Tuesday, August 31, 2010

In line

In line
they stand


always waiting

for a hand out
hand up
hand off.

Some days it appears
there's no end in line
to the line-up
of those whose lives
are spent
in line.

Yesterday, a man walked into my office, took a chair across from my desk and said, "Hi. I've been wanting to talk to you for quite some time."

I was working on a proposal. Trying to get the draft finished before I took off for the airport to pick up my youngest daughter who was returning from Europe. I didn't want an interruption. Didn't have time.

I smiled. Took a breath. Removed my fingers from the keyboard where they had waited, poised to continue typing.

"What's up?"

I've known this man for quite some time. He was a former client. Took part in Project Forward, a lifeskills/money management course I teach in Tuesday nights at the shelter where I work.

"I'm doing great," he said. "Really great." And he gave me a toothy smile. Big. Broad. Real.

I peered more closely at his face. He did look great. There was a brightness to his eyes I hadn't seen before. The lines etched into his skin appeared to be less ridged, deep, tight.

"You look great," I told him. "What's been happening."

"Well...." and he launched into a story of going east to visit his family. Of 'coming clean' to them about his life, his journey into addiction and homelessness and lying to himself and everyone around him.

"I haven't had contact with my family for ten years," he said. "Now I talk to them every week."

"What's changed?" I asked.

"I quit lying. I quit having to hide. I told them the truth and they still love me. Hell," he laughed. "I still love me."

He wants to come in and do a video-story. He wants to share his story to help others find their new story, to help others understand how people can become trapped in their story.

"This place has done so much for me," he said. "I want to give back. And, I want to thank you for all you've done to help me along the way. Some of that stuff you said, it's true. You really do gotta forgive yourself and quit lying to yourself about what you've done, what you're doing. I had no idea how much shame I was carrying. And really, what do I have to be ashamed of? I did some stupid, ridiculous things. I hurt people but I never set out to do it. and lying was keeping me stuck in doing it again and again. I just feel really good these days."

And he smiled again, stood up.

"Can I give you a hug?" I asked.

He put the papers he was carrying on my desk and said, "Yes. Hugs are great!"

And they are.

And taking the time to hear someone's story is great too.

and after he left, I still had time to finish my proposal before leaving for the airport.

Both my daughters are home now.

All is well with my world.

All is aligned.

The poem at the beginning of this post was inspired by Maureen @ Writing Without Paper who wrote a poem -- Learning to Communicate -- which I think is quite brilliant! She's participating in Carry On Tuesday -- a bi-weekly event where you're provided a line from a poem and then carry on by writing a poem where that line appears. This week's prompt comes from the first words of the famous Frank and Nancy Sinatra song Something Stupid (1967): "I know I stand in line . . . ."

Monday, August 30, 2010

Nothing is impossible

It's not true I had nothing on, I had the radio on. Marilyn Monroe
When my girls were little 'nothing' was that ubiquitous answer that covered just about anything. "What do you want to do today?"


"How do you feel about chicken for dinner?"


"How do you feel about spinach with ice cream and gravy?"

At least then I'd get more than just a cursory, Nothing. Once they'd realized they'd been tricked, I'd get a, "Oh Yuck!" along with rolled eyes and a head shake.

It seemed to me that 'nothing' was imprinted in their DNA. Especially when it came to school.

What did you learn in math today? Nothing.

English? Nothing.

Social studies? Nothing.

What do you have for homework tonight?


You mean you spent 6 and a half hours at school, learned nothing and have nothing for homework?

Um. Yeah. Well... I did learn that Mrs. Endicott gets really upset when you don't have your homework done. (This was said with a sweet little smile at the end of the sentence and a sudden downcast look with the eyes.)

You didn't have your homework done? I thought you did it last night when you were doing nothing.

I didn't say I didn't have my homework done. I said Mrs. Endicott gets really upset if you don't.

How did you find this out?

Oh. Well. Um. You see. I didn't have my homework done.

That's the challenge about nothing. There's nothing you can do about it except hope and pray, one day they'll learn there's more to learning than nothing.

And maybe, that day has come.

My eldest daughter came home last night. She and her boyfriend drove a truck east, up and over the Coastal Range, across the verdant valleys of the Interior, along glistening lakes and luscious orchards. Up and over the Rockies away from the salt sea air of the coast back to the arid planes here on the leeward side of the slopes.

Okay. So they're supposed to be arid but this summer we're learning there is nothing guaranteed about the weather. This year is proving to be an anomaly.

They drove eastward and as they drove they came closer and closer back to that place where Alexis, my eldest daughter, is going back to that place where she spent her childhood learning 'nothing.'

Needless to say, I'm excited to see what the next year brings as she completes her BFA before, as she announced last night, moving back to the coast because that is truly someplace she wants to live.

So she has learned something.

When she first moved from Calgary to Vancouver she wasn't sure she'd like it. "I'm lonely," she cried into the phone.

What can you do to change that? I asked helpfully, with an upbeat note in my voice.

"Nothing!" she wailed in response. "Why do you always want me to do something when I'm feeling so awful?"

Calmly I replied. "Well, there's always something you can do to change your state, to lift your mood. It's important to not get mired in self-pity."

"I'm not feeling sorry for myself," she replied. "Can't you just hear me? I'm just trying to tell you I miss you and I'm homesick."

"I hear you honey. I miss you too. Now, what can you do to get engaged in the city life?"

"I told you. Nothing. I don't have any friends here. I don't know anyone."

"Well, what about..."

And the circle continued.

And now she's back.

And, to be sure, she's learned a lot in her year away.

"As I cleaned my apartment on Friday", she said after I'd commented that I was counting on her and her sister to be more 'constructive' in how they dealt with their shoes and jackets, books and bags when they came in the front door. "I swore I would never let things get so messy again. I noticed how nice and clean the house looked when we walked in. I really appreciated how welcoming it felt."

I've learned something too -- never let a gift horse leave a bitter taste of disbelief in your mouth -- my daughter's consciousness raised awareness of the necessity to not clutter up deserved affirmative action. "That's wonderful honey. I really appreciate your awareness of the importance of working together to keep the house tidy."

She smiled at me sweetly, oh so sweetly, and replied. "I didn't say I'd help keep it tidy. I just said I really appreciated it being that way."

Oh. "So what's one thing you can do everyday to help keep it tidy?"

She smiled. Again oh so sweetly, and mischievously, replied. "Nothing."

She's home.

My youngest daughter returns today from Europe where she's been at University and then travelling. Suddenly the house will be filled with their lilting voices, warm and loving presence, and, did I mention... their clutter.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

For the next year, I'll juggle and shift, moan and groan about clutter and shoes left at the front door. Plates that don't make the dishwasher and half consumed glasses of juice left on the coffee table in the family room downstairs. And through my moans and groans I'll always remember the things I've learned about having my daughters at home -- time is not finite. Now is not forever. They will once again spread their wings and fly away in the not too distant future.

And the one thing I have learned I can do to create harmony in our home while they rest here for these next few months is to be gracious and caring, loving and kind and to put the dishes in the dishwasher without letting that particular gift horse rot in my mouth like food stuck to the plate.

I gotta appreciate the small things -- they did at least manage to get the dishes to the kitchen counter!

And hopefully, as the year progresses they'll learn something in school that will ensure that when they spread their wings, they'll fly freely into the limitless possibilities of life where nothing is impossible when you dare to dream beyond the limits of your comfort zone.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday Surprises

A bird outside my window
Sunday mornings are sweet times of quiet and reflection. They are my time to ease into my day with coffee and the newspaper enjoyed from my bed while outside my window, birds twitter and tweet at the feeder.

Sunday mornings are also my morning to sit with my laptop in bed and write.

And this morning, Sunday morning became even sweeter when I opened up my blog list to check up on my favourites and discovered I'd received an award!

How sweet is that?

My blog sister Maureen over at Writing without Paper bestowed the award upon me.

I feel very special, and honoured to receive such acclaim!

To honour this lovely gesture, I'd like to pass it on and encourage each of you to do the same!

These are the guidelines.

