Monday, January 31, 2011

Jonathan Harris' Universe

It was a cold weekend. Bitterly cold. An arctic front swept in piercing through the warm blanket of air that had spent the past week melting the snow on roadways and lawns. With the cold, snow fell. And fell.

Where cold grey concrete had appeared it disappeared once again beneath a white frosty blanket.

The pendulum of thermometer's measurement of the air, swung from +13C to -13C within 24 hours. This morning, the thermometer reads, -28C -- That would be -18.4Fahrenheit -- Yup. You read that right. minus 18.4 Fahrenheit!

Baby, it's cold outside.

But, like all things weather oriented, the weather will change. The days ahead will grow warmer with a promise to near 0C later in the week. Welcome to the joys of a Calgary winter. A melodramatic dance of bundling up against frostbite to stripping down to cool off, all in one day. Warm to cold and back again. Up and down and all over the map. It's hard to get a grip on the weather in Calgary.

I spent yesterday writing and researching and making notes for a presentation I have to give next week. I hauled my laptop into the bedroom, propped myself up with pillows and blankets and read and wrote and jotted ideas into my notebook. Outside the bay window beside my bed, the world slept beneath its icy blanket. Frozen and silent. No birds twittering in the tree. No squirrels running along the wire. Winter's deep freeze stilled the world. Weak sunshine struggled to pierce the grey on grey sky. A wind flirted with eaves and snowbanks, lifting gusts of snow and flung them around. The Snow Queen and her ladies dancing in my backyard.

In my meanderings through cyberspace, I came upon a 'find' I just have to share. Sometime ago I wrote about artist, computer scientist, story-teller Jonathan Harris and shared his December 2007 Ted Talk -- Jonathan Harris Collects Stories. Yesterday, as I clicked and read articles on 'compassion', I came upon a site created by Jonathan Harris that got me really excited. UNIVERSE.

Universe is an amazing site. Founded on the notion that the Greeks used the constellations to tell the stories of their heroes, of gods and goddesses and their battles and journey through mythology -- what if we created constellations today? what would they be? wondered Jonathan.

"I would often look up into the dark sky and see the three star belt of Orion, the Hunter. And as an adult, I've been more aware of the great Greek myths playing out in the sky overhead every night. You know, Orion facing the roaring bull. Perseus flying to the rescue of Andromeda. Zeus battling Chronos for control of Mount Olympus. I mean, these are the great tales of the Greeks," says Jonathan in a Ted Talk he gave earlier in 2007 where he introduced the site -- Universe -- which he created in conjunction with Daylife. Daylife is a database of billions of real time current events.

Jonathan goes on to say, "And it caused me to wonder about our world today. And it caused me to wonder specifically, if we could make new constellations today, what would those look like? What would those be? If we could make new pictures in the sky, what would we draw? What are the great stories of today?"

I clicked and got lost in wonder, high above the earth, in the stars of Universe.

Check it out -- it is truly amazing. Be prepared to journey amongst the stars. Be prepared to name a constellation or two. To trip the light fantastic!


And, to entice you, below is Jonathan Harris' first Ted Talk in March 2007 where he talks about several of his projects -- including "We Feel Fine" -- Software that every two or three minutes scans the world's newly-posted blog entries for occurrences of the phrases "I feel" or "I am feeling." And when it finds one of those phrases, grabs it up to the period, logs it in a database, capturing as much data about the individual as possible so that it can show a graphic representation of the worlds emotions.

In this moment, knowing my words will be captured by Jonathan's software, I feel inspired. I feel awed. I feel like a kid in a candy-store looking at so many different options, I can't choose just one.

I'm hoping you feel inspired by Universe -- it's pretty amazing!


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Living with Liseanne

It was 23 years ago today that she came kicking and hollering into the world. She was early. Two weeks early. Her father and I were just putting the finishing touches on the painted walls of her bedroom. We weren't in any hurry. Her sister had been 19 days late. We were pretty sure she would follow suit.

How silly. Really. Like we thought they'd be the same? That one would be just like the other. I doubt I've ever been so grateful for being so wrong in my life.

They are both unique. Both so different. Both so miraculous and shining and wonderful and beautiful and amazing. Exactly the way they are. Exactly as themselves. They are my daughters and today is the day we celebrate Liseanne's entry into the world.

It was on this day, 23 years ago, the wondrous and mysterious ride called "Living with Liseanne" began.

My water had broken earlier that morning. I hadn't said anything to their dad. I just sort of thought I'd wait.

Wait until what? my doctor had asked me later in the day when I'd called to tell him my water had broken.

Oh, I don't know. To see if I got any contractions. For the nurses strike to end.

The nurses had been on strike for two weeks. I didn't really want to deliver while the hospital was short staffed. Under stress. Under the blight of a strike.

And I'd wanted to see if maybe, just maybe this time my feminine powers would translate into real, just like the books said, birthing pains.

Nope. No such luck. Five hours after calling my doctor and his order that I 'get to the hospital', I was asleep and under the knife. Their dad was the first one to hold her. To see her. To witness her presence in this world.

Because of the strike I couldn't have an epidural and their father couldn't be in the operating room. But it didn't matter. There she was, perfect and beautiful and wondrous. Waiting to greet me when I awoke. Eyes wide. Arms outstretched. Looking around, curious and inquisitive and 'happy'.

Just as she's been waiting to greet me so many mornings of her life.

When she was little and still in her crib, I'd tiptoe into her room, just to see if she was awake, and there she would be sitting, wide eyed, looking around, a pre-verbal grin on her face, a gurgle of mirth escaping her lips. She'd stretch out her arms, I'd pick her up and she would laugh and squirm and want to be released to 'get on with her day'.

It is how she goes through life. Has always gone through life. Sensitive. Kind. Gentle and fierce. Protector of the underdog. Fighter for the downtrodden. And always eager to 'get on with her day'.

She didn't like being held facing in. Always wanted to be looking out. She didn't like sitting in one spot for long, always wanted to check out the options, check out what was on the other side of that closed door.

It was always hard to keep up to Liseanne. She skipped crawling, rolled instead, as quickly as she could and then when she'd had enough of rolling, stood up and started running. Her sister used to worry all the time that she would get hurt. "Mum, stop her," she'd say. And I would smile and take a breath and say, "She's okay, honey. It's just her way of checking out the world."

It was her way.

And she's still doing it. Checking out the world. Running. Into life. Arms and heart wide open. Embracing everything that comes her way. Making life happen, her way.

It didn't really matter what life delivered, Liseanne would take it in her stride. Oh sure, sometimes, she faltered. Like when I was missing and she and her sister feared they'd never see me again. She was frightened and angry. Very, very angry. But the anger was nothing compared to her Love. Because, Lele, as we call her at home, forgave and let go and embraced me and said, I love you and has kept on loving and laughing and sharing the beauty of her spirit without restraint, without hesitation confident that no matter what happens in life, she is okay. She is a miraculous being of light, making the world alright for everyone.

Even when last year after she'd had a seizure and she was in hospital in Holland and I called and talked with her. "I'm okay mom. No sense coming over now. Ryan [her boyfriend] will be here next week. I'm okay."

And she is. Beyond okay. She is miraculous. Incredible. Amazing.

She is my youngest daughter. Fierce and loving. Wild and soft. She stands up when others would fall. She runs when others would crawl. She fights for what is right. She protects those who have been wronged. She laughs when others would cry. She loves when others would hate. She is kind and caring. Funny and witty. Sharp as a tack, she cuts through the bull and finds the gift in every situation showing others how to shine for themselves. She makes people laugh. Gives people permission to be themselves. To be their best because, for Liseanne, there is no other option in life. Being her best is why she's here.

It is her way.

Twenty-three years ago today, Liseanne burst into this world and began her journey of life. I am so blessed to be part of it, to share in the awe and joy of her life unfolding into wonder.

