Monday, August 31

Be not forlorn....

Are you missing me?

Be not forlorn....there is plenty to read over at the new digs:

Gratitude, Joy, Oneness and Service (Days 371-374)

On Gratitude and Chronic Illness

small size, Big Heart - An exhibition by Street Artists, Noriaki

Gratitude, Joy, Oneness and Service (Days 375 &376)

.... if you have been wondering where I have been and crying into your cornflakes, then I have but one question for you .....

Why haven't you favourite the new site in your browser or subscribed to my feed?

Its never too late to join the cool kids.  But, I would prefer you join me, instead.

Tuesday, August 25

Gratitude Practice - Day 366-370 in our new location

As you know, I have launched an online magazine called "Ten Thousand Days of Gratitude" and there, you will find all kinds of upcoming articles on the topics of Gratitude, Joy, Oneness and Service - and more! 

Please join me there to read the continuing blog of Gratitude practice at:

Thursday, August 20

Ten Thousand Days of Gratitude

Please look for me at:

Gratitude, Joy, Oneness and Service (Day 365) - Ten Thousand Days of Gratitude

I'm going to depart from our normal format today although I will briefly do my practice:

1. I am grateful for all the readers who have stuck with me and will, I hope, stick with me in the future.

2. I am grateful for gluten free cake and brownies.

3. I am grateful for beauty.

Joy - It is a joy celebrating a year of practice and knowing that I will not be stopping at this milestone.

Oneness - I have been doing a lot of writing and sharing my gratitude, expressing it to those to whom I am grateful in the past few days.  It serves only to increase my closeness to them.

Service - So, here is where I tell you what I have planned.

I'm not stopping.  And, in fact, I have created a new website for a magazine on Gratitude. 

There is research that indicates that well being is increased only if we do our gratitude practice 1-3 times per week, rather than every day.  I have to admit that it did feel burdensome at times.  And so, I am moving to experiment with a weekly post on gratitude for the week along with articles on other aspects of Gratitude. 

You can read more about it at....

But for mark this occasion:

For those who could not attend Sunday's milestone celebration of reaching 365 Days of Gratitude....

I am not one for big speeches but I wanted to just take a moment to thank you all for marking with me the passage of a milestone of 365 days of Gratitude practice. Well that's Actually a year of Gratitude, Joy, Oneness and Service.

I realise that some of you have followed me on Facebook some have followed my blog and some had no idea I was doing this at all. It really wasn't something I set out a year ago to do but as is the nature of the process, it kind of snowballed.

What began as a Facebook meme to post 3 things daily for which I am grateful quickly became a daily practice of appreciating 3 good things and noticing moments of joy. I felt the positive effects of the practice quickly and soon added a component of daily service and a daily practice of nurturing empathy, connection, compassion, awe and purpose. What started as a 7 days commitment snowballed into 21 days, a month, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months and now...a year of Gratitude, Joy, Oneness and Service.

And while we celebrate this milestone of a year, I am happy - and a little scared - to commit today to Ten Thousand Days of Gratitude practice and to continue to write about it. For you keen mathematicians and accountants here today, you will already have calculated that by the time I reach that milestone I will be more than 27 years 27.2 to be exact. If I am still around at that point, I will renew my vows, then.

You might wonder why I am making such a big commitment...well, it's simple... After studying to write drama and fiction, I quit writing stories several years ago because I just couldn't find my way to writing a happy ending. Writing about gratitude (and joy, oneness and service) has given me both the experience of and the ability to write about happiness. I think those who have been on the whole journey will agree that I have blossomed and I intend to see it through to the end.

I have already written a year's worth of gratitude journals and observations on the practice and now it's time to focus on shaping that into a book. I am also launching a new web magazine Ten Thousand Days of Gratitude dot com (That's a difficult one to type so I recommend you favourite it) and I am working to find a way to use my skills to work with the UK charity Action For Happiness.

My wish, if I can put it out there, is that others will pick up the practices and this will spread. So please, do spread the website far and wide.

I want to thank Ruth from Canvas café for giving us the space for our celebration, Street Art curator, Greg Key (@speckles76), for leading our lively street art tour, Dan Shears for providing us with some of his music, Luke Harvest for his work on setting up the website, C Michael Frey for the logo design, Faith Amy Romeo and Natasha Westover for being gratitude wall guardians, Debbie Heath for the original 7 day Facebook challenge, Paula Montgomery for prompting me to add Joy, all the street artists of London for the beautiful art that gave me so much joy, and Louis Masai for agreeing to be my first interview on my focus for the year ahead - Service. It hasn't happened yet so watch for it in upcoming posts. A big thank you to all my readers here and overseas.

And of course I want to thank you all for being a part of my life. You have each been a part of my daily practice. Without you, I wouldn't have much to say.

So, here's to you. Thank you.

Tuesday, August 18

Reflections: On Gratitude and Lovers

I'm sitting here doing the ritualistic work of a writer - drinking a cup of coffee, gazing out the window at the clouds and glancing back to a blank screen waiting to be filled with enlightenment or at least 250 words.

I have already posted about my gratitude to past loves and lovers and all that I have learned from the good and bad times we had together.  I wanted this post to be different.  I wanted to reflect on how gratitude practice had impacted on my relationships with lovers.

Well, there is just one small problem with reflecting on my relationships with lovers - I am single and I'm not seeing anyone.

I initially thought it would be hard to say what gratitude has done to impact on my relationships with a lover if I'm not in a relationship to observe it.  Or is it?  Perhaps gratitude has changed the way I view love and romance. 

I think it has fundamentally provided me a new road map on love, loving and lovers.

When I first started this practice, I quickly noticed this feeling of falling in love - but I couldn't identify an object of that love.  That was unusual. 

And so I worked hard to remain conscious of my tendency to attach my feelings of love to a person and then to somehow convince myself that said person was required for me to experience love.  I wanted to see how long I could sit with the love that was coming from within me before I gave away my power and projected the source of it outside myself.

Not long at all.  And of course, I chose someone who reinforced patterns that, although I was aware of them, I had been powerless to change.

I have had some time on my hands this year and so I've done a lot of reflecting, reading and observing.  I have learned this year that I have a dependant avoidant attachment style.  As dependant children, we are at risk of annihilation if our primary caregiver abandons us and if our PC is unreliable and withholding,  we do everything we can to keep them happy and we are more likely to develop a dependant/avoidant attachment style.

As an infant, our survival is outside of our control and the primary caregiver is the SOURCE of our love and survival.  If we carry this love dynamic into adulthood (and most of us carry out attachment style - untreated - into adulthood), we can't help but feel that LOVE must be outside of ourselves and moreover, it must be sourced from someone withholding and unreliable like our PC was.  We bend over backwards to receive the love that we ourselves have projected outward but we bend over backwards to source out that love from unpredictable and sometimes abusive people. 

Rationally, we know this is harmful, but it is a pre-verbal conditioning and it is very difficult to reason with an infant.

What this means for me, in plain speak is that if I walk into a room full of strangers, I will naturally find and be attracted to people who mimic my early experience of primary caregiver: They are unpredictable, and can be either very loving and warm or emotionally withholding, controlling and cold.  There is no knowing which will surface.

