Saturday, March 31, 2007

Speaking the truth

Last night I coached at a personal development program that has changed my life -- Choices. This is Givers 1 weekend. Trainees return for the weekend after a month's break from their first five day session. In Giver's 1 the focus is on making the commitment to yourself to incorporate the tools into daily living. Trainees are encouraged to really start looking inward for their answers and asking themselves, instead of their coaches, what can I do differently.

As I stood looking around the room of 80+ people and listening to the stories of "tell us something positive that has happened to you since Choices and what tools you used" I was struck by the beauty of the human spirit -- we are amazing human beings!

One of the aspects I find incredibly powerful at Choices is the love that is in the room. It is a tangible net that catches even the weakest link and holds them strong.

In Givers 1 we talk about the 6 points of power:
  1. Pay Attention
  2. Speak the Truth
  3. Be Responsible for YOUR Life (be accountable)
  4. Ask for what you want
  5. Keep YOUR Agreements
  6. Create Value in ALL things

Years ago I used to keep a sign above my desk that read: My responsibility is to Turn Up, Pay Attention, Speak My Truth, and Stay Unattached To The Outcome.

Speaking Truth can be challenging. For me, the fear of rejection, my fear that someone wouldn't like me, or would be angry with what I had to say kept me from speaking up and standing comfortably with my boundaries intact. Because my boundaries used to be so weak, I continually compromised on my truth and subsequently, lived someone else's truth. In that process, I became more fearful, not less.

For me, speaking my truth is about lovingly standing my ground without fear of the other person's reactions. I am not responsible for how people respond. I trust myself to be responsible for and with my words. I trust others to be responsible as well. My trust is not based on their actions, but on my ability to discern how their words and actions affect me. When I respond negatively to someone, it is not a reflection of them. It is something in me that is creating that response. My responsibility is to honour what it is in me by taking appropriate action. It is my responsibility to be true to my values, principles and beliefs.

It is also my responsibility to treat everyone with respect. It does not mean I have to respect them -- how I treat them is a reflection of me. How they act is a reflection of them. What I think of them is my business -- just as what they think of me is theirs. Sometimes we lovingly share our thoughts of each other. Sometimes, it's best I simply stay quiet and let my boundaries keep me safe from assuming their behaviour is a reflection of me -- or that their behaviour gives me the right to act like them. In those moments, my truth will give me the strength to not accept the unacceptable.

When I speak my truth, I do not have the right to hurt nor harm someone else. My truth is not a stick with which I bludgeon others. My truth is not a knife with which to spear someone else's heart in order to open them up to me.

My truth is a reflection of me. How I speak it is a reflection of who I am, my values, principles and beliefs.

When I am angry, my truth reflects my emotion, not my being. I have the right to my anger, I never have the right to be cruel.

A couple of years ago I worked for an individual who was extremely abusive. He was a psychiatrist. He believed that it was okay to berate staff in front of patients, peers and staff. He believed the best way to motivate people was to walk into a room, tell the staff they were idiots, threaten to close the clinic down, etc.

I didn't believe the same things.

As the GM of the clinic, I worked hard to keep staff from feeling the brunt of this man's abusive behaviour. I also worked with the individual on appropriate and inappropriate behaviour. I brought in a facilitator to work with the team on communication. I organized a two day retreat with the core team and the psychiatrist to facilitate healing and communication. At the retreat, the psychiatrist committed to stop yelling, cursing and belitttling staff. In that session I clearly stated my boundary -- abusive behaviour is not acceptable. I committed to staying on board as GM -- with a three month caveat -- if the behaviour continued, I would resign.

One day, shortly after the retreat, the principle started shouting and swearing at the staff in a meeting. I stood up and said, I do not accept this behaviour and I left.

In that instance of speaking my truth I was responsible for my actions and words. My truth was, I do not accept abusive behaviour. I could not change the man. I could change my position in the organization.

Inside me there was a voice that wanted to scream at this individual and rant and rave and really tear a strip off of him in front of his staff. While the momentary relief of doing that might have made me feel good, the truth is -- that behaviour would have compromised my values, principles and beliefs.

I value courteous behaviour. I value common decency. I value respect.

I stand true to myself when I step lightly through each moment with dignity, grace and respect. When the footprints I leave are filled with love and do not become potholes for others to fall into.

I believe I am responsible for every thought, word I speak, action I take. I believe I am responsible for my own happiness. And I trust others to be responsible for theirs. I believe the world is a place of infinite possibility and beauty. I believe it is up to me to create it in my own life and to lovingly share my light so that the world around me is illuminated with love that will inspire others to step joyfully through their days -- regardless of the weather.

My truth is founded on my values, principles and beliefs. When I stand comfortably in my truth, I am standing in love. In love, I do not hurt others. I do not retaliate unkindly. I lovingly state what is true for me, and do not fear that I am not enough.

I am enough. Just the way I am.

We all are.

Friday, March 30, 2007

What kind of day will I have today?

For sometime my daughters and I have been sharing an everyday ritual. We tell each other, "The gift I see in you..."

This morning, my eldest daughter said, "The gift I see in you mom is patience."

Who me? Patient? Well, most days. Generally. When I think about it. Except in traffic! Especially in Calgary.

Time to reframe the thought. I am patient with my daughters because I love them. I am patient in my world, because I love myself, my life, my family and friends. Ellie ate the bum out of a pair of L.s' jogging pants -- and we were all patient with her. We love her, though L was a bit annoyed! And I'm patient in traffic. Most days! When I'm not, I know I'm not in balance. I know my essence needs a tune-up. Fast. Which generally leads me to asking the question, "Hey Louise. What's eating your peace of mind?" And the answer isn't, "The stupid driver in front of me!"

As soon as I make my answer about someone else, I'm dodging the question.

Rainer Maria Rilke wrote, "Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions."

