Saturday, November 29, 2008

Will you dance with me?

Dancing is like dreaming with your feet! Constanze
Saturday morning. The house is quiet. Ellie sleeps on 'her' bed. Since moving into this house she has taken over the guest room. I know I shouldn't let her -- but..... she's so sweet! She touches my heart so! I watch her sleeping. Sprawled across the bed, her body rising and falling gently with each breath and I don't have the heart to tell her to get off and sleep on her own bed on the floor.

Call me pushover! (But I don't care :)! )

It was a busy week. As Christmas approaches the shelter where I work becomes busy with the seasonality of welcome hands coming in to help out, and outstretched hands looking for a pair of socks, a bit of food, a hand up, a gentle touch.

It is the season.

Outside my office window, what little snow fell in early November has edged its way towards the sidewalk. Scant evidence remains of winters wonderland. Trees are bare. The blood red berries of a mountain ash stand out in stark relief amidst the evergreens and naked willows. A squirrel hops across the lawn in search of winter fodder.

All is well in my world.

Yesterday, we paid our last respects to Les, the artist of whom I wrote in early November. He was a man who lived and died, torn by the conflict of two worlds. White man and native. He struggled to find where he fit. He was struggling to stand tall. To step away from the debris of his past and claim the beauty of his life free of the anger, abuse and addictions that brought him down.

Yesterday, we laid him to rest. His body was interred beneath the soils of a city far from his home. He has found his final place to belong.

May his spirit journey freely to the world beyond. May his memory live on in the hearts of those he leaves behind.

In this world, he has left behind friends who loved him. Sons who do not yet know he has left this earthly plain. Family who have lost him forever. He left behind his memories. Some good. Some bad. He was a man of kind and caring ways. Laughter. Courage. In his desire to be 'a role model' he has taught us all how to live with dignity, no matter the circumstances of the world around us.

The ceremony was a gentle reminder to all of us to live this one wild and precious life as if today were our last. To celebrate each breath. To exalt in each moment. To fill every word and thought and gesture with love, peace and harmony. To create the life of our dreams in every stroke we paint upon the canvas of our lives.

The sky is blue today. Crystal clear. No tears from the angels. No thunderbolts from the gods.

The sky is clear. I am free to laugh, to cry, to smile. To sing and leap for joy. I am free to dance.

The question is: Will you dance today? Will you sing out loud? Leap for joy and live this one wild and precious life for all you're worth?

Friday, November 28, 2008

I Take The Vow

This morning when I opened my email I had a message about Deepak Chopra's latest initiative, Alliance for a New Humanity and an invitation to " take the vow." I clicked on the link, read the brief message, listened to the audio and felt tears welling up in my eyes. I felt my heart soften and fill up. I felt peace descend upon me.

Ahh, I thought. This is what I was looking for. This is what I need. What the world needs.

I can join this movement. I can do my part. It is simple and easy. It is a heartfelt vow to peace in my thoughts, my speech and actions. To be a vessel of love. To be the change I want to create in the world.

I invite you to take the vow. Visit "I take the vow" and in just a few minutes, find out how you too can be part of creating a new humanity.

In our busy being here-gettin' there world, it is easy to forget the power of our thoughts to change our world, to affect our day, to create our reality. It is easy to let go of our power to live the life of our dreams, to create the world of difference we desire.

In taking a simple vow, the possibility of change awakens within us. The possibility of creating a new humanity, of creating peace for all mankind awakens.

Last night I went to a town hall meeting held by a member of the Alberta legislature. He had invited a friend, a fellow doctor, to come up and speak about his experience of immigrating from Brazil to Canada. The man spoke of coming to this country in 1993 because he wanted to get out from beneath a totalitarian state. He wanted to experience freedom. When he first came to Canada, he believed he had found what he was looking for. Family circumstances drew him back to Brazil, but not forever. He returned here in 2005.

The changes he said were profound. "I could not believe how much freedom had been lost."

Where once the health care system in Alberta was governed by separate and distinct health regions, it is now one 'super board'. "No one dares to speak out against the system," he said. "They are too scared of losing their jobs."

It is, he commented, like living in Brazil.

Later his wife stood up to speak. Like her husband, she is a doctor, but because she only came to Canada in 2005, she cannot yet practise her healing arts here. "They asked me if I had a profession when I applied to immigrate. They didn't tell me I wouldn't be able to work in my profession when I arrived."

She gave an emotional plea for freedom. Thought-provoking. Stirring. "I didn't know there was even a word 'freedom' until I left Brazil" she told us. "I grew up under military rule. My teachers were all military officers. They controlled our thoughts, what we read, what we did, where we went. They controlled our speech."
We seek peace, knowing that peace is the climate of freedom. Dwight D. Eisenhower

A song I remember from my youthful days as a member of "Up With People!" began, "Freedom isn't free. You gotta pay the price, you gotta sacrifice, for your liberty."

What price freedom?

For me to be free, you must be free too. You must have the same freedom to share your thoughts, your ideas, your truth without fear of retribution. Without fear of being shunned, shamed or silenced.

To be free I must put down anger and walk in peace.

To be free I must let go of bitterness to surrender and fall in love.

I invite you today to take the vow. It is a step towards freedom we can all share. All enjoy. All live fearlessly.

The question is: Are you willing to treat yourself as the unique and special gift you are to the world? Are you willing to share your gifts with love? Are you willing to treat those around you as unique and special gifts to the world. Are you willing to give their gifts room to grow beside you in love, peace and harmony? Are you willing to take the vow?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The purpose of living day to day

The other night, while working late at the shelter, I came down the stairs towards our first floor entry. Three staff were standing at the security area, barring a man from entering. He was obviously under the influence. Belligerent. Aggressive.

The man saw me. Waved and called out, "Hello! Do you remember me?"

I waved back and replied. "Hello Joe. I remember you."

Joe was once in a program I facilitate in the evenings with a member of the financial community. The goal of the program is to teach budgeting and money management to clients on our transitional floors so that they can build sustainable life-skills that will keep them prospering once they leave the shelter.

"Can't I at least give her a hug?" Joe asked as I got closer to the little drama playing out between him and the staff members.

"No," said one of the staff members. A big man, broad shoulders, muscular arms. He stepped in front of me. "You need to leave Joe. You're welcome to come back when you're sober."

I waited behind the protective wall of the three backs of the staff. I wanted to reach out to the man, to tell him it's okay. To give him a hug. But the staff were working to keep the situation under control. I could not interfere and disrupt them. I didn't want to tip the balance of the delicate situation away from where they were heading. Within minutes, Joe left with a staff member beside him, guiding him outside.

Later, I spoke with the staff member who had gone outside with Joe. He asked if I was okay with what had transpired. "I am," I replied. "I trust you guys to make the right decisions in these situations."

The staff member went on to tell me about his conversation with Joe after they got outside. A year ago, Joe left the shelter to live on his own, working in his trade as an electrician. But, he misses his friends at the shelter. He misses the community. "I don't fit in out there," he told the staff member.

The longing for belonging.

At the shelter, especially on the transitional housing floor where he had resided for two years as he worked towards getting his life in order, Joe was 'somebody'. He was a leader. A role model. A mentor for the other guys looking to kick their habits, save money, get their lives in order.

At the shelter, Joe had a place to belong. He had a purpose.

Out there in the big world, Joe is just 'some guy'. He's one of the guys, but he doesn't feel a connection to the other's. He doesn't know where he fits. He lacks a sense of purpose.

For the past few months, Joe has started coming down to our corner of the world, going to the bar down the street from the shelter so that he can hang out with his friends, 'with people who understand me' he described it to the staff member.

Joe has money. Joe has lots of 'friends' in the bar. Joe ends up drinking more than he can handle. Joe becomes someone difficult to handle.

It is a quick slide back into the homelessness that once trapped him. Not because he doesn't have a home, or a job, but rather, because his yearning for belonging is dragging him back to a place where he is losing sight of the value he has in the world beyond homelessness. His yearning for a place to fit into, where he has meaning and purpose, a community where he is seen as a leader, a winner, is pulling him back to a place where he will, in order to find his meaning, lose everything he worked so hard to claim.

