Sunday, February 28, 2010

Using the story

Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives, the power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change, truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts. Salman Rushdie
Sunday, a day to relax. To recoup. To regroup and refresh.

Yesterday we finished the interview for my part of the documentary as well as some shots of Ellie and me and me just doing things. Ellie has become a part of the film story, which she always was in real life.

And she's a ham.

It's as if she knows the camera likes her to look extra cute and so she prances and preens, smiles and leaps around just for the camera.

And I am tired.

One of the questions the director asked was, "Why is it hard for you to tell this story."

It isn't.

And it is.

I had several answers -- don't like to look dumb. don't like talking about how I hurt the people I love most. Don't like not having control.

And, the answer that surprised me, "I don't like being a victim."

And I was.

CZBZ posted a comment yesterday that rang so true my heart reverberated against her words humming through cyberspace.

"OH Louise! I remember when we first met in cyberspace. We were each struggling with a serious life crisis, letting go of excruciating self-blame and moving into personal responsibility.

I watched you grow and you've watched me grow and hopefully, we'll remain part of one another's life for years to come.

It has been inspirational watching you restore your life while maintaining concern for other people.

Wanting to help.

Wanting to share.

Wanting to show people how to avoid similar mistakes in their own lives.

You know, a lot of people would crawl away, never thinking about what happened. Erasing it from their memory. They would be fearful of being so open and honest.

They silence a part of themselves.

I encounter this quite often (perhaps you do, too). People fear admitting to others that they made a mistake. Well gee, human beings make lots of mistakes. It's not the mistake, it's what we do afterwards that defines our character, don't you think?

Not that it's easy to admit we were foolish or idealistic or naive or maybe been stoopid---speaking of myself here!

But denying we are those things (or did those things) is like erasing a part of ourselves."

I can't deny I did those things.

I also can't deny he victimized me.

And, in the end, I have won my life back. I have restored myself.

The Director said, there will be those who judge you.

Reality is, no one will ever judge me harsher than I judged myself. And no one can restore my life, my happiness, self-esteem, belief in myself and my being One with myself and the Universe.
No one can do that for me.

I must heal me. I must use the story to create a better world. In telling this story, in all its gruesome and not so pretty-me moments, I am not allowing myself to be victimized. I am not letting the story use me and abuse me.

I am free.


Saturday, February 27, 2010

The eraser

Nature is forever arriving and forever departing, forever approaching, forever vanishing; but in her vanishings there seems to be ever the waving of a hand, in all her partings a promise of meetings farther along the road. Richard Le Gallienne
I hadn't realized the significance of the date. Hadn't noticed the calendar page until I was sitting in Nan's kitchen, camera crew hovering. "What would you normally be doing when you get together like this?" the director asked.

We laughed. "Oh, we'd probably have a glass of wine," we chimed in unison.

"Then why not do that?" she suggested. She gave us some ideas on the kind of conversation she wanted us to have and the film rolled.

As Nan moved to the fridge I looked at the calendar hanging on the wall beside it.

"You know what today is?" I asked.

"No," she replied. "What is it?"

"February 26. Seven years today since Conrad and I drove west, towards the coast. Seven years today since I ran away."

I hadn't remembered. Though I had felt a fissure of anxiety all week. An undefined edginess I couldn't name.

That was it. An anniversary. A memorable date. February 26th.

It was a significant moment. It opened the door to deeper conversation. To more discussion about why I left. Why didn't I hear her. Jane. My daughters pleading with me to wake up. To come to my senses. To hear them.

"I couldn't hear you," I told Nan when she asked me why I had to go. "I couldn't stand the thought that you stilled loved me. Wanted to help me. I didn't deserve your love. After all the things I'd done to hurt you and the girls and Jane and everyone else I loved. I didn't deserve you in my life... I had to leave."

Jane arrived and the three of us chatted some more. We tried to keep it light. To make light of all that had gone on. But that question remained hovering in the air. It hung, suspended on their disbelief I couldn't accept their love. Their unanswered question from the past a surprise element in our conversation.

I remember that day well. Conrad's frenetic energy. His insistence we had to go. His absolute conviction that I would do as he said. Not say a word. Sit quietly beside him as we drove west, Ellie in the back seat, my pain and sorrow and fear a shroud enveloping me in darkness. And I did. Sit quietly. Do as he said. Stay silent. Turn my back on those I love and drive into the west.

I wanted to erase myself. I wanted to take a giant eraser and rub out my presence upon the earth. Perhaps, I told Nan and Jane, if I could just erase myself from the picture, everything would change. Everything would be okay. At least for them. If I was gone from the picture, it would take away all the things I'd done to hurt the people I loved. If I could just rub out my mark upon their lives, they wouldn't have to carry the burden of me having betrayed them any longer.

It was a tough evening. It was a good night. A night to unearth a bit more of the sadness that hides out in the recesses of my spirit, somewhere beneath the surface of memory. It was a night to touch the pain of my friends and soothe them with the truth of where I'd gone so long ago to get away from the pain of having betrayed them.

It wasn't that I'd run away.

It was that I never felt I had the right to stay. To be a part of their lives any longer.

Those were desperate days and I was desperate to make it stop. To make the pain and fear and self-loathing go away.

I couldn't take my own life. I'd promised my daughters I wouldn't. And I could not break that promise. I'd broken everything else. I couldn't do that to them.

And so, I planned my erasure. I silently planned the rubbing out of me from their lives. I plotted and schemed and told myself that I could give them a better life by not being in it. By removing all presence of my having been in the picture.

I wanted to vanish.

I did.

And then the unseen hand of God delivered a miracle and I was found. We met again, my friends and I and set the calendar pages straight. Seven years has passed since that fateful day when I took my fate into my hands and tried to erase myself from the world I knew.

Seven years ago, I wanted to vanish.

Today, I am grateful to be alive. To once again be living whole-heartedly in this technicolor picture of love and joy and forgiveness and beauty.

I am grateful.

I am blessed.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Loving myself into being

It's as if some part of me needed to remind me that this waiting period I'm in is a prelude to rebirth, not just a stuck and stagnant place... my only job is to cradle it gently, as a pregnant woman cradles her own belly, and love this potential into being. Diane Walker, Contemplative Photography.
I have been feeling unsettled for the past few days. Knowing the process, I know that unearthing the past brings with it the opportunity to grow, and the risk of getting stuck. Time, as my friend Diane suggests in her blog, Art as healing, art as revelation, to quit resisting being stuck. Time to fall into place where I embrace my 'stuckedness and nurture its potential into being. Time to acknowledge this is a place of rebirth. Of setting free. Getting beyond. Moving forward. Moving into and under and about and within. Time to be at One with where I am.

There is synchronicity at play today. Synchronicity and desinty afoot. This morning, I awoke early. My mind mulling over a recent incident that has unsettled me. The details are not important. The lesson incredibly powerful. The timing profoundly moving.

The incident involved a woman being harassed by someone she met at work. He was in a position of authority. She was there on a contract position. They met. They fell in love. Everything went well until she discovered he'd lied to her. She broke it off. He came to her with protestations. "You have been misled. Please. Be patient. Help me. Stand by me."

She wanted to believe him. Needed to believe in him. She stood. By him.

And then, he lied again. Good-bye she said. She moved on. He followed. "I can't lose you. I've never felt this way before. Please forgive me."

She forgave. She helped him again, but this time, she drew the line. No relationship. Just friendship.

He agreed.

For a few days.

And then the harassment began. Phone calls. Messages. Murmurings of love. Protestations of regret.

She carved the line in stone. No. No contact. No connection.

And still he called. Still he pursued. Not knowing what he was doing, she acquiesed. She spoke with him. She had to be nice. Didn't want to be rude. And he pushed in. Pushed through her boundaries and forced his way into her life. Again.

Until, yesterday, when a friend called me and asked me to talk with her girlfriend.

My friend is broken, she said. Frightened. Confused.

Why is he doing this? the woman asked. Why does he pursue? In one breath tell me he loves me, in the next tell me I'm worthless?

She was concerned for him. Concerned for his career. His reputation. His family.

I don't want to make his life difficult, she said. I just want to get over him. I want him to leave me alone.

Has this made your life difficult? I asked.

She nodded her head. Tears began to fall. Her shoulders shook.

She's lost time at work. Sought professional help. Cried herself to sleep. Kept her blinds closed. Changed her phone number.

And still he pursues.

