Mother of all Jedi

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I miss my Dad. It has been 11 years now since he left this world and became one with the Force. My Mum carries on – alone.

She never had an ‘easy life’. She was the daughter of a railroad agent, and the oldest daughter. When she was just a child – and I hope I am getting her story right – during the second world war, she would help the man who owned the restaurant in her small town. She would write letters for him and help him with his book keeping. Because there was a war on she was paid in rations for her and her family. She has always had an affinity for numbers, and never a stranger to hard work. By the time she was 13 years old she was working in a tomato canning facility. She was moved up a grade early on because of her intelligence. She never went to college but she began working at a bank and became a career banker. She started as a bank teller, and moved up the banking ladder rather quickly. She became a head bank teller and moved on from there to be an executive, spending many years with the RBC.

She has told me many interesting stories about her banking life over the years. As a child I remember her telling me how the police gave the tellers a seminar on how to remember facial features when dealing with customers in the event they were robbed. She had a good time in the seminar and listened attentively. Soon after the course was over she had a pleasant conversation with a customer. When he had left, her manager asked her if she could recall any particulars. She remembered his pleasantness, his brown hair and his smile. However, the manager pointed out to her after her vague description that the customer also had no ears (true story).

She has told me about carrying a gun at her wicket as a young bank teller. It was common practice at the time. She also seemed to attract repeat customers to her wicket, and if she was on lunch it was not uncommon for her customers to wait until she returned to do their banking for them. It may have been because from the pictures I have seen of her, she was tall with dark hair. She made everyone feel at ease when they dealt with her.

What I have observed over the years as her son is that my Mum has always been a people person. She had a way of relating to everyone. It didn’t matter if a person was from a certain social class – my Mum accepted people for who they were.

As a young cub scout I remember my Mum putting on a display of her antiques for the wolf pack. She showed my fellow cubs how cylinder records worked, and was always quick with a funny story. When I am asked about my abilities at storytelling I know I get it from her – though she is way better at telling stories than I will ever be.

My Mum has also been a very private person. She was (and continues to be) a force of her own. I have noticed that her directness is sometimes taken as a harsh attitude. People have said she is tough – and she is. Her living for 11 years on her own is a testament to her strength and resilience. She simply is a woman who does not take sh$t from others. She has had to be tough. However, those that really know her know her beneath that rugged facade. She has the biggest heart out of anyone I have ever met. She often would get in trouble in the bank for helping people out. She would find the best ways to save people money – and if it meant she was out of a commission it didn’t matter as long as it helped the people who often had nothing. She cared for everybody. She was the life of the party. She seemed hard and tough to those who didn’t really know her – but the few who really did knew her for what she is – a caring and loving soul.

Over the years since my Dad passed, my Mum continues to carry on in her house – the only house I knew as a child. Her generosity has been taken advantage of more than once from many in her own family – yet she finds ways to forgive but never ever to forget.

I have written lots of things about my Dad – but I think Mums often get short-changed. I wanted to boast about my incredibly powerful and strong Mum.

I love her as a son – and I adore her as a friend. I often tell her that she is a huge inspiration. I love her more than words can ever do justice.

My blog is about how Star Wars saved my life. Well, my Mum bought me my very first Star Wars Action figure (R2D2) when I was a child. She has a great sense of humour – teasing me about watching Return of the Jedi so many times in the theatre when it came out, referring to it as “Return of the Walleye”. She taught me to have humour during the darker times. She taught me a strong work ethic when I was a child. She led by example and always jumped in to help. She was never afraid of hard work, and yet leads with grace and dignity. The day she found out I had been abused at school, she wasted no time in pulling me out immediately. Looking back I wish I had been able to tell her when the abuse first happened. She would have saved me from a lot of suffering.

It is not Mother’s day. It is not any day in particular. My Mum is my hero. She deserves so much more happiness at this stage in her life than I can ever give her. I hope she truly hears me when I tell her that I love her. If I am a Jedi – then my Mum is a Jedi Master. I am proud to be her son, and she really is the Mother of all Jedi.

