Monday, February 28, 2011

A Memetastic Monday!

So, this morning, as is my ritual, I clicked on over to Maureen Doallas' Writing without Paper to discover she'd presented me with an award. "Memetastic".How cool is that? Wish I knew what it meant though! Oh well, it sure looks happy and I sure am delighted to be honoured with its presence.

Now, there are certain requirements of this award which I've copied and pasted from Maureen's blog:

✦ Link back to the blogger who bestows the award. (✓) (Writing Without Paper)
✦ Display the image from the award creator (see graphic above). (✓)
✦ Pass the award on to five (5) other bloggers who must follow these rules. (✓)
✦ Link the post back, so Jillsmo can follow its trajectory. (✓)

And then the fifth, and not so easy to accomplish requirement 'cause it means I gotta tell a lie, or two. Four to be exact...

✦ List five (5) facts, four (4) of which must be lies. (✓) (see below)

But first, the best part, the links of five bloggers who, hopefully, will follow these rules and be equally as delighted as me to receive the award!

Drum roll please....

And now I sweep out onto stage wearing the latest red gown from Versace. No wait, that's the Academy Awards and that's my eldest daughter in five years.

I'm still in my flannel pjs still, hair mussed, feet in snuggly slippers and coffee steaming in a mug beside me on my desk!

And, before I get to the winners, I just want you to know, this isn't easy (not just the four lies part) The name five recipients out of all the amazing writers and photographers and poets out there in the blogosphere. So, my goal is to give a cross-section -- an essayist/poet, a community activist/builder/writer, a combo (writer/photographer/poet), a photographer, and a humorist.

And so, without further ado.... The recipients are are.... (let's try that drum roll again)

And now, for the tricky part...

A fact amidst four lies about me.

+ I had a walk-on part in The Tempest when I was 24 because my bosses wife was the Stage Manager at the Citadel Theatre where it was playing and I won a bet at a dinner party. ( I walked from stage left to stage right and disappeared off stage)

+ While studying at the University of Strassbourg I met the boy who would become my first husband.

+ I drove a pink Cadillac for a year in 1979 because I was selling Mary Kay and did really, really well.

+ I currently do not own a red scarf -- though I do own at least 85 scarves. (note the currently. Now that I've realized my lack -- I'll have to fix it!)

+ My second toe is longer than my big toe on my right foot, but not on the left. (go figure).

So there you have it. Can you detect the one truth amidst the four lies. If you can..... comment back and I'll announce a winner on Tuesday AND!!!! There's a prize! I won't say what it is until I announce the winner and the prize is in the mail.

Looking forward to your responses.

And -- just so you know, yesterday's art gallery opening was a shining success. We sold 14 pieces of the 25 on display and three of the artists were in attendance -- and over the moon with gratitude and happiness for the success of the event.

Here's a few photos to enjoy! -- Taken from my Iphone as the camera went dead on the firsts shot!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A morning to celebrate

Our species thinks in metaphors and learns through stories. Mary C. Bateson
The road into homelessness is littered with broken dreams and promises and hearts and spirits. The road is long and winding, it's edges paved with hard rock places too cold to harbour the broken down soles of battered feet that have been walking the line between the haves and have nots looking for a place to lay down their burden and find succor.

And then, a sheltering space is found where broken hearts can mend. Where dreams can be born again and spirits lifted.

When I first started working at the shelter five years ago, I walked in with a belief in the power of the arts to restore human nature to its inherent beauty. I walked in with a desire to capture shattered dreams and begin the process of reclamation.

I was blessed. There was a group of citizens who believed like me that nurturing artistic endeavours will lead people to the core of who they are when given the opportunity to express themselves through painting, drawing, writing, performing, singing -- a host of creative endeavours that are limited only by the resources needed to create a space for them to flourish.

Five years ago, I started the Possibilities Project at the shelter through a donation from The Wild Rose United Church congregation here in Calgary. It began with a few canvases and an assortment of brushes and paints. It has grown into thousands of dollars of art sold, of theatrical performances acted out, words littering pages of journals, musical notes wafting through the air and chapbooks of poetry sharing the beauty of poet's souls.

It began with a few people gathering together once or twice a week to share their love of painting. It has grown into a studio space, a music room, a Monday night singing group, a Tuesday night play group, a Wednesday night spoken word gang, a Thursday night jam session... and so much more.

And today, it continues with the grand opening of The Wild Rose Gallery, a permanent art space for artists to display and sell their works. Housed at the Wild Rose United Church community room, the Wild Rose Gallery presents a juried selection of art works created in the studio at the shelter by the artists who come to share their talents and their spirits every day.

The Wild Rose Studio is a healing place where spirits are ignited through the act of creation to explore the possibilities of creating something new, something different, something that speaks to who they are, what moves them, inspires them to reach beyond the label 'homeless'.

The Wild Rose Gallery is a place where that work is showcased and the artists are provided an opportunity for their voices to be heard, to be seen, to be experienced by those who live beyond the walls of the shelter, those who may not understand what it means to be 'homeless' but who resonate with what it means to express oneself through the arts.

It is an exciting morning. A morning to give thanks. To be humbled and to be inspired by not just the artists of the studio but also by this group of caring souls who continue to support and nurture the artistic expression of the clients of the shelter.

It is a morning to dance in the light of possibility, to embrace the hope of renewal and to have faith in the brilliance of humankind shining in the hearts of those who have come out to celebrate with us this amazing and wonderful event.


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Saturday Surprises

It's always nice on a not quite sub-arctic but still chilly Saturday morning to lie in bed, troll through blogs and videos to uncover treasures and share them with friends.

So this lovely Saturday morning, snuggled in my bed, Ellie the wonder dog at my feet and Marley the Great Cat curled up beside me, I'm sharing finds that have intriqued and inspired me this morning.

One I found through a suggestion from Kathleen Overby at Almost Paradisical -- Jason Mraz singing Beautiful Mess -- a suggestion she made in response to my blog last week, Life as I know It.

In my journey this morning, I wandered over to Ruth's synch-ro-ni-zing blog and found a delightful essay on Hobson's Choice -- as well as a clip from the movie -- all in preparation of tomorrow night's big night at the Oscars. Do check out Oscar Night and Hobson's Choice in Black and White.

Maureen's Saturday Sharing at Writing Without Paper include a wonderful view into the Smithsonian's archives -- and a fascinating video that give you a peek inside the National Archives in the US.

Glynn over at Faith. Fiction. Friends. has a list of poetry, prose and photos that will keep you entranced throughout the weekend. I always feel so honoured to find my writings amidst his stellar cast of Saturday Good Reads.

And, I took a peek over at a new blog I've never visited before The Solitary Walker (a link I found through a Comment at Ruth's place) and discovered this delightful piece of song from Amoya on Putamayo Presents CD -- Women of the World International. Amoya -- Nweti


I am!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Neruda's Memoirs: A review -- of sorts

Once a month I get together with three other women for a dinner and chat. Each month, one woman is responsible for giving us an assignment that will help us grow, deepen our understanding of ourselves and our relationships, or engage us in a conversation -- such as a reading we must all discuss.

Last night, the assignment was to describe how you would spend the last week of your life if you knew it was the last week of your life. Money and time were not an issue -- other than you had seven days all to you.

My choices included my family -- Daughters, C.C., mother, sisters, nieces. We had a house on the beach at Tofino (one of THE most beautiful places in the world) and a video camera. The week was to be filled with laughter, stories, walks on the beach and quiet time reading. Of the books I would bring, Maureen Doallas' book, Neruda's Memoirs, topped my list. I was so grateful Neruda's Memoirs arrived in the mail on Wednesday, just in time for my dinner date with my friends. This slim, beautiful volume of poetry is filled with rich and beautiful imagery, poignant phrasing and provocative thoughts. It is a gem.

