Monday, May 31, 2010

Robin Hood

I say nothing. I’m not supposed to. There are conversations you are a part of and conversations you’re there only as a witness. I am a witness. That’s fine with me. Billy Coffey Honoring the Price of Freedom

Over at katdish's blog, there's a powerful guest post from Billy Coffey entitled, Honoring the Price of Freedom.

I'm always interested in what gets people excited. It almost always gets down to right and wrong. -- I believe it is so wrong, or I believe it is so right. In this case, the man Billy writes about is upset because President Obama is not going to be laying a wreath at Arlington on this Memorial Day in the US.

They're a feisty folk our neighbours to the south. Feisty in a good way -- even when the good goes wrong and the world is lambasting them for their insistence they have the right to set things right where ever they are.

It is something I admire about my neighbours -- they are willing to stand up for what they believe in and put their lives on the line so that others can stand up for their beliefs too. And they don't forget those who fell in the battle.

When I was a young girl in my teens, growing up on a Canadian Force's Base in Germany, there was a sign at the edge of the Kaserne where the High School was located that I had to pass everyday on my way home. It read something like: The person you see reflected here represents Canada. Act accordingly.

Act accordingly.

What did that mean, I wondered? What did acting Canadian really mean. It is part of our Canadian condition -- we wonder what it means to be us and define ourselves by what we're not. We're not American. We're not brash or brazen in our flag-waving. We're more like milk-toast to their barbeque. Tepid and bland as opposed to fiery and hot. And then, in our self-effacing way we jokingly applaud our neighbours for their pride while secretly shunning them for their sinfulness.

We're self-deprecating we Canadians -- and that's not a good thing. So, when I read Billy's essay this morning, I wanted to applaud him for he brings up an important issue in a creative and caring way.

It isn't that Obama isn't going to lay a wreath at Arlington. It is what the story becomes about rather than the facts.. President Obama will be laying a wreath -- just not at Arlington. He's on vacation in Chicago and will be laying one just south of the windy city.

What fascinates me about this story, however, is how it can polarize a nation through the pros and cons of what we make it out to be. He's honouring the military. He's dishonouring the military because he doesn't like the military.

When I first read Billy's story, I wondered what would I do if our Prime Minister didn't lay a wreath on Remembrance Day? Would it make a difference in my Canadian psyche? What is my position on our military? Really? Do I want Canadian boys being killed in Afghanistan? Do I want the Afghanie people to be free? Do I care?

And then, I wondered. What is this story really about? Is it about Obama's leadership or lack thereof? Or, is it about what his actions are saying about his belief in the importance, or lack of importance, of honouring those who have fallen in battle on this day. It poses a great question -- How do we stay true to our personal beliefs when we are faced with upholding the collective beliefs of our people, our organizations, our employers, our schools, our families... Because in this instance, Obama is laying a wreath -- just not at Arlington. He's on holiday with his family -- and isn't that okay?

But really -- what does his holiday plans and where he's laying a wreath have to do with me here in Canada?

It isn't so much what he is or isn't doing that affects me. It's my response to Billy's story that's at issue. I sympathized with the vet Billy writes about -- and I didn't sympathize with the vet Billy writes about.

There will always be men (and women) willing to go to war. And there will always be those of us sitting by the hearth, applauding and condemning them.

Last night four of us went to see, Robin Hood. I enjoyed it. It's a tad bloody at times but it was a really enjoyable and entertaining film. Nothing too mind-warping. Just an interesting back-story to the legend of a man about whom 'the truth and nothing but the truth' will ever be known. The film takes lots of creative license with the tale -- why not? there are so many versions of who Robin Hood was, or wasn't and what he (or as some think 'they') did. But for me, one of the most telling moments was a mother asking Robin Hood who poses as Robert Loxley, regent of Nothingham, "Will our boys be coming home soon?"

War does that. Takes boys away from their homes and makes them men, or makes them dead.

In this Robin Hood, historical figures are created from the myths and given new names to suit the times. Godfrey is created on the story of King John's notorious and most treacherous henchman, Guy of Gisbourne.

Sir Walter Loxley may or may not have existed -- but, in the film he plays a role pivotal to the eventual creation and signing of the Magna Carta -- a piece of historical writing that has inspired our Charter of Rights today.

Men died long ago so we may be free today. Throughout time, men have gone to war and died in the belief that what they were doing was the right thing to do. Mere men have become heros, for no matter the times, we have always needed and wanted heroes. Men of such stature that we could pin our hopes and dreams on their deeds. That we could know what it means to be true.

President Obama is laying a wreath today in Chicago in honour of men and women who have fallen throughout time, and the world, in pursuit of a dream. And somewhere, even in Sherwood Forest, markers rest where once they fell in pursuit of beliefs and fortunes, dreams and ideal.

I wonder if anyone will be laying a wreath today for Robin Hood?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Brilliant by me.

Power is not defined by the amount of control a person has over other people, but the amount of control one has over his or her own life. Ken Wilber
It never ceases to amaze me when I find myself face to face with myself through my projections!

Recently a worker at a centre where my mother goes for recreation and community made a mistake which caused my mother some issues. The worker called me to ask me to speak with my mother as in their conversation, my mother was extremely upset and the worker was concerned mum hadn't heard her apology and her offers to 'make it right'. I called my mother who proceeded to list off the litany of why this woman was wrong, of how she intentionally did what she did, and how it has now left my mother with having to decide if she will, or will not, go back to the centre for future recreational activities.

The woman is really sorry mom and wants to work with you to make it right, I said.

"She shouldn't have made the mistake. It's wrong."

We all make mistakes.

"I would never have made a mistake like that," answered my mother.

Possibly. But do you enjoy going to the Centre?


Then why make a choice that will deprive you of that enjoyment?

"You don't understand!" she cried before informing me she couldn't talk with me about anything and hanging up.

I've phoned her a couple of times since that conversation to see how she's doing. My eldest sister is her primary care-giver and is away at the moment so I have attempted to pick up the slack and have still felt 'less than' in my attempts to be present with my mother. Every time we've spoken on the phone since that conversation two weeks ago, she's poked and prodded the situation, continually circling around her organizing principle (it's wrong what that worker did and now she's ruined it for mom at the Centre).

Recently, I decided to invite her for lunch in the hopes we could get beyond the situation and have a nice visit. "That's not a good idea," she replied after I suggested I'd take her out for lunch. "I'm going to talk about this situation and you don't want to hear me and we'll end up fighting."


And the question is -- which one of us is most aware?

See, I accuse my mother of not listening to me -- and I'm the one unwilling to listen to her. Is it compassion or lack of compassion? Is it fear? What am I projecting?

Does speaking about this upset you? I asked her.

"Yes, of course it does," she replied.

So.... what if we have lunch together and agree to not speak about it?

"That's not going to happen because I can't promise not to bring it up. I know I will."

And so, we didn't have lunch.

What was I projecting?

I still have a desire to have a relationship with my mother that is based on what I want, not on who she is. And who she is is an 87 year old woman who has never had the chance to be heard. Who has never been given an opportunity to have a voice -- without being told her voice is wrong, misplaced, too this or that...

See where I'm going?

If I want a relationship with my mother, I have to be willing to hear her -- regardless of my judgements of what she's saying.

A real challenge for me -- as I have a tendency to want my mother to hear me, to see me, to know me on my terms -- and so project my fear of not getting what I want and thus create situations where I don't get what I want.

Oh the webs we create when first we attempt to deceive ourselves!

It is Sunday. A day for worship. For rejoicing. For rest and meditation. I may never have what I want with my mother -- and I know I never will if I am unwilling to let go of my wants and needs to become present with her without expectation.

If I step back from my ego far enough to simply be present in this relationship, I know that so much of my angst around my mother is based on my desire to hear her say, just once -- I didn't protect you. I didn't take tender loving care of you. It was my job to keep you safe and I didn't.

Because, underneath my yearning for the mother of my dreams, is the little girl seeking validation of her pain. Underneath my angst is the belief founded upon the experiences of childhood... whatever I do is not enough. Whoever I am is not good enough. -- Early conclusions made by a child who did not understand the world around her. In her attempts to make sense of nonsense, she disassociated from her pain and embraced beliefs that, no matter how nonsensical, helped her feel safe at the time.

Unfortunately, since that time, I've attempted to 'make right' other people's lives. Just as I'm doing with my mother. If I can just say the right words, she'll hear me and let go of her litany of complaints. And when I'm not powerful enough to get through to her, I prove my belief true -- I can't do enough to fix this. I'm not good enough to fix it. It's not safe for me to spend time with my mother because she doesn't think I'm good enough to spend time with...