She talked. I listened. Breathe, I counselled. Breathe. I shared my strength, hope and encouragement. She shared her fears, sorrow, confusion. We found a common ground and cried together.

You cannot stop an abuser being who he is, I told her. You can stop what he's doing in your life to cause you distress. You can stop his actions becoming your reality.

No contact. I said. Make it absolute. Final. Complete. No Contact.

She agreed.

I pray she does.

The friend who had called to ask me to help said, "Why do you seem to encounter so many of these situations?" she asked.

I didn't have a definitive answer to her question. What I do know is that in having experienced the relationship with Conrad, I am grateful to be able to share my learning. Grateful to be able to shed light on the darkness of abuse.

Perhaps, I told my friend, in having gone through those events, people come towards me because they know I have information that can help.

Just as when I need something, some particular information or help, the universe seems to send me what I need.

Like Diane's blog from yesterday which I didn't read until this morning, the words come when the ears of my heart are open.

Just as my blog sister, Joyce's poem, Begin Again, arrived on my desktop at a moment when I needed to be inspired, to feel enlivened, the right words and images arrived to infuse me with the passion to create and the fearlessness to know, I am on my path. My path is leading me where the universe wants me to go. I am at One with the One.

There is something here for me. A lessonl. An idea. A moment of clarity.

I do not need to force it open. Do not need to resist. I simply need to be stuck in this place where I nurture its potential into being, like the sun coaxing the seeds of spring out of winter's fallow ground.

We are One with the One when we embrace each moment as an opportunity to Begin Again. A place to nurture the seed of creativity deep within, to love, as Diane writes, this potential into being.

May your day be filled with moments to love yourself into being.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

An experience to live by

Beware of undertaking too much at the start. Be content with quite a little. Allow for accidents. Allow for human nature, especially your own. Arnold Bennett
It was a long day. A good day.

To unfold the story, we moved back in time. Back, before Conrad, before my separation from the girl's father. "We need to paint a picture of who you were, your life, what was important to you before you met him," the director said.

And so, paint we did. One little bit at a time. One question. One answer. Painting a life by numbers of questions set against the context of the story of a woman who fell in love with Prince Charming and awoke, lost and afraid on the road to hell.

We painted the four years nine months throughout the entire day.

With each question, the story unfolded and with its unfolding I unwound some of the pockets of sorrow that hid in the corridors of my mind. I dug out little moments I had forgotten and set them free. I unearthed facets of sadness that ate away at my joy and washed them in tears of release.

It was a long day and a good one.

By 6:30 we called it quits. Long enough for one day. Today, the crew is at my friend Jane's and Friday, Nan's. Jane and I will meet up with everyone for an hour of filming with the three of us on Friday night.

After we finished last night, I phoned Jane to tell her how it went. "They make it really easy," I told her. "Even though the telling can be hard, they make it easy to move through it."

I told her how at a couple of points I found the sadness overwhelming. "It's good though," I said. "It's good to be in your emotions when on camera."

Jane laughed. "I'm looking forward to the finished product," she said. "I know there's so much of the story you haven't shared. Stuff you went through we don't hear about. You always keep your feelings so quiet. Is it because you want to protect us?"

I laughed in return. "Mostly because I know I can't change what happened and repeating the truly awful stuff just makes me feel sad."

It is my nature. To smile when in pain. To smile when sad. To smile when life is getting me down.

Nature.. Habit... Learned behaviour.

I always felt safer as a child if I smiled. No one could see my hurt and if they didn't see me cry, they didn't make fun of me.

Time to unravel that lesson too. Time to let it go, to set it free.

Those I love do not make fun of me when I'm upset. They support me and cry with me. They lift me up when I am down. Just as Jane and Nan lifted me up when I was lost so long ago.

That is my experience. It is an experience to live by.

I am blessed.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It's a big day.

I think of life as a good book. The further you get into it,the more it begins to make sense. Harold S. Kushner
When Alexis and Liseanne were little girls one of their favourite books was, James Heriot's Bonny's Big Day. The three of us would curl up on my bed, one of them on each side of me and we would read and read all about Bonny's big chance to make a difference at the fair. We loved Ruth Brown's beautiful illustrations, cantered with beautiful white Bonny of the streaming mane as she ran through the fields doing all kinds of wonderful.

It was a book we picked up again and again. A story that never ceased to enchant us.

Our books have changed over the years. Now, we talk of books like The Kite Runner and Medicine Wheel. No matter the story we share, our love of books continues to connect us to the wonder of stories throughout the world, to people of fiction and faith and reality who have had big days in their lives and who share their stories to create a better world., to teach, to enlighten, to enliven.

In 2006, when I wrote, The Dandelion Spirit, A True Life Fairytale of Love, Lies and Letting go, I believed that story was over. Finished. On to the next.

Today, I know, the adventure was just beginning.

On the weekend, at Choices, several people came up to tell me how my book has helped them, or helped someone they know. One woman said, "I just want you to know that in telling your story, you've given me the courage to get out of the story that was hurting me so much I wanted to die."

Last night, I got together for dinner with my two dear friends, my 'angels' Nan and Jane, without whose support and love I would not be alive today. We laughed and joked and cried and shared and at one point, Nan pulled out a red file folder and started digging through it for a piece of paper. She handed it to me and I read the word I had written long ago, in those dark days when the only light I could see was my daughters lives continuing on without me. The letter she pulled out was addressed to "Dear Angels". It was a sad, confused, frightening look into the mind of that woman who was me, who was so lost and scared and sorrowful long ago. I read the letter and thought, "Wow. I can only love and forgive her. She was abused."

Today, a film crew is coming to the house to begin filming a documentary based on the story of the dandelion spirit that lived through those times and dug her way out to find the sun shining brightly on the other side of abuse.

Today, a crew will arrive, set up their equipment and begin asking questions that take me back to those times when I fell in love with Prince Charming and awoke to my worst nightmare dancing before me as the Prince of Darkness.

Today, the story continues to unfold. The book of my life is not yet closed. It continues on in technicolor rainbows, glittering and shimmering in every light.

I am blessed.

The crew will visit with Nan and my friend Jane. They will interview a police officer who played such a vital role in saving me. They'll interview people who knew Conrad, and, they'll interview Alexis who is flying in from Vancouver for the filming.

No matter the story of the past, the truth is in today. It is in the three of us sitting together last night sharing laughter and joy and love. It is in my wish I'd lost that twenty pounds and Nan's gratitude her cleaning lady is coming today. It's in Jane's desire to 'tell the truth' about Conrad and to understand what really happened to take her friend so far from her long ago.

Now, I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous. I am. Telling this story on film is very different than in a book. In the book, I controlled how 'bad' I looked. I controlled what parts of the story I told.

In film, I must open up, be vulnerable, allow the director to take the story to those places where I still carry wounds, still feel some pain.

It is a big day. An opportunity to heal more of what was broken in that journey.

"What if we just look at this as an opportunity to help others," I suggested last night. "And, if you really dig deep, it's also about a chance to show the world that Conrad's exist. It's up to each of us to warn others and to shine our light on their darkness and cast them into the shadows where they belong."

For me, telling this story is a way to say, yes, evil exists. There are people in this world who abuse and hurt and lie and cheat. And yes, they don't care about the damage they do.

No matter what Conrad did, or others do, however, this story is not about him or them. This story is about the power of love and forgiveness. It's about redemption and living in the grace of knowing, when I stand in my light, fearlessly walking a path of truth, honesty and integrity, I am the Light and Love I want to create in the world.

This is a story about friendship.

About hope.

About joy.

And love.

Who better to tell it than those who saved a woman with the grace of their love and commitment.

It's a big day today and I must get ready.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Some kind of wonderful

(Boy) You can't judge a book by its cover.
(Girl) Yeah, but you can tell how much it's going to cost.
(Boy) That's deep
From the 1987 movie, Some Kind of Wonderful

It's a brand new day. New dawn. New morning. A new opportunity to create some kind of wonderful in my life. Or, if I happen to get up on the wrong side of the bed or am stuck in the darkness of the night, another opportunity to create some kind of awful.

It is always my choice what kind of day, what kind of world I create around me.

"It's kinda scary when you think everything is lost to find out, you've still got more to lose."

Those words were spoken by a young woman who had been at the shelter for a few months because, well mostly because her addiction kept driving her away from what she wanted in her life.

She said those words in response to a question I had asked, "What do you want more of in your life?" It's a question I ask every time I teach the self-esteem class in our job-readiness program.