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Innocence, Ignorance, and the Man at the Blue Bayou….

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It was two years after I was pulled out of the private school that my family went on a road trip to Disneyland. I have written in the past about my Disney experience and how much I savoured my time in that park, feeling so safe and having so much fun with my Dad and my Mom. The recent events in Charlottesville reminded me of that initial trip to Disneyland…. Let me explain.

I was only a child and was growing up in the North, in a small town. Disneyland was an incredible experience unlike anything I have ever experienced before. In fact, it has spoiled my amusement park expectations everywhere. I find myself looking forward to every pilgrimage I can make there. Upon that first visit, I remember visiting Frontierland, and like most park guests, had to look for treasures in the gift shop inside the fort. I picked out a toy musket and a hat. This was no ordinary hat. I had never seen that kind of hat before. I thought it looked really cool. I knew I had to have it. It had crossed swords on the front, with a short black visor. It slouched down in the front and was taller in the back. It had a screen printed fabric sticker on top of a red and white flag in a cross formation – just like the flag on the car in one of my favourite TV series, The Dukes of Hazard. It was grey. I didn’t know anything about the civil war, or the meaning of the confederacy. I was innocent and ignorant to those events at that time.

My parents acquiesced and allowed me to purchase these items. It was no big deal, or so I thought. I sported my grey cap throughout the park. I thought it looked cool. Heck, I thought I looked cool walking around with my musket and my grey kepi. I received compliments from the cast members and had no idea of what kind of message I was broadcasting.

My family had lunch at the Blue Bayou in Disneyland that afternoon. We were sitting and enjoying our meals. My hat drew the attention of a middle-aged man at the table next to us. He kept looking over at me. I thought he must have been admiring my ultra cool look. After a while he leaned over to make pleasant conversation with us. The first thing he asked us was where we were from. We told him we were from Canada. He turned back and said something to the others at his table. He then spoke to me. “That’s a mighty fine hat you are wearing.” I thanked him. “Do you know about the history of that hat?” he asked. I told him that it was a soldier’s hat but that’s as far as my knowledge on the subject went. “Do you know anything about that flag on the top of your hat?” I told him it was the same flag the Dukes of Hazard had on their car. He then said, “You know, that hat would look a lot better with out that flag. They didn’t used to have those flags on them.” I looked at my hat, and thought he may be right. Perhaps my hat would look better without that flag. “Do you like grey?” I told him I thought it was okay. “I prefer blue”, he said. We finished our meals and said goodbye to the people we were sitting next to. They wished us a safe and fun stay. Before leaving he told me that blue would be a really nice color for that kind of hat.

As we roamed around the park that afternoon I began to take notice of the looks I was getting. They were mostly pleasant. But I did notice that the people who were like the man at the restaurant gave me more studied looks. Perhaps the man was right, and the flag on top of my hat did not look as cool as I thought. We sat down later that day for a snack and a break and I took my hat off and looked at it. I started to pick at the sticker. It pulled off rather easily. I discarded it in the trash and believed the hat did look better without it.

It is now decades after that event in my life. Watching the events at Charlottesville this week, like I mentioned earlier, reminded me of that time and that man. Upon reflection of that memory, I can understand his initial hesitation when asking us where we were from and his relief to hear we were from the North. His short conversation with us that day was bold. He planted the seeds for me to look into the deeper meaning of the colors of the hat, and why he had subtly told me a couple times that blue was a good color. It was a few years later that I began to learn about the Civil War and really began to understand what the man at that table, the African American man, was telling me. My grey hat eventually found its way to the trash, and I came to agree that blue was a much better color for me.

I wish I could find that man and thank him for his lesson all those years ago. It was not a lecture, and it was not provoked by anger. I was ignorant to the facts and he offered me an opportunity to educate myself on a matter I had known nothing about. I can’t assume anything about that man’s history, but I can imagine how the image of a confederate flag might feel to some people. I had thought it looked cool. I was ignorantly innocent. I can only imagine how blind acceptance of hate symbols in our society can humiliate and intimidate some of us within our multi-faceted society.