Time to know and to embrace the truth -- I am perfectly safe today when I embrace all of me, exactly the way I am and let go of beliefs that affirm -- I am not enough.

I am enough and no one has to tell me that -- not even my mother -- because it is my truth. Today, my task is to embrace my truth, to love myself for all I'm worth. Love my many facets, my multi-hued kaleidoscope of needs and wants and knowings and truths, even when they cause me angst, even when they don't shine too bright... and say -- I am.


I am

and that is brilliant by me!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Blue skies...?

Blondes make the best victims. They're like virgin snow that shows up the bloody footprints. Alfred Hitchcock
My apologies to blondes but I needed a quote representative of today's atmospheric tidings of ill joy.

I hope where ever you are, you are sitting down 'cause I'm sure, unless you're here in Alberta, that this news will drop you to the floor.

It's snowing.


May 29 and it's snowing.

It's the third day it's snowed actually. Though, yesterday, the snow from Thursday melted. It's back today.


In Monty Python's, The Life of Brian, John Cleese and Co. sang, "Always look on the bright side of life," ...

I'm trying to find the bright side in this snow, so... in an effort to lighten up this dull but not so chilly Saturday (do you know how much the flowers don't like snow?) I offer up some silly and just some sweet moments in the hope that tomorrow will be another day -- and the sun will shine and the snow will go and we will be sitting pretty under blue skies, nothing but blue skies can I see!

And this one because... well the drumming is amazing and wouldn't you know it -- the rain turns to snow!

and how could I resist a song by Jonah and the Whales all about blue skies?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Informed action

Circumstances do not make the man, they reveal him. James Allen
He used to be a client of the shelter where I work. Several years ago he stayed for eight months. I've been out ever since he said. And then he went on a five minute tirade about 'what's wrong' with the people we serve.

I've noticed it before. Those who once suffered the indignities and injustices of homelessness are often the most strident in their criticisms of those still mired in its depths. They become so affected by what is happening to others, or by what others are or are not doing, they project their anger and disgust, shame and blame, upon those suffering as they once did.

Ken Wilber, philosopher, psychologist and a founder of the Integral Institute, suggests that when a person or thing in our environment informs us, when we receive what is happening as information or a point of interest, we probably aren't projecting. On the other hand, if what they are doing, or what is happening affects us, if we're pointing our fingers and judging or we're "plugged in" in ways that engage our emotions negatively, chances are that we are a victim of our own projections.

The man in question, sitting across from my in my office, had come to promote a new business idea. State of the art technology that, were we to install the devices, would provide a certain comfort to our clients.

"I think you should put at least three on the third floor and maybe on on each of the fourth and fifth floors," he insisted.

I like the machines. They would add value.

and... They are expensive. $10,000 each. We wouldn't have to pay for the machines. They'd be leased and their value would be paid for through their use.

But we'd be accountable for damage.

"Not at all," he replied. "Your insurance would cover any damage."

Yes. But we know that putting them on the third floor they will be damaged. So, installing them means we're knowingly using our insurance coverage to cover the risk of our clients acting out.

Anger management at the shelter is always an issue. The building is designed on a 'carrot' approach. As you rise up through the floors, the level of responsibility, accountability and accessibility increases. As you rise up, your level of self-control, self-reliance, and self-direction always rises.

In 2001, when the 100,000 sq. ft. shelter was opened, the third floor was designated for Emergency Sleeping -- line up, get a ticket, get a ticket, get a bed. No more tickets. No more beds. You have the option of sleeping on the first floor -- which is for intoxicants, or finding a bed elsewhere. (We are licensed to sleep up to 1100 people a night.) Fourth and fifth are for Transitional Housing. This is your bed. Your locker. Your community. Accountability. Responsibility rises. So do privileges. The focus is on creating a life plan so individuals can successfully transition back into main stream society.

Originally, the third floor washrooms had ceramic sinks and toilets (just like fourth and fifth). First and second floor (our day area and laundry and kitchen area) all had stainless steel fixtures.

Anger is an issue in this environment and sometimes, sinks and toilets become targets of someone's desire to express their anger on their environment. When being housed on an 'emergency' basis, stability is fragile, addictions often still play an integral role in someone's life and mental health is often compromised. After a few months operation and experience, the toilets and sinks were replaced with stainless steel.

Putting $10,000 machines on the third floor didn't make sense.

My visitor didn't agree. It shouldn't be your problem, he said. It's your clients' and your insurance company's problem.

How can that be when we know the issue exists? We know anger management is an issue. And, we know putting these machines in would put our insurance company on the line. We can avoid putting them there by not putting in something that could and most likely will be abused.

It was a circular argument.

We can't control what people do. And sometimes, people do things that don't make sense to us. Until they are stable enough to understand that what they are doing is affecting their lives in negative ways, our responsibility is to limit their opportunities to create havoc in the world around them.

It is part of taking informed action-- we know the issues our clients face. We know their challenges. We don't judge them for what they're doing. We accept where they're at is as temporary as they choose to make it. Our role is to create an environment that is safe for everyone to find a path to making choices that will create more of what they want in their lives -- and that includes limiting opportunities to 'do bad' so that individuals can build their 'muscle' to find their will again to 'do good' in their lives.

"You're just enabling them to be here and do nothing," my visitor remarked as he got ready to take his leave.

I agreed. We are enabling people. And sometimes, that includes their choice to continuie to act out their addictions and to be self-destructive. Our role isn't to force someone to change. It's to create opportunities for them to find their courage to want to change. And regardless of what they choose, to ensure they are safe from harm -- and that includes limiting opportunities to act out and denying certain privileges and luxuries if, in providing them, the risk of the spillover effect is a negative value to someone elses bottomline.

Our bottomline: We know the lives of the people we serve are messed up and broken. That's why we're in service -- to protect them from breaking down so completely there's no life left to mess up in.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

In the silence of my heart

Mount the stallion of Love and do not fear the path
–Love's stallion knows the way exactly.
With one leap, Love’s horse will carry you home.
However black with obstacles the way may be.
Jalal-ud-Din Rumi (Translated by Andrew Harvey from A Year of Rumi)

The invitation for our weekly meditation group read, "Once again we will gather to explore the quiet. This time let’s examine the contrast of our Sounds Like Soul and our usual diet of daily tunes. Let’s see what plays."

It was the diet of daily tunes that intrigued me. What is my daily diet? Is it CBC FM on my car radio? Or the meditation music I listen to every morning. Perhaps, it's the hum of voices outside my office or the constant ringing of phones in offices all around me. Finding the silence is challenging amidst the day's constant cacophony of sound. Feeling my way into the richness of space between every sound is daunting.

I am accustomed to noise. to constantly hearing something going on all around. So accustomed that I do not sometimes recognize silence. I do not hear its vastness beckoning me into the quiet where I am at peace with the world around me. There is always the hum of my computer. The tup, tup, tup of my fingertips on the keyboard. The squeak of my office chair when I turn to the left. The schirrrr of tires on a car spinning against the asphalt outside my window as it drives by. I hear in another part of the house a ticking. The clock by the front door. Ellie snuffles in the bedroom, "Is it breakfast time yet?"

Around me there is noise encompassed by silence. Around me is silence filled with noise. One is not separate from the other. They are not different. They are part of the whole.

Last night, as we sat in our meditation circle and shared the quiet, I felt the silence envelop me. I felt its soft, velvety embrace and let myself sink into the glorious richness of its warm, welcoming lightness of being. And yet, in that silence there was noise. The rustle of our guide searching for a reading. The changing of a CD. There was music. Sonorous voices. Tenors. Sopranos. "Kyria Eleison."

There was a richness of sound and in each sound a depth of silence.

"How do we carry this energy, these feelings out from this space into there, the world beyond, into our every day?" asked our guide.

"It is the same for me when I am in Tofino," I said. "I feel part of the flow. I am the flow. Creativity oozes from every pore. My entire being is immersed in wonder. And I wonder, how can I sustain this in the concrete world of the city? How can I transport this flow to my everyday? How do I hold myself in the flow?"

There is not one and not the other. There is no "flow here" and then "no flow here". They are not different. They are all part of the whole and I am the whole sum of my flow parting ways with the silence. The concrete doesn't block me from flow. The blocking is from within me. Not the world around me.

I shift perspective and embrace the flow. I hear the ocean's roar within my mind. I hear my heart beat roaring within me.