"Kindness," she told me. "Kindness and love and feeling like I count."

In a world where scarcity and fear collide, ricocheting off a world of abundance on the other side of not so wonderful, the responses to the question are always similar. Even though they live without a home of their own, often without anything to their name, people don't tend to ask for more money, even when they have none. They don't immediately say they want a home, or a job, though they know that is why they are in the class. That is what they are preparing themselves for.

What they want more of in their lives are those soul giving forces that create a more caring, giving and loving world. Respect. Love. Honesty. Dignity. Kindness.

"Tell me about kindness," I ask the class. "Who do you think of when you say, 'kindness'."

"My father," replies a tall African man. "He was always kind. Always helping people. He used to say, 'if we can't be kind then our humanity is lost and when our humanity is lost, our soul is dark'. I am struggling to be like my father but in this place, I so often feel like my humanity is lost and all I see is darkness."

"What would you rather see?" I ask.

"Pretty girls." The class laughs. He smiles, takes a breath. "I'd rather see light. I'd rather see me being the kind of man I want to be."

"What kind of man do you want to be?" I ask.

He pauses. I watch him swallow. He bites his bottom lip. "I have done many bad things," he says.

"And is that who you want to be?" I ask him.

He quickly shakes his head. "No. Never. I want to be like my father. I want to make him proud."

"What if you claimed your right to be proud?"

"How can I be proud of the things I've done?"

"It is not what you've done that measures your future. It's what you're willing to do to change, to make amends, to take a different path. It's what you're willing to give up to have what you want."

"I'm willing to give up being unkind," he says.

"And when you give up unkindness, what kind of man will you be?"

"Proud," he promptly replies.

In all of us is the desire to be the person of our dreams. To claim our magnificence, our beauty, our truth.

In all of us is the belief, we are measured by our pasts. Measured wanting by those times when we let go of our dreams and gave into our desire to not feel, pain, anger, sorrow, despair...

And in all of us is the invitation to be kind. To be kind to ourselves, to be kind to those around us. To be kinder, more loving human beings.

What's some kind of wonderful I want to create today? Kindness where ever I go. Laughter and joy where ever I am. Beauty and truth within me. Beauty and truth about me.

Let me create a kinder world today. The kind of world where I am my most magnificent self shining my light so I can see you're being some kind of wonderful.

Today is Blog Carnival. It's a one word prompt kind of day that ignites creative prose, poetry and thinking. Click on over to Bridget' Chumbley's place at One Word At A Time or Peter Pollock at Rediscovering the Church and immerse yourself here in the joy of people sharing 'kindness' through their own unique some kind of wonderful!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Tear down this wall

If you have never felt too full,
where do you create the space inside?

If you have never denied your want,
how do you know how hunger feels?

If you have never given up,
how do you learn to receive?

Maureen Doallas
Excerpt from: Passing Time In Lent
Writing without Paper

It was a weekend of stretching, of listening, learning, growing. It was a weekend to be humble, to feel humbled and, at moments, to be humbled. To embrace the good, the bad and the ugly and know, I am okay. I am Love, no matter how I measure my state of being, I am always and always will be, Love.

When I wrote The Dandelion Spirit, A true life fairytale of love, lies and letting go, I wanted to share the story to inspire, strengthen, encourage others who were or had gone through a similar journey. I wanted to touch hearts of those who knew someone going through a similar story and I wanted to teach people that no matter your 'story' of the past, you get to choose your story today. What will you choose? Will you be the victim of your history or the triumphant architect of your magnificence? What will you choose?

Our personal history is a funny thing. Okay, so maybe 'funny' isn't the best descriptor, 'cause there are times when my personal history doesn't make me laugh. It makes me cry. Scream. Lash out. Act out. Act dumb. Act blind. It can make me act in ways that humble me. In ways that hurt me.

And sometimes my acting out can be a good thing. In acting out, I get it out. I get the pockets of discord inside out. I get the messy, tangled up, discombobulated bits unwound.

In my Lectio Divina this week, I am focusing on leaving my ego before I enter the desert. I was reminded of the necessity and importance of this act by Claire Bangasser at A Seat at the Table who wrote on her blog, Hissing, "Among my undesired guests today, therefore, was the prideful desolation of not being ‘other,’ ‘better,’ perfect (?!). To have the humility of being ‘me’ and accepting me as I am. To love myself as you have created me (Have I ever thought of feeling angry at You for have made me this way?); to enjoy that I amuse You with my naive enthusiasm."

Recently, I heard a woman say to someone who was trying to help her, "Thank you for letting me hate you until I could love you."

Her comment hit me in the gut.

I remember a time when I was so angry with God that walking into a church one Sunday morning made me cry. I didn't want to be there. He didn't want me to be there, I told myself. What was the point of being there, I wondered. There is nothing here for me.

There was a lot there for me that Sunday and other Sunday's too. On that first Sunday, which happened to be the very first Sunday after Conrad was arrested and I was set free from that relationship that was killing me, the first thing the minister said to the congregation after his greeting and comments about what a glorious day it was outside was, "Aren't you glad you're not in jail?"

My gut tightened. My body went rigid. I desperately tried to push the tears back. To stem the flow. They fell anyway.

On that Sunday, almost six years ago, there was still a part of me that felt like it should be in jail. I had been so bad. So awful. So horrible. I didn't deserve freedom. I didn't deserve God's grace.

God didn't care.

He let me hate him.

Yesterday, at the spiritual service, the speaker used the analogy of the Berlin wall to talk about the walls we build in and around our hearts to keep others out, and ourselves locked up inside. Walls of judgement. Walls of anger. Fear. Loathing. Hatred. Walls that lock us in grief. In sadness. Self-pity. Walls that were built long ago or erected just yesterday. Walls that hurt us from the inside out as we struggle to make sense of the pain and grief and sorrow in our worlds and keep coming up against our pain and grief and sorrow inside.

On June 12, 1987, former US President Ronald Reagan challenged Mikhail Gorbachev, the then General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union to, "Tear down this wall."

Tear down this wall.

In the 70s I visited Berlin and crossed into the East through Checkpoint Charlie. Bill, the speaker yesterday, reminded me of that visit. It was such a marked difference from one side to the other. On the western side, colour and laughter and life abounded. On the other side, everything was dark and grey and brown. People didn't look at people. They didn't smile. They didn't greet you. Everywhere there were guns. At the Checkpoint. Every few metres in the wall. Guns facing into the East. Guns to keep people from getting out. As I left the East to come back to the West I had to relinquish my passport. For ten long minutes, it disappeared behind the wall as I walked to the other side, hoping and praying my passport would come back to me. That in its return I would be set free.

I was frightened in those minutes of waiting for my passport. Frightened that I would be left behind. Left inside that grey on black world.

Like the internal landscape of my heart -- some days. Those days where my history rises up to rebel against my desire for freedom. Days when the past launches a folly of reminders that would keep me locked up in the prison of my disbelief that I am a magnificent human being on the journey of her lifetime.

Tear down those walls.

Enter the desert without my ego.

Let go of my fears that what was will be again. That what happened before will always happen again.

That God is not forgiving.

That God is not patient.

That He is not loving.

He is. I am. Love

And all He wants for me is to know, I am magnificent. I am a being of light and beauty. I am a wondrous creation of Love.

Just like you.

Tear down those walls, and live in the technicolor grandeur of Love. Magnificent. Alive. Free.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


This miracle, daily as dawn and sundown,
Normal as bread, as sleep after love:
If I look at him, I see my own image
If I look at my own, I see his, aflame.

Jalal-ud-Din Rumi (Translated by Andrew Harvey from A Year of Rumi)

Inside each of us is an eternal flame that flickers and flares. Sometimes, our flame becomes a tiny almost extinguished ember and at others, a fire burning bright as we live with passion, on purpose, making an impact in our world.

Yesterday, as I listened to stories of hope ignited, fears overcome and tears released I was moved to that place where awe awoke me to the magnificent beauty of the human spirit.

Choices never ceases to amaze me, shake me, awaken me. It never ceases to connect me to my inner core, my true self. At Choices, I find myself immersed in my authenticity, confidently walking with ease in all my being, vulnerable, open, alive. It's something I often hear from other coaches and trainees, it's so easy to just be at one with my inner fears and insecurities, to not be constantly driven by monkey mind chatter and shadow machinations into conflict. At Choices its easy to fall into grace and shine.