"I would read poetry to my loved ones," I told the group when describing the scene during my last week, "and ask them to read poetry to me."

To illustrate, I read three poems from Neruda's Memoirs to my friends. Maureen has divided the book into three flowing chapters. From Chapter I, Enter, I shared her sweet and lyrical poem, Steady as She Goes -

A heart can get unsteady/waiting/for that deal with heaven/to close

From Chapter II, Listen, the beautiful and soulful, To Be Re-Enchanted Is Uneasy --

Moment and moment and moment/clocking away unaccounted for

(and further along)

I would as soon die as miss/morning coming up, the swelling round/of cloud before lightbursts

From Chapter III, Exit, I read the poignant and meaningful, Heartfelt --

Pain isn't a wound/we can stitch/to a close/The way we patch/the hole a bullet makes/or lace the skin that a bone pierces

At the end, my friends sat in a moment of silence, Maureen's words dancing around us, lighting up the air, sparkling with the joyful essence of champagne bubbles rising to the surface.

When I got home at 9:30, C.C. was waiting on Skype, (yeah! miraculously my Internet is working again). He's in Saskatoon and we have set a regular nightly Skype date to give us a chance to catch up on our day. As part of our call, we read a poem to each other.

Yup. You guessed it, I read to him from Neruda's Memoirs.

I am enchanted by Maureen's words, her elegant use of language and the soft and lyrical cadence of her writing. This beautiful volume of images shaped into words that dance into my heart is a beautiful gift to share out loud with lovers and friends. It is a gift to be treasured in the quiet of night, where sleep lies waiting on the threshold of crisp white sheets enveloping you as you immerse yourself in the tranquil waters of Maureen's voice lulling you into a world of dreaming.

Go buy it. You will be so grateful you did.

Neruda's Memoirs is available on Amazon... all around the world.

Maureen's blog is Writing without Paper.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Circle of Life

I am deep within a dream. I hear crying. Sobs. Sorrow. Above me, the giant globe of the world vibrates with emotion.

I am Sisyphus. Condemned to roll a giant boulder up a mountainside. Condemned to watch it fall back, again and again.

The ball is the world. My mission to carry the sorrow of the world… forever.

Like Albert Camus, in his original The Myth of Sisyphus, I see the absurdity of my task. I know I must see myself as ‘happy’ to end my suffering and thus the suffering of the world.

I must make the world happy.

I awaken.

Hello? Carry the sadness of the world forever? Make the world happy?

So, aren’t I the powerful one!

Who made me God?

Yet, I see the linkages.

My mother, beautiful, gentle, soft and kind was also spectacularly unhappy. It has been a battle she has endured all her life. I do not remember laughter with my mother. Smiles. Joy. I remember sadness.

Years ago, in an attempt to understand her and to create a more amicable relationship, I asked her to tell me her life story. Within minutes of beginning, she started to cry. And she kept crying. For two and a half hours she cried. But she could not stop telling her story.

At the time, I remember thinking, “Ah, now I understand. She has been in a massive depression since before I was born.”

But it didn’t do much to change our relationship. We continued to grate against each other, rub up against the soft spots, butt up against the hard edges of our judgments of the other.

“Now we can have a better relationship,” my mother told me. “Now you’ll be different.”

“To have a better relationship we both have to be willing to change,” I replied.

I was wrong.

It doesn’t take two to change a relationship, it only takes one. For when one changes how they are acting within the construct of that relationship, the dynamics shift and change happens. The minute only one does something different, it is changed.

I don’t have to change who I am. I have to change how I am in the world to create a change in my world around me.

It’s not my job to change the world.

Who made me God?

It was a good question to awaken to. A deep thought to embrace.


And in that truth is the deeper knowing, I am created in the image of God, Yahweh, the Great Creator, a Higher Power, Allah, Buddah... I am the living, breathing essence of Love manifesting itself in the human being here on earth.

We are all a manifestation of Love in the form of our Being on earth. And sometimes, we have to walk in the darkness until we see the light.

We are here to be of service. To be of value to this globe spinning through time and space in its endless pursuit of the warmth of the sun and the call of the moon. To be as one with the ebb of the tides and the flow of the rivers, the birth of a flower and the death of a leaf.

To be as one.

I don’t have to make the world happy. The world and all its beings already have the capacity to do that.

My job, my function as a human being is to find my happiness within and express it freely in everything I do.

There was a point in meditation last night when, sitting in the group, connected to the circle of love-filled energy we created, I fell into a deep, deep sleep. My awakening was sudden. A thought cascaded into my mind with the purity of a light beam piercing the night. “I am free when I quit being anyone other than who I am.”

In being me, it is my choice to stop picking at the wounds of the past and accept the present of this moment. To stop the bleeding, I must stop scratching at the scab.

It is my choice to quit being angry at the world for not turning in my direction and turn instead to face the light. To be light, I must stand in the light.

It is my choice to quit fighting against injustice and embrace peace. To know peace of mind I must let go of discord.

It is my choice to give up holding onto fixing you and fall in love with healing me. To heal myself I must accept myself as I am.

And, it is my choice to stop railing against pain and surrender to Love.

Nobody made me God. But God did create me. And in His/Her/Its divine intention, I am free to express myself as a brilliant reflection of all that I am.

And in my expression of all that I am, I let go of holding up the world, though sometimes, I fear letting go.

I drop the need to make the world happy and focus instead on being responsible for my own happiness though sometimes I want to heal the world to avoid my own pain.

And in letting go of being accountable for the sorrows of the world, I take up the mantle of self-expression where all that I am and all that I do radiates into a world of harmony all around me.

And in my freedom to express myself, I become the one I’ve been seeking. I become the one I’m meant to be as I fall in love with being who I am.

It is the Circle of Life.


I am having Internet issues at home and have not been able to be online much the past two days -- I am looking forward to fixing my modem and reading up on all your doings and writings and heartfelt words this weekend!

Hugs and blessings,


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Forgiveness -- What a gift.

Forgiveness. One of the most powerful forces in our lives is also sometimes, the least engaged.

How can I forgive them, we ask. They…. and we list the litany of their transgressions, holding on to what we cannot forgive. Holding onto our wounds and pain and fear and anger.

Sometimes, we cannot forgive for fear to forgive means to make okay what they did. Sometimes, it’s because we are stuck – in the past, in their wrong-doing, in our victim’s role. Sometimes, it’s simply because we don’t know how.

In our unforgiveness, we limit our capacity to live life to its fullest, for all we’re worth. We limit our ability to move freely in the world. Locked down in unforgiveness, we cut off acceptance, blocking the possibilities of right now, of living in the ‘what is’ and keep ourselves tethered to what was – that place that hurt us, wounded us, scared us and traumatized us so much.

Forgiveness is never about making what the other person did ‘right’. It is always about doing the right thing. For ourselves and the world around us.

It is not okay that someone lies or cheats or hits or deceives or destroys. Forgiveness isn’t about making wrong-doing right. It’s about letting go of wrong-doing to step into that place where we are alright with our world today, exactly where we are.

Forgiveness doesn’t count how much we’ve suffered. It lets us count on ourselves to end suffering in our lives.

Forgiveness isn’t about giving in. It’s always about letting go.

Letting go of holding onto the past, pain, sorrow, grief, anger, guilt.
Forgiveness isn’t about making the other person feel better (though that may happen). It is always about making our relationships better – starting with ourselves. It is always about healing.

