Friday, August 31, 2007

Gone fishin'

It's another long weekend and I'm off to the mountains again for three days of fun - hopefully in the sun. Not sure whether or not I'll have Internet access -- so if I don't. See you Tuesday!

Have an awesome weekend.


At my best: This moment leads to the next

I had to attend a barbecue last night sponsored by a radio station that had a drive to collect towels for the shelter where I work. The towel drive was a contest between three individuals, from different communities in the city. Their task: to collect as many towels as possible in four days and to deliver them to the Drop-In. Their prize: an enormous barbecue, complete with night lights and a year's supply of meats, a lawn make-over, and, their community will receive a legacy gift from a developer -- such as the landscaping of a green area into a kids play zone.

Pretty cool.

What was even cooler is the Drop-In received over 10,000 towels from the event -- and a lot of good publicity in the community.

Which we need. Homeless individuals make easy targets to blame for the rise in crime, the garbage on the streets, the persistence of pan-handlers and a host of other woes on city streets. Last week there was a murder a few blocks from the Drop-In. Several reporters called me to find out if this latest death was contributing to the plight of our clients by raising the perception of every homeless person being a lawless individual. The man who was murdered wasn't homeless. Wasn't a client. But, he was killed in our 'hood. Must affect us.

"Doesn't this make it harder for your clients?" one reporter asked.

Of course it does. But not because of public perception that the person was murdered by 'one of ours'. They live with that perception everyday. It makes it harder because these are the streets they walk. This is the area of the city they call home. When someone is murdered, their fear, their anxiety rises.

There is a spirit to the homeless community -- just like in every community. So when a community, or an organization such as CJ92, the sponsors of the contest for the towel drive, pitches in to help out, we are inspired by people's drive to make a difference.

The community spirit at the barbecue last night was inspiring. Tracy Wynne, the winner, invited her neighbours, friends and family to come along and celebrate with her. Every person there had played an integral role in creating Tracey's donation of over 3,500 towels. When a friend of her fifteen year old daughter asked if she could come to the party, her daughter said, "Sure. But you'll have to bring a towel."

I'm always asked, "What can I do," with regards to helping those without a home. Sometimes, its the little things that make the biggest difference. A fresh towel after a shower means a lot to someone coming in from outside, from a job, from a day spent pounding the pavements. A towel could be all it takes to change a person's state of mind, to convince them to drop the habit keeping them stuck and start making different choices.

Tracy collected 3,500 towels. CJ92 and Gerry Forbes created the contest that spurred Tracy and her two fellow contestants on. The contest was heard by people all over the city, who have been turning up independently at the shelter with bags of towels. A company that supplies linens to hotels arrived with a flat of 5,000 towels.

One small act can inspire greatness. At the barbecue yesterday every person had made a difference to Tracy's efforts. As she said when interviewed on air, I couldn't have done it without the help of my friends and family -- and the businesses whom she contacted who donated funds and/or towels to her campaign.

The city Mayor also turned up for the party. We chatted on-air with Gerry about the towel drive. I listened to the Mayor and was in awe of his 'politicking'. In that 5 minute interview, he was able to drive home 3 separate campaign issues on his platform. The civic election is next month -- and he used every opportunity to make each moment count.

Oprah Winfrey had it right, "Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment."

Listening to the Mayor yesterday, whether I agree with his politics or not, I have to admire his focus, his drive and his commitment to doing his best this moment to ensure he's in the best place for the next. His focus, and drive, have made a difference to his campaign. Does he support what we do at the Drop-In. Historically -- no. But, according to a recent survey, homelessness has become the second most important issue for Albertans. The Mayor is in an election. Homelessness is at the top of his agenda. Whether or not his heart is in it -- the fact he's involved will make things happen. Will make change possible. Gotta take this moment and create a platform that puts us in the best place for the next.

Just like in my own life. When I do my best in this moment, I am well-positioned for the next. When I am undermining myself with fear or anxiety, or letting my triggers of past events disrupt my peace of mind in this event, I am not at my best, I am not being all that I am meant to be. And it shows in the moments to come. Off-base, off-kilter, I react without thought, without being responsible for everything I do and say. I am not at my best.

The question is: Where do you undermine your next moments? How is what you're doing now inhibiting your ability to be your best in the moments to come?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The past will never change.

Yesterday, I attended a workshop on ending homelessness. The focus was on youth. One of the members of our table of 8 was a young woman currently living in a transitional shelter. When she was 17, and entering grade 12, *Tara ran away from home. When asked why, she said, "I wasn't safe at home." A scary thought to think the street is safer than your home.

For Tara, it was a wise decision. After spending some time on the streets, Tara knew she had to do something different. She ran to a woman who had befriended her at the local Boys and Girls club and that woman became her advocate. She helped Tara find an emergency bed and from there Tara moved on to a transitional bed in a long-term shelter where she now lives. Last spring, only one year behind schedule, Tara finished Grade 12 and will be attending College this fall to pursue her studies in Social Work.

There were several youthful voices added to the mix of social workers and agency representatives at the meeting yesterday. It was a dynamic, open conversation about what's happened in their lives to encourage them to make change now, before drugs and prostitution and abuse sucked the life out of them. The teens were open, frank, positive. Their attitude was, yeah, it sucks when home is the place you feel most unsafe. But hey, I'm safe today. Let's get it on.

For the adults, it was more challenging. We wanted to talk about how we've failed these teens. How we continue to fail children today by not being better parents, better guardians of the innocence of their youth. We wanted to focus on how the system is broken. Who, what and when it all fell apart.

If we could learn anything from these teens it is to quit looking back, to quit measuring where we are today against the failures of yesterday. To start focusing on where we want to go based on the success stories that got us here so that we can start building new pathways to success. To be more forgiving -- of ourselves. Sure, we'll make mistakes. We don't know everything, and we definitely can't do it all right the first time, but we need to keep doing, not just talking, about it.

Seated at the table beside me was a 50 year-old native woman. Jan ran away from yet another foster home when she was 17. She hit the streets and fell into the life of a junkie and prostitute. Lost, frightened, without any sense of belonging or a connection to her native culture, Jan spent twenty years wandering aimlessly, searching for herself between the highs, and lows, of street life. Today, Jan is clean and sober. She makes a modest living, enough to support herself, and is committed to speaking up to create change in a system which she believes failed her throughout her life.

But Jan is still a victim. "I have no identity," she kept repeating throughout the morning. "Foster parents wouldn't let me have my identity when I was forced into 'care' as a youth. When I go back to the reserve now, my people shun me. They make fun of me. They want nothing to do with me. I have no place where I belong. I don't know who I am."

During one of these discourses, I turned to Jan who was sitting next to me and commented, "You've managed to kick an addiction, get off the street and create a life for yourself today. I'd say you're one powerful woman."

Jan didn't want to hear about what she'd done right. She was stuck in telling what had gone wrong.

I don't deny that amongst cultural/ethic groups, natives are disproportionately represented on the street. Every colour. Every sex. Every size, shape, intellect, faith are represented on the street. The street does not discriminate. It accepts all comers.

And that's the challenge. There are no boundaries on the street, and in recovery, the boundaries we place are self-erected. No matter the circumstances of our lives, getting over the hurdle of our own limits is the first step towards getting free of victimizing ourselves through the past.

For Tara, the past is simply the road that led her to where she is today. Is it perfect? Not by any stretch of the imagination. But Tara isn't bemoaning the imperfections of her life today. She's celebrating herself. Treating herself with respect, doing what it takes to build a better future for herself by focusing on what she can do today to make a difference, not what made her life different in the past or what makes it different today than the lives of her classmates.

In life, hardships abound. So does joy. Wonder. Adventure. Opportunity

Oprah Winfrey said, "Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity."

Regardless of what happened in the past, Tara looks at herself as one lucky teen today. She isn't relying on luck, however, to get her to where she wants to go. She's preparing herself for the future by educating herself, learning new tools, new ideas that will change her life forever.

For Jan, there's little room for new learning as she remains stuck in 'her story' about what happened to her in the past. Finding fault with everything and everyone working in a system that is not perfect, Jan continues to abuse herself with the notion that there's nothing she can do to change her life today.

Long ago, Jan lost touch with her native heritage. Today, she struggles to find herself in a world that doesn't welcome her because.... well, she says it's because of the colour of her skin.

For Tara, the world was not a welcoming place. So, she created her own welcome mat. For the other teens at the meeting yesterday, it was an opportunity for them to share their stories, and for people like me to open up to the wisdom of youth, to be inspired by their courage to stop the abuse happening in their lives by learning to treat themselves with dignity and respect. They're teaching the world how to treat them. They're mighty powerful.

The question is: Where in your life are you stuck on abusing yourself with the notion the past determines who you are today? Where are you limiting who you are today by keeping yourself stuck in the past?

*I've used pseudonyms

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Speaking into thin air

Racing this morning. Had to be at a radio station by 7am for an on-air interview. Forgot the studio number, (I thought) on my desk. Raced into the office. Not here. Desperately search my bag, notebook. All the while cursing red lights slowing me down. Get to the radio station. Stand outside. Waiting. Hoping someone might turn up to enter the building. Search bag again. Still no number. Search my daytimer. Not there. Finally, in a fit of pique, I decide to go to Starbucks for a coffee. Guess what's inside my wallet -- the telephone number I need. Call. Whip back to station. Make the interview with seconds to spare.


As I whipped along city streets, I felt my anxiety level rising. Breathe. I told myself. Calm down. Getting anxious. Fretting over what is or is not will not help.