It's one of the reasons I like to be in the training room as often as possible. By continually immersing myself in its supportive and loving environment, I am continually strengthening my belief in me, and my commitment to being my best, to living up to my higher good and letting myself shine in every facet of my being.

As Thelma Box, Choices founder and facilitator said yesterday, she still has moments where her 'lesser self' wants to act out and just be the problem. The opportunity is always there for her higher good to rise to the occasion and lead her back to what is fulfilling.

Everyday there are opportunities to rob me of fulfillment. And everyday I get to make the choice -- do I act out, or act up to my higher good? Do I rob myself or gift myself with that which will fulfill me, enrich my life and create joy and beauty in my world.

Me, I'm choosing fulfillment. I may stumble at times but I know that my falls are lessened by my commitment to living up to my higher good. Armed with my belief in me, I catch myself in falling and commit to being all that I am meant to be. I spread my wings and fly free of my lesser desires to be the problem. In conscious action to be my best, to fly my highest, I become the one I've always dreamt I can be. Magnificent in flight.

May your wings spread wide. May you soar above the daily fracas and alight upon your higher good, being your most magnificent self in flight.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Joy and inspiration

This is a Choices weekend so I am coaching -- which means, posts will be brief -- lol -- unlike yesterday's post which was rather long!

Today, on my blog sister Joy-ce's place, Peaceful Legacies I saw her first 'video'. It is her artist's intention and it's brilliant. While, as she notes it lacks music and transitions, it is her first -- and nothing begins without the first.

I wanted to share it with you as it is pretty inspirational and because the steps she's laid out to create your artist's statement are clear, concise and easy to follow.

Artist's statements are important -- whatever your medium be it this life we life in the here and now, or the canvas we paint on or the page we write upon, the song we sing or the character we portray in a play -- artist's statements are individual, unique and speak to the soul of our lives. As Mikhail Ally, a young artist in Georgia responds to the question, "Why do I paint", i love the process of reflecting my mind through a conversation with physical material. im blowing my brain up and allowing it to play.

So, how cool is that. In Mikhail's blowing up his brain and allowing it to play, I 'see' the image and his message in his statement and how they relate to his paintings. I hear and react viscerally to his words. They evoke emotion in me and who am I without my emotions?

I am so grateful for this cyberspace where I can encounter people in the virtual world I'd never have the chance to meet in this world. A place where I am continually inspired to stretch and learn and grow and adapt and move outside my comfort zone to embrace new ideas and ways of being. To think beyond boxes and bowls and other metaphors. To see beyond the single perspective of my world here in front of my computer.

What an incredible place this is where I can uncover treasures with every click of the page and keystroke!

Artist Statement: Joyce Wycoff

Friday, February 19, 2010

Learning to fly

We must not believe the many, who say that only free people ought to be educated, but we should rather believe the philosophers who say that only the educated are free. Epictetus
She is young. Twenty-one years old. She is homeless. She is lost.

Yesterday, she muttered profanities and a pointed dig at a young teenage volunteer from a school. She was on a 'no tolerance' bar already. Her past behaviour included violent outbursts. Disrespect. This episode was just another in a litany of 'bad behaviours' leading to a string of second, third, fourth and umpteenth chances.

When the staff member involved called to tell me about the situation, I too felt lost. I know this young girl in a woman's body. She can be sweet. Funny. She likes to join the singing group and share her soprano voice. And when she does, when she shares the best of herself, she lights up. Becomes animated. Vibrant. The sullen cloud of despair that enshrouds her lifts and the sun shines.

How do we help this young girl in a woman's body who has experienced a lifetime of bad behaviour from every parental figure in her life? How do we best get her the help she needs?

Already, in her brief life she has lost two babies to 'the system'. Already she has experienced more violence, more sexual abuse than most of our society. How do we help her?

In a place where men outnumber women 10 to 1, we are not a safe environment for her. Her sexual boundaries are loose, like a sheer blouse against flesh, her boundaries are a transparent film that she eagerly lets others penetrate if only to feel, for one moment, that she is alive. Present. Connected.

We know her behaviour is not based on her being a 'bad' person. We know it is a reflection of the turmoil, the horror, the tragedy of her brief life on earth. We want to help her but to get the help she needs, we need to admit, she is not safe in our environment. She is beyond our level of care.

She doesn't want to hear it.

I walk into the office where a staff member is telling her, "Your full bar is reinstated. You must find somewhere else to stay tonight."

She is holding a dry-ice pack against her cheek where earlier, after the incident with the teenage volunteer, she had received a punch in the face from a former 'boyfriend'. At the time of the incident, we'd ask her to leave to cool off. She'd gone off property, encountered the young man in question and provoked a fight. She lost. Again.

She starts to cry. "There's nowhere I can go."

"Why don't I phone..." and the staff member lists off several other agencies where the young woman can possibly find shelter.

As the staff member lists them, the young woman shakes her head. "I'm barred from there. There too. There. And there."

There is one alternative from which she is not barred. She doesn't like that idea. It is a women only shelter.

Telling. Frightening. Saddening.

The staff member calls a counsellor in the building. "Can I bring her down?" she asks. "Will you talk with her."

He agrees.

The young girl demurs. "Can I see..." and she names off a couple of other counsellors. All of them younger than the one she thinks she's going to see.

"A. is the only one available right now," she's told.

"Oh. I thought you meant B. I like A."

A is younger, less 'forbidding', less a father figure than B. She has no trust in father figures. Speaking to a younger counsellor is not about building trust. From my past conversations with her, I know her desire to speak with a younger male is driven by her desire to spark a connection that might just give her what she wants -- another chance. A lifting of the impending bar.

I follow the staff member and the young girl out of the office towards the stairwell. We pass a young man, a client whom she knows. Suddenly, the veil of sadness lifts, the tears stop and she smiles gaily. "Hey, Jack," she calls out, a happy lilt to her voice. "I wanted to talk to you. Can you and me connect later?"

'Jack' barely stops what he's doing. He lifts a casual hand. Waves dismissively. The smile vanishes. The lilt disappears. Her shoulders slump and we move down the stairs towards the counsellors office.

And so it goes.

A young woman trapped in a cycle of abuse she cannot, does not know how to stop. Everything in her life has lead her to this place. Everything that has happened has driven her into this corner. She doesn't know how to get out. She doesn't believe she can. She doesn't believe she's worth fighting for. And so she fights. The system. The people. The world. Herself. She fights for every square inch of territory only to be driven back into the ground of self-disgust with every act. In her anger and fear, she acts out and gets barred from the very places that can help her. In her shame and sorrow, she lets herself be dragged deeper into the abyss of self-immolation.

Little relief in sight. Little hope of change unless we can find some way into her mind that will encourage her to investigate other paths, to learn how to be at home with herself in a place that is caring and respectful and kind.

To stop the pain-filled, degrading concoction of self-abuse she consumes with every thought and step and action she takes she must learn to 'love herself', or to at least accept, there is another way to find safety, to find relief from the despair and fear that consumes her.

To change the direction of the self-denigration that riddles her veins, and fogs her mind, we must first change her environment.

She is not a bad person. She is a human being with bad behaviour because her life has taught her, 'this' is the way the world works. This is all she can do to get the attention she craves. This is all she's worth.

Within her, the truth hides, an unsettling fissure of fear that riles her into discord. The truth is lost beneath the years of abuse piled upon her young shoulders. The truth is buried beneath a past of such despicable pall she cannot bear to look at it and drugs herself instead with the elixir of the street. Sex, drugs and sadly little rock 'n roll of the musical kind except in those moments when she joins in with a group of singers and lets her voice be heard. The rest, the rest is just the rock 'n roll of a furtive sex charged encounter with the one drug she knows will help her feel, for just one moment, that she is part of the human race. Part of something bigger than the torrid squalor and despair of her life on the street.

She is lost. And no one can find her or help her find herself until she finds a place to breathe freely. To live without the need of finding men to open up to, to expose herself to, to be penetrated by. To quit acting out she must quit putting out the flame of her humanity buried deep within her.

It is the sad reality for the young girls we serve. 'Relationships' become their raison d'etre. Their ticket 'out'. Their relationships are their cover-up. Their brief encounters the robe they wrap themselves in to find some sense of meaning, some sense of who they are in a place where they have lost all sense of being someone deserving of a better place.

