Saturday, April 30, 2011

It's not the weather

Integrity is the essence of everything successful.
Richard Buckminster Fuller

It is Saturday morning and I have a presentation to give to a men's service group about the homeless shelter where I work at 8:30 so I must run soon.

It is Saturday morning and it is not snowing! It did that yesterday. Snow. Yeah. I know. It's the end of April and snow and almost May do not equate in the northern hemisphere.

That's what I think but the weather really doesn't care what I think. It always does whatever it wants.

Darn. I'd like to direct the weather.

I'd like to direct people too.

And that's where I learn lessons from the weather about living and loving and being me.

I can't control the weather.

I can only control how I respond. I can dress according to its dictates. Adjust my attitude to let its adversities not impact my state of mind. Keep myself safe when its particularly inhospitable by not venturing out into its hostilities.

And yes, I can complain and moan and grumble about it -- but it doesn't change what the weather does. Nor does the weather care what I say about it. It just does what it does because that is what it must do to be weather.

Just like people.

I can complain and moan and grumble about them -- but it doesn't change them.

It does, however, change me.

When I complain and moan and grumble about people, I am undermining me. I am acting without integrity. Undermining my peace of mind and my well-being.

I am being the problem.

They are being who they are -- and in my complaining, moaning and grumbling, I am being who I am.

And if I don't want to be a complainer, moaner or grumbler, then I'd best find ways to be that honour my essence, not destroy my integrity.

And yes, there is a point to this story but, it's Saturday morning and I gave myself the gift of sleeping in until almost 7 so now, I'm on the run. Must get ready to go.

And I'm pretty sure you get the point of this story -- because when it comes to weather, we all do it even though, truth is, I can't control the weather.

I can control what I do and say and how I am in the world.

I learned that lesson last night as I struggled to write an email to someone who had verbally attacked me. I felt betrayed. Hurt. Angry.

How I feel about it will shift and evolve -- regardelss of my feelings, I am always accountable for how I respond.

And so, I struggled to move through the anger to a place where I could express myself without blaming the other for how I feel, without attacking them for what they did.

What they did hurt. It was also an expression of their pain and struggle. Doesn't make it right. It does make it human.

And we have an opportunity to grow through it, or dig into it and get grounded in the muck of 'you hurt me now I'm going to hurt you by not playing with you anymore. By telling you what I 'really' think about you. So there.' (and that is followed by with a stomp of my right foot and a defiant toss of my hair).

No matter how someone else behaves, it never gives me the right to be cruel. It never gives me the right to retaliate, or get even by blasting them with my two cents.

Just like the weather, I am measured by what I do. And when I let the weather determine the quality of my day, when I let it pull me down to griping about something I can't change, then I am not measuring up to being my most amazing self.

I am not living my enough!

Gotta run. Weather or not, here I come. Leaping into my day. Embracing Love in all kinds of weather. Knowing, I am okay, no matter what the world is doing around me when I surrender fear and fall, In Love.


Friday, April 29, 2011

This is My Voice -- Shane Koyczan

My friend BA sent me a link to a Spoken Word artist, Shane Koyczan speaking his piece, This is My Voice.

I first heard Shane while watching the opening ceremonies to the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver when he rocked the show with his patriotic piece, We Are More. I wondered who he was (and then forgot I wondered) -- and now, BA has sent me the answer!

Thanks my friend.

If you have a couple of minutes, give yourself the gift of listening to Shane's, This is My Voice. It is pretty powerful and he is pretty awesome!

I've posted the lyrics to his piece below.

This is My Voice
By Shane Koyczan and the Short Story Long

This is my voice, there are many like it, but this one is mine.

and it’s a fine line when you’re trying to define the finer points of politics

politics being a latin word

“poli” meaning many

“tics” meaning blood sucking butt lumps

you see too many live in countries where it’s bullets instead of ballots

where gavels fall like mallets when held in the hands of those whose judgments

can be bought as easily as children can be taught to covet

and the only ones willing to speak up are forced to live so far beneath the radar

that the underground is considered above it

this is for the Ho Ci Min’s and the Michael Collins.

for the Marquis de Sades and the muted gods.

This is my voice, there are many like it, but this one is mine.


we’re not always right, but we’ve got the right to be wrong.
we’re not always free, so this is just a short story long.

this is my voice, there are many like it, but this one is mine.

and this time it’s for the sons and daughters

who watch their mothers and fathers drown in shallow waters while

panning for the “American dream” in the polluted creek called the mainstream.

This is for the homeless people sleeping on steam vents,

making makeshift tents out of cardboard and old trash,

trying to catch 40 winks in between the crash of car wrecks

risking their necks by surviving another day so that they can starve

so that famine can carve their body into a corpse before their heart stops beating

so that men in a boardroom meeting

can make it harder for them to get welfare, health care,

it’s no wonder some of them pawn off their own wheelchair

and every time I walk ‘em by, I can’t help but feel at fault,

that maybe I didn’t search myself hard enough

for the control alt “s” so that I could save the world.

Or at least this little girl curled up into a ball

I’ve spent most of my life throwing compassion back like a fish that’s too small.

Gotta cash in my reality checks. drop her some spare fantasies

cause I’ve got three separate degrees from different universities,

but the most valuable thing I ever learned

was to believe people when they say “Please.”

This is my voice, there are many like it, but this one is mine.


