Gardening Season Begins This Week

The gardening season for 2019 officially begins this week. Have you got your pots clean yet? (I recommend spraying them with a solution of water and peroxide bleach to disinfect.)

Starting next week, you can begin seeding peppers (2nd week of Feb), eggplant (3rd week of Feb), cabbage (4th week of Feb) and then tomatoes (1st week of March).

Pick up your seeds this weekend at the Great Gardening Weekend! Traditionally held at the Botanic Gardens, the awesome event takes place at the planetarium this year.

Seedy Saturdays also take place across Montreal beginning next weekend.

Get ready to plant!

Great Gardening Weekend

Planétarium Rio Tinto Alcan, 4801 Pierre de Coubertin Ave.
February 16 and 17 from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. 

The 19th edition of the Great Gardening Weekend takes place this coming weekend. Organized by Espace pour la vie, in collaboration with Cultiver Montréal.

More than 20 different Québécois seed producers will be on hand. There will also be seed exchanges and workshops about urban agriculture.

This is the first time the activity takes place at the Planetarium so there will be more space for everyone.

Seedy Saturday Verdun

Grand Potager at the Verdun Municipal Greenhouses, 7000 boul LaSalle, Verdun
March 9 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. 

The 3rd edition of Verdun’s Seedy Saturday takes place the second weekend of March.

There will be five Québecois seed producers, a seed exchange table plus kiosks from members of Grand Potager.

Learn about African heritage plants, fruit trees, aquaponics, backyard gardening in Montreal, edible flowers and a multitude of other urban agriculture skills.

Be sure to pick up compost, gloves, pruners and seeds from the Coopérative de solidarité Abondance Urban Solidaire. Membership in the coop costs only $10, which gets you a 10% rebate on courses and products.

 

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Jumping on the Affiliate Marketing Bandwagon

Watch the video here

What is affiliate marketing?

If you’ve been following my blog recently, you’ll notice that I’ve added links to products that I recommend onto various posts. Those links identify me to the company involved. If you purchase a product using one of my links, I get a commission.

I’ve identified my affiliates as a list of recommendations under the “work with me” tab.

Technological Hurdles

I experimented with this brand of marketing a few years ago. The hassle of getting the affiliate links to work on my site made it too difficult given the few visitors who clicked on the links.

Recently, I decided to experiment with them again, because people have been asking me where they can purchase my books.

Also, affiliate revenue makes sense as I explore the self-publishing model more deeply than before.

But I’m still struggling with the technology.

Companies want assurances that your relationship with them will lead to sales, so you have to apply to get the right to put links on your site.

Then you have to learn their operating system to get the links you actually want. My site is not an e-commerce site, so I have no desire for those massive banners all over the place.

Creating Deep Links

All I want to do is give you the appropriate deep link so that you can buy my books, buy a book I recommend; or try one of the services I love without too much trouble while also supporting my work.

That takes time and I’m not that proficient at creating deep links properly.

The result, once I get it set up will be awesome though. Country flags tell you which link to use. If you’re in Canada, you can order from Canadian stores. If you’re in Brazil, you can order from stores in that country.

Affiliates Enable Companies to Quantify Word-of-Mouth

I also believe in the model itself. Affiliations enable companies to track new clients with recommendations from customers and put a value on word-of-mouth.

It also gives companies a chance to fix something when they mess up.

I’ve purchased many products using affiliation codes from people I love. Recently, I had a mild problem with one of these services. My business isn’t crucial to this company yet, but I contacted the person who recommended them to me. That person kindly sent them an email on my behalf and the company in question fixed the problem right away.

That’s the kind of community these affiliations create. It’s like living in a small town. All of a sudden, none of us are numbers anymore.

We’re all people.

Creating Community

When affiliates work the way they should, and when everyone takes a personal interest in the products they recommend, everyone ends up knowing someone who can help when things go wrong.

So I apologize for any broken links or frustrations you might experience. Just let me know, and I’ll try to fix it.

And thank you to everyone who purchases something from one of the companies I recommend.

Also, thank you to the people who recommended the products I love.

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Mindfulness

Mindfulness Video

Since I selected “peace” as my word of the year for 2019, I thought it useful to investigate mindfulness to see if it had any applications in the life of a creative entrepreneur.

Mindfulness, like prayer, requires a belief that we exist as part of a wider entity. That’s useful when you’re working hard to create abundance and growth, both as an individual and as a leader in the community.

For the last year or so, I’ve been practicing moments of mindfulness when I’m particularly stressed. That’s something I want to remember during this time of year when client expectations compete with plans for the upcoming year, grant applications and closing down last year and paying taxes.

So, what is mindfulness?

