Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A question about Leadership

Travels are over – at least for a little while – and I'm back enjoying the serenity and peacefulness that is our life by the River. While the weather has been less than springlike; it has been great to be home and to see my friends again. Back to walking on the beach and catching up on the current news.

Canada is in the midst of a federal election right now and it seems for the second time in less than a year our community is going through election fever. An important time to consider how we want our country to be led over the next several (we hope) years. These are challenging times right now and it will take many people with a strong sense of purpose and vision to accept this challenge and lead this country with commitment and heart.

Leadership is an illusive quality in our political mosaic here in Canada. Many people want control and even more want power but how many really want to lead? And, if they do want to lead, where the heck are they taking us? These are questions that are worth asking yourself as you listen to the speeches and the rallying cries of the candidates.

Watching CNN on the weekend, I was inspired by an article that appeared to be written by Author Y (who turns out to be the joint chiefs of staff in the Pentagon.)

John Norris discusses this article in 'Foreign Policy' and quotes the article within the context of funding:

"Courageously, the authors make the case that America continues to rely far too heavily on its military as the primary tool for how it engages the world. Instead of simply pumping more and more dollars into defense, the narrative argues:

'By investing energy, talent, and dollars now in the education and training of young Americans -- the scientists, statesmen, industrialists, farmers, inventors, educators, clergy, artists, service members, and parents, of tomorrow -- we are truly investing in our ability to successfully compete in, and influence, the strategic environment of the future. Our first investment priority, then, is intellectual capital and a sustainable infrastructure of education, health and social services to provide for the continuing development and growth of America's youth. "

That for me is leadership and coming from the Pentagon no less.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The North South Divide

Life has been hectic recently – up to Newcastle, over to Richmond, down to Sheffield then back into London. I enjoy the different landscapes of these parts of England; each has its own unique and lovely energy.

Newcastle is a bit of homeland; my mother, grandmother and great grandmother are all from South Shields (which is the Newcastle area). I enjoy visiting this part of the world even though I often don't understand a word they say. A Geordie accent is something quite amazing to behold; almost like a secret language only knowable to the initiated. I first encountered the Geordie lingo when my grandmother was chatting with a Geordie friend and slipped very easily and quickly into the almost indecipherable language that is from these parts.

Reassuring is how it feels to be in the North of England; familiar, friendly, forthright and honest. These are qualities that have often been attributed to me by my family and not always in a positive and encouraging way. The qualities of northerners can grate on the rest of England and certainly the more subdued Southerners are often quite affronted by their Northern brethren. I, however, enjoy the frankness and the honesty; it sits very well with me.

Today I had a wander around the Kings Road in Chelsea and thoroughly enjoyed this part of London. It isn't an area that I go to frequently but on the advisement of a friend, I thought I would go and partake of the excellent shopping and also enjoy the sunshine and the warmth of the spring day. After my experiences in the north and the work that I enjoyed last week and on the weekend, it was lovely to have an afternoon to meander about and just take in the sights and sounds of London.

My awareness of the North South divide is never more acute than when I have the opportunity to spend some time up north and then immerse myself in London; the homeland of my father, grandfather and great grandfather; a completely different experience of England. London is fast, vibrant, multicultural and anonymous. A person can get seriously lost here and no one would notice. This is also an aspect of me that fits very well in my psyche.

Bringing the divide together is the balance that I seek.
Geographies of England: The North-South Divide, Material and Imagined (Cambridge Studies in Historical Geography)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Rock Your 'Asanas' Yoga

So what else does a person do in South London on a Saturday night but engage in heavy metal yoga. No kidding, rock music, light show and heavy breathing; all part of the 'yoga' experience that my friend and I participated in on Saturday. Followed by a lentil curry and a glass of wine; they do things differently over here.

It was a bit odd for me – to say the least – and yet, I cannot argue with the positive effects that I have felt since doing this 'extreme sport' yoga. I of the 'Nordic Walking' persuasion and occasional yoga aficionado feel incredibly energized and dare I say it, quite changed as a result of this experience.

I had no idea what I was getting into when my very good friend of many years asked me if I'd like to join her in a yoga class on Saturday night. I thought, sure, I love yoga, really miss doing it and hey, what a fun way to hang out and spend time together.

There wasn't a whole lot of information about the night just that it was yoga and then a veggie meal. When I arrived in the yoga room I was somewhat startled to see two dj's and a huge table for spinning discs and a light show being set up. Well, a few minutes later, 35 bodies proceeded to chant, stretch, downward dog and shake our shakti's. Whoa – not what I was expecting at all.

When I shared this experience with my son over our 'Mother's Day' lunch on Sunday (yes, they have a different day than Canada) he burst out laughing and said that it reminded him of an episode of the 'Peep Show' which is shot in South London – 'Rainbow Rhythms.' Later that night he put the episode on the tv for me to watch. What was hilariously funny for me was the degree to which my Saturday night mimicked this episode. It isn't a natural thing to blend yoga – quiet meditative practice – with loud rocking music and a light show.

I am a bit of a purist when it comes to yoga; I like it quiet, meditative, relaxing and to be honest, not that sweaty. If I tell you that 'Shavason' is my favourite position (the corpse pose) it will probably tell you a lot about my level of activity in yoga. So having such a wildly physical yoga experience was, for me, a uniquely South London experience.

Fusing South London and Yoga; the beginning of change indeed.