Saturday, September 29, 2012

An Awakening

An Awakening

About 7 or 8 years ago, I started to become aware of something called the labyrinth.  Aware in the sense, that periodically a friend or acquaintance would make mention of one such thing.  Either they had walked one or in the case of a friend of mine, she had drawn one in chalk on the cement plaza adjacent to the Shadbolt Center for Centre for Arts in Burnaby where she works.  She had drawn this as an exercise for her young art students, asking them to walk along the path and then to draw their experience.  What a novel and challenging idea.  Or, now and then I may have come across an article on the Internet or seen a picture of a labyrinth in a book.

The more I came in contact with labyrinth stories and related things, the more curious I became.  In the fall of 1966, I was in Boulder, Colorado taking a crystal-healing course.  I spent my time by day in class and the evenings exploring the many fascinating faces of the Pearl Street Mall.  It was on one such evening that I had my wake-up call to the labyrinth.  I was perusing the bookshelves of Lighthouse Books, a metaphysical bookstore in the heart of the Pearl Street Mall one evening.  As I stood in front of an old bookshelf flipping pages of a book I had in my hands, I was suddenly aware that from above a book was falling towards me from one of the upper shelves.  I reached out.  And caught it.

The book was entitled, Walking a Sacred Path:  Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Practice by Lauren Artress.  I did the only thing I knew to do in an instance like this.  I put back on the shelf the book whose pages I had been flipping and marched straight to the cash desk, the book by Lauren Artress in my excited little hands and could hardly wait to part with my American dollars.  I know when I am being summoned.

That was the beginning and the end.  This was my awakening to the labyrinth and the end of my search, unknowing search, for the truth that is the labyrinth.  I was now a labyrinth walker even before I had set foot on one.

Ask me how excited I was as I explored the pages of Lauren’s book.  It is one of life’s miracles to find something that you have been seeking whether or not you know that is what you have been doing.  In one fell swoop of a book falling off a shelf I had arrived at the entrance to the labyrinth.

Subsequent to this life-altering event, I partook of a retreat workshop with Lauren Artress at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.  This workshop was followed up by a two-day labyrinth facilitator’s course at the same venue.  What an incredible experience!

I have not looked back once, but have continued to walk the path on a regular basis, each time experiencing it fresh and new as though it were the very first time.  You can find me often holding space for other walkers usually on a Friday evening at the lovely labyrinth at St. Paul's Anglican Church in Vancouver’s west end.  Come join me in meditative prayer along the time-honored path that is the Labyrinth.  I will be watching and waiting for you.

Blessings along the path,

Naomi Belle
September 2012

This is an article I wrote and submitted to the administrator at St. Paul's Anglican Church in Vancouver for consideration to an upcoming newsletter.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Anniversary - September 9, 2011

Massive Pipe Organ in the Cathedral de Santiago de Compostela

This time last year, Kiamanawanui Russell and I stepped off Iberia Air flight 8404 into the brilliant sunshine that shone down on Pamplona Spain.  We spent a day and a half here acclimatizing from our long flight from Vancouver to Spain before beginning to walk the first leg of our spiritual journey along the sacred path of the Camino de Frances on our way to Santiago de Compostela.  We would spend the next three weeks walking, taking time off to recover from illness and blisters, busing to make up for time lost, busing as planned to see the countryside and foraging daily for food and shelter along the way.  Our constant companions were the Angel Sophia and the spirit of my little Julia as we walked each step hand-in-hand with God.

That's me with the red backpack walking between Cizur Menor and Puente la Reina along the Camino on our 2nd day of walking
We walked in 38 degree heat through wheat fields with no shade, up steep steep hillside and mountain slopes to old Roman walled fortresses, over ancient roads and bridges built by the Romans, through vineyards, through small towns and villages and along the way locals and pilgrims alike called out "Buon Camino" in greeting and blessing.  The greeting always returned in kind.  The further west we travelled, the more temperate the weather making the walk easier and here we walked through shaded pathways in old forests and newly planted ones, alongside farmer's fields and kitchen gardens and always in the distance could be seen a church steeple.

Spanish cows look pretty much the same as cows anywhere!!

We were blessed to meet with three beautiful people along the way - Julio Catalan, Ismael Ruiz Pérez and Inma Tirado Trigos.  They will always be kept close to our hearts.  With our new friends we attended pilgrim's mass most evenings in beautiful old churches that rang out their bells to call us to worship and together we prayed.

