Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I did it My Way

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. Dr. Wayne Dyer

C.C. and I had an argument the other night. Nothing earth shattering. Not even all that important. What was significant was the opportunity to learn, to grow, to deepen intimacy in our relationship.

Now, this argument would never have happened (in a restaurant, or anywhere else for that matter) if he had seen it my way in the first place and not got triggered by his own stuff butting up against my stuff. And, it would never have happened if he'd just read the script I had prepared in my head and known his lines. I mean really, I was willing to feed him his lines and everything if he'd just stopped and listened in the first place!

Oh, and it would never have happened if he'd just done it my way.

Go figure. He refuses to do it my way! Doesn't he know I've got the answers for him and 'us'. I've already written how it should all unfold in my head. Doesn't he see my brilliance? Can't he read?

Seriously, I have spent a lifetime digging into myself, unearthing my psychic aches and pains, my emotional roadblocks. Doesn't he see the wisdom of my experience? The brilliance of my path?

In a word. No.

And that's the thing. He cannot see it my way because, well first off, he abhors arrogance and secondly, he sees it his way in the first place. And while, in Huckleberry Finn's world, 'never the twain shall meet', in my real world here, they will meet when I get over trying to force feed my way down his gullet.

In the process of tripping over my ego, I did learn a thing or two.

One. When making a grand exit from a restaurant after stating (calmly, I might add) that you are going to grab a cab and see your own way home, make sure you're not wearing a cast. And if you are wearing a cast and have removed the boot that lets you walk on said cast (because it weighs your foot down at the table), ensure the boot is attached to your cast. You know, that dramatic moment just loses its umph when you stand up, turn and with chin raised high, start to sweep away and end up hobbling two very noisy and ungainly steps before tripping over your feet.

Two. When deciding to take a cab home, ensure you have a cell phone to call said cab. Oh, and a house key too.

Three. Don't let pride stick you in the back, forcing you to walk home (read that hobble).

And four. Find the humour, regardless of how ridiculous you look hobbling down the street in the night, dragging your wounded pride behind you.

Yup. I did look rather silly. And I was laughing. My grand moment vanished in a poof of wounded hubris that forbid me from returning to the restaurant and eating my words. Instead, I gorged myself on 'being right' so that I could make him 'wrong' as I stumbled home.

Fortunately, I'm pretty tough. My foot hurt -- duh! But, my pride started to back down as soon as I began to see the ridiculousness of my position -- though I did walk all the way home anyway as I refused to turn around, go back and ask for help of any kind. I'd foisted the walk on myself. Stumbled onto my own petard and stuck myself with a long walk home all because -- he refused to realize the error of his ways and do it My Way.

Now, let's be clear here, I have no problem getting along with myself. With me, I always get to do it my way. But in relationship, my way becomes the high way to discord when I ignore reality -- In any interaction between two people there are a lifetime of responses conditioned by past experience. Our individual perceptions, what we hear, think, feel, see, can shade every encounter when our need to 'be right' (with its quid pro quo of making the other person wrong) or 'be heard above all else' or 'be the one to have the last word' override our desire to listen deeply to the gentle heart song of the one we love. Shaded by the emotions clouding our vision (and judgement) we can become mired in rules of engagement most often found in three year olds. Treating each other with respect, being honest, truthful, caring, go out the window of rational thought as we immerse ourselves in doing it our own way, because, our way is the only way we know how to protect our wounded selfs, our egos, our hearts.

In the heat of the moment, I sometimes forget to step back far enough to give the other room to breathe. In the rarefied air of my insistence that I have reached the summit of relational knowledge and am leaning down the mountain to drag the one I love up there with me, I forget he's got his own path to navigate. Damn. If he'd only just trust me enough to let go of his fears, his issues, his needs to find his own path, he'd see the wisdom of my ways and.... do it My Way.

My schtick is to have C.C. recognize how brilliant and knowledgeable I am about human development and relationships. That's my schtick. It's just a story. A need carried forward from childhood long ago that eggs me on to believing, I know the truth and there's only one way to do the relationship dance, and those steps belong to me --and I'm willing to share, of course I am, but you must do it my way. Follow and you shall find enlightenment. Digress from my path and you will be damned to the eternal darkness of never seeing the light of doing it my way -- get the theme here? My way knows best.... take your path at your own risk.

Now, I'm laughing at myself here -- because I know the profound truth for me is -- I create what I fear. I fear that C.C. will not respect my 'brilliance'. In my fear, I pound my knowledge into the delicate fabric of our relationship like a peasant woman standing in the river, pounding the soap out of the wash.

My hands grow rough and cracked washing soap out of cloths against a rock in a hard place and my heart grows cold flowing in a river of frigid self-righteousness edged with fear of never been seen as knowing it all -- even when I know in my heart of hearts, that know it alls are bullies. There is no place called, No It All -- so why do I keep looking for it?

In walking home, reminding myself of how much I knew, I discovered how little I knew about letting go of my need to be right.

I also learned, hitting someone over the head with the rock of my insistence I know the only way to get the clothes clean is not very productive. It's much easier to heat water to a gentle temperature to ensure my hands don't get scalded. It's far more effective to gently swirl the clothes around, letting the movement of the water wash the soap free with each rinse as the clothes rub up against each other and clean the residual of the soap out together.

The gift from the evening is -- I uncovered a truth about myself, a limiting belief that was keeping me stuck in the arrogance of believing I 'knew the way'. What I discovered is liquid gold flowing in my warm and beating heart. It overflows with love, for me, C.C., my life, my world around me.

In this beating heart, I am smart enough to know, no one else can validate my path or my learning. That's my job. And in that truth, I uncover the wisdom to know, intimacy will never deepen when 'my way' is the only place I make room for someone else's wisdom to be heard.

Oh, and I also learned how not to make a grand exit when wearing a cast!

(Click HERE for a wonderful slide show of Frank Sinatra singing, "My Way.")

The question is: Is your way blocking you from seeing there are many ways to connect with someone else's heart song and create sweet music together?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

And still the birds sing

Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy. Joseph Campbell

Every morning, rain or shine, the birds descend upon the feeder in the backyard and feast upon its bounty. And then, they retreat in joyful harmony to the bushes that border the yard and sing. And sing. And sing. Joyful. Spirited. Cheerful song.

War still goes on. Famine still ravages entire nations and disease continues to steal lives. And still the birds sing.

That is a profound truth for me. The birds sing no matter how the world turns. No matter my mood. My attitude. My disposition. The birds still sing.

I remember reading once about the Chinese government's killing of sparrows in Tibet. It wasn't their song that was at issue. It was their impact upon agriculture in China -- though part of me also believed that it was the song of joy they were trying to stifle. In their efforts to deal with one issue -- regardless of their violation of the moral, ethical, and political right to be there, they ended up doing untold damage to a nation and to the very crops they were trying to save. Reality was, beyond their song, the birds had an ecological and economical reason to be alive.

Now, this is not a political column and I don't pretend to have answers for one nation's occupation of another. I do know right from wrong. I do have a voice to sing out about injustice and no matter my opinion, my perspective, the birds still sing. Just not in Tibet. An entire nation has lost its voice. And that is wrong.

Voice. We all have one. Sometimes we use it sweetly. Sometimes we use it in anger. And sometimes, we let it die.

No matter your voice, it is unique. You have the right to be heard.

Around the world, entire nation's are being silenced through fear and intimidation. Through violence and war.

And the birds still sing.

Years ago, my ex-husband and I took Alexis and Liseanne to Waterton National Park for a camping trip. There had been several Grizzly Bear sightings in the Park and most of the accessible campgrounds were closed and those that weren't were full. We travelled further south and east, just beyond the Park boundaries and found a private campground along the river. We set up tent. Busied ourselves with organizing the site as the girls played along the river's age, always within easy and quick reach. Birds bobbed upon the river's surface. Flew about above our heads. Twittered joyfully in the trees. A bucolic scene.

When we got there, we didn't realize it was hunting season but quickly learned of its disquieting presence. Intermittent rifle shots could be heard far in the distance, interrupting the birds' song and our idyllic retreat. As each muffled shot rang out, my heart would flutter, the birds would scurry into the air, one body on a massive flock of wings whirring with one mind towards the safety of trees and shrubbery.

I remember looking up into the distance and watching a flock of Canada Geese flying south. Suddenly, a shot rang out and a bird plummeted from the sky. The flock kept moving, except one massive creature. She kept circling above where her mate had fallen. The sound of her plaintive voice was eerie and disturbing. She had lost her mate and couldn't stop crying. She circled throughout the day and into the night. And through it all we could here her plaintive cry of distress and sorrow.

When I was a young child I wanted to speak out against killing, against the things we do as human beings that harm and demean and abuse our co-inhabitors of this fragile ball called Earth. "You can't change the world," those who were older and whom, through their authority or position, I trusted to know best, told me. "It's just the way of the world. Just the way it's always been." "You're just one person. Your voice won't make a difference."

I am just one person. And my voice does make a difference.

So does yours.

When I was working with teenage prostitutes I remember some pundit saying, "It's the oldest profession. You can't stop it."

"Does its longevity make it right?" I asked him. "If I don't do something to give voice to the abuse, who will? If we all stay silent, do we not then become part of it by the complicit nature of our silence?"