Acknowledge the award. Say thank you to the "bestower". "Thank you Maureen" and link back to their blog -- Writing without Paper.

Another way to say thanks is through your blog -- like here :)

And then,

► Pass on the award to 15 other bloggers.

► Let the new recipients know you've selected them.

And, if you like...

► Share seven things about yourself that your readers or followers might not know.

► Post the badge to your blog.

My Fifteen Versatile Blogger Awards Recipients are:

  1. Naturally because she is so amazing and gracious and giving -- Maureen at Writing without Paper.
  2. Joyceann at Peaceful Legacies
  3. Diane -- Contemplative Photography
  4. Glynn -- Faith, Fiction, Friends
  5. Liseanne -- One girl. One backpack. Too many shoes (she's funny, doesn't use grammar, misspells lots and... she's my daughter :)
  6. Alexis -- How I survived myself. (she makes me envious with her writing ability. She's talented, deep and profound and she doesn't write often enough so I'm hoping this will encourage her to do more -- oh... and she's my daughter too!)
  7. Brandi -- Drama, Conspiracies and just general Awesomeness
  8. Bobbi -- Creation in the Round
  9. Storm -- Beautiful Girl Inside
  10. Jeff -- To my children, if they are listening
  11. Jesse -- Vine Arts: Wine Made Simple
  12. CZ -- The Narcissistic Continuum -- like my daughters, CZ doesn't write often enough, though she does use good grammar -- and when she does write, Wow! people listen!
  13. Christine -- Abbey of the Arts
  14. Kathleen -- Almost Paradisaical
  15. Okay -- so I haven't mentioned everyone in my blog list, and the one's I have listed are not in any particular order because... everyone in my blog list deserves this mention. so... Check out the others in my blog list. They're all amazing and worthy of your attention!

And... Seven things about me...

1. My deepest, darkest secret... I played the accordion as a child. Grade 8 Royal Academy of Music in fact -- who knew accordion playing had such esteemed worth? ha! I wanted to play piano, my father said, "You can't take the piano to parties." I said, "I wouldn't be caught dead taking my accordion to a party." I still had to study accordion.

2. I spent two years working with a group of street teens, writing and producing two separate plays. I brought in professional direction to work with the teens as the actors and created a concert to showcase the plays at -- On Soul Street. It was one of my most profound moments. I spent months researching teen street life and prostitution, even stood out as a prostitute one night to understand what it felt like to go eyeball to eyeball with a John. As my daughters like to say to shock people... Our mom hired teen prostitutes to be our baby-sitters!

3. I do not like olives. Don't know why not. I just don't. I do like Tapenade. Go figure.

4. I wrote and was the producer of an hour long documentary for Global TV called, At the Heart of Centre Stage. It's the story of the Young Canadians of the Calgary Stampede -- My daughter Alexis was once a singer/dancer in The YC and had already left the troupe to go to college when I produced the doc but I did manage to get her pic in it :) -- oh the lengths a mother will go to promote her brood! The YC perform every night during Stampede in front of 22,000 spectators as part of the Grandstand Show -- a multi-million dollar spectacular that rivals anything Vegas or Disney produces! (just ask me)

5. I was once a Ski Instructor while studying at the University of Strassbourg. When the students went on strike, I went skiing for two months. I got a great education! And they didn't miss me on the picket lines I'm sure.

6. I ran the Calgary Marathon. All 26 miles in 4 hours 8 minutes. I got to ride on a float in the Calgary Stampede Park Parade because I was on the organizing committee and my co-volunteers thought it would be funny to make me do that. They even made a sign for me! Imagine. Western duds, cowboy hat and flip-flops. My feet were so swollen I couldn't get them into my cowboy boots. But my smile was huge and I felt great.

7. I love to cook. I once ran a cooking school with a girlfriend and I had a cooking show on TV. I love the history of food and focused much of what I did on threading a historical perspective through the meals I concocted. Did you know Christopher Columbus used ginger to counteract seasickness?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

One world. One planet. One people.

Loaves and Fishes
This is not the age of information.
This is not
the age of information.

Forget the news,
and the radio,
and the blurred screen.
This is the time
of loaves and fishes.

People are hungry,
and one good word is bread
for a thousand.
--David Whyte

Yesterday a co-worker sent an email containing photographs of the devastation caused by the floods in Pakistan. I can't include the photos here because they are on my work email and I can't seem to download them.

And there's a part of me that's grateful that I can't.

My heart ached when I looked at the photos. My mind was overwhelmed. I cried. So many lives lost. So many lives in turmoil, angst, pain, sorrow. So many people at risk.

My co-worker who sent the photograph is from Pakistan. He is frantic. Worried about his relatives. Worried about his friends. Worried about his country of birth.

It seems impossible, sitting here on this side of the world that just on the other side of the globe there is so much disaster unfolding every minute of every day. And yet, there is.

It seems impossible some days to think about what I can do, sitting here at my desk in Calgary, Alberta, to change the course of a river overflowing its banks so far away.

I can't change the course of the river. I can impact the change in the lives of those who have felt the force of the river's waters tearing away at the foundations of their lives.

It may not be a great thing I do, but to do something is more important than to do nothing.

The UN estimates that over 20 million people have been directly impacted by the flooding, including over 3.5 million children in the affected areas. WorldVision is one organization helping those affected by the floods. Go here to help them or go to someone else you want to support. But please. Go. Go somewhere. Do something. Give.

Let your one good word be the support so desperately needed by our neighbours in Pakistan. Let your one good word help our brothers and sisters who are in pain.

This is one world. One planet. One globe. We are One People.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Mastery of me

Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. Lao-Tzu
Earlier this week I had dinner with a friend who, after 10 years of loyal and excellent service to a company, was let go.

Why did they say they were letting you go? I asked.

"They didn't," my friend replied. "But I think it's ageism. I am the only one of the 'old' sales team that wasn't let go since the new management took over. I don't fit their model any longer."

And what's that model? I asked.

Young. Energetic. Not very experienced so willing to do it 'their way'. If you're male, you're agressive. If you're female, your perky and sweet. And none of those is me.

My friend is devastated. Wounded. Hurt.

I can remember countless conversations with this friend where we talked about the lack of respect they received from management. There were many times when myself and another friend encouraged them to leave -- there are so many companies out there who would be appreciate you more -- we said.

At dinner, I told my friend about the Feminine Power course I had taken and the insight I'd gained.

One of the exercises I told them about was the guided meditation of moving forward in time to 'meet' your elder self.

I met myself at 87, I told my friend and she was amazing. Vibrant. Full of life and energy. She told me, 'the adventure is just beginning. There is so much excitement and opportunity ahead. Your life is just beginning to open up. Beauty is everywhere. Life is extraordinary. Life you. I am evidence of the greatest possibility of your life.'

My friend laughed. "Yeah, well that was all in your head."

Absolutely, I replied. But everything I think is all 'in my head'. So, I figure I can have doom and gloom and an 87 year old me in my future who tells me, 'Oh baby. Life's the pits. You are so not going to like what the future has to bring.' Or, I can have the future me be who I want to be -- and I want to be living it large at 87. Because, whatever I'm telling myself in my head today, will translate itself into reality through my living it out tomorrow.

My thinking is based on my beliefs and my beliefs create my experiences.

I want my thinking to lead me in the direction of my dreams. I want my thinking to lift me up. To carry me beyond the limits of my comfort zone out into that place where possibilities shimmer like rainbows of opportunity. That place where I am living it up large in the wonder of being all that I am meant to be.

In the Feminine Power course there is a regular 'grounding exercise' (meditation based) where you turn lovingly into yourself and ask your 'inner child' a question:

"What do you need sweetheart?"

I need you to let go, my little girl replied. I need you to let go of holding onto me as your excuse for not doing it, for not being all of it, for not giving life your very best.

Oh, I replied. You mean I gotta fly solo?

No, I mean you need to quit believing being a 'good girl' is more important than being your best. I want to play and laugh and dance in the rain and you keep telling me, good girls finish last. Cut the good girl schtick. I know you're hungry for a juicy, rich, passionate life filled with connection and cocreative magic. I am too. So quit being nice. Get being real.