Happy Birthday Lele. You are a child of light, of love, of wonder. A Divine creation of amazing grace. Thank you for giving me the gift of being part of the amazing story of "Living with Liseanne".

Saturday, January 29, 2011

There was hope. (A Story)

Why are you here? he asked, pulling down the black hoodie covering his head.

To see you, she replied, reaching out to touch a stringy strand of oil dark hair that hung dispiritedly along his cheekbone.

You've never really seen me, he said. Why start now?

She stepped back. The pain of his words piercing her heart, arrows to her soul.

That's not true.

Yeah? Then why'd you leave me? Why'd you let me go?

She swallowed. Closed her eyes for one brief moment. Opened them wide and looked into his. Deep blue into deep blue. Mirrors. Reflections. Gene pools spilling over with familial bonds cascading through the years. His birth. Precious. Filled with promise. Anger. An arm swinging, hitting. The father. A dark figure. Gone. Leaving her and her baby. Alone. Afraid. Young mother. Young child. Struggling. Fearing. She'd lost him for awhile. Got him back. Worked hard. But he kept running away. Leaving. Never really settling in upon his return.

I didn't let you go. They took you. I was always there. I just didn't know what to do. Her words rushed out. A stream of letters tumbling in a frothy brew of discordant notes, pouring into the void between them. Never enough. No never enough to fill that space. But they were all she had to give.

You were supposed to know. His voice hissed. Steam rising. A pool of heated water shimmering with words unspoken.

You were supposed to know.

She sighed. Her shoulders rose. She arched her neck. Raised her chin. A silent prayer. Grant me the serenity to accept...

His anger.

His pain.



He was but a child. A boy. Runaway. Running to. Running from. Running.

She was...

no longer a child. Legal age come and gone long ago in the pain of childbirth. She grew up in the rush of his screaming fight to enter the world ripping her apart. Teenage girl to mother in one cut of the umbilical cord.

She'd never had a chance to catch up. to untie the knots of her past. To become his mother without yearning for someone to mother her. But still she kept running after him. Reaching out to catch him.

Reaching into that place where he kept running to. Running. Fast. Hard. Into that place where pain recoiled and fear froze in the cold reality of his life. Street teen. Addict. Panhandler. Words that collided on the frozen landscape of his life lost to the street.

She was eighteen plus eighteen. Eighteen at his birth. Eighteen years since he came into this world.

It was his birthday today. She came to find him. To invite him for lunch. Tea. Coffee. Anything.

and here she stood. A mother pleading for her son's life. A mother standing before a son whose life was so far away she did not know how to reach him. Did not know how to find him amidst this life she could not understand.

He had run away. Again. For the ... she had lost count.

she had followed him. Again. Finally finding him. Here. In this place where he said he fit in. Belonged. Knew. who he was. Who his friends were.


She looked around. The room was crowded. People sat at tables. Heads down on folded arms. Chatting. Playing cards. Reading. Staring into space. People sat and walked and hung about. Busy room. Chaos.

She'd been here before. The last time. She hadn't found him then. She had found him now. She had to try. to reach out. to reach him. To reach within his hardened heart.

I'm here now, she whispered quietly into the space between them. She stepped one step closer. closing the gap. Closer.

It's not enough.

She stepped closer.

You're being here. you're too late.

It's never too late. She spoke the words. Desperately wanting to believe them.

He smiled. Briefly. A flitting upward motion of his lips. Like hers. Full-bodied. She looked at the sore beside his mouth. Red. Blistered. Cracked. Crack sore.

She ached to touch it. To heal his pain. To take away the drugs that were eating him from the inside out.

She kept her hands to herself. She looked into his eyes.

It's never too late.

I wish that were true, he said. I wish... and he stopped. His blue eyes flitted around the room, darting from left to right. Up. Down. He blinked.

I don't know. and he repeated himself. I don't know.

That's okay, she said. You don't have to know. Let me help you.

I'm not ready.

I am. And she paused. I know it's taken me too long. I know I'm late. But let me help. Let me...

he shook his head.


She gulped. Breathed deeply. Reached into her jacket pocket. Pulled out an envelope.

Let me give you this. And she handed the enveloped across the space between them. Pushed it into his hand that hung by his side.

He gripped the envelope. Crumpled it. Held on tightly.

You know if it's money I'll just spend it on drugs.

Pain. Sharp. Cutting. Another arrow to her soul. She breathed. Deeply.

That's your choice. Pause. Can I take you for lunch?

No. Pause. Thanks. I just ate. And he swept the hand that held the envelope out towards the room. Here.

I gotta go. Pause. He turned away. Light hit his face. Streaming in through the cloudy glass of a window. She saw him through the years. Young boy running. Stomping through mud puddles. Tears and fears and cries she could not relieve. She saw him running through the years. He turned to walk away. Stopped. turned back.

Thanks for coming down. He held up the envelope. Thanks for this. Pause.

she waited. Silently.

I know I look a mess. I got out of Detox yesterday. Words began tumbling out. I'm still clean. He held up the envelope again. I'm not really going to use it on drugs. I wanna get straight. Stay clean. I'm looking at a course. Here. Maybe go back and get my GED. Get a job. I wanna let it go but I gotta do it my way. I gotta find my own path. I can't keep running back to you and back to here. And if I come back to you, I'm scared I'll just come back here. So I need to start from here and see where I go. I gotta do it my way.

She bit her lip. Held her breath. the right words. The right words. She prayed.

I'll always welcome you back. No matter what. And she paused. Took a breath. No matter what, I'll never quit loving you.

He stood in front of her. This boy/man searching for his way. Searching for the path out of the darkness.

Yeah. I know.

And he turned, pulled his hood up over his head and walked away.

She stood. Watched his back fade into the crowd of grey and black bodies sheltered beneath the roof of this place where so many like him waited out the time until they found the courage to take the next step on the path away from where they were lost.

She stood and watched and knew he was doing it his way. She would do it hers with heart held open in love.

She stood and watched and said a silent prayer of gratitude. He was safe. He was alive. There was hope.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Love you more

It's another early morning meeting Friday. Shower, dress, out the door by 7... that's my plan.

First though, I want to offer up something to inspire and ignite your morning.

I awoke to find a message from my eldest daughter in my INBOX.

Morning Mom! Found an incredible talk last night. Thought you might enjoy! Love you more than all the love in the world.

Now, I love that she loves me more than all the love in the world -- and finally, she's trumped me! Because since I can remember, I've ended every note, card, email, letter to her and her sister with.... Love you more than..... and I would try to find something so way out there they'd never be able to get bigger than that!

Love you more than all the snowflakes that will ever fall.

Love you more than all the drops of rain that will ever splatter on the ground.

Love you more than all the gusts of wind that will ever blow.

Love you more than all the grains of sand that will ever lie upon a beach.

C.C., just because he's a funny guy and loves to 'win', has truncated the sentence. Love you more. Period. No comparative. No simile -- just a big grin.

I reply -- That's because I'm easier to love :) (and then I smile sweetly) tee hee!

(It's true. I am btw, easier to love!) Just kidding. Well. Sort of. OK. Not really. I'm really easy to love.

Or perhaps, it's more that I believe I'm worthy -- of love.

Because I do.

Know. Deep within me. I am worthy.

Didn't always.

Coming through the dark half decade of my soul -- that would be the experience of the man who promised to love me 'til death do us part and then set out to make the death part happen.

Coming through that experience -- I got a lesson in humility, sorrow, heartbreak.... and.... vulnerability.

Which is what makes this talk by Brene Brown, Research Professor at Houston University -- and story-teller -- so compelling.

She talks about whole-heartedness and vulnerability.