Some days, I don't want to live the question. When I wake up tired. When I'm feeling stressed. When something doesn't go my way or I don't get my way or when I feel like I've been ignored or overlooked or unappreciated, I end up wanting to behave badly.

And behaving badly is not healthy! For me. For my daughters, my family and friends. When I'm behaving badly, I'm not taking responsibility for myself. When I'm acting out I'm projecting my bad humour onto the world around me. When I'm blaming others for how I'm feeling, or how their behaviour has effected me -- it's my boundaries that need strengthening, not my bad behaviour.

I have found it's very easy to identify who caused the problems in my life. Who is responsible for the way I'm feeling. As long as I don't have to take ownership, it's pretty easy to point the finger of blame for anything and everything that's going on. -- have you noticed thought that when things are going right, the tendency is not to point a finger but to accept the credit!

I like days when I feel I'm in the flow. When I feel the universe is 'on my side' and I'm in sync with the world. Those are my favourite days.

So, my question for today is, What kind of day do I want to live today?

Do I want to step through each moment as if I'm battling the winds of change, constantly out of breath as I struggle to find my place in the sun?


Do I want to flow calmly through each moment setting my sails to adjust to the weather so that I am flowing with the winds of change, patient and loving, confident in my knowledge that when I stand in my own light, my shadow does not block the sun.

In knowing what kind of day I want to live today, I set my sites accordingly, I adjust my journey so that each step I take is focused on my goal of being in harmony with my day.

I let go of discord and stand true to myself.

I keep myself in balance.

I honour my truth.

I love myself and the world around me.

I am patient. Kind. Caring. I stand in love.

In living the day in harmony, each breath revives me, restores me, envigorates me. I breathe in and feel the oxygen flow freely through my body, enlivening every step. I exhale and imagine my breath transformed into a gift for the world around me. What I take in. What I give out. Each is in perfect balance, in harmony with my day.

That's the kind of day I will have today.

When I'm in harmony with my world and the day, it shows!

What about you? Will you be driving patiently or impatiently to your next appointment? Will you be bucking against the wind or flowing freely, the wind a joyful whisper at your back?

I pray for you a joyful, loving day filled with the strength to be patient, loving and kind with you and your world.

May we all have a 'showy' day!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Precious, beautiful and unique

Every morning I have a ritual before I sit down to write. Coffee. Check email. Begin writing.

This morning, I opened my email and found a wonderful surprise. A friend had sent me a special greeting card. Just for me. She's a very special woman. Precious. Beautiful and unique. And in sending me the card, I felt the same. Precious. Beautiful and unique.

What a lovely way to start the day.

Which led me to wondering why I don't feel, precious, beautiful and unique every morning -- as the little voice leapt into my head and whispered -- because that would be vain.

Ahhh, the voices of childhood that creep in and attempt to ruin a perfectly wonderful morning.

I remember when my daughters were born I held their precious bodies in my arms and was in awe of the miracle each of them represented. Yet, I looked in the mirror and couldn't see the miracle of me.

I felt so sad. I wanted to see the miracle of me. I wanted to believe in my beauty, my specialness, my uniqueness.

And so, I set out on a journey of self-discovery. I wanted to understand why I didn't see the miracle of me. And I wanted to find my miracle.

It's taken me many years. A. will be 20 in June! L. just turned 19.

And this morning I feel, I believe, I know -- I am a miracle.

In reading my friend's card this morning, I felt the miracle awaken. I felt my joy, my truth, my belief in me explode upon the morning as I greeted the day with a smile, a laugh, a feeling of WOW! This is the first day of the rest of my life. Make it special.

Last night, I sat in a room with 12 men as we talked about goals and dreams and what it takes to believe in the power of an individual to change their lives. The conversation was powerful, enlightening and empowering. Each of those men were homeless. Each of those individuals has lost their sense of wonder about themselves. My dream with Project Forward is that they will embrace the wonder, the joy, the incredible beauty of themselves so that they can step beyond the label of homelessness into the power of being their precious, special and unique selves.

My dream is the same for myself. For my daughters, for those I love and for everyone.

One of the questions I posed last night was, "If you had a magic wand and could wave it right now, what would you change in your life today?"

Most of the responses centered around homelessness. And then one man spoke up. "I want to quit drinking," he said. "If I don't, it doesn't matter what happens when I leave here. I'll be back."

It took courage to say what he did. He had said a similar thing last week and so, I asked. "What if your magic wand could sweep away your fear of drinking?"

He smiled. "I don't fear drinking. I fear being alone."


For this man, being at the Drop-In is keeping him sober. When he's on his own, he drinks. Drink has led to the loss of family. Home. Jobs. His life. This man wants to be sober.

How does that fit in with feeling special, unique, beautiful?

He spoke of what he liked to do in the past. I loved to give to my family. I loved to give to friends. I never gave to myself.

Every thing he said had to do with a past he has lost. He feels that pain and wants to let it go. But fears what might happen if he takes another drink.

His fear has led him to the place he can heal. What an opportunity to grow, and learn and to reclaim the wonder of himself.

For that man, he didn't look at coming to the Drop-In as a gift he gave himself. He felt only the pain of being there. The shame. The sorrow.

Yet, in coming to the Drop-In he has accomplished a goal -- He has quit drinking. He has learned to be sober and in that process, learned that he is worth sobriety.

On the surface, being there looks like an awful thing to do to yourself. The steps to get there are obviously very painful. Yet, one fact remains true -- no one can change the steps they took to get anywhere in their lives.

For that man, the Drop-In has saved his life. In that process, he's awakening to the wonder of himself. After speaking about his drinking he said that one of the goals he had set for himself last week was to eat better. To ensure he ate properly through the day.

"I realize," he said, "that without my health, I will never get out of here. So, this past week, I've taken care of me."

"How did that feel?" I asked.

He smiled. "Really good."

In taking care of himself, he is saying, I'm worth it.

In writing here each morning, in doing what I need to do to live my life with joy and integrity, I am saying, I'm worth it.