In the meditation last night I rose high up into the sky, up above earth. I became the light. One with the Universe. One with the Divine. I let the Love flow from my heart, onto earth, around earth, into the earth. I felt it flow and felt my body soften. There was such sorrow. Such woe. Tragedy. Suffering. Joy too. There was so much here on earth to contend with. So many words to describe what was happening. And no matter what was present -- fear, joy, hatred, discrimination, terror, war, fighting, abuse -- there was Love.

Always Love.

What was stripped away for you this evening? Dal, our guide asked me as I left.

The noise.

It was the noise.

The constant chatter of do this, buy that, get here, go there. Be this way. Don't be that way. The constant cacophony of sound pulling me away from Source. Pulling me out of silence. Pulling me out of my heart.

Yesterday's Daily Om reading said, "We spend a lot of time attempting to put the feelings in our hearts into words, to communicate to others our passions, our emotions, and our love. Often we are so busy trying to translate our heart’s roar into language that we miss the most profound experience the heart has to offer, which is silence."

I am a busy translator. Always searching for the 'right' word to create the perfect picture to explain what is happening within me, and without me. I am a master of words listening to the roar of my heart and missing the silence in every beat.

Listen to the silence of your heart. Hear its invitation to expand into the wonder of knowing your daily diet of tunes is just an old song you play to keep you from knowing the silence within.

Listen to the silence of your heart.

In the silence of my heart
my soul listens
to the beat
of my being
called home
to Love.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tripping to the Caribbean

I like nonsense; it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living. It's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life's realities. Dr. Seuss

I had to laugh at myself. There I was all set to tackle one of life's big choices -- what to wear -- and I had the wrong date. The function I was anticipating is next week, not this week.

Whew. There's a decision that doesn't have to be made today.

"Avoidance strengthens fear." Dr. Liane J. Leedom

Seriously. It's been scientifically proven. Avoidance actually does strengthen fear. It creates a bio-chemical reaction in the brain that strengthens our fear of doing whatever it is we fear doing. That's why, when you avoid doing something you need to do that you are nervous about doing -- like paying taxes -- you get a sensation of relief when you put it off for another day. Then, the next time you go to do it, a little critter in your brain wakes-up and says, 'No. Wait. Remember last time? You didn't do it and you felt better? Don't do it again and you'll feel even better.' And so, you put it off and momentarily get the chemically induced high of not doing it and feeling better. And every time you avoid doing it, the chemical high increases and so the story of avoidance continues.

I'm good at avoidance... because I like to 'feel better' about not doing things I need to do!

Seriously. Procrastination only feels good in the moment because in the moment, the monkey brain is whispering to us to keep doing what feels so good, even when we know, in the long run, it will feel so bad we'll wish we had done whatever we've been avoiding sooner. As we avoid doing it, the energy required to do it increases because our level of fear of doing it increases with each time we avoid doing it. That must be where we convert the 'pain threshold' to our pleasure syndrome -- hurts so bad it feels so good.

I have been avoiding booking a holiday to Barbados. I know. I know. Sounds ridiculous. But it's true. My fear level is elevated because I have these weird tapes inside of me that say -- don't make plans to travel because something always goes wrong.

It stems back to childhood experiences when I made early conclusions about travelling. We travelled a great deal when I was a child -- and it was seldom pleasant. My father would rant and rave. We'd set out for a destination and somewhere along the way, plans would change. He'd become upset about something that did or didn't go his way and we'd turn around and go home before we ever got to where we were going. My mother would cry and we'd sit mute for fear that our tears and disappointment would only exacerbate the situation. (okay, so exacerbate is not a child's word - it's my word and the thing about this particular 'fear' is -- it's based on childhood conclusions, not adult reality.)

Now, don't get me wrong. We had fun on our trips too -- but I can't remember one where my father didn't lose his temper and my mother didn't cry. So mixed up in all the fun and good times are these sensations and 'beliefs' about travelling that are not founded on reality today, but rather the past. And the past does not exist, except in my mind and on the odd photo that has survived those days way back when.

Hence, my hesitation (read that avoidance) of making travel plans.

And so, on the weekend, I bit the bullet. I booked my flights to Barbados in October. Two weeks at a private residence to bask in the sun and lush tropical colours of 'The Islands' while being catered to by staff at the friends' home where I'll be staying.

Which, when you look at the reality of my trip, makes you wonder why I'd avoid organizing it!

And that's the thing about my fear. Because it is head based and non-reality specific, it trips me up when I want to be tripping around the world! Not because it makes sense. It doesn't. But then, fear often doesn't make sense because some fears can be based on the utter nonsense we tell ourselves.

See, fear is rooted in the past, but it is future focused. I don't fear booking the tickets. I fear what I think -- consciously and unconsciously -- might happen if I plan a trip. My past is negative fortune telling what might happen in the future. And, because my subconscious mind wants to protect me and keep me from feeling the disappointment and angst of those childhood memories, it filters my thinking through the past into the future without stopping in this moment to ask -- Does this serve me well today?

I've booked my flights. I've put in my vacation request. I'm letting go of fear and embracing the idea of two weeks in the Caribbean sunshine experiencing all that life has to offer in that moment.

I'm laughing at myself -- I mean really, imagine being afraid of booking a trip to Barbados! I'm not giving the nonsense any more of my two cents! I'm flipping the telescope and celebrating the fact -- I booked my trip! Yeah for me. I overcame avoidance and got a sweet deal on my flights and have something to look forward to come the fall.

In the meantime, I'm off to live this day without fearing what might happen. I know, I am competent and capable of handling whatever life serves up. I am a WoW (woman of worth). I have the resources and resilience to manage life's ups and downs, and the courage to tackle any fear.

As composer, Benjamin Zander would say, "How fascinating!"

Have a wonderful, adventure-filled today. May your road be filled with opportunities for you to shine your brightest as you live it up in the lightness of now.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Love is
and for giving

n. davis rosback

Seven steps to healing the lovesick heart.

We’ve all had them. Those icky, sticky, yucky feelings of love gone wrong. The sense of loss. Of abandonment. Of feeling devalued and discarded. Of being ‘less than’ as the light of love in our lover’s eyes fades and we become invisible in their gaze. We’ve all had them and sometimes, those feelings linger for longer than is healthy for us to reclaim our sense of self-worth, of beauty, of joy in our essence of being alive.

EMBRACE yourself. You’ve got all you need to hold onto.

I originally posted this seven step process on Lovefraud blog -- where I occasionally write an article on healing from encounters of the disorderly kind. Lovefraud, created by Donna Andersen, is committed to helping individuals heal from relationships with sociopaths and narcissists. Using her experience with James Montgomery, a bigamist who married her, bilked her out of $250,000 and two and a half years of her life while married to at least two other women, Donna encourages people to share their stories -- their pain, experience and hope -- to help each other heal.

I wrote this article -- not to specifically talk about sociopath relationships, but rather to talk about the importance of becoming our own best friend, of accepting what is -- regardless of the trauma, and healing from the inside out.

For me, every moment of healing has been bathed in the grace of forgiveness. Forgiveness of him. Of myself. Of anyone whom I believed harmed me in some way in my life. Recently, when a girlfriend talked emotionally about an employee who had treated her with disrespect, I counselled, "repeat after me. I forgive you. I release you." The employee had quit. He was no longer part of their 'family'. She couldn't change what he had done. Only its hold on her psyche.

What always surprises (and sometimes saddens) me is the resistance people have around forgiveness. I can never forgive him, they write. He doesn't deserve it.

The power of forgiveness should not be underestimated. It fuels healing.

Forgiveness isn't about the other person. I forgive Conrad. I have never told him. Never will -- because my forgiving him has nothing to do with him. I don't need for him to acknowledge what he did was wrong -- even thinking he might keeps me trapped in disbelief, keeps me from embracing all that I am today. Expecting someone else to 'accept' our apology undermines our power today. I forgive to set myself free. I forgive to make room for all the beauty and abundance in the world to enter my life.

EMBRACE is a seven step process that guides you through letting go of the love that was (and will never be again) into loving what is and will always be within you. You. Whole and complete. Living the 3Ms of self-eMPOWERED YOU! Magnificent! Miraculous! Marvelous!


Engage your heart. Still your mind.
Mindfully watch your words and actions.
Be honest with yourself.
Reacquaint yourself with you.
Allow forgiveness in everything you do and say.
Celebrate yourself.
Explore your world.

(I use 'the masculine -- he, him' because I write as a woman. I am not suggesting all men break hearts or women never do -- Replace with the feminine if necessary.)