At one point, as I left the shelter where I work and drove along the avenue lining the river to cross the bridge to the North side, a client from the drop-in crossed in front of me. Illegally. I changed lanes to avoid him, but as I drove by, he flipped me the finger.


Anger flared. How dare he? Who does he think he is? Whenever I've seen him in the centre, he's been friendly (overly so at times). He laughs and jokes. But, there he was on the street. I am as anonymous as him. Suddenly, his anger surfaces. I am every person who has condemned him, shunned him, ignored him.

Anger is the most prevalent emotion on the street. Anger masking fear. Masking despair. Hiding shame. Shame and the pain of knowing, this is my life. This is what it has all come down to.

This morning, I drove through the city searching for a telephone number I could not find. And then I found it. All was righted with my world.

This morning, a homeless man crosses the street in front of me. Defiantly, he tells me what he thinks. But his gesture is not about me. It's not a reflection of my state of being. It is a reflection of all that is wrong with his life.

And I can't change it for him. I can't change where he's at. I can't be visible to him out there, in the wide world, because to him, out there, I'm 'one of them. Just another face in the crowd making him feel small.

But, in the instant of his disdainful gesture, I found myself having noisy conversations in my head. Here's what wrong with your attitude, I tell him. Be nice. I didn't do anything to you. I didn't hit you or even aim for you. I gave way for you. How dare you treat me with such disrespect -- LOL -- I can have a very busy head!

I wanted him to understand why I didn't deserve his rude gesture. I wanted him to know that what he did is a reflection of where he's at in his life -- and he doesn't have the right to take it out on me -- in essence -- I felt helpless to create change in his life, yet wanted to act out my frustration, sort of like he did!

I had to let it go. Conversations in my head with someone who isn't there make no sense. They just keep me stuck in focusing on an event that was transitory. Passing. Fleeting. An event that does not mar my day -- unless I invest power in it.

But I did learn something really important for me this morning. I discovered that radio interviews are not my strength. It was an interesting observation. The announcer was on the other side of the room, hidden behind a big black microphone and the engineer who sat in the desk separating us. I couldn't see the announcer. Couldn't make eye contact. Without that visual contact, my mind did not connect to his questions. I wasn't talking to a person -- just hearing words enter my mind. My answers became stilted. Monosyllabic.

When the man walked by and flipped me a sign of his angst, my angst was not because of what he did. It was because his gesture became the focal point of our connection. We were not two people building bridges, we were like the announcer and me this morning -- words spoken into space, disconnected from meaning, from substance, from the human element that makes life so rich and rewarding.

For the man crossing the street, the world of 'normal' is a foreign place. Adrift, cut-off from 'everyday living', he is disconnected from meaning, from the substance of being part of the human element that makes life rich and rewarding.

I'm still racing. Got a meeting this morning that will take the entire morning. Must run.

A man flipped me the finger this morning and I flipped into defensive mode, into wanting to tell someone who cannot hear me, see me, or even identify with me that what he did was wrong. I wanted him to understand my point of view -- and didn't really care about his.

Until I can find the way to connect with people who cannot see me, for whatever reason, I will never be able to make sense of what they do in a meaningful way -- and they will never be able to connect with me in meaningful ways. Like the questions fired at me on-air this morning we will continue to pass-by eachother, giving our respective acknowledgements of the value of their passing through our lives.

The question is: Where in your life are you having conversations with people who cannot see you? Where are you talking without connecting to the person with whom you're having a conversation?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Time for truth


It marches on. Passes. Waits for no man. Time's up. Time out. Time off. Time to move on.

Must be the time of year because time is everywhere. Like a starburst, time beckons me to explode into a million directions, churning up space, chewing up energy so I can get to where ever time is going. Gotta give my head a shake! It's not time that determines my direction -- it's me. When time is pressing upon me, I need to wake up and expand into my time to be alive! To be all that I am meant to be.

Time was on Alexis' mind yesterday. It was around this time last year she and her sister had a series of friends, as well as a favourite teacher die. "No one's died, yet, this month," she commented last night. "I feel like something's wrong with me. I'm waiting for someone to die."

"Nothing's wrong with you." I replied. "It's just grieving the past and remembering it more clearly when at one moment in time, life reminded you of its fragile nature, its delicate hold on substance, on those we love. This time is just a memory reminding you this is your one and only life. Live it up!"

Anniversaries. A point in time. Events stored. To celebrate. To grieve. Details dimming as time moves away from that moment when time changed everything.

August is a month of memories for me too. A month of grieving what was and will never be again -- fortunately!

It was in August I met Conrad. The man who would lie and cheat and deceive and manipulate his way through every moment of the time we shared. It was in August we had our first encounter. Our first date. Our first kiss.

The grieving is easier as time remembered flows into time lived in freedom.

Grieving what was becomes rejoicing in what is my life today.

It takes time to grieve. To let go of the pain and sorrow. To move into the joy of life created on the ashes of the memories of his lies.

Grieving someone who lied is not easy. Unlike the passing of someone I loved, I do not feel grief for him. I grieve for me. For the woman who believed he was all that she was worth. She was wrong. She was never worth him. Never deserved his lies. Never deserved to be deceived. Never deserved his abuse.

And so I grieve for me. For my pain. My sorrow. My horror that I became that woman, back then, who did not believe in herself enough to say, "I do not deserve you."

Time passes. Pain unfolds. The world revolves around the sun and I stand in my joy today knowing the woman who once believed he was all that she was worth, has grown beyond that time into this time when she can claim, proudly, clearly, without equivocation, I am worthy.

Times change. I change. And my world changes with me.

There was a time when I was confused about who I am, what I wanted, what I deserved. Today, in this wondrous time of being all that I am meant to be I know, it wasn't time that changed anything. It was me.

Harvey McKay, author of Swim with the Sharks (without being eaten alive) wrote, “Time is free, but it's priceless. You can't own it, but you can use it. You can't keep it, but you can spend it. Once you've lost it you can never get it back.”

I'm not quibbling with what he said, but I disagree on one aspect -- you can't actually lose time. It was never yours to begin with.

Time doesn't exist, except in the the ticking of a second hand passing over the face of a clock that measures out time as if it had a limit to its passing. Time is eternal. Time is ephemeral. Time is. All around. Everywhere. Inside. Outside. In between. Underneath. Time is.

It is not time that changes. It's me.

Once upon a time I met a man who lied. In my blindness, I believed him. In my light today I know my truth. I deserved more than he ever could or would have given me. I deserve the truth.

Question is: Where are you holding onto the past in the belief it was the time that made the difference? Where do you believe you're worth less than you deserve?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Pushing back against changing my world

This is a city of constant construction. On every roadway, every block, something is torn up, torn down, ripped apart, dug up and built up all over again. Even my favourite park has succumbed to the constructionitis that permeates the fabric of the city.

Where once pristine prairie grasses dotted with brilliant red and yellow and purple wildflowers hurried into the distance to greet the blue horizon tumbling joyously to earth, orange fencing marches across the skyline, lining the landscape like a spool of ribbon unwinding. Giant tractors with earth eating buckets gather up gravel and dirt and dump their loads into the bellies of waiting trucks. The noise of their engines reverberates in the quiet, the earth rumbles with the throbbing of their beat. Beneath my feet, the constant droning of the tires of enormous trucks pounding across the dirt shakes up my peace of mind. My resistance awakens.

I hate change!

'My' park is no longer a peaceful oasis. It's marching into time, keeping pace with the rejuvenation of this city that can't stand still in its constant quest to continually renew itself in its efforts to become the best, the biggest, the greatest little city that could.

Makes me angry. Makes me sad. Makes me want to roll back time and reclaim the 'simpler' times when the park was known by few, used by few, visited by even fewer!

Makes me realize, change is here to stay.

When I was living in North Vancouver, every day I'd walk down the mountainside to the SeaBus and travel across the inlet to downtown. Along the shore, a huge development was planned. Old warehouses and docks were scheduled to be torn down and replaced with sparkling new condos and shops. The urban planners and developers promised a community worth waiting for.

On the surface, I couldn't see anything happening. Yet, somewhere, in office towers and architectural offices, draftspeople and designers were drawing lines, crossing boundaries, laying out the community with a vision for the future I could not see. Five or ten years meant nothing in the 'big schematic' of possibilities for that community. The planners had a plan, a goal, a vision. They knew where they were going and were taking their time making sure they had the foundations set to get them there.

In reconstruction, its acceptable to take years to redevelop an area. In the process, we wait. Wondering when it will happen. And then, all of a sudden, change appears. Work crews move in. Giant machinery descends and deconstruction begins paving the way for what developers promise will be the latest, greatest, bestest little condo, office tower, shopping mall in the west. We wait. Not that patiently, but we wait. For trucks and dirt movers and construction teams to dig up, dig out, and build up the new that will replace the old. While we grumble and bemoan the change, we adapt ourselves to detours, align ourselves with new routes to get to where we're going. We move into the change and resign ourselves to its presence in our lives as we continue on with our day believing in a better tomorrow.

At Nose Hill a plan was approved in 2005 to redevelop the park. The premise was the delicate vegetation needed protecting. Trails needed paving to keep erstwhile walkers and mountain bikers from tearing up the fields of fescue and wildflowers. Demarcation zones needed to be drawn defining controlled and offleash areas so that users didn't collide, worlds didn't abut and tempers didn't flare where bikers crashed into gamboling family pets and frolicking children.