I'm not alone in having a less than functional attachment style.  I don't have the statistics but I would venture to say that from my reading, the majority of people have formed maladaptive attachment styles. 

Why?  Because our attachment style is based on our parenting which is determined by their attachment style, which is again, based on their own parenting by our grandparents which is dependant on our grandparent's attachment style etc etc etc.  It is an endless chain unless we can break the chain.  And THAT is not easy at all.

None of us is able to simply throw off our attachment style - like I said, it is pre-verbal and is like trying to reason with an infant.   I like to think of it as learning at 30 years old that we have gills and then cementing our nostrils and throat shut and expecting to breathe through our ribcage.  I venture to guess that most of us would suffocate if we tried that.  It isn't easy to unlearn something that was learned in a pre-verbal stage of life.

It isn't easy, but its not impossible.

When I started to 'fall in love' and rushed to attach it to someone, a good friend witnessed it happening and asked me: "Why him?"

Well, I said:

  1. He's an environmentalist - I have lost touch with that part of myself in the last few years.  I used to work in climate change and my specialism was the physical impacts of climate change on the water cycle and water scarcity/flooding in general.  I loved this about him.
  2. He was a businessman - He understood that we all have to pay the rent and doesn't apologize for making a living.  And being a business person myself, albeit questioning whether being in business was good for me....I loved this about him.
  3. He was a philanthropist.  I had been a philanthropist and it was part of what made my life fulfilling.  I had let this part of me fall to the wayside, as well.  I loved this about him.
  4. He is a photographer.  And while it is just a shadow career and dream of mine, I have a pretty good eye and would love to add photography to a professional set of skills.  Times when I am shooting are certainly some of my happiest moments.  I didn't feel I was good enough to call myself a photographer, but I loved this about him.
  5. He seemed spiritual.  Need I say more? I loved this about him.
  6. He is writer.  More than anything, this has been core to my being since I was able to hold a pen.  And....I loved this about him.
Oh yes.  I'm sure you see it.  She could see it.  But I couldn't see it.

I was in love with myself.  He was not the source of these good feelings.  I was the source, but I had disowned these qualities and projected them onto him. 

Things were great at first.  We had a meeting of the minds, a deep connection, albeit at a distance.  And then he began manipulating and controlling.  He hurt me terribly.

I forgave him, because he was 'the source'.  And we went on.

He began withdrawing and withholding and everything was about him.  I made excuses.

And I forgave him, because he was 'the source'.  And we went on.

And then...he stole from me.   He took my words and published them as if they were his own.  The one thing I have always felt that belonged to me were my words. 

This was mine.  This was ME.  I know my spiritual teachers would say that I am not what I do.  Ask a writer.  Ask an artist.  We do it not because it is something to do - we practice our art because it is who we ARE.  To do otherwise, kills us.

In one act, he fulfilled my worst fear.  All these months I had been grateful for his presence in my life because he represented all I wanted to be. Just as I had taken care of my care giver's needs to make sure I didn't die, so had I supported him and his work.  I hoped and really believed that he would support my work.  But he stole what was ME.  He did not take care of me.  He abused me and he let me die.

And we did not go on.

Oh I know that seems overly dramatic.  But something fundamentally changed in me that day.  Something ended with a bloody massacre.  And something more important and fruitful was born.

I admit that I was disheartened.  I was depressed.  But I stood my ground.  I would not let this be taken from me. 

In every interaction with a stranger, I started introducing myself as a writer.  Despite being published, having been a literary editor, having had plays produced and having worked in the film industry as a story editor, I don't think I ever identified myself to others as 'a writer'.  I never had the confidence to do that.  Somehow I had found it.

I found my voice.  I survived.  I individuated and separated. 

And I went on.

Oddly, within a few weeks, artists started paying me respect.  Lorenzo Quinn, one of the most celebrated sculptors in the modern era shared my photo of his sculpture (and credited me) and a local artist shared my blog (and credited me) and online magazines shared my photos (and credited me).  And, I was being invited to meet artists and granted permission to interview. 

What does this have to do with gratitude practice, you might ask? 

Well, I think that the act of writing every day and appreciating the many many good things in life helped me in those dark weeks of disillusionment.   Writing about gratitude every day has improved my writing.  It has greased the wheels and it has unleashed the writer mind that wants to enquire, that wants to imagine and that wants to tell a story. 

Practicing gratitude and taking time to daily appreciate the good in life has made me see that there is abundance out there and despite my feelings to the contrary, it has proven to me that no one person, place or thing is 'the source'.  In fact, the source of is not outside of me. 

The source of my happiness is in my ability to appreciate life.  And when I appreciate life, I am confident that good things will happen and I am filled with love.

Will I fall back into that old pattern again?  Of course I will.  I already have.  I started to have a crush on someone else very soon afterward.  He is even more inappropriate for me, even more unreliable, changeable, charming and evasive.  It is like the ego does not want to let this pattern die and is attaching itself to even more reinforcing situations.

The ego mind, drawing on my pre-verbal conditioning does not seek out these men despite the fact they will cause me pain.  The mind seeks them out BECAUSE they will cause me pain.

But, I'm not having that anymore. 

I see the pattern and I'm not going to go there.  That doesn't mean I don't still feel attracted and it doesn't mean I won't engage with him as needed...its kind of like standing on the top of the Empire State Building and having the urge to jump.  You just have to step back from the edge and change your focus.

Although it is painful, and there is a kind of primal yearning to be attached, I know that the pain is an old groove and I just have to sit with that pain.

And I keep carving that new groove of gratitude, of abundance, of confidence in myself as a writer and in my ability to survive. 

When I focus on all the good in my life - as I do every day here - I can't possibly rationally believe that any one person is necessary for my life.  And as my mind begins to unhook itself from these painful beliefs and yearnings,  I am able to enjoy people in the moment, without expectation.

I have had great moments of love and  spontaneous and joyfully wonderful interactions with handsome and playful men since I have been willing myself not to attach to my old pattern.   And, my interactions have been very deep.  Will any of them lead to a relationship? 

Does it have to? 

I don't care anymore where things lead.  I am in the moment and grateful for the moment. 

And so, perhaps I was wrong in the early stages of this practice to describe the feeling that daily gratitude practice has brought as falling 'in love'.  I'm not in love.

I am love.

And for that new awareness, I am grateful.

Sunday, August 16

Gratitude, Joy, Oneness and Service (Day 361)

I am a bit late in posting was a busy weekend!

1. I am grateful that Hugh arrived today to man the battle stations with us.  Poor Lk- has been barraged with work to help me prepare the website and when Hugh arrived, he was tasked with helping me put together individual packets for people I knew were confirmed to attend the event tomorrow.  I wanted to give them a little bit about the new website magazine, about my plans for putting together the book, about the street art tour we did and the musician Dan Shears but also - and most significantly, I wanted to put together snippets of the times I have written about them in the year.  I only went back about 3 months or so, because unfortunately I hadn't the time to go further but I wanted them to know that they really had been part of my journey and it wasn't just lip service to what I had been saying.  Hugh helped me to print and bind all the packages and when we discovered that I had 100,000 copies of one set, to figure out how we could maybe make use of it.  We did have to make a quick trip back to the library to print off day 359 (I had printed day 360 by accident) and rush to the event in the morning, but I was relieved to have somebody really double checking everything I did.  Thankfully he didn't notice there were typos in my new website.  Apparently wordpress does not have as good a spell and grammar function as blogger, believe it or not!