It is an inspiring and enlightening talk. It made me want to get up and dance and yell out loud -- YES! But I didn't. At least, not in the 'real world' 'cause the house is sleeping and I might have awoken the dog too!

But seriously. WOW!!!! I'm dancing and yelling. YES! YES! YES!

So -- back to the email from my daughter. The fact she gets I'll get this talk. The fact she knows it will touch me. The fact it touched her in a way that excited her, enlightened her... WOW!

That's what excites me most -- she gets it! And wants to share her getting it with me :) Imagine her life knowing her worthiness. Imagine the vistas opening up before her when she lives from that place of vulnerability -- that palce, as Brene Brown says, that is the birthplace of JOY. LOVE. CREATIVITY.

Yup -- this morning I get it! And I get, loving more than all the love in the world is a great way to live.

Aren't I just the perfect English writer this morning! :)

I'm just being vulnerable for y'all. (that's my Texas accent).

Enough. I am enough. I am worthy.

So are you!

And now, I have just enough time for a shower and dress to get out of the door. Watch me do it in 34 minutes flat!

May you have a day of wonder. A day where your heart breaks wide open in love.

"Brené Brown is an absolute legend. This is groundbreaking - not in terms of peoples awareness of these subjects and what they mean... But in these messages enhanced communication made accessible to a wider audience on this level. I have a jumbled up jigsaw in front of me with pieces I've been putting together my whole life- and Brené Brown has just connected so many pieces. This makes so much sense on so many levels. Really awesome stuff. I will watch this a few times and recommend it to people!"
jakesandersonaudio on YouTube

Thursday, January 27, 2011

From here to there.

In Greek mythology, Athena was born, in full armor ready to take on the world, from a wound in the head of Zeus. Ouch! That must have hurt.

Sometime ago, I told my daughters the story of a woman who came to me after I'd given birth by Caesarean to console me. Your feelings of sorrow of not having experienced natural childbirth need to be expressed she told me. The support group for women who gave birth to their child through Caesarean could help me find a safe and caring environment for that expression.
I didn't know I should be missing the pain of pushing my child through the birth canal. I didn't know my child needed the pain of being squeezed through such a tiny place.

I didn't know what I didn't know. That pain was necessary. That the journey of life hurts.

I wonder how the butterfly feels tearing its way through the cocoon. Does it hurt? Does it spread its wings in those first moments of life outside the protected web of its self-imposed incarceration because its wings are hurting so much it will do anything to relieve the pain? And in that first painful stretch, discover, it can fly? Does a butterfly even want to fly or does nature just take over and lift it up? Does the eaglet even want to leave the nest?

Ignorance is bliss.

German philosopher and linguist Jean Gebser wrote, "And it would be well for us to be mindful of one actuality: although the wound in the head of Zeus healed, it was once a wound. Every "novel" thought will tear open wounds . . . everyone who is intent upon surviving—not only earth but also life—with worth and dignity, and living rather than passively accepting life, must sooner or later pass through the agonies of emergent consciousness."

Yesterday, I sat in on the 'parade' for a of police officers who patrol the downtown core. Because the zone which they patrol includes the homeless shelter where I work, they are often bringing individuals to the shelter, as well as encountering them on the street. The goal of my being present at their parade is to initiate dialogue that will help us find the common ground that links us in our goal of helping those who are homeless in our city.

Tearing through my pre-conceived notions and opinions hurts.

One of the officers asked me, "What do you want out of these sessions?"

I want us to hear each other and to find a way to common ground where we respect the work we each do, knowing it is part of what is necessary to support and help the people we serve.

Then, why don't you....

and the list began of the things we need to do differently as an agency to help people better.

Ah, if it were so simple.

I sat in that room and felt the weight of unborn possibility heavy in my soul. I almost cried at one point. I felt so helpless in the onslaught of their insistence that we, the shelter, are the problem.

"How many people here believe that because we built a beautiful building that opens its doors to anyone who comes through them, homeless increased in our city?" I asked.

A majority of hands rose.

I gave the statistics. 1992 homeless count. 476 homeless individuals counted. Each subsequent bi-annual count -- homelessness rose by 32%. Even after the shelter was opened in 2001.

We didn't draw people to city streets. We didn't pull them into homelessness because we wanted more money from the government. People came because of what was happening in their lives. They came because of addictions and mental health issues and breakdowns of families and communities and a host of other causes... all of which we contribute to, or tolerate because.

It's the 'because' that's hard to define.

Why has homelessness risen throughout western society? Why are more rehab beds needed? Why is divorce a 50/50 outcome of marriage?


And that was the hard pill to swallow yesterday.

I know their hardened lines and entrenched opinions about what we at the shelter do are founded on their frustration that there is no answer for many of the people they pick up off the streets and carry to our doors. That when they arrive, we watch suspiciously to see if they've 'harmed' the individual, must hurt.

"Do you help natives get back to their communities?" one officer asked. "What are you doing to reconnect them to their families?"

"What if they don't want to go?" I asked.

"I had a young guy who, all he wanted was to get back to his reserve but he couldn't afford a ticket. Why don't you buy him a ticket?"

"We don't have the funding. Do you?"

"No. But that's not our job."

"And you think it's ours?"

"Well, you get government funding to run the shelter. Why don't you use it to help people get back home."

"We do," I replied. "And we start with where they're at. Sometimes, it's all we can do. Keep people safe, provide them shelter, where ever they're at, until they awaken to the realization that they're desire is to survive -- and to survive, they must go through the pain of recovery."

Hard place. This realization that to live we must break open the wounds we've been anethesizing through our addictions, behaviour, denial...

And it is just beginning to form in my head.

For all of us -- where ever we are, is in that moment, exactly where we are meant to be. Realization, awakening, knowledge comes through the pain of being places we don't want to be. Places that no longer fit us and discovering, we are not just passive observers of life, we are our lives, exactly the way they are unfolding.

When I was in an abusive relationship, I took the passive path of least resistance. I fell into the belief, I could do nothing, changing nothing, be nowhere else than in that painful place.

I was passive. I told myself passive stories where I was not the heroine, but the victim of my circumstances.

In active engagement with my life, the pain of realization, of awakening, hurts. But go through it I must if I am to live this one wild and precious life fully awakened in the rapture of now.

I had to go through the darkness to find the light. There were a thousand paths I could have taken, that relationship was one of the one's I chose.

I was unconscious.



Of my own pain grappling with the self-created cocoon of my thinking that someone else could give me happiness, someone else could give me everything I wanted in life.

For those experiencing homelessness on our streets, their sleep is long. Their pain deep.

Some will awaken. And until they do, we must keep them safe. Keep them alive.

Sometimes, it is all we can do.

And sometimes, all we can do when others criticize, condemn or complain is open our hearts and minds and let them give voice to the pain that drives them into believing, We are not doing enough.

In our 'not doing enough' we are being all we're meant to be at that moment. As best we know how. As best we're willing to accept without going through the pain of birthing a new identity, a new way of living, a new path to walk. All of us.

Accepting that the pain we feel in this moment is the pain of life birthing itself through us every day, every moment, -- now that's a more challenging place to live.

This is a work in progress -- I'm not sure where it's going -- but I am willing to let it have birth as it comes into being. Not 'being perfect' is painful. It's a good place for me to be.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

ON the run

On the run this morning. A seven am meeting calls. Sleep wants to linger and I must get running.

And yet, I hesitate, here at my computer, the glow of the lamp a golden halo on my desk, illuminating my hands, my fingers flying across the keyboard.

Outside, the world is dark, bathed in the soft darkness of 'just before dawn'.

And I must run.

It is that phrase, 'on the run' that is resonating. Keeping me here. Pulling me into deeper thought, into mystery, the past, that place where awareness lurks in the lingering dark, calling out for release if only... I give voice to the thoughts leaping up in anticipation of being formed into words.