When I read my friends card this morning I was reminded that when I live my life without fear, when I turn up and be the precious, beautiful and unique person I am, I am fearless.

When we all turn up for ourselves, pay attention, speak our truth and stay unattached to the outcomes, we create a brilliant light that casts a warm and loving glow on our life and the lives of those we touch.

We are all precious, beautiful and unique. Sometimes, it takes a loving person to remind us -- my friend did that for me this morning. It's important to pass wonderful gifts like that along.

To You. And You. And You. Know that you are precious, beautiful and unique.

You cast a brilliant light on my path that illuminates the world. As you move through your day remember, You are Awesome!

Step into the wonder of being you and spread your joy and your wings and soar!


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Taking action

I finally got a cream for the allergy I'm experiencing. The doctor isn't sure what is causing it -- neither am I. It could be the air or sun, or something environmental in the house. It is a process of recording when it flares up and if I can't eliminate the source, of undergoing allergy testing. In the meantime, the cream is starting to calm the redness and puffiness of my skin. It's been irritating to say the least.

This morning, as I applied a 'thin layer' to my face, I was wishing it would hurry up and work. Couldn't it do its job faster?

Sort of like when something goes wrong in life. Can't I hurry up and get over it?

When I was in an abusive relationship for 4 years 9 months I developed an allergy -- to me. I couldn't become allergic to my abuser, that would have wrested the power back in my own hands. And I was too afraid, too weak, too confused to try to do that. Throughout that relationship I kept mentally amputating parts of myself in order to contort myself into whatever shape I believed he needed me to assume so that I could be in sync with him. In the end, there was nothing that could keep me in sync with him. He was all wrong for my life. It wasn't until I was released that I realized it wasn't me I was allergic to -- it was him.

In freedom, I wanted to be better. Right now. Right away. Tout de suite!

Life, like healing from an allergy, doesn't work that way.

Healing takes time. It requires patience, loving care and a commitment to continually do what creates more of what I want in life, and to not do things that result in less of what I want.

Life is about movement. Life is not stagnant, even when I'm standing still, I am in motion. Even when I'm 'doing nothing', I'm in action -- the action of doing nothing. To heal, to grow, to live my life freely, I am responsible for ensuring each and every action I take brings me towards my goals, my dreams, my aspirations.

The opposite of action is Reaction -- not inaction. No matter what I do, the choices I make will either be action oriented, or reaction driven. Reactive moves will always take me away from where I want to be in life. When I say I want to lose 10 lbs and then eat something that is wrong for me, I am reactive. I am pulling away from my goal. It is up to me to keep my goal in my sights and to continually take steps towards it. Not away.

Taking action is imperative to living my life with integrity, love and joy. Taking action keeps me moving towards my goals.

Reactions take me away from the life of my dreams.

In your life today, are you actively stepping towards your goals, or are your reactions pulling you away from where you want to be?

When I was in that abusive relationship, I got on a self-destructive train to peridition. I put my sights on disaster and could not, would not, apply the breaks to avoid the crash. There were 101 reasons why, and none of them added up to living the life of my dreams. They all resulted in a nightmare.

Today, I choose to act responsibly. Live freely. And, to stay focused on what I want in my life so that I create more of what I deserve and eliminate the things I don't want or need.

Sort of like an allergy. I don't know the source, and must now begin the process of elimination to determine what is causing it. While I'm figuring out what it is I'm allergic to, I continue to apply the balm that is helping my skin reclaim its normal glow. It won't happen over night but with patience, the redness will disappear and I will greet the day without self-consciously checking the mirror to see if the redness is gone. By doing what is helping my skin to heal, and by consciously keeping track of what is causing my skin to react, I am taking action that will create more of what I want -- a healthy life.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

In all kinds of weather

When I went to bed last night there was a weather warning. The meteorologists were predicting 10 to 15 cm of snow beginning at midnight.

I awoke, the earth is still brown. No snow. Yet. But it's coming the newscaster reports. Sometime this morning the snow will fall and taper off to flurries by this afternoon. It will have melted by tomorrow afternoon as the temperature rises to seasonal norms.

If only I could predict life in the same way! Cloudy thinking will begin at midnight and clear by 1pm the next afternoon. I suppose in some ways, horoscopes are the tempermental forecasters for life. Like the weather, I've never found my horoscope particularly accurate and no longer check it out to see what kind of day I'm going to have. I prefer to move through each day expecting the unexpected and greeting whatever comes with open arms. Though I'll always have weather gear at the ready!

Like life, the weather is sometimes unpredictable. Fair sailing can give way to stormy seas. As the saying goes, "You cannot change the wind, only the set of your sails."

It's not the weather that determines my journey. It's how I navigate each day that makes the difference.

Today, my outlook is sunny. Regardless of the weather. It's day seven of my commitment to write here every morning. While I was away and didn't have access to the internet, I still wrote. I just couldn't publish. I feel good about keeping my commitment. I awake and anticipate sitting down. I'm still never sure what will appear on the screen until I type. I consciously keep my mind clear of directing my typing and let the words flow.

Flow writing -- the art of writing from the inside out. Touching my inner space and casting light on my outer workings. That's flow writing. I had no idea what would appear after I wrote the phrase, flow writing. I simply trusted in the process of setting my mind free to flow.

Flow writing is an awesome way to tap into your creative source, to free fall into creativity. Every morning I surrender myself to the flow so that these pages can appear.

At first, it can be scary. I fear the blank screen means, a blank mind. For me, the process begins with expressing whatever thought is in my head on the page. I type. The words appear. I do not control their flow.

Some days, something as simple as the weather can lead me into insight of how I'm feeling. It can be a good analogy of how I want to lead my life.

I can't predict the weather. Obviously, by this morning's lack of snow, neither can meteorologists! All I can do is prepare myself and know, whatever the weather, when I stand in my 'eye', when I stay true to my values and principles, I will not be pulled off track by inclement happenings in my life.