I know it's necessary. I know it's needed. Just wish it were somewhere else. Some other park. Some other way.

I knew the change was coming. It took two years and here it is.

Reality sucks when it awakens me to the constant of change rattling the cage of my comfort zone, forcing me out of my environment. Reality bites!

There. I've had my whine. Time to accept reality. My world is changing. Every day. Some changes I adapt to without a thought. Others need a shifting in my perspective. A realignment of my world view to accept its necessary to protect an environment that was at risk of being decimated by people trampling over delicate grasses that could not withstand the passing of time (and man) without man's helping hand.

The changing of the guard at Nose Hill Park is a sign of the times. A growing pain. A stretching out of imagination, a reaching out to new possibilities to protect and preserve a unique terrain within the city.

Our city is growing exponentially. Thousands of people move here every month. Wear and tear and increased demand take their toll. Tempers fray. Patience evaporates. Emotions rise.

I know what is happening at Nose Hill is an integral part of preserving the park. Just wish I didn't have to see preservation in action. Just wish the process didn't require a shift in my world view!

Ah well, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

The question is: Where in your worldview do you balk at change in an effort to push back to preserve the past? Where do you resist when flowing into change could ease you into a new world order that opens doors of opportunity, unknown possibilities, unexplored adventures? Where do you push back change to hold onto something that can never be again?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Life is not a rodeo ring

When I was in my early teens I read everything I could get my hands on by Ayn Rand. She was my idol. My heroine. My voice I could not find. I wanted to be Dagny Taggart, the heroine of her novel, Atlas Shrugged. I wanted to be tall, angular, blonde. I wanted Dagny's piercing blue eyes. Her strong voice. Her passionate pursuit of her dreams and goals. Dagny was a no-nonsense, focused, driven, altruistic, independent business woman who believed the state had no business running her business. I wanted to be Dagny.

Lofty dreams for a short, dark, rounded girl. Challenging.

In the journey from teenhood to adulthood, I gave up trying to change my look. Wasn't going to happen. Once I reached the limits of my 5'2" height, I accepted my fate of being 'vertically challenged' and settled into letting go of trying to scale the highest peaks. I was never going to make it to the top, I told myself, and held myself back from even trying. As to being angular and blonde, well, that too was relegated to childhood fiction. Wasn't going to happen. I hadn't much enjoyed math-induced angular explorations, finding angles on my not so angular body was an even more difficult proposition.

In Richard Wagamese's novel, "Dream Wheels", Joe Willie Wolfchild, a rodeo cowboy, loses his dream to an encounter with a bull. He doesn't know who he is without his dream and falls into a stormy silence back on the ranch his parents and their parents before them had settled into when their dreams had been stomped on in the harsh reality of the rodeo ring. For his parents, their Native traditions sustain them. For Joe Willie, his anger fuels him. It corrodes him from the inside out like the rust on the truck he's restoring that his parents once used to take them from rodeo to rodeo when they too shared in the dream of being Champion Bull Riders. He doesn't know what to do with his anger, but a bear walks into his vision and gives him permission to growl through his pain so that he can get through grieving the past into living the life of his dreams renewed.

Towards the denouement of the novel, Joe Willie tells Claire, a battered woman who has come to the ranch looking for her son, "In rodeo you always have to qualify for the big round. To prove your worth. She [the bear] meant that life isn't rodeo. That I qualify. That I'm a part of things regardless. Guess I forgot that. Or never learned it in the first place."

No matter our position on the rungs of success, how lost we are on the road of possibilities, or where we stand in the circle of life, we are a part of it. A part of the life around us. The life of our families, our communities, our world. Our past has brought us here. Our future lies untold. Our present is the moment in which we shine. In which we can choose to step into life, or away from living. Where we can choose to step towards making our dreams come true or into the darkness of moving away from living our dreams.

Sometimes, our dreams are built on fantasy, like me wanting to look like Dagny Taggart. Regardless of our height, our size, our wealth, or a thousand other equations, however, we gotta have a dream to make a dream come true. Dreams are ours to qualify. To paint. To live -- Or to let go of.

The question is: What's your dream? Are you treating yourself as a qualifier, claiming your rightful place at centre stage of your life unfolding around you? Or, are you letting your dreams fall by the wayside, using anger as a reason to avoid, to let go, to hang up on yourself? Do you measure the world as unfair, unjust, so that you can walk away from your dreams? Or, do you measure yourself as a winner, the architect of your life, the person who can make it happen because you are worthy of your dreams come true?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Taking care of business

Betsy is 60. She's never been homeless before. Never before had to face each day fearful that she might not have a place to sleep that night.

A year ago, she stumbled into the shelter. She'd been evicted. Her common-law husband of 25 years had just died. He'd always paid the bills. Always taken care of 'things'. They'd never had a lot of money. But they'd gotten by.

And then one morning she awoke and he kept sleeping. Forever. With his passing, her financial resources evaporated. His son took control of his father's affairs, forcing Betsy to the street.

Two weeks ago, Betsy got a job at the shelter. On September 1st, she'll be moving into her own apartment, a subsidized one bedroom in a three storey walk-up owned by the shelter. It's in a quiet, older neighourhood. Lots of trees. Walking distance to downtown, to Betsy's job.

Betsy is happy.

"You know, when I came to this place I was terrified I'd die here, and fast," she told me yesterday as we chatted in the laundry room where she works. "I was so scared something awful would happen to me." She smiles and carefully folds a pillow case smoothing it out as she lays it on top of a pile of neatly folded laundry. Her smile broadens. "And now, the best thing possible has happened to me." With a sweep of her left arm she surveys the laundry area. "I've got a job. And soon, I'll have a place of my own."

Life for Betsy since she quit school and married at 17 has been a rocky road pitted with the effects of lack of education, a disruptive marriage and addiction. Somewhere along the way she kicked the addiction. But not until she'd lost her kids to family services. She'd never had to lose her belief that she could support herself without a man -- she'd never believed she could.

"I was a kid when I got married," she says. "I really only worked once, just after my divorce. I had three kids. No education. My independence didn't last long. Alcohol kinda got in my way. The kids were taken and then Chuck and I hooked up. Well, he did it all. But you know what?" Her blue eyes look into mine, their gaze intent. Fierce. Steady. "I can take care of me. I just want a place where I can go inside, lock the door and be on my own."

I remember Betsy when she first came to the shelter. A co-worker had brought her into my office. Her eyes were scared. She clutched her brown handbag tightly on her lap. She fidgeted. Her story was unclear. A partner who'd died. A son-in-law who had all the rights. She had no resources. "I don't understand how this can happen," she kept repeating. I called a friend at Legal Aid. Betsy told them her story and they tried to help. But there's been no resolution yet. They did get her back into the apartment so she could get some of her things. But she couldn't stay there. The rent was overdue. She had no money.

And so she stayed on at the shelter.

At first, Betsy sat at a table in the day area and told her story to anyone who would listen about what had happened to her. "I don't belong here," she kept repeating. No one disagreed. No one believes they belong in a shelter. Then again, no one does.

She was sleeping in an emergency bed at the time. Lining up every night to get a ticket. And then, she got a transitional bed. She quit lining up. Betsy knew where she'd be sleeping that night, and the next, and the next.

For Betsy, that transitional bed opened the door to her thinking about her life beyond homelessness. To life beyond her fear that she would be spending the rest of her days in a shelter. She started volunteering. Helping out in the kitchen. Serving meals. Cleaning tables. She started interacting with staff. Asking questions. Asking for help. Betsy started turning up for herself.

"I remember sleeping on the third floor [Emergency sleeping quarters at the shelter] those first weeks," she says. "I was so scared. And then, when I applied and got a bed on the fifth, [the floor with transitional beds for women] I couldn't believe it. I mean, I had my own bed. My own locker. Sure, the other girls are jealous of me moving out. But I've done this for me. I've been the one who kept volunteering. Kept getting involved. I'm the one who's made this happen for me. I just wish the others weren't so jealous."

I remind her that someone else's opinion of her is not the one that counts -- hers is. "You've worked hard for this Betsy. You deserve it."

She smiles. "I opened my own bank account," she says proudly. "Never had that before. I've got a goal. Never had that before either."

"What's your goal?" I ask.

Her smile broadens into a mischievous grin. I see the Betsy from long ago, the young girl she describes as part feisty go-getter, part smart ass. "I'm getting on my feet so that I can get off my feet," she says. "I want to sit back in my own easy chair and give myself a break."

She's 60. Life has never been a bed of roses. But she doesn't care. She's making her way. Turning up for herself and making a difference. She knows where she's going, and she's getting there on her own two feet.

The question is: Where does life knock you down? Are you sitting back waiting for someone to come knocking with your answers or are you asking yourself the question, "What do I need to do to create the life of my dreams?" and then doing it, regardless of the potholes yawning before you?

Friday, August 24, 2007

One man's garbage is a nother man's livelihood

Late writing this morning. I was up at my usual time but had to get to a radio station for an on-air interview regarding the homeless shelter where I work.

Early morning mist. Cool temperatures. Fall is lurking right around the corner.

As I drive across town, traffic is light. I stop at a red light and watch a man crossing through the intersection. He's pushing a grocery cart piled high with discarded bottles and cans. He's a bottle picker. An unpaid worker cleaning up Calgary's streets. Some people call him homeless. Some a bum. Other's a nuisance. I see him as a public servant. Making a living picking up the recyclables we throw away.

Last night, one of my daughters mentioned to some friends that a homeless guy named, Dave, collects the bottles from our house.