Julio, me and Kiamanawanui just before Pilgrim's mass in this church in Melide

Our pilgrimage was more about the journey along the way and much less about the destination, for the lessons, the learnings and the spiritual growth occurred moment by moment.  So as we walked down the western slope of Monte del Gozo with the steeples of the Cathedral de Santiago de Compostela in the distance, it was almost anti-climatic but so healing to have closure to this particular phase of our lives.  It was here in the heart of Santiago de Compostela that we would collect our “Compostela”, our pilgrim’s certificate that authenticated our journey and attend a mass at the Cathedral dedicated to all pilgrims.

Ismael and Inma in front of the Cathedral de Santiago de Compostela at the end of our journey

I am grateful for so many things:  For my deepened friendship and spiritual agreement with Kia as she shared this most sacred journey with me.  I love you.  For being in the right time and place to meet Julio and Ismael who did so much to translate between Spanish and English for us and the lovely and delightful Inma that I just want to forever hold in my arms.  For the life challenged attendants at an albergue in Puente la Reina who greeted these hot, tired and dusty travellers with water and bandaged Kia's blisters.  And, for so much more.  I am grateful for the people here at home that sent their love, cheered us along the way and greeted us on our return.  I love you all.  But most of all I am grateful to God for simply being there each moment holding space for us as we stumbled along our life’s path with our heavy backpacks, as we met ourselves face to face for who we truly are, as we learned our lessons and healed our troubled hearts.

It has been a whole year since Kia and I started our journey to Spain and the Camino.  And the life journey continues.  It did not end in Santiago de Compostela, only the walking part did.  There is hardly a day goes by that I am not reminded of something from this pilgrimage that altered forever the way I live my life and I hope that never changes.  I am so humbled.

With love and blessings to all.

xxoo Naomi

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Randomness - June 6, 2012

1.  It is June 6th and I am still wearing my leggings under my skirts. The air is cold as though there were fresh snow on the North Shore mountains.  Which there is not!  In just a few weeks, we will experience the longest day of the year and then the sun will start to set a little earlier each day.  I am beginning to wonder if we are going to be blessed with the rays of summer.

2.  Mason-Dixon Knitting's Ann Shayne has just published "Bowling Avenue", her new novel.  I was privileged a short time ago to receive a freeola e-copy.  Great read - I couldn't put it down.  Ann takes you right into the story which is set in the south, in Nashville.  The characters are developed over time throughout the story and just when you think you have them figured out, you discover you haven't.  This story keeps you on your toes and you will (at least I did) laugh and cry.  Check it out here and here.

3. Grilled asparagus with a bit of lemon and himalayan salt is a great midnight snack.  My mother loved asparagus and on the rare occasions when she had it, it was a real treat for her.  It was always expensive and not always readily available, at least not fresh.  Now it can be found in most supermarkets and although my preference is for organic, I do find comfort in the fact that according to The Environmental Working Group, it ranks #5 in the clean category for non-organic produce.  This is a ranking that shows the impact of pesticides in fruits and vegetables.

4.  On my needles at the moment are various and sundry baby projects.  It seems in my small circle, there are a lot of babies about to be born in the next wee while.   Most notable, a baby sleep sack with matching hat and a lovely baby bonnet made from unspun silk gently pulled from a stack of undyed silk hankies or as they are also known, mawata.

5.  My most exciting news is that I am registered to take Melody's Level I and Level II Laying on of Stones workshops in November of this year.  I took these classes a few years ago from Karen of Hands of Spirit Gallery in Boulder Colorado.  Karen took her teacher training from Melody who developed these crystal healing classes.  Melody does not teach very often any more and when I took the class from Karen, I did so because there was no opportunity to take a class with Melody.  Karen was great, but there is nothing like having the teachings straight from the crystal goddess herself.  The lovely folks at Crystalworks here in Vancouver will be hosting Melody.

I won't be able to sit still until November!!

6.  On June 24th, Les Blydo Walking a Labyrinth blogspot will create a labyrinth in the sand on the foreshore of Spanish Banks to mark the summer solstice.  This is a lovely and different way to experience the labyrinth from what I am used to at St. Paul's in Vancouver's West End where I am one of the labyrinth's volunteers.  St Paul's Labyrinth.  Looking forward to joining Les on the beach.