For a beautiful read on words and language and thoughts on "We may as well believe," click on over to Rumi Day's one of Ruth's places and then... click on over to her blog, Syhnc-ro-ni-zing where she has a poem about the bird's flying and type setting.

I must run... the bird is on the wing.


May you have a day of wonder. A day of beauty.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Snow Days

I used to wait for them. Breathless in anticipation. Yearning with longing. Wide-eyed and filled with excitement, I'd watch the weather report with every passing winter's day, hoping for just one glimpse of a collision of the meteorological type in the skies above where low front collided with a high pressure zone and the city would be locked up in frigid arctic air. Those days when school was closed. The city crawled to a halt and only the brave ones ventured out to test their mettle against the environment.

What was winter without one good snow day?

As a child, before we moved across the ocean to a land where snow seldom fell with enough accumulation to turn off the world, snow days were the highlight of the winter season. They could even beat out Christmas if only because you could never predict their arrival, never know for sure when one would turn up and cover the world in a woolly white blanket that immobilized cars and buses and most importantly, shut the doors to schools.

I loved snow days.

But age and time have mellowed my enjoyment of winter's deposits clogging up roads and sidewalks. Age has made me appreciate the fierce force of winter's cold and time has helped me understand the deadly effects of exposure to the elements.

and yet, the beauty and magic of a snow day still remains.

The sense of quiet. The soft lyrical fall of air filled with snowflakes falling gently to the ground. Each one unique. Each one identifiable as 'different yet the same'.

Once upon a time a snow day was an invitation to get outside and frolic in the drifts gathering up on the lawn. To leap and throw my body with abandon into fluffy white mounds of winter's wonder.

Now, a snow day is a time to sit inside, warm and toasty, sipping hot tea, watching the world fill with white magic, listening for the muffled sound of tires on the few cars brave enough, or foolish enough as the case my be, to risk driving on the snow-filled road.

Recently, a snow day caused my plans to change. I was scheduled to speak at a conference in Edmonton, a three hour drive to the north of Calgary. I hadn't listened to the weatherman the day before. Hadn't checked the meteorological reports until the morning.

When I awoke, snow blanketed in the ground. A fierce north wind blew. Windows rattled against icy blasts. I checked the road report. Deep red lines inched their way north. Halfway up the provincial highway, they shifted abruptly from red to green. If I could make it to Red Deer, I'd have clear sailing.

It wasn't worth it. An hour and a half driving in winter storm conditions was too much anxiety. Too much danger.

It is a benefit of age. When I see danger ahead, I don't have to plow into it to ensure it really is danger lurking and not just some mirage of undetermined pedigree trying to keep me from doing what I want to do. I don't have to go out on the highway to prove to danger I can handle it, or am better than it, or 'cooler'.

Like winter, danger isn't the drawing card it used to be. Where once snow meant skiing fearlessly down mountainsides and climbing high upon glaciers, today, snow means an opportunity to curl up with a warm cup of tea and watch the snow fall and listen to the wind howl and feel the house vibrate with errant gusts of wind whistling around the corners, knowing, all the while, I am safe inside. At peace. Secure.

And yet, snow days still have their allure. their call to step out of the every day and into the magic and wonder of a wintery world cast in shadows, blanketed by pure white snow. They still hold the mystery of time spent meditating, feeling the moment settling around me like snow drifting down a chimney melting in the warm coals of a fire below, sizzling in the heat steaming upwards.

Snow days.

Once upon a time they called me out to experience the wild wonder of a world silenced beneath winter's blanket.

In the here and now, they call me inside, into that place where I am at peace, where I am at one with myself, no matter the weather, no matter how fierce the winds may blow around me. Today, the sizzle comes from within, each drop of snow a reminder to grow quiet, peaceful, serene. to let time and space expand into the wonder of being all of me, no matter how stormy the world outside.



It's another Blog Carnival over at Peter Pollock's place. Today's one word prompt is: Winter.

go on. You know you want to.

give it a try.

give the writer's a read.

click on over to Peter's place and get lost in the wonder of WINTER!

The Blog Carnival's FaceBook page is here.

The prompt for the next Blog Carnival is "renewal". The complete list is here.

Monday, January 24, 2011

What does God know?

In today's Daily Om article, Finding our Own Paths, it says,

"As we awaken to ourselves and to life, we will become more attuned to what is right for us. The universe speaks to all of us through infinite channels, but we each have our own frequency. Others may share what worked for them, but only we can decide what truly makes us feel inspired, awakened, connected, fully conscious, aware and alive. Whatever our path, it is perfect and is meant especially for us."

When I was a little girl, going to church on Friday evenings to help my mother 'do the flowers' was a special time for me. She was part of the Catholic Women's League. I was a little six year old eager to be a big help in keeping the flowers fresh around the altar. I would help carry the vases to the kitchen, carefully laying the flowers out on a towel, picking through them for those that could be saved, discarding those that had lost their bloom. It was the job I least liked. I didn't want to be the one to decide between life or death for the flowers. I wanted to save them all.

I remember the church was quiet, the swish of my mother's dress loud in the silence. Our footsteps muffled by the red rug as we walked down the aisle. I worked hard on remembering not to skip. It's not nice to skip in church, my mother admonished me. I worked hard to speak in a whisper. It's not nice to talk out loud in church, another of my mother's admonishments.

I worked hard at just about everything when I was a little girl. I worked hard at school. I wanted my marks to be perfect. I worked hard at my prayers, "It's the only way God will hear you," my mother said. I wanted my mother to love me and worked hard at being like her. She spoke with her hands. I learned to fling my hands in the air, using them as punctuation marks, swinging them about like tiny white doves fluttering in the weather vane of my emotions. I worked especially hard at 'being good', but that seemed to be a losing proposition.

"God knows," my mother would sigh after another of my transgressions. "God knows."

Does He know how hard I'm trying? I would wonder. Does He know? And then I'd fall again and tear the knee out of my new pants or fight with my sister or refuse to eat Chicken Noodle soup, which I detested.

I asked my mother once if God really had time to worry about the goings on of a ten year old. Was he all that concerned about my not brushing my teeth, or making my bed, or brushing my hair 100 strokes every night? I mean really, didn't he have bigger fish to fry? Shouldn't He be busy somewhere else in the world? Putting out fires. Soothing storms. Stopping war?

Even at ten I could 'drive her crazy' with my flippant attitude, my constant questioning of what was what, my constant need to make sense of the world around me -- or just test its temperature.

It wasn't that I was trying to be bad or make her mad. I wanted to know. Everything. And, quite frankly, given my experience, being 'good' seemed to be so futile, so unachievable. Inevitably I'd do something to upset her and the tears would fall and she would cry, "God knows," and I would wonder, once again, What Does God Know?

But on those Friday nights, alone with my mother in the quiet of the vestry. Sitting on the hard wooden bench, my feet swinging, humming to myself as I flipped through the pages of a Hymnal, my tiny finger underlining each word as I slowly read them to myself, watching my mother as she knelt in front of a row of gleaming candles, head bowed, hands clasped tightly together, rosary clicking as each bead slipped through her fingers, her lips silently moving in prayer, I knew. God knows. It's we who sometimes forget.

My mother never let me forget she knew what God wanted for me. She didn't drive so we would walk together to the church if my father wasn't around to drive us. Outside, on the sidewalk, I could skip and run ahead. Though mostly she liked to keep me by her side, hand clasping mine. "Be careful," she'd say. "You'll get hurt."

It was, her watchword phrase. "Be careful."

Perhaps it is that I never took enough care. Perhaps my mother feared for me and in her fear could never understand my fearlessness. Frightened I would stray too far from God's light, she feared I'd become lost and never find my way back to His Love again. Or perhaps, she hurt so much she couldn't see there was another path, another way than to move cautiously, to watch every step fearful it would lead you away from God's truth.