1. Engage your heart by stilling your mind. Meditate. Walk. Do something to get out of your thinking telling you your heart is broken. It isn’t. It’s just hurting because your breathing and thinking is tied up in thoughts of what he did to hurt you. It wasn’t about you. It was always about him.

In the quiet of your mind whisper:
Like me, he is seeking to be loved and this is the only way he knows how.
Like me, he has experienced pain, sorrow, and sadness and is looking for a way to avoid feeling them again.
Like me, he only knows this way he is choosing to behave.

And if you can say nothing else, repeat a hundred x ten times a day: I forgive him. I release him.

2. Mindfully watch everything you do and say. Become conscious of your choices knowing that they are always a reflection of your thinking and your thinking will always create how you are feeling and your experience in this moment.

Ask yourself – what do I want to feel in this moment? What is my intention for the day? Tell yourself you are capable of having what you want by reminding yourself what you’re capable of…
I wish to feel peace.
I want to feel peace.
I can feel peace.
I am the peace I feel.

I choose to be at peace in this moment now. In my choosing peace in this moment, I create the path for peace to appear in the next moment and the next and the next. I am the source of my thinking, my feelings, my actions and I choose to be responsible for my choices.

3. Be honest with yourself. Your healing will only progress to the degree that you are willing to be completely honest with yourself.

His actions were never about you. His actions, words, what he did were always about him.

You do not matter to him. He was not ‘out to get you’. He was out to get what he wanted to make his life have meaning.

It wasn’t personal. He didn’t set out to hurt you. Hurting people is just what he does -- doesn't make it right. It does mean it's all about him and what he did was to set out to protect himself. He set out with the belief that ‘you’ were a way for him to feel good about himself. You couldn’t be his way to feeling good about himself. You are not that powerful. Making him feel good about himself is not your job. Feeling good about yourself is your job. It is your responsibility. You get to choose how you feel about yourself. Be honest – are your choices making you feel better about yourself or worse? Is your thinking giving you what you want or is it taking from you what you need to Love yourself exactly the way you are?

4. Reacquaint yourself with you – remind yourself about who you were before he came into your life. Remember the things you did that said – I am a magnificent human being.

Was your passion before him to volunteer at a hospital? At a homeless shelter? Did you do things that created value in your life, that created value in the world around you? Remind yourself of your power to do things that make a difference. If you could do those things then, you can do those things now. Let go of ‘used to’ and get doing now. Remind yourself of those things. You need to get moving. Get doing. Get being who you believe yourself to be. Who you say you are. Do them now. Do them again and again. Get involved and get into action.

5. Allow yourself the gift of forgiveness. Forgive yourself. Forgive him. Forgive anyone and anything who ever hurt you.

Holding onto pockets of unforgiveness limits your experience of your life free of his abuse. Forgive him. Remember, it wasn’t personal. He didn’t set out to destroy you. He was just doing what he does and you happened to be in his path. He has since, ‘gotten over you’. He is off doing what he does in someone else’s life. What’s in it for you to hold onto his bad behavior after he’s gone? Forgive him. Forgive yourself. You didn’t know this would happen. You didn’t know you would be so hurt. So broken. So sad. And it’s okay. Forgive yourself and breathe into forgiveness all the loving kindness you possess.

Forgiving someone who hurt you doesn't lessen you and it doesn't make what they did 'okay'. It strengthens you and releases you from carrying the burden of shame and blame. Forgiveness sets you free.

Forgiving yourself doesn't mean you're less than. It means you're more than anything he could have done and ever did. Forgiving yourself releases you from being the victim. After encounters of the disorderly kind, we often want to cling to the thought -- it's not my fault. It's not. But fault has nothing to do with it. Forgive yourself and set your thinking free to focus on healing your broken heart and spirit.

6. Celebrate everything about you. Celebrate your magnificence. Your brilliance. Your light – even when the voices inside would tell you you’re not – celebrate yourself for all you’re worth! You are worth living it up for. Take yourself out on a date. Do something fun and whacky. Go to the zoo. Go bungee jumping. Take dance lessons. Learn a new skill. Celebrate everything about you in everything you do.

7. Explore life. Life isn’t about searching for the right answers, or the perfect you. Life is in the experience of living it. It’s about exploring your beliefs, what beliefs you want to hold onto and those you need to let go of because they’re not working for you any more.

If believing he hurt you causes you pain, let go of the belief. Don't give him the power to keep hurting you after he's gone. What he did hurt. What he did is nothing compared to what you can do to heal your wounded spirits. If thinking of him makes you sad, explore new thoughts. Commit to NO CONTACT in your mind. Don't give someone else free rent in your head. Our reality becomes our thoughts -- Change your thinking. Change your life.

Life is in discovering where you’re at is exactly where you are meant to be. Explore this place you’re at right now. Explore your perimeters., Explore your life beyond this place where you find yourself caught up in living small, living less than your dreams.

Get up. Get moving. Quit talking about him. Quit explaining to yourself and anyone who will listen why what he did was so wrong. Wrong or right, it is what he did and all the explanations in the world will never make sense of his nonsense – so give it up. Let it go. Engage yourself in your life. Engage yourself in shining so bright upon your path the whole world lights up around you.

EMBRACE what is. And, if the thought it should be some other way interferes, embrace it and love it to death, or at least until it doesn’t hurt you any more to believe it should be some other way. It isn’t. It can’t be. Embrace what is, love yourself as you are and let yourself go to that place where you are free to explore and experience life on your terms. Free to love fearlessly. To live with abandon. To dance in the rain and run naked through wildflower strewn meadows. It is, and always has been, your choice to embrace what is and live it up for all you’re worth!

Are you willing to do it? It is your life. No one else can live it for you.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The road is life.

Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life. Jack Kerouac
Long ago a traveller set out from his homeland to discover the New World. By night and day he sailed and sailed travelling further and further from his common ground where he knew the people who loved him and they knew him. He had no maps. No charts. No pre-set plan on where he was going, only his sextant and the stars above to guide him.

He travelled and travelled until one day, just over the horizon, he spied landfall. He was excited. Exuberant. He had been travelling a long time and was tired of the constant swell of the ocean. Tired of the constant drone of the wind whistling through the sails and the flap of canvas above his head. He was looking forward to stepping onto solid ground.

Over-excited, he added more sail hoping to reach land by nightfall, but as he got closer, the winds died down and his sails fell flat. He stood on his ship and watched the land just out of his reach and cursed the winds that had carried him so far. He cursed the craft that had been his home for all those months as he travelled safely across the seas. He cursed the sails that would not fluff and the tide that kept pulling him out to sea. He cursed and he swore and he cried and still no wind blew in from behind him. No breeze wafted into the sails.

Finally, he could stand it no more. Throwing aside all caution, he dropped anchor. He didn't know how deep the water. Didn't know if the anchor would catch. But he had to do something and he had decided he would swim to shore. It was far. Very far. But he could not stand seeing land and not touching it any longer.

The anchor caught and the traveller stripped off his clothes and slipped over the side of his craft into the chilly waters. He started out strong. Each stroke bringing him one arm-length closer to the shore. He started out strong but with every stroke against the current, he began to fail. To weaken. To tire. But still he persisted until, tired, spent, exhausted, he heaved one last stroke from his leaden arms and landed on the shore.

He was too tired to be happy. Too spent to give out a cry of joy. He lay spread eagle on the beach, feeling the warm sun-kissed sand beneath him, the water lapping at his feet.

He was content. He had reached his destination. He fell asleep.

It was the quiet that awoke him. Quiet and the coolness of sea-drenched air against his skin. While he slept fog had rolled in. It surrounded him. Enveloped him. He was immersed in it. There was no left or right. No up or down. Just the thick grey matter of a fog bank all around.

"Where am I?" he asked.

And no one answered.

No one could. Not even him.

Sometimes, we are like that traveller. We set off for places unknown, convinced that there will be better than here, not knowing where there is. And then, we see it. On the horizon. Just over the next hill or around the next corner. That place. Yes. That place where we know we want to be. It's different than where we were. Different than where we're at. And really, what could be better than different? And so, we jettison everything to reach some far off destination we cannot name. We throw ourselves into the final strokes to get us to where we want to go and wake up on the other side of nowhere. Where once we had a voyage, a journey to sustain us, we now have nowhere, nothing to aim for, nothing to attain because, in our constant struggle to get to where we're going, we lost sight of where we were in the journey. We lost sight of who we were on the voyage of our lifetimes.

We are lost.

And even when we find ourselves on distant shores, we fall deeper into not knowing where we are because, we never knew where we were going.

