Learning from Dogs

Dogs are integrous animals. We have much to learn from them.

Posts Tagged ‘Sue Dreamwalker

Written with a hopeful heart.

with 2 comments

Good people must never do nothing!

Last Friday, I published a post under the title: Written with a heavy heart! It was about the appalling atrocities being carried out by ISIS. I was humbled by the many replies.

Yesterday, Su sent me another email that contained a link to a short video of what happened in Holland in September, 2011 when a Muslim attempted to make his personal beliefs known to Queen Beatrix of Holland.

All will become clear when you watch the video.

Love is the answer!

Now at first sight this may seem a silly, naive comment from a Brit who is way past longing for the hippie days of the 60s.

But maybe not!

Here’s a comment left by Lois on a recent Sue Dreamwalker’s post:

Sue, I looked at Paul’s post and came away with tears rolling down my face. Why isn’t this shown on our news, why aren’t we doing more to save these people? We start wars for oil and political ideology but not to save children. Today i just heard that the last group of the Peace Corp just pulled out of Israel because it was no longer safe enough to be there. We can’t keep ignoring what is going on in other parts of the world yet what can we as individuals do? Your poem was perfect for the subject and brings out much of the same questions I have swirling in my head now.

Here’s another reminder of the power of love; a reminder of the role of dogs in allowing us humans to open our hearts and practice unconditional love.

It’s what Jean and I experienced when we were out shopping in Grants Pass yesterday morning.

We were in a largish store when I saw a grey-haired woman pushing her shopping cart. Nothing unusual about that! But this shopping cart had a small, black puppy riding in the section where handbags are placed; just beyond the push-bar.

Halfway down the same aisle that we were in, the lady paused, lifted the puppy into her arms, and was looking at some food items on a shelf.  It was more than Jean and I could resist and we both approached the woman.

It turned out that the lady was 71 and had recently lost a dog from old age. As we petted the little puppy we learnt that he was 10 weeks old and that his name was Shadow.

Then without any prompting she went on to say:

People said I’m too old to be taking on a puppy. But I was so heart-broken when my dog died; so lonely without having him in my life. Now I have Shadow and I can face my days again. Little Shadow means the world to me. And I’m not going to worry about the future – I’m sure someone will take Shadow when I die. I just know that there is nothing better than the love of a little dog.

The power of love.

The power of love.

Of all the many things we can learn from dogs love is the greatest.

How to finish today’s post?

To me, only one way. Over to you: Simply Red.

Lives and loves
Don’t tell me about it
To respond to something permanent
You’ve got to be strong

Lives and loves
Only you know in your heart
How the pain felt
How the love made you melt

Me and you love
We have a way that seems to brighten up the day
We have our problems
Is the whole world asking, “Is it worth it?”

All the lovers in the world
Should they go on?
After all, they say
“You only live once”

Lives and loves
Only you know in your heart
How the pain felt
How the love made you melt

Me and you love
We have a way, that seems to brighten up the day
We have our problems
Is the whole world asking, “Is it worth it?”

All the lovers in the world
Should they go on
On and on and on

Lives and loves
Don’t tell me about it
Someone always gets hurt in it
You’ve got to be strong

Yeah lives and loves
Only we know in our hearts
How the pain felt
Oh your love made me melt

Me and you love
We had a way that seemed to brighten up the day
We had our problems
Is the whole world asking, “Is it worth it?”

All the lovers in the world
Should they go on?
After all, they say
“You only live once”

The Pen: Conclusion.

with 12 comments

Reflections on what makes us who we are.

(Please note that this is a long post that potentially may be upsetting for some readers. Please trust me when I say there is no intention to upset anyone. I should add that the motivation for writing The Pen is from reading Sue Dreamwalker’s recent post Cracking our Inner Shells.)

Yesterday, I wrote about the circumstances of my father’s death on December, 20th 1956. I wrote:

I became twelve-years-old in November, 1956. Just six weeks after my twelfth birthday, on the evening of December 19th, 1956, my mother, as normal, came into my bedroom to kiss me goodnight. However, what transpired was very far from normal.

For she sat down on the edge of the bed and told me that my father was not well and may not live for much longer. To this day, I can still see her sitting on the edge of the bed, adjacent to my knees covered by the sheet and bedcover, a very drawn look on her face.

I had been aware of my father being at home in bed for a while but had no notion whatsoever, prior to this moment, that he was seriously unwell. In hindsight, it was more than I could emotionally embrace for not only did I not go back into my parent’s bedroom and again say goodnight to my father, I went off to sleep without any problem.

During that night, in the early hours of December 20th, my father died, the family doctor attended and my father’s body was removed; I slept through it all and awoke in the morning to find my father gone.

It’s also relevant to reveal that it was deemed potentially too upsetting for my sister, Elizabeth, my junior by four years, and me to attend my father’s cremation.

Upper Barn, Harberton.

Upper Barn, Harberton.

OK! Fast forward to 2006. I was happily married to Julie, my third wife, and had been since the year 2000. Her daughter from a previous marriage, Amy, was also part of the family.  We were living in a three-bedroomed converted stone barn known as Upper Barn in the village of Harberton, a few miles west of Totnes, Devon, South-West England. A lovely tranquil home in a very tranquil village; population 300 persons.