It's my bedtime - Good Night all!!

xxoo Naomi

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


I received Peonies today...  Well not literally.  The ones pictured above I purchased from the Market on Granville Island.  They are gorgeous to say the least.  Such a rich, rich vibrant colour and believe it or not, they are about 9" across.  There are actually five of them in the bouquet, so you can only imagine the size of them all.  I know!  I can hardly stand it myself.  They are simply yummy and I will be a bit sad when they are done, but grateful too to them for filling my apartment with their lovely fragrance and alive beauty.

But I did receive Peonies today.   Mason Dixon Knitting blog published as their blog today, the comments that I made about going to see the Jack White concert last Sunday evening.  Wow what a lovely surprise and it got even lovelier throughout the day as readers commented on my comments.  Such great encouragement and go for it attitude towards my decision to leap on the opportunity.  Thank you to Mason Dixon Knitting and to your readers.  One of the readers even posted here on my blog (see comment on my Jack White post).  Thanks!

And by the way, the peonies pictured above are the very ones that I was carrying in my arms when I stepped off the bus last Saturday and didn't have the ability to put one more thing in my hands, such as the Georgia Straight newspaper with the full page pic of Jack White on the cover.  

Today I have been poking around my photos, in particular the ones I took last fall when my friend Kia and I walked the Camino in Spain.  It is time for me to start to share them and the stories that go with them.

But before I do, let me share this photo with you.

When I came out of my office building at the end of my work day today, I could hear First Nation's drums and chanting.  The police had blocked off the one block of Robson street behind the Vancouver Art Gallery and members of the Musqueam Band and their supporters were assembled.  They were protesting the desecration of an ancient burial site which had been designated as a heritage site and upon which is currently being built a 108 unit condo complex.  How does that happen you ask?  Well the Musqueam are asking the very same question.  You can read about it here - Musqueam Band burial site.  I stood with them for a while slapping my thighs and moving my feet to the beat of their drums and chanting along with them.

You can see a couple of great looking shirts in the pic above.  The light coloured paddle shaped thingies on their shirts looked to be stamp cut out of buckskin and hung from beads on the braid trim.  They moved and swayed as they beat their drums.  The shirts were really beautiful and I so wanted to get closer to touch, but instead I admired from afar and took pictures with my iPhone.

And if you look closely at the fellow second from the right, you will see he is wearing a knit - Yes, of course, I am always looking for the knits - a knit Cowichan style sweater.  

And in this next pic above, you can see the drummers standing around in a circle drumming and chanting and on the left is another Cowichan style knit sweater.

Before I leave, here is a bit of a teaser from Spain - there will for sure be lots more to come and lots of stories, as I relive my journey.

Our journey began in Pamplona, Spain, the city where every year they have the running of the bulls.  We arrived at the beginning of their annual Medieval Festival and pictured above is part of the parade that wound through the winding streets of the old walled city.  We, that is Kia and I loved Pamplona.  We loved all of Spain, but mostly Pamplona.  It welcomed us with open arms and charmed us every minute of our stay there.

In the middle of this same photo you can see a large sign in the shape of a brightly lit green cross. Throughout and along the Way of the Camino, we were greeted time and time again with this very same sign.  It is the sign of la farmacía, a much needed and welcoming refuge for pilgrims along the way.  To us, it became the place to stock up on Compeed Blister Bandages.  They were our lifesavers.  Never leave home - no never - hike, nor walk the Camino without them.  We have nothing like them here in our pharmacies.  We would enter la farmacía and our eyes would immediately sweep the shelves and display stands looking for the blue packaging of Compeed.  There were other bandage brands to be sure, but none could compare.  

That's it for today.  More to come and again a big thank you to Mason Dixon Knitting!!

In gratitude for all that is holy and all that warms our hearts,

xxoo Naomi

Sunday, May 27, 2012

JACK WHITE - It might get loud!


Below is the comment I wrote on the Mason Dixon Knitting blog

"Hmm - Jack White...

I'm not sure I really believe this of myself, but I just bought a ticket for Jack White's 8:00pm performance at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre here in Vancouver, BC Canada this evening.

And further, I am not really too sure how this came about except for a serendipitous series of events and just pure determination.  It has taken me a bit to kind of figure out what those events were and to put the pieces together - I'm a little slow.  But once I had, I was determined to see his concert.