Life is in the voyage.

The path becomes the map. The map becomes the journey. The journey is the road and the Road is life.

Today, I do not seek to 'go anywhere'. I seek to explore where I am at, confident that where I am at is exactly where I am meant to be. And when I travel in love with each step upon my path, when I travel with a heart of compassion, it doesn't matter where I am, I am always at home in me.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Compassion Exercise -- Avatar Course

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. Dalai Lama
I have been looking at the Avatar Course and in the process, spoke with the individual who created the Avatar Canada site. I told him how much I appreciated the Compassion Exercise on the site and he said to feel free to share it, spread it, use it.

A Sunday Special Treat -- here is The Compassion Exercise

Compassion Exercise

Honesty with yourself leads to compassion for others.
To increase the amount of compassion in the world.

Expected Result:
A personal sense of peace.

Instructions: This exercise can be done anywhere that people congregate (airports, malls, parks, beaches, etc.). It should be done on strangers, unobtrusively, from some distance. Try to do all five steps on the same person.

Step 1 With attention on the person, repeat to yourself: "Just like me, this person is seeking some happiness for his/her life."

Step 2 With attention on the person, repeat to yourself: "Just like me, this person is trying to avoid suffering in his/her life."
Step 3 With attention on the person, repeat to yourself: "Just like me, this person has known sadness, loneliness, and despair."

Step 4 With attention on the person, repeat to yourself: "Just like me, this person is seeking to fulfill his/her needs."

Step 5 With attention on the person, repeat to yourself: "Just like me, this person is learning about life."

1. To be done by couples and family members to increase understanding of each other.
2. To be done on old enemies and antagonists still present in your memories.
3. To be done on other life forms.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sweats and incantations

All the praying that is needed comes from the heart, not the mouth. Grace Spotted Eagle
It is Saturday morning. A grey cool morning. A morning to curl up in bed, relax, sink into calm.

Yesterday was a day of wonder. Along with all the very appreciated and soothing comments from my friends here on my yesterday's blog, (Thank you everyone! Your support makes a world of difference -- every day!), Joyce, over at Peaceful Legacies, left a comment on yesterday's blog that startled, and inspired, me. "They say, in 7 years every cell in our body is new so you are no longer the you you were..."

Wow! What a thought. That me, seven years ago yesterday, who sat in catatonic shock watching the man, whom she once upon a time had believed in, be arrested -- is not the me sitting here today. Every cell of my body has renewed itself. There is not one cell left that was around at the time of those events.

Now that's cool!

To celebrate the day, I participated in a sweat lodge. Pretty sure that if there were any cells hanging around from way back when, I set them loose in the stream of sweat that poured off my body.

A forty-five minute drive from city centre found me surrounded by aspen forest and rolling hills. Tucked into a reserve that edges the western end of the city, the Tsuut T'ina Reserve is a vast sprawling oasis that stretches westward towards the Rocky Mountains as it snakes along the Elbow River. As I drove deeper into native lands, I said a silent prayer of gratitude. "I am grateful the developers have not had access to these lands." I was embraced in peace and tranquility and raw beauty.

I arrived at the location of the sweat lodge and was greeted by the native gentleman who had invited me to participate. Seven other 'white folk', two women, five men, listened earnestly as he explained the journey we were about to experience. We changed into appropriate clothing and crawled to the entrance of the lodge, women first. As I crawled through the opening into the dim womb like space, I invoked the spirit guides to be with me with the native invitation to "All my relations" to enter the space with me.

As the first five rocks were placed in the pit in the centre of the space, we sat in silent prayer. Eleven more rocks and we were set to close the doorflap and enter the womb of darkness and the mystery of being at one in that space where 'all my relations' and the 'grandfathers' listened to our supplications and heeded our prayers.

"We are here to suffer together," said our guide. "We are here to lay down our burdens. To ask for healing, for ourselves and each other and for anyone else int he world, anywhere in the world. When we suffer, we understand the suffering of others. When I sit in the heat and know what it feels like to be gasping for breath, in pain, I can understand someone else's desperate struggles with pain. We are here to suffer together."

And suffer we did. The searing heat. The sweat oozing from every pore. Four times, the doorflap was closed. Four times it was opened. And each time a different step along the journey. From prayers to chants to invocations, we shared two hours of pain and suffering. Of healing words and prayers for healing.

And when I crawled out, after thanking all my relations at the door, I felt soothed. Mellow. Released and revived.

In seven years every cell in our body will renew itself, Joyce wrote.

I am renewed.


Friday, May 21, 2010

The miracle in seven years

The spirit of man can endure only so much and when it is broken only a miracle can mend it. John Burroughs
Seven years. Seven years equals two-thousand, five hundred and fifty-four days. (there was a leap year in there). Another way to look at it is as sixty-one thousand two-hundred and ninety-six hours, or three million six-hundred and seventy-seven thousand seven hundred and sixty minutes.

Seven years.

No matter how I look at it, it is significant time. Significant moments to live this one wild and precious life in the rapture of now.

And that's me.

Seven years ago today, I awoke to a beautiful May morning. Crystal blue sky. Birds chirping in the trees. Sunlight sparkling on the water flowing lazily by. The world was awash in colour and sound and texture and smell and feeling and I was numb. Cold. Frozen in time. Stuck in a time warp where I believed the only way out was for 'him', the one who controlled me, owned me, determined my fate, to kill me.

And I waited.

On this morning seven years ago today, I stood out by the river sipping a cup of coffee thinking about all that I had lost. About my daughters who were so lost to me and yet, in my mind at that time, so much better off without me. I couldn't let myself think about the alternative. That what I was doing, what I had done, had hurt them. I knew it had -- but I told myself -- being there with them, being there with him, that would have been worse.

I stood outside watching the river pass by and prayed for this pain, this horrid existence to end. I prayed for an ending and a blue and white police cruiser drove into the driveway opening the door to a new beginning. I remember holding my breath as I watched them pull up. I didn't dare think. I didn't dare let any thought go for fear they'd hear me and drive away thinking, 'we've come to the wrong place'. I remember watching two car doors open up, two police officers get out and I smiled. I smiled. Just like a normal person with nothing to hide would smile.

And behind that smile, I remember the fear. Deep. Visceral. Aching. Burning fear. It clawed at my belly. Dug into my spine and gripped me in its jaws of steel. It held me silent. Held me in place, in that place defying gravity's pull that would have lifted me off and catapulted me into the cosmos -- a fleck of dust with no value in this realm.

The police approached. Asked for Conrad and I pointed up above the garage beside which I stood. there was a beautiful lofted room up there. A lovely hideaway where we had been hiding out for the past four months as Conrad struggled to find a way to get out of the country and I struggled to keep myself in that space where I did not awaken his anger. Where I did not do or say or look or feel something that would cause him to scream and yell at me.

I pointed towards the staircase and led the way. Ellie, normally excited to see visitors, cowered beside me as I walked up the outside staircase to the room where Conrad lay sleeping. One of the officers asked, "Who are you? The wife?"

I remember thinking. "Who am I?" I didn't know. I had no idea.

I opened the door. Conrad was lying in the bed. The TV blared. I announced our visitors and in that moment, time shifted. Life changed and everything was different.

In that moment, I knew -- I had received a miracle. And in that miracle, life suddenly had promise, possibility, potential. I couldn't see the challenges of the road ahead. I couldn't see the darkness that would still want to steal my peace of mind, or the fear that would erupt in moments of distress, but in that moment I could see the truth -- they were taking him away. Removing him from my path.

I'd say it was an answer to a prayer. But it wasn't. I didn't prayer for all those months for him to disappear. I'd prayed for me to vanish. To be erased. To be gone.

Note to self. When a miracle walks in, don't sweat the details. Embrace the reality of the moment and live it up.

Seven years ago today I was set free.

In my freedom, I have learned to dance, to sing, to rejoice in all that is miraculous and marvelous and unbelievably true about me. Beauty and the beast, I have learned to embrace all of me. I have learned to wonder in the wonder of me -- and not to sweat the small stuff.

I am blessed.

Seven years ago today, I believed all hope was lost.

Today, I know the truth. Hope was never lost. I was.

And now I'm found.

I rejoice.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Starfish destiny

Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning that is at one with your life's desire. John O'Donohue

I have always loved the story of the Starfish. The boy walking on the beach, methodically, rhythmically picking up starfish left behind by the tides withdrawal and carefully throwing them back into the sea.

"What are you doing?" asks a man walking by.

"The tide left them behind," says the boy. "I'm throwing them back."