I hate it when my inner child is more mature and aware than me!

In her awareness (which is mine) I 'know'. I know what I need to do. I know who I am and what I want. I know I have the power to achieve my dreams.

But... in my denial of my awareness is that place where I would believe -- I can't have it all. I am too old, too stuck in my ways, my path too cast in concrete to be able to change direction. There is that place in me that would believe -- this is as good as it gets.

No way!

Life's good. But better is always possible!

Today, I chose to live anchored into a deeper consciousness of my co-creative power centre. That place where my inner child bonds with my 87 year old me in celebration of all we can co-create. That place where I am free of limiting beliefs, free to believe the only limits to my possibilities are the obstacles I create in my head -- and my head is too filled with the magical wonder of my possibilities to worry about pitfalls and leaps into the void. My head knows it's just a creative space I fill -- with whatever I'm thinking.

Coming home to my source
I find myself
deeply connected
to my experience
of life's desire
to express itself
through me.

May I be masterful today in my mastery of me.

May you be filled with the wonder and joy of your life unfolding, just the way you designed it!

And along the way, may we all stop to smell the wildflowers and revel in the beauty of the world around us.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Light a Candle

I am on the elevator going up to the sixth floor from the parking garage underneath the building. It stops on the 3rd. The doors open and a large man steps on.

"I'm going up to sixth first," I tell him. "You're welcome to come for the ride."

It is a safe assumption to think he is going down. Above three are only the transitional sleeping floors of 4 and 5 and then the admin offices and boardroom and classrooms and art studio on six. The sleeping floors are closed during the day and clients are only allowed up to six if escorted.

He stops mid step turns and gets off the elevator. "Nah," he says. "I may as well walk down."

Behind him another man patiently waits his turn to get on the elevator. "I'll come along for the ride," he says as he steps into the confines of the small space with me. He is carrying a rolled up blanket and a plastic bag. His long thin frame is hunched at the shoulders. His face a craggy map of hard living and harder nights.

It is late in the day and I am just returning from a meeting outside the shelter where I work. He's come from Day Sleep, a service we provide to those who are ill or work nights.

"Did you have a good sleep today?" I ask him.

"Yeah," he replies. His voice husky as if reluctant to let sleep go. "I got out of Renfrew this morning and was glad of the opportunity to have Day Sleep. I need all the rest I can get right now."

Renfrew is a Detox Centre. Clients often cycle in and out, in and out. It gives them a three to five day window to dry out from whatever concoction they've been taking to mask the pain of their lives.

"Are you going on to a Rehab program," I ask. Often, after Renfrew is the best time to catch someone before they fall once again under the lure of alcohol or drugs.

"I gotta," he replied. "Three years," he says, his head nodding up and down. His mouth a thin line. "Three years I've managed to stay off the crack. But the alcohol. I gotta beat that baby. I gotta quit. I don't wanna die a drunk."

"You sound convinced of what you want to do," I say as the elevator bell chimes and the doors open on the sixth floor. I swipe my access card against the panel on the elevator wall that will let me access other floors. "First or second floor?" I ask him.

"Second," he says, clutching his blanket tightly to his chest. "I need some coffee." The second floor is our day area where clients can sit and watch TV, plays cards, read a book, visit with friends and share a meal.

"Good luck with the rehab," I say as I step off the elevator.

"Thanks," he replies. "I'm gonna quit this time."

I turn and smile at him. "I believe you. Getting to this place takes courage and you've obviously got lots of that," I reply as the doors begin to close between us.

He sticks a foot between the closing doors to stop them. "You think I've got courage?"

"Absolutely. You gave up crack. You went to Renfrew. You've committed to quitting drinking. That all takes courage," I tell him.

He stands and looks at me, his eyes peering into mine as if looking for some hidden meaning, some joke he hasn't quite got. His head nods up and down again. "Thanks. I like that. Courage. Never saw myself that way before. Courage."

And the buzzer sounds on the elevator to indicate the doors have been held open too long. He grins. Removes his foot and the doors slide closed.

It was just a momentary encounter. A fleeting exchange of two people riding an elevator in a homeless shelter. And yet, in those few moments the story of thousands of men and women unfolded.

I gotta quit.
I gotta give it up.
I gotta get straight.

No one likes the role of addict. No one enjoys the moments in between the highs when reality sets in and grinds you down with its insistence that you will never change, never get away from the strife and turmoil of wanting that next fix, that next hit, that next slug of a bottle to make the horror of where you're at and what you've become go away.

He was one man on an elevator determined to make a change.

I pray he does. I pray he holds onto the thought that he is a courageous man and he can do it.

For that man, and the hundreds of men and women like him, I light a candle.

You can light a candle too by visiting here.

I'm sure there's someone who needs your prayers, who needs the breath of hope you can give when you believe in them enough to help them see, they have the courage they need to succeed.

Take a Moment

From time immemorial, people have lit candles in sacred places as expressions of devotion and gratitude. Why should cyberspace be any less sacred? Help make the Internet a little more holy by visiting www.gratefulness.org. Sit in silence for a minute or two, feeling your breath while gently reflecting on the many blessings of life. Form a prayer in the center of your heart, surrounding yourself and everyone you love with the warmth of your gratitude. Then use the website to light your own virtual candle, releasing your prayer to the rest of the world. Take a deep breath, exhale, and enjoy your day.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Breathtaking courage

"After all, we're disabled people. But we dance with our heart and soul." Dancer Zhai Xiaowei
He had never danced before. She had been a dancer all her life. At nineteen Mai Li was one of China's most promising ballerina's, until a car accident robbed her of her right arm. Her boyfriend could not accept her and he left. She could not accept herself without an arm and fell into despair. Self-pity. Despondency. She tried to take her own life. Her parents found her in time.

And still she struggled. She struggled to find her will to live. Her balance was off. Her confidence shaken. But her body kept moving. She kept dancing. Slowly she began to make her way back onto the stage. Slowly she began to perform. And then SARS hit and theatres closed and worked dried up and she and her performing partner were left out in the cold. No money. No prospects, they struggled. And then, one wintry night, huddled beneath an overpass waiting for sunrise, she started to dance in the snow and the thought was born that she could give voice to the power of dance to heal -- broken hearts, disabled bodies and dispirited souls.

Not long after her epiphany in the snow she met him. A one legged special Olympics cyclist. His name was Zhai and he was 21 years old. There wasn't a time when he could remember having two legs. He had only been 4 years old when a fall from a tractor took his right leg. At the time, his father had asked little Zhai, “The doctor will have to amputate your leg. Are you afraid?”

Zhai was too young to understand something he'd never experienced and replied, "No."

"There will be many challenges and difficulties," his father said.

“What are ‘challenges and difficulties?’ Do they taste good?” the young boy asked.

His father laughed through his tears and replied, “Yes, they’re like your favorite candies. You just need to eat them one piece at a time!” And then he ran from the room.

When Ma Li first told Zhai about her plan for them to dance, he laughed. He didn’t understand how he could dance. He'd never danced before. But then he realized, that didn't mean he couldn't. It just meant he hadn't yet. And so, he decided to try.

This video is of Ma Li and Zhai Xiaowei's performance at the CCTV national dance competition. It is more than just a dance. It is a story of belief, of dreams coming alive, of perseverance, of rising above, of embracing reality and dancing in the light of what is.

May you be inspired.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The miracle of my daughters

When she was born a friend looked at her and said, "Oh my. Louise without teeth."

And that's where the resemblance stopped.

Alexis, my eldest daughter, was born a wise child. Thoughtful. Thorough. Conscientious. Considerate. Careful. She remembered to say thank-you without being prompted. She always looked both ways before she crossed the street, though it took her years to get to a place where she felt she was old enough to cross the street without adult supervision.

She liked to control time. She was three weeks overdue and often, after she was lifted from my open womb I would wonder if she hadn't done it on purpose. Be late that is. She wanted to control time. To make it pass at her pace. To only change the hour when she was ready.

"How old are children when you leave them alone?" she asked me once. "Oh, if it's just for a couple of hours, ten or eleven," I replied.