"He's not homeless, honey," I corrected. "Used to be. But now, he's getting by. Making a living. Doing odd jobs and supplementing his living with bottle picking."

It's all in our perceptions.

Dave is not clean pressed, freshly shaved, sweet smelling. He's messy. He wears an odd assortment of clothing. Doesn't worry about labels. Doesn't worry about colour matches or the latest trends. Dave is who he is. A guy who's come through tough times making his way through a city where it's tough to be poor. He's reliable. Always comes by every week to pick up the bag of bottles I leave on my back porch. Sometimes, he comes by and asks if I need any help around the yard. Any odd items he's picked up on his journey. I pay him for his work. He does a great job. Fare trade for fair labour.

First time I met Dave he was pushing his cart down my street as I was on my way out my front door. "I have a ton of bottles in my shed," I told him. "You're welcome to them."

Dave's face lit up. He gave me a toothless grin. "For sure," he said.

I took him into the shed. His eyes grew large as he saw the stack of bags filled with a winter's worth of bottles.

"I don't have room in my cart right now for all of them," he replied. "Can I come back and get them?"

"Sure." I told him I'd leave the door unlocked. I was on my way out. He could help himself.

When I came home, the bottles were removed and Dave had tidied up the entire shed.

The next time I saw him walking down the street, I called out. "Hi Dave. Thanks for cleaning up the shed. I've got more bottles on my back porch for you."

He smiled, the weathered skin around his eyes wrinkling in delight. "You remember my name."

"Sure," I replied. "You told it to me last time."

"Cool," he said. "No one ever remembers my name. Thanks."

I wasn't sure what to respond so I smiled and told him to help himself to the bottles on the back porch. "You're welcome to always check whenever you come by," I told him. "I'll leave them there rather than putting them out on the front walk."

Since that time, every couple of weeks, the bottles are picked up, my back porch cleaned off as Dave continues to support himself through doing a job few want to do.

Sure, I have my opinions about his lifestyle. I wish he'd clean up. Get sober. "Make something" of himself. But that's just middle class, conservative me sitting in judgement of a man who is making his own way through life, on what he would say are his terms. He's not looking for handouts. He's looking to use his hands to help out people like me who want to recycle, but are too busy to get to it.

This morning I sat at an intersection and watched a man push his shopping cart along the street. He's helping out. Making a difference. Cleaning up our city.

Thanks to the bottle pickers, otherwise garbage is being recycled the way it's supposed to be.

The question is: Where can you let go of judgement and find understanding of someone else through a different perspective. Where you can see someone or something through a different pair of glasses?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Couldn't sleep

My daughter got in a car accident last night. Driving down a narrow road, a vehicle coming towards her. She was boxed in. Caught the front bumper of the other car. She got charged with taking undue care. Thankfully, no one was hurt. But she was terrified.

The man in the other car was intimidating. He didn't yell. He didn't scream. He demanded her papers. Turned his back on her and proceeded to call the cops. It was all her fault, he said.

She called me. Crying. Her words spilling out in one run on, incomprehensible sentence. I drive to the scene. She's still crying. The man is standing in silent condemnation.

She doesn't want to lay 100% of the blame on him. But he is 50% responsible she says.

It's his word against hers.

His is louder. More convincing. More definite.

She can only cry through the interview with the police. Nervously tell her disjointed story of seeing the vehicle parked on her side of the road. The oncoming vehicle. Too tight on the passenger side. She swerves. Smack.

The police officer gives her the ticket. She starts to cry, again.

What about the bully game the other driver was playing, I ask? There was nothing between him and the curb. He had a whole car width on his other side, but he chose to drive down the middle of the road, boxing my daughter in.

Were you with her in the car, the policeman asks?

No, but she is adamant that she never crossed over the centre of the road. And when I got here I heard him on his cellphone. Telling whoever would listen that it was all her fault and yet, he never said a word to her.

I can only go on what the other driver wrote in his report and what your daughter wrote and said.

But she could barely say her name, I replied.

And therein lies the crux of it. In a battle of he said, she said, when what he said is deliberate, thoughtfully constructed to ensure he does not take any blame, rational, carefully worded to tell only his side of the I'm not to blame game, my daughter's confused stumblings have little strength of conviction.

Liseanne, I tell her in front of the police, you need to go to court and fight this.

I can't, she cries. I have school. I don't have the money. I have to pay $600 for my books. I... her voice falters as she starts to sob.

The police man stands stoically in front of her. It is your right to contest this ticket, he says. I strongly suggest you exercise that right.

The police leave. My daughter and I stand on the street, my arms wrapped around her shaking shoulders.

My mind scurries in circles. Frustrated. Angry. I am a mama bear protecting her young.

It isn't the accident -- though the effects on her insurance will definitely be felt.

It is her capitulation. Her defeat. Her slumped shoulders, shaking with tears, as she tells me, it's all my fault.

At my insistence she must fight this, she cries No! I can't.

I know that voice. It reverberates through me. Echoes in my past.

She must fight this if for no other reason than to learn, she has a voice. Just because a man stands in silent condemnation of you, doesn't mean you're wrong. Doesn't mean he's right. Doesn't mean you must accept whatever he says is truth.

She must fight this to know she has a choice. To fall victim to her fears. To stand up with courage and be heard.

She must fight this to know she counts. Her truth is worthy. She is worthy.

I want to fight this for her. I want to roll back time, scrape the tire marks off the pavement and straighten out that swerve that took her into the path of an oncoming vehicle.

I want to make it all right.

And know, I cannot. The past happened. I can't change it. I can't make her straighten out. Stand up.

I want to because I see the road before her. I see the tracks leading into oncoming traffic again and again. I see her becoming my history.

I want to stand in front of the oncoming traffic and scream. STOP!

And I can't.

I breathe. That was then. This is now. This is her life. I can only stand beside her.

My daughter will do the right thing.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Fear lives in my belly actually the title of a chapter in my book. It describes where fear lives in me -- and its impact on my being while I was in the hell of an abusive relationship.

Fear still lives in my belly, even though I'm beyond the grips of that relationship. It isn't always present, but when it awakens I react like a deer caught in headlights. I am immobilized.

I know a lot about fear. Experienced tons of it. Ignored even more -- and that's where my fear of feeling fear trips me up.

The other night when a friend and I were having dinner on my patio, a bevy of wasps flew in to join us (Blog entry, August 18, "Awakening"). The significance of my sitting there like a mechanical doll with only one workable moving part, my right arm, was significant -- it speaks of how I deal with fear.

Don't acknowledge it. Pretend I don't feel it. Act normal -- okay, so not that normal -- but at least act like fear is not pounding out a military tattoo throughout my body, blocking my mind from all sight and sound, stealing peace of mind.

Fear keeps me silent. Fear keeps me reacting like a powerless child. Fear keeps me stuck in my belly, rumbling around in a sea of anxiety, terrified of drowning.

I am not powerless. I am not a child.

Acknowledging fear draws me out, propels me into courage. To take action, to speak up, to be heard, to be my one true self.

The interesting thing about fear is, when its rumbling around in my belly, all sound, all thought, all in the moment being is blocked. I can't be present when I'm wallowing in my belly, swimming furiously upstream or madly treading water in fear of going under.

Ignoring my fear is my self-defeating game. Turning up for me, being honest about my fear, stepping with courage into being present -- that's my winning attitude. That's my position of strength.

The other night, the wasps flew in and I froze in fear (except for my right arm that kept flapping my serviette uselessly at them). I told my friend I was content to sit outside and enjoy our dinner. What a lie! I was not content. I was not enjoying our dinner. Finally, at his insistence that it was obvious something was wrong, I acknowledged my discomfort and we moved inside where I was content and I did enjoy our dinner.

I knew lots of fear as a child. I lived through my father's angry outbursts. I seldom felt safe and hid my fear behind my smile, behind my "I won't let anyone see how I feel" attitude. In my fear, I learned to stay still. To freeze. To deny my fear, and pretend all is well that ends well as an acceptable way to live. I learned to be passive in my fear.

I am not a child.

I am an adult. I am powerful. I am the active ingredient creating my life of beauty.

Today, I step, perhaps not with total grace and ease, but I am stepping into my power of expressing fear through my courage to acknowledge my feelings, to turn up for me and stand up for my life. I have the power to stand true in all kinds of weather, all kinds of emotions. My peace of of mind moves me into being exactly who I am meant to be.

I cannot heal or change what I do not acknowledge.

I acknowledge I have a distorted view of fear. My belly rumbles. I take a deep breath and dive beneath the surface of my fear and swim gracefully to shore. With my feet firmly planted on solid ground, I look at the sea of fear churning within me and soothe its troubled waters with love and the courage to be all that I am meant to be when I am my best. My best is good enough for me.

The question is: Where does fear live in you? Do you flee it, fight it, or let courage shore you up and draw you into your magnificient self?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Friendship is a river of love.

My eldest daughter, Alexis, suggested I write about friends.

American, Maxwell Maltz, creator of the Psycho-Cybernetics said, “If you make friends with yourself you will never be alone.” Then again, Maltz was also a plastic surgeon so I guess he could make you look different every time you checked the mirror! "Oh look. I've got a new, oohh and younger, friend."

I like being alone. Love the quiet blanket of solitude that settles upon me when I'm alone and the world and all its happenings drift away like a cruise ship leaving port for open waters. I stand on shore, wave good-bye and turn into myself, content to be alone, to have this time to myself. This moment where the house is quiet and just the steady ticking of the front hall clock measures out time passing.