I trusted the light. Never worried the sun wouldn't come up again in the morning. I wanted to run through life, to cut the ties that bound me to safety, to cast off fear and dance in the light of Love. I wanted to leave God to taking care of the world while I took care of living it up.

My mother wanted me to take care. To be careful. To keep God at the forefront of my mind, always aware of His need for me to 'be good'. Careful. Righteous.

My mother wanted me to tread the careful path. The path she knew that kept her safe in God's embrace, the only place she knew comfort.

I am no longer that little girl struggling to walk quietly and sedately on a red velvet carpet leading to the altar. I still love fresh flowers. Still fill my house with them whenever I can. And, I still hesitate to throw them out when their heads are drooping, their petals falling. I want to hold onto them. Hold onto the memory of their beauty filling my home with sacred wonder, a reminder of those quiet times, alone in a church with just my mother, and the God she loves so fiercely and completely.

Those Friday nights at the church have long since passed away. My appreciation of sacred space, of sacred time, of quiet and silence and contemplation has grown as I've grown into finding myself on my own path.

God knows. I could never do it like my mother, or anyone else. It was, and always has been, my sacred right to do it my way. To find what truly makes me feel inspired, awakened, connected, fully conscious, aware and alive.

No matter where I am in the world, sitting quietly, meditating, running wild in the garden, kicking it up in a dusty street, no matter where I am or what I do, I do it, In Love. Joyfully celebrating in this moment, the beauty and wonder of living it up in the rapture of now. A child of Divine grace. A radiant woman igniting joy in an enlightened world.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I Fall. Fearless. In Love. (A poem)

I Fall. Fearless. In Love
Photo courtesy of
Christine Valters Paintner, OblSB, PhD, REACE

Silence roars
against the painful stillness
my heart
into a thousand shards
crying for release
from the battlefield
of life
in fear
of the pungent
of the lion
down my neck

Courage knocks
I ignore
my heart

Silence roars
hot breath
bearing down
my will tangled up
curving back
into myself
against courage
the lair
of the lion's mane

Courage whispers my name
I hear it

Silence roars
I awaken
and hear
the beat
of my heart
against the fear
of falling
into gentle arms
of nothing
more than who I am
when I
let go of fear
and fall
into the One
who Loves me.

Silence roars
I roar back
The lion retreats.

I fall.
In Love.
Abbey of the Arts is having a poetry party today. It is an Invitation to Poetry: Fierceness and Courage. Christine Valters Paintner, the Abbey host, offers a photo and an invitation to write about Fierceness and Courage in your life.
Click on over and check out some of the beautiful words shared by other "Abbeyists" and read a bit about the awakening Christine experienced in Vienna at Christmas when she had a pulmonary embolism. You'll be inspired -- I promise!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Six Word Saturday

Emotionally awesome week expanding my spirit.

Josie over at Two Shoes in Texas has introduced me to a new idea. Six Word Saturday -- hosted by Cate over at Show My Face -- the invitation is to describe your life -- or something in it -- in six words.

I took the challenge -- what about you?

Click on over to Cate's place and have a go. And on your way, don't forget to check out Josie's Six Word Saturday too!

Oh -- and part of the invitation is to use other media to enhance your six words. I'm sharing Eddi Reader's singing of What You've Got -- and yes, I did share it some time ago and wanted to share it again -- it's such a powerful song and her voice is incredible!

Eddi Reader singing What You've Got @ TED

Prairiedogese and Missing Words

It is Saturday morning and I am sitting in bed. Coffee. Breakfast. C.C. Newspaper. Ellie lies on her mat on the floor at the end of the bed, snuffling, stirring, sometimes grunting. It's a nice day. How about a walk?

At least, I imagine that's what her snuffles mean and, if I were Professor Con Slobodchikoff of Northern Arizona University I might spend the next 30 years studying a second lanuguage -- the language of Dogs. Or, as in Professor Slobodchikoff's case, Prairie Dogs -- a language he has studied for the past 30 years and found -- they really do speak in ideas and images. Capable of describing objects in their environment through color and height and... well, it's just all quite fascinating!

Check out Professor Slobodchikoff's findings in, New Language Discovered: Prairiedogese by Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich NPR Radiolab (NPR -- National Public Radio)

And, because this is a place where writers often meet, I thought you might be fascinated by this article, also at NPR's Radiolab, on the possible predictive nature of writing and it's foreshadowing of Alzheimer's. Check out "Agatha Christie and Nun's Tell A Tale of Alzheimers." It's a tale of missing words and simple plot turned deadly. Check it out. You'll be glad you did.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Mayonnaise Jar and 2 Cups of Coffee (a story)

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 Hours in a day is not enough -- Remember... The mayonnaise jar and 2 cups of coffee.

The story goes...

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.

He then asked the students, "Is the jar full?"

They agreed it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.

He then asked the students again, "Is the jar full?"

They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with an unanimous, "Yes."

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand.

The students laughed.

"Now," said the professor, as the laughter subsided,"I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things - Family, children, health. Friends, and favorite passions --Things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter. Like your job, house, and car. The sand is everything else -- The small stuff." And he shook the jar.

"If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. So... Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play With your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal."

"Take care of the golf balls first -- the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled.

"I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend."


An element of this story that I find inspiring is the realization that -- if our lives are filled with the things that count, like family and friends and health and passions, then the other 'stuff', the stuff that irritates us, undermines us, distracts us, has to fill in around the important 'stuff'.

Yet, when we're filled with doing and watching and seeing the things that are important, the 'stuff' doesn't have room, doesn't fill up our worldview, doesn't consume our time. The 'stuff' doesn't matter because we're busy living it up with what does matter in our lives.

It's like walking on a beach. Remember the warm silky feel of the sand when you walk along the water's edge. As soon as you step out of the water, the sand becomes harsh, grainy, gritty, hot. In the water, it's less irritating against our skin, it moves aside to let us pass, ebbing and flowing into our footsteps.

In life, if we stay in the 'flow' of our life, moving elegantly and gracefully with the waters, the sand is a spongy foundation that supports us as we walk. It fills in the gaps, but doesn't weigh us down with pain and irritation. When our lives are filled with what's important to us, we don't feel the pain and hassle and worry of the every day things that pop up on life's road to distract us.

What we put our attention on grows stronger in our lives.

My commitment today is to walk in the flow of my life, and to stay out of the grit and grind of the 'small stuff' that would distract me. I am committed to staying focused on what is important to me. On what, if everything else were lost, would still have great value -- my family, friends, my health and my passions. Oh, and did I mention my pooch, Ellie and Marley, the Great Cat?

May your day be filled with what's important to you, and may you walk free of grit. May the waters of life flow gently around you, supporting you in every way. May you have time to walk your dog and enjoy a cup of coffee with a friend. May you make time to feel love flowing all around.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

LOVE: it is the way

When we say yes to the universe, we enter into a state of trust that whatever our situation is, we can work with it. Making The Decision -- Saying Yes To The Universe -- Today's Daily Om

Trust. Invisible. Tough as steel. Fragile as a dewdrop. Invisible yet breakable. We can't hold onto it, yet know when it's there. Without it, there's no relationship with life, with the universe, with each other, with ourselves. With Trust in our hearts, connecting our minds to possibility, anything is possible.

Trusting in the Universe. In God. In the Divine -- trusting the unseen to be visible in every aspect of my being who I am, living my life as it is, embracing what is before me... somedays, that's a struggle of monumental heights. Yet, when I stand, In Love, when I simply Let go and Let God, all is possible. All is fluid. All is well in my world.

I do. Trust. In the Universe. In God. In the Divine. In the unseen nature of the world around me to be there, constantly, always, flowing with electrifying energy, constant current, continuous motion.