As to the weather outside, I have not yet put the snow shovel away -- though I do move into, "What God bringeth, God taketh" thinking at this time of year! The snow will come. The snow will go. It's like sitting in traffic waiting for an intersection to clear. I have the option of changing lanes. Taking another route or calmly waiting for the lights to turn, the traffic to move. In the past, I'd impatiently tap my hands on the steering wheel. Switch lanes. Try alternate routes, cut through side streets and neighbourhoods, look for the faster way to get to where ever I was going by keeping my body in motion, my wheels turning. Ultimately, my route generally took just as long. The only difference was, my state of mind.

Today, when stuck in traffic, I remind myself that no one has ever been stuck at this red light forever. The traffic does eventually move. It's how I wait that makes a difference. Am I anxious or accepting? Which state of being creates more of what I want in my life? Which state enhances my peace of mind?

It may or may not snow today. One thing is assured, there will be weather.

No matter the weather, I am ready for my day. My sights are set on living this as the best day of my life. I've opened my mind to the possibilities of the day by beginning with a commitment to be the best me I can be. In that state of mind, I am ready to greet the day and be all that I am meant to be.


Monday, March 26, 2007

Who am I when I'm not pretty?

Monday, March 26

I have an allergy. Don’t know what has caused it, but my face and neck are covered in a red rash that looks unslightly and itches from the inside out. I want to tell everyone I meet, I don’t usually look like this. I’m not usually so red and puffy. I can’t put make-up on. I have to approach the world as I am, without any artificial props.

I think about people with facial disfigurements. I knew a woman who was mauled by a bear. She wore a patch and had scars rippling across one side of her face. People would stare at her. Children would ask, “What happened to you?” She never explained what happened. Instead she would firmly but not unkindly explain that asking a stranger questions like that is not polite. Sometimes, the parent of the child would apologize. Sometimes, they’d get defensive. But P never backed down. She held her position and never told.

She wrote a book about her experience. A very heart-wrenching account of running down a mountain feeling as free as the wind to awaken a few days later with a face she hardly recognized and pain that never subsided. The woman inside is the same, she said. It’s the outside that’s changed.

But the woman inside was not the same. And that was the part she found so difficult to accept. The woman inside had changed. Many years later, I heard P had committed suicide and I wondered if that was the greatest change. She had given up all hope of ever being the woman she used to recognize, of ever once agian being as free as the wind.

The rash on my face will disappear, I hope! My daughter A. keeps asking me when I’m going to get it checked by a doctor. I’ve finally figured out I’d better get something to help ease the itching before I permanently disfigure my face with scratches. It’s been an interesting exercise to walk around without make-up, with apple red cheeks and the self-consciousness of not feeling as confident in the face I present the world as I normally do.

It’s like ageing. As I approached the mid-century mark, the lines on my face slid into permanence as I settled into the actuality of a body that does not conform with my ideal image! Over the top of 50, I am learning to walk the plateau of my middle years without feeding the angst that sometimes arises when I think about the 'loss of youth' evident in the changes to my face and body. I’ve gradually taken on the shapes and signs of ageing without putting up too much resistance to the inevitable passing of time. Sometimes I feel like my body is letting loose all the constraints that have held it in check throughout my life. Perhaps my body wants to party because at last it’s free to kick up its heels and live it up.

Most days, I agree with my bodies desire to let loose. Life is a wonderful party meant to be enjoyed like a glass of champagne tickling the nose. Except on those days when I realize, the world doesn’t look at me the same way anymore. I don’t get the same stares, the same compliments, the same looks when I walk into a room.

But then, I don’t look at the world the same way I used to either! Without the mantle of the victim cloaking my every move, I look at the world as a shimmering cloud of opportunity. Some good. Some not so good. I see the world as something I step into each morning with confidence and joy, as long as I stand secure in the centre of my ‘I’, and do not get pulled into the winds blowing around me.

The world has changed. And so have I because I recognize I determine where I stand in my world.

Perhaps that is the message of the rash on my face. Nothing is permanent, everything changes, including me. Today I have a rash on my face. Its presence is clearly seen by anyone who looks at me – or so I believe.

Who am I when my face is not what I want it to appear? My face does not determine who I am inside. It is not my face that determines how I greet the day. I can still smile. I can still embrace each moment, expecting the unexpected, excited about what life has in store for me today. My face does not determine my journey. I do. My challenge is to let go of the face I present to the world, so that I can be who I am, authentically, completely, joyfully. From the inside out.

Face or no face, I am me when I greet the day in love with beauty and the beast within and without.

Surrender and fall in love

Sunday, March 25

Sunday morning. I wake and wonder, what to write. It’s the same old, same old. Believing the process must be known before I begin, rather than just being in the process and letting it unfold. Wanting to direct the action from without, rather than being directed from within.

I’m in Vancouver. It’s raining. But, it’s green. This is such a beautiful city. Flowers bloom. Trees are in blossom. The air is sweet.

Perhaps one of the things I like most about this city is I do not have memories of the journey into hell with Conrad attached to every place. My memories here are of healing. Of reclamation. Of restoration. It was here that I first awoke from the nightmare of that relationship. It was here that I first faced the truth without fear, without believing that the lie was safer. It was here I let go of the lie and began the process of turning up for me.

It was here I came alive.

Memories are such tricky fellows. They can hurt or they can restore. When I let go of the need to hurt myself with memory, I become focused on forgiveness, not anger. And forgiveness is so much lighter than anger.

Recently A. was angry about the situation with her father. Do you want to love him or hate him I asked. Love him she replied. Then forgive him. Forgiveness will move you into love. Anger will keep you stuck.

When I said that to her I turned those words into myself. Am I an angry or a forgiving person? How do I want to live my life? In love or anger? Love. Then the answer is simple. Step into forgiveness. Let anger go.


Ahhh, the eternal but. What about what he did. What about what she said. What about how he lied to me, hurt me, betrayed me.