"But there are so many of them," says the man looking at the thousands of starfish scattered across the sand. "You can't save them all."

The boy watches the man for a moment. Scans the beach, stoops down to pick up another starfish and toss it back into the sea. "Maybe not. But for that one, I made a difference."

I have always loved that story, its meaning, the subtle subtext that we can't just 'do nothing'. We must do something. So, I was really excited to discover that within last night's meditation was the invitation to explore our own inner starfish connection.

I was excited -- I grounded myself in meditation, sank beneath the surface of my mind and, as can only happen within the creative space of my imagination, I stood in the beautiful sunshine, surf roaring in, miles of deserted beach, except for one lone woman. She was old. Bent. Stooped. She was dressed in black. In one hand she held a tall staff of driftwood that she leaned on as she bent and stooped. Bent and stooped. She wasn't very happy at her task. In fact, she was quite sad. She would bend and stoop. Pick up a starfish and with a sigh, toss it into the surf. Bend and stoop. Pick-up. Stand up. Sigh. Toss. Bend and stoop. Pick-up. Stand up. Sigh. Toss...

I approached her and asked, "Why are you throwing the starfish back into the sea?"

She turned and gazed at me, her eyes deep and dark above an aquiline nose. Her mouth a downward facing crescent moon. She sighed, deeply, before speaking. "I've been doing this all my life. Someone has to and," she paused, looked around the beach. "I don't see anyone else racing to do it." And she began to bend and stoop and toss. "You might give me a hand," she said as she struggled to pull a starfish from where it had connected to the sand.

I watched her for a moment. Sadness engulfed me. She was old and tired. I could help her. At least for a little while. I eyed the miles and miles of starfish studded beach. I eyed the surf dancing at water's edge.

I could help her but in helping her, I would harm the starfish. They didn't need my help. This was part of their flow. Lying in tidal pools, waiting for the sea to return. In the moment, they were exactly where they were meant to be in the order of nature. I didn't want to toss them back. This was their sleeping time. Their time for rest under the sun. Yet, I wanted to help the woman. To ease her load, her pain, to lift her burden.

And I couldn't.

I left her, sadness following me as I continued down the beach, the sun beckoning me to raise my head, the surf calling me to dance.

What is this sadness?

This morning, the sadness sat heavy on my heart. I decided to re-visit the woman in my morning meditation. To explore the story from another place and time. As I sank into a meditative state I opened my imagination up to returning to the woman on the beach.

She was still there. Sadly tossing starfish into the sea. Her repetitive motions a black mark in an otherwise brilliant blue sky day. Each movement of her black clad body a sibilant hiss upon the gentle ocean breeze. Bend and stoop. Pick-up. Stand-up. Sigh. Toss.

I approached and as she released a starfish I gently took her hands in mine. "Stop." I implored. "Please stop."

"I can't," she said. "This is my destiny."

"It doesn't have to be," I whispered, my tears mingling with the salt spray caressing my cheeks. "You can give yourself permission to change."

"No. That is not possible. I am doomed to walk this beach forever and a day. It is written."

"Where is it written?" I asked. "Can you show me?"

She paused. I watched her eyes as she tried to focus on an answer. "Show you where it is written?"

"Yes. If it is written that this is your destiny, the decree must be etched somewhere."

She shook her head. "I don't know. I've never seen it. I do this because my mother did this before me and her mother before her. It is our way."

"Do you enjoy it?"

She laughed. A gentle tingle of sound like a wind chime ringing in a garden. "I don't particularly like it at all," she replied. She tried to straighten up. "It's hard on my back."

"Then stop. The starfish don't need your help. Their path is to be part of the ebb and flow of the ocean. Your constant tossing them back into the ocean disturbs their flow. It is not nature's way."

She turned away for a moment. Surveyed the length of the beach. Looked out towards the surf sparkling in white frothy ecstasy at land's edge.

"It's beautiful. I never realized the beach was so vast and lovely. The water so inviting."

She turned back to look at me and as she did, she handed me her staff. "It is also written that when a stranger comes to offer help, I must take it." She released the staff to my grip and stepped back. "It is time for me to go." And she turned towards the water. "And it is time for your to meet your destiny," she called back as she slipped into the water and disappeared into the surf.

I stood and looked out to sea. I smelt the fresh salty air. The caress of sea brine against my cheeks. The sun danced upon the surface of the water. The surf roared in and out, a thunderous symphony of joyous freedom on the move. I looked at the beach. The starfish lying beneath the sun, in tune with the Universe, at one with their Nature.

I felt the old woman's staff in my hand. It was curved and smoothed where her hand had gripped it throughout time. I could feel where she had begun, higher up on the staff when her back had been straight. When she had stood tall. I followed her journey through time, constantly moving down the staff where her hands had worn the it smooth as she became more and more bent.

I felt the smoothness. The warmth of the wood. It held a story. Secrets. It called to me to make a difference. To get busy doing what the woman had done and the woman before her and before her. It called to me and called back, "I see you. I love you. I release you."

This was not my destiny. I was not called to walk a starfish studded beach doing what others had done before me.

I put both hands on the stick and began to roll it back and forth, back and forth between my palms, pushing one end further and further into the sand. When I knew it was secure, I scoured the beach for 'pickings', like a magpie hunting for shiny objects. Dried up strings of seaweed that danced like feathers in the ocean breeze. Old ropes tossed up onto shore. Glass buoys. Bottles. Anything I could find to mark the sea's passage and man's journey through its waters. And with each item collected I began to decorate the staff. To create a beautiful tribute to life at water's edge.

And then, my artpiece complete, I began to dance. Naked. Free. To let the wind and sea and surf and sun caress my body. To let myself be carried into my soul. Deep within where I cast off sadness and sorrow like a a boat casting off to set sail from the dock that kept it secured to shore. I cast off and let myself move to the rhythm of the ebb and flow of the sea calling me to dance.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Creating a moment of grace

Each moment in time is a moment to open more,
to love more, to forgive more,
To bring grace and compassion to the rest of life.
Julie Redstone

Most of us may not remember Florence Chadwick. She was the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions. At the age of 34, she became the first woman to swim from Catalina Island to the California coast, besting the record by two hours. It was her second try. On her first try, physically fit, ready and eager to get going, support boats in place, she gave up the attempt half a mile from her goal. She had been swimming for almost sixteen hours. She had the physical capacity to keep swimming but her mind would not let her go on.

It wasn't tiredness that got her. Or the icy cold waters. It wasn't a cramp. It was the fog and the fear it instilled in her mind. From the moment Florence Chadwick slipped into the water on that July morning in 1952, dense fog surrounded her. She couldn't see her support boats or the people urging her on. She could only hear the sound of muffled rifle shots scaring the sharks away and the voices of her supporters calling to her to keep going, telling her she was almost there. Twenty-five+ miles later, she was, 'almost there'. But half a mile from her goal fear overcame her resolve and she asked to be pulled from the water. Later, she would tell a reporter, "Look, I'm not excusing myself, but if I could have seen land I might have made it."

Two months later she would complete her goal. Swimming through the same ice cold water and pea soup fog she would slip into the waters off Catalina island and twenty-six miles later, step onto shore on the mainland, two hours faster than the last man who had accomplished the feat. The difference this time: She knew the fear was only in her mind. And, because she knew her mind, she kept her goal in her mind's eye. She focused on what she knew was true -- land was ahead and she was heading towards it -- even when she couldn't see it.

I have always desired to be a woman of integrity. To act up to my higher good, in everything I do and say, think and believe. From my thoughts to my actions, how I express my feelings, my desire has been to act with integrity, to be authentic, to be real.

And sometimes, my realness is expressed in my petty behaviours that reflect where I'm at on my journey -- never who I am.

Last weekend, C.C. and I had a dinner to attend that was organized some time ago. As we drove through downtown to meet the couple we were to dine with, a Simon and Garfunkel song played on the radio. "Will you still go to the Simon and Garfunkel concert in July with me?" I asked.

"Of course," he replied.

"Too bad I didn't return the extra two tickets," I said. "If you'd known you were going to do this then, I could have at least gotten rid of the extra tickets." (When the show was cancelled in April, ticket holders had the option of returning tickets they didn't want for the July show.)

"Oh. So now you're blaming me?" he said.

I paused. Thought about the tone and content of my statement and replied. "Yes."

Duh. Blame games are shame games and always a reflection of the state of being of the speaker, not the beholder.