2. I am grateful for the naked burger at gourmet burger kitchen.  We went there after printing out things and as I didn't want to be eating wheat, there was a good option without the bun.  I am grateful that I was able to detox from wheat for the week.  I am sure there will be non-gluten-free cake in my future with Lk, but I needed to clear out my head and gluten really makes both my guts and my brain foggy.

3. I am grateful for music.  I know I have talked about a few specific musicians over the course of this (nearly) year of writing.  But I am grateful for music in general.  I use it to change my mood more than anything.  I write to music and I understand that a great many of the painters with whom I am acquainted also work with music.  Louis Masai has been quoted as saying that music and art are a natural complement but I would, of course, extend that to writing.  In fact, music and living are a natural complement.  If you want to feel something in particular, I think there are few things more mood changing and soul touching than music.  It is accessible to all who have the gift of hearing.  We really are blessed to have music in the world and I am grateful to all the musicians like Dan Shears, Loreena McKennit, Jesse Cook who have meant so much to me and been a force at a pivitol time in my life.  Keep creating - the world needs you!

Joy - It was a joy to get everything printed.  At the time, I thought I had finished all the printing.  It wasn't until later that I realized that I had printed the wrong day (Day 360) for some people and that I had completely missed out Dan's bio.  But, when I did think I was finished, it was such a weight lifted off my shoulders.  I had planned to do this since I first thought of the event and I really left it to the last minute, didn't I?  It wasn't like I didn't have lots of other stuff (writing a blog and starting an online magazine website, creating a happy playlist that wouldn't be vomit inducing and meeting with folks helping out with the day)

Oneness - I took a few moments after Hugh and Lk went to bed to write some thank you notes (most of which I forgot to give to people at the party!) but spending some time thinking about Dan, Greg, Luke, and Ben gave me the words to say what I wanted to say to them at the party.  Well, not Dan or Greg.  Luke and Ben are easy because Luke is my gay husband and so we have established that, and Ben is 5!  But for Dan and Greg - well, those two - its hard to say how grateful I am to them and how much they have meant to me without making them feel a bit awkward, I think.  We are conditioned to believe that love and appreciation between men and women are always a ploy for sex and that they come with all sorts of strings attached.  It is difficult to actually accept that one is unconditionally loved and appreciated for who one is, exactly as one is.  But that is how I feel and I hope they somehow now it.

Service - I made breakfast for Lk and I today.  It wasn't much of a service but I was busy for the rest of the day working on preparing for the 365 event.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the Happiness Movement and how it can be appropriated in ways that make people feel burned out with inspirational messages.  This week I saw this in Waterloo Station and felt I had to post it and refute any acceptance of selling happiness.  Happiness is bloody hard work - but well worth it.

A photo posted by Tania Campbell (@pinkstarpix) on

Thursday, August 13

Gratitude, Joy, Oneness and Service (Day 359)

Not such a nice day in London. Perfect for all that I had to get done.

1. I sent a reminder to those who RSVP'd on facebook for my 365 celebration. I am grateful that Eleanor, Neale and their new baby will possibly be coming to help mark the 365 day milestone with me. I am grateful to Eleanor for her service to UBC alumni in London and for her incredible ability to network. When I met her, I was kind of adrift among all the expats that seem to come and go with such fierce regularity that one begins to wonder if there is any point in making friendships anymore. She helped me to feel more rooted in the Canadian expat community and she and Neale came to celebrate a big birthday with me and Neale - bless his cotton socks - was our only man at the table. He held his own wonderfully and did a terrific job of pairing our wines with the meal. I am so glad they found one another and have made a wonderful life and home together in London. They are such good people and they deserve one another. I am also grateful that Sandra will possibly be able to make it too! Eleanor introduced me to Sandra and it was Sandra that gave me my first speaking engagement outside of my company on the topic of Sustainability. I owe her a lot for helping me to see that I was valued, even if sometimes my managers took us for granted.

Also possibly making an appearance will be Jasper and Craig - two beautiful men that really began my reclamation of my alternative side despite working in finance. They aren't that alternative but Craig is a designer and Jasper - a former colleague is an intense rower and they are both hipsters with beautiful welcoming souls. I hope they will come. They've been a constant in my life as I've been recovering.

I hear that Nick may join us - another former colleague and one who gave me a lot of coaching at a time when I was a basket case at work. I hope to see him, as well!

Jayne and Gillian have said they will come but I'm not certain they will make it. Jayne I owe a lot for giving me my first job outside of the audit firm and allowing me to network and look for work beyond my initial contract. Gillian, well, she helped me envision myself as a professional that somehow integrates the financial, sustainability, spiritual and artistic sides of myself. I don't think I am quite there yet, but without her courses and CABA as I was trying to leave my last job, I would not be here, writing this today.

I hope to see Zainab, too. She reminded me of Layard's work which took me into getting involved with Action for Happiness. Its funny how a casual conversation seems just that - but it can change a person's life.

And I am very happy to know that Nicola will attend. She and I studied together and she is probably my longest friendship in London. She and I have very different interests and we rarely get to see one another but one thing I can say about Nicola is that she has always been there for me when I needed her to be. When I hurt my back, she came and took care of me. It is a good friend that will help you get to the toilet because you can't move. And, when I had nowhere to go, she opened her home to me. I don't think she realizes just how much I recognize how much she has done for me and what a loyal friend she is. I love them all and I am looking forward to seeing whomever can make it.

Lara might also come.  I hope so.  She loves street art and we've tried to connect over the last year at different street art openings but haven't managed it.  We connected earlier this year for lobster (of course, two divas must eat lobster) and it was so good to see her again.  We are two divas and so it is complicated being together because there can only be one diva in the room!  I jest.  We used to have a lot of lovely coffees and talk about our hopeless love with bastard men.  Since I left work, I haven't seen her much.  I hope she's gotten rid of the bastard men like I have.

Javi might come too! It should be funny to see all these people together again.  I remember the last time Nicola and Javi met was at my leaving party.  I was meant to be leaving for Canada.  I didn't go.  I think I have had lunch a couple of times with him since, but its not the same when you aren't working in the same place.  I adore Javi.  He is such a gentleman...I remember that we were having drinks another time and we ordered food.  Before he made up food for himself, he made a plate for me.  I know this sounds like a small thing, but these kinds of small ways that men take care of a woman mean a lot to me.  I love it when a man treats me like a woman but not less than his equal and Javi has the charm and the grace to do that.  He is a wonderful friend.

2. I am grateful that G- got in touch and arranged a meet up for tomorrow to discuss what we need to discuss before Sunday. He is super flat out busy with launching his show in September so I am so grateful for the time he is taking for me. We only just met and that just indicates to me a warm and incredibly giving and caring heart. I am very lucky to have met him.