What about it?

Can I change it? Alter it? Affect him or the past?

There is nothing I can do about it, other than to hold it in place with anger and let it fester or forgive so that I can surrender and fall in love.

My friend N. always says, Anger, like acid will corrode the vessel containing it.

Anger, like acid, will corrode the heart. Anger will harden arteries, stiffen spines and break bones.

Forgiveness will open a broken heart to love. Forgiveness will open arms to loving. Forgiveness will set me free.

My gift for myself today is to walk in love, through every moment, every step. My gift for myself is to treat the world with the loving kindness I deserve.

Time passes and I flow with it

I was in Vancouver for the weekend and did not have web access. But, I did keep my commitment to write every morning. I couldn't post what I wrote and am catching up and posting now!

Saturday, March 24

Funny how every morning begins with, I’m so tired. I flew to Vancouver last night. My plane was an hour late. An hour to kill. An hour to fill. To waste. To get through. To put up with. To enjoy.

Late plane. Airport bar. I sit by the window. I order a glass of wine. Why not? Time’s flying and I’m grounded for an hour. An hour filled with no expectations other than to wait for time to pass by. I watch the world outside the warm enclosure of the restaurant. Jets come and go. Land. Take off. Taxi in. Taxi out. Baggage trucks pull up to their silver hulls. Empty bellies. Fill bellies. Baggage handlers scurry to and fro loading suitcases for other travelers going places unknown to me. Expected by them. On time. They move out of the periphery of my world. Everything bustles with energy, activity, purpose.

I sit and wait. And watch.

An hour with nothing to do. Unscheduled. Unplanned. Unaccounted for.

Is the world passing me by while I waste an hour or is the world simply passing by while I indulge in the joy of doing nothing but sit and watch it pass by for an hour?

Time is a continuum. There is never more, nor less time. An unscheduled hour does not need filling. It will pass. I can be frustrated. I can pass it with my peace of mind intact. An unscheduled hour fills me with the possibilities of doing nothing. It is an unexpected gift filled with the possibilities of reveling in the joy of one hour to sit and relax, to drift, to breathe.

Does the world pass by, or, pass me by?

The latter is the victim’s voice. The world is busy while I am inactive, inanimate, ineffective. In both cases I’m watching. Yet when I state, pass me by, the voice is passive, yearning, mournful.

I watch the world pass by with me in the flow of time. An hour to enjoy the panoply of life played out before me. I am the centre of my universe as the world revolves around those who are the centre of their own universes. I am in a world of personal universes touching briefly, moving on, in and out constantly moving in the flow of time.

I sit and watch and breathe and enjoy the moment to not have any demands, no responsibilities, no emergencies. The world passes by as I pass an enjoyable hour in its thrall. As I release the switches holding my mind in check, I begin to feel ideas floating into the periphery of my thinking. I pull out my notebook, begin to write. Ideas flow as I surrender into the moment. The outline for The Dandelion Garden: Cultivating Joy In Every Day Occurrences begins to take shape.

I am in the flow, connected to the collective whole from which inspiration flows through me. It ignites my imagination. My fingers fly and I feel the angst of time passing without me getting caught in the anxiety of having to track each passing moment. I ease into the joy of being in the moment. Alive, I surrender, and fall, in love with the moment where right now is all I have, all I need, all I want.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Don't let the Whying get you down!

This morning my mind is blank. What will I write? Why do I write. I'm tired. Grumpy and in a victim's mood. I turn on my computer, it's slow booting up. I log into my account and rather than 'remembering me', as it's supposed to, I have to type in my account name and password. I know I'm thinking like a victim when my computer not remembering me makes me frustrated. When the first thought in my head is, why does this always happen to me, my victim's role is alive and well and living inside me!

I take a breath. Remember my coffee brewing and grab a mug.

Ahhh, that's better.

Sometimes, a mini 'me' break is what I need. When my thinking is out of sync with my life and what I want to create in it, what I need to change is my thinking -- not the world.

Why is a weird question. Last night a girlfriend and I were talking about her fear. "If I could just understand why I feel this way I know I can get over it."

I remember times when I've felt like that. For the four years nine months I was in an abusive relationship I thought, if I could just understand 'why' this is happening, I'll be able to take action.

Truth is, I had no idea whether or not answering the 'why' would make a difference. I was stuck in a relationship that was hurting me and behaving in ways that were causing me harm. "Why" did not hold my answers. What can I do to change my life? How can I make a positive difference for me today? -- those were the questions I needed to be asking, and never did. Even after he was arrested and I was set free, asking Why did he do that? did not heal me. It only kept me focused on him and kept me off the hook of turning up for me.

For me, staying focused on 'why' kept me from having to look at what I was doing to cause myself harm. Why is a question I asked as a little girl when the world was big and I was trying to find where I stood in it. Why is the sky blue? Why do dogs bark? Why do you hurt me when you say you love me? Why is the question no one ever answered.

As an adult, staying focused on 'why' lets me off the hook of focusing on me.

In story writing, answering 'why' is important -- you need to know your character's motivation. In life, understanding the power of 'why' is important. Because the 'why of the why' can make the difference between being a victim or a victor in your own life.

Next time you feel like the world is picking on you or that you just can't do anything right, if you find yourself asking, "Why does this always happen to me? Why can't anything go right?" STOP! Take a breath. Lovingly wrap your mind around yourself and say, loud and clear. "Why don't I change my thoughts to empowerment? Why don't I say, What can I do to change my thinking right now!"

And then DO IT!

If your goal is to live your life like a victor, DO IT!

Let go of the whying (and the whining) and turn up for yourself.

This morning when I started to write, my victim was right there inside my fingers, beating my creativity into submission so that I would not type. I typed anyway and in the process I've lovingly embraced her with ACTION. With DOING what I set out to do.

I've created a page from nothing. I've stepped through my fear of nothing and written.