Forgiveness lets us quit playing the blame and shame.

It opens us up tohealing. Compassion. Love and peace.

It gives us courage to welcome in what we want more of in our lives – Joy. Peace.

Tranquility. Acceptance. Release. Redemption. Renewal. Love.

If we believe it is hard to forgive. It is hard to forgive.

If we believe we’ll never forgive. We’ll never forgive.

If we believe we can’t. We won’t.

If we believe we can. We will.

If we believe forgiveness begins, right now, in this moment, it begins. Right now. In this moment.

If we are waiting for the other person to apologize first. We are holding on – to anger, shame and blame.

If we choose to apologize first, we are welcoming in, joy, love and peace.

It is all in our choices.

Forgiveness is a bridge. It closes the door on past pains and suffering and opens us up to new possibilities, to hope and love and joy and happiness today.

A few years ago my eldest daughter, Alexis, when telling a group we were coaching in together about her experience of forgiveness after the pain of my deserting them, described it thus, “Our pain was like a river. Deep and wide. Every time my mother acknowledged what she had done and we forgave her, drops of love fell into the water. The pain lessened until eventually love ran free.”

Sometimes, to heal, we must ask forgiveness. Sometimes, to help the other heal, we must be willing to step into those painful waters and let our love flow freely so that they too can be washed in the healing waters of forgiveness.

For me, forgiveness began with me. How could I ask for my daughters’ forgiveness if I believed I was not worthy of forgiving myself? How could I accept their gift of love if I believed that to forgive myself let me off the hook of accountability? Forgiving myself didn’t make me unaccountable for what I’d done to hurt them. It let me hold myself accountable in Love. Through forgiveness I was free to let go of the pain and shame and guilt and fear of what I had done so I could move into all that I could do to claim my right to Love and be Loved without fear blocking Love’s flow.
Forgiving myself began with a simple statement of, “I forgive me.” In that statement hope was born, love awoke, joy descended. In that statement, I connected to the Divine, to the scared in all of us and became one with the One.

In that statement I set myself free.

In freedom, I am capable of anything. In freedom, I am never too small, too old, too bitter, too lost, too hopeless.

In freedom, I no longer live in the fearful past, I no longer chain myself to sorrow, blame and shame.

In freedom, I am free to love myself exactly the way I am.

In freedom, I am free to see the Love of God in everyone, no matter what they are doing, what they have done, or who they are – without fearing they will hurt me. In freedom, I take care of me with loving hands and trust others to do the same for themselves too.

In freedom, I let go of revenge and misgivings and trepidation and fear and open up to the greatest gift of all, the freedom to LOVE and be LOVED unconditionally. For in forgiveness, I find the path to greatness, the path to living this one wild and precious life in the rapture of now, free to experience the world around me through eyes of wonder, arms wide open my every act and word and thought flowing through my heart full of love.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Life as I know it

"In order to make any progress in learning to Love and trust ourselves we need to have a Spiritual belief system that supports the possibility that we are unconditionally Loved. This is vital in helping us to stop shaming and judging ourselves."Robert Burney, Codependence, The Dance of Wounded Souls
I am in awe of our human spirit. Our beauty, our light, our radiance.

And in my awe, I am intrigued. By our resistance as human beings to resist being Love. Being That which I believe to be a spiritual truth: We are Love. We are a reflection of the Divine, God, goddess energy, Great Spirit, Higher Power -- whatever we call the God of our understanding -- We are Love.

When I was in my twenties, three separate events lead me to believe I was subconsciously trying to 'kill my essence'. I didn't believe and didn't feel, suicidal, but three separate incidences lead me to believe -- my subconscious was trying to tell me something, and I wasn't getting the message.

After the third event -- where I ended up in intensive care in a hospital in Hawaii after almost drowning in a scuba diving accident -- I returned home and went to my doctor.

"I think I'm trying to kill myself," I told him. And I laid out the facts. An ectopic pregnancy that ruptured and almost killed me. A car accident that I miraculously survived and the diving accident.

"Ridiculous," he said (or something to that effect). "You couldn't have predicted nor planned any of those events. Maybe you're just accident prone."

I didn't believe him. Consciously or subconsciously, if I was accident prone, why was I choosing that as my path, as my way of being in the world?

And so, I set out to uncover the 'truth'. What was going on in my psyche that I kept putting myself in such danger I almost died?
It was attention seeking behaviour. Whose attention was I trying to get?

It took many years. Many years and many difficult and challenging and painful situations to finally see the light. I wasn't trying to kill myself. I was trying to get my own attention. I was trying to wake myself up.

I was trying to wake myself up from a deep psychic sleep where my pain lay buried beneath sorrow and grief and shame and confusion. That place where my 'essential truth' lay covered up by a life of self-denial and abnegation of the beauty and wonder of my spiritual essence expressing itself through my human being.

It wasn't until after the experience with the man who abused me so completely I wanted to die that I realized -- that relationship was just another way of waking myself up to my truth. That experience was just part of the journey of my awakening to the beauty and wonder of who I am when I let go of fear and shame and self-pity and self-denigration and step fearlessly into being who I am in Love with all I am -- past and present.

I sometimes jokingly say -- I'm an experiential learner. I like 'big' experiences to get the message. Sometimes, the universe needs a two-by-four to get my attention.

I'm giving it up.

Giving up going 'big' for getting real.

Real up close and personal, real involved with living this one life now, exactly the way I am without all the need to take it so personally I think it's all about me, myself and I.

It's not.

All about me.

It is all about how I respond. How I react. How I move through each moment of each day -- in Love or in self-disgust.

I've had a lifetime of loathing who I am and how I am in the world. A lifetime of listening to others tell me my worth, tell me what I can do, what I should believe, how I should be in the world.

Here's the deal. There's only one way for me to be in the world -- and that's in Love.

In Love with me and the world around me. In Love with LIFE. Beautiful. Messy. Unpredictable and oh so fragile and precious LIFE.

Which means, regardless of what is going on around me, I always act perfectly human in all my human imperfection. Sometimes, I fall down. Sometimes, I soar.

Doesn't matter how high I fly or how low I go. What matters is, no matter where I'm going, what I'm doing, I'm doing it in Love with who I am, how I am, what I am in the world today living LIFE for all I'm worth.

Enough letting myself down easy. Enough beating myself up hard. Enough.

I am enough.

Just the way I am. Right here. Right now.

And the rest... it's just part of this human experience called LIFE on earth.

Monday, February 21, 2011

From there and then to here and now.

It was a week of wonder. A week of hearts breaking open to let love pour in. It was a week to grow through, with, into, under and over. It was a week to be, me.

And it was a week of learning. Of learning to be cared for and to care for myself. It was a week to feel humbled.

It began on Wednesday evening. I hadn't been feeling well most of the day but, in my inimitable fashion, pushed back physical sensations to focus on the task at hand. Being there for the trainees.

Except, sometimes my body has a will of its own and Wednesday it took over and suddenly I found myself in an ambulance on the way to the Emergency room.

Now, let's be clear. I am not good at looking 'weak'. I am not good at letting my body have its way. So, the fact that I'd lain on the floor in fetal position for an hour trying to will the pain in my lower abdomen away until finally one of the other coaches who is a nurse said, 'that's it, we are not listening to you any longer, we're calling an ambulance' -- really ticked me off.

I mean, seriously. Too big a show for me. I should be able to just 'get over it'. And if I can't get over it, at least just drive myself home.

It was not to be.

And in it's not being, I was given a gift of caring and an opportunity to grow.