If not me, who?

If not now, when?

We all have voices. Every voice that is silenced by violence, or silent through user option, is missed. Every voice that speaks out in hatred adds volumes to the war and violence in our world. And every voice that speaks out lovingly, that speaks up for those who struggle to find their voices, who speaks up for those who have been beaten down, adds volumes to the movement to create a more peaceful world.

One word can make a difference. One song can touch a heart, open a mind, set a spirit free.

We may not cure the world of sorrows, we can sing a song of joy for all the world to hear to remind each other that every voice makes a difference. Every voice counts. Even the sparrows who no longer sing in the land at the edge of the rising sun.

The question is: What are you doing with your voice? Are you willing to be heard?

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Road Kill Salad

It sat on the shelf of their studio. A glossy red pottery bowl. Swirls of indigo and black spun up from its centre. Not too large. Perfect size for a salad for three or four.

I touched its glossy surface, cupped my hands around its outer rim and caressed its smooth sides.

The deep red of its colour entranced me. It felt peaceful. Serene. I had been looking for something to celebrate our trip -- the drive up the West Coast Highway -- to commemorate it. What better than a beautiful pottery bowl. A love bowl. A bowl of bounty. Of abundance. Of joy.

We were in Field, BC. At the gallery/studio space of Ryan and Kathryn Cameron. Their Velvet Antler Pottery & Gallery has been in the same location for over 20 years. A bright and vibrant couple, Ryan and Kathryn came to the small town of field to work on the railroad. "I was a teacher looking for a change," Ryan told us. "My dad didn't believe we could make a go of it here." Over twenty years later and they've proven him wrong.

Here is a small village of fewer than 200 people who live, work and play at the base of Mount Stephen in Yoho National Park. Over the years Field has evolved from a railway town, its original purpose when first established as a group of tents and huts in 1871, to a thriving little mecca of hiking and skiing and a cultural and artisan hub of activity.

Here is where one of my favourite restaurants in the Rockies sits nestled at the end of the valley, overlooking the Kicking Horse River and the peaks beyond, The Truffle Pigs Bistro.

And here is where I bought a beautiful red pottery bowl that held a treasure-trove of memories and possibilities for the future.

In honour of my father, who used to often say, "Use thy noble vase today for tomorrow it may be broken," I carried that bowl home, set it on the dining room table and used it as often as possible.

It's only been a couple of weeks since that bowl took up residence and last night, after a series of poor choices, my bowl broke.

Now, I'm not crying over spilled milk, or as in this case, spilled tomato boccocino salad which was 'to die for'. Nope. There's a lesson in this broken bowl. An important one too.

It started with my debating which bowl to put the salad in that I was making for Alexis' going away dinner at our friends, A & J. An inexpensive glass bowl? Just in case it breaks. I even thought about the fact I'd be wise to transport the salad in something I wasn't too attached to but in the end, opted for my favourite red bowl. "The salad looks so pretty in it," I thought.

When it came time to leave, I was in a hurry. We needed to stop by Indigo Books to pick up a gift for A & Js daughter as, when my daughters saw the one I'd bought, they laughed. "Mum. That just isn't her."

"But it's orange," I'd said. "And C. [the birthday girl] is an orange. Oh, and it's fair trade product too!" I'd added on quickly to cement my rationale for gift selection. (In color personality testing orange is spontaneous, free-spirited, unconventional.) The little orange felt purse and felt ball necklace I'd bought were, if nothing else, whimsical and unusual.

My daughters stood in front of me and eyed me like I'd possibly taken a leave of my senses. They sort of had the same look they'd shared when I'd shown them the large, glass mermaid I'd bought for C.C. as a Christmas gift. It was a work of art. Earth stones and pebbled glass surrounded a beautiful orange glass mermaid suspended between two pieces of twisted metal. "Uh, mom," they'd said in unison. "You may like it but we can guarantee you, C.C. will not appreciate it the same as you."

The mermaid hangs from the apple tree in the backyard. Whimsical. Unconventional. Strange.

So, when they'd clarified the strangeness of the purse and bobble necklace for a 24 year old, we'd agreed to get C. something that was more age and life appropriate. Which is why I was in a hurry when we left for dinner.

I grabbed a large paper shopping bag from the bin of bags. I could have chosen a plastic one, even a cloth one, but I love brown paper shopping bags. They're earthy. Environmental and reusable! And I was re-using this one as the tote for my salad, a bottle of wine and a small paper bag full of gooseberries.

Now, a tomato boccocino salad contains liquid. And, no matter how carefully I covered the bowl with plastic wrap, some of the liquid was bound to leak out as we drove to Indigo and then to our friends.

But I didn't think of that.

When we arrived at A & Js, Liseanne, my youngest daughter, jumped out of the car, opened the back door and picked up the handles of the paper bag.

I was about to say, "Hold the bottom," when a loud smack split the air.

I hobbled around the front of the car to the driver's side and surveyed the mess. The bowl had split open like a coconut spewing tomatoes (four different kinds), boccocino, and cucumber onto the road. The bottle of wine had fallen under the car where its liquid ambrosia pooled in the surface of the road.

I stood and looked at the mess and wanted to cry. "My bowl. My bowl. My shattered bowl."

I looked at Liseanne's face. She was devastated. "You broke mum's bowl," her sister observed.

"No she didn't," I replied walking up to Liseanne and giving her a hug. "It wasn't her fault. I wasn't thinking when I put it in the paper bag in the first place."

Liseanne pointed down to her shoes. A pair of bright pink opened toed flats she'd bought in New York the previous fall. "It's the first time I've worn them," she said. "Look, they're ruined. The oil got all over them."

"They'll be okay," I reassured her. "We can clean them up. But first, we have to clean up this mess."

And that's when the fun started.

When informed of the catastrophe on the street, C, the birthday girl, her brother, C. and friend W. came out to survey the mess.

"Oh my god," said C. "Does this salad have boccocino in it? I love boccocino," she exclaimed as she bent down to pick out a piece.

W. joined in. "Me too!" Carefully, these two twenty-somethings began to pick out pieces of tomato and boccocino, joyfully eating as much as they could without also getting any road dirt or pottery shards in their feast.

"That was a real roadkill event," C.C. stated later when he arrived from the golf course and was told the story.

That it was.

And the lesson...

It was just a bowl. Hopes and dreams and memories do not live in its depths. They live in our hearts and minds. They live and breathe in the air around us.

It was just a bowl. What was more important was that Liseanne not carry with her the responsibility of feeling she was the cause of the broken bowl. "I'll buy you a new one," she said to me as I stood beside her looking down at the mess."

"That's not necessary," I replied. "You are not responsible for this mess. I am."

And that's where the series of poor choices played out. A paper bag for my favourite bowl? I don't think so. A piece of cellophane to hold in its moist contents? I don't think so.

When something is treasured, it needs to be treated as such.

Memories are the treasures I hold in my heart. Last night, a bowl broke and it was worth it to watch and listen to the laughter of C and W as they chowed down on a salad they didn't want to miss out on.

"Louise is the best cook ever," she had told her friend. "We gotta try the salad!"

And they did.

Not as planned. But they tried it none the less and we all got an evening of laughs as we recounted the story of The Road Kill Salad.

The gift of love was not in the bowl, it was at the table around which we sat and shared a meal. Two families who have known each other since long before their children were born. Two families bonded by a tie stronger than a broken bowl, or spilled wine upon the road of life. Two families who have gathered over countless dining tables over many, many years and shared in love and laughter, good times and stories, joy and sorrow.

And over the years we have supported each other, in good times and bad. We've been there at the birth of each other's children, at birthday parties and graduations. We've supported each other as we've struggled to make sense of life's ups and downs and we continue to do so now as our children grow into adulthood and spread their wings.

Last night, we toasted Alexis and her imminent move to Vancouver. "We'll be back at this table other times," A, our host said. "We'll be sharing in many more meals and here's to you Alexis and your next adventure."

The birthday girl announced her intent to apply for a job in Vancouver. "We can live together!" Alexis and C. said in unison.

The ties that bind people in love cannot be broken.

It was just a red bowl. It can be replaced. Nothing can replace the love we share. The laughter. The joy. The strength and courage. Nothing can ever break it, either.

Nameste. May your day be filled with bonds that tie you to each others hearts in love and leave you free to fly.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Universe is doing its job. What about me?

The more things change, the more they stay the same. I'm not sure who the first person was who said that. Probably Shakespeare. Or maybe Sting. But at the moment, it's the sentence that best explains my tragic flaw: my inability to change. I don't think I'm alone in this. The more I get to know other people, the more I realize it's kind of everyone's flaw. Staying exactly the same as long as possible, standing perfectly still? It feels better somehow. And if you are suffering, at least the pain is familiar. Because if you took the leap of faith, went outside the box, did something unexpected? Who knows what other pain might be waiting out there. Chances are it could be even worse. So you maintain the status quo. Choose the road already traveled and it doesn't seem that bad. Not as far as flaws go. You're not killing anyone? Except maybe yourself a little. When we finally do change, I don't think it happens like an earthquake or an explosion, where all of a sudden we're like this different person. I think it's smaller than that. The kind of thing most people wouldn't even notice unless they looked at us really, really close. Which, thank God, they never do. But you notice it. Inside you that change feels like a world of difference. And you hope this is it. This is the person you get to be forever? that you'll never have to change again. Everwood
Every morning I wake up expecting the billions and trillions of atoms and molecules and neurons that make up my world will be in place. That one tiny atom of my body won't have spun out of control and whirled off into outer space leaving a way out for more atoms to follow. Every morning I awake expecting, knowing, believing, gravity will hold me down, oxygen will fill me up and the Law of Attraction will bring me all my dreams come true.