Rather than being stuck in the 'why do I have to get up and do this when I don't feel like it?' mode, I've taken action and kept my commitment to myself.

I feel like a victor!

Very cool!

Yesterday, a girlfriend called and asked me if I'd written a poem. Yes, many, I replied.

Did you write one that started, Born free but when fear invaded.

Oh! I laughed. He Set Me Free. Yes, I wrote that about a month after the abuser formerly in my life was arrested and I got my life back. I sent it to Dr. Messina who is the co-author of this amazing sight (check it out, ). He wrote back and asked if he could publish it online.

Well, my girlfriend said. I just got an email from a friend who sent me this poem and said, 'This poem has changed how I think about my life. It has really moved me.' I saw your name on it and wondered if it was you.

It is, I replied.

Well, you've changed someone's life. You've touched them and made a difference. How does that feel?

Really, really good, I replied.

I was smiling when I hung up -- I'm still smiling.

When I wrote that poem I was still very, very broken. And yet, I took action. That action has had a ripple effect -- and it keeps moving outward.

What a wonderful feeling.

I feel like a victor.

What about you? What can you do today to be a victor in your own life? What questions can you ask yourself that will inspire you to move forward, to take ACTION, to take that step through your fear, outside your comfort zone so that you can embrace the amazing, awesome and beautiful life you deserve?

And if your questions begin with, Why don't I......? Why don't you? As the saying goes, Just Do it! Take action! and don't let the whying hold you down!

Here's the poem I wrote. On the website, I've put the date as May 20, 2003. Rather weird. The abuser formerly in my life was arrested on May 21! I wrote this poem after his arrest and yet, dated it as if it happened before. Getting my life back was a miracle. I knew it then and believe it still today! Perhaps in writing it as if it was the date before his arrest, I was tapping into the miracle and giving credit where credit is due!

He Set Me Free
Born free, but when pain invaded,
I retreated behind my smile
pinned in place by time and memory
dark with the fear that hid me from the beauty of the life
He had created, just for me.
Here He found me.
Trapped behind the mirror of my confusion,
surrounded by the lies I had created
to protect me from the pain inside my battered heart,
tormented by the agony of my sins.
Blinded to the beauty of His love,
I held my spirit captive.
Here I am, said the Lord.
But I could not hear Him through my fear
I was unworthy.
Here I am, he called again.
Let My love guide you to the light
beyond the darkness you have reflected
on your soul.
Here I am.
Frightened, I held my mirror high.
My arms grew weary. My heart was hungry.
And I could no longer defend my sins
against the undying truth and beauty of His love.
I could not speak.
I peeked from behind my defenses
and saw His brilliance
reflected in the world around me.
And the eyes of my heart were opened to His light.
He set me free.
Free to sing His praises, dance His joy.
Free to walk His path of beauty.
Free to be. Me.
Here I am.
He set me free.
My love for Him will keep me free.
Forever and a day.
May this day be the best day of your life. And if you wonder why your computer can't remember who you are, remind yourself, I am awesome!
May you walk in beauty.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Goals and other heady places

Day two. The alarm ruptures my sleep. I stumble out of bed.

I've made a commitment. I must keep it.

And I know, after 11 days, this will begin to feel like a habit. Eventually, perhaps it will become like an addiction where I must do it to feel like my day is setting off on the right foot.

This morning I stumble from bed. I try not to think about what I will write. Will I be able to write. Will the words appear.

I fall into faith. Trust. Belief the words will appear.

But the theme? Where is the theme? Where is the import of my words. Perhaps that is the importance of this exercise. Sometimes, I need to let myself write 'bad'. Sometimes, I need to let words appear without forcing poetic constructs. Without looking for deeper meaning.

It isn't the meaning behind the words, it's the act of writing every day that is important. It's the process of keeping my commitment to myself.

Last night I worked with Ram at Project Forward. I'd put together a course outline for my section of the workshop. I was to talk about setting goals and what's important to attain them. One of the exercises I used was from an amazing course at Each participant in the workshop had a glass of water in front of them. The instruction was to take a sip of water using two different methods. Method one was verbal only. Each participant was to talk to the water and ask it to give him a sip. They could yell, plead, pray, cajole, seduce -- whatever they wanted to get that sip, but at no time were they to touch the glass. After 2 minutes we all agreed -- there was no way that sip of water was going to happen. The second method required picking up the glass and taking a sip. It took 2 seconds.

It was a powerful example of INTENT turned into ACTION.

So often I set a goal in my head and then blithely carry on with my day. Like writing here. If I had simply made the commitment and then never gotten out of bed, these words would not have appeared. My goal is different then my intention of writing here every morning. My goal is to write another book. These pages are one tool, one step leading me to the achievement of my goal. Starting every day with this writing puts my mind into my creative space, it moves me from the rote, the mundane into my inspired self.

The point of the water glass experiment was to demonstrate the need for ACTION.

Goals are awesome. Necessary. Imperative. Goals are signposts on the road. Markers keeping me continually moving forward, growing, achieving.

Without ACTION they are simply a smoke screen preventing me from facing my truth, my reality. When I set a goal and do not take ACTION, I am lying to myself.

Last night at the workshop, I walked in with a clearly defined goal that I asked the group to accept on faith. The goal was, "By October 1, 2007 I will be successfully living independently outside the Drop-In."

I asked each person if they could 'see' the goal. Feel it. Smell it. Taste it. "Can you, just for this session, claim it as your own?" I asked.

Yes, they agreed.

At the end of the evening, I gave each member of the group a binder in which they were to write their goals.

Each person, except one, wrote as their first goal. To be out of the Drop-In and living independently by October 1, 2007.

They had claimed the goal as their own. For the man who declined, fear of letting go of the past held him fast. He looked at me and asked, can I come back even if I don't have that goal? Of course I replied. This is about your goals, you define them, you set them, you walk towards them.

Their task this week was to set a weekly goal that moved them closer to achieving their major goal of October 1. And to track their progress on a daily basis.