Two Distinct Modes

I like John Yates (Culadasa) description of mindfulness as the “the optimal interaction between attention and peripheral awareness.”

So far, I’ve noticed that it’s easiest to practice mindfulness on days when I’ve slept well, taken time to eat and exercise and am concentrating on a single task.

Clinicians have also found ways to use mindfulness to heal major illnesses.

Healthy Mind, Healthy Body

According to Wikipedia, Clinical psychology and psychiatry have developed a number of therapeutic applications based on mindfulness since the 1970s. They are known for helping people:

  • alleviate depression,
  • reduce stress and anxiety
  • treat drug addiction
  • cope with crisis
  • Jon Kabat-Zinn uses mindfulness in schools, prisons, hospitals and veterans’ centers

As a Catholic, having a healthy mind doesn’t solely mean being able to function in a secular world. For me, mindfulness works best when I approach it as a kind of prayer.

I’m not the only one who considers prayer a form of mindfulness either. Many world religions include a form of mindfulness in their spiritual practices.

Mindfulness and Christianity

Most people think that mindfulness comes from Eastern philosophies and religions such as Buddhism, but the Catholic faith also has a long-standing practice of mindfulness.

The Path to Our Door: Approaches to Christian Spirituality

A book called The Path to Our Door by Rev. Ellen Clark-King, the archdeacon of Christ Church (Anglican) Cathedral in downtown Vancouver, says that the popularity of Buddhist meditation has been good for Christianity. It allows us to discover meditative and contemplative methods within our heritage.

Some philosophies in the church describe a ladder of spirituality that begins with prayer, leads to meditation and ends with contemplation.

Contemplative Prayer

Most people in the west began learning about contemplative prayer after reading books by Thomas Merton. Merton, who practiced Catholicism as Father Louis, describes a traditional practice of prayer that is “centred entirely on the presence of God”. Merton also wrote the Seven Storey Mountain in 1948.

Thomas Keating’s centring prayer movement

Wikipedia has a site for an even more modern Centring Prayer Movement created by Thomas Keating. The Wikipedia article describes a number of leaders in the field.

The Cloud of Unknowing

Keating, Merton and Clark-King all benefit from “The Cloud of Unknowing,” a book written anonymously in the 14th century. An English monk probably authored The Cloud of Unknowing.

The author promoted a kind of prayer in which you keep silent as long as possible noticing thoughts as they occur without paying attention to them.

In Canada, many groups form part of the mindfulness movement, including the Contemplative Society on Salt Spring Island and most Anglican and Catholic Churches.

Montreal Mindfulness Opportunities

The Centring Prayer Movement Centre in Montreal holds meditation events every Monday evening at 19h at 5530 Isabella on Clanranald corner in Notre Dame de Grâce.

Christ Church Cathedral, at 635 Ste-Catherine St. West offers talks and silent meditation from 17:45 until 18:45 the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month.

There’s also Mecum, 8598 Des Rapides LaSalle QC H8P 2W2.

A collaborative community non-profit association called Mindfulness Montreal offers occasional events too. It was founded by three Montreal practitioners, Dr. Andreanne Éli (Clinique Psyché) Dr. Joe Flanders (MindSpace), and Muriel Jaouich (True North Insight). Since Éli works at the University of Montreal, Flanders at McGill and Jaouich at UQAM, the collaboration also links to three of our universities.

The organization’s first event at UQAM sold out last year.

This year, they’re planning a full weekend of activities at McGill and UQAM from April 19th to April 22nd. The full weekend costs $525, but individual presentations cost $40 or $50.

These centres offer good opportunities to get in-person training in mindfulness.

I’d like to commit to practicing mindfulness and its deeper cousin, meditation, in the next year to help me focus and take care of my personal health. If things go well, perhaps I’ll move towards a level of contemplation sometime later.

What kind of mindfulness do you practice? Does it help heal your body and spirit?

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Honouring Fred Christie for Black History Month

 

Honourary Grand Verdunois Fred Christie became known in 1936.

Christie went into the York Tavern in Verdun and the owner refused to serve him. He chose to take the owner to court.

Christie initially won $25, but he lost on appeal. The case took three years to get to the Supreme Court of Canada. There, Christie lost again.

The Supreme Court decision was rendered on December 9th, 1939 and published in 1940. It said:

the general principle of the law of Quebec is that of complete freedom of commerce.” Specifying further, the judgment states that “any merchant is free to deal as he may choose with any individual member of the public […] the only restriction to this general principle would be the existence of a specific law, or, in the carrying out of the principle, the adoption of a rule contrary to good morals or public order.”

After losing his case, Christie left Montreal.

His efforts initiated a series of events that led to the 1975 Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

Read more about Christie in the memorial page set up in his honour.

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