Ends up, I had a blockage -- pain medication, time and rest were the only things that could help it dissipate on its own. At least the physical blockage did. It's the mental blockages that are slower to retreat, slower to recede into memory leaving me free to dance in all kinds of weather, sing in the rain and laugh at thunder. It's the mental trip that plays the most havoc.

The mental one is the one that says, "Quit faking it Louise." "Don't be such a baby." "Stand up. Don't make a scene."

Ah, that blockage is a tad bigger and more challenging than the physical pain -- and far more difficult to flow through.

That blockage comes from the 'there and then'. That time long ago as a child when I was told to 'be quiet'. To not complain. To quit whining. Those times when my fears and tears were pushed away or minimized or just not acknowledged.

Like the time when I was twelve. It was a week after I'd gotten home from hospital after my appendix was taken out and I awoke in the middle of the night in excruciating pain. I was crying and no one believed me. My father, a man who when he awoke from having had his appendix out in a hospital in Paris, pulled out the IV and took a cab home, said to my mother, "Give her an aspirin and tell her to go back to sleep." Eventually, they had to re-operate to repair a tear in my abdomen.

I am always amazed how messages from the 'then and there' are translated in the 'here and now' as self-defeating behaviours and limiting beliefs.



On Wednesday, I sat in the seminar room for a couple of hours, focusing hard on the facilitator, working with my small group, willing the pain away. I worked hard at being present while pain ricocheted throughout my body.

At dinner break, I told my buddy coach I was not going to eat but would just go for a walk. I walked into a back room, lay on the floor in a corner, willing the pain to go away. I could not tell anyone I was in pain. I would not.

Until someone came in to grab something from the room and saw me.

Damn. I was pretty convinced I could eventually get the pain under control and get back to work.

As a friend describes it when he is trying to ignore anger, or fear, or even tears. "It's like trying to control diarrhea with your mind. It's going to come out no matter what you think."

In the end, I'm feeling better, lost a few pounds and even found the 'funny' in the situation. I mean really, I'm an experiential learner. I need big experiences to get the message sometimes!

And, in this learning, I have come front and centre with two of my greatest fears -- Acknowledging my pain and being cared for.

I've noticed it in the past. When I've been hurt or scared. I tell myself, I'm okay, I can handle it. I plaster a smile on my face and keep moving. And I am, ok, as long as no one asks me -- "Are you okay?"

In their concern, tears erupt and I retreat.

It's the contradiction of the inner child's need for succor and my adult resistance to accepting care, that people care, that I matter.

I'm learning.

And what a wonderful learning it is.

I had an amazing week. I took care of myself. Stepped back when I needed to take care of myself. Sat out when I needed quiet. I let others help me. Let others express their care for me.

And in the receiving I was given the gift of Love. Love of self. Love of others. Love.

And as to those tapes... those self-limiting beliefs that I don't matter, I don't need anyone, I am 'ok' even when I'm writhing in pain -- well, they may never go away but I can acknowledge them and learn to love them by loving myself enough to listen to my heart calling me to take care of myself, so that I am strong enough and well enough to take care of others.

And in taking care of me, I take better care of the world around me.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My Choices

I am coaching at Choices for the next five days. It's been awhile. In the past few months, rather than participating in the large group, I've only had the opportunity to share in the weekend session with Givers 2, (where I help out with Purpose every time it takes place here in Calgary) so I'm pretty pumped!

It also means, posting will be at a minimum. I'll be experiencing long days and fast sleeps and know that I won't have the luxury of writing time -- and that's good for me because ultimately, being at Choices is all about deep inner experiences that lead to growth -- and sometimes, I have to simply let it be to experience it completely.

So, while I'll try to turn up here and share some of my experiences and 'aha' moments -- which I inevitably get at Choices, there's no guarantee I'll be able to do it. The days begin at 8am and generally go until 11pm. And in there, I have to get some sleep!

I'll look forward to connecting Monday -- in the interim, have a blessed week. Live each moment in the beauty of now and fill each breath with the wonder of the world around you.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Busy day

"To suspect your own mortality is to know the beginning of terror, to learn irrefutably that you are mortal is to know the end of terror." ~ Frank Herbert

Ahh, the pouring hearts are gone, Valentine has embraced love and Cupid has shot his arrow.

It's a brand new day and I have an early morning meeting that means I have to leave the house by 6am.

I don't keep a storehouse of blogs to post when I don't have time -- my process is to write in the morning though sometimes, time permitting, if I know I've got an early meeting I'll write the night before and schedule the posting for the morning.

I like the pressure, the necessity, the immediacy of writing in the moment.

I like the waking up and clearing my mind, of delving into my consciousness through writing first thing in the morning.

And this morning, I like that I can change it up a bit, do something different, look at it a new way and find something to share that is moving and engaging and worthwhile.

And so... it's off to and a talk I found particularly inspiring given the work I do at a homeless shelter.

May your day be filled with wonder. May you know the magic of all you are is expressed in all you do in your being all you are.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Cooking up Love

It's snowing hearts in the world today. Snowing hearts and pouring love.

It's Valentine's Day.

Commercial. Yes.

But, it also has links to pagan rites and ancient lore. Meant to commemorate the onset of the 'mating season', this day heralded the return of the birds after their winter respite -- though here in snowy Alberta, the return of that first robin is still at least a couple of months away!

Years ago, when my daughters were small, I had a cooking show segment on a local cable TV show. I love to cook and even more, love to delve into the history of foods and culture and traditions. One year, I dedicated an entire meal to this day of Love. From Oyster Soup as a starter to 'Coeur a la Creme' for dessert, the entire meal had love as its main ingredient. The camera crew were enchanted. They filmed and salivated and when it was over, devoured what I'd created in the flash of a camera bulb!

There's something about food that connects us. It's part magic, part lore, part substance.

Last week, I was interviewed for The Human Voice Project. One of the questions the facilitator asked was, "what's a tradition unique to your family?".

Alexis, who had nominated me for the project and who was conducting most of the interview laughed. Food, she said. Definitely food.

Food. It is a family tradition. Something we all share. Something we all love. Cooking. Collecting cookbooks. Sharing recipes. Entertaining.

"In our home," said Alexis during the interview, "both my sister and I know, there is always room for one more person at our dinner table. We know we can invite anyone and no matter how busy or crowded, my mother will always make room for more."

Okay, so I tend to over-calculate the amount of food needed for any meal -- but at least it means there's always enough and no one pushes back from the table hungry!


In my world, it's all about Love.

Growing up, food was a way to express love in my family. My father cooked. My mother cooked and always they shared their love through a plate of cookies. A special soup. Buttertarts.

Oh yes, the Buttertarts.

Most Christmases, when they were still living in Europe and I had moved to Canada, I would travel home for the holiday season. I'd barely be off the plane in Frankfurt when my mother and father would be standing there, a plate of buttertarts proffered in each their hands.

"Here try mine."

"No. Try mine."

I don't like buttertarts, I told them. I didn't want to have to choose sides. But... I must admit, I liked my mother's best -- and dad, if you can read this, I loved yours too but you never put the walnuts in!

Once, when I was about 17 and had just moved away from home to live in Strassbourg where I was going to University, I decided to make 'a meal'. Now, because both my parents were avid cooks didn't mean I cooked. There wasn't room in our kitchen for another cook! So, this meal was truly a test of their tastebuds and their blind support -- could she or couldn't she conjure up a meal that was both palatable and appealing to the eye.