It is not an unusual cycle. Clients straighten out their lives. Rebuild their sobriety, their well-being and move on. Some make it. Many, like Joe, begin to slide back into the world they once vowed to leave behind until eventually, that world sucks them in until they begin the climb out again. There is meaning in the pursuit of happiness when you belong to a world of nothingness.

Australian photographer Rennie Ellis once said, "Beer has long been the prime lubricant in our social intercourse and the sacred throat-anointing fluid that accompanies the ritual of mateship. To sink a few cold ones with the blokes is both an escape and a confirmation of belonging.”

For Joe, a proud man who once stood on the pinnacle of success and stepped boldly out into the world having conquered the destitution that befell him, those few drinks in the bar are becoming the lubricant that will bring him back to a place where he never wanted to be and never wanted to come back to. It is a place that gave his life meaning, a place where he found a community to belong to.

And that is the paradox of his life. The sense of purpose he had as he climbed out the hole he was in gave his life meaning. It gave him a position in the community that others looked up to. Out there in the 'big world', Joe is just a peon. A working guy, like thousands of others, who swaggers through his day doing his job without many noticing the man beneath the overalls. The human being behind the tools he swings to get by.

For all of us, having meaning in our day, living on purpose is vital to our sense of accomplishment, our happiness, our peace of mind. When life grates and your nerves jangle with every step, ask yourself, "Am I living on purpose?" "Am I making a difference?"

If the answer is no. Stop. Take a breath. Do something, one thing that connects you beneath the comfort zone of the banality of your day. Ask a co-worker whom you've never spoken with out to coffee. Ask them what's important in their life. Who do they love? Share a smile with a stranger. Thank the cashier at the grocery store for her service. Tell her what makes her special.

Share your love in small ways where ever you go and keep living on purpose with every step you take.

We all belong to the human race. We all share in the human condition. We are all connected.

The question is: Are you bored with your life as it is? Are you complaining about same old, same old? Are you willing to step out and do something different? Are you willing to make a difference in your world today?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Caterpillar Dreams

With patience and understanding a crisis can turn your caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly. Marty Varnadoe Dow, How To Soar Above The Crisis
Serendipity. Happenstance. Fate. Whatever you call it, reading that quote reminded me of a story I wrote for my daughters when they were little.

Once upon a time there was a lonely, little caterpillar who cried and cried because he hated being a caterpillar. One day a leaf fairy took pity upon him and gave him three wishes. At first the caterpillar asked to be a beautiful red rose. But the rose’s stem was too prickly and nobody could touch him. So, he asked to become a lovely, graceful iris. But the iris was too blue and he was tired of being blue, he'd spent his life being unhappy. Finally he asked to be a daisy, a beautiful, many armed daisy. Alas, the daisy was still rooted to the ground and could not reach out and touch someone unless they came to her.

The caterpillar was devastated. He’d used up all his wishes and now he was stuck in the stupid body of a daisy with all those useless arms. He started to wail and pull his petals out. Alarmed, the leaf fairy took pity on him and granted him one final wish.

"I want to be a butterfly," he cried. "A beautiful butterfly with gossamer wings free to flit from flower to flower."

"Okay," promised the fairy. "But this is your last wish. I've used up my magic for today."

And, Poof! The caterpillar opened his eyes expecting to see his beautiful wings spread out around him. Alas, all he saw was the fuzzy, furry little body of the caterpillar he used to be.

"But I wanted to be a butterfly!" He wailed.

"You are a butterfly," the leaf fairy whispered softly. "Inside you is a beautiful pair of wings yearning to be free. But first, you must learn to spin your own dreams."

In that story I wrote to entertain my daughters and their friends long ago, the caterpillar eventually learned to stay still long enough to hear his wings calling. And once he heard them calling, he began to weave a tender cocoon around his body so that he could fall asleep to dream of awakening as a beautiful, iridescent butterfly. And he did.

Within us there are dreams to spin, stories to tell, adventures to unfold. Estee Lauder of cosmetic fame said, "I didn't get where I am by thinking about it or dreaming about it. I got here by doing something about it."

Having dreams is important. Listening to our dreams, heeding their call, letting go of the past, stepping into the moment and taking action is the only thing that will make our dreams comes true.

Like the caterpillar who had to learn to spin his own dreams, we are all capable of taking the steps that put reality into the picture of our dreaming.

It's up to me. It's up to you to just get out there and... Do It!

The question is: Are you crying about the fact you're not who you want to be? Are you spending your time upset by what isn't right in your life and missing all that is? Are you willing to close your eyes and leap? To do one thing today that will bring you closer to your dream come true?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Touched by the Divine

It isn't the amount of our years that will determine the life we live now, but the amount of our love. Marianne Williamson, The Age of Miracles
Yesterday I wrote a blog that had several metaphors mixed up from the cocktail of thoughts whirling inside my head. I knew when I wrote it that I was on several different tangents, but posted it anyway as I didn't have the time to go back and re-work the piece and I didn't want to lose the thoughts that had inspired my thinking in the moment.

A reader wrote in to point out the possibilities of the piece if I were to straighten out the metaphors and another wrote in to tell me how she appreciated the muddled metaphors. All readers add value to my blog by sharing their thoughts and supporting me in my writer's journey.

It isn't about their feedback. It's about the love in my heart when I listen to their words.

I am always grateful for readers comments. Always grateful for feedback. Sometimes, I may not like the feedback I get. Not just here in my blog, but out there, in the world where I live my life every day. Feedback abounds and sometimes, I resist making room for what others have to say! Often, when I'm resisting it's my ego taking action, or, as I recently heard it described, it's me and my E-G-O -- Edging Out God.

Other people's thoughts and ideas come from the same fount of creativity as mine. It is the Divine essence of who we are distilled into the actions we take in the world, the echos we create as we move through our day emitting love, joy -- and sometimes emotions we'd rather not share! For me, my writing and my creativity is God's breath whispering through my thoughts. Spilling out through my fingers onto the keyboard shaping syllables and letters into words and phrases that speak the truth within my heart, resonating in the world around me. When I 'edge out' other people's words and ideas, I am edging out God.

Now, I'm not suggesting I have to make room within me for all the thoughts and words I hear. My brain is busy enough! But, it is my responsibility to acknowledge there is all the room in the world for other people's points of view, for other people's words to have value, to create meaning. When I can gracefully and lovingly make room for their words and ideas, we are touched by the Divine so that we can each, as my friend Kathleen describes it, 'take God's breath away.'

To live my life in harmony and joy, I must be open to giving space for other's to have their own unique perspectives, their own special views of the world around them. Regardless of the feedback coming my way, regardless of the voices or the activity swirling around me, when I view the world through a heart full of love, open to giving and receiving, my EGO doesn't give rise to angst. My ego doesn't have room to disturb my peace of mind.

My peace of mind is measured by the love within me, not by what's happening in the world around me.

The question is: Are you filling your heart with love to quiet your ego? Are you willing to take God's breath away today?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Echoes of love

Life is an echo. What you send out comes back. Chinese Proverb
In Greek mythology, Echo was a nymph who loved the sound of her own voice. Zeus liked to spend his time on Earth consorting with the nymphs but alas, his wife Hera, grew suspicious and tried to catch Zeus in his peccadilloes. To give him time to avoid detection while he frolicked amongst the other nymphs, Echo would use her lovely voice to entertain Hera with stories. Eventually, Hera discovered Echoes trickery and doomed her to a life of never having her own voice. She could only repeat the words of others.

When I was little I loved to search for Echo (I also loved Greek mythology). Everywhere I went, I tested my environment to see if she was around, waiting to be found. When I found her, I would call out repeatedly, gleefully laughing at her response. I didn't care what I yelled. I only wanted to hear from Echo.

As I grew up, searching for Echo faded amidst the clamour of life calling and beckoning me to get busy doing whatever it is I needed to do to get on with living. I forgot about listening for Echo's voice in the busyness of time passing. I forgot about my voice as I searched for meaning in the words of what other's said, of ideas planted by other voices.