There are some symbols of the past that are best left in history books or on display in museums where they can be put in context. Removing images and symbols from public displays that provide a phenomenological reaction do not erase the history or significance of those objects or their cultural and historical significance. Proper context is required to understand the meaning beyond the “it looks cool” factor. Iconic symbols of history have the effect of being cultural time machines. I don’t remember seeing swastika keychains or souvenir SS hats when I was in Germany. Why are confederate symbols any different? I know I am leaving myself open to many arguments of iconography, semiotics and phenomenological debates, but the essence of what I am attempting to get across is that education is important if we really want to stop the ignorance of “hateography”. If you are going to display it, know what it really means, rather than seeing it through fifty shades of grey.

Time, The Force, and Old Friends Long Gone….

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At the end of The Force Awakens, Rey lands on Ahch-To, climbs the steps towards the first Jedi Temple and finds herself face to face with Luke Skywalker. She hands him his first lightsaber – the one Ben Kenobi gave Luke many years before on Tatooine. Luke knows then that his isolation and mediation is over.

To me, this is perhaps one of the most powerful moments of Episode VIII. Luke has exiled himself far away from his circle of friends – from those who love him. He has made a choice to live in isolation.

Over the past number of months I have been living in an isolation of sorts – I have gone out of my way to exclude myself from others and from social activities. To engage with others brings up feelings of anxiety and fear. Much like Luke, the incident at the university I worked at brought with it many ghosts from my past. Ghosts that I have been forced once more to spend time with. Hear me out, I am not a victim of the past. Quite the contrary.

I believe my social isolation has been (and remains) a pilgrimage into my soul. I am resetting my compass – and doing so much to the chagrin of my foes – I am regaining my strength. Over the past few years the external dark forces have been feeding on me. I have allowed the actions of a few to break me down and to rob me of my light. I know this now. I have been on a path of self-hate – something that returned from my childhood into my adult years. The opportunists tried to use this to break me, and they almost succeeded.

Almost.

I am a great believer that time is a great healer. I really believe in this. At times I have looked to my own power with awe and excitement. At other times I have cursed the power within and felt it shrivel. In the past I have let moments of time grow large while revisited in my mind – each time the moment replayed it grew and festered. I have had false friends teach me to shame myself, and the shame replayed and replayed like a never-ending carousel. The false friends are gone, but their ghosts live on in my mind.

Those evil spirits have had me pull away from fortuitous interactions. They have helped me keep my head down when I have yearned to hold it up high. Even as I write this I am filling up with a sense of relief to let it out. I am seeing the light of letting go of the past – it’s still baby steps, but the light is ahead – I can feel it.

Yoda tells Luke that the Force is powerful, and that with it a Jedi can see many things – other places, old friends long gone, the future….. I have seen the past many times. I see (sense) the future and it is bringing me back to the light. The ghosts of the past are trying to keep me there – but the love of my family, friends and students is a stronger force.

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Recently I received a surprise gift at my door – it was a hand made envelope and card full of notes from some of my former students. The front of the card featured a beautiful paining of Yoda. Tears streamed down my face as I read each of the written notes within. I had made a difference. Somehow I was an influence. I started to see the power that I am and the potential I have yet to reach.

Each day the self-hatred turns towards self-compassion. I am beginning to see the power of self-acceptance and the importance of self-care. I see now that the incident in the fall was a way of kick-starting the Force within me to a higher plane of understanding and acceptance. It was the selfless act of my students – with no ulterior motives – that helped me see my power and my potential. My Padawans became my Masters. I am thankful for their strength in the words they shared with me and I will cherish the card they sent to me. It was a great and wonderful gift.