I had my two wonderful sisters, Corinne and Rhona, from my father’s first marriage, living within short distances. My  work, home-based, involved offering entrepreneurial mentoring to local business owners, and my wife and I had a wonderful local network of good friends. Indeed, in the last months of 2006 I had been working with a professional psychotherapist, Jon, as he was expanding his client base from individuals to working within companies. And Pharaoh had been in the family since 2003!  It seemed about as perfect as it could be for me.

December 20th, 2006 was the fiftieth anniversary of my father’s death. I could never settle into the pre-Christmas mood until after the 20th December each year and this anniversary day seemed more poignant than ever. I had missed my father since the day he had died in 1956.

As it happened, that same day Julie seemed off-colour. She was frequently in the bathroom during the day and, naturally, I was concerned. Towards the end of the day I asked what was troubling her. Julie replied that she had had a miscarriage earlier that afternoon.  A year after my son and daughter had been born to my first wife in 1972/1973, I had opted to have a vasectomy! Julie’s miscarriage was not of my making.

I won’t go into the details of how my life exploded but will just say that it was traumatic in every way imaginable.

In desperation, a few weeks into the New Year of 2007, I called my psychotherapist business client, Jon, and begged him to take me on as his client.  He was initially uncertain, stating that we already had a relationship, but agreed on the understanding that if he thought the counselling relationship wasn’t properly established then he would ask me not to continue working with him. Of course, I agreed.

I want to offer what has been written elsewhere by me, explaining what happened in my fourth counselling session with Jon back in 2007. Clearly my memory of what was said can’t be word perfect but the essence of the dialogue is accurate.

“Paul, when we had our first session and I asked you to relate the key life events that came to you, the first event you spoke of was the death of your father. Tell me more about that time of your life.”

“I don’t have clear memories of my father much before he died that year. He was a lot older than my mother, some eighteen years, and I had been the product of a liaison between them; my father being married at the time. They met when they were both members of an amateur orchestra in London during the height of the Second World War. My father had had two daughters with his wife and longed for a son. I came along just six months before the end of the war.”

I paused for a few moments, sensing how dipping back to that December in 1956 was making me feel uncomfortable.

“I had turned twelve-years-old in early November 1956. Just finished my first term at Grammar School. To be honest, I can’t recall when my father became ill and how long he had been bed-ridden. But on the evening of December 19th, after I had kissed my father goodnight and jumped into my bed next door, my mother came in, closed my bedroom door, sat on the edge of my bed and told me that my father was very ill and that he may not live for much longer.

It clearly didn’t register with me at any significant emotional level because I went off to sleep without any problem. But when I awoke in the morning, Mum told me that my father had died during the night, the family doctor had attended and my father’s body had been removed from the house.”

Jon looked at me and quietly asked, “What feelings do you have about that night and that morning?”

“To be honest, Jon, I have an almost complete absence of feelings. I’ve often tried to discover what I truly felt at the time or, indeed, what I feel all these years later. But the best I have ever been able to come up with is that I was never able to say goodbye. In fact, because it was decided that it would be too upsetting for me, I wasn’t even present at the funeral and cremation, thus reinforcing my sense of not saying goodbye to my father.”

There was a pause before Jon asked his next question. “So, Paul, you have a son and a daughter. What are their ages?”

“My son, Alex, is now thirty-five and my daughter, Maija, thirty-four.”

Jon put his hands together fingers-to-fingers and lent his chin against them. “So your son would have been twelve in 1984. That was when you were very busy running your own business, if I recall.”

I nodded in reply.

“So Paul, let’s say that during that year of 1984 you had been diagnosed with some terminal illness, say cancer, as with your father. That you were given a life expectancy of six months or so. What thoughts come to mind?”

“Jon, you mean in the sense of what it would have meant for Alex and Maija?”

Jon nodded.

“Wow, what a truly terrible thing to reflect upon. But what comes to mind without doubt is that I would have walked away from my business immediately. After all, it very soon wasn’t going to be my business. My kids were still living at home, of course. I would have wanted to share every minute of my life with them. Try to let them understand as much about me, who I was, what I believed in, what made Paul Handover the person he was.”

Jon almost breathed the next question into the air of the room. “Translate the circumstances of the death of your father across to your son. What I mean by that is Alex experiencing the same circumstances from your death. What’s your reaction to that situation, admittedly hypothetical situation, thank goodness?”

I reacted with an immediate passion. “To know that I was terminally ill and to keep that from my son and daughter; that’s terrible, no it’s disgusting. Then to compound it by having everything associated with my death and the disposal of my body denied to Alex and Maija …..,” I left the sentence unfinished before adding, “It’s cruel beyond description. My poor children wouldn’t have a clue as to why they were excluded from what is, whether or not one agrees with it, one of life’s most important moments.”

Jon seemed to hold my anger in the room all about us, as he asked, “How would you reword your last sentences in the manner of a headline; in just a few words?”