Embraced in the arms of their street-driven encounters, the sins of their pasts coil around them, enshrouding their view of the world in a mist of false hope and rosy horizons. Wrapped up in a man, they wait for 'happily-ever-after' to reveal itself on the street out of hopelessness.

And they fall.

Yesterday, to help me understand how best to help this young woman, I checked with several front-line staff, as well as our client advocate.

"What can we do?" I asked.

There are programs, facilities she can attend that can help her, they told me. We've met with her, taken her to a couple of off-site meetings, but, right now, she is unwilling to go anyplace but here. Here is where she can find the largest supply of that drug that continues to rape her of everything she's worth.

We cannot help her without first separating her from this place.

We can only help her by forcing her hand, by taking her to the edge of abyss where she has no alternative but to fall. And in her fall, we pray she will reach out and ask for help. We pray she will learn to fly free.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Lenten Musing

The invitation today in Lectio Divina, the Lenten study I have entered into for this period leading into Easter, is to 'listen with the ears of my heart', to let go my intellectual curiosity and simply embrace the spirit of the Word.

I struggle with this. Struggle to quieten not just my intellectual curiosity but also my resistance to faith versus religion, organized or disorganized, to Christianity with a capital 'C', to my perceptions and long held beliefs that have rested unchallenged in the desert of my heart.

Last night, as I drove home from a reception on CBC Radio 1 I listened to one of my favourite documentary programs, 'Ideas'. Last night's program, AND THE MORAL OF THE STORY IS… explored the dangers of moral certainty. One of the comments that really struck me was from an interviewee who stated that it is when we do not question our moral beliefs that we risk acting in immoral ways.
How do I know what I believe is true if I never challenge my beliefs?

I hold certain 'religious' beliefs, and beliefs about 'religion', that I have not challenged. They simply are. Set within me. Some rigid, set in stone. Some the quicksand of my thinking closing me off to hearing the stories of my heart calling me to dance.

This Lenten process for me is about challenging my thinking, and my feelings. It's about poking into my status quo, shaking the leaves of my beliefs, watching for snakes and butterflies to emerge while holding onto nothing.

The late British philosopher Bertrand Russell observed, “Most of the greatest evil that man has inflicted upon man comes through people feeling quite certain about something which, in fact, was false.”

I was raised Catholic. The God of my childhood had a mighty hand. A fearsome temper. A judgemental heart. God knew all and He knew I was undeserving.

In this Lenten period, I enter the desert and follow the rhythm of my heart where ever it flows. Into belief. Disbelief. Accord. Discord. I follow the rhythm of the desert wind, unwinding myself into the flow. Sometimes, it feels immutable, encoded in my being like DNA, irreversible, unchangeable. My destiny of faith unmoving, unapproachable. Tensile steel, it holds me rigid in the past. A lodestone dragged throughout time.

I breathe and open myself up to expansion. I imagine my heart space spilling open, sand pouring out of the desert within. I breathe and challenge myself to flow freely. To flow into the rhythm of life, to flow into grace and be at One with the One who is all within me.

A Lenten Musing

In the desert of my heart, sand sweeps endlessly from here to infinity, an unmarred vista embracing my horizons, expanding my heartspace into time infinite and known throughout time.

In the desert of my heart, I slide effortlessly through time, swept-up into my lover's embrace, held captive in his undying love for the infinite beauty of my life revealed through time's eternal hands sweeping through my destiny.

In the desert, I am free. I am my life force pulsing, atoms spiralling into place, DNA unwinding, filling all space with the essence of my life connected to all life, connected to all.

In the desert, my heart expands out into the universe, touching the stars, calling down the moon to come, be my lover, be my heart throb, pulse beating wildly in this dance of life, a swirling dervish caught in a windstorm wildly careening into this universal dance of life which connects us all to the infinite majesty of our human condition. Connecting us to God. The source of all. The all within and without us.

In the desert of my heart, I accept the invitation to dance, to melt into oneness. To become my divinely inspired essence held lovingly in the arms of spirit. In my Oneness I reflect the amazing grace of my human condition and flow as One into the One who is all within me and without me.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

To enter with my whole heart

My Love

You are my death, my love, and dying you
I live in deep calm
waves of bliss
That wash me past all worlds
To break in Origin.

Jalal-ud-Din Rumi
(Translated by Andrew Harvey from A Year of Rumi)

Today is Ash Wednesday. Silence of snow covers the ground outside my window. My heart beats a steady rhythm in dawn's coming light. The shadow of a heavily laden bough dances on the wall outside my window.

The world awakens slowly in its white blanket. My senses awaken slowly to the day.

When I was a child I loved my mother like no other. She was beautiful. Lyrical. A mystery to me. Her voice was sweet and gentle. "If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all," she would tell me. "Do not say in a shout what you can say in a whisper."

I remember watching my mother. The way her hands floated in the air around her when she talked. The way her body bent up and down when she lifted laundry from the basket, silently smoothing out tousled sheets and towels, folding over once, twice, three times four.

My mother loved me, she told me. But I was never sure. I was her doubting Thomas. Her trials and tribulations, she called me. The Brat, the moniker of my youth.

There were so many distractions in her life. Four young children. A husband who was away more than he was home. A language she could not quite command. A month longer than she could stretch the money in her purse. A sadness, a homesickness that no one else could lift. A yearning for family far away. In India and IndoChine and France and Africa. A tight knit family cast around the globe like rune stones cast upon the sands, searching for a time when all would be rejoined, when family would come together. But not even the stones could show her the way to knit herself back into the tapestry of her life. The warp and weave that was torn apart when she left behind her mother and father and brothers and sisters and the land of India she called her home so long ago. She could not find her way back home and so she cried.

I remember the days leading into Easter time with my mother. Lent. You must repent. You must let go, give up something like Our Father gave up His only Son.

I was only a child. What could I give up to match God's sacrifice? Show God you love him above all others. Tell Him you care.

Doesn't he know? I'd ask.

Do not be difficult, my mother would reply. Try harder.

And so I'd try. To love God above all others, but it didn't seem possible. He was somewhere, out there, in a place I couldn't see. My mother was right here. I needed my mother above all else. To survive. To live. To thrive. Her hand was the one I felt upon my head. Her fingers pinching my ear, telling me to behave. To listen up. To quit being so noisy. So fussy. So childish. "Grow up."

And I'd try. To grow up. But I would fall.

"Stop that. God doesn't love bad girls," my mother would tell me. "God sees all. He knows your sins."

So, if he knows my sins, why do I have to tell them to Him? Couldn't I just take my penance without citing the litany of my transgressions?

And she would cry in despair for this girl child who was so unruly. So disobedient. So difficult. She was not a child of God. Perhaps she was the devil's?

I wanted my mother to love me. I wanted her to know I loved her. I wanted to lift the veil of sadness that surrounded her. And so, I worked hard to love God above all. I wanted to be God's little girl. His perfect blessing.

But I could never measure up. God was too on high for my tiny legs to reach.

I took my eyes off God and looked at my mother. I needed to love my mother. More than God. More than anyone else. How could I love God and my mother too? My sisters? My father? My brother? There never seemed to be enough love for everyone.

And all the love in the world never seemed to lift my mother's sadness. Never seemed to break through her despair.

What good is love I wondered? What good is God?

Today is Ash Wednesday. I have travelled far from that little girl who struggled so hard to make sense of a crazy world. And still, I struggle with my journey into God. Still I struggle to profess my faith.

I believe in a Divinity, an energy greater than me, a collective consciousness deeper than all my thinking will ever comprehend.

I believe in God. A God. Of purity and truth. Salvation and redemption.

And still I struggle. I can post a Rumi poem, but to post a quote from the Bible seems to foreign to me. So difficult.

I am attached. To my fears of God. My fears of being 'just like my mother'.

My mother loved God above all others.

And the little girl within cries out for Love above all else.

Today is Ash Wednesday. A day to step into the desert of my faith, laden with nothing but an ashen cross upon my brow. A time to acknowledge sorrow and grief. To enter into grieving. Lament.

Christine Valters Paintner of Abbey of the Arts invites us into, "remembering that we will die, we are called to remember God who is the source of our life."

I remember I will die. I live for today.

I know I live. I live for Love. In the name of Love. Loving what is within me. All of me.

I know God lives within me. Within my heart. Within the hearth of my heart where I come home to rest in Love.

In my living from this place called Love, I am. Love. Sorrow. Joy. Pain. Fear. Jubilation. Celebration and so much more.