It was something I got from my mother. To taste good food must also look good. It wasn't good enough just to plunk a plate of vegetables on the table. They had to be displayed in an appealing way. Everything had to be complementary. Watch for shape. Colour. Texture. Use the right plate. and no, you can't just stick a bowl of dip in the middle in a plastic container straight from the fridge. Get a glass bowl. Decant the sauce...

My father, a man of contradictions and prone to loving to push my buttons, sat at the dining room table, grumbling. "Why's it taking so long?" "you'd better not be making some weird and exotic concoction." "I eat to live not live to eat." (that was his favourite expression concerning food). "Make sure there's no garlic in my meat."

Garlic was his button. We'd lived in France for many years and he always complained about the smell of garlic where ever he went. Once, while in Luxembourg, my mother and father and I went for dinner in a tiny bistro that specialized in Grenouille. My mother ordered Grenouille slathered in a garlic and creme sauce. When the frog's legs arrived, my father picked up his plate and cutlery and moved to another table, leaving my mother and I to eat alone. which wasn't all bad as we got to enjoy our meal without his grumblings. We were just happy he at least let us ride in the car with him afterwards! Not sure how we would have gotten home if he hadn't.

So, on the day of my 'big meal', I made two roasts. One with garlic. One without. To curb his grumbling about 'the wait', I made him a peanut butter sandwich to feast on until dinner was ready.

And in the end, while I can't remember the exact dishes I concocted, I remember the feeling of joy, of satisfaction, of happiness that surrounded me.

Whether or not the meal was delicious (and it was!) it didn't matter. And that's the thing about food and Love.

It's not what's in the meal, it's who the meal is shared with that makes it so special.

And thus began my love affair with food. As that 17 year old, it was the art of cooking I fell in love with. Not just the act.

It's the time spent browsing through cookbooks and gourmet magazines, savouring recipes and photos, deciding what to make.

Writing out the menu.

The grocery list.


Unloading the groceries and beginning the process of preparing the meal.

The cleaning and chopping and sorting and dicing. The braising and sauteing, the molding and combining.

It's the setting the table. Choosing the linens. Placecards. Decorating the centerpiece. Making sure the table is a beautiful reflection of the faces of those gathered round to share the meal, the company, the laughter, the conversation, the Love.

Because ultimately, it isn't about 'the food'. It's about the Love that goes into creating the meal.

Just like on a Valentine's Day years ago when I had prepared a Love Feast for my cooking show. At the end, the crew gathered round and feasted on the concoctions I had created. And in that moment, we were all connected through the lore and tastes of a bowl of Oyster Soup and the beauty of a white heart surrounded by raspberries that lay shimmering on a glass dish that reflected the beauty of the delicate flavours of the dessert.

It wasn't just about the food. It was that we were a small cast, standing round sharing in something that had been prepared with Love. The food connected us, because, as humans, we are always seeking that which connects us and imbues us with a sense of the wonder and mystery of being human.

Food is the way to a man's heart.

Woman's too.

Today is St. Valentine's Day. May you be connected to the world around you in Love. May your heart pour out its love for life and living, as you revel in every facet of your being your most magnificent self in Love.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Wide-eyed wonder and feeling deeply

It was another week of wide-eyed wonder, of feeling deeply, moving gently through each moment of my day.

A week where I soared and I stumbled, I flew and I crawled. A week where, no matter the weather, no matter the times, I sank with gratitude and compassion into Love.

It was also a week (or two) where three remarkable women created remarkable moments filled with their best, their most amazing, their incredible beings through sharing their talent and wonder with the world.

And I'd like to honour their creativity and achievements by sharing links to what they've created with you.

Cover art, "The Assumption of the Virgin" by Randall David Tipton.

Maureen Odallas over at Writing without Paper had her first book of poetry published. Neruda's Memoirs, published by T.S. Poetry Press, is available at Amazon -- all over the world.

In a reader's review at, Deborah Barlow writes,

"Maureen has one of those minds that can penetrate a variety of disciplines with amazing alacrity, passion and speed. In that sense she is a far cry from the isolated poet who is hermited away in her study. All her writing reflects the fullness with which she approaches life. Her knowledge of poetry is enhanced and deepened by her expertise in writing prose, visual art, politics, spirituality, philosophy, religious practices, travel, science, business, human potential. She is both fascinating and fascinated, a rare quality in one individual.... Poetry is personal and powerful. If you turn to this form of expression to dig deeper into what our lives mean and how we should live in a conscious way, this would be a book that would speak to you."

To support Maureen and to celebrate her accomplishment, you can catch glimpses of Diane Walker's amazing art and listen to her read the title poem, Neruda's Memoirs, in her liquid honey voice, here.

In her own work, Diane Walker of Contemplative Photography, has created a beautiful 20 minute visual essay of spirituality and creativity and contemplative photography that she presented at the University of Seattle. "Encounters with the Sacred" by Diane Walker is a beautiful and soothing exploration of her journey into photography and the sacred and a meditative respite into feeling connected with the sacred.

You can listen and be enchanted by Diane's visual and melodic journey here. (I wanted to embed the actual YouTube video but have encountered technical difficulties).

And while I mentioned this last week, it most definitely deserves celebrating again, the amazing Joyceann Wycoff over at Peaceful Legacies announced her Dragon Country book project and her quest to become Hampton Road's "Top Self-Help Author". Do click on Dragon Country -- and don't forget to vote.

Okay -- so really, this is a ten day post of wonder... I had been waiting to celebrate until I received my copy of Neruda's Memoirs, but it hasn't arrived yet, and I just couldn't wait. I'm soo excited about what these remarkable women have accomplished. I am so proud to call them my friends.

There were others, of course, who also shared their wonder with the world and enlightened us all with their brilliance -- to read of more, just click on any of the links in my Blog List -- and you will be filled with awe and wonder.

May your day overflow in wonder and joy. May your heart be immersed in love.


¸.♥*´Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ Louise

Saturday, February 12, 2011

I let myself go

I wanted to write C.C. a love poem and I hesitated. Suspended between wanting to write of love and loving, I resonate with the fear of letting go.

Oh, and a voice inside whispers. If you do that you'll get hurt.

I turn to face the voice but it disappears into the mists of fear.

There I am. Supine suspension on a violin string. Delicately balanced between my wanting to know love and my fear of being known in love.

I let myself


It doesn't take balance to fly.

Just courage.

So flowed my meditation this morning.

A delicate weave of clear mind spaces unravelling into the mists and images of violin strings plucked and vibrating with potential, with meaning, with lore and Love.

I let myself down
into the waters
warm and inviting
calling me deeper

I let myself fall
into air
soft and enveloping
lifting me higher

I let

and hold
to nothing

Friday, February 11, 2011

Life on a Violin String

Over at my blog friend Diane Walker's place yesterday, she wrote about the need to find balance between 'the now' and wishing for 'the future'. Diane writes,

And I'm thinking that this is part of why choosing the spiritual path is so challenging: how do we maintain that constant balance between being attentive to, accepting and appreciating and finding divine wisdom in the now while at the same time working to improve and enhance our abilities as compassionate thoughtful service-oriented beings in the world?

Wednesday night, at my meditation group, where I went after leaving T at the hospital, I sat in a circle with five others and let music and energy flow through me. It was an hour of pure bliss, of much needed respite from a difficult and long day.

The last piece Del, our leader, played was Vaughn Williams, The Lark Ascending. I felt the notes move through me. Felt the call of the single violin piercing my skin, its plaintive notes reaching deep within me. There was a painful exquisiteness in its beauty. A sound so pure all other sound evaporated and only that piercing ring of the violin bow sliding across the strings remained vibrating in the air all around me.