I hardly hesitated. “The word that comes to mind is rejection. Alex and Maija, aged twelve and eleven, losing their father in a way that suggested they weren’t important. Yes, that’s it. They would see it as a total rejection of them by their father. Not unreasonably, I might add.”

There was a silence in the room that seemed to go on forever. Then Jon said, “Paul, we are not quite up to the hour but I’m going to suggest you just sit here quietly with Pharaoh and let yourself out when you are confident of being OK to drive home.”

He added, almost as an afterthought, “Just let today settle itself into your consciousness just however it wants to. Don’t force your thoughts either way, neither dwelling on today nor preventing thoughts naturally coming to the surface of your mind. As we have discussed before, pay attention to your dreams. Maybe have a notebook by your bedside so you can jot down what you have been dreaming about. I’ll see you next Friday same time, if that’s alright with you.”

When a crossroads is neither a roadway, nor a choice of pathways, when that crossroads is in our minds, we seldom know it’s there or that we’ve made the choice to take one path and not the other until it’s long past. Sometimes, the best you can do is look for the tiniest clues as to which path one has taken in life and where one is really heading.

I had read that in a book quite recently although, typically, could no longer remember the name of the said book. It had spoken to me in a way that I couldn’t fathom, but of sufficient strength and clarity for me to jot it down on a sheet of paper. I had been sorting papers out on my desk on the Sunday following that last session with Jon when I came across the sheet. The words hammered at me again, but in a way that was now so much more full of meaning than the first time around.

Because, to my very great surprise, my nights’ sleeps on Friday and Saturday had not only been dream free but had taken me to a place of such sweet contentment that it was almost as though I had been reborn. Alright, perhaps reborn was a little over the top, but there was no question that I was in an emotional place quite unlike anything I could ever before recall. Almost as if for the first time in my life I truly liked who I was.

On the Sunday morning, after I had taken Pharaoh over to the woods for our regular walk, I called in on Corinne and shared a cup of tea with her. As I was leaving, Corinne asked me if I was alright. In querying why she had asked, Corinne simply said, “Oh, I don’t know. There’s something different about you today that I can’t put my finger on. A happiness about you that I haven’t seen in ages, possibly never seen in you.”

I gave my sister a long and deep hug and gently said, “I miss our father at times, don’t you?”

She answered, “Oh, I miss him too, miss him so much at times. He was such a wonderful, gentle man who lived for his children. Then to die at such a young age.”

As the week rolled by, I found a truth that had been denied me for the whole of my life. I couldn’t wait to share it with Jon. As I drove across to Torquay, I was full of what I wanted to say.

Jon could tell that I was fit to burst. Indeed, I had hardly sat down on the chair when Jon asked me how my week had gone.

“Jon, It’s been an amazing week. I’ve at last understood some fundamental aspects of my life.”

“That sounds wonderful, Paul, do tell me more.”

“Well, it’s this. I have now realised the emotional consequences of the way my father’s death was handled. In other words, what became hidden deep in my subconscious, far from sight, so to speak, was a belief of having been emotionally rejected. That despite that being so far down in my subconscious world, it clearly explained two conscious ways in which I behave.”

Jon’s demeanour, his wonderful listening demeanour, encouraged me to continue. “The first thing that came to me was the reason why I have been so unfortunate in my relationships with women. Well this is how I figured it out. Whenever a woman took a shine to me, I would do anything and everything to come over as a potentially attractive spouse. In other words, I was being driven by a terrible fear of rejection, rather than rationally wondering if this woman had the potential to be a woman I would love as a wife. Ergo, I oversold myself and, inevitably, made poor long-term relationships; Julie being the classic example.”

I paused and took a sip from the glass of water that was on the small table by my side.

“But the positive aspect of my fear of rejection is that throughout the whole of my business and professional life, I have been successful. Because, I have always put the feelings of the other person above my own as a means of avoiding rejection. Jon, I can’t tell you what a release this has been for me.”

“Paul, that’s a fabulous example of how when we really get to know the person we are, how it then gives us a psychological freedom, a freedom to be the person we truly are, to be happy with ourselves.”

He continued, “One thing I should mention is this. It’s likely that what happened to you back in December 1956 is not necessarily ‘hard-wired’ but certainly is a very deep-rooted emotional aspect of who you are. This new-found awareness will be of huge value to you but that sensitivity to rejection is not going to disappear; probably never will. The difference is that you are now aware of it and quite quickly you will spot the situations, as they are happening, that stir up those ancient feelings. The difference is this new self-awareness will deliver a much deeper emotional understanding of who you are and why you behave in the way you do.”

There was a wonderful sense of peace and calm in the room that ran on for some minutes.

Then Jon just voiced what seemed like the perfect closing thought. “Paul, this mindfulness you have so beautifully revealed is wonderful. You do know you are fine, don’t you!”

I was motivated to reveal these details of my past by what Sue wrote in her recent post Cracking our Inner Shells. She included these words:

Sometimes we have to go within to the silent places we all have in order to find out what is really going on with our emotional bodies. Even knowing all the things I do, we are within our Human form to learn and grow..

I needed to ask myself a few questions as to why I was feeling so lost, depressed and sad… More was going on than just bereavement. Yes the fall I had had,both bruised and shook me, but what else was shaking me to the core?