Okay, so the Law of Attraction isn't quite in the same class as gravity, but it has its universal force, if the pundits of The Secret are to be believed.

And there is some validity to its laws.

I am what I think. What I put my attention on grows stronger in my life. I create what I fear. When I am clear, what I choose to have in my life will appear, and only to the degree that I am clear.

So why wouldn't I put some faith in the Law of Attraction? I don't go to bed at night dreaming of atoms splitting off from my body, or of gravity reversing its force and attaching me to the sky. I don't ask the Universe to send me doom and gloom or to strike me deaf and mute.

I trust. I have faith. I believe.

In a life of possibility. A world of plenty. A Universe of limitless abundance.

I believe in my power to create the life of my dreams. In my ability to manifest beauty and joy in my world with every thought I breathe, with every word I speak and action I take.

I believe in the power and the wonder of now.

I believe I am the master of my destiny. That I determine how brilliantly I shine -- or not. It's up to me to pick up the paintbrush of my dreams, and create a masterpiece of my design. No one else can paint the same as me. No one else can create the same life as me. This is my life to paint, my life to live to the best of my abilities, to take to the limits of my imagination, to fill in with all the living breathing colours of the rainbow of my creativity.

This is my life to fill with joy, to tear up with sorrow.

This is my life to push past the boundaries of my comfort zone, to step out into the wilds of my imagination and soar beyond the limits of my beliefs.

This is my life to change and grow and learn and become all I'm meant to be when I trust in the Universe to do its job of turning up every moment filled with limitless abundance, possibilities and joy.

I choose how I awaken to the sun rising, a sun I trusted would appear, even if hidden behind grey clouds, when I went to bed the night before.

The Universe is doing its job.

I'm responsible for doing mine.

And mine is to live this one, wild and precious life for all I'm worth.

The question is: Are you worth giving your best? Are you worth living it up today?

Friday, September 25, 2009

May you shine

It isn't sufficient just to want - you've got to ask yourself what you are going to do to get the things you want. Franklin D. Roosevelt
Last night I had a visit with a wonderful friend. She is intelligent, kind, caring. She gives of her talents and her time with an open heart, a willing mind.

And she has been hurting.

Last night, three friends sat with her as we talked about possibilities. What she can do, could do, would do if.... The universe was aligned with the stars, water flowed uphill, bees buzzed backwards.

And last night, I felt the power of a circle of love embrace us, lift us up and open each of us up to our higher good connected through the brilliance of our collective magnificence.

My friend's pain is nothing new in the universe. A job that fulfills her on certain levels but drains her on the core values plain of her ethics and principles.

It's a story we've all heard, possibly even lived. We enter the workforce fired up to 'change the world'. To make our mark. To have our contribution count. Over time, our enthusiasm is eroded beneath the burden of workplace maneuvering to herd our unique contributions into alignment with the exigencies of marketplaces and corporate missions and visions and other lofty phrases.

Over time, we tell ourselves we've bent as far as we can, flexed the last moral muscle we have left. In our resignation we deposit our pay cheque and rollover to catch another forty winks before the alarm goes off. We rise up and wash the best of us from our eyes. We lug our weary bones into the office, slip into our cubicle and dream about our escape at the end of the day when we can come alive again.

Throughout the day, we hide our brilliance from our co-workers and bring our mediocrity to the fore. Tired of constantly butting up against hard-azzed opposition to our desire to 'make a difference', we buckle under and give up on our dream of uniting the collective brilliance of the organization to the betterment of the company, its people, its markets, and the world.

Over time, we begin to tell ourselves, after yet another defeated, 'what's the point?', that 'they' don't deserve us. 'They' don't appreciate us. 'They' don't understand. And we join the armies of workers silently kissing their dreams good-bye with every mechanical sweep of the minute hand whiling away the hours of the daily grind marked off by fifteen minute intervals of a double espresso, or mocha cappuccino.

Saddened, yet resigned, we accept that the daily grind of an exotic coffee has more relevance than the latest spread sheet we've laid out in brilliant technicolor. Will anyone read it? Will anyone care?

Sometimes in our defeatism, we resign ourselves to living in the rut of 'the common good', that place where maintaining status quo takes precedence over shaking it up and making sparks fly. We forget the power of combustion. We let go of our desires, our hopes, our dreams and lean into the flow of disgruntled drone filing off to the salt mine every morning with our backs bent, our hearts protected against the buffeting winds of discontent.

Not my friend.

Last night she sat tall. Her face lit up and she chose to make a difference. To do it different. To be different. She chose the warriors path. Between a rock and a hard place, she chose the courageous route up and over the obstacles of her fear shielding her from the path of her magnificence.

She is an inspiration.

At one point in our conversation she asked, "Why does it hurt so much to change?"

B., ever brilliant and insightful, replied, "You are at the edge of change. It's a hard surface and you have to push through it, go over it, around it. You have to get to the other side because, the pain on this side has become greater than your fear of getting to the other side."

Thelma Box, the founder of Choices said that to me once. "When the fear of where you want to go grows greater than the pain of where you're at, you'll change."

I remember writing it down when she said it. It resonated. Ruffled my feathers, stirred my fear of spreading my wings and leaping into the void.

I watched my friend spread her wings last night. I watched her back straighten, her smile broaden, her eyes light up in anticipation.

She doesn't know what the future has in store. She doesn't know if she will succeed at unfolding her dream and setting it free. What she does know is she has the courage, the tools, the skills, the intelligence, the training, the insight, the heart to do what she dreams of doing. She has a kit bag full of possibilities waiting to leap up and stand for what she believes she can do to change the world -- step by step, word by word, breath by breath.

And, as she said looking around the circle, "And no matter what happens, I have a circle of loving arms to catch me no matter where I fall."

Bravo my friend. Bravo!

May we all have a circle of loving arms to fall into. May we all surrender our fears, let go of our limiting beliefs and fall into the wonder of knowing, no matter where we fall, there are loving arms to supports us. Loving arms that will lift us up when we are down. Supportive hand that will be the wind beneath our wings when we can't find the breath to fly and to give us space to spread them out so that we can be free to shine from the brilliance of our most magnificent selves.

The question is: Are you cowering at the edge of change, fearing what's on the other side or, are you willing to take the warrior's path through the obstacles blocking your way so that you can shine?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Connected in the waters of life

Inhale, and God approaches you. Hold the inhalation, and God remains with you. Exhale, and you approach God. Hold the exhalation, and surrender to God. Krishnamacharya
Ever have one of those moments when suddenly, the answer is there, right in front of you, around you, beneath you, above you, within you? It is so clear, so bright you just know. Know, deep down in the bottom of that place just behind your belly button where the fires of your eternal flame flicker in the dark. This, this moment right now. This is 'it'. This is life. This is what it's all about. This moment right now is the Divine, crystallized on the morning dew. The Holy, opened up before you. The essence of all that it means to be human bathing you in love, peace and harmony.

This morning, while meditating, I had one of those moments. Crystal clear, deep, profound, silent and beautiful. I am whole. I am holy.

This morning, I saw 'it'. Saw a truth that has been dancing in the light of my dreams but would vanish to the edges of the mists of my consciousness rising.

This morning, I felt 'it'. Felt its warm loving breath breathing light and hope and endless possibility into my day.

I have always believed that we human beings are inherently good. At the core of each of us is a magnificent jewel of human perfection, over-flowing with creativity, joy, beauty, love. It is our birthright, the essence of who we are born to be.

It is what I live every day at the shelter where I work. It is what I express in my courses, in my interactions with the clients who struggle to overcome life's burdens bearing down upon their enthusiasms, their purpose, their belief in who they are.

This morning, I felt God's breath upon me and I opened up to the truth of my magnificence connected to yours and yours and yours and yours.

See, we are all connected. Strip away life's hurdles. Peel back the layers of human conditioning, of childhood angst and circumstances. Dig under the skin of our outer limits and you will find the essence of each and everyone of us. Whole. Complete. Holy and Divine.

Swim in an ocean and we will all float in the same waters. Sure, some of us will swim faster, some might even sink until they move their arms to keep themselves afloat. But we are all swimming in the same waters. Breathing of the same air.

I can teach you to swim. But I can't change the feel of the water on your skin or mine. It is always wet.

And that was my moment this morning. In our evolutionary process of this journey from the cradle to the grave, we struggle to unearth our true essence beneath the layers of life's programming, our childhood, our family of origin, our ancestral trees. The environment. Our nature. And in our struggle to understand who we are and why we do the things we do, we spend our effort trying to reprogram our thinking to fit the dream of who we want to be when we're not programmed to ... self-defeat, self-destruct, sabotage, or undermine or any host of self-defeating games we might play that keep us from living the life of our dreams.