In my living joyously in the light of this moment. This moment right now when snow covers the ground and light cracks open the day, I am. Love is. God.

Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart. Joel 2:12-13

How beautiful this day to return home to where I belong. To enter into the desert of my heart. To release the sorrows, the grief unnamed, the despair unacknowledged.

How beautiful this day to enter with my whole heart into the rapture of this moment reflecting on God's beauty shimmering all around me.

How beautiful this day to enter with my whole heart into Love.

How beautiful this day.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

In a moment of silence

And so, try to remember: the great event when you breathed out and created this entire Kosmos; remember the great emptying when you threw yourself out as the entire World, just to see what would happen. Remember the forms and forces through which you have traveled thus far: from galaxies to planets, to verdant plants reaching upward for the sun, to animals stalking day and night, restless with their weary search, through primal men and women, yearning for the light, to the very person now holding this book: remember who and what you have been, what you have done, what you have seen, who you actually are in all those guises, the masks of the God and the Goddess, the masks of your own Original Face. Ken Wilber

I had many moments of awe watching the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Olympics on Friday night. The unnamed snowboarder flying through the lit rings. The LED lit giant bear rising up out of the earth in a sea of tiny lights floating on the air. The majesty of a pod of Orca whales swimming across the ocean of the arena floor. What an amazing feat to create such beauty and realism out of technology. Creativity shimmered in the air. Awe danced upon the waters, in the trees, against the backdrop of a harvest moon. It was spectacular.

Perhaps though, the most awe-inspiring moment was felt in a minute of silence. A minute filled with no fancy techno-gizery bringing whales to life on an arena floor, or trees falling in an ancient forest. It was a silent, still, profound moment. A moment when the 60,000 present in the arena and the estimated 3 billion people around the globe who sat in front of their television's, held their collective peace and shared a minute of silence to honour a young Georgian man, Nodar Kumaritashvili, whose life ended that very morning while speeding down the luge track.

His untimely death was tragic. It is sad and heart-breaking to see one so young deprived of life. It was inspiring to see his teammates walk into the auditorium, to witness the heartfelt response of the crowd gathered to celebrate, stand and offer up their ovation for their fallen friend. It was all they could do.

And then, the ceremonies started and I sat in awe watching the spectacular unfold. But, it wasn't until later, when the speeches began that I really knew awe. First, John Furlong spoke with passion about life and living and pursuing dreams, and the loss of a dream to one young man. And then, Jock Rogges invited everyone to stand in silence to honour this young man whose life had ended too young.

And that was when awe descended.

Imagine. 3 billion people paying their respects at the same time. 3 billion people sitting silently to honour a young man whose name had previously been unknown in the majority of their minds. 3 billion people silent. 3 billion people silently holding their thoughts, their woes, their fears, their tears, their joys, their triumphs at bay while they silently honoured this young luger who would race no more.

In his life, Nodar Kumaritashvili could have hoped to win a few gold medals, some acclaim, some media attention. Who knows what he might have achieved. I pray, that in his passing he knows that he has commanded a presence in the world that leaves a legacy of hope, of peace of possibility. He has awoken a dream. For in his death, he has taught us that it is possible for 3 billion people to come together in peace. He has taught us that collectively we can unite our thoughts on one single idea celebrating life, and be silent together.

If we can do that, what else is possible?

If we can collectively sit in silence for one minute together, what other greatness are we capable of achieving, together?

It was a moment of awe for me. It continues to hold me in its thrall.

Almost half the world's population were joined in that moment with one common goal. To honour a young man whose tiny metal sled had careened off the course while carrying him down the track at death-defying speeds. They were silent in support of those for whom the loss of Nodar will forever mark their lives. They were silent to give voice to the majesty, the magnificence, the incredible beauty of the human spirit.

Our spirit.

Our humanity.

Our life.

Nodar Kumaritashvili did not defy death on Friday, February the 12th, 2010. He did defy the odds. Who would have bet that one man could unite the world in a common goal of holding one minute of silence in reverence of a human life?

Monday, February 15, 2010

For the love of the dance

Always begin again. The Rules of St. Benedict

Sometime ago, my blog sister Maureen at Writing Without Paper, led me to a wonderful blog, "Abby of the Arts". Through The Abby, I am entering into a Lenten study of practicing, Lectio Divina. What I am calling "My Contemplative Journey Into God Within Me".

This morning, I began the first lesson. Chrstine Valters Painter, founder of Abby of the Arts, in her opening commentary encourages each of us to remember St. Benedict's rule, "Always begin again."

She goes on to share a passage from Thomas Merton's New Seeds of Contemplation, which I found incredibly powerful and moving.

The world and time are the dance of the Lord in emptiness. The silence of the spheres is the music of a wedding feast. The more we persist in misunderstanding the phenomena of life, the more we analyze them out into strange finalities and complex purposes of our own, the more we involve ourselves in sadness, absurdity, and despair.

But it does not matter much, because no despair of ours can alter the reality of things, or stain the joy of the cosmic dance which is always there. Indeed we are in the midst of it, and it is in the midst of us, for it beats in our very blood, whether we want it to or not.

Yet the fact remains that we are invited to forget ourselves on purpose, cast our awful solemnity to the winds and join in the general dance.

Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation

C.C. and I have been having deep conversation about 'silence'. My feathers have been ruffled, my peace of mind disturbed as I have opened myself up to surrender. My ego. My 'truth'. My certainty that I know the answer before the question ever begins to dance in the silence between us. I have had to fall into that place of deep listening within me to understand what is being said. I have had to silence my inner chatter, that monkey mind who wants to override and overrule whatever another says, so that I can embrace that place where his worldview enlightens mine without struggling to usurp his knowing of what is true for him with my desire to make what is true for me 'his' or 'ours'.

As the saying goes, Disagreement does not equal rejection.

How one person hears, or sees, or believes the world to be is not cause for disruption nor to feeling rejected, unless I make it so.

Our conversation, and my contemplation of the word, 'silence' have led me into a deeply 'disruptive peace'. That place where I rub up against my ego's demands for what it wants to be true for the world around me, regardless of the truth of the world around me.

Yesterday, I asked Am I willing to:

Be Love.
Feel Love.
Give Love.
Receive Love.
Know Love.
Share Love.
Stand in Love.
Act in Love.
Speak in Love.
Be in LOVE.

I cannot be present in Love when I stand in my ego's defense of my wants, needs, desires. I cannot be present in Love when what I want takes precedence over what another desires.

To co-exist in that space between my wants:your wants without overshadowing one with the other, is the dance of Love.

I am learning the steps. I am not yet walking with grace and ease. I am allowing myself to live in the discomfort of not knowing the steps in my willingness to begin to dance. I am letting the music of Love fill my heartbeat with its rhythm of being at one with my holy spirit dancing to the tune of life.

There is nothing my holy spirit cannot do.

May I, as Merton suggests, 'forget myself on purpose, cast my awful solemnity to the winds and join in the general dance."

And in my dance, may I be joined in Love to those I love so that we may know the joy of dancing simply for the love of dance.

May I always begin again, to dance.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

That thing called Love.

At the time of separation, Love creates imaginary forms
When Union arrives, the Formless One appears,
Saying "I am the Origin of the origin of sobriety and wine;
Beauty in all its forms is a reflection of Me.
Now, this moment, I withdraw all veils to reveal
Beauty's final splendor, without any intermediary.
For so long now you have been busy with My reflection –
You have won the power now to gaze at My Essence alone."

Jalal-ud-Din Rumi
(Translated by Andrew Harvey from A Year of Rumi)

It is Valentine's Day. A day for lovers to speak and act and express their love in unique and wondrous ways. It is a day for expression.

Not in the commercial, here let me buy you a card, some flowers, how about dinner? kind of way, but in the "I see you. I hear you. I feel you. I know you. You are in my heart, my heart is in you, my heart is beautiful for you," kind of way.

I am a curious being. Not curious as in weird, but rather as in, I am filled with wonder, with questions, with curiosity.

I like to understand. I like to know. What makes me tick? How does my tick fit your talk? What makes the world go around? What makes people stand their ground, in love, or anger, or despair, or hope. What makes people run for higher ground? What makes people human in all their being?
And, I like to know the answers to those questions that awaken me to the mystical, magical, mythical values of life.

One of those question is: What is love?

On this Valentine's Day, my Sunday meditation revolves around that question.

Here are some offerings to guide you, inspire you, awaken you to the wonders and joy of being a loving human being bathed in the kindness of the soul.