For those who know a little about my Soul Journey, You will also know that my own Mother and I had not spoken for 10 years prior to her passing some eleven years ago now….Despite many attempts I knew I was only wounding myself more by continually trying to bridge the rift, to be continually rejected.. So this rejection and other issues related to overwork and stress, resulted in a Nervous Breakdown in my mid forties..

So when my Mother died, while I was sad, I guess I never really grieved her loss. Because to me.. I had grieved her long before her death as lost to me.. As I had had to shut down my emotions to cope with her rejection.. I had undergone counselling within my breakdown, and my Mother jumped up at every dark corner of why even in my teens I had suffered from deep depression.

We often go through whole chapters of our lives creating a protective shell around ourselves because we need it in order to heal from some early trauma. I know I had built many such Layers of shell around myself from various experiences over the years..

I recommend you read Sue’s post in full.

But more than that, I recommend that if you have any sense of there being hidden parts of your consciousness that would be better brought to the light, then you involve a professional counsellor or psychotherapist. For the reward will be beyond measure.

As mine was.

For on December 14th, 2007 I first met Jean when invited to San Carlos in Mexico for the Christmas period by Suzann and Don Reeves; Suzann being the sister of my very long-term Californian friend Dan Gomez.

Jean and I have now known each other for over seven years and have been married for over four years. I love her beyond imagination. Because I can reveal to Jean the strange, quirky, often fragile person that I am. And I am loved for who I am by Jean.

6th January, 2008. Jean and me on a beach in Mexico.

6th January, 2008. Jean and me on a beach in Mexico.

This is the poem I wrote for Jean for this Valentine’s Day just gone.

What’s in a number?

Numbers spell out so much.

From a year of birth,
To a year of death,
From a chance event,
To a predictable breath.

Numbers spell out so much more.

From the day that we met,
To the year we were joined,
From the day we married,
To this day of love today.

So many days of happiness.

Yet numbers that spill beyond the digits.

For they are reflections of times a past,
And they are beacons of our lives,
Numbers that carry so much meaning,
To places so far beyond their count.

Yet today there is a number,
A number that carries all thoughts of love,
Almost endless thoughts of love from me to you,
Two little figures that say seventy-four.

For seventy-four months ago,
This very day,
I met you,
And you met me.

I loved you so soon,

Loved you so well.

And still do.

If you have read this far then well done! :-) If only one person has been touched by my experiences then that is wonderful.

I shall close by publishing a paragraph towards the end of Sue’s blog post.

Only you can know the how’s and why’s of your life. The answers that you seek can be found when you start answering your own questions, Sometimes we have to get a little lost in order to find oneself again.. But the journey in finding oneself is all part of our Earth Journey.

All of you take very good care of yourself.

P1150363

Written by Paul Handover

February 17, 2015 at 00:00

The Pen

with 7 comments

Reflections on what makes us who we are.

(This is a two-part post, with the concluding part tomorrow.)

My father was born on June 15th, 1901.

Here is a photograph taken of him on his twenty-first birthday.

asasas

Frederick William Handover – June 15th, 1922

He was an architect for Barclay Perkins & Co., a London firm of brewers.  Here are the opening words of the Wikipedia entry.

The Anchor Brewery was an English brewery located in Southwark, London. Established in 1616, by the early nineteenth century it was the largest brewery in the world. From 1781 it was operated by Barclay Perkins & Co, who merged with Courage in 1955. The brewery was demolished in 1981.

A Barclays Public House in Southgate, London N1. Picture from The Brewery History Society.

A Barclays Public House in Southgate, London N1. Picture from The Brewery History Society.

I was born in November, 1944 and at the start of the school year in September 1956, me aged eleven, I started in the first term of Preston Manor County Grammar School near Preston Road, Wembley, just a few miles from where we all lived. (Mother, father, me and Elizabeth, my younger sister by four years.) Frankly, I had been regarded as a bit of a dreamer at my primary school and more than a few were surprised that I passed the ’11+’ exams, a prerequisite for attending a grammar school in those days.

I became twelve-years-old in November, 1956. Just six weeks after my twelfth birthday, on the evening of December 19th, 1956, my mother, as normal, came into my bedroom to kiss me goodnight. However, what transpired was very far from normal.

For she sat down on the edge of the bed and told me that my father was not well and may not live for much longer. To this day, I can still see her sitting on the edge of the bed, adjacent to my knees covered by the sheet and bedcover, a very drawn look on her face.

I had been aware of my father being at home in bed for a while but had no notion whatsoever, prior to this moment, that he was seriously unwell. In hindsight, it was more than I could emotionally embrace for not only did I not go back into my parent’s bedroom and again say goodnight to my father, I went off to sleep without any problem.

During that night, in the early hours of December 20th, my father died, the family doctor attended and my father’s body was removed; I slept through it all and awoke in the morning to find my father gone.

Now fast forward just a few years.

It’s too long ago now for me to recall who it was who gave me my father’s fountain pen that he used on a daily basis when he was alive. It is a Sheaffer Crest Snorkel with a 14K gold Triumph nib with a platinum plated tip.