Yet, underneath it all, at the core of our human existence is this vast sea of brilliance, of magnificence into which and from which we were all conceived, and born and live. Underneath our struggle to find ourselves, is the realization that we were never lost. We just got buried under the human grind eating away at our magnificence.

We are all connected. Not through our pain and sorrow, or even our joy and laughter. We are all connected through the brilliance of the essence of the human spirit. Through this sea of Divine lightness of being that flows for and through and under and over and around each and every one of us.

We are all connected in the waters of life.

The question is: Will you spend your time today peeling back the layers of your past, or will you let go of your expectations of finding yourself on the road of life and dive exuberantly into the sea of your Divine essence and flow effortlessly in the eternal consciousness that has been willed to us through God's magnificent Love?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Flowing freely

A fire in the belly doesn't light itself. Unknown

The universe is filled with serendipity, synchronicity, and just plain old-fashioned luck. This morning, I received an email from a woman, Margot van Sluytman, who has offered to come in and give a writing workshop at the shelter where I work. Margot gave this workshop last spring to the delight of every participant, clients and staff. She is a remarkable woman. To have her come back is a gift.

As Margot and I spoke, she mentioned an organization she works with here where she often offers her courses, Spiritual Directions. Go visit their site, she said. They've got some wonderful programs and you might even want to think about offering a course or two there.

I went and visited their site. How fortuitous.

Recently I have been feeling an undefined ennui. A sadness that felt like it was bubbling up from my roots. I have been resisting it. Pushing it back, admonishing myself with words to shore up my flagging spirits. 'Why should you feel sad, look at all you have going for you right now.' 'Get busy. Get doing. This too shall pass.' 'You're just feeling sorry for yourself because you're in a cast and feeling stuck.' 'Quit wasting your time. Get busy.' 'Seriously Louise, what have you got to feel sad about. Push those feelings away and get yourself in gear.'

What I resist persists.

Reality is, the sadness is bubbling up from somewhere within me. Pushing it away, stemming its flow doesn't change its need for release. I can't go around it, under it, over it. I must go through it. Let it wash through me. Give it space to release itself.

This too shall pass.

Naming the sadness isn't necessary. Giving it air. Letting it breathe in the light of each new day dawning, flames the spark of my creativity, burning up the sadness from where ever it came.

We all have moments where our eyes cloud the rosy dawn of new possibility awakening with every morning. For me, acknowledging that it is my eyes creating the clouds, and not the sky above, gives me the grace to acknowledge that I choose to feel these feelings, I choose to let them flow -- and in their flowing, the lava of my inherent attitude of gratitude is allowed to flow as well.

I am embracing these feelings this morning. Letting them flow freely so that I can dance in the fires of my belly sparking new ideas, new beginnings, new possibilities.

I am not these feelings. These feelings are not me. They just are.

When I allow them to hold me back, knock me down, then I have a problem. In trying to force them back, I was forcing myself into a dark and narrow corridor where I was not free to be all of me. Where I was denying the feelings, and thus, denying my power to move through them with grace and ease, no matter how uncomfortable or tight they felt.

This morning, the sun is shining. The fire in my belly is alight and I am flowing freely.

This morning, I embrace all of me, sadness and sorrow. I can't go around it. I can flow through it as it flows through me, out into the river of my life unfolding under the morning sun, flowing into the sea of my possibilities.

The question is: Are you willing to let your feelings flow without forcing the tide of their unruly nature? Are you willing to let yourself flow freely, no matter the name or label of your emotions?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The power is in love

When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace. Jimi Hendrix
Last night I went with my youngest daughter, Liseanne, to a World Peace meditation at a local yoga centre. Seated in a circle, about 35 people gathered to meditate for an hour on peace. The room was candlelit, the lights on dim. No music played. No radiator hummed. As we sat and drifted down into silence, the world beyond the windows receded, fading into the mist of the external as we connected with the internal within ourselves. For 55 minutes, we sat and silently gave thanks, gave homage to all that is great within, all that is great amongst us and around us.

It was serene. Powerful. Empowering. Energizing. Fulfilling.

At the end of 55 minutes, we spent five minutes in a continuous "Om". The room vibrated with energy. The air was filled with expressive sound, with radiant light, with harmony.

It was a moment to breathe into all that is great, all that is magnificent, all that is Divine in our human condition.

This morning, while checking my email, I found a site that, as the creator describes it, was designed to provide the opportunity for ten million people to give voice to 'gratitude'. Check it out. It's pretty powerful. It only takes a moment every morning to write down what you are grateful for -- and studies show that giving thanks every day will make you happier.

At the meditation session last night, the facilitator said, "It takes 100 people meditating together to create a positive affect in one million people."

This city I live in is just over one million people. If there had been 100 people in that room, almost the entire city would have felt the vibrational harmony of our united thoughts of peace.


10,000 people focusing their thoughts on a light bulb can make it glow. 100 people meditating on peace can create harmony amongst one million.

Very cool.

Very empowering.

Liseanne and I chatted with some of her friends after the meditation before driving home. It was a moment to cherish. An evening to dip into and revel in the wonder and joy of being part of a circle of love that connects me in such a profound and fulfilling way with my daughter.

When we join into a circle of any kind, we create a powerful force for change. Last night, our circle, though not yet 100 people, has the capacity to create change in our world.

In the circle of love within my family, our common focus on loving each other creates a powerful force that can heal the past, render this moment in brilliant living colour, and pave the way for a new and brighter tomorrow.

The power of the moment resonated within me throughout the night. I thought of my nieces with whom my sisters and I have had minimal contact since the tragic passing of their mother and father (my brother) in a car accident twelve years ago. Throughout the intervening years, we have held fast in our desire and intention to make possible a reconnection, a soothing of sorrow, a road to peace.

Sitting in that circle last night, I recommitted myself to doing whatever it takes to let my nieces know, "No matter the distance separating us in time and space, you are always part of the circle of love that is our family. You are loved." I cannot embrace my nieces on the physical plane, I can embrace them in the psychic plane of my thoughts.

If 100 people can create harmony amongst many, three sisters can create love amongst a family. United in the circle to which we were connected at birth, we have the power to keep the circle of love alive through out thoughts. We can light up even the darkest corners with our brilliant light of hope.

We all have that power. For as Jimi Hendrix said, the power of love is the greatest force. It's power is not in hate or anger or resentment or control. It is not in focusing on what he said, she said, they did to hurt us. The power is in loving ourselves and the world around us to let peace have a chance. The power is love.

And so it is.

The question is: Are you willing to let go of anger, resentment, ill-thoughts of another to connect yourself through love to all that is powerful and Divine in your life? Are you willing to let go?

Monday, September 21, 2009

World Peace Day, Sept 21

Today is World Peace Day -- please share your joy and create peace all around you.

Click on the link to view a powerful message of hope, joy and peace.



Leftovers in their less visible form are called memories. Stored in the refrigerator of the mind and the cupboard of the heart. Thomas Fuller
I asked my eldest daughter Alexis to give me a topic to write about this morning. "Leftovers," she immediately replied. "You know, those things we carry from our childhood into adult."

"Why leftovers?" I asked.

"I was reading about them last night. They're," she paused. "...interesting."

Sometimes, in my fridge, there are some very interesting leftovers that are not conducive to a healthy mind and heart. Particularly, those left to fend for themselves in the back of the second shelf, hidden behind the pickles and relishes. Far from view. Long forgotten, they become a science project waiting to sprout wings and fly themselves out of there at the first chance of release. Problem is, their flying power is confined to the putrid mess covering up up the evidence of their long expired, 'best before' date.

Like unexorcised memories from childhood that cramp my style as an adult, limiting my ability to fly free. Toxins of the mind contained in the petri dish of my forgotten past left to rot somewhere on the back shelf of my imaginings.

I came up against one of those containers this morning during my meditation. As I drifted down into quietness, I felt tears welling up behind my eyelids. "What are these tears telling me?" I asked, embracing them in a warm loving hug.

"There's Sadness. Sorrow. Fear." my mind replied.

"And what is beneath the sadness and fear?" I asked myself, imagining the sadness rising, like a veil of mist in the morning sunlight. Beneath it, a sea of fear of letting go. Fear of being free.

And underneath the fear?

In my quiet state my mind quickly answered.

The trigger point is perfection. The belief that I must be perfect, never show weakness, never be vulnerable, never let the outer world see the inner turmoil of my unease.

One of my favourite authors and philosophers, Joseph Campbell wrote, "Out of perfection nothing can be made. Every process involves breaking something up."

In the fridge of my childhood mind, the belief that I could never let anyone see my imperfection for fear they would ridicule me, creates a putrid dish of yeast infested limitations.

I breathe. Slowly. Deeply.

These are just leftovers I've forgotten to clean out. Meals that once fed me but were never healthy enough to sustain my growth into adulthood.

The best cure for leftovers is to throw them out. They served their purpose long ago. They gave me sustenance. They may not have been the best food, or the right food for my spirit, but, they had value in sustaining me way back when.