3. I am grateful for Lk-. After I saw the doctor I didn't have the energy to go to D7606's show. I will have to get there during the weekend so I don't miss it. Lk- and I had dinner and he made me laugh. And then he left me alone to work. I know I've not been a joy to live with, having my face in the computer 24/7 but he's been pretty good about understanding and terrific at helping me build the website. I didn't have a website a week ago and apart from two posts needing content and one post needing some citations, it is ready to go. Wow. Without him and without C. Michael Frey, this would not have come together. I am looking forward to having a good night's sleep and a good laugh with Lk- and to seeing Michael some time soon. Its been too long for someone I love so much. I haven't seen him since I left New York. Too long.

Joy - I had a coffee at the Starbucks while I waited for the doctor. I listened to my playlist. I loved it. Maybe nobody else will like my music, but heck, I will. I was dancing at the table and did a little rhumba sashay on the way to the doctor. Alas, one of the rhumba songs got cut. My playlist is too long :(

Oneness - I decompressed in Starbucks for an hour and what I noticed, coming off the train was that I felt the walk to the coffee shop was a waste of time. Oh dear. I was back in that stress mindset that helped me to fall ill, in the first place. I reframed the moment and realised that this was the one moment in my day to breathe, to get some space and to clear my head. I had a wonderful, mindful walk after that.

Service - I read my welcome speech (I hope I don't die when I have to give it) to my doctor. She is just one of the doctors I see, but she has been with me on the journey since before I was diagnosed and so it was special to read her the speech. I cried at one point. I hope I don't blub on Sunday but if I don't get some sleep soon, it is guaranteed. It was a privilege to have that moment with her.

Photos?  OK - one from a long long time ago just to keep up the momentum as I try to ride this frantic wave to Sunday.

Gratitude, Joy, Oneness and Service (Day 358)

Oops..I am late posting this.....I did write it on the train, but forgot to post it to the blog.  Hopefully having only one platform in the future will help with that. 
Today was a whirlwind again. At one point, I was chatting to a designer in LA about logos, my flatmate sitting right beside me was trying to show me a comic video, I was chatting with a street artist about his bio, a curator about art and street art and trying to write.  No, I don't multitask well.  I have a headache now.

1. I am grateful to C.Michael Frey for such a rapid turnaround on designing a logo for the new platform. He knows me very well and so he was able to produce three options that were all terrific. He walked the fine lime between spiritual and religious and we ended up with something that hints at the book to come. I couldn't be happier. 

2. I am grateful that my playlist is almost done. I have enough music for the event should Dan end up with laryngitis but I am hoping that Dan Shears will play a set for us on Sunday.  I have really offbeat musical taste so producing a playlist that might appeal to everyone has not been easy. Who would have thought that would be one of my biggest challenges in throwing a party? I am not cool, but the Cheese reminded me today that nerds are in, so that makes me the coolest person on the planet. (Thanks, Cheese!) 

3. I am grateful that I got to chat with my sister today at home. I am so grateful that she is out of hospital and continuing treatment. It looked really grim for awhile. 

Joy - it was a delight to receive a photograph of my friend's kitchen at that moment.  Her grandson was covered in spaghetti-o type pasta from tip to toe. I was grateful that I didn't have to clean that up!

Oneness - I barely looked up from my computer today. I don't like days like this. They make my mind and my heart feel compressed. If you haven't figured it out from the past few weeks, I need space. When I am compressed, it is hard to feel at one with anything greater than myself.  I did have a moment or two of nice connection with G- over messenger today.  He has been a delightful surprise in my world in the past month. And, feeling grateful for my sister's recovery reminds me of how important loved ones are. 

Service - I made a playlist! photos today.

Tuesday, August 11

Gratitude, Joy, Oneness and Service (Day 357)

Today I struggled, with not having had enough sleep, but in the end, I produced a lot of um...well if not great least results.

1. I am grateful that NWe- from the Happiness charity with whom I do some work made time to meet with me today.  We discussed my running one of their courses, setting up a group overseas, aligning my work with theirs and doing some writing for them.  It is all a bit on hold while people are on holiday for the next few weeks, but at least we are beginning to progress and it is looking positive.

2. I am grateful that I laughed a few times today.  My flatmate Lk- read me the latest from 27Bslash6 website.  We laugh at those emails.  I also had a moment when I saw a piece of art by Six1Six on the street in Shoreditch that made me laugh aloud on the street.  When you see the piece, you will see that my response only added to the macabre effect.

3. I am grateful that I had a chicken in the fridge waiting to be roasted for Lk- and I to eat for dinner.  It is easy to cook and tasted so yummy at the end of a long day of writing.

Joy - It was a joy to laugh with Lk- tonight.  He has been low energy for a few days and I've had my head up the bottom of my new platform for the same amount of time and it was good to laugh with him.  Lk- read me one that made him laugh so hard, he cried and couldn't finish reading it to me for the longest time.

Oneness - As I was coming home tonight, I noticed that despite the rain, the sky to the west was a beautiful shade of pink and orange.  It was then that I realised that I haven't watched the sunset in weeks.  I need to find some way to get some space back in nature where I can experience a sense of awe and something greater than myself.  I have been dreaming lately at night about my space being invaded and I think that is largely due to a lack of space in my life.  Clearly, I need a lot of space in my life. 

I didn't have time to go to the river tonight (nor did I really want to sit there in the rain) but I did make a point to stop and take in the colours of the sky.  Involuntarily, I felt myself take a deep breath and let it go.  Just that gave me a little bit of what I needed.

Service - Today I was busy - very busy - with meetings and then writing.  I was very tired because I hadn't slept much the night before and so it was a struggle to write content for the new platform.  Despite the mental pain, I just kept at it and managed to knock off a few things that needed doing but weren't particularly taxing.  I need to do some research tomorrow so I can complete the pieces that I can.  I will say that there was a lot of sighing, holding my head and pulling at my hair today.  Writing is not fun on a deadline but as none of this is being monetized and the things I am writing are intended to be of use to others, I consider the whole day to be one of service.  Soon I need to get some income coming in again.  But I don't want to risk losing what I've regained...

A photo of the comical piece by Six1Six

Monday, August 10

Gratitude, Joy, Oneness and Service (356)

Where did today go?

1. I am grateful that my cholesterol and blood pressure were still stable despite not being able to exercise the way I used to do.  However, I am a little disappointed that the blood test for Lyme disease did not come back conclusive.  The blood test threw up a negative but I know that the blood test gives a false negative anywhere from 10-45 percent of the time, according to Columbia school of Medicine.  I have asked the doctor for a Western Blot but she was reluctant to give me that test until she had spoken with her infectious disease colleagues.  The challenge with the Western Blot is that it also requires a lab that is skilled in reading the results.  I don't know how this is going to turn out but I hope that I do get to have a Western Blot so that we can rule out Lyme disease - or treat it, if it turns out that - like many people from western Canada, these symptoms are misdiagnosed.