I have had the pen for nearly sixty years and treasure it, as you can imagine.  But in recent times it was not functioning properly and I put it down to old age, and transferred to a modern pen.

By a wonderful stroke of luck I recently came across an American company, Pendemonium, who restore and service a wide range of pens, including Sheaffer pens of the age of my father’s pen; that particular model first was produced in 1952.

On Saturday, the restored Sheaffer pen was sent back to me.  It is a real joy to find that it writes so well and remains a living memory of my father from so long ago.

My father's Sheaffer fountain pen.

My father’s Sheaffer fountain pen.

Now all you dear readers must be wondering just what on earth I’m rambling on about!

My answer will be offered in Part Two that will be posted tomorrow.

But I will give you a clue.

Go across to Sue Dreamwalker’s blogsite and read her recent post Cracking our Inner Shells!

See you tomorrow.

The Rose

with 3 comments

Embracing St. Valentines Day and the power of love. (With huge gratitude to Sue Dreamwalker who included the following song from Bette Midler in Sue’s tribute to the loss of her dear Aunt on January 28th, 2015.)

Written by Paul Handover

February 14, 2015 at 00:00

Voting for hope.

with 14 comments

Considered reflections to yesterday’s post.

Yesterday, I published Bitter Lake ripples, a post that, in turn, was my response to the fabulous comments left by readers of my earlier post Oil, money, banks, guns and blood.  The overall feeling I read in those comments was one of terrible uncertainty about these present times. Or in the words of Sue Dreamwalker in response to a comment left by Patrice Ayme.

I have to say Patrice.. I agree with your comment here… And yes people are not understanding the whole of what is going on.. The Truth of it would seem unbelievable..

Patrice, in a post published on Monday entitled Arm Ukraine, Disarm Bankers sent shivers down my spine with the suggestion, the strong suggestion, that Ukraine, if not handled properly by ‘the West’ could be a tipping point into another major war between Europe (and the USA?) and Russia.  Here’s an extract from Patrice’s post:

The way it was said, in conjunction with Putin’s recent admission that Russian “volunteers” were fighting in Ukraine, is basically a declaration of war. On top of this, the head of the Eastern Ukraine rebels declared that he was raising a 100,000 men army. This means he expect tens of thousands of Russian troops (Putin’s “volunteers”) to cross the border.

This is not contained. Putin is billowing out of control, all by himself. One has to see what the combination of Putin’s dictatorial powers, media control, psychology and sinking economy leads to. Let me spell it out.

Once Putin has conquered Ukraine, he will push for more: he is already partly occupying Moldavia, WEST of Ukraine. Putin is also messing up with Hungary: there were street demonstrations about this, just yesterday, in Budapest. Putin uses the fact that Hungary is extremely dependent upon Russia’s fossil fuels. Merkel, who desperately wants to avoid war with Putin, flew to Budapest in emergency, to sort the situation out.

Patrice continues the warning of possible terrible times ahead in a subsequent post: Mental Inertia, Evil’s Friend, published yesterday.

Just as it takes a long time to erect, or change a vast building, so it is with the brain. The brain has inertia. Thus psychological inertia.

This mental inertia is why human beings tend to go on with a task, or with an attitude, once they got launched into it (a Jihadist laden with explosives just flew by).

Once a force is applied to an object, for example a propaganda to a brain, it tends to gather momentum, and develop ever more inertia.

Putin of course creates his own propaganda, and then can listen to it, reinforcing his deviance, in a self-reflective way. It’s all the more efficient if others repeat his ideas, and he listens to them. Actually that’s not just a problem with Putin, but with all Great Leaders. (And that’s one reason why Great Leadership has to be discontinued, and replaced by Direct Democracy.)

This amplifies the inertia.

By not fiercely opposing Putin, one collaborates with him. It is not just a question of sanctions. Putin is a liar, and an aggressive one, he should be publicly called for what he is.

Thus in terms of my own personal ideas, I freely admit to struggling to see things clearly.  Simply because I find it very difficult to get to the heart of these international issues through not having access to clear, impartial commentators who know what they are speaking about. As Patrice infers much of the media is corrupted by self-serving agendas.

However, on balance, despite Patrice Ayme being a ‘nom-de-plume’ and me having no idea who the person behind the label really is, I do trust his (?) writings and believe that Patrice writes from a position of having very good access to the inner workings of the US Government. (I am not privy to anything to support my proposition; just my guess.)

The other commentator whose opinions and judgements are trusted by me in equal fashion is George Monbiot. Mr. Monbiot has been gracious to grant permission to me for his essays to be republished here on Learning from Dogs.

On the 28th January, Mr. Monbiot published an essay that in words better than I could write encapsulates my response to the comments left on my Bitter Lake ripples post. Here is that post from George Mobiot.

ooOOoo

The Lamps Are Coming On All Over Europe

28th January 2015

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 28th January 2015

Here is the first rule of politics: if you never vote for what you want, you never get it. We are told at every election to hold our noses, forget the deficiencies and betrayals and vote Labour yet again, for fear of something worse(1). And there will, of course, always be something worse. So at what point should we vote for what we want, rather than keep choosing between two versions of market fundamentalism? Sometime this century? Or in the next? Follow the advice of the noseholders and we will be lost forever in Labour’s Bermuda triangulation.