She considered my response and replied, "I'll be fourteen."

She's always known her mind, even if she didn't quite trust it. She's always known what she wants and she's always been conscious of her power to create from her mind a world of magic and wonder.

At twelve she created an entire fashion magazine complete with a "Dear Abby" column and fashion tips. She loved to play dress-up, to recreate costumes from movies like The Titanic and to coerce her sister into playing along, letting her create frivolous fashions out of pieces of tulle and silk and velvet that she would pull out of the dress-up box like a magician pulling a rabbit from a hat. For Alexis, a crinoline was never just a crinoline. It was the brim of a turn of the century hat, or a witches collar.

Even though her goal is to be 'on stage, life for Alexis is always about what's behind the scene. What's the meaning. Why do they do that? What can I do to change the world into a more beautiful and caring place?

Alexis is always thinking ahead. Always assessing. Always measuring. Unlike her sister, Liseanne, who at eighteen months her junior arrived two weeks early because, I swear she thought she might be missing out on something happening on the outside of the womb.

"Let's get this party going," are the first words she spoke -- not really but I'm sure if she could have said them upon exiting the womb, she would have.

She still carries that trait with her. Her "What's happening," attitude. And, if nothing's happening, she'll make it happen. It's just her way.

In Grade 9 when her teacher's went on strike she decided to fill her time by creating a dinner party. For twelve people. She rooked a girlfriend into helping out and together they prepared a five course meal complete with watermelon sorbet as a palate cleanser between courses and chocolate bowls filled with ice cream and fresh fruit for dessert.

It took many tries for the two girls to figure out that dipping a balloon into hot, hot melted chocolate was making the balloon burst but it didn't take long for her to coerce her sister into making place cards and menus as well as decorations for the table. She wanted her sister to be part of the action and she knew Alexis didn't want to cook (she still doesn't), but she knew she'd give anything to be able to create a masterpiece on the table. To make it all 'look good'.

Alexis and Liseanne in Dance Competition

They are a team. Each complementing the other. Each strengthening the other. They played together. Cried together. Held each other in moments of fear. They have laughed and joked and fought and bickered and always, always, they have loved each other totally and completely.

And did I mention -- neither are too keen on cleaning up? Though they did do a pretty good job of cleaning up the dishes and the kitchen, I was still finding hardened chocolate in hard to reach places for several weeks after the grand event.

Liseanne is of the moment. She once took a math test and in the multiple choice section answered 'C' to every question.

"What made you do that?" I asked when she showed me her 'just passing' grade.

"I thought it would be interesting to see what would happen," she replied. She paused and looked at the 51% she'd received. "I promise. I won't do that again." Another pause. Grin. "Next time I'll try answering 'B'."

Like night and day they are polar opposites and so yet so alike. They fill the ebb and flow of my heart with joy and tears and laughter and love.

Deeply caring. Soft-hearted. Deep. They love animals. They love people. They love each other.

They are inquisitive. Intelligent. Funny. Talented. They both cry at sad movies, though Liseanne will always throw in a corny line just to break the mood. It is perhaps their greatest difference. How they express their emotions.

When they were small, Alexis, the elder, was a master tantrum thrower. Her emotions coloured the sky, filled a room, emptied her tear bucket. You always knew what Alexis was feeling and you always knew her feelings ran deep.

Liseanne kept her emotions in. She seldom cried. Often didn't even shed a tear when hurt or angry. It wasn't that she was stoic. It was that she was cautious in letting others into her most private of spaces. Her heart.

When we hiked, I liked to make up stories about Mountain Annie, my alter ego hiking spirit. She was a fierce old dame, who loved those mountains who gave her fame.

The girls, enthralled to be included in my stories wanted character names of their own. I invited them to make up a name that suited them and I would make up stories to suit their names.

Alexis became, Shopping Moll.

Liseanne, Chainsaw Squirrel.

Ha! You try making up a story about a chainsawing squirrel going shoe shopping with Moll at a mall at the base of the hills where Mountain Annie roamed.

It ain't easy.

Just like being their mother -- it ain't easy but there's nothing better. Nothing or no one I'd rather be. Nothing that fills my world with more colour and beauty, joy and laughter. stars and sun than my daughters.


And I wouldn't have it any other way.

When they were born I wondered if some alien had come and stolen my mind. It was such mush. So consumed with their presence there didn't seem to be room for any other thoughts. Slowly that overwhelming feeling dissipated and I was filled with the realization that these two miraculous beings were my responsibility. In my care.

I didn't think I was mature enough. Adult enough. Careful enough to be given such an awesome responsibility. I even thought of leaving them at the hospital and asking to have them returned to me when they were all grown up so that I couldn't mess them up too much -- I was quite worried they'd never survive my parenting.

Yet, survive they did. Survived and thrived to become these incredibly spectacular young women with beautiful hearts and spirits. Young women who care deeply about each other, who are each other's best friend, who love fiercely and completely. Who are kind and considerate, thoughtful, complete human beings.

They are my daughters, children of my womb and I am blessed and the world is richer for their presence.


This story is for the Tuesday, August 24, Blog Carnival sponsored by Bridget Chumbley at One Word at a Time.

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

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.

The prompt for the next Blog Carnival, on Tuesday, September 7, is "hope". The complete schedule of prompts through the end of the year also is available at Bridget's.

Thanks again Maureen for the caption for Blog Carnival!

Monday, August 23, 2010

At my desk

L.L. Barkat at Seedlings in Stone has posted an invitation today to join in On, In and Around Mondays.

Today, outside my window, the sun shines. I work quietly in my quiet house, animals sleeping in the room. Ellie, on the floor behind me, Marley in the chair beside my desk. Tranquility rests easily in this space where I drift into 'writer's mind', that place where I open myself up to the muse moving through me. That place where I do not force the words, but rather let them come to me.

Like life. I keep trying to force things to happen. Keep trying to make it work when all I need to do is be in the place I'm at and let life unfold. In its unfolding are the experiences I create.

When I believe life is tough, life rubs up against me. It builds up resistance, roadblocks, obstacles for me to toughen up against.

When I believe life is with me, for me, good for me, life opens up in greater and greater expansive circles looking for me to fill each moment with the wonder of where I am, what I'm about, what I'm up to.

Outside my window, across the street, a mountain ash is laden with red berries. The pine tree in our front yard is burdened with cones budding new needles. I wonder about the pine beetle infestation marching its way eastward. I wonder if it will find this one pine standing alone amidst willow and poplars. The devastation of the beetles is evident in the mountains to the west. Burnt ochre trees stand sullenly in the sun, their needles falling, falling to the ground. Great swathes of rust coloured trees, dead and dying, stand testament to the beetles onslaught.

Their passing through is not like fall where leaves turn and fall and return again in spring. The beetles' passing created devastation. Entire forests decimated. Falling timber dying before the axe can salvage mighty trunks that once stood up against time and wind and sleet and snow.

There is no salvation after the beetle. Only loss.

Like death. A friend died last week. A car accident. One moment he was of this world. The next he was gone. I wished I'd taken the time to visit when I'd had the chance. I wished we'd done that dinner we'd promised we would do.

A girlfriend emails. My father has passed away she tells me. His has been a long, slow passing. A long, slow seeping away of his mind. A long, slow ebbing out of his life force. And now he's gone. I am grateful I had a chance to visit with her last fall when I was in the east. I am grateful her father is out of that place he had drifted into where each breath robbed him of the will to live. Where each breath kept her tied to his demise in the long, slow passing away of time eating away at his life.

I call a friend who has been ominously silent the past few days. I know she's struggling. How are you? I ask. I got fired she tells me. She is resigned. They didn't treat her well. Not after fifteen years of loyalty and results. I can't be bothered to fight them, she says. It wouldn't be worth it. Let's go out for lunch, I say. No. I don't like lunch. I know what she's really saying is, I'm afraid to go out. Under stress, she burrows into her home, keeping herself protected from the world out there. Out there where bad things happen. I'll come and get you, I tell her. I'll think about it, she says.