When Luke turned around to see young Rey before him – and then hand him his lightsaber as a gift and as an offering, he began to weep for he saw that he had a great responsibility in the gift he needed to share with others. This was a gift he had tried to run from but it had caught up with him. I am beginning to understand the responsibility of sharing gifts such as his with others. The Force is strong with me – and I have the ability to share it in a positive way with those around me. I love my students, and the power of their gift to me has called the Jedi to return to the path towards the light. Time is a great healer – and the healing has truly begun.

I am one with the Force, the Force is with me. May the Force be with you. The Force is my ally and a powerful ally it is.

Goodbye false friends – goodbye ghosts of the past, the spirit of love and compassion is returning me to the path of light.

Time.

Breaking the Silence…The Force is With Me….

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I am one with the Force, the Force is with me…..

I have been silent for months now. Inside, however, I am bursting with the need to speak, to create, to write. I have tried many times to write something coherent. Often I stop and press delete – erasing my painful attempts to share. I have made a decision to not delete what I write now, and I hope I will carry on and post what I write. This will take me a lot of time to share my thoughts coherently as I cannot stay focused for long anymore without anxiety rushing to visit me. So be advised that this, like my healing, will take time.

Time.

Time is (or can be) a great healer. It can also bring isolation and depression. It can lead us to our new beginnings or it can take us to the edge of the abyss. Sometimes it feels as though it can do both simultaneously. Here’s what’s been happening. Buckle in for this ride.

Jealousy is an evil and caustic emotion. We all go to that place of loathing, fearing, and resentment. Sometimes we can feel when it is directed at us – when we are being targeted by the ill thoughts of others. I have had several months to reflect on the spells, jealousies and ill – will that has been directed towards me. But for what? For security and for money, unfortunately.

I am one with the Force, the Force is with me…..

You see, as a survivor of abuse I could take several paths that would lead to my salvation or my destruction. After surviving the horrors of abuse at such a young age, I overcompensated by keeping to myself. My energy was focused into learning. I learned about history – a place I could be that existed in any time except the time I currently reside in. As a result I eventually attained the highest degree – a PhD. This was never my goal, or a plan in my life. In fact, coming from the small northern town where I was abused, it’s a wonder I even grauduated. But I did. And I left. And I traveled. And I immersed myself into other countries customs and ideas. I returned to Canada and tried to ignore the resentment from other “friends” who envied my adventures. And I had many wonderful, scary, beautiful and terrifying adventures. I lost friends as a result of being able to achieve my ambitions. People said I was privileged, that I was spoiled. I say no to them. I was determined to make things happen. I am proud that I have been able to attain levels of success in life despite my abuse as a child. The Force is my ally. I believe in it and it is no different than believing that a grey-haired god sits on a throne above us and watches us. We all have our beliefs and they should all be respected. But I digress.

Some of my childhood “friends” didn’t think I was aware of their comments about me – but I could feel their anger and resentment because I was not afraid to live. I didn’t let them get to me – at that time the Force was strong with me and it protected me. But over time, even the strongest of Jedi get worn down. Eventually the words and dark thoughts do break through our protective Force-bubbles.

I was an instructor. I was an instructor because I believe that “Maxima debeteur puero reverentia” – it is to the children whom we owe the greatest respect. I was an instructor because I believed I owed the future generation gifts of my experience. I wanted to let my students know they had gifts to offer the world. I wanted them to learn to harness their internal powers and let the Force be their guide. I wanted to let them know I cared for them. I loved teaching. It was something that came to me easily. I was not an instructor because I had “failed” in my vocation. I was not an instructor because I could not face the “real world”. I was an instructor because I wanted to prepare my students for the trials and tribulations that the real world had to offer, and I believed then (and to this day) that the world needs more magic. With my students I created magic. It was effortless for me to bring out the best in my students. I respected them and in turn they respected me. I know they did because I could feel that positive energy surrounding me.

But the dark times, they came. Brought on by the insecurities of others.