Perhaps there was a time when this counsel of despair made sense. No longer. The lamps are coming on all over Europe. As in South America, political shifts that seemed impossible a few years earlier are now shaking the continent. We knew that another world was possible. Now, it seems, another world is here: the sudden death of the neoliberal consensus. Any party that claims to belong to the left but does not grasp this is finished.

Syriza, Podemos, Sinn Fein, the SNP; now a bright light is shining in England too, as the Green party stokes the radical flame that Labour left to gutter. On Tuesday morning, its membership in England and Wales passed 50,000(2); a year ago it was less than 15,000. A survey by the website voteforpolicies.org.uk reports that in blind tests (the 500,000 people it has polled were unaware of which positions belong to which parties), the Green Party’s policies are more popular than those of any other. If people voted for what they want, the Greens would be the party of government.

There are many reasons for this surge, but one of them must be a sense of popular ownership. Green party policies are determined democratically. Emerging from debates led mostly by younger members(3), they feel made for their time, while those of the major parties appear trapped in the 1980s.

Let me give you a flavour of the political transformation the Green Party seeks. There would be no prime minister of the kind we have today, no secretaries of state. Instead, Parliament would elect policy committees which in turn appoint convenors(4). It would also elect a First Minister, to chair the convenors’ committee. Parliament, in other words, would be sovereign rather than subject to the royal prerogative prime ministers abuse, leaders would be elected by the whole body and its various parties would be obliged to work together, rather than engage in perennial willy-waving.

Local authorities would set the taxes they chose. Local currencies, which have proved elsewhere to have transformative effects in depressed areas (see Bernard Lietaer’s book The Future of Money(5)) would become legal tender(6). Private banks would no longer be permitted to create money(7) (at the moment they issue 97% of our money supply, in the form of debt). Workers in limited companies would have the legal right, following a successful ballot, to buy them out and create cooperatives(8), with funding from a national investment bank.

The hideously unfair council tax system would be replaced by land value taxation(9), through which everyone would benefit from the speculative gains now monopolised by a few. All citizens would receive, unconditionally, a basic income(10), putting an end to insecurity and fear and to the punitive conditions attached to benefits, which have reduced recipients almost to the status of slaves.

Compare this vision of hope to Labour’s politics of fear. Compare it to a party so mesmerised by the City and the Daily Mail that it has promised to sustain the Tory cuts for “decades ahead”(11) and to “finish that task on which [the Chancellor] has failed”: eradicating the deficit.

Far too late, a former Labour minister, Peter Hain, now recognises that, inasmuch as the books need balancing, it can be done through measures like a financial transaction tax and a reform of national insurance(12), rather than through endless cuts. These opportunities have been dangling in front of Labour’s nose since 2008(13), but because appeasing the banks and the corporate press was deemed more important than preventing pain and suffering for millions, they have not been taken. Hain appears belatedly to have realised that austerity is a con, a deliberate rewriting of the social contract to divert our common wealth to the elite. There’s no evidence that the frontbench is listening.

Whether it wins or loses the general election, Labour is probably finished. It would take a generation to replace the sycophants who let Blair and Brown rip their party’s values to shreds. By then it will be history. If Labour wins in May, it is likely to destroy itself faster and more surely than if it loses, through the continued implementation of austerity. That is the lesson from Europe.

Fearful voting shifts the whole polity to the right. Tony Blair’s obeisance to corporate power enabled the vicious and destructive policies the Coalition now pursues(14). The same legacy silences Labour in opposition, as it pioneered most of the policies it should oppose. It is because we held our noses before that there is a greater stink today. So do we keep voting for a diluted version of Tory politics, for fear of the concentrate? Or do we start to vote for what we want? Had the people of this nation heeded the noseholders a century ago, we would still be waiting for the Liberal Party to deliver universal healthcare and the welfare state.

Society moves from the margins, not the centre. Those who wish for change must think of themselves as the sacrificial margin: the pioneering movement that might not succeed immediately, but that will eventually deliver sweeping change. We cannot create a successful alternative to the parties that have betrayed us until we start voting for it. Do we start walking, or just keep talking about the journey we might one day take?

Power at the moment is lethal. Whichever major party wins this election, it is likely to destroy itself through the pursuit of policies that almost no one wants. Yes, it might mean five more years of pain, though I suspect in these fissiparous times it won’t last so long. And then it all opens up. This is what we must strive for; this is the process that begins in May by voting, regardless of tactical considerations, for parties offering a genuine alternative. Change arises from conviction. Stop voting in fear. Start voting for hope.

http://www.monbiot.com

References:

1. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/dec/09/labour-tories-vote-osborne

2. Green Party office, by email, 27th January 2015

3. http://bright-green.org/green-movement/how-the-green-party-changed-itself-to-make-the-greensurge-possible/

4. http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/pa.html

5. http://www.lietaer.com/writings/books/the-future-of-money/

6. http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/ec.html#EC678

7. http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/ec.html

8. http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/in.html

9. http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/ec.html

10. http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/ec.html

11. http://press.labour.org.uk/post/87284550049/long-termism-in-public-finance-speech-by-chris

12. http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jan/22/labour-radical-counter-greens-peter-hain

13. I was not the first to propose these alternatives to austerity Peter Hain has just discovered, but even I had got there by 2011: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/mar/06/march-26-protest-aims-first-draft

14. http://www.monbiot.com/books/captive-state/

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I said that Mr. Monbiot’s words were much finer than my own. No better illustrated than by his closing three sentences:

“Change arises from conviction. Stop voting in fear. Start voting for hope.”