I think about pine beetles burrowing into tree trunks, suffocating the roots, cutting off nourishment to the limbs and arms and needles.

Ebbs and flow. Life moving in and out and on. Passing by. Passing on. Passing over. Through and before.

I walk in beauty now, beauty lies before me, beauty lies above me behind and below me.

I hear the words echo through my mind, a melody from the past drifting into my mind.

Yes, I walk in beauty now. Each step a delicate balanced art of being in the present moment stepping from yesterday into now, leading to tomorrow. Each step a fragile thread of hope buoyed up by my belief, life is all we have. All we have to do to live it up is to live in the rapture of now, surrendering our fear that yesterday will be forever and tomorrow will never come.

Life is in this moment now where my fingers skim the keyboard, Ellie snuffles in her sleep and Marley lies curled up beside me. Life is in this moment where I breathe into being right here, right now.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Our of our contradictions

My friend Maureen, over at Writing without Paper, shares a quote from poet Stanley Kunitz.

Out of our contradictions we build our harmonies.
~ Stanley Kunitz

From Maureen's blog I went on a journey into the world of Mr. Kunitz, who died in 2006 at the age of 101. At the age of 95 he became US Poet Laureate for the second time in his life.

I listened to his reading of The Long Boat on the occasion of his 100th birthday and I was in awe.

Gift yourself some awe today and have a listen.

Have a read over at Maureen's, Thought for the Day and click on the many links she's provided.

Immerse yourself in poetic words through the voice of a man who lived an entire century and never lost his sense of wonder.

I remember reading Stanley Kunitz many years ago. What I read enthralled me, and yet, I let go of my enjoyment as I forgot about his magical words and carried on my journey, letting poetry fall by the wayside as i struggled to find the harmony in my life.

Out of our contradictions we build our harmonies...

So true.

In The Testing-Tree, he writes towards the end of the poem, "In a murderous time, the heart breaks and breaks and lives by breaking."

A broken heart is an open heart and an open heart is a loving heart.

May all our hearts be open to the magic and the wonder of creating harmony in the contradictions of our lives. May we all live with hearts broken open in love.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The promise

Hydrangea's on my desk beside my bed
Day one of week two of finding my ribcage begins with a slow start.

I've discovered that sometimes, before the weight is shed, it hurts.

Like my hip. Don't know what I did, or how I did it but the only way it's comfortable is in bed! Go figure. Really, lying in bed helps. So, as there's smoke in the air and the skies are cloudy, I'm using this opportunity to do nothing but take care of my hip. I will go for a good long walk with Ellie, as walking helps it, but sitting... Uh uh. No sitting. That really hurts.

Fortunately, I can still work on my computer as I can keep the angle of my hip to body ratio lowered in bed than on a chair at my desk -- and what a better way to spend my day than working on my new book sitting in bed.

Working on the book is very much a game of 'trust'. Trust in the process of writing. Trust that what I have to say will be worthwhile. Trust the writing itself will be strong, and powerful and of value.

This book is about stories from the street. Stories I've written about my experiences working at a homeless shelter. Stories about how the street is a reflection of life in all its angles -- the micro of the macro. Street stories parallel life stories. They are about people. People and their stuff, their wounds, their beliefs, their fears and doubts and the stories they tell on themselves.

Stories that keep people stuck. That keep them doing again and again what they did before. Stories that inspire, touch the heart, touch upon dreams and hopes and joy. Stories of love, loss, tears, heartache and heartbreak.

Stories about people.

In writing this book I am getting clear of the 'pain' and into the promise of life beyond the street. Because ultimately, what the street shows all of us is that there is pain and there is promise. And when we stay in those places where pain imbues our every moment with its insistence there is nowhere else to be, no other way to live, we lose sight of the promise.

The promise of a new tomorrow. The promise of better days, better ways. The promise of growth, of growing beyond the fears that keep us stuck, beyond the pain that keeps us down.

The street carries a lot of pain. Writing it out leads me into the promise of new tomorrows and all the richness and possibilities a brand new day brings.

Hope your day is filled with the promise of your life unfolding in the beauty and wonder of this brand new day unfolding just for you.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Shedding dead weight.

The hardest tumble a man can make is to fall over his own bluff. Ambrose Bierce
I have a habit, and no, it's not of the black and white veil kind. It's the I do this again and again and it doesn't work for me but I keep doing it because I've got this rut that is so comfortable I've started decorating it with some beautiful and oh so clever excuses kind of habit.

Take going to the gym, a new habit I'm trying to form. Now my thought process this morning went something like this...

I'll go later. I get to give myself a treat this morning and how decadent is this to be able to lie in bed on a Friday morning, drinking coffee and reading the newspaper?

Pretty cool.

Except. The exercise class I wanted to take starts at 9:30 and... it's 9:10 and I'm still in my pjs. Oh well, I'll go later and work out on my own.

Excuse me?

Work out on your own? And how hard do you think you'll do that? As hard as if you were in the Core and Force class you committed to yourself you would go to where you'll be pushing yourself to the instructor's beat?

No. Really. I will work hard and I'm so comfortable here in bed and well, I don't often get a Friday morning where I can do this...

Uh huh. And who are you kidding?

Ok. Ok. I hear you.

And so, I made my 9:30 class and I feel so much better for it! In fact, I ran into a friend and we went to the market and had a coffee and sat and chatted for two hours about body image and working out and the mind games we play with ourselves in telling lies about what we have or haven't eaten, done and haven't done, believed and not believed.

It was a great conversation because it reminded me that the only person who's losing out when I am not turning up and working out is.... ME.

My trainer's life doesn't change if I don't turn up.

My daughters' lives won't change if I don't turn up.

My friends' lives won't change if I don't turn up.

It's my life. My thoughts. My beliefs, feelings, ideas, notions about myself that will change when I start turning up.

Sure, their lives could be impacted -- because when I'm feeling good about me, I'm acting out in good ways, being more of an inspiration for change, than a dead weight of anti-change.

So here it is... Seven days of some form of workout every day. Seven days of consciously watching what I'm eating, of what I'm doing to create a more healthy and vibrant me.

A friend said to me the other day, "But Louise, you should love yourself the way you are."

My response. "No way. To love myself at this weight says, I'm denying how I feel at this weight. It's saying, 'you're doing your best honey so it's okay.'"

And it's not okay. It is not okay that I ignore my well-being by carrying extra poundage and not going to the gym. It is not okay when I pretend I'm okay with looking the way I look right now because the truth is, I'm not okay with how I look right now. I don't like the way clothes fit. I don't like the way they hang. I don't like much about this weight because it makes me feel sluggish, dispirited, heavy.

And I am a radiant woman -- and a radiant woman would be doing everything within her power to create brilliance in her life.

And making excuses for myself as to why I am the weight I am, look the way I do, and don't do the things I need to do to feel strong and powerful and brilliant -- is not acceptable.

I am a woman of great power. I am a woman who believes in herself enough to not believe the lies she tells herself about why it's important to love this weight.

I love myself. I do not need to love my extra pounds.

I need to accept I am powerful and then, get active, get in motion, get going on treating my body with love and care. Feed it only those things that empower it, not stress it. Do things for it that create well-being, not ill-health.

I need to shed dead weight and carry on lightly awakening brilliance in a world of joy and wonder.

I feel good about myself today. I'm turning up for me and stepping away from the pain of lying to myself about how I feel about the way I look. I'm shedding dead weight and picking up the truth of who I am when I step lightly on my path, loving myself for all I'm worth and doing what it takes to keep that love shining brightly all around me.

The question is: What kind of lies are you telling yourself that need a little light of truth to make your world less heavy?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Painfully disturbed thursday~

:) I think I'm dying. No seriously. Dying. My joints ache. Muscles are screaming...

And it's working.

Not the dying part -- because truly. I'm not -- though eventually I will, just not yet, and just not by working out!

It is working and now I'm off for a day of wonder.

Be back later -- I've got a sweet photo of Ellie sniffing wild flowers I want to share -- but I got me things to do, places to go, people to see!

I'm off for six days -- and I plan on sucking the experience out of each moment! :)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

She once had dreams

She once had dreams.