She speaks of love. She studies the brain.

And of course, what would a story about love be without asking the question, What is Love. From the 1997 hit, A Night At The Roxbury, Haddaway sings his classic, What is Love?

The Black-Eyed Peas take the question to another level when they ask, Where is the Love?

So, the question today is, Are you willing to LOVE?

Be Love.
Feel Love.
Give Love.
Receive Love.
Know Love.
Share Love.
Stand in Love.
Act in Love.
Speak in Love.
Be in LOVE.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Five Stories on the Theme of Love

So, seeing as this is Valentine's weekend, my treasure hunt has dug up Five Stories on the Theme of Love.


This little clip is just plain cute and funny with a little bit of pathos thrown in.

Big Love - Watch the best video clips here

I love this one. My mother is from southern India and this makes me think of her and my father -- he was Irish, she was French born in India where she met my father when she was 22. She left the land of her birth, the land she loved when she was 25 and only returned once to visit my grandmother before she passed away. Bollywood is in my blood. Both my sisters and I love this music, Anne and I once took a Bollywood dance course together and one of my daughter's favourite movies is Monsoon Wedding. In honour of my mother, and my heritage, I offer up this song/video.

Bagavathi - July Malargale - Tamil Divx Love Video Songs - The best video clips are here

Last night, along with C.C. and friends, Al and Jane, we watched the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Olympic Games. I am a proud Canadian.

I grew up on foreign soils and have often struggled with what it means to be 'Canadian'. I have never had to defend my lands. Never had to watch my lands be defended.

In this deeply patriotic and provocative song, My Beautiful Afghanistan, Shafiq Mureed sings of his country, "You are my soul. You are my love."

We have soldiers in Afghanistan fighting for freedom. May they all know peace.

I wanted to find a song about love in many languages and then I found, German cabaret artist/pianist Bodo Wartke performing his song "Liebeslied" (love song) -- I love you is sung in over 60 languages. Very cool! And visit Bodo Wartke's site too == I love the German language. Once having been fluent in it, it was fun to listen to his voice speak words I'd long forgotten. VisitBbodo Wartke here and learn more!

And finally, a stirring love song in the language of love.... This song is sung by French, musician, singer, visionary and romantic,Frederic Baron. since 1992 he has collected over 3000 words of love on a wall in Montmatre. Visit this link to read more about Frederic Baron's amazing vision.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The boy who carried his heart in a jar. (a story)

There is a secret person undamaged in every individual.Paul Shepard
Once there was a boy who carried his heart inside a glass jar. It was a beautiful heart. Ruby red. Juicy. Plump and rounded. It beat a steady tattoo, never faltering, never stopping. He loved his heart and carried the jar carefully where ever he went.

"Why do you carry your heart in a jar?" people would ask him and he would smile and quickly reply, "It's safer that way."

Sometimes, someone would put out their hand to greet him, or offer him a hug but the boy always backed away. "Oh no," he'd say. "I cannot shake your hand. I do not want to risk breaking my heart."

And so, he'd carry on his way, carrying his heart inside a jar, never touching anyone. As he travelled, no one ever stopped to ask him why he didn't carry it in his chest cavity, or how he got it into the jar. He never gave them the chance. After their first hello, before they could ask another question, he would walk away, leaving only silence behind him.

One day, the boy met a girl whose heart beat freely in her chest. She was filled with laughter and light, with eyes of wonder and a sweet voice that sang like a bluebird awakening to a spring morning.

The boy did not have a name for what he felt when he first saw her but when her beautiful soft pink lips smiled at him, his heart began to beat wildly in its glass jar. The jar quivered and shook, his hands shook too. He was frightened he might drop the jar and quickly tucked it into his pocket, out of sight so it would be safe.

"Hello," said the girl.

The boy greeted her back but was speechless. He had never met anyone so lovely, so beautiful, so free.

"Do you want to play with me?" the girl asked.

Still speechless the boy nodded his head up and down. The girl laughed. "Cat got your tongue?"

The boy shook his head from side to side and finally managed to find his voice. "No," he replied replied. "You're so beautiful."

The girl laughed again and said, "They tell me your heart is inside a glass jar. Show me."

The boy had never before been asked to show his heart. It had never been necessary. He hesitated. What did she mean?

The girl grew impatient and asked again. He hesitated. Silence surrounded him and he could not find the words to respond. Frustrated, the girl gave up asking to see his heart and ran away, calling behind her as her feet carried her off to see the world, "I never wanted to see it anyway. It's just a stupid heart."

The boy heard her words and became frightened. Stupid? How could his heart be stupid?

He didn't have an answer and pushed the question away. But, as he travelled he felt the freedom of having the jar inside his pocket and left it there. With his hands free, he didn't have to worry about his heart breaking and could greet people and smile and pretend to be like them and soon, everyone, including the boy, forgot about his heart inside its jar.

And then, one day, he met another girl with a sweet gentle smile and tender eyes. She didn't ask to see his heart. She didn't ask him anything. There was no need for words. He was relieved. He smiled at her and opened his arms. She didn't ask him anything but stepped into his arms and lay silently in his embrace.

He was happy. She doesn't have a voice, he thought. She will never ask to see my heart.

And he embraced her more closely.

He felt his heart quiver inside the jar where it sat safely tucked within his pocket. He felt himself relax. This girl was perfect, he told himself. Silent. kind. caring. Lovely and sweet. She will not make demands of me. She will not expect me to answer questions. This must be love. And he breathed deeply of its sweet nectar. This must be what everyone has talked about where ever I've travelled.

And they married and lived together in silent harmony.

For awhile, their love fit perfectly for him. They lived within a cone of silence. She would smile and he would smile back and feel his heart quiver inside its jar. He never had to name what he was feeling. He never had to show her his heart for she never asked. He was safe.

One day, a storm blew in from the north. It carried a vicious howling wind into the alleys and streets of the town where the boy and the girl lived. It swept debris up into its arms, hurled branches of trees through the air, banged windows and doors and crashed into whatever stood in its way, sweeping everything out of its path.

The girl and boy were out in the storm, having been caught far from home. They ran ahead of the wind but their feet could not carry them fast enough to outrun the wind's fury. The boy gripped the girls hand as they ran but still they were not fast enough. They felt the frigid breath of the wind snapping at their necks. Felt the wind's fury tugging at their coat tails. And still they ran.

Suddenly, a mighty gust swirled around them and tore their hands apart. The girl fell. The boy ran to pick her up and he too fell down. And as he fell he heard a tinkling of breaking glass. Blood began to ooze from his side. He felt a warm liquid running down his leg.

The girl crawled towards him and saw the blood. Its ruby red liquid glistening as it seeped across the snow upon which they lay.

He tried to hide the blood from her. Tried to hide his broken heart. But she would not take her eyes off of him. She kept crawling towards him, calling to him, "Let me help you. Let me help you."

The boy couldn't believe his ears. She had spoken. He looked at her from where he lay upon the snow, his heart bleeding between them and spoke to her for the first time. He had to yell to be heard above the howling wind which continued to swirl and dance around them. He had to call out loudly for her to hear him. "I can't," he yelled. "My heart is broken."

Just then, the wind died down and suddenly silence surrounded them. The girl stood up and walked towards him. She knelt down beside where he lay on the snow, touched his hand where it lay extended before him, reaching towards her.

"A broken heart is an open heart and an open heart is a loving heart," she said quietly.

Her voice was as sweet as a bluebird singing to awaken the sun on a spring morning.

"But you can't speak," he said, as he lay bleeding in the snow.

"I thought you couldn't speak," she replied. "You never spoke to me and I was happy in your arms. Love doesn't need words when two people share their hearts freely."

The boy began to cry. His heart bled out. The snow around him turned red. "I liked the silence," he replied. "It made me feel safe."

"You're always safe in love," the girl replied.

"But now it's too late," the boy cried out. "My heart is broken."

"Let me help you," she said again. And this time, he lay quietly as her gentle hands carefully picked the shards of glass out of his heart. With tender loving care she picked up the shattered pieces of his heart and tucked them back safely inside his chest.

He wanted to tell her he never carried it there. He wanted to tell her he only ever carried it inside a glass jar but words escaped him. He was once again speechless. For as he felt his heart rest gently inside him, he felt the blood flowing freely throughout his body. He felt his heart quiver. It shook. His hands shook too. But this time, he didn't worry about dropping the jar and breaking his heart. This time, he opened his arms and wrapped them around her and held her freely in his embrace.