It is time to clean out my fridge, but first, gratitude. Giving thanks for nourishment that fed my spirit long enough to sprout wings. Giving thanks for lessons learned, and never needed again. For lessons learned that give me courage to break-up the messy beliefs from the past.

Time to check under the lid and see what grows inside. Time to ask the tough questions and let my courage draw me into taking a whiff of truth from what lies beneath the lid. How does this 'meal' serve me now? If the answer is, it limits my freedom, my happiness, my joy -- close the lid and toss it.

If the answer is, it creates more of what I want in life, its message continues to lift me up and support my flight, take a bite! Eat more. Eat joyfully and be sustained by the leftover memories that give me wings to fly.

The question is: What's in your fridge? Are you willing to check out what's under the lid of some of those memories lurking beneath the petri dish of your forgotten past?

Friday, September 18, 2009

You are my beloved. My beloved is me.

You are my beloved and my beloved is me. A prayer
It is Friday. My friend B.A. arrived last night on her way to visit her family in the southern part of the province. I am always in awe of B.A. Her commitment to her family. To doing the right thing, even when it hurts, in spite of how difficult or challenging. To turning up and supporting those she loves with her heart and soul and energy and love. Like my sister, J.T., B.A. is committed to being and giving her best even when those she serves are looking the other way, or unable to accept with open arms the gifts she shares so generously from her heart.

It is Friday. A day to 'clean up', restore, tidy up, set straight, those things left undone throughout the week.

It is Friday. A day to give thanks for all the gifts that appeared upon my path. A day for gratitude and celebration of all I am, all I have, all I have been given.

When I was a little girl, Friday was the day we ate fish. It was also the day we knelt in our living room, rosary in hand, and prayed together. I loved those moments with my mother. Rosary beads clicking, a candle burning in front of the statue of Mary that stood on a corner table in our living room as she whispered the Our Father and then ten Hail Mary's. Round and round the Rosary she would go and with each 'decade', a new Mystery was announced and then, the Our Father and ten Hail Mary's.

There was a grace to those times. A sense of ritual. A serenity. A predictability.

As a child, my mind often wandered. Sometimes, I resented the intrusion of prayer into my play. The need to get down on my knees to pray to a God who seemed too distant, and so harsh.

Yet, with every Hail Mary, every bead clicked-off, there was a connection to something greater than this human existence, something spiritually connected beyond the corporeal realm of our daily living.

And while I no longer pray the Rosary every Friday, the power of prayer continues to resonate within me. As a little girl, I prayed for sunshine on the weekend. For a red rubber ball at Christmas. For my mommy to not be so sad. My daddy not so angry. I prayed for my brother to teach me how to ride a bike. My sister to give me her favourite doll that I coveted.

As a child, my prayers were simple wishes designed to bring me what I wanted in my life that moment, that day, that hour. Sometimes I prayed I could be a 'good girl' and not make every one so unhappy. Or that I could have wings and fly away to some other home where I belonged and didn't feel so out of place. As a child, my prayers were always focused on me, myself and I. On what I wanted in a world that seemed too big and too scary for me to understand.

Today, my prayers are not focused on bringing to me what I wish for. They are about creating more of what I want in life -- not the tangible effects of more money, or a larger house, or a bigger car -- but rather, those intangibles of peace of mind, serenity, authenticity.

Today, my prayers are sent up into the Universe, Divinely inspired to create a world of love and joy all around me. I see my prayers as the stone dropped into a pond, rippling out and creating waves of beauty in the world out there beyond my wildest dreams.

Today, the power is not in my prayers, it is in the spiritual connectedness I feel when I take a breath, allow my being to settle into the seat of my belly, deeper and deeper like a leaf drifting to the ground, as I connect to all that is Divine, all that is One within me and the universe around me.

Today is Friday. I give thanks for a week of abundance. A week of joy and laughter. For good friends and good conversation. For family and love and the knowing that I am not alone. I am part of a universe of love that supports me and lifts me up to my highest good.

Today is Friday. Thank you for being here with me. For being part of my circle of brilliance.

Today is Friday and I pray you touch the fire in your belly and fan its flames with love and joy and laughter. I pray your brilliance casts light into the darkest corners as you illuminate the world with your laughter and tears, love and joy. I pray we shine together; for you are my beloved and my beloved is me.

The question is: Are you willing to shine?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Get your But out of it!

How often I have found that we grow to maturity not by doing what we like, but by doing what we should. How true it is that not every 'should' is a compulsion, and not every 'like' is a high morality and true freedom. Karl Rahner
It's just a small word, but in it, it has the power to create guilt and anxiety -- or -- to open doors to possibility.


Should I go shopping or go to work?

Should I buy that cashmere sweater or pay down my mortgage.

The power's not in the word. It's in the choices we make when the word is employed.

I know. I know. I've said it many times. Life is about the choices we make.

Last night, I spent some time having fun online, getting creative with my life vision and doing something constructive about envisioning and mapping it out. I found a wonderful FREE site that lets you create a vision board(s) to cover all areas of your life. Last night, I started working on my 'career' board. My plan is to create a vision board for every area of my life -- relationship, family, philanthropy, travel and recreation, + -- digitally.

Now, that word 'should' jumps in and niggles away at my peace of mind. You should be.... cleaning house. Ha! Because my leg is in a cast I've hired a cleaning lady to come and do the job. She was here yesterday and the house is pristine, all sparkly clean and shiny!

Take that you naughty 'should'!


No buts about it. Get your shouldy butt out of it.


(sigh) But can be so persistent. But what?

But you should be resting your foot, lying in bed eating bonbons and drinking champagne.

I am lying in bed, silly 'should'. At least, I'm sitting in bed with my foot up on a pillow, laptop in lap. As to the bonbons and champagne, well, I should NOT be eating bonbons and champagne if I ever want to get off this bed!

Hmmm. How about, you should be doing nothing because you're off work 'sick' and you shouldn't be having a good time doing things you like to do, enjoying life.

Ahhhhh.... now there's the crux of the shouldness in my life. Somewhere I've got a tape that runs something like this. "Life isn't meant to be enjoyed. It's a daily grind and you need to buckle down and accept it. No having fun. That's frivolous. Silly. No shirking responsibility."

But then, (see there's that persistent but again!) but then, I have a tape that runs saying, "you always shirk responsibility. You always look for the easy way out. You are such a lazy good for nothing... blah blah blah blah blah.)

I should cut the threads to those tapes.

I would like to cut the threads to those tapes.

I wish I could cut the threads to those tapes.

I can cut the threads to those tapes.

I WILL cut the threads to those tapes.

It isn't the 'should' that gets me. It's the underlying message I buy into when I should my way into feeling guilty about having fun, enjoying life, easing up on taking myself so seriously.

I should ....

go fly a kite!

Ooops. It's a no wind day here. No kite flying, and, as I discovered, flying a kite requires running and running in a cast up to my knee is nigh on impossible. I can go create a Vision Board of my life and what it means to have FUN -- I can start getting creative about what I do to instill fun in my everyday world!

That's it.

Rather than shoulding my way into taking myself too seriously, I'll WILL my way into enjoying every moment of every day, even when I'm doing the things that trigger those tapes. Best way to cut the tapes is to overlay them with ACTION.

And that's the thing about a Vision Board, a dream, an idea, a wish, any endeavour or grand scheme on how and what you want in life. No matter what you want in life, it won't happen sitting around wishing and hoping. It won't happen if all you do paint a pretty picture or write a list of I should's, or, I'd like to.... and then never get off your ..... BUTT and take ACTION!

Action is required to engage life.

Action is mandatory to making dreams come true.

See it. Believe it. Achieve it.


Get To It!

Get to doing the things no matter if they're 'shoulds', 'like to's', or 'want to's'.

Get doing. Get active. Get in motion.

And leave your but out of it!

Reality is.... for your dreams to come true -- Yes you should Do It!

The question is: Are you sitting looking at the 'should' and avoiding action?

And PS. Visit and get to it!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Zen on the road of life

For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move. Robert Louis Stevenson
We landed in LA at noon. Were at the garage where the car was waiting for us by 1 and on the road by 2. Straight west to the coast. "You can't go any further," Georgio, the man who sold C.C. the car said. "You'll either have to turn left or right. Turn right." We drove through LA traffic, the lemon yellow 1978 Mercedes sedan humming along. Past malls and houses. Business parks and freeways overlapping each other. Everywhere we looked civilisation was laid out in concrete and stucco. Palm trees swayed. Bougainvillea filled the ditches, a riot of deep red and fuchsia.

And then we saw the ocean in front of us. Tumbling surf and glistening waters. Surfers and beach babes. Families and dogs frolicking in the sand.

We turned right. North. The road passed through beach towns of 90201 fame. Santa Monica. Malibu. Venice Beach. We kept travelling north, looking for a restaurant over looking the water that was off the beaten track. 'Ventura. Visit our pier.' We turned off the highway, got lost and then found at Brophy's on the pier. Boats bobbed in the marina. Seagulls and cranes bobbed on the water. Strutted along the pier. Sat like statues on the pylons. A seal poked his head up. Looked around. Dipped down into the water.

The restaurant was quiet. We ate swordfish and seafood salad and watched the world around us.

We kept going north, not sure where we'd stop. We'd see when we were tired. For the time being, just being able to see the water, smell it, taste it in the air was enough to keep us both intoxicated.