Tears gathered in the corners of my eyes. I moved into that space where I felt at One, with the One, of the One, the One. That space where I know, deep deep within me that I am not alone. That I am One with the Universe. One with the greatness and magnificence and beauty of all that is miraculous in our human being.

As can only happen in the creative space of my imagination, I saw myself balanced upon a violin string. It takes precision, concentration, delicate balance to stay poised on a violin string. To not teeter and totter to the pull of the string vibrating against my feet. To let the resonance of each note, each vibration flow through me without disturbing my peace of mind, without catapulting me into oblivion.

It was a beautiful place to be in balance, to lie stretched along the string and know, all is well in the world around me. All is as it should be.

And then, a note caught me, a riff captured my imagination and I was off following a butterfly into long golden grasses, fluttering from flower to flower.

And I fell off.

Into the void of nothing more than blind faith holding me up amidst the shattered fragments of my being shimmering in the light of a thousand mirrors.

And that was when my 'knowing' deepened.

Life holds out the illusion that what we do is what matters. That each step, each dance, each ephemeral composition of notes played, steps not taken, strings not plucked, adagios crescendoed, makes the difference.

Life, deep abiding unfettered life is experienced in the how. How we step, how we dance, how we compose and play the notes, pluck the strings, crescendo the adagio that makes the difference...

to whether we stay balanced,

or fall off the string

and become

shattered reflections

of all that mattered to us in life.

I sat in the meditation circle last night and connected to the soul of me, that deep place of knowing I do not need

I do not need

to yearn

to strive

to stretch

or prod or even do

In the pure note of a violin string plucked with exquisite beauty, I fell with grace and ease into that place that knows, in being effortlessly who I am, I do not need to grasp on, hold on, or hold still.

I simply need to be open, to expand into my being, into my knowing, I am One.

and then, to stay open to the experience. to not try to achieve the 'same' feelings again, to not 'make' magic happen but to simply 'let it be'.

As we chatted after the meditation, Del said, "That's persona Louise. The wanting to recapture the moment of oneness. To want to experience 'it' again." And he paused and added, "Let it be so that you can be of service in your being present in the world."

I let his words settle into me. Let the feeling of 'striving' for the moment butt up against the knowing, I am in and of the moment when I am being of service.

and I knew.

My ego wants to hold onto what it experienced because it 'knows' that experience and is not fearful of what is next if it can reclaim what was.

My ego attempts to recapture what was so that I can have what it believes I want. Control.

I do not need control.

I simply need to let go and let it be. Let go and let God.

My soul knows. It knows it is not the holding on that makes the difference.

It's the letting go.

Letting be.

I breathed, let go of the moment and Let It Be. I let it be and let God take hold of me.

And all was well with my world.

All is Divine.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

All I can do.

The elevator is full when I get on in the parking garage. It had stopped at the first floor, people got on and rode it down to the basement.

We get to the first, it stops again but those who were waiting are already on.

We move to two. Stop. No one gets on.

We move up to three. Our nurse G. is standing there with T, the man I wrote about before Christmas who has cancer and went horse-back riding.

G. sees me and says, "Oh Louise. I just left a message for you on your phone." And she motions to me with her hand to get off the elevator.

I look at T. He doesn't look well. I get off.

"I've just called an Ambulance for T," G. says. "We have to send him back to hospital."

He'd been in hospital two weeks before. Spent three days and got out. But he's been failing fast.

I look at T. "You look kind of scared," I say.

"I am," he whispers back. He reminds me of a little boy. A child. In that moment of hearing those painful words, "We're getting a divorce." or, "You can't go to camp this year. We can't afford it." Or, "Mommy has to go away for awhile."

A little boy who didn't really know what was happening. All he knew was, it was scary.

I gave him a hug. "I'll drop up to see you later today," I said.

I ride down to the first floor to meet the ambulance with them then carry on back up to the sixth. I walk into the Program Director's office and the talk is of hospice care and next steps. Of living wills and My Voice documents.

I don't want to listen.

T wants to go to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. A young woman volunteer bought him a ticket for Christmas. Four days at Mardi Gras.

I've been working on finding a corporate jet to take him for a one day trip. There in the morning. Back at night.

I don't want to think about his not being able to go.

But I must.

Another staff member goes to see him in the early afternoon.

"He's agreed to change his My Voice to include hospice care," my colleague tells me.

I am relieved. T needs options. This is a good one.

"He's asked if you will bring him a quart of Homo Milk when you go to see him," my colleague says. "He gave me money to give you."

I take the money. I don't want to. But I know T. Pride is important.

I reorganize my schedule later in the day. My five o'clock meeting can be handled by someone else. I leave, stop for milk and walk into the Emergency where T. is still waiting to hear what the medical team have decided is his next step on this journey.

He's lying in a cubicle, curtains drawn, lips drawn parallel. A thin line behind his beard.

"How are you doing?" I ask when I walk in.

"How do you think?" he replies. "I'm in this place."

"Yeah. Guess that answers my question. I brought your milk. Would you like a glass?"

He shakes his head no.

I pull up a chair and sit beside him. Reach for his hand. He is skin and bones. 111 pounds. There's an IV needle piercing his skin, connected to tubing, flowing into an apparatus that pumps fluid and antibiotic into his veins.

His hand is warm.

Really warm. There's an infection running rampant in his body.

"So, looks like New Orleans is out of the question," he says.

"I like to think we play it one day at a time right now," I reply.

I don't want to tell him about the possibility of a one day flight. I don't want to give him false hope.

"Yeah. One day at a time."

I sit and T doses.

"I don't mean to be a party pooper," he says in a moment of wakefulness.

"You're not," I reply. "I'm perfectly content to sit here while you sleep. It's exactly where I want to be right in this moment."

He squeezes my hand. Falls back to sleep.

And so the evening goes. He drifts in and out of sleep. I sit and watch and listen to the world outside the cubicle where he lies so still.

I have my journal with me. I pull it out of my purse. Begin to write.

I want to capture every moment. Nuance. This time. these moments. Capture them and hold them still. These are his moments. His. I don't want them to slip away. Undetected. Unnoticed.

Sitting in the Emerg. T lying on a gurney. Cubicle. Curtains drawn. Waiting. Fearful. The unknown present amidst the beeping aparatus and tubes and needles.

Outside the cubicle. footsteps. Noise. Voices.

Clacking of a cart.

Rubber soled shoes squishing by.

A voice. Male. Do you need an assessment on those TAs?

Another voice. Female. He's getting up now. On his own. Doing better.

Voice. Male. I spoke with the Endro doc. He'll take a look at it this evening.

Other voices. Disembodied. Echoing through the halls.

The sound of paper rustling.

Hum of the airvac. Constant noise.

Beep. Beep of a machine.

Somewhere a pen drops. Scuff of a shoe. A voice. Argh. Pain. Quiet voices. Murmurs.

A moment of stillness. Fleeting.

T lies quietly. Drifting in and out of sleep.

He stirs. Opens his eyes. Looks at me. "You still here," he asks.

"Do you want me to go?"


"Good. Because here is exactly where I want to be."

He smiles. I can tell it's a smile. The corners of his moustache lift up.

"You sure will go to great lengths to avoid a haircut and shave," I joke.

He laughs. "Yeah."

He was going to have a haircut and shave today. His ginger, streaked with white and grey moustache and beard are scruffy. His hair is matted. He's been losing. Hope. Weight. the will to live. The ability to take care of himself.

"Maybe they'll come here to give me one," he says.

"Maybe they will," I reply.