2. I am grateful that Michael has offered to sketch out some ideas for a new logo for the new platform.  He did my logo for my social enterprise.  It was perfect and so I can't wait to see what ideas he has.  (addendum: it seems I was grateful for this yesterday.  But I think I'll allow I am grateful because I am also remembering the work he did for me back in New York and I am grateful for that as well.)

3. I am grateful for gluten free bread.  I have been eating erratically lately and trying to accommodate my flatmate.  That means I've been eating way too much gluten and its making me bloated and groggy.  I had a nice bit of egg and toast (gluten free) for supper tonight and that felt like the first proper meal I've had in ages.  Yes, eggs and toast.  That tells you the junk I have been eating.

Joy - It was a joy to stop for a cappuccino and do some writing at the social pantry in Clapham.  I spent a lot of time there, in the past.  They have a pretty good playlist, free wifi, great cappuccinos and tasty gluten free food.  I feel like my brain never stops working at the moment.  When I am on trains, I am writing blog posts or keeping up with instagram (though I really haven't been out to snap anything in weeks).  So today, it was a joy to have a nice cappuccino and write for a bit before I had to head home. 

Oneness - I stood on the train platform and looked back at the place that had been home for a decade.  I lived on the 14th floor and watched a lot of fireworks from that balcony.  My entire relationship with P- played itself out there.  I lived there longer than I lived anywhere - ANYWHERE - in my life.  When I left, I thought I would miss it.  I stood on the platform, revisiting a girl that no longer exists.  And that's okay.  I'm happy with that.

Service - All this work on the platform is service.  None of it is monetized.  I need to figure out how I'm going to change that and make some income.  That's becoming pressing, now

Gratitude, Joy, Oneness and Service (Day 355)

Another beautiful day in London. That meant quiet in my flat so that I could work.

1. I am grateful to MiloV- for the great tunes he sent over from his friend,  i spent the morning selecting songs for a playlist for the event and then thought this looks like a very camp gay man's playlist mixed with a sappy housewife.  So I did the only thing I could on the hip for help.  I imagine my playlist will now be a mix of CampQueen, sapwife and hipster. Should be interesting.

2. I am grateful to CM- who has offered to try to fit in a redesign of my logo. I guess I have to admit that the logo is more about me than the project I have in mind and that needs its own branding.  The garish logo I have is not quite it and it confuses.  If he has time to do it before launch, that will be great. If not, well...everything can change later. I admit that it was insane to try to build a new platform in 2 weeks but it seems we are managing to do it. The big gap is content and that's up to me to get my skates on. Its not easy doing this writing and filling up the platform with content, too. Busy, busy, busy!

3. I am grateful that someone dear to me shared a very personal part of themselves with me last night.   It was something quite unexpected at an unexpected moment.  I don't know that I handled it as well as I could have and so I did my best to make up for that this afternoon and will re-approach the topic. I feel privileged when people speak so intimately with me.

Joy - It was a joy to see Ca- today. We haven't seen one another in ages.  She says that every time we meet I say I have been in France, or Belgium, Bristol or Canada with the same matter-of-factness as she says that she has popped out to Lidl. I think she exaggerates but she says that she has always felt that I belong to London and that I have become part of the landscape of London more than anyone she knows.  I wonder if she might be right.

Oneness - I felt I failed in establishing rapport and deeply creating a safe place for my friend who shared of himself with me.  I got part way, but I could have done better. I was in the middle of cooking and should have stopped and given him the fullness of my attention. On the other hand, his timing may have indicated that he didn't want the fullness of my attention.  I hope we can readdress it and see.

Service - My platform work and cooking for someone else was about all the service that I undertook today.

No photos, alas...

Saturday, August 8

Gratitude, Joy, Oneness and Service (Day 354)

Today was a pretty uneventful day.  I settled in to work while it was quiet in the flat.

1. I am grateful for the good weather. It meant that my flatmates were out for the day and I worked in the kitchen catching up on my writing and working on the new platform.

2. I am grateful for a bit of proofreading from Cyn-.  I have to churn out a few articles in a very short time and it is exhausting.  I am working in deficit right now and my chest is congested now to add to the lost voice.  But, I just have to keep working towards the finish line.

3. I am grateful for pizza. Whilst Lk- has been helping me, we have been eating together and he eats pizza at lunch so never wants it for supper.  For me, once in awhile it is a godsend because all it requires is shoving in the oven to heat it.  I am depleted and in deficit so not spending energy cooking is necessary.  I am also grateful for Onken yogurt which is my other go to fast food, as well as bananas and tomatoes and toast.  I need to buy some vegetables now that our fridge has been replaced.  Hooray for that! 

Joy- it was a joy to spend the whole day without talking.  My voice is pretty bad but more to the point, I think we know how much I love quiet and space - especially when I am in a setback, which, I am in. Working and pushing through a setback is not a good idea, but the key is, I am conscious of it and I know what is coming at some point (hopefully after the 16th) 

Oneness - I rarely look back at previous posts and rarely edit unless I have just posted it and it doesn't look or read right.  Cyn- will often tell me when I mess up my grammar, botch up a sentence or use a word that gives a negative meaning that I didn't intend. Today, as part of the prep for my milestone event, I looked through some old posts. What struck me was how many days (most?) contained reference to being unwell, being exhausted, being in a setback.  That made me very sad and I really had a lot of compassion for myself.  I understand my frustration with wanting to get on with living a normal life, with getting back to paid employment and with having the energy to write around it.  That life might just be over for me.  I won't know until I try but I certainly can't go back to work full time. Not at first. When I look back at how unwell I have been and what I have managed to do, I feel really grateful that I found my way into this practice.  Without it, I think I would be depressed instead of radiant. I felt oneness with myself in those setbacks and love for myself for never giving up. 

Service - working on the new platform with free gratitude resources is my service for today.

I took no photos today but perhaps one from last week will apply to the mood of this post.

Gratitude, Joy, Oneness and Service (Day 353)

Today I was going to go out to a paint jam but after last night I need to rest and actually get a heck of a lot of work done this weekend. 

Last night was full of surprises, as I told you.

I got off at the wrong stop (don't laugh - that's part of my illness) and realised it was the last train.  So, after I said goodbye to the others, I decided to head down to catch the night bus.  After a bagel (there are some benefits to getting off at Shoreditch instead of Shadwell) I peeked into a certain bar on Brick Lane and there was Lisa having a beer.  I went in.  For one.  We closed the place - and then some. 

And it was a very interesting evening.

1. I am grateful that there is a night bus between my two favourite locations - well, my favourite location (Shoreditch) and where I live (Limehouse).  It turns out that I didn't need a night bus because of the kindness of a friend, but I am grateful that I can easily get home at all hours and the bus drops me right in front of my door.

2. I am grateful for the feeling of belonging that the certain bar gives to me.  I can walk in and the staff know me and welcome me and I know they would even if none of the people I know are there.  I have only been going to that certain bar for a couple of weeks but I do feel embraced by the community.  Steve was taking requests for cheesy music and Lisa and I requested the Cocktail theme (Beach Boys) and the bar was full of people dancing while the three lovely guys behind the bar were impressing us with their skills.