Superiors to me (longer employed instructors) resented my seemingly easy approach to my students. To them, education was something that had to be difficult, tedious, and full of rejection. They fed on student’s insecurities and aimed to break the weak. I remember meetings of my peers where they made fun of the current state of the future generation. I was there when they felt that today’s children were weak and needed to be treated harshly. They felt that acting students needed to be “broken” down and brought back up. They didn’t listen to the issues the students had. They believed in forcing students to do what they were told. They were the Dark Powers. Of course this was not every instructor – only a very few – but a few who loved being the loudest voices. Other instructors feared standing up to them because they were confrontational. I tried to not let them get to me. But I could feel their jealousies towards me because I was seen as a threat, for I was a PhD. At first their evil vibrations were unable to get to me because I was operating at a higher frequency. But their powers continued to grow and wear me down. Eventually I had to stand up to the first of them. At first my stance was seen as a joke, but once my voice was heard very clearly, that first dark power left the university and it felt, for a short time, that love and positive intention was to be regained.

Time.

Shortly after taking on a new role with more responsibility I was approached by another dark power. All that I had stood up for and fought for was dashed from me in seconds. Decades of healing from abuse were shattered from a confrontation I was not expecting. Some may think I was a snowflake, but that is far from the case. I left the campus that morning – turning my attention once more back to me, and not to others. The confrontation that morning stripped back the years to when I was a small child abused. I was shattered. I was alone. I was returning to being a victim.

My ally is the Force.

My doctor, my therapist and my family have been my shelter and my source of positivity. Through their love, guidance and support I have been able to start towards the path of light once more. Slowly I am regaining my power. I am slowly returning to being a warrior. Note the word SLOWLY.

To this day I cannot be in public for long amounts of time. I still look behind me in public. I still feel vulnerable. I shy away from being with others and still prefer to remain alone.  For the first time in my life I am on long term medication to keep me from slipping deep into the darkness. I am still fragile. I am, however, one with the Force.

The Dark Powers will never go away. But finding a way to keep their energy from affecting me is my goal. I no longer audition. I no longer can tolerate large groups. Slowly I am trying to change that. I am trying to let myself enjoy the gifts I have to share with others. I am slowly feeling that I can one day share my gifts with future students. But as I wrote before, it is slowly.

I will not forget the evil done to me by some of my peers. However, I will forgive them. I will forgive them because they are not even aware how caustic they are. They are on their own paths of hate and destruction. They exist – but not in the compassionate reality of love and light. I do hope that they will not continue to harm the energies and ambitions of the students they encounter. I have other peers that teach in the light – and I look forward to the day I can stand with them once more. But I will not stand any longer for those who teach in the dark. Slowly I have been re-learning to stand up to the dark side. I am learning to deflect the negative energies I encounter. I will re-learn to share with my peers and students. But it takes time.

Time.

Until that time comes, I am not going to feel remorse or guilt. I am not going to feed on my insecurities that I am not worthy. I am going to remain in hibernation until I am ready to wake from the winter of my solitude. But know this, I will once more wake with the positive energy to continue to share the gifts I was blessed with. For the Force is my ally. I look forward to standing up and being seen. I will never let what happened to me months ago happen to me again for the Force is with me and I am one with the Force.

Christmas, Mr. Spock and the Logic of Creating Magic

From last year – once again.

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A long time ago, in a Podunk far, far away many Christmases ago…there lived I. As a child I deeply believed (and wished to believe) in MAGIC. Christmas was very special to me because of the inherent magic that surrounds it. Wishes, hopes and dreams and a time of wonder that felt like bolts of energy as I walked through the malls and stores brought me a feeling of happiness and joy.

Because I had been abused from age 4 to 9, Christmases were more like a life-line, a recharging of belief in mankind. I was out of school over the winter breaks and these were breaks I sorely needed and took great joy in the comfort of my home. And then there was the man, Santa.

Santa was perhaps the one adult outside of my parents that I trusted completely. I would write to him and I was lucky…

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My father, my Jedi

It’s been a year – and on the eve of remembrance I think it’s fitting to repost this.

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A long time ago, in a podunk far far away I was born. The town was called Hopeless (at least that’s what I call it). My father and mother made their living there. It was a town where I would make few lasting friendships, and a place that I really only look back with fondness when I think of my parents and their love for me.