Thomas Carlyle, Victorian era essayist wrote, "When the oak is felled the whole forest echoes with its fall, but a hundred acorns are sown in silence by an unnoticed breeze.”

In my life, every step I have taken has been like the oak silently shedding acorns in the anticipation of mighty trees to be sown. The oak doesn't know which breeze will carry the acorn to fertile ground. It doesn't know how many oaks will grow from that one acorn. Like the apple, no matter the number of seeds, the number of apple trees is limitless. One seed leads to another tree, to another. And one day, the seed takes root.

Like life. One step leads to another, to another and another. I don't know how many steps I have to take in my life, but I do know, every step has an echo. I do know that every step plants a seed of possibility.

No matter what step I take, the air reverberates with the echoes of my passing through. Like a dolphin finding its way gracefully through the water, we emit inaudible sounds that mark our passing as we plant seeds of possibility throughout our day.
Life is about planting seeds with every step we take, every action we make, every word we speak. Being conscious of my echo, of my impact on the world around me is vital to my peace of mind. With every step I take, my imprint resonates. I can create waves of discord. Or harmony. It's up to me to find my voice to create a world that reflects the beauty and joy of being perfectly human in all my imperfections.

Finding my own voice is vital to my journey. It is a journey I take every day as I carefully step free of echoes from the past luring me back into the grimy soil of believing my voice does not count, or that someone else's voice has the story I want to tell about my life.

Albert Einstein said, “Nothing that I can do will change the structure of the universe. But maybe, by raising my voice I can help the greatest of all causes - goodwill among men and peace on earth.”

No matter how high I raise my voice, I must always be conscious of my echo. To create goodwill among men and peace on earth, I must share my voice in love.

The question is: Are you unconsciously speaking out without giving thought to your echo or are you creating a voice knowing, whatever you say and do, what comes back to you will be the voice of love?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hope rises

A new day dawns and with it my spirits rise. My cold exists, but it does not consume me. C.C. stirred earlier when I got up to let Ellie out and to feed her and asked me, "How are you feeling?"

"Good," I replied. "For a moment, I forgot I had a cold."

It's like healing from a devastating event in our lives. At first, the circumstances of the event consume us. Every thought is permeated with the memories of what happened, how awful, terrible, horrible we feel. Every movement, every thought reminds us of what happened, or if someone we love has passed away, everything around us reminds us of our loss. We feel as though we will always be consumed by these feelings of sadness, hurt, pain, sorrow.

And then, gradually, the weight shifts. We have a moment, or two, where thoughts of what happened disappear. Where thoughts of our loss are not as dark. At first, we don't notice that there was a moment when we felt lighter, or that thoughts of our sorrow didn't infuse every second of our day.

And then someone asks, "How are you feeling?" and we stop to think for a moment about how we really are feeling, and realize, like a rosebud breaking through the soil after a long winter's nap, hope has lifted its fragile head and begun to take root in the soils of possibility.


The French have a proverb, "Hope is the dream of a soul awake."

Yesterday, feeling blue and out of sorts, I lay in bed, warmed by the softness of the sun filtered through the denuded branches of the willow tree outside the bay window beside me. Ellie lay on her mat at the foot of the bed. The house was silent. I read and napped. Wrote in my journal. Napped some more. I felt luxurious. Coddled. Safe.

This morning I awoke and the weight of the cold that put me down has lifted. Hope rises and I awaken to my dreams of my one wild and passionate life unfolding in all its limitless possibilities.

If you are feeling down today, take heart, have hope. This too shall pass.

If you are feeling confused, lonely, afraid, take a deep breath, and then another and another. Imagine each breath is filled with energy. As it enters your body, you transform it into love. As you exhale, love flows freely and hope awakens.

If you are feeling in need of medicine, be gentle with yourself today. Give yourself permission to lay in bed and let the world revolve around you. You are the center of your universe, you don't have to make the world spin. You only have to keep yourself awakening to your dreams.

The question is: Are you giving yourself the medicine you need to awaken to your dreams? Are you loving yourself enough to let yourself breathe new life into dawn's awakening?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Finding Joy Movie

This morning, my head is filled with sniffles and snuffles. My 'not feeling up to par' has transformed itself into a full blown cold. Makes my head foggy.

So, for today, I am going to share a beautiful movie from Simple Truths.

Please enjoy.

See you tomorrow. I am going back to bed to give myself medicine. Because sometimes, all we can do is snuggle under the covers and know, "This too shall pass."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

There is no failure in never giving up

It doesn't matter if you try and try and try again, and fail. It does matter if
you try and fail, and fail to try again. Charles Kettering
Last night my youngest daughter, Liseanne, and I were at the shelter where I work to interview clients for the Christmas Wish List. Four years ago a woman and her husband, (Jennie and Dan) set up the Wish List to provide an online site where individuals could go, connect with a homeless individual through reading their stories, and buy for them what they wished for Christmas.

This is the third year we've had the Wish List in Calgary, and it is always an inspiring and humbling event. Clients of the shelter talk with interviewers, give them a few details about their lives, describe what it is that they need to 'lift their spirits' and what they want for Christmas. Volunteers transcribe the information onto the web, and Calgarians can then read individual stories, buy them the gift they've asked for, bring it to the shelter and on Christmas morning know that someone has received their Christmas wish.

I'm always of mixed emotions with the process -- and yet, every Christmas morning for the past two years, the miracles that come alive on Christmas morning are stunning.

Last night, as I moved amongst the 800+ people milling about in our day area on the second floor, inviting clients to subscribe to the Wish List, one man told me after I'd asked if he'd signed up, "I did last year and didn't get what I wanted. Why bother?"

"What did you ask for?"

"An art portfolio," he replied.

This gentleman has sometimes come to He is very talented but suffers from mental health issues which inhibit his ability to work cooperatively with others. He continually distracts them with chatter, random comments and a steady stream of stories about whatever catches his mind. He's interesting, but in a program where clients volunteer to keep it running, it is not possible to have someone there who requires constant supervision. To keep him drawing, I provide him art paper and pencils. Sometimes, he'll take the supplies. Sometimes not.

"If you don't ask for what you want, you won't have any chance of getting it," I replied last night.

"That's okay," he told me. "I figure I tried once. No need to try again."

For many of the clients at the shelter, one failed attempt becomes the reason why they don't try again. Having been beaten down by life, people and circumstances, they finally give into the ennui. They give up on trying to be someplace else and accept where they're at as the only place they can ever be. The only place they deserve.

When we give up trying to change our circumstances, circumstances take over and we fail to see the possibility of change.

I don't know what brought most of the people to the shelter. I do know that whatever is keeping them there, they have given into believing they failed where ever they were at before homelessness swept in and took away their dreams, their aspirations, their belief in themselves, and their belief in a better life.

Giving up is not an option. Yet, for the majority of our clients, giving up on is the weight they carry every day. They struggle to climb out from beneath it, and fall back down into the belief, there's no point in trying. Nothing ever changes.

Everything changes when we change what we're doing.

Everything changes when we step away from the belief there's no point in trying, and get up and take another step in a new direction.

The question is: Are you giving into failure, or giving yourself everything you've got to succeed?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

We belong to each other

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten we belong to each other. Mother Teresa
We are painting our new home. M. is a gifted artist and painter. He has completed my daughter's bedroom, C.C.'s son's room as well as the downstairs and stairwell to the main floor. He's working on our bedroom now.

It's a slow process. But then, rebuilding lives is always a slow process.

After a week of turning up every day, M. disappeared. When I caught up with him on the second floor day area of the shelter where I work, he looked ragged, hung-over.

"I don't feel well," he told me, his chin nodding against his chest, his eyes red and bleary. "I can't come today."

He didn't turn up for the rest of that week.

M. is homeless. I first met him two and a half years ago when I started the art program at the shelter where I work. He was a water colour artist. On Saturday's he'd come into the room, sit in a corner by himself and paint. Sometimes, he'd chat. Not often. The space we were using was on the sixth floor of the shelter, overlooking the river valley and the hillside dotted with trees and apartment condos on the other side. M. would paint the view. He'd paint from photos he found in magazines. Slowly. Methodically, the process as important as the outcome. Each stroke connected to the last. Each stroke smoothing the way for the next.