3. I am grateful for a chance encounter with a man named AR.  When Lisa went to use the ladies, he sat in her chair - I said he could but my friend would be back shortly and then he'd have to give up the seat.  He said he didn't mind.  He was quite intense and very sexy.  I assumed he just needed a place to sit down and sober up but he seemed to be trying to actively engage with me.  He must have been 10-20 years younger than I am.  Very much any girl's type.  Surely he wasn't sitting there to talk to me, when the bar was full of several young and pretty girls.  I wasn't putting myself down - it just never occurred to me that he might have crossed the room determined to talk to me.

He didn't leave.  He told me he was from Holland.  I said a few words in Dutch that I had learned when I was with P-.  I was able to ask: ben ja sportif (are you sporty? - and darn straight he was - the man was cut, tall, strong) and ben ja romantisch (hey! I learned the important stuff - to which he also replied yes) and then I asked his name in Dutch and we said hello.  He asked how I knew Dutch and I told him I had a Belgian boyfriend.  He looked dejected and asked had or HAVE.  I clarified - HAD - past.  He was all smiles.

We talked about him and about me and I learned that he is a surfer (as if you couldn't tell that from his body) and that he had lived for 4 years in Australia and was just visiting for the weekend.  He had the most beautiful tattoos and the artist who had done them was very talented.  He was not afraid to lift his shirt and show us the boldly coloured bird tattooed across his chest and the incredible flank tattoos he had.  The tattoos weren't the only beautiful thing in that gesture.

He gave the chair back to Lisa and bid me goodbye.  Aye Mamma, that was a nice encounter but I took it as simply a nice but fleeting moment.

But he came back. 


Each time he came back, he stood, rooted and waited to get my attention.  I noticed how handsome he was with his dark hair, dark tanned olive skin and vibrantly blue eyes and more - he had a really powerful energy.  He had a kind of confidence that rooted him to the earth as if to say 'I'm here'.

I still didn't think he was specifically wanting to talk to me.  A little banter with a stranger is fine but I had specifically come in to see Lisa. 

He would have to work pretty damned hard to get my attention given my focus.

He managed.

Steve had put out some strawberries on the bar for us and we hadn't touched them.  He picked one up and put it in front of my lips to feed me.  After I bit the strawberry he finished it.  And he did this till the glass of strawberries was empty. 

I had to take a mental picture of this moment. 

I was being fed strawberries by an Adonis. 

I might as well have been a female version of Dionysus laying in a chair while my attendant catered to my hedonistic needs.  Who wouldn't want that?  I don't think I have ever been fed by a sexy stranger before.  And I went with it.  What's the harm in a wonderful transitory moment?

Strawberries gone, he talked to us for a few more minutes and then it was closing time. 

He disappeared again for a few minutes when I turned to talk to Lisa but he returned. 

He was drunk, he  admitted, but he came back to specifically tell me that I was a beautiful woman and that I stood out in the crowd because (here the details get a bit foggy because it was overwhelming in that moment) something like because my heart was so beautiful and I was so open and positive.  He told Lisa, rather than telling me this and she agreed and kept emphasizing his words.

I had a bit of a struggle, with both of them giving me so much love and me in the middle.  But I took it in. 

I took it in. 

It may have been drunk ramblings but it was still something good to hear and to take in.

Lisa pushed me to get his number and I looked at her and thought - oh is that what I'm supposed to do?  Like I said, I'm not a meet the guy in the bar kind of girl.  But I added him on Facebook and perhaps he will accept my friend request and perhaps he will be too hung over to remember.

Either way, its okay with me. 

It really was such a wonderful experience to have a beautiful man pampering me in such a hedonistic way and I'm okay with it being a fleeting moment.  I think if I hold on to the moment, I block my energy for the good that is meant for me. 

I think it is a great achievement that I allowed myself to be vulnerable - open to the good feelings he brought into my life in that moment, without expectation of going home together or anything beyond that moment.

I am grateful that Lisa was there to witness this and to reinforce his words.

And, I am grateful to AR, a stranger,  for treating me like a Goddess so that I can remember what that feels like and look for that again in the man that I will treat like a God as well.

Joy - See above!

Oneness - Um.  See above!

Service - My service today was to myself.  A friend tells me that men are always trying to get my attention and I just don't see it because I've been closed off to it.  She is right.  I have had some bad experiences and without knowing it, I closed myself off.  I am working on being vulnerable and allowing myself to receive again.  I think it is beginning to work. 

By changing that in me, I change the world around me.

A photo from the certain bar - no we didn't drink all that. 

A photo posted by Tania Campbell (@pinkstarpix) on

Friday, August 7

Gratitude, Joy, Oneness and Service (Day 351)

Today was a good day, despite the tube strike in London. 

I had to make my way again to the doctor in Richmond and that is quite a schlep but worse when you have to find your way via overground and southwest trains and DLR.  Still, I managed to use the time on the train(s) productively so all was not lost!

1. I am grateful that @seeds_one had a dripsandruns (when I first saw it months ago I thought it was drips and drums and I thought well ok - a paint jam and drum jam could be cool - I misread it - maybe a suggestion for the future?) that was open to the public.  I got to see another session of live painting which is always fun and teaches me a lot about the very talented painters and it was great to meet and/or catch up with some wonderful people.

2. I am grateful that my doctor operates on trust.  I have to pay her privately for her treatments because it is outside of the scope of the NHS but I have come a long way with her.  I left last week and got down the street before I realised that I had forgotten to pay her.  And I did the same this week.  That is a sign of my illness actually, to sort of be a bit ungrounded and forgetful at times.  But, it could also be a sign of how happy I am at this moment.  Being happy can be ungrounding because happiness (depending on the source) is usually resonating in the heart and crown chakras - air and ether.  Not particularly grounded.  Anger and depression resonate with the sacral and solar plexus chakras, lower in the body and particularly depression is grounding - too much so.  Let's see whether it is a sign that I'm in a setback or happy.  Imagine those two conditions being able to be mistaken in their early onset?!?!  Life is strange!

3. I am grateful that I was able to rest today.  I worked late with Lk- last night on the new platform and I could feel myself coming down with a chest infection again.  It is not normal how many chest infections I get.  I am convinced that this reaction is my body's dis-regulated response to stress (which includes over activity) and that it is not a contagious chest infection at all.

Joy - It was a joy to finally meet @sp76, finally. I am grateful that after I was a numpty the last time he was around, that he was so gracious to me and welcoming and warm.  I felt completely comfortable with him.  I think it had to do with the fact that I did not get tipsy.  I hate to admit it - I am just high on life that I am actually a lot more fun to be with when I'm sober.  Two beer and I'm a liability. 

It was also a joy to hang out with @monsu_plin and @streetartatlas after the paint jam ended.  @monsu_plin is an artist whose work you will have seen around London but who is not actually from here.  @streetartatlas is a wonderful person who photographs street art events and writes a blog in support of the street artists so that their work can be seen.  I really like them both - no ego, no pretense, no competition.  Talking with @monsu_plin you feel like you are really engaging in thoughtful conversation - even at the end of a long night at the bar.  I really enjoyed spending time with both of them.