He closes his eyes. Drifts back to sleep.

I continue writing.

down the hall, a baby's voice. A gurgle. Cough. A poignant cry.

Louder. Two. three. Four cries.

Sound of a page of paper being lifted. Turned over. put down.

A drawer opens.

Rattling of dishes.

Water running in a sink.

The babies cry grows stronger. Pain.


and death.

T sleeping.

And dying.

In a place where doctors and nurses fight to save lives.

There is little they can do for T.

I sit. Waiting. new turf. Unknown territory.

There it is again. That word. Territory.

Here. A land of different territory. Terrain. Space.

I look around the cubicle.

T lying on the gurney. white sheet beneath him. White pillow case. head of bed slightly raised.

His body is covered in two flannel sheets. Doubled over. White. Three blue stripes line their edge. Narrow. Wide. Narrow.

Oceans. Seas. Voyages. Distant places.

"I wish I'd gone to Europe," T once told me. "I always wanted to."

He was supposed to go to New Orleans. I want to make it happen. I want him to go.

I look at his frail body lying there so still.

I don't see how he can.

Intercom chatters to life. Emergency physician call 313 for Radiology Consult.

Chair squeaks.

Voice on phone. Female.

Is she violent?


Oh. She wasn't here. I wonder what's happening?

More voices. Distant. Muffled.

More papers rustling.

Movement. Constant noise.

And still Terry sleeps.

And still I sit and wait.

It is all I can do. To sit here and wait and let him know, He is not alone.

Not alone in all of this.

Not alone in dying. It is what he fears most.

I want to help alleviate his fear.

It is the least that I can do.

A burst of laughter. Someone coughs. A cry. Pain. Fear. I wonder.

Voices talk of everyday things. A cart rolls by. Loud. Wheels grinding as it rolls past.

I sit and wait.

It is all I can do.

It doesn't feel like enough.

Yet, it must be. Enough.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Tendered Arms (A Poem)

Photograph: Phoenix by Vojko Kalan via Public Domain Pictures.

by Louise Gallagher

White dove
riding high
trailing winds


wings folded
bearing arms
where angelic hosts
render peace
out of nothing


white wings folded
in hope
born of
nothing more
than air
moving through time

standing still

a breadth
of sky
into nothing
knowing nothing
more than

a belief

will come
when white doves
on windblown
and earth turns
in time
to find
bearing arms
of Love.

It's another One Shot Wednesday and I have written this poem inspired by Glynn over at Faith. Fiction. Friends. and the photo (which I think is awesome) he shared as part of his One Shot Wednesday submission. Sponsored by One Stop Poetry, poets and proseists (haha) gather to share the best of their poetic prose every Wednesday.

To see other poems, please visit the site.

Now.... on Glynn's blog he writes: Photograph: Phoenix by Vojko Kalan via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.

So, I skipped on over to Public Domain Pictures and downloaded Vojko Kalan's stunning photo -- which inspired me! :)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The gift of a word

Every January 1 I choose a word that will be my meditation point throughout the year. Last year, the word was 'Redemption'. It was a tough word for me. A word I didn't want to embrace -- which is what made it so perfect for my meditation point.

Throughout the year I let 'redemption' rise into my consciousness, opening me up to what it means to be 'delivered from sin'. It wasn't actually the 'redemption' that got me, it was the idea of 'sin' and my existential being grating against my Catholic roots. Always hated the idea of being born sinful as a child. Never made sense to me. We are miracles of life -- how could we carry sin. No God would ever bestow upon an innocent child the sins of Adam and Eve.

Yet, through the year, I sat in 'redemption' and let it grate. And through the year I found myself moving deeper into that state of being, redeemed. Of being freed of my own sense of sinfulness, my own feelings of unworthiness.

It was a powerful word for me. Redemption.

And now, along comes another word. Equally as challenging yet not infused with the same religious weight for me.

This year, the word came more easily. It floated into my consciousness, settling in with grace and ease, awakening me without disturbing my peace of mind. Renewal.

Still a tough word. Perhaps it is that having centred on 'redemption' for a year, I feel more accepting of a word that doesn't grate so harshly against my spirit. In having braved the challenges of 'redemption', I am less resistant to this new words push and drag and pull. It is interesting to be chosen by this word. To feel it permeate my being with its sense of hope and purpose, its promise of spring, of growth, of constant evolutionary change.

It is this word's evolutionary aspect that has ruffled the still waters of my thinking. Renewal means so much -- in the Free Online dictionary, renewal is defined as, the act of restoring something or someone to a satisfactory state.

I struggle to find that state of being some days that satisfies me. That keeps me grounded in reality without lifting me up into some ozone layer high above the clouds where I don't have to worry about being satisfied with the state I'm in, I just have to find the peephole to get me back to earth.

Perhaps, that is the context of renewal for me. To be satisfied with my state of being without feeling the need to change it, move it, redefine it or escape from it. To simply be, in my state of being. Satisfied, exactly with where I am and how I am.

Hmmm.... food for thought.

But now, I must run as I have a 7 am meeting and the roads are slick and ice covered and I must drive slowly and carefully to ensure I make it without mishap.

In my renewal state this morning, I embrace the new life that awakens within me today, opening my world up to wonder and mystery and magic and the miracle of being alive in this place and time, exactly as I am meant to be, exactly where I'm at.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Trashy moments and Superbowl dips

I went to a Superbowl party yesterday. Yup. Me and four men. All together in the entertainment room of a friend of C.C.'s house. Hootin' and hollerin' it up!

Okay, so it was, I thought, a party for couples. So did C.C.

But, when we arrived, there I was. A lone woman amidst four men who quoted stats and results, who knew the pedigree and the running history of each player and team. Knew them by name. By face. By successes. By failures. Knew their history like a squirrel carrying a nut back to its tree home running along the telephone wires knows every dipsy doodle on his path and tail. Deak in. Deak out. Dodge. Leap. Jump. Spiral. Twist. Touchdown!

Seriously. Does it matter how many feet he's rushed or balls he's caught?

Apparently, yes. It does. Matter. Big time.

So, I cannot tell a lie. I enjoyed myself. Got caught up in the game. Caught up in the pomp and circumstance. The patriotism -- nobody does it like America. Flags waving. Hands on hearts. Heads bowed. Trumpets blaring. Voices rising. Eyes shining. Yeah. Nobody does patriotism like America.

Believe me, as a Canadian, I am in awe of my American neighbours zeal. Their commitment to being, American. To expressing their love of country. Of God. Of home.

I'm Canadian, eh? No really. I mean it. I'm Canadian. Oh yea. that's a capital C. Oh. Did I say it too loud? Sorry. Don't mean to offend.

And that's such a huge difference. We Canadians, we carry our patriotism close to our chest. Don't like to play the 'Canada strong and free' card too much. Sure, I'm proud to be Canadian, I think. Well, really, we don't think about it much. Often defining our patriotism as what it is not. No. I'm not American. Or British. Canadian. One of the colonies you say. No, I don't think so. No really, I mean, we're not. A colony. We're our own nation.

Heck, we repatriated our constitution. When was that? Oh, I can't remember exactly. 1980s. I think it was Trudeau. Yeah. Had to be him. You know, brought the constitution back home creating love and harmony and goodwill across all the land (haha -- did I mention Quebec was left out of the amending formula that was required to repatriate said Constitution from Britain?).

Trudeau also introduced the NEP, creating animosity, division and rage across all the land (okay creating rage and a memory that just won't die in the west, primarily Alberta, but we are part of Canada so it counts right?) -- for those south of the border who don't know what the NEP was -- well, let me tell you, the National Energy Program -- or, National Energy Piss-off as we Albertans like to call it.