The Universe is all around me. Waiting. Wanting. To flow through me. With me. In me. The Universe is. I am my stumbling block to moving with grace and ease in its flow.

I can't see the Divine. I know It's there. In every moment. Every thing. Every particle of my being.

And the elemental essence of the Universe, of God, of the Divine... LOVE. it connects us. Flows through us. In us. Under and all around. LOVE is the answer. To Love. Be Love. In Love. Love is the answer I've been searching for. The message I've been seeking. LOVE. Constantly. Continuously. Completely. Be Love. Share Love. Accept Love.

Love when the sky is falling down.

Love when your heart is broken.

Love when the world is breaking up.

Love when the world is crumbling all around you.

Love when you would hate.

Love when you would kill.

Love when you would die.

Love when you would scream in anger and frustration.

Love when you would cry in sorrow and in grief.

Love through every moment. Every circumstance. Every facet of your being, In Love.

Over at Joyceann's Peaceful Legacies, she shares from the Rumi book of cards today --

Straying maps the path Rumi

Transformation Card:
Through love, disaster becomes good fortune.
Through love, a prison becomes a garden.
The way from defeat to victory runs through love:
Things are never as bad as you imagine them to be.

Love is unseen. Love is invisible yet felt. Known. Embraced.

Love is.... as the actors from A DI Wedding: The Musical stated last Wednesday when we performed a reading of the play at the High Performance Rodeo... LOVE. Always Love. It can never be anything else.

Being part of this play puts me in contact with the Divine every day. Working at a homeless shelter connects me to the wonder and mystery of life every day. Amidst the turmoil and chaos of broken down lives and beat up dreams, the Universe appears in all its duality, all its glory. God walks amongst us in all His/Her beauty. And Love rises up to greet me, in all its aspects, reminding me that no matter what is going on in the world around me, when I stand In Love, I am standing where I want to be.

I edited down the video from the reading of A DI Wedding: the Musical (which was taken on my Iphone) and am showing you the 'first cut'. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Recover your joy

When I first started with this blog, I struggled to find its name. I knew Joy had to be part of it, it was the foundation of my healing process. But what was the first word to be? Unearth. Reclaim. Find. Because my journey at that time was around recovery -- recovery of myself, my sense of wonder, my being, I settled on Recover -- and recover stuck on me.

I don't think much about the 'recover' or not word these days. But joy. Ah, now that's another matter. Because, I think about joy, a lot. Where does JOY come from? Where does it live? What's it all about? How joyful am I? What does joy do for me? What do I do for joy?

Joy is the essence of my being. It is the foundation of my living my best life yet, every day. Joy sparkles. I sparkle in its effervescent glow.

So, here's the question... what is joy? According to David Hawkin's "Consciousness Scale" our physical vibrations create a force field that attracts, or detracts, what we want in life dependent upon our vibration. If COURAGE is the starting point of 'good vibrations' with a value of "0", FEAR is the most negative of all vibrations, and ENLIGHTENMENT the highest vibration we can achieve. Before Enlightenment, there is JOY -- and we can't get to JOY without moving through and in LOVE.

Joy is the positive of all emotions. Saturated. Full. Complete.

Joy sustains me, regardless of the circumstances around me. Joy lifts me above the chaos of the moment into knowing, all thinking is an illusion. All thinking is the culmination of my mind's desire to make sense -- of nonsense and common sense. Thinking is simply my way of giving meaning as opposed to being in the meaning of the moment now. And often, my thinking around chaos, around things I do not understand, stems from fear.

Like the students, yesterday, who came to the homeless shelter where I work to help serve lunch and learn more about the shelter and homelessness.

"Did you feel a bit scared when you first walked in?" I asked.

Many heads nodded.

"What do you think caused the fear?"

Shoulders shrugged. Eyes looked down and then one courageous student answered. "I didn't know anything about it other than what I thought was true."

"And now?" I asked.

The student laughed. "Most of what I thought was real wasn't true."

It's often the case. What I think about something or something, isn't really what it or they are all about.

Yet, in my thinking, I cause myself angst. Cause myself concern. Dismay. Discord.

To recover my joy, in any situation, I need to let go of my thinking and move into my being In Love. With the moment. With me, myself and I.

Today's A Course In Miracles lesson speaks well to this learning -- I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my thoughts.

I'm meditating on it. Letting it sink in without attaching myself to my thinking. Letting it 'see the light' without me clouding up my vision with my thoughts on what it means.

It's not easy. This getting out of my own way. But, to experience joy, to know true happiness, to create contentment within, I must get out of my thinking where I would believe -- I know the answers.

It was never about the answers.

It was always about the questions I'm willing to fearlessly step into and live without needing to FIND the answer. Because, finding the answer will never happen. Living my truth today is where I find my greatest joy. In today, there's only one real answer for me and that is to walk each moment, In Love, creating a joyful experience with every breath.


Thank you Glynn at Faith. Fiction. Friends. for inspiring my joyful pursuits this morning. I'm feeling more joyful with every breath!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I Hear. Think. Feel.

Outside my window, snow covers the ground, ice crystals dance in the air. Baby, it's cold outside.

Inside, I am toasty warm. A space heater warms the air. In the halo of the tulip shaped light that stands on my desk, I type on my computer keyboard.

All is well with my world -- even though I'd like it to warm up outside!

I want to wear bright colours and light fabrics. I want to go barefoot and gloveless. But, baby, it's cold outside.

Guess I'll just have to turn the heat up.

No matter how hard I wish for it to be different, the weather does what it wants to do. Right now an Arctic front is colliding with warm Pacific air right over our city. I can't see the collision of these two colossal winds, but the meteorologist tells me they're there, and the temperature outside says it's true.

I'd like to tell the Arctic front to go fine other climes but, it just isn't listening. The only recourse I have, is to accept what is and dress accordingly.

Weather and people are very similar. I can't control them. No matter how hard I tell them what to do. They always do what they want.

Why can't I be as adaptable with people as I am with the weather?

Sometimes, I forget that life is about giving, not taking. Awhile ago a very dear friend was telling me about something bothering her. I gave a list of suggestions of what she could do to fix herself and make it all better.

Truth is, she didn't need my list. She needed my ears, my heart and my compassion. She needed me to love her, exactly where she was at, not where I thought she should be. My friend wasn't looking for someone to fix her problem. She was in need of someone willing to hear her, acknowledge her pain and offer her encouragement.

At Choices, during the Givers 1 weekend, there is an exercise called, I Hear. I Think. I Feel. The purpose of the exercise is to mirror back for someone what you heard them say, and then to give your thoughts and feelings.

Here's an example, the other person says, "I got up this morning, had breakfast and because I was still tired, went back to bed."

My response in the I HEAR part of this exercise would be: I heard you say you got up this morning, had breakfast and because you were still tired, went back to bed.

In the THINK, I might respond, I think you were smart to listen to your body. OR, I might say, I think it's wrong to go back to bed after breakfast (and then spend five minutes justifying why!).
Both responses are judgements. In the first response, however, I affirm what they did, which is good, but I'm still judging.

In the FEEL, I might respond, I feel like you gave yourself a much needed break. OR, I feel like you gave into your depression. OR, I feel like you missed the best part of the day...

The responses are my opinions of what the other person was doing.

In the Think and Feel sections, it's important to talk about how I feel, about my feelings, not about the other person.

For example, I could have said, I think it's important to listen to our bodies. I feel inspired by what you did and will remember it next time I wake up tired. While I don't always have the time to go back to bed, I will give myself the opportunity whenever I can. Thanks!

Now, that's a pretty simple example, but can you feel the difference? Can you feel how the last response affirms the other person and keeps me centered in my feelings and thoughts?