He's like that painting walls. The process of what he's doing is as important as the outcome. We're using a clay based paint. He talks about the benefits of the paint. It's ability to cover space, smoothly, evenly, cleanly. It's lack of HVCs. It's environmental friendliness. He talks about its viscosity. It's depth. He seldom talks about himself.

A few weeks ago M. went to his niece's wedding. He had a photo taken of himself with his five siblings. He's framed it and put it on the table where he works in the art studio. On the weekend, after getting paid for his painting work last week, M. bought four plants for his 'corner of the world' in the studio. Three of them sit on the window ledge, one hangs in the corner above him.

"They change the air around me," he told me on Monday when I commented on the greenery around him. "They change the energy."

Norman Vincent Peale said, "The more you lose yourself in something bigger than yourself, the more energy you will have."

M. is losing himself in his art. Painting at our house, he's losing himself into his craft and refocusing his sights on something bigger than himself.

I am focusing my thoughts on something bigger than painting our house. At first, when M. didn't turn up after being on a bender, I was angry. Disappointed. Frustrated. I wanted the job done. I wanted it finished. I thought about hiring someone else. C.C. and I talked about it. He left it up to my decision. He was okay however we did it.

In my 'damn it, why can't he just turn up' attitude, I was willing to let go of the possibility of something bigger happening. I was willing to give into my need to have it my way. I was forgetting that we all belong to each other.

Sure, it was wrong of M. to go off and tie one on to the point that he could not work. But, that is M's life. It is his pattern -- and I knew that before we hired him. Naively, or perhaps more appropriately, selfishly and stubbornly, I wanted M to be different for me.

The real change comes when M does it differently for himself. Since coming up to two+ years ago, the frequency of M's benders has lessened. He's spending more time closer to sobriety than he is time immersed in its cloudy visions. He's cleaned himself up -- a lot. He's taking better care. He's beginning to care.

M is teaching me the meaning of having peace in my life. I am not responsible for M's choices. I am responsible for how I connect to him and with him.

It would be easy to go out and hire painters to come in and get the job done in a few days. It would be easy but not as meaningful nor as beneficial to me.

I am learning patience. And, I am learning how to be present in the moment, without fear of the outcome.

M. is a superb painter. Every stroke is filled with his love of the craft and his commitment to doing the job to perfection.

Every stroke is filled with his gifts as he gracefully moves through the room, the paint laden roller following his every movement.

I thought it was the other way around. I thought I was giving M. the gift of being able to make some money, do some work. And I am. And that's important.

But the real gift is in M himself and what he is teaching me. Patience. Humility. Wonder. The understanding that I am responsible for my part of our relationship. I am part of the rebuilding of his life, just as he is part of what I am building in my life too.

M is teaching me to honour my role as a human being doing the best job I can at being connected to the world around me with love, humility, integrity and justice.

Yup. Would have been easier to hire some unknown painting crew to swoop in, get the job done and disappear.

M's presence will be with us forever. With each brushstroke he is creating the opportunity for change to appear, on the walls of our home, and in the corners of his life, as well as our life. He is a part of our world.

What a wondrous gift to see this morning. To be part of. To be party to. The knowledge that peace comes when I honour the connection that joins me to my fellow human being.

The question is: Are you honouring your connections to the people around you? Are you connecting through belonging to each other, or are you resisting the connection, going it alone without letting yourself find peace in the spaces connecting you?

Thank you CW for the quote. Thank you for inspiring me to be the peace in my world.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

In all kinds of weather

Weather hits with its diverse elements and we respond accordingly. Rain. Umbrella. Snow. Hats, mittens and boots. When we feel warm, we remove layers. Cold, we add them.

We are constantly in a state of flux. Adding. Removing. Adjusting. Acclimatizing.

We understand external drives. Not always the internal ones. Those indescribable urges to hit and run, hide and seek, duck and dive, cry out loud, break down, break up, throw up, stand up, leap for joy.

Like the weather, our emotions are affected by forces beyond our control. Forces we often don't recognize or see as contributors to whatever we are feeling or experiencing in the moment.

Like me today. I am supposed to be presenting at a high school an hours drive from the city. I can't go. Spent most of the night struggling with a bug that has churned up discord in my stomach. Not feeling perky this morning.

I tell myself I should get in my car and drive. I tell myself I must. What will happen if I'm not there?

I breathe.

The world will continue without me. The program will adjust, accommodate to my absence. In fact, I've already spoken with the organizer and we have rearranged the schedule so that my segment of the program is on Thursday morning.

For today, I need to lay low. Lay off being 'out there', and give my body a chance to adjust its equilibrium inside.

I am not 'sick'. I am experiencing a low front moving through. The discord comes when the low meets the high of my normal [preferred] existence and I resist the counterpoint of its inclement weather.

In every state of being there is the counterbalance, the shadow side that must be reckoned with, factored in, balanced out.

Today, I am not a '10'. Maybe a 3 or a 4. I'm okay with that. Because, I shall be the best 3 or 4 I can be. I shall give myself the medicine I need to let my body ebb into adjusting to the inclement weather within so that the discord in my state of being does not disrupt my peace of mind. I shall breathe calmly into knowing that in its passing, the skies will clear and I will experience clear sailing again.

I am not the ebb and flow of my emotions nor the yin and yang of my being. I am all of my emotions, all of my being. The tide is ebbing out. It will ebb in again. How I weather this storm will determine my passage through the day. It's up to me to let the ebb tide flow freely with the moon's calling to pull away from the shore.

Sheltered in my peace of mind, at ease with my being, I adjust my expectations, set my sails and confidently navigate the churning waters of stormy weather knowing calm seas and blue skies will return. I let my being recharge on the ions of the air around me as I give way to the weather and give into being at ease with my being where I'm at.

Weather always is. How I navigate it is up to me.

The question is: When internal discord creates inclement weather in your being do you adjust accordingly? Do you resist or wrap yourself in tender loving care?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Hearts on purpose

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. George Bernard Shaw
Yesterday, I coached in the Purpose room at Choices. Six women whom I had never met before sat in a circle, surrounded by other similar groups who were also there to claim their purpose. Some were eager. Some had trepidations. Some didn't believe they could 'do it'. "I mean, really. What if I don't have a purpose?"

God doesn't make junk.

Their coach, who had guided them through the past two sessions of the seminar in the previous months, and I were there to guide them into acknowledging their purpose. That 'thing' they do, every day, without even realizing it. The things they do intuitively which give meaning to their lives, that reflect their beauty and heart back into the world with every breath they take.

Everyone has a purpose. It doesn't need to be something grandiose like, climb Mt Everest or find the cure for cancer. Our purpose is based on the things we do, everyday, without even thinking. It's a statement of what we do that gives meaning to our lives and the lives of people we meet -- not just our family and friends, but everyone.

In Choices talk a purpose is stated after your contract, your contract being the statement of what you want more of in your life. For me, my purpose is followed by my intent, the HAVE of my BE. DO. HAVE -- with the contact representing the BE, purpose the DO. "I am a fearless woman touching hearts and opening minds to set spirits free to dance in a world of love, joy and harmony."

Yesterday, as I sat in the room listening to the conversations, feeling the energy and vibrancy of 100 people working together to create something awesome for their lives, I was in awe.

All of my life I have yearned to be surrounded by people speaking of heart matters.

My dream has come true. At Choices, I am surrounded by people speaking from the heart, living with heart, creating heartfelt lives which, in concert with the purpose of Thelma Box, the founder of Choices, is changing the world one heart at a time.

Listening to the stories of the six women I was working with yesterday, I felt blessed to be part of the moment of realization each came to as their purpose awoke within their hearts and minds. It is an awesome feeling to know that someone 'gets it'. That moment of acknowledgement when they can say, "Hey. I do have a purpose. I've been doing it all my life. Wow!"

Acknowledging our purpose is like waking up to a perfect morning and breathing in the fresh clear air of a new dawn breaking upon the horizon. Possibilities abound. Potential expands as we breathe in the freshness of the morning, our senses alive to the textures and sounds and beauty of the world around us. On purpose, we know nothing can stop us. We know we are magnificent human beings.