Santa Barbara. Santa Maria. The road turned inland. Vineyards marched up the hillsides into the horizon. I liked the name of the town, San Luis Obispo. "Let's stop here," I said. It was 8pm. Dark. We left the Pacific Coast Highway 101 (PCH), traipsed into the town. Busy. Streets were blocked off. People were milling about. There was a sense of festival in the air.

"Look. There!" I exclaimed. "That looks great. A B&B."

Established in 1902, The Garden Street Inn was that. Great. We got a room and headed out to the main street. "It's a suite," C.C. said. The only one on the main floor." No stairs. Antique furniture. White comforter. Giant jacuzzi tub. Not particularly practical with my foot in a cast, but lovely to think about for another time. "The next visit," C.C. said.

We asked the hotelier about the activity downtown, a block away. "Every Thursday night, all year round, except during Christmas break, there's a farmer's market downtown," he told us.

We set out to explore. Walking the streets, smelling the freshly popped popcorn, the Mexican tortillas, the produce. Fresh figs. Olive oils. Fruits and vegetables. Heavenly. Divine. Intoxicating.

We wandered about until 9 when the stalls started to close up and then found a Brew Pub. Local ale. Local folk. Local musicians performing. Heavenly. Divine. Intoxicating -- and it wasn't just the ale!

And so the trip began. Every moment a continuation of the last unfolding with ease and grace. Zen and the art of driving the PCH.

We drove north. Around every bend an exclamation point. An entire highway filled with WOW moments. Startling vistas of vineyards rolling mile after mile into the east that gave way to sand dunes and sparkling waters rolling endlessly into the west. Sunlight. Fresh salty air. Sea breezes.

A stop at a couple of vineyards in the San Luis Obispo area -- we didn't know central California had so many vineyards. Pleasant people. Delicious tastes. Food and wine and local lore all mixed up into a delightful ambrosia that filled our senses with the wonder of being alive, the joy of being together, the thrill of discovery.

It was hot inland. 102 degrees Fahrenheit. We ditched Hwy 101 and headed west, back out to the coast. The road dropped down amongst towering pines. Windy. Circuitous. We found Hwy 1 hugging the shoreline. The temperature dropped 40 degrees and fog wafted in and out.

We headed north. We drove and looked and chatted and sat comfortable with the silence. The old Merc hummed along, she's a fine old gal. Her radio was irregular. Her air conditioning non-existent -- but other than that, she was in top form. We nick-named her Betsy as we coaxed her to give it her all going up the hills. She's a diesel. 31 years old, and though she's been around, she wears her years well. Pristine condition. Only driven an average of 5,000 miles a year. One owner. We imagined him. An older gent. White hair. Mustache. Liked to take her out to the corner store and home again. Took the missus to church every Sunday morning and then out to lunch at the golf and country club. Nothing too harsh. Nothing too arduous for the old gal. Treated her well. She was his 'other woman'.

We kept driving north.

Lunch at Nepenthe. Egyptian for, 'Without Sorrow', Nepenthe is all giant beams and glass, over looking the ocean rolling in against the surf below. Blue birds flittered in the oaks. Sun glinted off the waters. A divine Heirloom Tomato salad with Boccocino and Basil vinaigrette for me. C.C. had the best burger he's ever had, he said.

Northward again.

Through rolling hills skirting the ocean. Inland for a bit. Back out to the coast. The tarmac like a ribbon unfurling before us, winding along the coast. Up and over, down and in and out.

We drove north.

Night found us in Sausalito. Another beautiful B&B -- a block up from the ocean. Dinner at Horizon, sitting out watching the harbour. SF across the bay glittering in the evening light. The lights of the Golden Gate Bridge twinkled in the night. And then, the fog rolled in. Slowly, inexorably, the bridge lights were extinguished. And then, SF disappeared. We sat and watched the world grow smaller beyond the bay and were in awe of the beauty of the mists caressing the waters off in the distance.

Rain in the morning. I won a bet and C.C. had to buy me a kite. We continued north.

To Jenner and the Russian River and a restaurant called River's End. An amazingly pleasant waitress told us all about the river and its history. She pointed out the sandbar created by the ocean's constant piling up of sand, the mouth of the river pushing up against it. She told us about the ocean's tendency to block the river off with sandbars every year. "It will open up sometimes twice a year. Sometimes fifty. You never know. Right now, it's opening up again," she said. "It's never boring. Every day is different." She's lived there all her life. Goes to college nearby. Studying Wine Management and Marketing. "I couldn't imagine living anywhere else," It was easy to see how.

And we drove north. The days rolled into one continuous flow of magic unfolding with every mile covered.

We spent the night in Eureka. I texted the girls -- 'Eureka. We've found Eureka!' Darkness descended. We found a hotel. More mainstream than the B&Bs of the nights before. But, it was worth it. A beautiful courtyard outside our room with a pond and water lillies and flowering plants.

We kept going north, the sun burning through the evening's mist. Redwood's towering above. The ocean rolling in at our left.

Port Orford. "Griff's on the Dock". We followed the sign off the highway. Down onto a dock. Boats in dry dock. Boats in the water. Machinery. Workers clamouring in and around the boats. Fisherman hauling in their loads. A shack. Ramshackle. A crooked sign over the door. 'Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. Museum. Gallery.' The 'Breakfast' had been crossed-off with a streak of black paint.

We entered. The gallery part was first. Tacky souvenirs. Shell motifs. Wind chimes and door signs in the shapes of dories and lighthouses. Wine for sale. Beer. Trinkets and gadgets all with a sea motif. The museum was in the back. The size of a small bathroom it chronicled a confusing history of the area -- no theme. No start to end of time. Just an array of pictures and artifacts about the area. Down a stair, through a wooden archway, we found the restaurant. Ten tables. Windows facing the dock. Wooden table tops. Metal chairs. Ah, but the food didn't care how rustic or simple its surroundings. Whole Crab with melted butter. Cioppino -- to die for.

And we continued north.

We looked for a place to fly my kit on the beach. We found a spot. But getting down to it was tricky with my foot in a cast -- I had to cover the cast with a plastic bag as I did not relish getting sand in amidst my toes! Slowly we clamoured down. I sat on a log and watched C.C. run down the beach, the colourful tail of the kite streaming behind him. There was no wind. The sun was setting. Golden and rose and peach. Water shimmered. It didn't matter that the kite never got more than ten feet off the ground. The whole event was grand. We laughed and laughed. The surf roared. The evening air whispered against our cheeks. It was divine.

It was time to travel inland. More easterly as we had a date at the border on Monday. Another town. Another quaint hotel. Another amazing meal on a rooftop deck that I climbed four stories to reach only to discover -- there was an elevator. We laughed and laughed some more.

It was a wonderful trip. An amazing journey. And all of it is captured in our memory banks as neither of us remembered to take a camera! We didn't care. Perfection can never be captured on film. It's always there for us to cherish though as we recall the ease with which we rode together. C.C. at the wheel. Me on the passenger side, foot up on the dash. Map laid out on my lap.

It was the two of us alone on the highway immersed in the Zen of driving the PCH, immersed in the joy of being together with nothing more taxing than deciding when to turn off and take a break, when to eat, when to call it a night, when to start the new day.

And home again. Life unfolds and time marches on. Like the ocean. Ebb and flow. Constantly recreating the shoreline. Carrying in sand and flotsam. Carrying on.

Life. A wonderful flow of moments carrying in with them new and exciting adventures. Joy and laughter. Sometimes pain and sorrow. And always flowing onward.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Gratitude fills me with joy

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. Melody Beattie
I am filled with gratitude this morning. Filled with its well-being. Its peace. Its beauty.

C.C.s niece and family left last night -- that's not why I'm filled with gratitude. It has been a wonderful week having them here.

The gratitude comes from having had the opportunity to watch C.C. glow in the joy of being surrounded by his family. Of watching little children scoot in and out, in and around, up and under as their parents and the other adults visited and laughed and reminisced and created new memories. My sister, J., was there, lending a hand, sharing in the laughter. Liseanne and Alexis were there. The meal was wonderful. C.C. barbecued -- ribs and chicken. Salad. Potatoes. Cheesecake for desert. We chatted late into the evening. Twinkling lights hung in the crab apple tree. My 'fire pots' glowed in the dark. I'm grateful for my friend C.S. who transported those wondrous clay pots back from Nelson for me.

And, I have a new bird feeder. A beautiful gift from C.C.s niece and family.

And, Marley the great cat is sitting at my side watching me type.

And, Ellie the wonder pooch is lying on the floor at the foot of the bed, undeterred by the great cat's presence.


Well, the biggest one of all.

I heard back from the publisher in New York.

They love my book. That's what the publisher said when he wrote me an email yesterday. "We love your book."

They want to publish it!

I'm still taking it all in. Still trying to grasp the magnitude and possibilities of what it all means. I'm speaking with the publisher on the phone sometime today. I'm waiting to go through the documents.

I am overwhelmed. And grateful. And excited. I am joyful, joyous, over-joyed!

And tomorrow, C.C. and I fly to LA to pick up a classic old Mercedes he's bought. We'll be driving up along the west coast for a few days. Relaxing. Chatting. Connecting. Chilling.