I thought about my little game for sometime and on the first available opportunity mentioned to C.C. that I appreciated his awareness and his willingness to speak the truth in the moment. "Thank you for calling me on my behaviour," I told him. "You are not 'to blame' and I was behaving badly when I pointed my accusatory finger at you. I apologize."

"Thank you," he replied.

See, in the moment of feeling hurt and frightened about the changes in our relationship, I lost sight of my goal - to be a woman of integrity.

I was stuck in the fog of my feelings and forgot, no matter how my emotions are unfolding in the moment, or what I'm feeling, I am accountable for how I express myself. In taking my consciousness off my goal, I let my emotions have their way. In my dragging past hurt into our conversation, I baled on being a woman of integrity. I chose instead to behave with petty vindictiveness, creating a situation out of something that isn't really all that dire or awful -- the tickets are still for the friends we had intended to give them to. And the concert will still be a blast. And really, the conversation wasn't about the tickets. It was about me wanting to express my fear by getting a dig into him.

Now, I need to clarify -- this doesn't make me a 'bad' person. It does mean I'm a human being capable of bad behaviour. And the truth is, regardless of where I'm at, or what I'm feeling, if my goal is to be a woman of integrity, then it's up to be to act accordingly. And, when I don't, to be accountable.

I am always creating my experience in the moment -- and my belief, "He's hurt me. It's not fair. blah blah blah," interfered with my being 'real' in the moment. My belief blinded me to my truth. It inhibited my ability to be the woman of integrity I strive to be. It kept me stuck in the blame game.

The beauty of awareness is -- being accountable gives me back my power. It puts me back in the moment of creating the experience of my lifetime -- the experience I want to have, deserve to live and choose to embrace.

C.C.s willingness to speak the truth in the moment gave me an opportunity to 'see' my behaviour through his eyes and to look at his reaction through eyes of compassion. It allowed me to become accountable for my actions and words and to be a woman of integrity.

There are moments in all our lives where we say or do something that inflicts a wound upon someone we love. Our intent may not have been to hurt them -- but, when I can step back from the situation and reflect upon my deepest 'intent' in that moment -- it was, sadly, to hurt C.C. Just a little bit. You know. Nothing major. But, couched in my comment was the desire to 'make him feel bad'.

And that's where I get to come out of the fog into my integrity boat. I can't change 'that moment'. I can acknowledge the truth of that moment and apologize for my behaviour. And in my apology, I reclaim my integrity.

I may have fallen down, acted out my lesser good, but like Florence Chadwick, nothing is stopping me from getting back into the waters of life, rowing gracefully towards shore in my integrity boat -- except my fear. Oh, and perhaps a desire to not be accountable for my bad behaviour. And, oh right, a desire to be right. To cling to hurt and blame. To sluff off my feelings of angst onto someone else...

An apology from the heart is an opportunity to create a moment of grace. It is an opportunity to step into integrity, with grace and ease, to create a world of harmony all around me.

I am blessed. In C.C.s willingness to speak the truth, I was given the gift of exploring how I let my integrity go and the opportunity to create a moment of grace in my life.


This post was for the Tuesday, May 18, Blog Carnival sponsored by Bridget Chumbley at One Word at a Time and Peter Pollock of Rediscovering the Church. I know. I know. Today is Wednesday but... better late than never!

The Blog Carnival is a biweekly online event open to anyone. Participans write on a one-word prompt or topic. This week's is "grace".

At Bridget's place you'll find a list of links to all of the contributions, which are posted throughout Tuesday and often through to the end of the week.The Blog Carnival's FaceBook page is here. (Thank you Maureen at Writing without Paper for the descriptive paras.)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

You can't trust a man...

I've learned to trust myself, to listen to truth, to not be afraid of it and to not try and hide it. Sarah McLaughlin
When I was a little girl growing up my mother would always caution, "Don't trust strangers." As I grew into my teens she became more specific, "You can't trust men."

That's silly, I thought. Don't trust men is like saying, don't trust people. And I live in a world where trust is an essential ingredient of working harmoniously with others.

And I continued to mature and grow and age and live my life as best I could. And as I grew and aged and lived, I carried with me this underlying belief that I didn't even realize I had -- I carried with me the thought, I can't trust men. (They're only after one thing -- and we all know what that is don't we!)

Several years ago, in an attempt to smooth out the rough spots (of which there are many) in my relationship with my mother, I decided to ask her to tell me her life story. She met my father during the war. She was born and raised in India and he was there on a month long leave from the war where he was serving in North Africa. They met, two weeks later married and one week later he went back to the war.

"Weren't you scared?" I asked her.

"Oh yes," she replied in her soft lilting voice. "The nuns told us not to trust these soldiers. They told us they would come and take advantage of us and then disappear."

I was startled. It wasn't quite what I had meant. "Weren't you scared he might get killed?"

"Oh. I guess so. Hadn't really thought about it."

What she had focused her thinking on was trust -- or rather lack of it. And unconsciously, in her constant reminders not to 'trust men' had transferred her belief onto me.

Yesterday, as I was thinking about the 'situation' with C.C. I asked myself the question:

As the source of my current experience, the person who has created my current worldview, what underlying belief was I trying to prove?

And the answer was -- You cannot trust a man.

Pretty powerful stuff that!

Because I believe -- consciously believe at least -- that I can.

But within me exists this thought, this idea, this belief deep within my psyche, that I can't trust men. And so, I act out my belief by creating an experience for myself that proves it true. -- Actually, I've got a pattern of experiences that when I look at them with open eyes today, demonstrate how I was creating experiences to prove my belief -- I can't trust men. They're only after one thing.

See, in my 'inner speak', that monkey mind chatter place where I busily squirrel away convoluted thinking that trips me up in everyday, I tell myself -- I work hard at being open and honest. I know how to communicate. I know what it takes to be in relationship. It's 'him' who doesn't. It's his stuff that's making it impossible for us to have an intimate relationship. (This is a universal 'him', not a particular person him -- and that's the challenge of underlying beliefs rotting in my psyche. They are not particular to a situation. They are global in their attributions and affect upon me."

Uh huh.


Whatever you say kiddo.

Reality is -- I cannot create someone else's experience. I cannot be accountable for someone else's journey. Like me, they are responsible for their path. And like me, they have their own beliefs that inhibit them from experiencing life differently than what they're getting -- or not.

And the reality is -- my belief which I hadn't really identified before, at least not in its power to create my reality as something I don't want, interfered with my being loving, caring, honest and compassionate in any relationship. It kept me from being trusting and trustworthy as I hammered away at someone else's walls -- at their perceived, through my eyes, inability to be what I wanted them to be -- How can I trust a man who doesn't open his heart to me?

Conversely - how can someone open their heart to me when I am creating an experience to prove he can't? -- ask my former husband and he will confirm, this was a common theme in our relationship.

I have been operating on a deep level triggered autopilot -- and now, I get to decide... do I want to keep that belief or not?

We seek to prove our deepest beliefs true.

I didn't know I believed, deep within me, that I couldn't trust men. In my knowing today, I get to explore what I want to do with that belief.

What to do with it is pretty simple. Get rid of it! It does not serve me well. It does not create experiences worth living it up for and it does not create trust within me and around me.

The how to releasing it comes when I live fearlessly in the now. By creating my experience today to reflect what I believe is true today -- We are all connected. All on this journey of our lifetimes. Seeking to be joyful. Seeking to love and connect and know our true selves.

Today I embrace my truth. I am a woman of worth. A magnificent human being on the journey of her lifetime, getting real with creating an experience of joy and abundance in her life today. I am a gentle woman trusting in her capacity to create experiences in this moment that reflect her beauty with love and compassion.


Monday, May 17, 2010

I choose my experience

No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings. William Blake
A friend called to see how I was doing. "I heard about you and C," he said. "I'm so sorry. You must be feeling awful."

"Actually, I'm not," I replied. "I feel wonderful."

"Oh. But your heart must be aching," he said.

"Only if I choose to believe it aches."

"If it were me I'd be curled up in a ball crying my eyes out for days," he said.

"And that would be your choice. And that would be okay."

My beliefs create my experience today.

And my belief is -- I am exactly where I am meant to be. And C.C. is exactly where he is meant to be and all is well with my world. All is well with my soul.

I can choose to feel hurt and sad. I can choose to feel joy and peace.

It is a decision. Pain and suffering are not immutable laws of the universe. Neither are joy and happiness.

I choose how I feel. I choose how I express my feelings. I choose my expression of life.

