I was reminded, due to my own experience with mindfulnees, that how i related it to kindness was probably a tad, we'll i missed an important aspect, and at the same time realized that I'm not doing a particularly good job of actually putting theory into use. So I stayed up last night drinking copious amounts of coffee and using the bathoom as you mihgt think. First, what is mindfulness. I wrote about this before but didn't really capture what it is. It really is not a very complex concept but putting it to use is more difficult. It is rather like Buddhism in that meditation is a key to mindfulness. 
A definition, short and complete, would be "Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally." That's from the founder of Mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn, so i suppose it is the best summation. A very large element of Mindfulness is creating a loving, caring space for yourself, in yourself, through meditation and awareness of this moment. 
How does this relate to kindness and this is where it gets a bit sticky for me. But here's my interpretation. Our society, North America for a definition, is hollow, almost built on low self-esteem. How do we address this? A new car. A larger house. Better job. Competition. When we come out on top, a little, not long lasting, esteem boost. 
Mindfulness teaches person should develop a love for themselves, for who they are and what their capabilities. Create a spirit of acceptance, 'the feeling of being wrapped as a baby in your mother's arms,' a metaphor a friend uses. To me, developing that renders esteem, low, meaningless. Perhaps replaced by contentment.
Back to kindness. People, essentially volunteer and offer kindness in two ways. One they think they should, the are doing it more for themselves than the people they want to help. I don't dismiss this but those who are receiving this kindness can suss out the motivation.
Second, involves Mindfulness. Once we create that love for ourselves, that personal zeitgeist is felt oout in the world, by those you know, and those you come in contact with. If you are volunteering that spirit oof relating human to human is, if not obvious, in the ether.
How am I doing with this. Halfway, perhaps. When I meet someone in the market whose in need of money, I treat them as a human, no better or worse than me, just in a bad circumstances. However, when I was trying to put together a web page for companies and individuals with a local or consicous philosphy, I was very frustrated by the general wariness of generisoty. I wanted nothing from these people which seemed to increase the 'what does this guy want' attitude. Examining that I don't think I was doing it totally from a 'good for the community' but also a won't I look good if I can make this happen. 
In the end, I still have much to learn, learn that's more positive. I need to understand why I'm finding this an important thing to do. And mostly I think, I just want to add a little more kindness to the community, city, the world. However, I believe I have to build a more solid foundation for this. 
That I hope is a better understanding. However, I do have to admit to a very selfish reason, I don't know maybe it's not selfish at all. I have 2 children and I dearly hope they inherit a world better than this. And we're not doing a very good job in making their spectacular, inspiring view of the world remains just that.   
 
 
 
 
Ok it's March, near the end, and a time for a little update on my march of kindness. Has it been tough, I have to say a qualified yes. A lot of folks just don't trust someone who is doing something without expecting any thing in return. And I realize that's the way our society works and how we've bought into. Capitalizm and competition rule the day. Getting over on your competitor isn't always a good thing. To me it fosters greed, selfishness, and the type of banking/government many of us are now protesting. 
Hank, my favourite buffalo, has a buffalo perspective on this from which I think we can learn a thing or two. So take it away Hank.

First, I'm just a buffalo. I find people don't have much respect for buffaloes. Oh sure, they call us majestic, we'e even on coins. Woopee!. They think we're dumb beasts. We don't know calculus or spell very well, fact not at all. That's not important to us in any sense. We have a philosophy that has guided our herds for centuries even when we getting slaughtered for no particular reason but we were there and the white man had guns.
We survived as did our way of life.
It's simple - a little goes a long way, sometime to think is always good, it is what it is, so accept it. Okay that sounds like 3 elements, but they all work together. 
You won't see a buffalo trying to move a large stone because he believes there is a nice path. We find or create another path by moving smaller stones with relaxed perseverance. It's easier and safer and we make sure we're going in the right direction. Also, we aren't we trying go so fast. As long as there's grain, we're pretty happy and we offer other buffalo, not to mention cows and horses and sheep to join us.
They rarely do, so we carry on.

Point well taken. Hank is one smart buffalo.
 