The poetry of nature

with 10 comments

A repeat of a post from last October.

A few days ago, we had a visit from the Wilderness Campaign Coordinator from Oregon Wild. Bridget, that being her name, took the opportunity of saying ‘hi’ as a consequence of her coming down from Northern Oregon to Ashland. Bridget was giving a presentation in Ashland regarding securing more wilderness areas in Oregon; a very worthy ambition. Jean and I have supported the organisation since we moved up to Oregon.

Anyway, I offered to use Learning from Dogs to support and promote any campaigns from OW that would be of interest to LfD readers.  I sorted out some recent posts that would give Bridget and her colleagues an idea of what was published in this place and sent her the links.

One of the links that I forwarded was this post from last October.  I just wanted to share it with you all again.

oooo

Embracing the poetry of nature.

The beauty of poetry.

In yesterday’s post, where I wrote about how Jean and I had the wonderful privilege of feeding a wild deer from our hands, I closed it with a p.s. This is what I wrote: “P.S. It is at times like this that we need poetry.  So how about it: Sue? Kim? How would you describe in poetry what Jean and I experienced?

Well, Sue, of Sue Dreamwalker, replied with a link to a poem of hers that she published back in 2012. I will say no more than republish, with permission, Sue’s beautiful words and close with one of the photographs from yesterday.

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SDBeatOne

Be at One with yourself

Be at one with the world

Be at One with Nature

And see your life unfurl

Close your eyes and imagine

The beginnings of a New Earth,

And Open your eyes to your beauty

Breathe in and give Birth.

divider

For you are One and part of the Whole

Not a separate Unit , but a Beautiful Soul

United within the One Divine love

And part of that cosmic hub.

Share your love along with your Light

And Rejoice in Gratitude

Use your sight

To see a world in Beauty and Grace

divider

You are stronger than you think you know

Spread a little Love where ever you go

Shower your peace and sprinkle your heart

Into the rivers of life send a ripple a spark

Be Calm, knowing all is well

Keep breathing in Peace for inside it dwells

divider

Know you are where you are meant to be

Open your eyes

Come on now See

For we are ONE and it’s time to Unite

Stop all your hating, and judging and strife

Find your heart and clear out your mind

Seek out yourself

And Wisdom you’ll find

divider

Let go of torments and allow the Joy in

Come on now people

It’s time to begin

Be One with yourself

Be One with the world

Be One with nature

And Let the Universe Spin

For the Spiral is turning and

Peace will Win..

© Sue Dreamwalker – 2012 All rights reserved.

ooOOoo

The trust between the deer and Jean then enabled the deer to feed from Jean's hand.

The trust between the deer and Jean then enabled the deer to feed from Jean’s hand.

Written by Paul Handover

January 20, 2015 at 00:00

Synchronicity!

with 14 comments

Two very different expressions of hope and sense about the present era of change.

First off, up until yesterday morning at 6am, I had completely different ideas for today’s post.  But sitting up in bed yesterday morning reading my emails, I saw there was an email from Jon Lavin that included a link to this: Hope for the New Year: some thoughts on emergence, evolution, freedom, love and choice, by Bronwen Rees. Dr. Rees describes herself, as:

Bronwen is a UKCP-accredited psychotherapist with nine years experience and a practice in Cambridge, Suffolk and Hungary. She is trained in the Karuna Institute in Devon in core process psychotherapy, which was the first mindfulness-based therapy in the UK. She adds to this her unique understanding of western and eastern spiritual traditions, combined with findings in new science – to find ways of helping individuals align with their true destiny. She runs retreats and workshops and group work at different times of the year.

I was vaguely aware of the name. Perhaps unsurprisingly as I was familiar with the work of the Karuna Institute at their beautiful location at Widecombe-in-the-Moor, Dartmoor, Devon, some eighteen miles from where I used to live in Harberton, Devon.

Widecombe-in-the-Moor

Widecombe-in-the-Moor

Anyway, back to the theme of today’s post. Back to Jon Lavin’s email with the link. This is how that essay from Dr. Rees opened:

by Bronwen Rees on January 1, 2015

In the face of the on-going and now undeniable social, economic, environmental and political crises, there are plenty of seeds of ‘emergence’ that point to a new way forward. These are flowering in the area of sustainability, spirituality, and the reworking of ancient systems of wisdom. They point to a new way of being and relating where, it is implied, one can manifest at will one’s desires.