She sits
head bowed
shaggy black hair
covered up
by a soiled grey hoody
covering up
the ravaged eyes
of lost hope and dreams
in a puff
upon a pipe
that robs her of
of being
but here
sitting on a sidewalk
back against a wall.

He stumbles
shoulders hunched
grey hair streaked
pulled back
into a pony-tail
head uncovered
empty eyes
and gaunt cheeks
by years passing by
on the street
to nowhere
but a bottle
left empty
filling up
into that space
where once
hopes and dreams
tried desperately to survive
amidst the pain and sorrow
of a past
he could not forget
and the despair
he could not let go of.

They stand
falling endlessly
into the abyss
of hopelessness
falling down
cast out
upon their heads
bowed in supplication
praying for release
as we pass by
never dreaming
they once
had dreams
worth dreaming.

At the end of her poem, "Mosque", Maureen at Writing without Paper, writes, "I posted this poem for One Stop Poetry, which weekly sponsors "One Shot Wednesday", an event for which poets write and post to their blogs an original poem, in any form, and then share it with the One Stop writing community.

Go here for details and then go write a poem."

I took Maureen's advice, and wrote the poem above. You can too...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sourcing creativity

Another word for creativity is courage. George Prince
I have always believed that we are all born with some creativity. It's just life, environment, circumstances that get in the way of our expression of our creative source.

Life is a creative journey. The more attuned, open, aware of our creative essence, the more attuned, open and aware we are of our journey.

Harry Palmer, founder of The Avatar, writes, "Living deliberately requires courage, wisdom, and ambition. At the core of courage is the ability to perceive what is, as it is, while staying present and aware. You do not run away and hide. At the core of wisdom is the ability to predict the long-term consequences of actions, and human reactions they will cause. At the core of ambition is vigorous, focused effort. Increase these qualities, keep them balanced, and you will recover your power to create and shape realities."

Because ultimately, being creative allows us to create realities that nurture, nourish and replenish us out of any circumstance life dishes up.

When I let my creative self free, I am creative in my perception, experience and expression of life, in all its ups and downs, challenges and opportunities.

And that includes, the challenge of finding a stream of ants marching across my kitchen floor. Which is what happened last night. At first, I thought they must have appeared from the flowers I'd bought and clipped on the kitchen counter before putting them in water.

But there were so many of them!

And then I remembered. That morning I had opened a cupboard to give Marley some treats and without thinking about what I was doing (hello? can you spells Zen practice?), I took a container of juice powder out and poured a cup on the floor. Don't ask me why. I don't have a clue (where i my Zen when I need it?) -- which was apparent in the fact that I poured the crystals on the floor! I quickly swept up the mess and took a swipe at the floor thinking, I'll clean it properly when I get home... I had a 9am meeting I needed to get to.

Ants are opportunistic hunters and situational advantage takers. And, they're obviously of a service mentality. They just wanted to clean my floor for me.

Which means, rather than coming home from my walk with Ellie and relaxing and meditating and writing, I was cleaning the floor, the counters, cupboards and at the store buying ant traps and spray and....

I have one clean kitchen -- and this morning, no visible ants.

Which made me think.... they must be living all around us and we just can't see them. Without sustenance on the kitchen floor, they don't appear. But put a tempting sweet powder out... and voila! Ants galore.

As I cleaned, I was not very happy. Especially after I put my glasses on and saw they weren't really as tiny as I thought! They really were ants, not little mini-ants as I supposed.

Not feeling happy, grumbling as I cleaned, I decided, if I'm going to have to de-ant the kitchen, I'll have fun while de-anting.

And so, I put on some wild music and danced my way through my cleaning. It took my mind off the 'fact' of ants in my kitchen and it left me breathless and feeling lighter and less stressed at the end of the kitchen detox.

Detoxifying my kitchen floor and my mind -- that place where tiny ants of angst scurry around in search of sweet sticky and not so healthy substances to carry around on their backs, back to their nest where they feed a colony of other ants looking for the opportunity to scurry around and sniff out more sweet sticky and sickly thoughts for consumption!

In my dance, I became part of the circle of creation. I created the mess. The ants consumed it and I cleaned it up.

I really was sorry to have to kill the ants -- ok -- that's not true. I wasn't sorry at all. I do not like ants in my kitchen. or in my pants. Or plants. Or anywhere for that matter. I do not like ants.

I don't' generally kill them elsewhere but... in my home. It's a no ant zone! Ants beware. Get out of there and go back to the garden.

This morning, I have a sparkling clean kitchen and a sense of accomplishment. I cleaned the ants out while dancing my pants off!

Have a creative day being your most creative self. Let loose your imagination. whatever life brings you, dance it out!

And if you have a moment, go visit Maureen at Writing without Paper. She's posted a wonderful blog on modern dancer, Anna Halprin. I want to be like her when I'm eighty-four!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Getting fit

The view from my walk with Ellie
Actually putting some time aside every day to quiet the mind is the first step. We have created the busy life we have precisely because we do not want to stop. We inherently know that stopping will require us to "feel' our life and that is exactly what we have been avoiding. Chandra Alexander

I am up and about and ready to go this morning on my quest to 'find my ribcage'. You know, that place from where Adam supposedly donated a piece of bone in order to create woman. Which, I have to tell you makes me wonder about our forbears. Do they really think a man was capable of enduring the pain of having a piece of ribcage removed so that woman could be created? I mean really, women endure childbirth because women don't complain about pain... :)

Ok. ok. Just kidding.

Well, sort of.

But I am off in search of my ribcage this morning. I've signed up at a local gym and am committed to workout with a personal trainer three times a week for the next month -- and of course, the days in between I'll work out by myself.

My goal is to awaken my cellular memory that loved to workout everyday (once upon a time). In its awakening I believe I'll reconnect to that place where being fit is the only way I want to live. And, I am still carrying this excess poundage that is starting to a) bug me big time, and b) starting to wear on my joints! It's time.

It all came clear to me through meditation. I am taking a course on Sounds Like Soul meditation. Entering that place of quiet everyday I was struggling to overcome my monkey mind chatter. I mean seriously. Big time struggle. Monkey mind chatter was consuming me. Depleting my energy. I kept trying to 'let it go' and it kept running circles through my mind. and then, the truth hit me. It's not holding onto me. I'm holding onto it. What's with that? I'm holding onto something that does not serve me well.

Like weight.

In the process of awakening to 'my deeper truth', I realized that my desire to carry extra weight stems from my desire to not examine those parts of me where I still carry the trauma of the past, holding onto those things that don't work for me anymore, or at least, those things that limit my experiencing life in all its beauty and abundance and joy and wonder.

In my meditation last week, pockets of sadness kept seeping to the surface, flowing in a continuous stream of 'I can't get no, satisfaction', (as Mick Jagger would sing). Monkey mind chatter kept picking at my peace of mind with its insistence that being still would leave me exposed to risks I dare not take.

But I do. Dare to. I do dare to risk 'the quiet' to find that place where I am at peace. That place where I am feeling all that I am without fearing all that I am. At One with the One. Being a co-creator with life expressing itself through me, with me, because of me.

When I let go of monkey mind chatter, I sink into that place that is pre-verbal. Pre-awareness. Pre conscious thought. In the quiet,I feel myself opening up. Expanding. Widening. Becoming. Woman. Evolutionary. Generative. Becoming all of me beyond the boundaries of this body. Beyond the thinking of this mind. Beyond the knowing of these thoughts.

In that quiet place I become all of me. The all of me when I am not being the ego self of me, myself and I.

and in that place I know, I am the source of my agony. The source of my giving myself away. The source of my disconnect. And discontent.

I am source.

As source, let me express myself in ways that celebrate all that I am, open to the creative possibilities of my life.

I am the midwife of my unmanifested potential.

I am harmony. I am wholeness. I am a creative force.

and... I'm finding my ribcage. Separating myself from false belief and falling into the deeper truth of who I am.

I am a radiant woman awakening brilliance in a world of wonder.

And... I'm getting fit.