Oneness - I had a nice conversation with one of the artists on the way home.  He asked an awkward question and I answered truthfully, because I really try to live authentically. It probably was too much truth and more than he was expecting.  I think it left him in an awkward position.  But, he was very kind and warm in response and I hope it didn't upset him.  His response was very touching to me - such a kind soul.  It makes me wonder - was I feeling awkward talking about it and so I project that outwards to maybe he feeling awkward?  I think I have something to work on, with myself, here.

Service - Hmmm...well...I really struggle with this today because I was in bed late and then running between the doctor and other venues.  The one thing that stands out in my mind is that standing on the curb outside the bar/gallery tonight, I watched a lot of people trying to get through the crowd on their way and who stood out to me were the homeless and the beggars.  I wondered what the crowd would do.  I didn't have much money (and I don't have much money) but I found whatever coins I had in my pocket and stepped forward towards one man who was asking for change and gave him mine.  I wish I could have done more.  As the night wore on, there were more and more beggars coming by and I was glad to see that those who could, did give their spare change to others.

I have a shot of some work by @monsu_plins and you should check out the rest of the work on instagram!

I didn't take any photos today but @streetartatlas took some great shots and so, I am including them here.  She writes a blog about the street art world and you might like to check her out as well. 

Find her on Facebook:

Wednesday, August 5

Reflections on Gratitude - The Happiness Movement

This started out as something for which I am grateful and I realised it was rather I have decided to post this as a reflection piece instead.

As I go through the world talking to people about gratitude, I notice their eyes glaze over and I recognize that my coolness quotient suddenly drops about 1000 points.  Any of you who have known me awhile know that I despise evangelism of any kind and I strive at all times to be authentic.  By the time I knew I wanted to write about this, I knew that I would need to practice what I preached and to write about the awful days (like yesterday) where I feel petty, depressed and defeated because they are as much a part of the process and a part of life as living gratefully.  We can't simply bypass the darker moments to get to a place of gratitude.  We have to go through them.  And that hurts.

But, for those who don't know me....there is a tidal wave of happiness messages out there and it is easy, in doing a kind of social shortcut, to tar me with that same brush.

I admit it - gratitude and happiness are interrelated.  In my experience, gratitude practice leads to living gratefully and that leads to happiness.  So, anything that reflects poorly on the 'happiness' movement will probably reflect poorly on gratitude practice.   (Witness for instance,  the coca cola adverts that use the repetition of the word "happiness" to sell sugary drinks that cause tooth decay and obesity - yeah, happiness, alright)

In that vein, I am grateful for an article published by Huff post by Jamie Varon about the pressure that all this happiness movement seems to put on people to be cheery all the time.  It has given me a focus to bring together a lot of thoughts. 

Like I said, happiness isn't about being cheerful and negating the experience of darker moods and difficult times.  But, just like yoga, a lot of people run to these movements to actually suppress and repress their emotions and avoid dealing with life.  Oh yes, there are a lot of people hiding out in yoga, and, from what I can the happiness circles as well. 

Its not very PC of me to say this because I am a member of a Happiness movement and I am a yoga teacher.  But, it is a dark truth with which the yoga community has had to contend, and one with which the positive psychology gurus better get a handle before they get tainted with someone flipping their happy lid, going postal and shooting a bunch of school children.  I am grateful to be able to say that my yoga teacher, Swami Satchidananda and the current leaders of the Happiness movement to which I belong do understand this.  But, as with all things, we can't judge the leaders or the teachings by all the followers around them.  Swami Satchidananda used to remind us that if all the followers had it all together, they wouldn't need the teachings, now would they?

Unfortunately, it is often the followers that are a bit off kilter that get all the attention and go out into the world hypocritically evangelising.  The article described how the stream of endless spiritual platitudes pisses people off and makes them feel guilty for somehow not having it all together.  There is a tyranny of happiness out there - it is real and nobody should be ashamed or wronged for having darker emotions.  I agree with her on this.  Forcing a 'happy' world view or attitude on anyone before they can find their way to it reeks of the saccharin coated sinister world of Stanley Kubrick's Clockwork Orange and of religious cultism.

A photo posted by Tania Campbell (@pinkstarpix) on

Yes, I do believe happiness is a choice...but not in the way it is normally preached....not because we can choose all our circumstances...but because we can choose how we respond to those circumstances.  And no, I don't define happiness as a perpetual feel-good state, nor as the achievement of all our dreams.  Bad stuff happens.  We hurt.  And we process that hurt and transform it into something positive in our lives.  Or...we grow bitter.  Therein lies our choice.

I know this sounds like first world thinking.  I don't believe that our personal responsibility to choose our attitude and thoughts in any way negates our social responsibility to one another.  When we see another suffering, it is our duty in society to do what we can to alleviate suffering.  It is the social contract under which we have lived for centuries.  It has broken down - I admit that.  This week I watched a man maintain his rush hour stride while stepping right over a homeless man who was begging outside of Clapham Junction.  Perhaps we are afraid to look into the eyes of that man on the street because to do so forces us to recognize that save for a few circumstances, it could be any one of us in that position.  If we don't want to take responsibility for our fragility in becoming destitute, we certainly don't want to take responsibility for creating our own happiness.  But it is more - when we fail to have compassion for the man on the street, we cannot have it for ourselves, either.  And without self-compassion, we can never make peace with our shadow selves.

Happiness is not about sustaining pleasure all the time, in my opinion.  To me, the journey to happiness is finding our own ways to experience loss, anger, grief, injustice and finding the seed of compassion that propels us to grow, to live resiliently and to take what we've learned out into the community.  It is that seed of compassion that turns a rape victim into a counsellor, a Nazi death camp prisoner into a positive psychologist, a school drop out into a ground breaking modern artist and a victim of injustice into an activist. 

I share positive feeds and I hashtag many of my photos #happinessisachoice and hell, I'm bothering to spend 365 days here writing about gratitude.  That may make you want to slap me but I practice pratipaksha bhavana (a yogic practice of replacing positive thoughts for negative thoughts) not to avoid dealing with my negative emotions and thoughts, but because I do believe that as we think, so we will be.  Sometimes that positive thought is simply one of compassion.

I will be the first to admit to my own petty-mindedness, anger, disappointment, grief, lust, loneliness, gluttony, greed, shame, laziness, jealousy and insecurity.  Some days I want to slap the smile off of people's faces, too.  Accepting this about myself, without judging, fearing or having to look away from it allows me to have compassion for myself and to avoid acting on those impulses.  By compassionately processing, without judgement, my dark stuff, I am freed of it and I can find the meaning in the suffering that gives my life a deeper purpose.

And so, with a mix of acceptance, processing the darkness and working to transform it through choices in thought, word and deed I do believe we can find our way to a meaningful, authentic life of depth and purpose. 

And to me, THAT is the meaning of happiness.