 
Although this is March, I'm still listening to music I and I found in 2011 - 
maybe not recorded in 2011 but heard and enjoyed in 2011 
so as Easter swoops down on us, I offer the first of three delicious eggs.
Please carry on to page 2
Wilco - The Art of Almost
The Dum Dum Girls - Bedroom Eyes
Weezer - Buddy Holly
Feist - The Circle Married the Line
St. Vincent - Year of the Tiger
Dave Alvin - Gary, Indiana 1959
Radihead - Give Up The Ghost
Wye Oak - Holy Holy
Matthew Good - In a Place of Lesser Me
TV on the Radio - Will Do
The Dirtbombs - Livin' for the City
REM - Livinng Well is the Best Revenge
Jack White - Love is Blindness
The Soft Pack -More or Less
Weeknd - Party After Party
Tom Waits - Raised Right Man
Tori Amos -Scattered Sea
The Strokes - Two Kinds of Happines
 
 
Yesterday, Quebec students took a simmering strike movement against tuition fees to a boiling point - and no further. This was one of the biggest protest rally in Quebec'history. A little late for beware the ides of March. Maybe beware the strides of March.

Hank who has reappeared from where ever has much experience with stampedes, says this was one of the most orderly he has seen. Sure enough, the huge throng, estimated around 250,000 took their protest over rising tuition in a calm and peaceful way. And they made their point and I'll bet they scored points with the public for protesting without seeing police in riot gear, stones being hurled and the general disarray we've become used to seeing at political rallies.

The issue: tuition fees are being raised by approximately $325 per year over the next five years. Not many students in other provinces are crying for Quebec students who have by quite a margin the lowest fees in the county. Which is hardly suprising as Quebec invests more into its social systems than, I would guess, anywhere in Canada.

The real issue as Hank points out is not the ends but the meaning. These student, from across the province, are clearly and coherently saying no. They are standing and marching for an issue, raising tuition fees, that has little to do with actual amounts, and a lot to do with saying to those in power -- you have to listen to us. You, the goverment, the Premier, the major politicians, cannot make decisions that directly impact us behind closed doors. And without consulting us.

They are blurring the line between power holders, decision-makers and the people who are effected by their decisions. They might not convince Premier Charest to roll back this increase but it's fair to say that the Premier looked at a lot of potential votes and turned his back.

As far as I know, occupy had nothing to do with this rally, how it was conducted and how it was organized. For example, organizers met with police and security a few days before to outline what was going to happen, when and where.

It's a valuable lessen that other groups - yes occupy - should learn from.
 
 
Sometimes, fairly often lately, i've wondered what's the point of writing a blog, but then i look at some other blogs and think an awful lot more people should consider this. Of course in the big ole USA a blog is a way to make some moola. Which is kind of constraining in that you have to write about pretty much the same thing.

Not so here. Whatever our chubby little brains concoct ends up here. So these are things that should anger me but don't really.
 
1 - Dick Cheney staying away from Canada because of danger threats. I stood an applauded at this stupidity and was happy he was staying away. I was even happier that Canadians weren't going to spend up to $500 to hear his blather.

2 - Nickelback (what a dumb name) a great Canadian export. I should really dislike them. But when i can sing the only lyrics i know - hell they might not even be Nickelback - to every song they play that's a beautiful accomplishment. Raises bland to a whole new level.

3 - Sweatpants at the mall (in public) - this really aggravated me until a couple of weeks with my daughter and we began quietly began to have fun. Truly a bonding experience.

4 - Ass crack. I thought I'd seen enough ass crack for my existence. but this weekend, some nice weather and out popped the pearly white ass crack. Here, there and everywhere. Sort of like the weasel that tells us about how long winter will last. The first sign of the summer. I'll accept that.
 
 
As I've gone along these last 3 months trying to ways to be kinder, I've learned a  few valuable lessons. 
One, kindness comes in many ways, shapes, forms and sizes. If you're a person who opens doors for others, that's a small kindness that adds to kindness in the world. 
Two, large gestures can give rise to skeptism and disbelief. But, simply because some people have yet to learn that kindness is two directions, I get as much from being kind, does not mean you stop. Which I almost did because I was so angry with the reaction I was getting to a project
Three, is be kind to youself. This isn't selfishness, it is the strong foundation that will allow you to see moments of kindness and be present. This is often overlooked but exceedingly important if you are going to give of yourself and lead a lifestyle that promotes that.


I am offering a short video of Thich Nhat Hanh: @Google Talk. He is a zen master who spent a day at the google complex teaching mindfulness, which is a sort of 'free form' type of meditation. his is part of a talk he gave.