PS -- that view... it's a five minute drive from where I live. How blessed am I?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Things I've Overheard

Marley -- The Great Cat

If all the air were suddenly sucked out of this room, we'd notice it. Love's like that. You don't always notice it until it's gone. Dave Cunin

Welcome to my new Sunday format.... Things I've Overheard.

Every Sunday I'll share one or two things I've overheard, or read during the past week -- and leave the 'making meaning' part up to you!

Dave by the way is my amazing friend who's always coming up with these quotable quotes that astonish me!

Another Davism... If you look with the mirror rather than the pointer, you see yourself.

Have a beautiful and peaceful Sunday. May we all be like Marley -- absolutely knowing that we are Great -- and content to be that way!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The War Bride

It is cloudy this morning. Cloudy and cool. The weatherman says it will clear. Possibly by tomorrow.

I'm okay with the overcast. I have a weekend all to me. Just me and the animals. A house to ourselves. Nothing pressing. Just things to do to feed my soul, not to mention my belly. My favourite kind of weekend.

My options this weekend are many. Listen to a couple of sessions of the course I took on Feminine Power that I skimmed over because of time constraints at the time. Check out the list of wonderful finds Glynn (or is that Gween? :)) Saturday Good Reads at his blog, Faith, Fiction, Friends today. Go back and delve into all the finds at Maureen's All Art Fridays and Saturday Sharings: My finds are your finds Saturday... Do some work on my new book. (and yes Maureen -- that is a good suggestion!) Clean the house (not likely but it is an option!) Go for a long walk with Ellie (highly probable). Go to the gym. (most definitely -- I have a meeting with my 'trainer' at 1 so I'll be there!) Go to a movie. Yup. A matinee would be perfect on an overcast day and I do want to see Eat. Love. Pray -- even though the hype bugs me. Go for dinner with a couple of girlfriends. Ahhh, now that sounds inviting.

A weekend to kick back and savour each moment without feeling the need to 'make meaning'.

It is, I realize, a challenge for me. This need to 'make meaning'. It goes along with the idea of 'taking myself seriously'. I think there's something to be drained from every moment. When in actuality, the moment only needs to be experienced. It doesn't need draining or devouring or having the essence sucked out of it. The moment is the experience and to savour it all I need to do is be in it, of it, be it.

C.C. left this morning for a drive east to Ontario with a friend. He's helping the friend get to his cottage just west of Ottawa as the friend had surgery recently and his wife doesn't want to drive with him -- and C.C. loves to go on long drives. As I waved good-bye to 'the boys' I was reminded of women throughout time waving good-bye to their men. Men going off to sea, to war, to hunt, to work, to explore, to find, to dig, to uncover, to discover. Men going off and women wondering, will you come home?

My mother did that once. 1943. My father had only recently arrived in town. After a two week whirlwind romance they were married. A quick two week honeymoon and he was off, once again, 'to the war', as she describes it.

To the war.

Were you afraid? I asked her once while capturing her story on my dictaphone.

Oh yes, she replied. The nun's warned us the soldiers would come and take advantage of us. I was scared he'd never return.

And he did.


But he was different when he returned.

War does that.

Leaving behind the ones you love does that.

Risking your life, does that.

Like the men and women fighting in Afghanistan today.

It's a long way from home. A long way back.

And so many moments in between.

And so, to honour my mother who was one of 40,000 war brides I'm posting a link to a beautiful movie -- it comes in several sections and it's lovely. I started this blog two hours ago and then got engrossed in the 'flick'.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Freakin' Fantastic Friday!

My friend BA sent me an email with the following story about King Arthur. Now, there is much, much truth in this story -- not of the 'real' kind though as I doubt the events described ever really happened. But, the moral of the story, now that's another matter. Because, the moral is about 'choice'. Our choice. The one each of us has to be our own true selves.

It would be nice to believe we all have this choice. That we all have the capacity to "AMP" up our lives. Because to live the lives of our dreams, we need, Autonomy. Mastery. Purpose.

The sad reality is that for many, purpose never becomes expressed because, they are not autonomous. They do not have master over their destiny. Over their choices even.

Like the people we serve at the shelter where I work. It is nice to think -- everyone has the capacity to AMP up their lives -- but reality paints a very different picture. For countless many, poverty has driven them below the line of self-sustenance into that grey zone where they cannot conceive of being independent, self-sustaining beings. Abuse. Family violence. Street violence. Parental neglect. Lack of education. Foster care. Divorce. and a host of other situations that keep creating compound negative value in their lives leave people with few thoughts of autonomy, little sense of mastery and no sense of purpose.

It has been one of the greatest lessons of my work at the shelter. For some, there truly is no 'choice'. For some, there is no thought that says -- I can do this differently. Because their birth was not their choice. their family of origin not of their creation. Their road to adulthood beyond their control -- and even if it were, within their control, they did not have the thoughts forming that suggested they could be 'autonomous. masterful. purposeful' in this life. And until we recognize the concept of 'choice' is a reflection of where we're at on the road of life, what side of the street we inhabit based on the privileges of our birth, we will perpetuate the belief, as one man said to me recently, "He chose to be here. Let him sink."

And the story goes... Once upon a time, Young King Arthur was ambushed and imprisoned by the monarch of a neighboring kingdom. The monarch could have killed him but was moved by Arthur's youth and ideals. So, the monarch offered him his freedom, as long as he could answer a very difficult question.

Arthur would have a year to figure out the answer and, if after a year, he still had no answer, he would be put to death.

The question?... What do women really want?

Such a question would perplex even the most knowledgeable man, and to young Arthur, it seemed an impossible query. But, since it was better than death, he accepted the monarch's proposition to have an answer by year's end.

He returned to his kingdom and began to poll everyone: the princess, the priests, the wise men and even the court jester. He spoke with everyone, but no one could give him a satisfactory answer. Many people advised him to consult the old witch, for only she would have the answer. But the price would be high; as the witch was famous throughout the kingdom for the exorbitant prices she charged.

The last day of the year arrived and Arthur had no choice but to talk to the witch. She agreed to answer the question, but he would have to agree to her price first.

The old witch wanted to marry Sir Lancelot, the most noble of the Knights of the Round Table and Arthur's closest friend!

Young Arthur was horrified. She was hunchbacked and hideous, had only one tooth, smelled like sewage, made obscene noises, etc.. He had never encountered such a repugnant creature in all his life. He refused to force his friend to marry her and endure such a terrible burden; but Lancelot, learning of the proposal, spoke with Arthur.

He said nothing was too big of a sacrifice compared to Arthur's life and the preservation of the Round Table.

Hence, a wedding was proclaimed and the witch answered Arthur's question thus: What a woman really wants, she answered.... is to be in charge of her own life.

Everyone in the kingdom instantly knew that the witch had uttered a great truth and that Arthur's life would be spared.

And so it was, the neighboring monarch granted Arthur his freedom and Lancelot and the witch had a wonderful wedding. The honeymoon hour approached and Lancelot, steeling himself for a horrific experience, entered the bedroom.

But, what a sight awaited him. The most beautiful woman he had ever seen lay before him on the bed. The astounded Lancelot asked what had happened The beauty replied that since he had been so kind to her when she appeared as a witch, she would henceforth, be her horrible deformed self only half the time and the beautiful maiden the other half.

Which would he prefer?

Beautiful during the day... or night? Lancelot pondered the predicament.

During the day, a beautiful woman to show off to his friends, but at night, in the privacy of his castle, an old witch? Or, would he prefer having a hideous witch during the day, but by night, a beautiful woman for him to enjoy wondrous intimate moments?

What would YOU do?

Think about it -- what would you do?

Noble Lancelot was very wise. He said that he would allow HER to make the choice herself.

Upon hearing this, she announced that she would be beautiful all the time because he had respected her enough to let her be in charge of her own life.

Now .... what is the moral to this story?

Ahhh, well that's where it gets really interesting...

The moral is..... If you don't let a woman have her own way.... Things are going to get ugly

Have a freakin' fantastic Friday!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I am pleasantly disturbed this Thursday.