But, I digress, back to the Superbowl. I had fun. Realized, even when I don't know much about the players, I do know something about the game -- must have been through osmosis -- and really, they do look cute in those tight little leotards don't they?

We even had a pool. Okay, I told the boys. I need some stats. Everyone laughed at me. No you don't. Just pick a number of what the points will equal at the end of the first, second, third and fourth quarters. Add up both teams scores. That's all you need.

Like pinning the tail on the donkey. I took at stab in the dark. Almost won the first quarter until the Packers scored another touchdown. Wow! Did you see that? Amazing. :)

Did I mention, The seafood dip I brought was to die for. Scrumptious. Got it at that little deli over in Altadore. You know, the place next to My Favourite Ice Cream shop. Yeah, that one. Fresh. You been?

The boys looked at me a bit blankly.

Did they care?

Well, they did like the dip. Had a nice bite to it too!

And then, I had to leave early. Alexis was having some stomach issues and after calling the Health Hotline, was told she should go to Emergency to have it checked. So, we spent the rest of the evening eavesdropping and waiting. She's fine -- could be ulcers. Or simply nerves. She's in a play, studying, working, doing way too much in way too little time.

Highlight of the Waiting Room -- better than the game. A man was brought in by his fiancee -- ok, so she hates being the fiancee btw. It was pretty obvious they had been at a Superbowl party somewhere. They were dressed in Green Bay jersey's. The man had apparently, in a moment of great joy for his teams successes, leaped up onto the stage and fallen off. Hit his head. That part was not nice. The fiancee was joined by said man's sister and husband and a friend of the fiancee.

So, first question was... who drove? I mean really. Friend was definitely too drunk. Fiancee seemed a tad tipsy too. Sister and husband arrived separately. Wouldn't an ambulance have been better?

They spoke loud -- ever wonder why drunks think they need to yell everything? I don't get it.

Girlfriend of fiancee took a shine to wounded man's sister, repeating often, "I like you. What's your name? Theresa? Right? Have we met before? I like you. What's your name..."

Eventually, like within five minutes, they started sharing real intimate secrets about themselves. Like the girlfriends news, I'm 32. I know. I don't look it. Nah. I won't live with a guy. You know, I'm Catholic. My mom and dad would kill me.

And then, they got to sharing medical histories. Ooooh, that was fun. Didn't know one person could have had so many broken bones and near misses and accidents -- that would be the fiancee telling on the wounded guy. Also didn't know a fiancee could repeat her beloved's liturgy of medical infractions so many times in one hour or that the friend, who was the only one apparently to see the fall, could reenact the fall so many times, each time getting more and more descriptive and loud. Wow -- she was good.

And of course, the girlfriend had to one up the wounded guy's story... One of my six sisters was in ICU once and.... yeah, it was gripping.

but, not as gripping as when girlfriend leaned across the sister's husband to touch sister's knee and asked, "You want to know my most white trash moment?"

That was when I wanted to leap across the rows of chairs between us, grab her by her cut off, stripped down, Green Bay Packers jersey over see-through bra and cry, NO! I don't.

But I didn't.

I mean, really, that wouldn't have been polite and I am Canadian. we don't make exhibitions of ourselves in public.

Oh. Well. Unless we're drunk of course...

Anyway, as said friend commenced to tell the gripping tale of her 'most' white trash moment, I did want to suggest that from her appearance it might be construed her life had been one 'white trash' moment after another, but again, that would not have been polite.

And, seriously, who am I to judge...

Fortunately, just as the girl was about to give complete and total details of her white trash moment, the orderly came to get me to take me back to Alexis who had missed much of the evening's drama.

Dang, and I missed the end of that riveting story. Just like I missed the end of the Superbowl.

Oh well. Green Bay Packers won. I didn't care. I was rootin' for whomever had the ball. I'm non-partisan that way. I like both teams to have equal opportunity carrying that little pigskin around.

And, I like to see how they dance it up at the end when they cross the finish line, oops, I mean goal line and score one for the team.

Yeah. It was a great afternoon and evening.

Drama. Tears. Heartache. Tension. Anxiety. Exhilaration. Not to mention... great seafood dip!

So... what is a white trash moment anyway? And do I want to catch one?

Have a great day!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Haunted blue horizon (a poem)

Photo by Sean McCormick -- visit his website here.

Haunted blue horizon

indigo to black
rising into night
etched with diamonds
traces of the forgotten
streaking across
the glass ceiling
and round
spilling untold dreams
into the vortex

shooting stars
fall too soon
into a prairie sky
stretched out
across the night
to earth

burning out
beyond the open door
where dreamers

music plays
in memoriam

dancers spin
round and round

haunted by the steps
of starbursts streaming
through the night
falling down

out of control.

I felt the call of this blue-hued wonder in Sean McCormick's photograph -- I'm thinking from somewhere in the Neutral Hills of Central Eastern Alberta 'cause that's where Sean lives -- and answered the One Shoot Photography Sunday Poetry Challenge. You can too by clicking on over to One Stop Poetry.

Sean is the guest Photographer over at One Shoot Photography Sunday -- he's an Alberta boy -- gotta love him! And his photos -- wow!

Go on -- give it a try. Read some of the amazing poetry Sean's photo inspired and... get inspired yourself and leave your link. You'll be glad you did!

I loved the boy who took me there.

There used to be a Danish restaurant in Toronto that served up a Sunday Smorgasbord. It was downstairs in a tall office tower. I loved going and sampling herring and tripe and unpronounceable dishes that tasted of cold crisp northern skies and salty seas. I loved the Danish beer, cold and frosty in tall fluted mugs. The blue table cloths and crisp white napkins.

And most of all, I loved the boy who took me there.

Long ago, I stood high up in the sky, feet firmly planted atop mountain peaks where sky met snow and craggy rocks projected upwards in defiance of gravity. Exhilarated, exhausted, I'd stand, arms spread wide, fingertips reaching out to touch the cerulean arc above me, screaming into the wide open spaces of the void that echoed back my unbridled passion for the moment. I loved the heights. The vistas. The long view scrolling outward to a far and distant skyline edged with crenellated peaks rolling into the distance.

And most of all, I loved the boy who took me there.

Once, I dove deep into the ocean, swimming amidst tiny rainbow coloured parrot fish and lacy haired angels and spiny cowfish who fluttered through the water effortlessly. I laughed at schools of wide-eyed butterflyfish swimming in my face and marvelled at giant mantras winging their way gracefully through the water. I flowed with the water and the water flowed with me. I fell in love with the deep blue mystery of the world swimming with life all around me. I fell in love with the wonder and the magic of it all.

And most of all, I fell in love with me swimming on my own, no boy to take me there.

Once upon a time I loved the thought of a boy taking me to heights I've never known. Showing me a world I'd never seen. Treating me to tastes never imagined.

Now, I go to heights and places and experience things I never before imagined because now I know, this is my life to live and treasure and experience and know with or without a boy to take me there.

The presence of a boy only heightens the experience. It doesn't make it happen.

Over at the blog, A Year With Rilke, Ruth writes in a comment to her post, Unsayable, "his words are not the moon, but only the finger pointing at the moon."

I like that. The boy did not bring me here. He was but a signpost on the way. It was life that lead me here. Life that brought me to my knees. Life that lifted me up to the skies. Life that brought me into Love.

And, just because I want to, just because I can, I'd like to share a little Sunday wonder...

Listen and marvel to Suheir Hammad as she shares her poems of war, peace, women, power.