I love the tick, tick of a mechanical clock. When I was growing up my father had a collection of clocks. Every wall, every counter had a clock, of every possible description. Sometimes, he'd set their chimes to ring consecutively. Some clocks only rang on the hour. But some, perhaps a handful, also ran on the quarter hour. It made for interesting conversations when a clock would chime and then the next and then the next every fifteen minutes.

At night, I'd lay in my bed and fall asleep to the gentle ticking of the clocks outside my bedroom door. The only time I hated those clocks was when I awoke in the middle of the night to just one reprise of the quarter hour chiming. I'd lie in bed for the next forty-five minutes, waiting for the hour to be announced by the little cuckoo bird, or the grandfather clock in the hall. It never crossed my mind to get up and go and check the clock. I'd wait in sleepless irritation for the passing of time.

Like my father's clock's, my friends are treasured. Each unique. Each with their own special song. Their presence in my life a constant metronome keeping time to the rhythm of my heartbeat. Their love, a continuous chime of melodious sound marking the passing of each moment of my life. I don't always see my friends, but I know they're there. I know that all I have to do is wait, and like the chime on the quarter hour, they'll appear to brighten up my day, mark the passing of another special occasion.


My friends understand my past. They accept my foibles and embrace me, just the way I am. Without my friends Nan and Jane, I wouldn't be alive today. When I was in the death throes of that relationship from hell, it was Nan and Jane who would not give up on finding me. Who would not let the police give up searching. My friends trust me. I trust them. We know that our futures are not determined by time past, but rather, by the passing of time today when we share in the joy of who we are, together and apart.


Life is richer with them. Whether I'm alone or spending time like last night, sharing dinner and laughter with two very dear friends or awakening to an email that makes me laugh and sit in awe of the creativity and love of my friends, my life is a tapestry made more vibrant because of my friends.

Friendship is a river of love. When I am in its flow, I am living the truth that fills my life with richness. Giving is receiving. The more love I give. The more I receive.

The question is: Are you a good friend? To have a friend, we must be a friend. Is your friendship steady, like the ticking of a clock? Or are you a fair-weather friend who scurries away like a cuckoo bird after ringing out the hour, only to appear again, sometime down the road when the hour has past and time and friends have marched on without you?

Monday, August 20, 2007

The 650 Words-A-Day Challenge

I have a new book I began some weeks ago that I'm stalling on. Okay, procrastinating. I sit at my computer, search for recipes to use up the huge zucchini my neighbour gave me. Read an article on Internet Addictions and get lost in cyber-searching for 'related articles'. Did you know that food metaphors abound in our discourse about information? Water metaphors run rampant. We say that we 'wade through the information', 'swim in it', 'drown in it' and 'surf its channels'. We speak of 'oceans', 'rivers'.... ooops. I digress. Back on track, Spider Solitaire chews up a bit of time, as does letting Ellie and then Mollie in and out of the backyard. Suddenly, the open window of space and opportunity to write closes as time evaporates into meaningless tasks, and I have to move on with my day.

Doesn't do much for getting the first draft finished. Does a heck of a lot for increasing my anxiety level, and my sense of disappointment in myself! -- I know I'm not living my Be. Do. Have -- Be committed to Do what it takes to Have what I want.

I think about why and realize, that's another form of procrastination. It's not about why I'm not writing. It's about the fact that I'm not doing what it takes to get it written. Success comes in the Doing, not the whying.

It's just like the weight I want to lose. That thirty pounds and I are still best friends, still having a close and committed relationship. Why I'm not doing what it takes to have them gone is not the issue. The fact is, I need to Do, not chew over the why keeping me stuck in regurgitating my unease with carrying around my excess baggage.

Focussing on the why lets me off the hook of accountability. There are 5,301 reasons why I don't keep my commitments to myself. And out of that 5,301 -- there's only one truth. Because I choose not to.

And as I write, I remember the idea I had last night. The commitment I decided I'd start with today as an opportunity to do something different.

Six months ago I made a commitment to write on this blog every single day. I'm keeping it.

I need to enhance that commitment. Yesterday, two people wrote and mentioned that while my blog was good story-telling, it was a tad long. Yup. They're right.

Now, length is not the determining factor when I write in this space. I figure it takes as long as it takes. Because I have one hour every morning that I've committed to being present here, I don't spend a lot of time editing down -- which is always the hard part for me -- hence why I write long. Gives me more words to cut away when, as, if I have the time -- at least that's my excuse for not doing something I need to do to have what I want -- writing that inspires and doesn't tire out your eyes!

Good writing and long writing are not synonymous. Sparseness. Clean. Concise. Those too are attributes of good writing. Writing that sparks the imagination, asks provocative questions -- doesn't need length -- it needs powerful ideas written with clarity. So, my commitment -- for this week, is to write on here with a maximum of 650 words a day.

I'm going to borrow an idea from a cyber-acquaintance, Alex Fayle at Someday Syndrome and pose a question at the end that relates to the subject matter of my blog and leave the thinking up to you.

The question is: Where are you keeping yourself stuck in whying, rather than doing?

And PS -- feedback is welcome. I'd love to hear where you've excelled at Be. Do. Have. and/or where you're missing out because you're caught in the circular game of figuring out the Why.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Family Secrets

We celebrated my mother's 85th birthday yesterday. I joined my two sisters, my two daughters, my eldest sister's husband and family friends at what in medieval times would definitely have been called a 'groaning table'. Beneath the weight of trying to appeal to the tastes and traditions of everyone seated around the table, my eldest sister put together an amazing repast that left us all groaning when we finally pushed back our chairs and capitulated with a resounding, 'enough'.

If there had been a wheelchair present, I probably would have used it to roll my way out the door. I did think about throwing my body to the ground and using the slight downhill slant of my sister's front yard to propel me to my car, but instead, waddled down the steps, and maneuvered my way into the vehicle without too much discomfort -- though I did have to push my seat back a bit so my bulging stomach didn't hit against the steering wheel -- just kidding!

I am the final note in a quartet of children born after WW2. Quintessential baby-boomers, my siblings and I entered this world before the 50s gave way to the rock n' roll era of the 60s. Music defined our lives. My father had an enormous record collection -- over 2,000 LPs. We all loved music.

My sisters and I were forced to study accordion (my deepest darkest secret). I hated it. Loved the piano but, could never overcome my father's insistence I capitulate to his will. His favourite response to my entreaties to drop the accordion was, "You can't take a piano to a party." I'd reply that I wouldn't be caught dead taking my accordion to a party, but it didn't matter. I still had to play at home when guests would frequently gather and refrains of 'let us entertain you' were served up with after-dinner libations.

Which is why I need to apologize to my eldest daughter this morning, once again. In the enthusiasm of the moment, I forget my own experience. Whenever we gather around a table, the past comes whipping out from somewhere behind me in its strident voice that calls out to Alexis, "Honey, are you going to sing for your Nana?"

Given her physical resemblance to me, her facial expression is probably a mirror of mine when long ago, my father would insist I lug my accordion into the middle of the living room floor and entertain the guests. If there's any saving grace, my daughter is a gifted singer, loves to sing, and loves her Nana enough that she graciously capitulates with a couple of tunes and nary a hissed, "Mother!"

Like my sisters and me, my brother also loved music. He attempted to play almost every instrument, none of them well I might add, and in the end, his tone deaf ears relegated him to spinning vinyl platters where soppy lyrics were interspersed with the dobopdidoops and dowahwahs of an era marked by man's first steps on the moon, and the fear of The Bay of Pigs decimating our world with more than just the good fat, bad fat debates prevalent today.

My brother loved the music of the 60s. Knew every word to every song. The artists, their pedigree, their stories. He often complained about the jarring turbulence of acid rock blaring its cacophony of discordant notes underpinning harsh and violent lyrics that made no sense to his poetic soul. He sure did love his unrequited loves of lyrical fame, though. Sadly, life imitated art when, like the tragic heroes of one of my brother's favourite songs, he and his wife died in a car accident ten years ago, a year and a half after my father passed away of a massive heart attack.

For my mother, the loss of her husband at 73 was a grief she was just starting to come to grips with when the call came of the fatal accident that tore apart her heart and broke her life to pieces. The loss of her only son has been a devastating blow. A wound that will not heal. A rumbling discord jarring the melancholy passing of her days.

My mother is a very sweet woman. Kind, caring, she can never do enough for someone, can never give enough, never be enough to make someone else feel better. She likes to give and has difficulty receiving. Receiving means taking. My mother doesn't believe in taking anything from anyone.

In the story of our lives, my mother and I have seldom been on the same page of living. My rebellious nature, inquisitive mind and insistence that I do it for myself have always disrupted her peace of mind, rankling the edges of her fear she is not a good enough mother. It's left the both of us at opposite ends of the family dynamic.

I've often felt outside my family. Not because they put me there -- Mostly, it's my nature. The curious blend of wonder and analytical spirit that places me as a scientific voyeur looking in watching the weird and wacky antics of a zoology project that I can't make sense of. -- Not saying my family's weird. Okay, I am. We're weird. Like most families, we've got our moments. Some Richter scale worthy. Most, just the normal ebb and flow of blood relations joined in a chromosomal dance of life eternal, bumping into the nuances of individual DNA strands trying to unravel what makes sense within their own little corner of the familial map.

Don't get me wrong. I love my family. They've been the ballast in my life. The place cards marking where I belong at the table. Family gives me a sense of wonder at the power of blood to determine where I flow in life. They've also helped me make sense of who I am and why I am the way I am!