At Duane Scott's blog today there's an invitation to enjoy, Pleasantly Disturbed Thursdays. Now, I hadn't intended to participate -- I mean really, random thoughts on random what?... But, then I read Glynn's blog over at Faith, Fiction, Friends this morning and thought -- what? it's almost too hot to bike?

After I got off the floor from laughing, or perhaps those were tears of sorrow, I put my fingers to the keyboard and started to type.

Hot? Outside? The only reason it's hot here in my office is because I've got the heater on. Here in 'sunny' Alberta we seem to have missed summer. I think I saw it one day in June. Not sure. It looked remarkably like a hot, sunny day but alas, it's been so long and it didn't hang around long enough for me to verify its pedigree.

The leaves on the tree outside my window are starting to turn. When I brought the paper in from outside this morning there was a decided feel of fall in the air. And it's supposed to rain today.

Oh, but it was nice enough for awhile last night to sit outside in the garden. Playing dodge the mosquitoes is fun! Right?

And then yesterday at work one of my co-directors opted to take the low road on an issue. "I always feel we're best to do the right thing," I said when he explained his plan and he replied, "Me too except when it's more fun to get even."

Getting even is never a good idea. There is no 'even' when it comes to getting back. Especially when it pertains to 'you hurt me, I'll hurt you back.'

Take C.C. and me. I was angry the other evening because of something he had done and decided to take it out by saying something I immediately regretted but couldn't take back. Now, in the moment, I didn't 'think' about anger or why I was saying what I said. But, as soon as the words were out, I knew, they had come from that 'lower' place in me. You know, that place I'd like to pretend I'm always above but all too often find myself sinking into when I'm feeling off-balance, off-put, off-kilter.

And living with someone you love while disengaging your lives can be challenging. It can also be a tremendous opportunity to grow.

So, grow I did. I acknowledged that what I had said was designed to hurt and apologized. While C.C. may not have been ready or able to hear the sincerity of my apology, I know in having done the wrong thing, I held myself accountable and took the opportunity to learn more about me.

And ultimately, learning more about me and how I respond, react, relate is a pretty awesome gift when I'm travelling this road of being authentic.

Maybe that's why I'm so tired. I've been taking myself too seriously. Again.

I've also been immersed in Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth. Great book! While it's a book written about women and their relationship with food, it's also a book written for anyone who has an obsessive thought, or simply wants to be 'clean' in all they're doing and thinking and being.

On the fly-leaf it says, "... you can be free. Just look down at your plate. The answers are there. Don't run. Look. Because when we welcome what we most want to avoid, we contact the part of ourselves that is fresh and alive. We touch the life we truly want and evoke divinity itself."

I love the idea of evoking divinity and touching the life I truly want. And sometimes, having that life means taking the time to do something that simply 'feels good'. Something that nurtures and nourishes and feeds my soul, rather than my body.

One thing I did yesterday to 'feel good' inside and out is I went for a long walk with Ellie and played in the park with her. Oh, and I took the stairs and not the elevator... except once when I was with someone else and they didn't want to walk up six flights. Oh, and I finished my proposal for funding for the Possibilities Project at the shelter where I work. Now, to go out and find the 'funder'! Oh, and I listened to the final class in my Feminine Power course -- what an amazing journey. Anyone wishing to participate there is a new course starting soon. Check it out. It is a wonderful course and very informative.

And... let's see... well, I have a meeting at 8:30 this morning and it's now 7 so I've got to think about running off and getting ready. Traffic is still light because of summer holidays -- which is a nice thing. My 'rest of the year' drive to work takes me 25 minutes on average. At this time of year, I only need 15!

I know. I know. I should feel lucky to only need 25 minutes to get to work at any time of the year as there are thousands of people for whom the journey to work is an odyssey in itself. And I do, feel grateful. It's just... well... I find that in traffic my 'little self' sneaks up and bites me some days. and do you know how difficult it is to stop a car just to apologize after you've cut someone off or not let them merge? They don't seem to get the concept you're standing at their window tapping to say, "I'm sorry."...

And did I mention? The tree outside my window has yellow leaves appearing. Really. Yellow leaves in the middle of August. What's that all about? Probably because it's roots are water-logged!

And I did find a 'wicked awesome' blog yesterday. Thxthxthx - a thank you note a day -- is one woman's way of showing gratitude everyday -- and it's beautiful and inspiring and fun and funny and just plain lovely. Leah Dietrich's mother told her to write thank you notes, so Leah set out to write thank you notes to the universe and the unknown man on the bus and the stranger across the street and the turntable she bought when she didn't mean to...

In keeping with Leah's inspiration.... I'm grateful for the opportunity to clean up Ellie's poop at the park yesterday. Thank you for my dog I love so much and the off-leash park where I get to romp with her everyday -- a place where other people take the time to pick up poop too!

Take a peek -- maybe you too will be inspired to fill your heart with gratitude and give thanks for the little and the big things in your life. I know I was.

Have a pleasantly disturbed and/or undisturbed Thursday!


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The way is happiness

There is no way to happiness -- happiness is the way. Thich Nhat Hanh
Since I wrote this earlier this morning, the clouds have lifted and all is bright and shiny. Just like life; in the darkest moments the sun still shines behind cloudy skies. My Internet woes, however, did not lessen, they worsened! Eventually, I just couldn't access the web -- sort of like life too. I rely on external entities and some days, they're just not all that reliable -- and it's not about me! sometimes, I just have to find a work-around. Like today :)

It is a cloudy day today. Perhaps that's why my computer is groaning and moaning as it loads. It's slowness in drawing out from the depths of cyberspace the page I need to write on makes my fingers ache, my mind yearn for speedy release from the words building up inside me, searching for expression.

What fascinates me is the fact it's [my computer] still 'relatively' fast compared to my old one, or even my old one when it was new seven years ago. Compared to its normal operation, however, in today's high speed, SD, HD, ADD hyped up, jazzed up, sped up mode, it's mud slick slow.

Patience, the little bird of reason whispers in my ear. Patience.

Ahhh, patience.

Not my strong suit.

Perhaps it's not about the lack, or presence of patience in my life. Perhaps it is how I'm going about viewing where I'm at. Where my computer is at for that matter. It is an inanimate object and yet, I want to coax it, coerce it, co opt it into doing my bidding -- and it has a mind of its own! Ok. So there I go again, creating a sense of being other than a device that connects me to this place where so many beings come to visit and connect and reach out and reach in and reach into each other!

I'm not impatient with my computer. I'm impatient with not getting what I want when I want it!

Taking a page from Thich Nhat Hanh's book, There is no way to patience -- patience is the way.

Hmmm. So to 'find' my patience, the path is to be in this moment of being patient without falling into the need to 'be patient'. To accept, how I am is where I'm at and right here is my path.

Ok. So moving further into that place where the is 'no way', getting off the path of searching for the way ... there is no way to love -- love is the way.

There is no destination called, I love you.

This, right now, right here, is where love exists. Where love is. Where love resides.

And all the wrangling, strangling, convolutions of the spirit will never make it anything else other than what it is right now, right here.

Most of my life I have struggled with 'love'. Struggled to understand where am I on this path of love strewn life filled with pitfalls and upheavals, gaping wounds and seeping sores. I have invested hours and dollars and words and feelings and thoughts and ideas and tears and weeping, I've invested all my emotions into understanding how do I get to this place where I love me, just the way I am.

Perhaps it is that all I needed was to stand in that place where I am and state, I love me. Just the way I am.

Perhaps all any of us need is to stand in that place where we are and state, I love me. Just the way I am.

And then, to be the 'am' who loves ourselves, just the way we are.

In her book, Women, Food and God, Geneen Roth writes, "Change happens not by hatred but by love. Change happens when you understand what you want to change so deeply that there is no reason to do anything but act in your own best interest."

There is no way to happiness -- happiness is the way.

There is no way to love -- love is the way.

Love is the way I want to live my life. Love is the way I choose.

And in this moment, loving me is all I can do to create harmony and joy in my life. Love is the way to be, me.

In love I become all I am meant to be.

In love, the world becomes all it can be for me to live fearlessly in the rapture of now.