If you want to read the original blog in Huff Post it is here:

Saturday, August 1

Gratitude, Joy, Oneness and Service (Day 346)

For now, I really have to say that I am finding my life running far ahead of me and out of control right now.  I cannot pace myself at the moment and that is essential in managing my illness.  I am finding demands on my time that I didn't expect and I'm having to practice saying no - even to the people and the events where I really want to say yes.  I was invited to so many cool things today and I know that I need to catch up writing, write a reflections piece and put together the new platform.  That's way more than a day's work and on top of that, I'm already in energy deficit from Upfest.

I am finding it hard to pace because things that are enjoyable and energising are also taxing.  Being with people and talking takes energy (not because I'm an introvert, but because of my illness) and I have not been choosing wisely where I spend that.  I want to talk to street artists and spend time with my flatmate but I have so much work to do before the 16th launch that I have to say no sometimes to all that fun.


But I had a great time last night even though I really feel like I am running to catch up with every bit of my life and I am late for everything and am not able to rest.  I went out last night and spent the day running between the doctor's office, the café to write and the Battersea Arts Centre where I was lining up interviews for my new website.  It was a busy day.  Oh, and I had to buy shoes.  I didn't want to look like an American anymore - one who thinks trainers go with anything.

So...exhausted today....but we go on....I would like to be out and about at events but work is taking precedence for the next 16 days.

1. I am grateful to Savant for inviting me to the opening of the show by Skeleton Cardboard last night.  He invited me to meet some of his friends and when we missed each other in different locations, he was sweet enough to tell me to go talk to so and so and this fella or that bloke and to say he sent me.  Such a sweet person, he is. 

One of the first photos I took for instagram was a piece of his art that was 'evolved' (ie had been hit by a graff).  The interaction between his intended image and the graff was very intriguing and it got me very interested in looking at street art.

It was lovely to meet his partner and to have her reassure me that contrary to my impression, not very many of the folks in the street art world are super young.  They are so warm and welcoming.  It is lovely to feel so embraced into the urban art community and I owe that feeling to the kindness of Savant. 

2. I am grateful for something a bit odd today.  I was walking along the road in West London after I left the hospital and an older gentleman said something as he was passing me.  I wasn't aware of what he had said until he passed.  Then it clicked.  He had said "Obesity! Blech!" loud enough for me to know he wanted to be heard.

Now don't get me wrong - I am not grateful for his bullying behaviour.  For whatever reason...perhaps it is the combination of being a woman and being a plus sized woman - and add over 30 to that - I have been the subject of verbal attack many times in London for my appearance.  It surprises people when they hear what I've had to endure on trains, in train stations, crossing the street and being shouted at from the car and called names.  They are surprised that this still happens in this day and age.  I'm not sure what it is about me, but I seem to have attracted it in a way that others who are plus sized have not experienced.  It has always upset me, made me feel low and damaged my self esteem.

I am grateful for yesterday's experience because my first thought was that those words used to hurt me.  The implication was that they did not, anymore.  But I wondered.  I was going out in the evening to an event where I would be meeting people I'd never met.  Would this do what it had always done and cause me to spiral downward at the hands of a bully?

I made a decision to just observe my thoughts and feelings for the rest of the day. 

I did not spiral downward.  In fact, I felt compassion for the man.  I thought - he doesn't know me.  He doesn't know that I was assaulted and gained about 15 Kg as a psychological protection against another attack.  He doesn't know that I have an illness that has caused me to gain another 10 Kg.  He doesn't know that I am a beautiful woman with a beautiful soul who attracts men all the time.  He doesn't see what is right before him because he sees only through his damaged world view. 

It is NOT okay to bully or to speak hatefully towards someone.  Whether it is my weight, my gender identification, my sexuality, my race, my religion, my nationality, my is all prejudice and a hate crime.  It is not to be tolerated. 

And, had I understood what he'd said before I was down the block, I would have said something to him.  What?  I don't know.  In the past I would have been defensive and turned out some insult in return.  But I'm not feeling that way.  I am beautiful.  I am overweight.  I don't like being overweight because it represents both being unwell and the baggage of a crime that was not my fault.  I don't need this weight, I don't want this weight and I want to be healthy....but to lose it is very difficult given my condition. 

And still, I know I am beautiful.  My heart is beautiful and it attracts those who can see it.

I felt compassion for the man.  I felt he must be either senile or very damaged as a person to be a bully. 

And, in case you're wondering - I checked in with myself a couple of times over the course of the evening.  I made an effort and put on a little mascara and concealer mostly because I didn't want to scare anyone with my dark circles....but I felt - if not pretty - I felt beautiful and confident.  My confidence only grew at the gentle introduction of me to the others by Savant. 

And so, I am so very grateful that my attitude towards myself and others has so radically transformed in this past year.  I'd like to be thin again, but just as I see the beauty of others in all their imperfections, I have managed to turn that same gaze towards myself a little more (not always - we all have bad days).

I am so grateful for this man's bullying because he helped me see what a change there has been in me. 

3. I am grateful for the gifts I received last night.  Savant gave me a couple of his pieces (yay!!) which is so generous and Lisa gave me the gift of sharing the story of Ben the Naz with me.  She walked me down to see the piece Ben Naz created when his cancer was diagnosed as terminal.  I have seen his work around Shoreditch and it is striking and all around town there are many tributes to him.  I knew, when d7606 told me that he had passed away that there was a terrible loss in the community over it.  I felt it, without knowing the street artists, without really knowing his work, and without ever having met him.  I know how much he was loved, admired and how sorely he is missed.  There are others who have recently died and it always wrenches my heart out when I see the tributes.  Even though I don't know them, I feel the loss.  In Bristol, I had the saddest moment when I photographed a small stencilled tribute to an unknown person.  I felt that there were just too many RIP tributes on the streets.  Far too many lost artists.

Joy - It was a joy to be invited in so graciously to a group of artists who drink at a certain bar in Brick Lane.  I didn't have much to say really, but they spoke to me and in certain cases, they shared very deep parts of themselves.  I feel privileged.

Oneness - Last night, Lisa and I went to visit her friend Ben through sitting in the presence of his work.  I know she is probably thinking of someone else as well, and sometimes we have to approach these things asymptotically because they are too painful for direct approach.  I get that.  He was her friend and she loved him and sitting on the curb, looking at his art in the moonlight, I felt he was there.  And I really wished I had known him.

Service -  I feel what happened was a privilege so I feel a bit odd in calling it service, but I offered a compassionate and impartial ear to someone that needed to unburden their troubles.  As it was the full moon, and a blue moon - I am told that it is a good time for prayers for the dead - I prayed for and remembered my mother, Steve who died in May, and the street artists Ben the Naz and TSP.

I don't post photos of myself, I prefer to be an introverted, reclusive, unidentifiable writer but I think that in keeping with my post today, letting myself be seen would be a positive gesture. today (and there are a few!):

A piece from Skeleton Cardboard's show in Shoreditch:

Ben the Naz - 'The Edge' under a blue moon:

Savant - one of the first piece of street art I photographed on Instagram:

And a selfie.  When I saw this photo, I felt I looked unattractive.  My friend, Steve, who died at the end of May, helped me to see how beautiful the photo is.  And so, still uncomfortable with 'being seen', I posted it again and sat with that discomfort.  I am grateful to Steve for giving me the support to be vulnerable.