On purpose, it doesn't matter what greets us when we step into our day. Sometimes, we may forget about the beautiful sunrise, the perfect day unfolding as we journey into the mundane elements of life, the trials and tribulations of the human condition. Sometimes, our breath may become short and quick, just filling our lungs enough to give us air to get by. But always, we are on purpose -- even when we don't acknowledge it.

Living on purpose is like walking in a rose garden knowing we will not be pricked by the thorns. Armed with our contract, we find the courage to seek out our path. We take a deep breath and feel our way through our hearts opening up in love. We become all our senses. The fragrance lifts us up. The colours awaken our imaginations. We taste the breath of freedom and step purposefully along the path of beauty all around us. We are part of the beauty. We are the beauty.

It was a magical day. Mystical. Divine.

I was on purpose in that moment of living my life with intent.

The question is: Are you stopping to smell the roses and getting caught up in the thorns? Or, are you stopping to smell the roses and letting your senses awaken you to the wonders of the world as you purposefully step into the beauty of your heart blossoming in love?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The wonder of me and you

There is not one big cosmic meaning for all, there is only the meaning we each give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person. Anais Nin
Late yesterday afternoon I was walking through the lobby of the hotel where Choices, the inspiration personal development program I coach at, is held. As I passed a group of three women, one stopped, called out to me and ran over to give me a hug.

"Your book," she said. "Your book." She turned back to the other women and said, "This is Louise. She wrote the book I keep talking about."

She hugged me and said, "Thank you. A friend gave me your book. You have no idea how much you've helped me."

When I wrote The Dandelion Spirit, I wanted to use my journey to help other women, and men, on their journey out of and away from abuse. I wanted to use my experience to inspire others to live their lives in the light of freedom to be all that they are meant to be.

I am blessed.

Dreams do come true.

I thanked the woman yesterday for her feedback. Told her that it means a great deal to me to know that what I wrote resonates with her, helps her, inspires her. "Thank you for letting me know my book is living up to its purpose," I said.

In each of our lives there is a story unfolding. A tale being told. The Dandelion Spirit tells part of my story. It is about a moment in time, an event, that freed me from limiting beliefs, set me free from living life in the shadows of my existence, fearful of stepping into centre stage of my light.

Maya Angelou writes, "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

The Dandelion Spirit is a story that had to be told by me. Not because it's a story about abuse. It's not. It had to be told because it's my story of claiming my birthright. It's a story about taking a short cut to happiness and getting lost on the road to hell only to find myself happy after all. It's a story about all of us. Not just those who have been abused. But all of us who will live our lives hiding from the magnificence of our birthright, avoiding the brilliance of our story unfolding by holding onto the belief we are not worthy of being the most incredible, magnificent, stunning human beings we are meant to be.

We are all amazing. We are all wonders of the world. Children of God. Creations of the Divine. We are all miracles.

The question is: What story are you holding onto in fear its unfolding will set you free? Where are you hiding in the shadows, cloaking the brilliance of your light behind the fear that you don't deserve to shine?

Friday, November 14, 2008

One degree of difference

At 211 degrees...water is hot. At 212 boils. And with boiling water, comes steam. And steam can power a locomotive. And, it's that one extra degree that... Makes all the difference. Mac Anderson, Founder, Simple Truths
In my life, there have been moments when I have 'run out of steam'. Quit. Given up. Given in. Petered out.

And, there have been moments when I have been fired up, charged, on fire, forging full steam ahead, firing from all cylinders.

The difference between running out of steam or steaming ahead has always been made by my attitude and the energy I expend towards creating more of what I want in my life.

Last week, when I was unpacking the 5,342nd box (okay so I exaggerate a little bit) I wanted to give up, give in, forget about it. I surveyed the boxes and papers, the disorganization and told myself, "What a mess. What a disaster." I wanted to leave the room and pretend I had nothing more to do. I felt discouraged. There was so much to do!

The reality was, the work had to get done. I could look at it as a grind, or look at it as something I wanted to do because in doing it, I was creating more of what I want in my life. Peace of mind. Chaos is disruptive to my peace of mind. I had to BE committed to DO what it takes to HAVE what I want.

I had to unpack to create what I want in my life, the kind of environment I want to live in.

My attitude while unpacking was up to me. Disgruntled or contented? My choice.

If I chose disgruntled than I was resigning myself to a day of staying at 211 degrees. I was committed to keeping myself just below the boiling point, burbling along like a volcano not quite ready to blow, as I tore boxes open, hefted books and nick-knacks out with unseeing eyes and uncaring hands. Focused on my distaste of the job at hand.

If I chose contentment, I had to choose to go the extra degree. To fire up my imagination and creativity as I focused on the space I was creating, the energy I was imbuing it with and the atmosphere I was surrounding myself -- What did I want -- an environment that reminded me of what a drudge it was to create, or a space frothing over with creativity possibilities?

Changing my attitude fired me up. It charged me with energy. It propelled me forward into creating a space worth living in.

My attitude was the extra degree. It made all the difference to my world.

My attitude is my choice. It always is.

The question is: What kind of choices are you making today? Are you staying just below the surface of creative potential, unhappily churning over all that is wrong, all that isn't working in your life today? Or, are you going the extra degree to create a world of beauty? Giving it your all as your world explodes full of creative possibilities making your dreams come true.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The heart of the matter

Without the guiding influence of the heart, we easily fall prey to reactive emotions such as insecurity, anger, fear and blame, as well as other energy draining reactions and behaviors. The HeartMath Solution, Doc Childre and Howard Martin with Donna Beech
Last night I went to a HUB meeting. As part of the curriculum, there was a motivational talk. The speaker, Don, presented ideas on how to change our habits to change our actions. He began his talk by asking the group, "Where do your emotions come from?"

"From our thoughts," someone quickly responded.

"And where do your thoughts come from?" Don asked.

"Our conscious and subconscious minds," was eventually the answer he was looking for.

And therein lies the disconnect.

Several years ago, Daniel Goleman pioneered work on Emotional Intelligence, because, as he writes. "If your emotional abilities aren't in hand, if you don't have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can't have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far."

Last night, Don encouraged everyone to 'get out of your head and into your heart'. Now that's more easily said than done.

I have always been challenged to get into my heart and stay there. To step fearlessly into my day, my heart open and vulnerable, my mind quiet and conscious.

In scientific terms, the 'heart' is an organ. A four chambered muscle that pumps vital oxygen and nutrients throughout our body. In psychological terms, the heart is a home, a vital gateway that connects us to the depths of the world inside our beings and the vastness of the world outside our physical boundaries.

We 'have great heart', take matters to heart, speak from the heart, wear our hearts on our sleeve, are open-hearted, big-hearted, soft-hearted. We experience broken hearts, heartache, and bleeding hearts.

The 'heart' of the matter is, our hearts can become more than just a vital organ pumping blood through our body. Our hearts can become the vessel through which we learn to live our lives beyond the comfort zones of our fears and limitations. Beyond the limiting behaviours we develop to protect us from living with our hearts wide open in love.

I haven't read The HeartMath Solution yet. Thank you CW for sending me the information on HeartMath yesterday.

For today, I have an invitation for everyone.

Stop momentarily whatever you're doing, take a breath and imagine that breath entering your heart and expanding your being. Quietly whisper to yourself, "My heart is expanding. I am open to love."

Do this several times throughout the day. Consciously invite openness and love into your heart.

The question is: Are you open to change?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

As gentle as a butterfly kiss

Everything is connected to everything.

I am the youngest of three sisters. Yesterday, my eldest sister called and told me that our middle sister, A., had to undergo emergency laser surgery on her retina Monday due to tears in the 'jelly' connecting the retina to her eyeball.

In the past few months, two friends have experienced torn retinas, and now my sister has holes in hers. I didn't even know the retina could tear let alone develop bubbles in its jelly.

"It's the ageing process," my sister told me. "That's what A's doctor told her."

Ahhh, the joys of ageing. Just as I'm beginning to see myself more clearly, age takes over and my eyesight starts to weaken.