The energy when they left the room was envigorating.

I came home and thought about my goal for October 1, or April 1 for that matter.

I didn't have one.

Living without a goal is like getting in the car to drive... somewhere. Every time I get in my car I have a destination. I have a route which sometimes I adjust depending upon the weather. Too often, I live my life without a destination, without a goal!

Recently, my friend G was booked into a personal development program called, Super Choices. It was being held in Chase, BC. He got in his car, drove to Lake Louise and discovered that the highway was closed due to an avalanche. G didn't give up. He spent a night in a hotel and in the morning, upon discovering the highway was still closed, called and asked me to book him a flight to Kamloops. All the flights were booked. He waited in Lake Louise, hoping the highway would open but it didn't. He kept exploring ideas and finally, found an alternative route. He called me from the airport in Calgary to let me know he was enroute to Kelowna. Almost 24 hours after being stopped in Lake Louise, G arrived at the conference centre and walked into the training room. He had reached his destination. He was only 2 hours late for the opening session -- some people never made it.

G never gave up. He did not give in. He did not lose sight of his goal.

Setting a goal is the first step to living a life of integrity. Without goals, I float aimlessly doing the things I have to do to get my day done, but never challenging myself to step further, grow bigger, explore my gifts and talents completely.

Once my goals are established, taking ACTION, keeping the goal in sight, never wavering from my commitment to attain it, staying focused on my intent and exploring alternatives when roadblocks appear -- these are the characteristics of a successful person. These are the attributes of a person of integrity.

There have been moments in my life when I have had a clearly defined goal and 'done what it took' to achieve it. There have been times when I've put the Be. Do. Have. principle to work. -- Be committed to do what it takes to have what I want.

It's time to put those principles to work today.

My goal for October 1, 2007 is to have the first draft of my new book, The Dandelion Garden, A non-gardeners guide to creating the life of your dreams. completed.

My goal for April 1, 2007 is to have the outline completed.

What's your goal?

Where does your Be. Do. Have. inspire you to be the most astounding you that you are meant to be?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A Brand New Day

It's early. I stare at the blank page and wonder what I will write. Go back to bed the rebel inside me whispers. Why bother?

Shhhh, I tell the voice of letting myself off the hook. Yesterday I made a commitment. I will write on this page every day whether I have 'something to say' or nothing to report. I will write.

The blank page keeps staring back.

I need to trust. Trust in the process of writing. Trust in the creative spirit. Trust in me.

A new day rises as under a blanket of snow, spring emerges, hopefully, and I wonder, what will it bring? I cannot see into the future and yet, I trust that spring will appear from beneath the snow. I have confidence in the weather. Confidence in the turning of the seasons. I can feel spring in the air, feel it awakening from beneath winter's blanket.

I stare at the blank screen. Turn and gaze out the window. I cannot see into the murky darkness where white flakes tumble to the ground. The house is quiet and I feel sleepy. I think about going back to bed and then remember my commitment. I will write a new page every day.

What if I don't do it? What if I just go back to bed? Nothing will be lost. Just a page that won't be created. And I'll be able to enjoy a few more minutes sleep.

I made a commitment.

I need to keep it. I need to stay true to myself. This is for me.

There's a recurring theme here. Make a commitment to myself. Compromise. Lose the commitment. Lose the opportunity to turn up for me.

If I don't keep this commitment, what other commitment to myself won't I keep?

I think about advantages. Reasons why I need to do it and of course, reasons why I don't have to bother.

My commitment is to write on this page everyday. See what happens. See what develops. There's no real purpose other than to write every morning. Create a new habit. Create something of value -- possibly. Create a sense of well-being -- for sure. I'll be keeping a commitment I made with myself.

That's a biggie.

How many times have I said, I will lose 10 pounds. I will go to the gym every day. I will ...

And then not done it?

How many times have I let myself down? Let myself off the hook? Let myself get away with behaviour that does not support me, does not make me feel like I count, does not make me feel like I make a difference? How many times?

I can't count them. But there's a theme here. A pattern I've slipped into over time of making little commitments, and big one's, and then not following through. And when I don't I know what I will feel -- that's when I can tell the future! Because when I don't keep my commitments, whether with myself or others, I feel like a fraud. A liar. A person without integrity.

That is not who I want to be. Not how I want to feel. I need to make different choices. Need to turn up for me so that I can count on me to keep my commitments.

I make a commitment to write on this page every day.

I do it.

Commitments are not to be broken. Keeping a commitment with myself is my opportunity to be accountable. To turn up for me and make a difference. Keeping a commitment with myself is my opportunity to be true to me. And to build self-esteem. To build upon my sense of well-being. To like me!

It's not important says the rebel within me. It won't matter if you stay in bed and sleep. It won't matter if you don't do this.

But it will matter.

To me.

And I count.

And so, on this brand new day as daylight slides across the sky pushing darkness into the envelope of night yawning on the horizon and spring stirs beneath a blanket of falling snow, I begin the process of keeping a commitment I made to myself. I begin again.

It's a brand new day.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

It's Up To Me!

Once upon a time I fell in love with a dream. Well, actually, I thought I fell in love with a man, but he turned out to be a myth, and my life became a nightmare. But that’s a whole other story about a whole other lifetime ago! (You can read about it in The Dandelion Spirit. A true life fairy tale of love, lies and letting go.

Today, my life is amazing. Not because a man made my dreams come true! My life is amazing because I am living my life to the fullest, working on making my own dreams come true and stepping with grace and dignity through each moment. Even on those days when I feel like I’m bumping into furniture or moving at a snail’s pace, I feel alive. I breathe freely and know that this is my one and only life. And only I can live it to the fullest.