This past week was a week of remembrance. Even though Starbucks took to the holiday season early (November 1st) and faced a trivial controversy of issuing a holiday cup that was plain red, people still took time out of their schedules to pay respects to the veterans who have served their countries in times of need. I am not going to write about the right or wrong of the conflicts as that is not for me to say. I could easily look back and…

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Death of the Jedi?

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It is dark outside, and the rain is lightly licking the window as it falls. I am watching Empire Strikes Back once more. It has been some time since I have added anything new to my blog. There is good reason, but I am going to give it a go.

I spent the last year fighting for my professional existence. It was a difficult path, and it was emotionally and physically exhausting. Somehow I made it through. I felt the power of the Force and inside felt a sense of accomplishment. As far as I was concerned, I was doing good and making positive change.

Then it happened. One day in October. My strength was dashed from me through an event that nearly crippled me emotionally. Immediately I was drained of all sense of positivity. Old demons flooded back to greet me, binding me and chaining me to the horror chamber of my past. It was dark. It is dark.

People who have not experienced trauma in their lives (and I am so happy for people who have not had to experience this) have a difficult time understanding those of us who have had traumatic events happen in our lives. We all experience sadness, anger, loss, and so on. But I mean extreme trauma – extreme violence, shaming, abuse, rape, and so on. As a survivor of rape and abuse I am always doing my best to be a functional and contributing citizen to society. I do my best to deal with my past so it does not negatively affect others. In fact, I am constantly doing my best to help others, and share my past as a way to help others heal. But when a person attacks me in my safe place, both physically and emotionally, real damage is done and the healing process begins all over again. I really think this is a form of PTSD.

I am at the point of the film where Luke enters the cave. This movie is making me think about the Force once more. “A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defence.” However, as Luke says, “There is something not right here.” There isn’t. Not here. Not in my head. You see I feel that the dark side is taking hold. I am at a crossroads of light and dark. The darkness is surrounding me.

I am doing my best to survive this. Today I was told that I may have to begin medication for this. That scares me too. I am trying not to spend my days in fear, in darkness. I am trying to stay on the path of the Jedi. But it is rest I need. I am burned out. I am weak. I am tired. A part of me does not want to fight anymore….

Yet, within the darkness, there is a spark of light. I can feel it. It is the rapid beating of my heart when I try to sleep. It is the nervous feeling in my stomach when I first wake up. It is the light. At my core I am light. I know this. I must take the time to realign the power within me, to focus on healing the damage done to me. I know I have to stand up for what is right, and to speak out once more. I promise I will. The path is never easy. It may seem as though I have given up. I have not. As Obi-Wan tells Vader in A New Hope “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” Guess what? In October I was struck down. In due course my power will return I yearn for it to do so. There is still much work to be done for the good and for the path of light.

It has been difficult for me to write this. I am still finding it difficult to write anything these days. I think a return to writing may help me get better. I am really hoping it will. Wounded as I am, I will fight this. I have to. I am worried about taking medication. My half-sister was abused at the same school I was at as a child. Her path took her immediately to the dark side. She has spent a lifetime running, easing her emotional pain with the addiction of drugs. I have seen what it can do. Now I am facing a choice – to accept the medication offered to me, to help ease the pain inside my head and in my heart, or to continue to work through this and grow the light inside. I worry about addiction. I worry that perhaps the prescription offered to me may provide me with a “quick fix” that will grow in hunger for more quick fixes. I want what is best for me, I do. But I am not sure if medication is the remedy. It may be. It may not be.

I feel so many things. I am conflicted now. I am unsure of my reasoning. I am unsure of my abilities. I am drifting and listing in doubt. I know my family loves me. I know that my mother – now in her eighties – continues to worry for her “little” boy. I want her to know I am going to be ok. It will be ok, won’t it? It may not be today or tomorrow, but one day I will be back with the Force as my ally. After all, I am still a Jedi, right?

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