Whilst there is a distinct truth in much of this, and many examples where this can obviously work (vis the outpouring of new technological companies providing ever more zany products), they are very early developments fostering to individual satisfaction rather than being consciously channeled into the benefits of the collective. The scale of change in terms of consciousness has largely not yet been realized. One of the main reasons for this is the as yet imbalance in the relationship between the collective and the individual, and the lack of a conscious ethical foundation.

I sort of understood the central message but the words were getting in the way.  Take this later paragraph, for instance:

Humanity is at a bifurcation point – a point of irreversible change – where conscious choice determines the future that is created. Neo-Darwinian theorists would argue that this is merely a point of survival, and given the current scientific data about the material conditions – peak oil, energy, economic chaos, severe mental health issues, the conditions would suggest that we are as a species heading for disaster. Balanced between over-population and yet greater and greater individualization with more and more apparent choice – how can the two perspectives be reconciled on this seemingly increasingly small planet?

Indeed, my email reply to Jon, having struggled through the full essay said: “Good day to you, Jon, Yes, what a fascinating essay albeit written in a manner that makes it a very tough read! Nevertheless, I have no doubt that the good Dr. is spot on in her analysis.

The very next item opened in my email inbox was notification of a new post from Sue Dreamwalker: My Dream ∼ Translated I just had to share. Let me, in turn, share Sue’s post with you; with her kind permission, I should add.

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My Dream ∼ Translated I just had to share

Don’t only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the divine.” ― Ludwig van Beethoven

On Jan 3rd I had a Dream.. Please click on the music video below so you can get a sense of some of my experience.. .. Sunday I tried to capture some of the images I had in the dream… So I painted.. But I saw Oh so so much more………

In the beginning of the dream.. She was Me.. As I began to sing.. but then I became the observer.. This has to be the best Dream experience ever… .. So I had to share.. I heard the Music… Music like I have never heard upon this earth… the video music is about as close as I can get to that feeling of being exalted to a higher place.. I am still so excited I cannot tell you the Love I felt within this experience.. If this is the beginning of 2015.. Whoooooh… Let it roll……..

My Dream..

“She stood in a gown that was a rich golden brown. Its fabric shimmered catching the light that reflected from the crystals of natural quartz that sprang up around her. The gown was long and flowing not only did it reach the floor, but it spiralled out around her in a never ending dance as it became one with the sphere of the Earth.

dream-love-song-_thumb

Sue’s painting.

 

She took a deep breath; here she stood in the centre of the globe called Gaia.

Her hair was so long the wind picked it up to billow out behind her in long tresses. Birds flew in and amongst her strands of hair, Insects and butterflies danced within making it their home.

With breath still poised, she raised her arms like a conductor of an orchestra. She expanded her lungs and she began to Sing…. Her Soprano voice was pure. The moment her voice vibration raised higher the spiral of her gown buried deeper into the Earth. The Grass became part of her gown. Trees sprang forth from the folds of it swaying to her melody of love; Flowers opened their blooms, each petal giving separate notes in a wonderful exotic dance of harmonic ripples.. Love notes rippled like the keys of the piano. The buds on the trees open their leaves their notes sounded deeper like a million cello’s. Birds sang their flute like songs and the butterflies wings danced lighter than bell chimes.

Water trickled into streams, clear and sparking like the strings of the violin.. They swelled in a crescendo in waves that beat the rocks crashing in like kettle drums smashing like symbols into glistening spray..

The Whales joined in her song a mournful lament, while deep in the jungle the elephants gave a low rumble to acknowledge they had heard.. The roar of the Big Cats were heard above the cries of the orangutan’s

As the Thunderous machines of man cut swaths leaving deep scars that screeched like vultures circling over head, to give way to silence………. as they circled over the corpses of everything left dying in its wake..

She paused……………. ready to continue…….. Her arms raised high above her head, she Sang.. her voice becoming a crescendo with the Earth, her breath became the Spiral.. Her Hair became the Wind.. The notes she sang sprang forth from her mouth forming hearts and stars.. Every living creature now joined in her song…

She knew her Song of love was being joined by so many more.. She was ONE with ALL.. She was part of our Earth Mother..”

~~~~

I hope you enjoyed reading about this Dream and I hope you enjoyed listening to the wonderful music of the PianoGuys

See you all very soon…

~Sue~

ooOOoo

In a very strange way, I read the same messages from Dr. Rees and from Sue but presented in such opposite ways: one way so complex and one way to clear. So strongly reinforced by their respective closing words. Here’s Dr. Rees:

Whilst there is real potential for the expansion of consciousness, this does not by any means suggest that this will arise without individual effort and struggle. All the enlightened masters of the past needed to move through this gateway – the difference between then and now is that the conditions are far riper for more individuals to undergo this – and indeed can be seen as a biological necessity for the survival of the human species. Thus as individuals, we cannot avoid this, but what we can do, and indeed as a biological and spiritual imperative, we can support one another and help organize ourselves in dedication of this purpose, in a mutual recognition of each individual uniqueness yet shared destiny.

Here are Sue’s closing words: “She knew her Song of love was being joined by so many more.. She was ONE with ALL.. She was part of our Earth Mother..

However, there is one uniting theme I read from both of them: Hope!

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