If you'd like to hear more about that day a google, click n the link -,interested for more, well you know what to do - Thich Hnat Hanh 
 
 
So there are those times, i've learned, when writing a blog is really just a big ass waste. And I accept that, I think, but Hank whole-heartedly believes in it but i remind you he's a buffalo and they have entirely different values when it comes to what's important and what's not.
Today I thought I don't have anything important or witty to say wo h would be a to leave the blog for something interesting, kind of important, at the very least, entertaining. But I open the computer after settling in my favourite coffee outlet and shazam, 3 stories jump out. So let's jump in. 
You may recall awhile ago, I wrote about a strike at the salvation army in downtown Ottawa. If you remember the essence of the work movement was a 23 cent increase in salary. Where I am sitting, I'm looking directly at the 'strike zone' and it's incredible. Maybe there are 15 picket carriers in front of a building with 4 entrances and about 2/3's of a block long. So there's not a lot of chance for a violent outbreak. But the place looks like a police zone. Hired securty are posted at every entrance and these are triple x boys, completely wired for quick response if a striker ventures too close to an entrance. Now with occupy on the move again, I'm trying to figure just who are the 1% in this ridiculous and I hope embarassing work stoppage.

Now let's travel down to Austin, Texas, home to the wonderful music festival South by Southwest or SxSW. A brave thinking global marketting company, BBH, thought we need wifi, like everywhere, and there are homeless people, like everywhere, so let's make the homeless people wifi carriers. These people were paid $50 dollars to where a mobile wifi unit and sport a t-shirt declaring themselves a 4G hot spot. A spokesperson for this company, who really should have just shut-up, recalled the utopian days of mailmen and newspaper boys. Really there's just a few things wrong with this dystopian vision. 1. most mailmen and newspaper boys had homes to go to. 2. they weren't working for a global company who are going to kick them to the already familiar curb right after the event and 3. this company actually believes their doing something to address the homeless issue. Bet it makes their company annual. Pretty clear who's the 1% here.

Now let's go a bit east of Ottawa to la belle province Quebec, where it seems the only sane people in Canada live. The government of Quebec ann    ounced that it will not build more federal prisons if the new Harpo crime bill is passed. Harper, the most intelligent man in the country just ask him, forgot that while the federal government passes law, it is the provinces that enforces them and, supposedly, builds new prisons to house new prisoners. Of course, in Quebec these debates are always a tug of war between the maple leaf and les fleurs des lis. This time I say Vivre le Quebec
 
 
just about getting ready to drop this kindness act and go on with my life ignoring others. except i can’t seem to do it and i really don’t want to.

but i’ve seen an ugly side of some people that makes me cringe that i’m in the same species. but alas, i have thumbs and walk upright.

so i’ll fill you in on the plan i had and what happened. i thought i would dedicate part of this website to giving stores, businesses, other community organizations and local artisan. i wasn’t asking for any money, it wasn’t advertising for me; it was a to community area. now i know there are other groups out there doing almost the same thing.

however, most people i talked to couldn’t wrap their head around what i was doing – offering them something for nothing. most were skeptical to say the least and somewhat politely declined. others said they were interested and would get back to me. they never did. a few people signed on right away but i can count those on one hand.

so it flopped. this is disturbing and saddening for reasons i’ve laid out before. of well, so be it. I’m going to clean out my closet and donate to the salvation army  

 
 
if there's kindness, there must be an anti-kindness. stands to reason. and in our ongoing excavation of kindness (and i use excavation on purpose because it feels like we're on an archeological dig) we seem to find it in this sorry, wary world. 

well over the last few days, i've experienced a strange anti-kindness- the type that comes from the anonymity of the internet. sure, you can chat with someone around the world but in fact, the person might be around the corner.

anyway, this week on a poetry site of all places i ran across a bloke from wales that was as ornery as buzzing bees. and i unfortunately whacked the hive. 

and out spewed an amazing amount of bile and anger. I asked a question, simple and it could have been answered yes or no, and he took great umbrage, not to the question i asked but just seemingly to the thought of being questioned. so the personal remarks started, then the remarks about what i write and then the threats, which were laughable, he being in wales, me being in ottawa. but he said something like 'you're really getting on my nerves, you better watch out, you're really pissing me off.' now i wonder if his bravado would have been brandished so purposefully had we been face to face.

it’s an example of cyber-bullying and this is what our kids are subject to - an omnipresent, anonymous, hurtful anti-kindness. it goes to show that anything we invent someone somehow will figure a way to use to hurt someone. if anyone deserves a little kindness these days, it’s our kids.

maybe what we need is kindness day, as stupid as that sounds. but if we all did one small act of kindness on one day, i wonder how the world might be changed.