Karl Gustav Jung wrote, "Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens."

Throughout my life, I have sought clear vision. An understanding of who I am, why I am the way I am, and what I can do to be the person I want to be, am meant to be.

Throughout my life, the journey inward has guided my heart into awakening to the truth that who I am meant to be is my most magnificent self. That being less than my human nature is to play into the voices of doubt who would have me believe I am small. I am inconsequential. I am unimportant.

We are all important. Every human being on this planet adds value. Adds context. Adds texture to the ebb and flow of our world around us. Like a butterfly fluttering its wings in Africa, every person gives and takes from our planet, creating a stir, however infinitesimal, where ever we go.

Everything is connected to everything. We live on a magnificent planet to which gravity connects us with invisible bonds. To sustain our presence on this earth we must gently and lovingly protect the world around us, celebrate its beauty and express our gratitude for its abundance in everything we do.

Yesterday, a beautiful and dear friend (thanks BA) sent me the link to a short video presented by the makers of The Secret. Called Planet Earth Forever, the video transports you from this realm into a world of wonder created by the planet upon which we spin our days.

We live on a planet of beauty and majesty. We live amongst abundance. Our planet is magnificent. And we are the keepers of its treasures.

It's time to get clear on what we do to our planet everyday when we indulge ourselves with the belief, nothing is connected to anything, what I do doesn't matter, someone else will take care of it.

What we do matters. How each of us behaves makes a difference. And if we don't do something, who will?

We are the champions of our world, the creators of all that happens on this planet every day. We are the creators of war, the harbourers of injustice, the purveyors of hatred.

We are also the lovers, the story-tellers, the earth-movers and shakers. We are powerful beyond our greatest imaginings.

There is no doubt. I am ageing. As I age, I have more time to reflect upon where I've been and a clearer understanding of where I'm going. Where I want to be and what in the world I want to create along the journey.

In my life, I have contributed to holes in the ozone, global warming, and a host of other ailments affecting this planet upon which I live.

It's about time I turned up for my environment and acknowledge, I am connected to everything around me and am responsible for my actions. It's up to me to participate in a meaningful way to protect and restore the sustainability and well-being of the world around me.

I've had a lifetime of regretting the mountains I haven't climbed, the lakes I haven't swum in, the rivers I've never crossed.

Now is my time to stand upon mountain tops, to leap off cliffs into still waters and to courageously bridge the gaps that open up before me as I fearlessly look inward to my contributions to this planet and the world around me. It is time for me to acknowledge where I do not add value so that I can change my direction immediately. I have the power to change my world. I have the ability to ensure I step lightly and tread gently like a butterfly kiss upon my cheek.

The question is: Are you looking outward at the world around you waiting for answers to appear? Or, are you travelling inward, courageous seeking your truth within your heart, fearlessly beating a path to your own magnificence, celebrating your value by making a difference in the world today?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

In remembrance

War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other's children. Jimmy Carter
Remembrance Day.

Ninety years ago today World War 1 ended with the signing of the Armistice Treaty somewhere in the forest of Compeigne.

There are few alive today who remember that day. Too bad. Perhaps if more of us remembered the futility of war, the less likely we'd be to wage it.

I don't believe in war. Don't believe killing is a way of making lasting peace.

And yet, I support our troops who are fighting war today. They are there for me. I wish they'd asked me before they left. I'd have told them not to go. Not to risk their lives for something that will not stop the killing. May their sacrifice not be in vain. May they find peace.

Today is Remembrance Day. I remember.

My father. A man for whom 'the war' was an unspoken story. Hidden behind grey clouds of anger, he buried the war and moved through life fighting to claim peace of mind. When he died, the war died with him. May he rest in peace.

I remember those who left and never came home. They lost the battle of their lives.

I remember those who lost their homes, their families, their way of life when war tore through their towns and countries.

I remember the innocent victims of war. The children. The mothers. The brothers and sisters. The fathers.

We don't have war waging on our Canadian soil. Yet, war affects us every day. A boy from my daughters' school died in Afghanistan. A mother's son. A brother. A friend. He is gone. I remember.

When I googled to find out how many wars are being fought around the world today, I found the following:

"The United Nations defines "major wars" as military conflicts inflicting 1,000 battlefield deaths per year. In 1965, there were 10 major wars under way. The new millennium began with much of the world consumed in armed conflict or cultivating an uncertain peace. As of mid-2005, there were eight Major Wars under way [down from 15 at the end of 2003], with as many as two dozen "lesser" conflicts ongoing with varying degrees of intensity.

Most of these are civil or "intrastate" wars, fueled as much by racial, ethnic, or religious animosities as by ideological fervor. Most victims are civilians, a feature that distinguishes modern conflicts. During World War I, civilians made up fewer than 5 percent of all casualties. Today, 75 percent or more of those killed or wounded in wars are non-combatants."

Where is the peace in war? Immanuel Kant said it can be found. "Perpetual peace is no empty idea, but a practical thing which, through its gradual solution, is coming always nearer its final realization."

I remember those who died so that we could find peace.

May they rest in peace.
When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace. Jimi Hendrix
May we all remember love so that the world can live in peace.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The power of a word

One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn't pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself. Lucille Ball
In the 1950s when Lucille Ball was pregnant and filming the I Love Lucy show, network execs were worried about having a pregnant star on TV. Eventually, after checking with several religious leaders about the propriety of her condition on air, they agreed to let the show play -- but they couldn't use the word pregnant, they could only say, 'expecting'.

How things change. How times change.

On Saturday night, C.C. and I went to the Just For Laughs International comedy tour show. There were no women in the cast, so pregnancy was not an issue. And no one was worried about the propriety of words -- they were colourful to say the least. Sprinkled through every performers routine, the 'f' bomb posed as adjective, adverb and verb. I'd have preferred the word 'pregnant'.

Words can be powerful things.

Yesterday, as I unpacked and sorted through boxes, I listened to an Andrea Bocelli CD. One of the songs was, The Prayer.

There was a time when hearing the music and the words of that song was a huge trigger for me. When it would take me back to those crazy-making days of Conrad weaving his web of deceit and lies through my life. This song in particular had great portent. I first heard it playing on my cellphone when he was supposedly lying in hospital in California on life support. Over the hissing cadence of the life support system breathing up and down, Andrea Bocelli sang, "I pray you'll be alright." I was in Vancouver with my daughters on our way to Tofino for a week's holiday. I was trying not to think about Conrad's imminent death. Trying to pretend all was okay in my world. We had just arrived back at my sister's home when my cell phone rang. The girls jumped out of the car and ran into the house as I sat in the driver's seat, listening to the life support machine breathing. And then Andrea Bocelli began to sing, 'I prayer you'll be alright'. It was the night of a full moon. I whispered words of love into the phone, sent them up on a moonbeam connecting me to Conrad on his death bed. Showering him with strength and courage. He'd written out his wishes to have his 'minions' take care of me and playing this song was one of his wishes. He wanted me to be alright.

I didn't feel alright. I mean, really, I was so tragic. So misdirected. So sad and lonely and confused. So frightened. So terrified.

And Andrea Bocelli sang on.

Today, I can laugh at that vision of me. The faithful loving woman praying for her dying lover on moonbeams and stardust, listening to the hissing of a machine while Andrea Bocelli sang and her heart pounded out a frantic beat, tears pouring down as she sat under the moon and cried.

Today, I can love that woman who was so lost and not be triggered by the words of a song.

Today, I can hear The Prayer, surrender the past and fall into the moment, in love with all that I am, all that is and all that ever will be in my life. I am free.

But I still have issues with the word 'fuck'.

Where did this lowly word come from? Why do four little letters strung together in a word disturb me?

And so, I went on a hunt for its etymology. The Oxford English Dictionary, which according to Wikipedia, first printed the word in its 1965 edition, is unsure of its origins. Etymologists argue that the word has been around since at least the 12th century. Holy Fuck! It sure is an old word. Where was it hiding out? Maybe, like wine, it just needed time to age to its full maturity.