When I gave my friend my list of 5,342 things she could do to 'make herself better', I was casting judgement. I was not listening, speaking to encourage her, or to honour her journey. I was telling her what to do. She didn't need that. She needed my support. She needed me to not judge, but rather to simply HEAR her. To give her space to be where she's at, supported by my love. What I thought she needed to do is not the issue. Hearing her, acknowledging her pain, and surrounding her with love was.


I will carry these words with me as I move into my day. They are a powerful example of how I can be the best me that I can be, how I can honour those around me and walk with integrity, dignity and grace through my day. And in the process, how I can give to receive what I need and want. --

Love. The more I give. The more I receive.

In the meantime, I'll keep bundled up to ensure I weather the cold outside with warm hands capable of holding my heart open to the limitless possibilities of my day.

Have a wonderful hearing day!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Designing life. My way.

I have a default position -- many of them actually -- but on the weekend, this particular default leaped up to awaken me to its limitations and show me the path to healing.

It was at Choices -- the personal development course I coach in. Every weekend that Choices take place, so too does Purpose. And, while I may not be coaching in the 'big program' during the week, I am always in the the Purpose room assisting on the weekend. It is something I love to do.

On the weekend, Saturday mornings is Purpose School. A two hour session designed to guide newby and not so newby coaches through the processes of working with trainees during Purpose, which takes place on Sunday afternoon. The 'purpose of Purpose', is to guide trainees into creating their Purpose Statement, that descriptive verse that tells the world (and themselves) about 'that thing they do', that is unique and special about them -- the gift they share with the world, every day, effortlessly.

On Saturday morning, as one of the facilitators and I were talking about jobs for the morning, I said, "I always like to have something specific to do. Otherwise I just feel like I'm a bump on a log, sitting here doing nothing."

A team member piped up and said, "Oh? I'm perfectly okay with just sitting quietly listening. I don't have to say or do anything in the room. I can just be here and feel really happy and worthwhile."

Now, my mind can be a busy neighbourhood. Always watching, listening, culling events and happenings, working hard to make sense of the world around me, it adds great value to my life. It can also, however, distract me, undermine me, inhibit me from experiencing life in the rapture of now.

Inside my mind is an old place. A place where I stored childhood lessons and observations to help me feel safe in what often felt like an unsafe world. At the time, they helped me feel safe, protected, in charge of a world that seemed out of control, overwhelming and often frightening. Today, they no longer apply. Unfortunately though, my 'reptilian mind' would like me to believe they do.

The sergeant major of my reptilian mind is a blustery critter who lives in the dark corners of my thinking. He likes to chew away at my peace of mind, keeping himself busy processing and aligning events and happenings around me based on childhood beliefs that, as he likes to remind me, are the only true, irrefutable facts of my life. They (and thus him) are the only things that can protect me, keep me safe, keep me out of harms way.

He can be rather annoying this critter. He has this irritating habit of constantly disturbing the peace with his foot stomping and insistence that I listen to him. His nature is to jump to conclusions, leap into the foray and set me to reacting without thinking. Sure, he wants to protect me but really, does he have to be so quick in his defense?

On Saturday, the moment he heard the woman's response to my statement of being who I am, he scurried quickly into the lime light of fear and started to hiss his messages of discord into my left ear, (okay, so I don't really know it was my left ear but he did start hissing his poisonous comments with great glee somewhere in my head!). "She's criticising you. And she's right, there's something wrong with you. Why can't you just sit quietly like everyone else and not be such a show-off?"

I swatted at him with a right minded "Go Away!" and proceeded to work through the morning, adding my best to the mix of creating a valuable and meaningful experience for everyone involved.

But his comments stung. And stuck.

What was that all about?

It was in meditation that I breathed deeply into the truth and embraced my uniqueness and gave room for everyone around me to embrace theirs.

I like to be involved through doing. Through sharing. Through giving of my strength, hope and encouragement.

The team member who spoke up is there for the same reasons. She just does it differently and is comfortable doing it her way.

She wasn't criticising. She was simply stating her truth. Both our truths are true. Both our truths have value. And there isn't anything wrong with my way of being involved.

It was a brilliant moment of light. Of learning. Of growing. The knowing -- I have a place in me that automatically defaults to a child's place that says, "Oh. They're criticising me. I'm doing it wrong. I have to do it like everyone else."

Not true.

'They' are not criticising. And I am not 'doing it wrong'. There's nothing wrong with me for doing it the way that intuitively fits for me. There's nothing 'right' nor 'wrong' about others for doing it the way that intuitively fits for them. To 'fit in', to have meaning, to be part of the team, doesn't mean I have to be like everyone else. I just have to be me. Giving of my best. Giving of my heart. Giving all that I can to add value.

I love these moments of awareness. Love that I 'got me'. That I was awake enough to hear the critters voice and know -- "You are not the boss of me! I'm okay, just the way I am." And in the process, I know that to put my critter in his place, all I have to do is turn to him and reassure him with words of love that make it possible for him to relax, to calm down and know, I am no longer that child who needed his protection. I have come into my own. Come into myself, living in joy, peace and harmony through each moment, embracing all that I can be, all that I am when I let go of fear and move with grace and ease In Love.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Heart Vision (A Poem)

Yesterday, I posted about my sister Jackie. She came through the surgery well and everyone is hopeful -- this time is the last. Thank you so much for your support and prayers. You've made a difference.

Yesterday my blog friend Joyceann at Peaceful Legacies posted another poem/card reading in her series on Rumi and his poetry.

Though the whole poem captivated me, two lines in particular leaped out from the poem she included, The Water You Want.

I am the one with heart vision.
I have torn open the veil.

The following poem moved through me, the words, inspired by those two lines, writing themselves.

Heart Vision

In my heart vision
I tear away
the veil
that blinds me
to nothing
but your truth
casting out
my belief
that I will
into the dark
stagnant abyss
of my fear

I rise above
the fog of my delusion.

Truth shimmers

dancing in the light
of our fear
held silent
in arms of molten lead
pinioning us to the pain
of believing
truth will kill
the love we seek

for the way

I find myself
to the sound
of my ears
to hearing

the truth
where hope
into the mists
of my fear
into nothing
but Love.

I embrace
the vision of my heart.

Friday, January 14, 2011

For Jackie

My sister is in hospital this morning. Waiting. Waiting to be wheeled into the cold, sterile environment of an operating room where the doctors will repair the surgery she received a year ago.

The hope. This time she will be pain free. This time it will work. This time, she won't have to go under the knife again.

My sister amazes me.

She has battled crones for almost 4 decades. She has undergone surgery after surgery. Cutting snippets and chunks of her colon out of her body. She's taken drugs and tests and altered this and that and still, the disease has eaten away at her body and her spirit.

And she has never faltered.

Never fallen.

She keeps standing up. Smiling. Moving forward.

She is amazing.

She is my eldest sister. The eldest of what was once four siblings. Jackie. George. Anne. Me.

George is no longer with us. He passed away on St. Patrick's Day thirteen years ago.

When we were little, Jackie was our caretaker, our surrogate mother. She was the responsible one. The babysitter. The keep us in line one. When we were young, my father was away. A lot. My mother, a very gentle spirit, was lost in depression much of the time and often couldn't cope with four unruly children. My sister Jackie took care of us. She fed us. Cleaned us up. Disciplined us. Got us to school. Got us to do our homework.

She didn't have much of a childhood.

And now, this past year in particular, she hasn't had much of a life. Riddled with pain and the aftereffects of a surgery that just didn't work very well, she has struggled to keep moving and doing what she loves to do. Golfing. Skiing. Visiting with friends. Cooking. Taking care of our mother. Being a great aunt. Being a great sister. Being a great friend.

And through it all, she has never complained. Never become the victim. The whiner. The why me'er.

Jackie goes into surgery this morning. The original surgery a year ago had promised to give her relief from the debilitating symptoms of her disease. This one promises to do it now.