I'm off my crutches. I've got a 'shoe' to fit over my cast so that I can get around, hands free! What a difference that makes. To be able to walk without being hobbled by crutches.

And, I figure my right leg is going to be getting very fit as the cast and shoe weigh 6 lbs! Cool.

I'm excited about our trip. I'll be able to lay back, elevate my foot and watch the world go by as we drive north along the coastline. Years ago I drove up Hwy 1 from LA to San Francisco. Never driven the highway north of SF -- and everyone who's driven it says its spectacular!

I'm so excited! And grateful. And joyful, joyous, overjoyed!

I'll be offline for a few days -- though I'm taking my laptop in case I can get access along the way.

If not -- I'll see you next Wednesday, filled with tales of our journey and as always -- I'll be sharing my joy of living this one wild and precious life fearlessly in love with all I am and all I can give to create a beautiful world all around me.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

There's no free ride.

If you don't have confidence, you'll always find a way not to win. Carl Lewis
The negative negativity of lack of confidence. It erodes all efforts to succeed, to build, to create, to shine. Like acid corroding the container that holds it together, lack of self-confidence eats away at us from the inside out.

I know.

Been there. Done that. Worn the t-shirt. In fact, I probably designed it in the process!

That was then. This is now.

Financier and publisher, Malcolm Forbes once said, "Too many people over-value what they are not and undervalue what they are."

In my 'now' state, I am learning to release devaluing who I am as I place my value in what I have, can do, can accomplish when I turn up for me, in all my human imperfections and focus on what is possible -- not what appears to be impossible!

It's all in our perceptions.

Possible. Impossible.

Fifty years ago, surfing the Internet, finding quotes, researching articles on self-esteem and self-confidence, would have been conceived as 'impossible'.

Today, when my Internet connection is down, I'm irate. I've come to rely on this technology to carry me out into the world giving and receiving information, insight, connections. I''ve come to believe it will always be there!

What is impossible to one man, is just a new idea to be explored to another.

My belief in what I can do, my belief in my talents, gifts, abilities -- that's what makes the difference. If I believe I can't write a blog every morning, I can't. -- Just as Henry Ford said long ago, "Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you're right."

Without the confidence that I can write a blog every morning -- and then the self-discipline to get up and do it, I would be setting myself up to prove myself right in my belief, I can't do it.

Instead, I let my confidence shine. I sit down every morning, trust in the process of writing, of letting the muse awaken beneath my fingertips and let my fingers fly. Some mornings, I don't know what I'm going to write about. I can't let my self-doubt stop me. If I never sat at the keyboard, no words would appear on the screen. Because I trust in the process, believe the words will appear, and have the confidence to sit down in front of a blank screen, I write this blog every morning.

At first, writing here was scary. My lack of confidence in my writing ability, plus my fear I would have nothing of value to send out into cyberspace, threatened my commitment to write here every morning. In doing it, I built my writer's muscle, and my confidence. Some mornings, I'm happy with what I wrote. Other mornings, I doubt. And then someone will email or comment online, and I realize my doubt is just my inner narcissist taking a free ride on my commitment to be all I'm meant to be, freely, passionately and fearlessly.

Sometimes, to build confidence we simply have to 'do it'. In spite of our fear. In spite of our predisposition to undermine our efforts with thoughts of why we will fail, why we can't win, why 'good things never happen to us', we must, as Nike exhorts, 'do it'.

The question is: Are you letting fear block you from success? Are you willing to just do it?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Living up to my higher good

All forms of self-defeating behavior are unseen and unconscious, which is why their existence is denied. Vern Howard
Within all psyches there exist 'tapes' that replay themselves -- particularly when we are under stress. These tapes, or messages, or self-denigrating statements were formed when we were small and experiencing the world through the filter of our environments. They were formed as we encountered life, in all its ups and downs and ins and outs, and created messages for ourselves to rationalize, understand, make sense of the world around us.

As adults, we act out our tapes rationalizing our behaviour to accommodate our belief that we have no choice, it's just the way we are, it's not my fault, what do you expect me to do?... And on and on we go.

At Choices, Thelma Box, the founder and facilitator of the program, says the work we do on our tapes and self-defeating behaviours are the two most important and healing components of the training. I agree.

I have tapes that fire when things go wrong, when I choose to do the wrong thing, or choose to take the 'easy' instead of the best way through, out, or over something in my life.

My tapes go something like this: "You are such a loser." "Hello. What were you thinking?" "How could you be so stupid?... blind... dumb....(fill in the blank). You should have known better. It's all your fault...."

The problem with tapes is they are always, and I mean always, a lie.

The challenge is, we spend a lot of our time in the subconscious effort to prove our tapes right by doing the wrong things.

Tapes hold me back with their destructive tendency to pull me down to my lesser self and undermine my higher good. When my behaviour is optional, or I am being a problem, I often think I am shoring myself up to prove my tapes wrong, when in actuality, I am working to prove my tape right. Inevitably, when I am playing to my tapes, I am responding to my lesser good.

And that's not healthy.

Take for example my desire to lose weight. Within me is a tape that goes something like this. "You don't deserve to be slim. You're so fat or, you're not fat, you're just big boned. Eating makes you feel better. It's okay to eat that, you deserve it because.... (the because can be anything from, I'm tired to I walked an extra mile to I cleaned the dog poop up in the backyard and I deserve a reward!)"

Those tapes are not my friend -- but subconsciously I am trying to prove they don't exist, or they don't control me, or they are not true. Sometimes, I try to eat them away, or simply ignore them or fight them or drown them beneath eating all the wrong things.

Thing is, my tapes are always triggered by my emotions. So, if I am over-eating or eating the wrong things, I am actually eating my feelings -- and my feelings are all about me and what's going on in my life and how I'm handling what's going on in my life. If I'm eating my feelings, I'm not dealing with my life in a loving, balanced and caring way -- and that's a habit I need to break.

How to break the habit is the real challenge. How do I know what my tape is if I am acting out some subconscious tirade that I am not completely aware of?

By getting conscious of what I'm doing, and being committed to do 'the right thing'.

W. Clement Stone, author and founder of AON Insurance, once said, "Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity."

I know that eating a donut is the 'wrong' thing to do. Having integrity means I don't let fear drive me into doing what hurts me. Having integrity means I let courage draw me into doing the right thing -- at all times.

And that can be hard.

Sometimes, I want to act out, be the child, be willfully stubborn and just be a nuisance in my own life.

Being adult, being responsible, being self-loving means -- I acknowledge my baser instincts -- and do the right thing.

No matter the circumstances.

No matter my fear.

No matter how tired, grumpy, out of sorts or simply feeling blue I am.

One day at a time.

Choice by choice.

Step by step.

Moment by moment.

And that's my choice today.

I acknowledge I have tapes that propel me into self-defeating behaviours.

I acknowledge I have the power to face the truth about who I am -- I am a miracle of life. I woman of worth. A being of great value, perfectly human in all my human imperfections.

The question is: Are you living up to your higher good? Are you listening to the truth about who you truly are, a miracle of life, a being of great value?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Upon a solid foundation of love

A house must be built on solid foundations if it is to last. The same principle applies to man, otherwise he too will sink back into the soft ground and become swallowd up by the world of illusion. Sai Baba
CJ, C.C.s niece's husband, is a professional photographer. Yesterday, he did a photo shoot with Alexis and Liseanne.

In the backyard, standing under the birch tree, CJ clicked as the girls posed and postured. A wind blew in. Leaves rustled. Branches shook and suddenly, a loud crack splintered the air and a large branch split off from the birch tree, right above the girls' heads. With a shriek they scooted out from under the tree as the branch crashed down towards the ground.

That tree looked pretty healthy. Until the branch fell, we didn't realize that there was deadwood at the core of one branch. Yet, its foundation is still solid. Still capable of sustaining life. Its roots still spread out beneath the soil, feeding it, nurturing it, helping it to grow up towards the light. With that branch discarded, the tree is healthier than before.

In every life, in every family, there are branches that need pruning -- no matter the strength of the tree. That need cutting back or tearing off. In every life, there are segments of rot, of unhealthy stems and dying branches. It is part of the circle of life. As we grow we prune and snip and shape and cut. With each diseased portion discarded, we strengthen the root and foundation. We create a being that can last a lifetime.

In my family there are aspects of our past that do not serve our lives today. It is important to let what doesn't work go so that the foundation of our family can be strong today.

In my daughters' lives, there were things that happened in their pasts that hurt them and caused them pain. In letting go of those branches of unease, they strengthen their lives today. Because their foundation was always built on love, they have the courage to discard that which would bring them down.

Had we known that branch was rotting, we would have cut it down, rather than risk it damaging the house, or hurting someone, in its descent. Because we didn't inspect the tree for rot, we didn't know.

As Plato wrote long ago, the unexamined life is not worth living.

In not examining that tree, the potential for damage was great. We were lucky. It crashed to the ground and no one and nothing was hurt.

Our foundation remains rock solid. We continue to love and grow and flourish in a world where, what didn't work for us in the past, is released so that we can live our beautiful lives today free of the encumbrances that would tear us down. And the backyard continues to be a place of refuge for birds and squirrels and Ellie the wonder dog and other visiting creatures. The branch is missing a limb, but the trunk is strong. It will continue to offer shelter for years to come.