In the nightmare where I fell in love with the man of my dreams, I saw myself as an amazing, vibrant, incredible woman. I was loved. I was fulfilled. I lived life to the fullest, every day a painter’s palate of wondrous colour and design. Now, in the beginning, I thought I could only have this amazing life if I had the man who said he would make my dreams true. I thought if he stood in front of me, he would shield me from the winds of life, and if he waved his magic wand, all the sweet nothings he whispered into my ears would become the stuff that dreams were made of. Alas, he was a mirage. Even though, I tried for the longest time to make him real, to make the dream of him come true, I just couldn’t do it. Truth is, he was never capable of being anything other than who he was.

But one thing was true. The reflection of me I saw in his eyes, that was my reflection, that was me! I just couldn’t see it until I awoke to the wonder and joy of living my life in the moment, without fear of ever being anyone other than who I am. An amazing, vibrant, incredible woman capable of making her own dreams come true by living passionately and fearlessly, every moment of every day.

In my reality today, my dreams are of my making. That man long ago was never able to make my dreams come true because, a dream is not like a fridge. You can’t just plug dreams in and expect them to start humming. Nor can you wave a magic wand and whisper empty incantations into the sunset on a wing and a prayer in the hopes it will all work out okay, somehow, somewhere.

To make a dream come true, you need to work at it. Believe in it. Live it. You need to breathe it, smell it, be it. When I met the man of my dreams, I put my future in his hands, and waited with baited breath for what he would do to make it all come true.

That just wasn’t right! I abdicated responsibility for my own life. I let go of my power and tried to plug into someone else’s battery. Today, I am ABLE to succeed because, I ACCEPT that I am responsible for me and my own life. When I take responsibility for everything I do, say and create, I act with integrity – what’s good for me is only good for me if no one else is harmed. I BELIEVE in me and BEGIN with reachable and realistic goals and LIST the steps I need to take to attain those goals and work my plan and work my plan and work my plan. And, I EVALUATE what’s working for me and ELIMINATE those things that create less of what I want so that I can focus on creating more of what I want in my life.

Ultimately, no man, no person, nor even animal can determine my life. No one else can say what’s real or isn’t real for me. No one else can make my life happen. No one else can make me fail or succeed. No one else has the power to make my dreams come true, because, it’s up to me. And I'm worth it!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Scooping up the shadows

Awhile ago, a friend said after I'd inadvertently messed up in a situation, “When we know better, we do better.” I was thinking about that today as I cleaned up dog-poop in my back yard. Spring is in the air and with it, the inevitable evidence of winter’s passing has laid bare unsightly signs of dog’s presence emerging from beneath the melting snow.

With rake and shovel and a heavy duty garbage bag lining a plastic garbage can, I scooped up the debris that had been hidden beneath the snow’s pristine blanket. As I scooped I thought about how I know better than to leave the backyard for more than a day or two without getting out there to pick up after Ellie. She’s a big dog. A big dog has big movements. Usually twice a day. Added to which, her best buddy, Mollie, a small white Bichon Friese, has now taken up residence in our home after her owner went away to College. Mollie contributes twice a day too.

The math is simple. Twice a day times two is four deposits a day, times seven is twenty-eight a week, times four weeks, is one hundred and twelve a month.

Taking care of business

So there I was on this beautiful day scooping at least a month’s worth of poop because over the past few weeks I’ve had a lot of excuses to not do it on a regular basis. No matter how much I knew I needed to keep on top of the yard, I had a whole pile of reasons why I couldn't.

It kept snowing. The snow hid the mess. It was too cold. The deposits were frozen solid into the ice and snow. It was dark in the morning when I left for my office and dark at night when I came home. I was too busy, too tired, too lazy to get it done when it needed to be done.

I knew better, but I didn’t do better.

The question is, why not?

And that was my realization as I scooped another pile of dead grass and dog poop into the garbage can.

Scott Peck writes in, People of the Lie, about the importance of acknowledging the shadow. He equates it with taking out the garbage. You can’t just ignore it. It won’t go away by itself. If you don’t take it out, you are at risk of disease, unwanted pests and other calamities -- all because you refused to acknowledge the garbage needed dealing with.

The shadow’s like that. It often contains those aspects of ourselves we don’t want to look at, or love, or acknowledge we possess. When we avoid the shadow, or refuse to acknowledge its presence, we are at risk of the shadow taking over our lives.

When the shadow lurks, the poop piles up

In ignoring what needed to be done, picking up the natural byproducts of owning a dog, I had created a bigger mess than I would have had to deal with had I simply done it in the moment. In refusing to face the shadow side of owning a dog, I willingly put my dog at risk of disease and infection, not because I don’t love my dog, but simply because it was easier to give into my excuses than to be responsible.

Sort of like life.

When I don’t take care of the details of everyday life, I risk my peace of mind and create messes that will need to be dealt with at some future date. For example, if I ignore paying bills on time, exercising regularly and eating well, I create stress in my life not to mention aches and pains and excess weight that I will need to deal with in the future.

Avoidance strenghtens fear

Cleaning up my back yard today I felt good. I was doing better. When I deny or ignore my knowledge, I am avoiding the shadow side of my life. In that avoidance my fear of having to deal with reality inhibits me from truly enjoying the moment because lurking in the back of mind, shadowing my every thought, is the knowledge that eventually, I will have to clean up after myself. And it will probably hurt more than if I’d chosen to do it at the appropriate time.

When I know better, I do better -- as long as I bring my knowing into the light of day and take appropriate, timely, caring action.

Under the sun, my shadow shortens

I cleaned up my back yard today and felt the warmth of spring tickle my imagination. It was a messy job, but I was taking care of business. I was caring for an animal who depends on me and who loves me unconditionally. I was preparing my yard for spring's awakening. I was cleaning up the mess.

As I scooped I felt my shadow shortening under the light of the mid day sun. I know I need to clean up regularly. I know the garbage needs emptying. I know a lot of things but I don't always do them. When I stand in my light, when I acknowledge the pull of the shadows, yet allow my courage to pull into the light of knowing what is the right thing to do -- I do better.