Yesterday, I picked up my middle sister from the airport and we went out to lunch with my youngest daughter, Liseanne. Anne has always been my closest sibling. We're 2 and a half years apart in age. We were always eachother's comfort when the inevitable chords of disharmony rumbled through our parental unit.

We share history. We're miles apart in disposition.

Where Anne is a gentle spirit, I can be feisty. Where she is timid, I will be fearless. Anne is an open book. Her sweet and caring nature an exact reflection of her heart. Me, I'm more closed. More apt to play it close, and never reveal when words pierce my defences. In years gone by, it was Anne who would call in the middle of the night crying about love gone wrong, of broken hearts and tedious boyfriends. I never phoned. I never admitted to love gone wrong. I never told anyone my troubles.

So it was quite a surprise when she told me something I hadn't known from long ago. It involved a man I'd married when I was in my early twenties, not because I wanted to, but rather, because our families thought we should. Their insistence they knew what was best for us, and my fear of their response had I disagreed, led me to the altar where I made a vow that lasted all of a year. Wasn't that he was an awful man. He was quite lovely. It was that I didn't know who I was and I knew I'd never find myself beneath the blanket of someone else's love keeping me safe. It sounds trite, but I knew I had to unravel the discord I felt gyrating at my centre, before I could love another. I didn't want to lose what little I knew about me amidst the throes of happily ever after and so, I left.

Ah! The things we don't know.

When my sister told me what had happened, I was left feeling like I was part of a soap opera. One of those Hollywood zipcode episodes where suddenly you discover the protagonist's mother's brother is actually his father's sister dressed up in drag as Auntie Mame.

Not that what happened makes any difference to my life today, but it sure does explain why my mother always said how she wished Anne would marry Peter. "He was such a nice man. Pity you let him get away, Louise."

It also helps explain why my mother and I view life from different sides of the family photo album. I see faces disappear and know the love they brought into the picture will never vanish. For my mother, faces disappearing mark the passing of what could have been, what should have been, what was and will never be again.

Ten years ago, shortly after my father's heart gave out, my brother's face disappeared from view. His love lives on. Yesterday, we celebrated my mother's 85th birthday and marked her love that can never die. Her children, and her children's children and their children will carry it with them forever and a day.

Yesterday, my sister told me a secret that was, as secrets often do, making her sick. At the time, she'd not wanted to tell me the truth because she was afraid of what I might do or say, should I ever find out. Now she knows. At first I was shocked. Then I laughed.

Secrets make us sick. They weaken the bond of trust that family represents. They speak of our fear and separate us from the love that joins us beyond the DNA of our birth. Holding onto the truth for fear it might hurt another, keeps us living a lie.

Once upon a time, I thought I loved a man. I knew I didn't love him enough to marry him. But I did it anyway. I never told anyone my secret and thus, hurt another human being because of my immaturity and my fear.

His life became entangled in my family's and he was hurt again -- not because of who he is, but because I never told the truth in the first place.

My sister did nothing wrong. But, in her fear of not telling me at the time, she let go of something that might have been all that she had imagined and held back in our relationship the truth that would have let us converse in honesty. As time passed, both our lives took different courses leading us to where we are happy with our lives today.

We do not know where life will lead us, but with that first secret, I set in motion the keeping of secrets I could not have imagined.

Families are bond together through love. We cannot break the bond. We can try to tear it apart. Shred it. Walk away from it. But, no matter what we do, the circle of love into which we are born can never be broken. No matter what we do.

The secret to being a family is not in the secrets we don't tell, it's in the truths we're willing to share when we trust each other enough to know, there's nothing we can do that will ever stop the love of a family.

I'm blessed. I know my family will always love me, even when I don't love myself enough to tell them the truth. And I will always love them, even when they don't tell me the truth.

In love with my family, my life and me. Have a wonder filled day.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


I was going to write about wasps this morning. You know, those irritating, annoying, frightening little beings that buzz around whenever you sit out on your patio to enjoy an evening meal with friends.

I hate wasps. Used to be allergic to them and now I'm just terrified. Makes for a rather uncomfortable dinner when I sit frozen in place, swatting my serviette through the air like a scarecrow flapping lifeless arms in a cornfield.

Rather stupid behaviour around wasps. Flapping your serviette at them. Just makes them angrier.

But, it's okay. I'm not going to write about wasps and my ridiculous behaviour last night. I didn't get stung anyway.

This morning I want to write about travelling. Through life. Into life. Into our human experience.

I started my morning like I generally do. Coffee. Read the newspaper. Start writing. Sometimes, I reverse the newspaper/writing process. This morning, I'm glad I didn't.

On page A27 of the Calgary Herald today, there is an Op.Ed. by Richard Wagamese entitled, Travelling the journey to self. For those who don't have access to the Herald, I'm hoping this link works --

Mr. Wagamese's words made me cry. His words tugged at my heart. They pulled at my conscience. They ripped apart the veils of disbelief fogging up my rose coloured glasses. You know, those glasses I wear that suggest I'm open to all kinds of humanity, as long as they don't disturb my peace of mind. Those glasses that want to believe there's a new day rising out there, where no one has to carry labels, or the shame of being considered less than, other than or different than anyone else in this land they call home. The glasses that keep me stuck in denial.

Natives, aboriginals, first nation citizens, I'm not sure of the politically correct term to call them today, a fact which, Mr. Wagamese suggests, is a contributor affecting the journey into self. The very fact I search for a label keeps me stuck. It limits my movement away from what is wrong with my thinking. Inhibits my journey into acceptance. It keeps me over on this side living amongst us and them over there on that side where them should live. Us and them. The history of a nation divided.

Mr. Wagamese's experience is different than mine. His journey labelled by the words other people, namely white folk, have burdened him with as he struggled to understand, Who am I? when I'm not living the label someone else has foisted upon me in a land my ancestors walked long before the white man strode into the picture of my life unfolding.

I'm a first generation Canadian. My father was born in London, England to an Irish father and a Spanish/English/Irish mother. My mother was born in a French colony in India. Her mother was Portuguese with a sprinkling of what my auntie's call, 'mixed blood'. Her father was India born English spiced up with French.

I haven't always lived on this land. For a long time, my family's wandering footsteps took me far away to foreign soils where I struggled to find myself and ended up never fitting in. Sometimes, still, I don't know where I fit as a Canadian. Sometimes, still, I wonder, Who am I? A woman. A mother. A daughter. A sister. An aunt. Sometimes, I've lost my way and forgotten who I am as those who said they knew better gave me labels to carry so that I would never lose my place. Other people's labels never fit well for me. Other people's labels never fit anyone.

Mr. Wagamese's article brought tears to my eyes. The tears of one spirit recognizing another regardless of the colour of our skin, the label we carry, or the past we've journeyed through. The tears of sadness knowing that we do those things. We call other human beings those names. We destroy spirit every day when we fling our words like cheap dollar store frisbees, expecting those who are not like 'us' to catch the drift without anything to hang onto other than the shame of being different, of not being 'one of us'. We tell them they should rise above our insults, knowing they can't as we push them into the grimy dirt of our history dragging them down.

My skin is lighter than Mr. Wagamese. My experience different. My roots in the soils of this land no where near as deep. But his words touched me. Called to me. Reached inside me and tugged at my heart. They gently pulled back the veil of sleep blinding me to the beauty of this morning awakening into truth.

His life, my life, come from being called many things. His truth, my truth, resonates in the lands upon which we walk together, apart and alone. His words of truth awaken the human spirit and set us all free from living labels that fit uncomfortably as we struggle to wrap ourselves up with grace, ease and dignity into the weave of humanity into which we are all born.

In truth, I am not bound by the footsteps of my ancestors. Their journey away from self has freed me to chart my own journey back home, into self, into that place where I too can wear my acceptance of who I am, who I was, and who I can be like a beautiful rainbow coloured cloak floating around me in the mists rising up from the water's edge.

I was going to write about wasps this morning. Instead. I awoke to the wonder of another day where all beings, all creatures create value in the wondrous weave of living life exactly the way it's meant to be. In freedom.

May we all travel through this day seeing the beautiful reflection of our humanity awakening to the wonder of life free of the labels we carry that define our journey as anything other than magnificent. May we all let go of labelling others while attempting to hold them to a path we'd never want to travel with them.

May your day be filled with love, peace and harmony.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Free to be in love

There was a horrendous fire in Calgary this week. Three homes burned to the ground. Three families rootless, their life possessions gone up in smoke. One of the women interviewed in the newspaper said, "It's just a house. The memories you can't replace, but everything else you can."

When Conrad, the man who promised to love me 'til death do us part and took my death part way too seriously, was arrested on May 21, 2003, I looked around at the devastation around me and was stunned by what I saw. I had no home. No belongings. No savings. No job. No car. My daughters were 1,000 miles away, living with their father. For those final 3 months, they hadn't known where I was. If I was alive or dead. And then the police phoned and told them their worst fear had not come true. I'd been found. Alive.

In those first days of freedom, I wasn't too ecstatic about being alive, but.... it was better than the prospects had he not been arrested. It didn't take long, however, for me to be grateful for the miracle of my life. Without the overpowering presence of his disorderly conduct breathing down my neck, clouding my every thought, I quickly realized the benefits of breathing freely and easily.

Without the burden of possessions, my decisions were pretty simple. Get a job. Start saving. Start re-building. Start doing whatever it took to heal. Start doing whatever it took to help my daughters heal.