I remember the first time I heard the word. I was about twelve. At school in France, on the bus home. Someone had scrawled it on the side of an old cement wall. Someone on the bus knew its meaning. They shared their knowledge with their seatmate, who shared it with the kid behind and suddenly, with the speed of fire through prairie grasses, twitters erupted through the bus as uniform clad children nervously shared the full portent of the word. Even in France, the word was already claiming its place in our lexicon.

My daughters use the word -- though they try really hard not to use it in my presence -- unless they're trying to get a reaction that is. Like Pavlov's dogs, I can be guaranteed to burst out in anger when one of them throws an 'f-bomb' into a conversation.

Perhaps it is that every generation wants to claim a word as its own. Or, perhaps like Lucille Ball, this generation is defying convention, pushing limits, and breaking rules.

Challenge is, when we break rules we usually set new rules yet to be broken. In my youth, 'hell' and 'damn' were no-nos. Today, they've lost their power to disturb, broken out of the rules limiting their behaviour and pushed across the barriers into commonplace.

Perhaps it is that the 'f' word is breaking rules -- and as every generation knows, the rules are meant to be broken.

I can only imagine the words yet to come.

And so, I come back to optimism. How I look at the world is a reflection of how I see myself. The words I use define my position. Am I powerless or powerful?

The power isn't in the words I use, it's in how I use the words to describe my state of being, my outlook on life, my ability to create change, defy convention, break the rules or create new meaning in my life.

Words don't have power -- their power comes from what I vest in them.

How I take the words in, the power I give them is up to me.

I can take the power out of a word, or a song, by looking at the context of its meaning, its value, its meaning in my life today.

Once upon a time, The Prayer was a trigger. Today, it is just a beautiful song I love to listen to.

Just like the word fuck. It's just a word. Has no value, nor meaning in my life, unless I give it one. It's not a word I choose to use. It has little meaning for me. But, for the stars of a comedy show, it had context, it had value -- they used it to create laughter. Just like Lucille Ball used her pregnancy to create laughter and change the world of television.

I like laughing.

Think I'll laugh at myself and let the words go as I celebrate this day in which I can use, or not use, any word I want because I'm free to make choices that love and support me.

The question is: Does your language empower or disempower you? Are you restoring your faith in yourself by breaking free of the words that limit you and creating a lexicon unique to you?

Saturday, November 8, 2008


For today and its blessings, I owe the world an attitude of gratitude. Unknown
I am blessed.

My life is rich and full. I have work I love, a home to call my own, things to clutter my spaces, good health, a world of abundance.

And I have the people I love and who love me.

Yesterday, after spending the morning unpacking, Alexis, Liseanne and I went to lunch. We spent a couple of hours laughing and joking, telling stories, sharing. We even shared a bottle of wine and then went shopping -- not for clothing, but for household goods. A set of measuring cups for Alexis, cutlery tray for me, toothbrush for Liseanne. In doing the mundane together, we deepened our appreciation of what it is that makes our relationship and eachother so special.

I am blessed.

When my daughters were small I dreamt of their wanting to spend time with me when they were adults. It was vital to me that we have the kind of relationship where we could talk about anything, laugh about everything and cry over something. I worked hard to build relationships with them fostered by love and caring, respect, integrity, openness, dignity. A relationship that honoured their uniqueness, and celebrated their magnificence.

As a mother, I wanted the kind of relationship with my daughters that I dreamt of having with my mother.

I got what I dreamed of.

I got the blessing of two young women in my life who are kind and caring, intelligent, captivating, enchanting. Who can talk of what matters to their heart, and talk about what matters in their world.

What an amazing blessing. What a wonderful gift. The gift of having my dreams come true. The gift of love.

I am blessed.

It is Saturday. I'm off to take a one day painting course. It's a new technique using acrylics like water colour paints. I'm looking forward to it. Time to immerse myself in the creative process. Time to simply be in the moment creating.

Life is a journey of creation. May your creation today be a joyous reflection of your uniqueness, your beauty, your gifts, your magnificence.


Friday, November 7, 2008

How I spend my days.

How we spend our days, is of course, how we spend our lives. Annie Dillard
A lazy morning. I've taken today and Monday off to give me five days of break. A lovely prospect. No rush in getting the morning off and running. No hurry up and fit it all in. I've got time.

And I've got plans.

Lunch with my daughters today. A girlfriend flying in for the weekend tonight. A painting class all day tomorrow.

Oh. And I've got plans to organize the house. We're moved in, just not moving very fast on organizing spaces, emptying boxes, sifting through the papers to create a home.

British humorist and creator of one of my favourite characters, Winnie the Pooh, once said, "Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up."

Organizing my thoughts is what I do so that I don't get all mixed up in the drama of the moment, the 'hysterics de jour'.

The challenge this past two weeks has been, amidst the chaos of my home, I have had difficulty finding my thoughts. I don't do chaos well.

Yesterday, in the art studio at the shelter where I work, I was speaking with a couple of the artists about the chaos in which they exist. Living in a shelter that sleeps 1200 people a night is not easy. It is not a recipe for peace, quiet and tranquility.

"I tune out," said Tom, a resident since February of this year. "I've started doing crossword puzzles and coming up here [art studio]. It gives me a break, a place to be quiet. A place to not have to listen to the drama of hundreds of other people being acted out around me."

"You get used to it," agreed Reg, another artist who has been a mainstay of the art program for two+ years. "It's not something I want to be used to, but it is the reality of where I live right now."

The reality of my home right now is it is filled with boxes. Sure, the living and dining room are set up. Our bed is in place, but, tucked into corners and along walls, boxes are lined up like soldiers on parade waiting to be inspected.

And I don't do chaos well.

It is time to spend my time clearing up the mess. Putting things in place. Organizing my space to create balance and harmony around me.

I shall be spending my days creating harmony in the world around me. It is how I want to spend my life.

The question is: Are your days a reflection of how you want to spend your life?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

In memory of a courageous man

Dum spiro, spero. While I breathe, I hope.
I wrote about him in my blog, "If not me, who?" He was a native man. Forty-something. Cut-off from family and home. He wanted to be a role model.

When we met, he was in a class I teach at the shelter where I work. It's part of a three week program that provides individuals the chance to get job certificates, computer training and life skills coaching so that they can rejoin the mainstream of their lives; get a job, clean up the debris of the past, save money, get a home, move on, get going with their lives away from homelessness.

In the class, he told me that being a 'magnificent human being' was too big for him. His criteria word was 'role model'. He wanted to be a role model for the young men who crowded round his table on the second floor in our day area, searching for answers. He wanted to be a role model for the young men on his Reserve who danced with the devil of addictions, abuse and anger. He wanted to be a role model for his two sons with whom he was not in contact because of his dance with addictions, abuse and anger. He talked about his struggle to claim his right to a drug and alcohol free life. His need to make sense of what had happened; to him, his family, his community, his life.

When we met just one month ago, there was hope. Hope that one day he would step free. One day he would leave this lifestyle that was bringing him down and leap into a life far from homelessness, as he moved back to his people to be the role model he dreamt of being.

Yesterday, hope died. Yesterday, Les' heart quit beating. Gave up the fight and set Les free of his earthly struggles. Yesterday, Les died.

His friends at the shelter are in shock. Angry. Confused. Afraid. Those who worked with him, admired him, supported him, grieve.

Les wanted to change his life. He wanted to reconnect with his two sons, to show them through his example the courage of a man.

He was finding his courage. He had given up alcohol. Drugs. And though he slipped sometimes, he brought himself back to the place where he could be proud of his courage to let go of the substances that were destroying him.

Today, we mourn for Les. We mourn for the man who dreamt of stepping back into his community a proud and courageous man, a role model for all to follow. Let us learn from Les' journey in this life. Let us pray for his spirit's journey into the next life, however we believe it will unfold.

Les' life on this plain has ended. There is no more hope for a different life. But hope lives on for his sons. They can learn from their father's tortured journey. They can learn from his mistakes, from his fall and struggle to climb back up.