I saw Jack White's pic on your blog and read the story of him being on your plane and thought, that's cool - hmm interesting,  never heard of him, wonder who he is, kind of thing.  That was a couple of days ago.  Then yesterday on my way home from my amazing Saturday job at  where I sell fibre arts supplies including lots of yarny goodness, I noticed our local entertainment paper, the Georgia Straight in a paper box as I alighted from the bus.  It had a full page photo of guess who?  Why Jack White of course.  Wow, who is this guy?  Didn't I just see his pic a few days ago?  Right, I did, on Mason Dixon Knitting.  My arms were full of bags and packages and a huge bouquet of peonies.  I momentarily thought to grab the Straight, but did not have enough hands.  I simply went home.

Today, Sunday the 27th of May, I sat and knit for a bit on Janel Laidman's Rivendell socks and then took a snack break.  My snack break included rereading Mason Dixon's Knitting blog and again was reminded of Jack White.  Curious, I went to Google and You Tube to see who this guy really was.  As I was watching one clip, I noticed just below the video, a line that read something like, "Jack White, Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Vancouver, May 27th".  What? - oh that was what the Georgia Straight cover was all about.  And then the next clip showed a bit of video that I had already seen before.  But where?  Oh, yes, I started to watch "It Might Get Loud" on Netflix.  Good Lord, Jack White had been everywhere and in my face for the past week.

So I did the only normal thing that I could do, I logged onto Ticketmaster to see if I could get a ticket for this evening's performance.  Sold out!  NO, not possible.  I need to go to this concert and the theatre is only 5 blocks from where I live.  Determined, I was sure there was a single ticket just for me.  I just wasn't feeling sure, I KNEW there was one and that I just had to be patient.   So I let it be for a bit and then, guess what?  After numerous logins and attempts to search for a seat, a 7th row centre orchestra ticket came up available and it is mine, all MINE.

I AM going to see Jack White perform this evening.  I will probably be the only grandmotherly type there.  Oh, what the Hell, I am only going to live once in this body, I might as well live.

I'll let you know how it goes later...  Loud, I expect!"

AND later I did comment on the show.  Here is what I wrote on the Mason Dixon Knitting blog in the comment section:

"Well, all I can really say is Jack White rocks!!! And he did rock with his Peacock all girl band dressed in baby blue sparkly dresses with black accents. Jack was in a baby blue suit with black shirt and blue tie. Oh and, the roadies all wore, the guys that is, black shirt, pants and hats with blue suspenders and ties and the girl roadies wore blue dresses. A colour coordinated affair. Alas, no knits.
Here is the link to the write-up for tonights show.

I am still trying to regain my hearing. It was LOUD, but great. So glad I went.

Thanks to Mason Dixon Knitting for being the catalyst that sent me off to this rock concert. I really think I was the only 60's + grannie that was there, but I rocked with the rest of them!!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


I have neglected my blog for way too long.

Today is a windy but sunny day in Vancouver.  On my way to work this morning I noticed some young women lining the steps at the back of the Vancouver Art Gallery with white cowboy hats.  Hmm - what could that possibly mean.  First thing that came to mind was the Calgary Stampede in Calgary Alberta held every July - and then I thought of the Cloverdale Rodeo that is held here in the lowermainland every May

So when I went out at lunchtime, I thought I would check it out.  There were a number of people hanging around and then I saw some gals in white cowboy hats who were handing out wrist bands.  They were giving away an all paid trip for two to the Calgary Stampede that would include a Garth Brooks concert, dinner, chuckwagon races and more.  So I got in line with the rest of the cowboys and cowgirls.  We all had to stand beside a hat and when announced, very civil like, we each reached down to pick up our hat to see if the red envelope containing the prize was under it or not.  Nope - not for me, but we all got to keep our white Stampede Smithbilt Hats in honour of the Stampede's 100th anniversary.

I will post a picture of the hats on the steps of the Gallery once one hits the news.

Here's exactly what my hat looks like.  How cool is that!!

Calgary Stampede Centennial Canvas

The Art Gallery steps get used for many things.  Each year on December 6th a Shoe Memorial is setup.  It honours women who have lost their life through violence and seeks to educate the public at large about violence.

Here is what the steps looked like on one of these occasions.  I placed one of my pairs of shoes here too as did my work colleague Ellen.

Much love to all


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Alabama - Alabama Christmas Volume 2

I am listening to Christmas music.  I know, it is only November 20th, but I am in the  middle of organizing a Christmas Event and so I thought I should really get in the mood!!

Deanna told me she already has her home decorated for the holidays as do a few other people I know.  So maybe, I am just keeping step with the rest.  Whatever the reason, it really doesn't matter as long as I am enjoying it, which I am.