I pulled the Fire Medicine Card from my Sacred Path Cards yesterday. "You are being asked to acknowledge the Fire within... Any old fears of intimacy or commitment can act as limitations to relationships. If this applies to you, clear the fear. As the fear leaves, so will the coldness of past hurts, and you will be ready for more rewarding future relationships.... Fire Medicine insists that we use the Fire within to fuel our lives with energy... When we are in balance, this Divine Union sparks our natural desire for experiencing life."

I desire to experience life in all its technicolor hues, in all its rainbow shards exploding across sunlit valleys glistening in the rain. I desire to dance in the rain. To sing in the sunlight. To run naked through wildflower strewn meadows. To embrace all that is and all that I am. Alive. Free. Unfettered by fear and limitations. Leaping for joy in this moment of now -- whatever it may bring, however it may appear.

I choose to be open to my experience. The past is not the present. My beliefs of what happened do nothing to change where I am in this moment. And in this moment, I am joyful for this expression of life within and all around me.

It is not C.C.'s fault. It is not my fault. He is not to blame. I am not to blame. We are exactly where we are at, in this time and space, experiencing what we are experiencing, free to choose how we express our experience.

It is what I experienced at meditation the other night. I am not my ego. My ego does not become me -- unless I make it so.

And I choose not to make it so. To choose otherwise would be to disavow my Divine expression of the magnificence of my being. It would discredit my belief in the Divine expression of C.C.s magnificence.

And I desire to celebrate our expression of our uniqueness, our soul essence alight in the glow of Love. Magnificent. Whole. Beautiful in flight.

It can be no other way -- unless I choose to make it so. And why would I want to do that when I can fly as high as my wings will take me, regardless of the tethers that would tie me to a past where I believed my heart was broken?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The gift of today

We're looking at stories that have lasted the test of time, like the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Bible. That's proof of their effectiveness. Devdutt Pattanaik, Chief Belief Officer at Future Group in Mumbai
It is Sunday. A beautiful, blue sky Sunday. A light breeze tickles the branches of the pine tree outside my office window. Squirrels cavort across the grass. My heart leaps joyously into the day.

It is a new world kind of day. A new perspective in being. A new opportunity to take flight.

This day is a present. Life is its gift. Every moment of it. And I am off to cherish my gift today. To share in laughter and light and love. so that this gift of mine will shine with yours and create a beautiful light to live by.

And, a special gift of words and myth from Devdutt Pattanaik in his Ted Talk -- East vs. West -- the myths that mystify.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

One man's journey

We were four women gathered around a table to celebrate our friend, R's birthday. We laughed and chatted and shared and cared about the things that mattered to each of us.

"How was C.C.s course," one friend asked. (C.C. had spent a weekend at a men's retreat a couple of week's ago.)

"It was amazing," I replied. "When I picked him up at the airport and he walked out of the custom's area I fell crazy in love all over again. He was so incredibly present. So real. So there. I watched him walk towards me and felt my heart melt open and I sank into his arms and knew, this is what I want. Being present. Being connected. Being real in relationship. This is what I want."

"Wow," said one of the women. "And then what happened?"

And then what happened...

Life. Fear. Habit. Growth. Change. Wonder. Or, as Joseph Campbell would call it, heeding the call of the Hero's Journey.

See, C.C. walked out of the customs area and we walked back into the reality of our relationship. Into that place where we struggle to stay true to who we are as we bounce and jostle and butt up against each other in relationship with and to each other. That place where our pasts and our fears and the ghosts that haunt us when we turn away from the light within each of us clouds our view of the beauty of our magnificence in Love.

I've learned a lot about me in this relationship. Learned how to have a voice, even when fear would have me stay silent. Learned I can get angry and the world doesn't end. Learned I can feel and not fall apart. I've learned I can love another and not lose myself -- not because I didn't lose myself but because I did -- and I'm still here. And through that loss, I've learned, to be in relationship I must be real. Present. True to me.

And I haven't always done that with C.C. I have let myself be drawn out of my way into living on the sidelines, waiting for him to tell me what he wants. I've let go of knowing what I want to accept some things I don't want. And, I've let go of my dreams in an effort to make the dream of us a reality. A dream where two people lovingly care about what happens to the other. Where two people support and nurture and know -- the best that could happen for each other is for each to realize their true worth, the true essence of who they are.

And that dream is coming true. Just not quite in the way I imagined.

C.C. and I have reached a crossroads. I know. I know. We've been here before. Struggled to stay out of the intersection of our fears colliding into some cataclysmic event that would rend our world apart.

And here we are. Exactly where we are meant to be.

Long ago, I left a man I loved to find myself. I was scared. Frightened. Terrified I was letting go of someone, something I would regret.

And there were moments where I truly did regret what I'd done. But I knew, that to love him, to love anyone else, I had to first learn to love myself -- and I couldn't do that without knowing myself, inside out.

And I have been blessed. I have had guides and mentors come into my life who, through their insistence they knew what was best for me, or not, taught me about me. They taught me how to stand up for me. How to be me. How to love me. Through their good and bad, love and fear, I learned to open up to the absolute magnificence of my birthright. A birthright that only I can claim for myself.

There have been times when in my terror of falling into nothing, I have clung to anyone I could find to keep me safe. And through those times, I have grown and stretched and shed fears and tears to welcome in the absolute joy of being me -- no matter where I am, no matter what I do.

And in this journey, I have learned to become accountable for me. To be true to my principles and beliefs. To find my value in all things. To be of value in all ways.

And at times, in my earnestness to know, to understand, to 'get it', I have fallen down. Fallen back. Fallen over myself in my eagerness to break out of the box of my fears trapping me inside my comfort zone, keeping me from being free.

And sometimes, armed with nothing but my disbelief of my belief that we are all magnificent human beings, I have fearlessly leaped into the void of not knowing me to discover the wonder of me unfolding in time and space.

Life is an amazing journey and we all must take it in our own way. Step into at our own pace. Delve into its mysteries, dive into its beauty in our own time.

And sometimes, someone else's time is not my time.

C.C.s time is not my time today. "I must take this part of the journey alone," he tells me.

And I am sad.

And I am happy.

And I am okay.

Sad because I believed in this dream of us. Sad because I believed that I could love him into loving himself -- and I am not that powerful and that is not my job anyway.

And I am happy because he is taking this journey. He has awoken to the beauty within and is now willing and eager to uncover it, to embrace it, to know himself in all his wonder, beauty and the beast.

And I am okay because in spite of losing 'this' relationship, I have this amazing relationship with me -- and I get to witness someone I love discovering all that is amazingly loving about him. And in this wondrous place of not knowing, nothing of who I am shifts. Nothing of where I am within me changes.

I am blessed.

I know me. And I know I am a magnificent woman of worth. A human being on the journey of her lifetime, living it up in the now of being all that I am. Fearlessly. Passionately. Exuberantly in love with me. Beauty and the beast.

And, reality is, I have lost some of my exuberance over the last little while. Lost my passion for me and my life and dreams, as I struggled to find my balance in the conversation of 'us'.

I told C.C. last night, something I've learned about me which is really important to know -- because it trips me up whenever I fall into its fearful maw -- I hate losing.

Not healthy when it comes to loving someone exactly where they are, especially when where they are is not where I want them to be -- like I have the right to tell them where to be! And in my desire not to 'lose', I hold on and fight for something I don't need or want to the point, sometimes, I don't know what I'm fighting for -- because it all becomes messed up in the fear-driven desire not to lose!

See, as long as I look at 'this' as a loss -- I feel the sorrow, regret, pain of separation.

But, there is another way to see it. And that is the path where I am finding my balance. The path I embrace when I let go of fear and leap joyfully into knowing -- I am exactly where I am meant to be in this moment. And where I am is safe in the Divine embrace of Love.

Last night I told C.C. that I love him. He is a great man. A wondrous human being of magnificent beauty. A soul-driven being of light. I am happy and joyful and wildly enthusiastic for him that he is willing to take this journey.

It is all that I could want for someone I love -- to be willing to explore who they are, to open themselves up to the incredible beauty within as they search for their path into the light.

And I am grateful for his presence on my path.

My sorrow and pain only comes from my fear of abandonment. This fear comes from that place deep within me where I fear feeling 'less than' because the monkey mind inside of me wants me to believe this is all about me. It's an old fear that doesn't serve me well today and so, I lovingly embrace it and whisper, I love you. I release you.

Because it's not all about me.

It is about one man's journey to discover his truth. To live in the light of his magnificence.

And what can be more beautiful than that?

May we all live each and everyday illuminated by the beauty of our light shining for all to see. May we all know we are safe in the arms of Love.