The question is: Are you willing to let go of what would bring you down so that you can flourish upon a solid foundation of love?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Good times. Bad times. It's up to me to weather the storms

If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere. Frank A. Clark
I took a path to well-being. It was long and circuitous, filled with giant potholes to navigate, mountains of dirt to dig through and oceans of turbulent seas to cross. And then I arrived here. In this place of finding myself beneath the muck of unease that had unsettled my peace of mind and inhibited me from living the life of my dreams.

After 'Him whose name I do not speak' was arrested six+ years ago, I realized I needed help. Desperately. I started seeing a therapist and in one of our sessions asked, "So, I know I'm an experiential learning but did I have to take such a circuitous path to get here?"

"There were a thousand paths you could have taken, Louise," he replied. "This just happens to be the one you took. It's not about how you got to where you want to be, it's about being happy with who you are, where you are, now."

I'm not on the side of Frank A. Clarke's path, I don't believe a path needs obstacles to take me somewhere. The obstacles don't determine my journey. They are not a measure of whether or not I'm going in the right direction -- sometimes, if the obstacles are too big, or hard to get through the best course of action is to take another path, even find another destination. I believe the obstacles are often an opportunity for me to stop, look, listen and feel whether or not this is the right path for me to be on.

As in the case of "Him, whose name...." that path wasn't a good path. It was fraught with peril. Replete with terror and abuse. But I was committed to that relationship. I'd learned through my marriage that I needed to be the one to be committed -- it was important for me that I not quit. In sticking to it, the very strength that got me through many other aspects of my life and brought me success, became the weakness that brought me to my knees. My determination. My stick-to-it-ness.

My strength became my weakness.

In believing I could 'get through anything', 'handle any adversity', I payed the price of hubris. My pride wouldn't let me fall. My ego wouldn't let me back up and walk away.

I didn't need to get through anything to find myself. I needed to stand up and be counted -- for holding true to my values, beliefs, principles.

And that was what I wasn't willing to do.

Today, that's the beauty of the path I took to get here. The obstacles on that path, and the steps I took to get through, or over, or under, or around them no longer determine my value and happiness today. I do.

Today, I know that regardless of what is happening on this path, I am okay. I have the power and the courage to change direction if I need. I have the strength to make choices that love and support me, where ever I am on the path. Whatever path I'm on.

Obstacles that appear do not deter me -- they are no longer set in stone. I don't go out looking for obstacles. I look for adventure. For opportunity to be me without fear that who I am will not measure up to the difficulty, or ease, found along the path.

I am not measured by the obstacles on my journey. I am measured by who I am, how I stand up and be counted. How I breathe life into each moment, moving with grace and ease through good times and bad, hardship and adventure.

The question is: Are you looking for obstacles to prove you're worthy of the path? Or, are you accepting what comes with grace and ease, joyfully moving in the direction of your dreams without letting adversity hold you back?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

This is family

A babe in the house is a wellspring of pleasure, a messenger of peace and love, a resting place for innocence on earth, a link between angels and men. Martin Fraquhar Tupper
We have a three month old infant in the house. She is a tiny creature. Ten perfect fingers. Ten perfect toes. She gurgles and burbs, laughs and smiles. Her blue eyes are constantly watching, her fingers continually grasping at the air in front of her face. She is an angel.

C.C.'s niece and husband, along with their 3-year old and infant daughter arrived yesterday amidst piles of luggage. I'd forgotten what it was like to travel with children. The need to cart, strollers and travelling beds and bags of toys and books and clothing and various sundry items like formula and bottles and sterilizers and everything else imaginable... just in case.

Travelling with a child is a lesson in preparedness. Just in case.... we can't do laundry. The airline loses a bag. The flight's late, rescheduled, cancelled. Just in case, the baby gets sick, the 3 year old throws up, or throws a tantrum or throws away the baby with the bathwater. Mothers, and fathers are champions of the Just in Case suitcase of the travelling necessities.

Last night, two more of C.C.s nieces arrived with children in tow as well as husbands and a grandmother, C.C.s sister, along with her granddaughter by an absent daughter. One niece also has a baby, five months old, and without a doubt, one of the most perfect 'Gerber' baby models I've ever seen. He laughed and chortled and hammered his fists in the air, arcing his back as he gleefully expressed his wonder of the world.

Amidst the chaos of kids running up and down the stairs, out the back door, asking for a glass of juice, a cracker, a bandaid, a hand up, Marley escaping and everyone going on a hunt, of one of the nieces husbands doing a photo shoot in the back yard, and babies crying for food, we managed to create a memorable feast.

It is the first time we have entertained any of C.C.s extended family.

It was a blast.

The noise level was constant, the chaos consuming. I hobbled around on my crutches or sat on a chair with my foot up -- somewhat frustrated that I could not do more, but happy to let C.C. deal with what needed to be done to get the dinner on the table. And he did! And it was delightful.

Throughout the evening, the women spoke of babies and childbirth of the beauty of children and the fear of having more, or not having more, of what if the next one cries all night, or doesn't have all fingers and toes. Of doctors and baby ailments, of schooling and child rearing. The men breezed in and out of the room, chatting with each other in the backyard as C.C. hooked up the barbecue or, they simply steered the kids from one adventure to the next, setting up Wii, dismantling a fort, finding some diversion to avert a potential misadventure of the sibling kind.

It was an evening of family, of conviviality, of closeness, of life unfolding.

And amidst it all, the little angel sat in her rocking 'bucket', watching the world around her, watching her family unfold in all its loving support. She is too little to know what it all means, yet in its meaning is the truth that this is life -- bold, brass, noisy, chaotic.

This is the meaning of family. Shared times, and interrupted conversations, ten people speaking at once, of children falling, and running in and out, into each other, and around and around. Oof laughter and teasing and understanding and shared history and memories that link each generation to the next. This is the meaning of love.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Good Housekeeping and other saintly chores

You sometimes see a woman who would have made a Joan of Arc in another century and climate, threshing herself to pieces over all the mean worry of housework. Rudyard Kipling
The great cat Bob Marley, formerly known asKaspur and then Satchmo, has carved a path of fame here in our household. Not only is he The Great Cat, he is now, The Great Mouser.

Yup. Marley has captured, and toyed with, and ultimately ended the life of, a mouse. He is an honoured member of our household. Free to lie on the desk in the bay window in our bedroom and watch the birds at the feeder. Of course, now he figures he has the right to escape to the great outdoors -- and attempts to do so whenever the back door is opened. I have no desire for him to become The Great Birder and thus go to great lengths to ensure he remains within the confines of our home.

This morning, Marley took matters into his own paws. He escaped. Wandered the back yard and was attempting to climb the apple tree when we realized he was out. It took C.C., Liseanne and Alexis twenty minutes to get him back in the house. I sat on the back step, shaking a bag of treats, to no avail. Marley scooted from one side of the lawn to the other, into bushes, under the table, into the hedge. He even decided to do his business in the garden, but none of us thought to scoop him up while he was leaving his deposit. Alas, as soon as he was done and had covered up the evidence, he was off, leaping into the hedge, scooting through the grass. Finally, C.C. cornered him under the lilac bush and he was once again back inside.

Until five minutes later. The back door hadn't latched properly and Marley was once again on the loose. It took another fifteen minutes for him to be reinstated inside!

Which meant C.C. was late getting to the airport to pick-up his neice, her husband and their two young children. They're staying with us for a week as CJ (the husband) is here to photograph some of the events for the Worldskills Expo which is currently underway in Calgary. It's been a long time since I've had an infant and a three year old around for any length of time -- should be interesting!

Which is why I'm late writing this morning. In preparation for their arrival, I wanted the house to be presentable -- not an easy feat when hobbling around on crutches! Alexis suggested I let it go, that I just accept the house not be clean and tidy.

"No way!" I exclaimed. "You know what happens. She'll tell her cousins and aunts what a messy housekeeper Louise is and that would be awful!"

"What about C.C. Won't they think it's him."

"Nope. It's a female thing. Cleanliness is non-gender specific. Dirty houses are always about the woman!"

Ahhh, the fragility of my feminine ego. As if my worth is based on the cleanliness of my home.

Then again, maybe I do believe some of my worth is based on the cleanliness of my home -- and that's not all a bad thing!

The mess that was cluttering up the bedrooms, the living room, pretty well every surface in the house, has been tidied up and tucked away. I've even managed to clean the bathroom -- and yes, 'the other's', those who also live in this house, did pitch in to help -- but ya know how it is, it's never done to my level unless I do it (sigh, wipe my brow and collapse upon the settee in a swoon, exhausted from all that hopping around).

These are the moments when I realize I truly can be a control freak. Me and Joan of Arc. She was saving the world from sin and peridition, I'm saving my reputation and becoming a martyr in the process! I truly do want things done my way!

But that's life. Sometimes, nothing more profound than cleaning up life's little (and not so little) messes. And in the grand scheme of things life unfolds with its ebbs and flows, its too's and fro's -- and I feel more confident with my reputation preserved as the patron saint of good housekeeping.