I pray it does.

Please keep my sister in your prayers and thoughts today.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I am not alone

My blog friend Joyce, over at Peaceful Legacies, is doing a Rumi quote/poem everyday and then presenting an explanation from the card deck she pulls the quote from. This morning's (which was actually yesterday's post) was one of those gifts that shimmers in the light, casting darkness aside.

Yesterday's offering:

The fault is in the one who blames. Spirit sees nothing to criticize. -- Rumi

Today's guidance from The Rumi Card Book:

"Category: Birth -- Love has come to rule and transform. Stay awake, my heart, stay awake. Be acutely aware of the hidden teachings and blessings you are about to receive."

Most of my life I can remember feeling like I was alone. That I had to 'do it myself'. In fact, if you ask my mother, she will most likely tell you that was always one of her greatest complaints about me. The fact I had to do it myself, my way. Naturally, the next question was always rhetorical, "why couldn't I just do what I was told".

Last night, it came to me. This realization. This knowing of the truth. It was one of those moments of achingly pure clarity. It pierced the darkness. Pushed away the shadows and left me standing, naked but not alone.

I am not alone.

It has been a long time coming. This knowing. This realization that I am not alone. It has been a long time coming. It has been no time coming. It was never not here.

Sure, on this physical plane of life on earth, I am a singular being. I am a lone person. But above, in the spiritual realm of our being, I am not alone. I am One with the One with all the Ones. There is no differentiation amongst the One. No us and them, me and not you. There is only one. Not alone. Not singular. Not separate.

Beyond the realm of this early plane we are all Love. Only Love. Pure. Beautiful. Love.

I was in meditation with my group when it came to me. The realization didn't come riding in on a thunder bolt or shard of lightning. It entered quietly. Effortlessly. Easily. "Oh. I see you," I said. "I am not alone."

And I felt peace. Calm. Centered.

And I believe, this knowing comes through the disturbing circumstances of the past week. Through lies comes truth.

It is a beautiful gift.

I have long believed that if I can just love someone, anyone, enough, they will be okay. As my eldest daughter reminded me the other night, "You can't heal someone mom."

She's right. I can't. Alone. Heal anyone. Not even myself.

It is something I've always struggled with. This desire to heal. To be healed. To share my healing knowledge.

And that I can do. that I do, do. Here. In my work. In my actions when my actions come from a place of Love and being loving. And, regardless of where I'm coming from, or where I'm standing, I can't heal you, nor you me.

I don't have to. Heal you. You don't have to. Heal me.

We are healing, always, even when what we are doing causes us to feel pain, causes pain around us. We are always healing. And, we are always evolving. Through every microbe of our being human, we are always evolving. From this moment to the next, something shifts, changes, moves. From this moment to the next, I am one moment older. One moment different. And no matter what moment I'm in, I am always in the sea of Love that flows all around me. Always part of the One who connect us, me to you, you to me, us to them.

We are -- One planet. One heart. One Love.

It was a profound moment last night at meditation. Profound and healing. A gift.

I am not alone. We are not alone.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Vivian Maier

My blog friend Maureen, over at Writing without Paper, knows a good story, or a good artistic find when she sees one. This morning she's posted about a woman photographer, Vivian Maier, a woman most of us have never heard of. A bin of her photographs from the mid 2oth Century was recently discovered and her work is only now coming to light after sitting in the attics of people who bought bins of her work at auction, or were stored in the attics of families where she was once employed as a nanny.

Vivien Maier spent her adult life taking photographs of the streets of Chicago as well as other parts of the world. Reclusive, a loner, she stored the negatives and undeveloped film in plastic tubs and apparently never showed anyone her work.

And then, a young, 26-year old real estate agent in Chicago, John Maloof, bought a tub containing her negatives at an auction/flea market and the "Finding Vivian Maier: Chicago Street Photographer" expedition, which recently turn into an exhibition, began.

Watching the video of John's quest is touching, inspiring, surprising. Reading his blog is fascinating. Seeing the photographs he's posted of Vivian's work is compelling.

Here is a young man who never knew the lady. Didn't even know who the photographer was when he scanned the first print into his computer. And here he is, committing time and resources to getting her work seen, to bringing her story to light. Yes, there is a profit motive in the mix -- but it wasn't there when he began. It was curiosity, passion, a desire to not let her images recede into the darkness of her having passed through this world without having come to light, that compelled him.


Please, take a moment to click on over to Maureen's place to read more -- she's got some wonderful resources listed. Thank you Maureen for bringing this compelling story to our attention.

A quick click HERE will take you over to John's site.

And to entice you -- this video is well-worth the 9 minute investment.

Vivian Maier -- WWTW -- PBS

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Someone lied to me recently. Someone I care about.

It wasn't just a little lie, like that dress looks good on you when you don't think it does. It was big. Way too big to comprehend why or how or what was in it for them to do it. Except, perhaps what was in it for them was to avoid the inconvenience of the truth.

Lies break trust, I told them. Lies hurt.

They didn't believe me.

You're over-reacting, they said. Blowing it out of proportion.

Truth is, that lie, or series of lies as it turned out to be, broke many things, including my heart.

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

It is the beauty of finding truth amidst lies. In the crystal clear certainty that enters after the lies have cleared is the knowing what to do, what must be done, what happens next. And in the knowing is the certitude, I will be alright. I am okay. I will move through this and still have the things I cherish most about me, especially my truth.

I am a radiant woman igniting joy in a world of wonder.

I am a fearless woman touching hearts and opening minds to set spirits free.

I am free.

Broken down to the sum of all their parts, lies never add up to truth. They just add up to hurt and pain and confusion and sadness. All of which will pass. And in their passing a relationship ends. In its ending is the knowing, Relationships need trust. To sustain them, nurture them, deepen them. Relationships need truth.

Lies cannot destroy truth. Lies destroy relationships.

Broken hearts heal. In their breaking open, light enters. As Leonard Cohen sings, There is a crack in everything / That's how the light gets in.

What was revealed in this crack is a bigger crack breaking up the foundation of something that was not strong enough to withstand the one thing that was pulling it apart. Lies.

It is a good thing, this breaking open. It is truth getting in. Healing starting to flow. Hope starting to rise above the waters, overflowing the banks of tears that have been shed to wash away the pain and sorrow.

When lies break apart truth awakens in the light of a new day breaking open on the horizon.

I have been broken. Many times in my life. And each time I've been broken, I open up to the greater truth of who I am.

I open up to the greater wonder of who I can be when I let go of lying to myself that I am responsible for anyone's happiness but my own. In being responsible for mine, I trust others to be responsible for theirs.

In my opening up I've found treasures within me that were hidden beneath the shell of my holding myself together with the lie, I love you, exactly the way you are. In truth, I love you has often meant, Now will you change? Here, let me help you become who I want you to be.

In breaking open, I let go of the belief I can love someone enough they will see their truth shining in the light of all the lies they tell themselves to keep their hearts protected from feeling.

No one can see the beauty of who they are unless they open their eyes to the truth within their hearts.

I am not powerful enough to break through the lies surrounding someone else's heart.

I am powerful enough to break through to the truth within mine.

I am broken, open. I am alive and well living this one special moment in the beauty and wonder of being In Love, with who I am, exactly where I'm at, exactly where I'm meant to be. In Love, I stand in beauty. In Love, I am free.

It is a Blog Carnival Tuesday hosted by Peter Pollock. Today's one word prompt is Broken. It's a great word and there's some great writing and thoughts and ideas being shared over at Peter's place.

Click on over to Peter's place. Get inspired. Move yourself beyond the edges of your comfort zone and write a phrase or two on the word Broken. Share your thoughts and share in the thoughts of others.
Your life will be richer for the sharing!

Anthem: Leonard Cohen