And hope lives on for each of us. There is hope for all of us left behind that we will take this moment and dance. That we will revel in the joy of being alive in this very moment, fill it with all the wonder in the world and set ourselves free to soar above the sad stories of our past into the joy of telling stories of our lives in freedom.
Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today. James Dean
The question is: Are you filling your moment with actions that make hope come alive? Are you flying free of the past?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The power of a dream

Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe. Gail Devers
The headline in today's paper reads, 'Change has come'. Last night, my eyes were glued to the television along with C.C., my daughters, his son and daughter as change swept across our southern neighbours borders in a landslide victory filled with hope and faith and the possibilities of a new tomorrow.

Dreams can come true. Dreams do come true when we the dreamers never give up believing.

If Barack Obama's victory represents anything, it represents the limitless possibilities of what any woman or man can accomplish when they never lose sight of their goals and believe in their dreams.

On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his now famous "I have a dream" speech.

Last night, I watched as Martin Luther King's words rocked a nation awakened to the power of a dream.

I am in awe.

I do not know what the future holds. I do not know how today will unfold from yesterday. I do know that with the events of last night, anything is possible. That the foundation for profound and lasting growth is doable. I do know that dreams come true. That even though Martin Luther King is not able to feel the continuous reverberation of his words as they resonate within the hearts and minds and souls of a nation, his words live on.

Everything is connected to everything. Barack Obama was only 2 years old when Martin Luther King's dream was spoken. And yet, within him, those words took hold. Within him, the dream was planted and last night, Martin Luther King's words became Barack Obama's dream come true.

I am not an American. Yet, Martin Luther King's words are my dream too. His words are a beacon of light for all of us to see that no matter what life has dished up, we can create lemonade out of lemons, we can spit out the pits and dive into the bowl of cherries, crushing our fears with our courage, hope and faith. We can create a world of wonder if we are committed to living the life of our dreams.

Dreams can come true.

Yesterday I spent the day speaking to Grade 10 students at a high school about overcoming defeat and turning up in my life as a victor. I use the story of Conrad as the igniter to my dreams, the catalyst for welcome change. One of the students asked, "Don't you regret what happened to you? Aren't you angry?"

How can I regret something that set me free of fear and limiting beliefs?

How can I hold onto anger when my life is filled with love and joy and abundance?

Why would I want to?

My dreams will not come true if I am filled with anger and resentment. My dreams will not come true if I hold onto what doesn't work in my life, if I keep doing the same old thing expecting a new outcome. My dreams will not come true if I blind myself with regret and turn my sight away from the possibilities of change, the hope of a better tomorrow, the belief in creating all things possible in a life of wondrous joy.

The question is: What's you dream? Are you willing to stand up and yell it out? Are you willing to let go of fear and anger and resentment to create a world of change for the better?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Reader caution. My political rant.

Today is election day in the United States of America. In Canada, our news networks and print vehicles have been filled with stories about the race for the Presidential office. In many ways, the election to the south overshadowed our Canadian election just a few weeks ago -- and I pray the right man wins.

I don't often write 'political', but Sarah Palin has shaken me out of my abstinence and created a stir of anxiety in my democratic roots.

Now, I like being a woman and, I think having a woman in a position of power would, should, could be a powerful move forward in balancing the yin/yang of our world. But..... and there's that annoying but.... a woman for the sake of a woman as a political leader is not right. It's not smart.

Now, I like my femininity. I celebrate the fact I am different than a man. I like wearing skirts, and lipstick (though Sarah Palin could make me wipe the lipstick from my lips and never touch the stuff again!). I like that I can sew a hem and change a light bulb and that I don't actually like to kill animals.

I like that I think differently than a man, have a different perspective, a different outlook on many things. I like that my emotions are accessible to me. That I can speak of love and not go all tongue tied. I can speak of economics and be able to add two plus two and not come up with nothing. I like that I can hammer a white picket fence post into the ground and pound a lump dough into a loaf of bread.

And I do not like playing dumb. I don't like women who wink at me from the television screen while smiling sweetly at their vice-presidential opponent, as if to say, it's okay guys and gals, he's just an old fuddy dud, let's not take this too seriously. I don't like watching someone pretending to play dumb when they aren't even smart enough to know they're dangerous. And I don't like people not taking running for office seriously.

Running for office is serious. Running a country is even more serious.

And Sarah Palin scares me.

And that is my political rant. Election campaigns will come and go. Candidates will rise and fall. America is poised on the brink of possible greatness, or, if voter fickleness and right wing diatribe overrides common sense and decency, Sarah Palin could rise to the top. Cream isn't all that rises when politics sours. And, if she get too high she might just dump her personal brand of stupidity on an entire nation running for cover, offering up cosmetic changes that won't fix anything more than the colour adorning her lips while she blows sweet kisses at herself in the mirror of her self-adoration.

Yup. She scares me.

And what can I do with my fear? Well, I can step into it. Sitting here in northern climes where the election is just a show to watch, I cannot affect the outcome. It is beyond the circle of my influence, beyond my control.

I can breathe. Have faith (gotta admit it's in small quantities when it comes to election outcomes) and pray all will be well south of the border. That calmer, more intelligent minds will prevail. That decency and honour will override rhetoric and circus-like curiosity (though Sarah Palin has a decidedly incurious mind) and focus back on my day, my world, what I can create in my life today that will add value, make a difference, create joy.

I am off to Banff to give a presentation at a high school. The focus is on recognizing and acknowledging good and bad relationships -- perhaps I can use Sarah Palin as an example of someone pulling the wool over a nation's eyes, trying desperately to hide her self-serving intent, while playing sweet and nice. Now there's a thought!

The question is: What kind of day will you create in your world? Are you focusing on your fear, or stepping into fear to unearth your courage to create a world of change for the better?

Monday, November 3, 2008

The eternal poetic truth

The barn burned down; now I can see the moon. Masahide
A lovely reader, Cheryl, sent me that quote. Masahide was a 16th century Samurai who studied haiku and wrote in the style of fueki, eternal poetic truth.

Eternal poetic truth.

Our lives are constructed of an eternal truth -- we are born to live. Sometimes, the poetry of that truth is lost in our fear of dying, in our daily grind of figuring out where to step next, or what to do now. Yet, living in the poetry of living fearlessly in the moment, life is a constant adventure into the unknown. A leap into the void of creation.

Masahide found the truth. No barn. Look at the moon.

Yesterday, I cleaned the old house with my eldest daughter, Alexis. Liseanne, her sister, had cleaned the basement level the night before so we only had to concentrate on the main level and the upstairs. As I scrubbed cupboards, and doors, cleaned out the fridge and swept out debris, I thought about the seeds of joy that were planted in that house just 9 months -- yup, it's true, we moved in 9 months ago and now we've moved out! Call me insane, but regardless, this move is a great move -- is that possible? It is if I watch for the moon.

In spite of the aching joints, the chaos and boxes and paper, of not being able to find the pair of shoes I'm looking for, or the scarf that goes with that one sweater, there is joy in this move. We moved in together into the last house -- but we weren't sure it was the right one. And quickly discovered our concerns were right -- it wasn't big enough, it had too many things that didn't quite work for us, and too many things to fix.

Moving again was not what we planned. But in the process, we've found a home that fits. That reflects both our styles, and our desire to create a home of comfort, a place to come home to where peace and tranquility reign, where our children find a welcoming hearth, and a comforting place to relax -- once we're rid of the boxes that is!

In clearing out the old house, I could see how much stuff I've gathered that is unnecessary. Like the barn burning down, in cleaning out cupboards and drawers, I found the beauty in simplicity and space.

My goal; to divest myself of more stuff so that I can see the simple truth of what I've got. To rid the chaos from my life so I can move in the calm beauty of space uncluttered, caught up, set free with clear thinking unfettered by baggage, my dreams filled with deep breaths and the light of hope and peace and love.

There is joy in moving out from behind the clutter. Joy in stepping our from behind the space where I hide out from seeing all I need is a loving heart and peace of mind to be richer than my wildest dreams.

The eternal poetic truth of my life is a dance of adventure. My poetic truth sets me free to dance with joy beneath the light of the moon, arms wide open, catching stardust and moonbeams in my hair.

The question is: Are you stuck behind four walls, fearful of the world out there? Are you willing to step out and dance beneath the light of the moon?