There was no sense in looking back. I couldn't change one iota of the journey to that moment of his arrest. I could change what I did. How I did it. How I healed. I could change what I created in my life moving forward. Love and harmony. Or Anger and discord. The choice was mine.

I was blessed. My sister and her husband had come to my aid. I had a safe place to catch my breath, regain my sense of direction and heal. I knew that given time, my daughters, while angry, hurt, confused about what had happened to their mother and fearful that something else might happen if Conrad appeared on the scene, would heal. They knew I was alive. They knew where I was. I knew we could reconnect in love because love was the cement, the foundation, the bond that had supported us throughout our lives together. We needed time. We needed truth. We needed courage. -- We had all three. (And, I still had Ellie, my faithful Golden Retriever who had journeyed through that hell beside me.)

At 15 and 16 it was terrifying to my daughters to realize all that they'd had was gone. It was sad.

And yet, we survived. We reclaimed our lives and are living today, in love with our lives together. Alexis just graduated from college and along with Liseanne who is entering her second year at college, they are exploring the paths that will lead them into the future without fear that the past will repeat itself.

Losing everything is hard. It hurts. It's got its moments no matter how far I move forward from the past. Those times when, while serving dinner or setting the table, I'll reach for a dish and realize, I don't have it anymore. Or, I'll be walking through a store and see a dish or crystal glass and remember, ' I used to have those dishes'. And I'll fell a little ping of regret. A fissure of anxiety connected to that time, that man, that horror. When I do, I shake my head, take a breath and remind myself --That was then. This is now. Can't change the past. I can create a better future by living fearlessly and passionately right now.

About two years after the debacle ended, Liseanne had to write an essay for her Grade 11 English class. She picked a story about a woman and her mother's blue bowl. The story was about memories. The author had broken her deceased mother's favourite blue bowl and went on to tell the story of that bowl, and how, even though the bowl was broken, she still had the memories of her mother to cherish.

In Liseanne's essay, she wrote about how she related to the author's story because she had lost everything. All her cherished items disappeared from her life with only a few things left to remind her of her childhood, and her past. And yet, she wrote, they were only things. The value wasn't in the things, she said. It was in the memories and the love she carried with her always. No one can take my memories from me, she wrote. No one can take away love.

Some things in life are precious beyond words. Liseanne's story was a reflection of her beautiful spirit, her forgiving heart and her awesome ability to rise above the turmoil of the past and step graciously into the one thing that could heal her. Love.

Once upon a time I got lost on the road of life and fell into the hell of loving a man who was untrue. Through most of that relationship, I wanted to die. Thought about it constantly. Plotted it frequently. I could never take my own life however, because I held onto one thing. Love. I love my daughters and could not make a lie of that truth.

Since getting my life back, my daughters and I have worked hard to rebuild our lives. I've been blessed with their forgiveness and their love and, I've been blessed with the love of family and friends who opened their arms and embraced me in all my woundedness, and loved me back to good health when I couldn't love myself enough to care.

We accumulate a lot of things in life. Lose lots too. It's only stuff. While losing everything was a hard road to take to get to where I am today, right here is where I want to be. In love with myself and my world around me. Free to make choices that support me, honour me, love me. Free to be all that I am meant to be when I let go of the fear of never being enough for someone else to love me.

I am, we are, always enough. Just the way we are.

In love with all of me, beauty and the beast, I am free to fly free of the past as I journey into today unencumbered with regret, anger, and angst that what could have been never will be and never should have been in the first place!

What could have been is nothing compared to what is when I step courageously into myself and embrace the wonder, the joy and the love of my life today.

We come into this world in love. It's all we can carry with us when we leave. It's all we can leave behind. May you journey into your day free of regret, knowing you carry with you the most precious gift of all. You are the love you seek when you step into yourself and embrace all you are in love.

Have an awesome day.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Life parallels art

Have you ever noticed how suddenly it's Thursday and you can't remember where the week has gone?

This past week has been a blur of media asking for interviews regarding homelessness and the coming winter and working on a present for my mother's 85th birthday on August 30.

I naturally decided to try out a new painting technique using collage for my mother's gift. Cool technique. Long process. And, I'm not quite sure what I'm doing. I'm working on two pieces simultaneously. One my 'test case', the other -- hopefully -- the real one.

Life parallels art and sometimes, the lines become blurred.

The technique I'm using requires finding images I like -- photos, pics from mags, etc. -- photocopying them and then brushing them with an acrylic medium, letting them dry, reapplying gel and then affixing them to the canvas I've prepared. Colour can be added to the images once they've dried and the paper back of the laser photocopy has been removed. (which takes a lot of delicate rubbing to ensure every paper fibre is cleaned off.) There's some magic process that takes over with the photocopying that releases the laser ink image onto the prepared canvas through the acrylic medium the picture's been brushed with.

Sounds simple. Not so easy. I only have fuzzy directions a girlfriend gave me, a few online directions that do not use the same technique, and a 'vision' of what the finished product should look like. The drying process for each element takes about 24 hours and the finished art is not turning out quite the way I imagined.

So, midway through the creation, I realized I'd best have Plan B ready if I'm going to have the gift finished in time for my mother's birthday.

Like life. Start out with Plan A only to realize it's not working out quite like you expected or it's not taking you in the direction you want. The choice becomes to either stick it out and force the process into the anticipated outcome, (with all its ensuing frustration, irritation and disappointment when you still don't get what you wanted) or to step back, reassess and look for Plan B. It might only be a vague idea of what to do if, as and when a detour is required, but Plan B always brings unanticipated gifts. Remember? Expect the unexpected and you'll always be surprised!

My Plan B entailed coming home last night and suggesting to my daughter that we take a trip to the mall (we needed dog food anyway) and look at other ideas on what we could do to create a shadow box that celebrates my mother's life. She happily agreed and off we went to spend a wonderful hour browsing through the aisles of our favourite craft store, picking out borders and wallpaper, flowers and trimmings that will enhance the visual elements of the pictures we'll mount in the box we bought. When we were finished, we stopped off at an eatery and spent a wonderful hour enjoying some unscheduled time together to get caught up, to laugh and to share.

As we were finishing dinner, I noticed a couple looking vainly for a table. We had been given a largish table with two empty spaces on the other side. I called out and told them we were leaving shortly, they were welcome to sit on the other side of our table. The woman quickly accepted -- though Alexis and I laughed as the man hesitated, and eventually sat down without smiling. The woman chatted comfortably. "Oh my," she said. "Mother. Daughter. I've never seen such a resemblance." Alexis and I laughed -- we get it all the time where ever we go. People stare because we look so much alike. We chatted briefly, finished our glass of wine, paid our bill and left. The man had not said a word.

Walking to the car Alexis said, "Bet I know what colour he is! Green. And she's definitely an orange."

I laughed and agreed.

Plan B's also come with lots of colour. Just like people.

There was a time when someone as stern and forbidding as the man at our table would have made me uncomfortable. Now, we could be wrong in his colour determination -- but it sure helps knowing that some people are just naturally that way. Doesn't mean they're angry, sour, or even indisposed. Simply means they're being who they are.

Being who I am is so much easier when I relax into my skin, let out the elastic band holding my mind in place and let my colours flow.

I've had a busy week. Been on task, focused, 'on' with the media every day. I was tired last night. Frustrated by a couple of events during the day. My mind was busy, busy working through a couple of situations. Plan A was to come home and work on my collage. At the back of my Plan A fixated mind, however, was the realization that the outcome was not appearing as beautifully as my imagination intended it to. I needed a new plan.

As my Aunt Marie Therese would say, What to do? What to do?

Let go.

I opted out of keeping myself in tight control where my focus on completing Plan A prevented me from seeing there was an alternative. In the letting go I got to enjoy an evening with my daughter. We came home and worked on our shadow box and fell into the love of doing something creative together.

Plan B may not have been my original destination, but whatever the outcome of the shadow box (which we love! btw), the time spent shopping and eating, chatting and creating together was priceless.

The value of Plan B is far greater than the fixed determination of finishing the collage for the sake of -- I started it. It was what I planned. I have to finish it. The value of Plan B is found in the time shared, the memories laid down on the back of a shadow box, and the memories created as Alexis and I did what we love to do -- together. Spend time enjoying eachother's company surrounded by creation. And in the end, we have a gift that is a reflection of all of us -- Liseanne, her sister, came home midway through our 'shadow boxing' and added her creative elements too.

Sometimes, I need the reminder that outcomes are not the journey. Doing it, sharing it, loving it is.

May your day be filled with with the inspiration of the unexpected popping up and opening doorways into new possibilities, new horizons and lots of time shared with those you love.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Everyone deserves a place to call home

Don't have a lot of time this morning. I have to pick up 'Darren', a client at the shelter where I work, and take him to City TV for 7:30. They're doing a piece on attitudes towards homelessness, and invited us to join in the conversation. The question they've posed for today is, "Should you give spare change to a panhandler."

It's a good question. One I always answer with, "It's a personal choice."

For the tourist in Toronto last week, not giving, was deadly.

The question I wonder is, what words were exchanged? Not justifying the four men's actions who beat him to death. That is awful. Atrocious. Deadly. They need to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Everyone has the right to say no to a panhandler. The question is -- do panhandlers have the right to ask for spare change?

Charities use panhandlers to raise money. What about the homeless? One is fundraising. The other begging. What's the difference?

Yesterday, while being interviewed by CTV in front of the shelter, a native woman approached and said, "You need to do something for the natives. You need to do more to include our heritage."

