall to commemorate the beginning and end of wedding season in Alberta.  I had some long conversations with old friends, and while the topic of CPC came up a few more times than I would have liked,  I was ready to deal with it and knew the potential was there.  I was a little upset that the party featured almost entirely photographers! I have really been hoping to forge some connections with the wedding planner or two,  however I felt welcomed and accepted in this crowd of people and it helps me to feel excited about continuing in photography for the next three to five years at least.

We keep this love in a photograph

We made these memories for ourselves

Where our eyes are never closing

Hearts are never broken

And time's forever frozen still

Considering just a few months ago I was looking at winding down everything photography related this is a very different life trajectory.  There's a whole bunch of reasons for this which I may or may not have talked about on the blog. First of all something happened which I would consider in the terms of Monopoly: a “Bank error in my favor” -  Google changed their algorithm for Google Places,  and with what felt like no work whatsoever on my part - not true, but the work was not linked with the reward. I am certain that it has to do with the fact that I changed the images on my Google Places account at some point in the recent past and they were attractive to people clicking on them, as well as a few other changes regarding the geography of local search and recent website changes - so it catapulted me right to the top again, or at least for enough people as are searching nearby and looking for the kind of services I offer.  I know that if I completely revamp my website -  the process that I started back in December of last year, with recent posts and relevant keywords, things will only get busier around here. One website down - I think I’m basically done with the boudoir wordpress installation, but I have a lot of work left to do on Admire Studios, and tons of work left to do on Last Resort, which is an issue for a few months from now once I’ve got a book in the oven.

Another social news I had a Perogy Double Date with my friend Erin and her fiance. We had a lovely time, a lovely discussion, and a lot of delicious foods, and ended the evening having tea at my place, which was more of the same fun time discussing things. I am grateful to have at least one close friend in town, but glad that the facilities exist - sort of - to have friends outside of it. For example my friend Janet and I finally had a chance on Skype where we Macgyvered it with the use of Skype only for video, and our phones for the audio portion and somehow managed to have a pretty incident-free chat. We were able to both hear and see each other for pretty much the duration of the call. After nearly 20 years of the internet at this point, you’d think that a conference call with video would not be such a difficult thing to achieve. But alas.

Once a year we celebrate

With stupid hats and plastic plates

The fact that you were able to make

Another trip around the sun

I had a Crazy Hats Birthday party this year that 6 people attended in Edmonton. It felt special to be able to have a tea-and-snacks-and-conversation style party in Edmonton where enough people came that we had to break out the spare chairs and the extra bags of chips! Plus people did actually wear hats at supper, and that was a wonderfully fun thing. Everyone chatted about various different things and got along fairly well. One of the things we talked about was escape rooms - I’d really like to enjoy another escape room experience again soon after Mars was SO awesome. Live or die, I think I’ll always enjoy them!

If home is where the heart is

Then my home is where you are

But it's getting, oh, so hard

To spend these days without my heart

The most inexplicable coincidence happened to me this year - two couple friends of ours were each unable to come to my birthday party because one of the couple (in one case the lady, the other the gentleman) was going in for a minor heart surgery. How on earth!! I told some of my friends about it because it was too bizarre. Apparently that’s the fashionable excuse for birthday party non-attendance these days!

Finally, I found another group of people on Reddit who are meeting up and hosting their own social parties - last night was a board games Meet and Greet with tons of great food and some really fun people. It was a bit of an odd experience seeing as I felt accepted, but not terribly welcomed. (While I was engaged in conversation, nobody asked me what I did for a living all night, it was WEIRD.) I think their group is probably reaching capacity, and I didn’t immediately feel like they were a great fit. This is not to say that I’ll stop trying with these things, it’s extremely hit and miss, but since we have two social groups that I am pleased with already for different reasons, I think I will probably tell them I had a nice time but won’t be back, which is an awkward thing to say, but I always preach the virtues of the breakup (instead of overstaying a relationship) and I think this was a one-night-stand sort of social experience, so I ought to practice what I preach and bow out gracefully.

Murphy has again developed the frustrating habit of waking us up at 2am. When he wakes Paul up, Paul gets frustrated and goes back to sleep. When he wakes me up, I typically am completely unable to go back to sleep. Tonight my twilight mind was filled with odd and grotesque visions and ideas, and since it’s Halloween and we watched a lot of superhero TV yesterday I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. So I’ve been up now for two hours in the middle of the night, but the other middle of the night, the portion after 2am. It’s a productive and nice time I guess, but I’d have definitely preferred to sleep until at least 5 or 6, the hours when normal humans begin. I suppose that being awake for the night hours of Halloween isn’t the worst thing. The darkness becomes the season.

I was saying at the party the other night that I heavily prefer the “silly” Halloween vs. the actually scary and jarring and bloody that tends to come out, but I also understand why we have a grisly holiday - in the same way as our dreams deal with the things we can’t deal with in our conscious lives, I think our holidays help us deal with the pedestrian realities of death finding us all evenutally.

I suppose since it is approaching All Saints Day, and today is Día de Muertos it may be socially acceptable to talk a little about death.

Another nail in another coffin

Arms that held you return to dust

Yet in our grief we know death must be a liar

For no goodbye is ever good enough

I started writing my will a few months ago, which has been an interesting process. It’s still just a digital draft, with a few notes about the dog and the business. I used to be comfortable with my mortality, and in a way I still am, but the romanticism of dying young is gone, and I no longer commute past the graveyard on a daily basis (though, interesting note, there is one on my frequent trips across Edmonton via Hwy 16.)