"I love you," she whispered.

And he felt his heart break wide open in love.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

It's all good.

Have compassion on yourself and trust: the work may be slow, but it IS happening. And it's all good. Diane Walker. Contemplative Photography

Yesterday I had a visit with a man, a former client of the shelter where I work, who wants to be part of a new play we're creating for the Possibilities Project. "I've got 36 credits towards my theatre arts degree," he smiled. Chipped teeth. Missing front tooth. A street smile. "I got a grade eight education and the only way I got any education beyond that was in prison."

He sat on the other side of my desk, his hands shaking as he passed me a sheath of papers on which he'd written his ideas. "You gotta excuse me. I'm pretty nervous. I really want to do this."

I reassured him. "No need to be nervous. The project is about hearing every voice. About giving every voice a place to be heard."

Earlier that day I'd met with Onalea Gilbertson, co-creator of the loosely woven map we've created for the play. It's working title is, The Rivers. It is a metaphor for life. All life. We are all connected. All in the river of life, the waters flowing over, under, through, around, within us. The shelter stands along the river at the edge of our downtown core. The neighbourhood is situated at the confluence of two rivers. The river flows around us and we are part of the flow.

"I think we need to make the play a love story," my visitor told me. "But tragic. Like the street. So few love stories ever make it out alive."

He was 'on the street' for most of his adult life. He's in his mid forties now. Has had a place to call his own for just over a year. "I've been sober that long too," he told me. "This time, I'm holding onto my sobriety. Getting sober isn't about quitting drinking. It's about letting go of what possesses you."

He wants to give back. To share his knowledge to inspire those still mired in the street to 'find a different way of thinking.'

"People ask me, 'what's different about you? You've changed.' I tell them, "Yeah. I've changed the way I think."

My friend Don Steirer of Life without Drama says, "Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change."

For the man with the grade eight education and 36 credits towards his degree, who sat in my office yesterday talking fast, ideas pouring forth like a river leaping over itself, racing to reach the sea, a new way of thinking has changed his life. He's quit looking at the street as where he belongs and is looking at being 'at home' with himself as his place to be.

It's a powerful message.

"I don't know where this journey's going," he said. "I do know, it's going to a helluva lot better place than when the only thing I thought about was my next drink. Thinking about staying liquored up, I didn't think much about anything or anyone else. Now, I'm thinking about my sobriety and what it means to me. It's worth my life."

And, it's all good.

The question is: What's your life worth? Are your thoughts keeping you back from expressing your true worth?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Sometimes, I start to write and don't know what will come out. That's when I have to trust in the process, trust in the muse and let her flow.

Sometimes, I find a quote that inspires me before I write, but often, I start to write and then find a quote that fits what I'm writing about.

This morning, my writing is brief. I have a 7am meeting -- which means, I either get up at 4 to write, or wait until later, or write something brief.

And so, this is brief.

What a difference!

Brief is not my forte.

Perhaps, I should write on brief, being brief. Briefly being... short.

I am short.

Ask those who know me they'll tell you. Height is not my issue. At least lots of it. I've got height. 5.2 of it -- it's just not a lot of height for this world around me.

Both my daughters wanted height. Their dad is 6'2". Alas, the height gene passed them by. They're taller than me, but not... tall.

Know what I mean? The tall that can reach the top shelf of a cupboard without stretching and groaning and reaching and teetering and finally, giving up and grabbing a chair and standing on the chair and still having to stretch to find what's on the very back of the shelf.

That kind of tall.

That's me.

Vertically challenged.

And this morning, I'm time challenged too, so, I'll leave you with this amazing video of actress, Natasha Tsakos. It is worth the twenty minutes. Inspiring. Powerful. Awesome.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Forever in the arms of love. (a story)

She waited. Patient. Patiently. I'll wait for you forever, she told him. And so she waited. She waited and waited but still he never came.

She called. Impatient. Impatiently. She called and she called and still he never answered.

She searched. For him. For answers. For hope. And still her hands came up empty.

I am your only hope, he'd told her. I am the one you've been waiting for.

And so, she waited. In the dark. Through the dawn. Throughout the day. And still, he never came.

He'd promised to come. Promised to bring her the keys to their new home. The money he owed. He promised to give back the dreams he'd killed. The trust he'd broken. The hopes he'd dashed. Today, he'd promised. Today.

She believed him. She was patient. She had to, believe him. Give him the space and time and support. It was all she could do. She had run out of options. Run out of strength to fight. To make anything else happen.

She waited.



And still. He never came.

She started to cry. It had been so long. So long since she could remember a time when fear and shame and self-loathing were not her constant companion.

She prayed. Please, please, somebody make it stop. Somebody come and take away this horror that I am living. Please.

She was patient. Oh so patient.

And still, nothing changed. Nothing ever happened. She stayed locked. Locked up in this hell that was her life. On the outside smiling. On the inside dying.

And nobody could see. Nobody knew the truth.

She was patiently waiting for death to come knocking at her door.

But death was busy. His scythe was slicing through other life-cords. Setting others free to rise up and find their place in that time and plane where all beings unite with the One who lives eternal. That other-world beyond this fearsome world that had become her reality.

She opened her arms to death. Her life-cord remained intact. And she cried.

Please come, she begged. Please come.

But still, he didn't call.

Her phone remained silent. Her mind screamed in agony. Her body writhed in pain.

Somebody make it stop. Somebody please make it stop.

And all the patience in the world couldn't awaken her to the truth. Nobody out there could make it stop. Nobody out there could make him go away.

She had to do that. She had to wake up.

And she told herself she couldn't. She was too frightened. Too weak. Too alone.

Be patient, he said as he held her in the dark. Just a bit longer and then you will see, it was all worth it.

Nothing would ever be worth the terror of his embrace. She knew that. But she couldn't see it. Feel it. Breathe it. She couldn't feel. She couldn't breathe.

She was suffocating beneath the lies. Suffocating in the sea of fear that held her up to the mirror of her shame. She couldn't see. She was lost in the dark of his embrace.

And so she waited.

And nothing changed except the fear.

The fear engulfed her. The roaring in her head grew louder. She lost all sense of time. Of place. Of being.

She lost.

And fell into the sea of despair that had patiently waited for her to surrender all hope and fall. She fell. She fell and closed her eyes.

Patiently waiting for death to come.

But it never came.

And then, in the dark of despair, the dream of his coming to save her died and she awoke and lost all patience with him.

She lost all patience with his lies, his deceit, his manipulations. She lost all patience with hiding from the truth and found her voice to speak up.

I have run out of patience! She cried. I have no more time for you.

And in her voice she found the courage to speak up. To stand up. To walk away from waiting for him to come and make it all better. For him to sweep his magic wand across the night and raise the dawn. She lost all patience for him and turned her back on waiting.

She turned her back and reached out. Oh God, she cried. Help me.

And He did.

I am here, my child, she heard Him whisper inside her head. She felt the blood flowing in her veins. The warmth of dawn caressing her face. She felt His breath rise and fall within her and she wept. Tears streamed down her face and then she felt a hand upon her brow.

Cry no more, the voice whispered. Cry no more. You are free.

She opened her eyes and saw the wonder of the world around her.

It had been there throughout time. Waiting. Patiently. Waiting for her to open her eyes. To open her ears and heart and mind to the truth within. For her to awaken to the truth of who she was and who she was meant to be. She opened her eyes and her heart beat a wild tattoo of joy upon her breast.

I am free. I am free she whispered to the dawn. And she opened her arms wide and Love flooded in. Love engulfed her. Picked her up and carried her through her fear that what was would be forever more.

Truth is, the voice called out. Truth is. Within you. Always. Always present. Ever patient. Truth is Love and you are your truth. Love yourself. Love your wounded heart. Your battered spirit. Love your beauty and your beast and let yourself surrender and fall, In Love.

And she did.

And Love embraced her.

And she danced forevermore in the arms of Love.

Today is another Blog Carnival Tuesday for which the one-word prompt is "patience". I am always amazed when I let myself free-flow into a word or phrase and let the muse have her will to create. This piece surprised me. And pleased me.

Surprise yourself. Please yourself and hop on over to Blog Carnival sponsors - Bridget Chumbley of
One Word at a Time and Peter Pollock of Rediscovering the Church. Blog Carnival is a bi-weekly event open to everyone. For a list of links to all of today's contributors to today's carnival, go here.