I agree. It is important we be inclusive. We are a non-sectarian organization. We do not single-out any race, creed, faith, colour. I think that when we do something that identifies and separates one group, it is a form of racism. I believe we need to do more that celebrates all the nationalities, creeds, races, faiths, colours, shapes and sizes of people who come to the shelter. I believe we need to celebrate all life.

And that's the challenge of being homeless.

Celebration of life is not part of an equation when the equalizer is poverty, drug addiction, mental disabilities and disorders such as depression, suicide ideation.

Survival is the first instinct on the street. Fear is the common denominator and anger is the catalyst that comes out with the knife, the gun, the fist that changes lives forever.

It doesn't matter what colour our skin, what God we believe in, what language we speak. Life on the street is a constant struggle. There's a lot of 'carrying on' and a lot of denial -- both by those who live the life and those who criticize the life and those who support the life. It's not easy to be homeless.

A panhandler approaches and ask for change. We have the right to give. We have the right to say no. We have the right to walk away.

Where right and wrong become ensnared is in our belief it is our right to judge someone for the state of their being. I haven't yet met a client at the drop-in who dreamed of being homeless one day. I haven't met anyone who said, "This is such a good idea."

I've met a lot of people with forgotten dreams, lost horizons, lost pasts, lost families. People for whom life doesn't make sense, and who don't believe life is what it was cracked out to be before the crack took over their humanity.

Homelessness doesn't happen to 'them'. Homelessness is something they fell into when the bottom fell out of their lives. When they ran from an abusive partner, or made one bad decision after another, or didn't have the life skills to cope with crushing poverty they were born into, or didn't understand what can happen when the place you called home is turned into a condominium and you don't have any financial resources to fall back on.

Regardless of what drove someone into homelessness. The state of homelessness effects all of us. That man on the corner, struggling to put a step in front of the other. He's someone's son. That woman selling her body so she can pay the rent. She's someone's mother. Their families are in distress. They've lost a vital member of the circle of love into which each and everyone of us is born.

I don't give to panhandlers. Haven't done it for a lot of years. I believe panhandling, like being homeless, robs us of spirit. It strips us of dignity. It leaves our souls exposed to the elements, forcing us to retreat from the harsh winds of condemnation billowing about us every time we put out our hand and ask someone for spare change.

Panhandling is a symptom of something wrong in someone's life. The cure? It's more than shelter. More than just a meal. It's the things we do that say, you make a difference. It's the things we do that say, I make a difference. In my own life. In the lives of those I love. In my community. In my world.

Homelessness is a symptom of distress in our society. When we focus on celebrating every life as if it means something to each of us, we stand a better chance of getting someone off the street they call home, back to the families where they belong. When we celebrate our talents, our joy, our beauty, we share that which is good and beautiful in our world. And when we share our beauty, we make a difference to the lives of everyone we meet.

For today, share your beauty with love, joy and laughter. Be the light you want to create and dance to your heart's content. You just might touch a heart, open a mind and inspire a spirit to take flight and be free.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Eating humble pie on the back of my high horse.

I have this high horse. She gallops in to 'rescue' me when I'm feeling threatened or overwhelmed or simply too scared to look reality in the face. Sometimes, she's too quick off the mark and I set off on the Road of Indignation and Righteousness. With nary a thought to the possibilities of misconception and reality trailing behind in the dust of our speedy departure, we ride off into the sunset of hubris falling.

Since coming out of the hell of a relationship that almost killed me, I am wary of dating. In fact, it took me almost four years before I went out on my first real date. The man was very nice. Kind, considerate, funny, but he had his own issues to deal with and I violated one of my principles: When I make a commitment I violate my own sense of self-worth when I break it.

In disregarding a commitment I'd made, I also cross a boundary that I believe is important for anyone coming out of a relationship. I know the value of time to heal. In the throes of breakup turmoil, it is often human nature to divert our attention from our pain by seeking outside stimulation. I know this. I've done it enough in my past to know how the band aid feels soothing, but underneath the issues remain unhealed. Wounds need air to heal. Covering them up with someone else's touch is not advisable. In the case of the man I dated, he was not yet a year out of the relationship -- I had no right to date him.

Recently, I dated a man who was extremely interesting. Witty. Awesome writer. Curious. Thoughtful. Appeared to have a deep appreciation of life and living and all its nuances. I was intrigued but quickly became cautious when his enthusiasm for getting to know me overrode my wishes to take it slowly.

Now, I have good cause for being suspicious of someone who comes on strong, pushing their way through my boundaries, insisting on the rightness of their attentions as the reason why I need to step closer. If he also insists it's my fear causing me to miss out on a golden opportunity, I back off, fast. No one has the right to tell me what I'm feeling. And no one has the right to tell me that my feelings are 'wrong'.

It was Conrad's way. He stormed into my life, the bearer of gifts and adulation. False compliments dripped from his tongue and flowery assertions that I was spectacular lit up my life like fireworks on Canada Day. My fears made me naive. My wish to take it slow made me a target.

I know in my cognizant mind that not everyone who turns up the charm is a psychopath. I know that some people are just overly zealous, or rather, are enthusiastic in whatever they do. The past is not the future unless I look through the lens of today with my sights set on what happened then as an explanation of what is happening now.

I also, however, recognize that for me, the triggers in those situations can overwhelm my senses. I need time and space to sort through my feelings and thoughts. To make sense of what is happening now so that it doesn't get messed up in what happened then. My response has nothing to do with the other person and everything to do with what I need to do to feel safe.

I'm comfortable in my skin. Comfortable with my need to take it slow. Take it easy when getting to know someone new. If the other person doesn't feel the same way, I'm okay in saying adieu. Not my job to force my needs on someone else. Not my right to tell someone they're wrong in their approach -- it is my right to take care of me. Whether it's fear or self-preservation, or simply a need to be real, in the moment, doesn't matter. My right is to take care of me.

Unfortunately, my triggers can also lead me to jump to conclusions, to make whatever the other person is doing 'all about me'.

And that's what I just did with the man who I recently dated. Doesn't change my decision to not date him. I believe that is the right one for me to have made. What it does do is give me a chance to dine on a delectable treat of humble pie, savouring life's lessons with every nutritious bite.

I'm smiling as I write this. Sometimes, I think I'm the funniest person I know. My imagination gets fertilized like a dandelion flower being pollinated by an eager little bumblebee busily buzzing from flower to flower. Ideas leap into formation, eager to spread out on the winds of change, new ideas, new thoughts, new directions. Heady stuff this dandelion thinking. All puffed up, ready to let loose, the thoughts fly around my head, sometimes blocking my sight from reality. Searching for hidden nuances, I forget to be 'in the moment real' until I suddenly awaken to the reality that , oops, I was blowing around on my own hot air! Funny creature me.

A trait I've discovered post-Conrad is I can take umbrage where none was intended. Oops! Okay, so it's not just post-C, it's been a trait most of my life! Post-C, however, I am very cautious of anyone who 'comes on too strong' for my sensibilities, I look for the ulterior motive. In the case of this man, I took something he wrote shortly after we agreed to no longer date as being about me. Wrong. It was about a dear friend of his whom he'd just discovered was dying of cancer. Happens to be, her initials are, BS -- I took that reference to mean he was calling me on my stuff and read into the entire situation his telling me, in a not so subtle way, that I was full of it. My tunnel vision trapped me into reading between the lines so that I could find something that wasn't there.

Ahhh, the delectable aroma of humble pie tickles my nose and awakens my fancy. I made a mistake. Not life-threatening. Not soul-destroying. But I did jump to conclusions and did act rashly -- and that's where much of the learning comes from. In my anger, I took a breath and chose to let go without targeting him with my wrath. I didn't lash out in retaliation. I did indulge in less-than thinking of him.

And that's where I need to wake up and be accountable. When I presume someone else is acting out of childish churlishness, I am making assumptions that have nothing to do with their reality -- everything to do with mine.

In the end, my decision to not be involved in a business opportunity with him is still okay. But, I need to look at my culpability in assuming who he was based on my faulty reading of the situation.

All of this came clear yesterday when he called to ask me about my involvement in his business venture. I had sent him an email telling him of my decision to not be involved -- which he never got. He read about it somewhere else (okay here) and phoned me yesterday for clarification. In telling him about the BS, he mentioned his friend. I went back, read what he wrote and realized -- I'd got the message all wrong.

Communication can be such a tricky thing when filtered through the screen of my self-centered righteousness!

The lesson. It's not all about me! Doesn't have to be.

And that's where I came down from my high horse, got in the moment real and apologized for my assumptions that he was being anything other than who he is -- an awesome human being on the journey of his lifetime, just like me.

Fortunately, humble pie is good for me. It balances out my ego with a healthy dose of reality. It clears up fuzzy thinking, re-wires my faulty perceptions and breathes fresh air into the space between reality and the dandelion puffs blocking my vision of who I am meant to be when I let go of my need to be anything other than my very best self.

I learned a lot yesterday. About me. About my human condition and about my awesome ability to make mistakes -- even when I think I'm oh so right!

Life is all in our perceptions. What we make of them is what makes the difference between living real, and living high on a horse galloping off into the sunset of misconceptions.

Today, I'm dismounting. Dusting off my chaps and picking up the reins of stepping lightly through my day in the light of truth, dignity, honesty and trust. I'm getting real with being real. I'm letting go of what was so I can leap into the possibilities of what is when I stay centered in my light of knowing, I'm okay, in all kinds of weather, as long as I let go of magical thinking that whatever happens, it's all about me.