Living is simple

It’s gravity, gravity isn’t so hard

Living is simple

It’s entropy, entropy falling apart

In a few days I go from 30 to 31. I’ve always stated my age as one year older by the time I reach October, rounding up and all. It’s not really old, but some of the flavours of youth are gone or at least truncated.

I am still, however, unafraid of death. Dying is easy, living is hard.

Traditionally, this time of year is when Catholics celebrate the saints, particularly in their martyrdom. I had a conversation with Paul not long ago about the inherent martyrdom of being a modern Catholic. In a world where even some of our close Christian friends are extremely liberal in their beliefs, and many of the new connections we have formed are liberal and agnostic or atheist, along with the vast majority of the media… In a world where so much of the “right” is composed of caricatures of the religion I care about and the political parties who used to espouse some form of connection to morality are all crumbling, there is a day to day martyrdom. I didn’t realize just how much anti-Catholic rhetoric there was out there until after I became a practicing Catholic, and my acquaintances and sometimes even friends post rabidly anti-Catholic views online, particularly on Facebook, and particularly recently with the co-happenings of the canonization of Saint Theresa of Calcutta (formerly known as Mother Teresa and still spoken of that way by non-catholics) and the push towards assisted suicide in Canada, opposed by the Church and increasingly by myself, though I wavered in opinion for some time, and still read ideas and research on both sides of the issue.

But it is almost a weekly occurrence now to see something anti-Catholic - we’re seen as “holdouts” to modernity. We’re seen as backwards and behind the times and non-progressive, and in many circles as mean and heartless as well as offering nothing of value to society. It’s a pretty normal thing for me to encounter on a daily basis, and has brought me pain and brought some of my fledgling relationships into question.

Until I realized that dying is easy, and living is hard.

Living is dying

Your mercy, Your mercy is how I believe

Living is dying, I can't understand it

I'm down on my knees

Confessing my needs again

What I mean by that is that I have begun to embrace the living martyrdom of Catholicism. I know it will affect my relationships, my family, even my career, and I accept that now. I was troubled about a month ago by an instance of this, and went to my little prayer corner to pray, my shrine I suppose would be the real title of it. I prayed and was given an answer that was good, if not peaceful. The Holy Spirit said to me, when we encounter hatred toward Catholicism, we should pray, "I am honoured to be a martyr for Christ." It resonated deeply in my bones as I remembered the young woman who became so interested in the history of the martyrs, and wondered if I would ever share their fate. It seemed so unlikely back then, as a protestant, but it feels much more real to me now, as I daily see vitriolic commentary and hatred aimed at my tribe, mostly from those who deny God, but also from some of the Christians on the other side of the divide.

You had to have that hard conversation

Where nothing hurts quite like the truth

And now you wonder what she's thinking

Who she sees when she looks at you

How could it be everything sad is coming untrue?

Apparently it’s the 500th anniversary of the Protestant “Reformation” as Protestants and Historians call it, and the resulting response by the Catholic Church of the Counterreformation. In my initial Wikipedia journey on the subject tonight I found an illustration of Luther’s head as the Devil’s bagpipes. Despite the fact that this was on a serious page mainly about the persecution of protestants, I couldn’t help but laugh, as I rather agree. Honestly the more I have found out about Luther, the less charitable I feel about him as a person, he’s certainly not the sort of person I’d like to look back on as the founder of my faith tribe.

On a website a friend posted commemorating the Reformation, there was a statistic that there are only about 60,000 Lutherans in Canada. Compared to the stats for Catholics (even though only about 50-60% of Catholics are practicing) I would say that the Counter-reformation in the Catholic Church was the winning party when it came to Luther’s original intent, which was not to fracture the church into a gazillion pieces, many of whom have no knowlege whatsoever of liturgy.

Statistically, Protestants have had even steeper losses is North America than Catholics these past forty years, which I guess doesn’t surprise me. It’s amazing to me that I lived for most of my young life in ignorance of the fact that nearly 50% of the city I grew up it identified as Catholic. The wall is maintained on both sides, however, so I suppose I should not be so surprised.

Your hurt has left you guarded

But hope is tugging at your sleeve

You were meant for something more

There’s a sort of coming-out I feel these days, a personal renaissance of honestly attempting to be real with those I meet about what being Catholic means to me, and that in many ways I have unpopular views and am one of those Catholics, while at the same time I have a lot what are considered more modern predilections.

Part of this is that I feel that I have been called to be kind to the modern outcasts from the church - especially when it comes to sexuality. In the past few months I have encountered a statistically improbable number of people who are gay, transgender, have cheated on their spouse, or other sexual things that I personally am not in agreement with.

It must be said here that fundamentally, there is a demand going about, to which I will not cave, that in order to be kind to another human I must agree with them. This is, when looked at abstactly with no particular ideas on one side or another, mad nonsense, but is also a commonly held belief in modern North America.

I just want to love these people. Maybe go out for dinner and spend some time with them like Jesus did. Is that too much to ask?

When we learn to love mercy more than being right

Pursuing peace and honesty

Starting down the road of selflessness

And seeing where it leads

Religious rivalries and petty moat digging aside, I am troubled at how few marginalized people are being given a margin to grow and be loved. Where do we draw a line between love and our beliefs about what is true? Somewhere on the side of love and grace and mercy, I believe. I know that I am not alone in thinking this way, but I have encountered a great many people who fall firmly in the camp of upholding doctrinal truth as a wall between people, and I see no merit in it. I believe that walls between us are walls between us and Christ himself, the kind that may result in him saying, “I never knew you.”

So I will continue in this walk, because I am willing to suffer, willing to change, willing to become someone holy. And I will try to stay willing, even when the flesh is weak.

I've had my choices

I've chosen today

I've had my choices

And choices remain