We’re not always right, but we’ve got the right to be wrong.
We’re not always free, so this is just a short story long

You ever been real, been reamed out, picked on, put down, ever been ever been rowdy at the sound when your own heart breaks, not to take the time, to take the time. listen.
ever been seen and not heard, you ever blurred the lines for those who tried to find some way to define what you are, as if you were far from them, at least at the heart of them its more than a part of them.
you ever been told you’re too young or too old, and there’s always that line when you’re willing to walk by, and you gotta receive and then beat the deadlines. so don’t try to define us cause this time we’ re fine. so don’t try to define us cause this time we’re fine. so don’t try to define us cause this time we’ re fine. We’re pissed and we’re loud and now you know why.


We’re not always right, but we’ve got the right to be wrong.
We’re not always free, so this is just a short story long

Don’t tell me there are no heroes. This is for them, the women and the men.

For Helen Keller who against all odds found a voice.

For the choice Veronica Guerin made.

For Martin Luther King who stayed just long enough to share a dream with us.

This is for that day on the bus for sister Rosa Parks.

This for the Joan of Arcs who believe even in the face of sparks becoming flame.

The political game that Louis Riel refused to play.

This is for the day the Dalai Lama finally goes home.

For Dr. Jeffrey Wigand who alone stared down big tobacco.

For Nelson Mandela who continues to go the extra mile.

This is for the trial that finally found a man guilty of shooting Medger Evers dead.

This is for everything Malcolm X said,

remembered by athletes who left the Olympics double-fisted.

For Arthur Miller, blacklisted for calling a witch hunt what it was.

For Galileo locked up because he said the earth was round.

For the Two Live crew who found the sound that got them banned in the USA.

And imagine if we could still hear John Lennon play.

This is for the someone who stood up today and said, “No!”.

For Edward R. Murrow who shut down McCarthy.

For Salmon Rushdie, Mahatma Ghandi,

You, me, this city, this country.

We will always have a choice.

When you stand up to be counted.

Tell the world, “This is my voice, There are many like it, but this one is mine

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Memories can't hurt me

I've never tried to block out the memories of the past, even though some are painful. I don't understand people who hide from their past. Everything you live through helps to make you the person you are now. Sohpia Loren
On Tuesday my writing was inspired by memories evoked through reading Maureen's poem Consequence, at Writing without Paper, and Ruth's poem, The Past Speaks at Synch-ro-ni-zing.

Several people commented on the story including Ruth who wrote in the comments box, "I hope... the memories weren't too painful."

Memories are never painful -- they hold nothing but the past and the past is not real.

The past is only a figment of my imagination. Their nuance comes from the colour and tone I give them in my remembering and imaginings. Figment's of imagination cannot hurt -- unless I give away my power and let them run rampant through my mind in ways that hurt me.

It is a lesson I learned through the debacle of the man who promised to love me, 'til death do us part, and got dead serious with the parting. After he was arrested. After I awoke from the trauma and horror of what had happened, of what I'd done to hurt the ones I love, I discovered -- the past only has dominion over me when I let it control my thinking and colour my peace of mind in tones that disturb me.

Memory can't hurt me unless I give into it.

It was a difficult lesson to learn, but one I had to embrace, if I was to heal from that experience.

And that was the other element I learned about the past -- memories are healing, forgiving, loving when I pull the trigger on their power to disturb my peace of mind and let myself fall, in Love, with their truths, their beauty, their depth and colour, and, their teachings.

What happened in the past hurts me today when I let it fester, let it lie fallow, let it dig into my peace of mind in ways that disturb me. In ways that I embrace as 'truth' when really they're just judgements about what was, and can never be again as long as I walk in the light of my truth today -- I am powerful beyond my wildest imaginings. I am perfect in all my human imperfections manifesting themselves in the light of my being me.

Memory disturbs me when I give into its message of how... stupid, shallow, powerless, asleep, blind, young, old, tall, short, fat, skinny, simple, complex, naive, negative, (you call it) I was.

Memory pulls me under when I give into its insistence of how... stupid, shallow, mean, cruel, evil, hurtful, contemptuous, ugly, gross, young, old, tall, short, fat, skinny, simple, complex negative... (you call it) someone else was.

Memory hurts me when I let go of my truth today and fall into the belief -- who I was then is all I am, all I ever will be.

And that just ain't true.

Who I was back then, whether a child, a teenager, a young adult, a grown woman -- all of it pales in comparison to who I am today when I walk free of the past pulling me back into believing -- what happened back then, who I was back then is all I can be, is all that matters, is all that makes a difference in my life today.

Having lived the past, I have no need to relive it today in ways that undermine me. Having stepped through memory's door to this place where I know, I am a being of light. A child of God. The Divine expression of amazing grace, I let go of memory's trigger and pull myself lovingly into the light of being -- free.

Today, I love my past and the people who inhabited it in all their faults and beauty. I love my past's beauty, darkness, complexity, its pain, its sadness, its joy and laughter. I love its round and full contours, its deep and dark pockets. Its velvety nights and long dark corridors. I love its darkness and light. Its sorrow and hope. Its villains and heroes. Its destroyers and lovers.

I love my past because today I know the past is nothing compared to who I am today when I let the past lie peacefully in my mind. I am free of its pain when I weave the beauty of my life today into the tapestry of memory that supports me, lifts me up and carries me forward on a sea of Love.

Today, when I write of the past, I am free of its pain because the only place the past exists is in my memory. And memories cannot harm me, unless I let them.

And why would I want to do that?

May your day be filled with beautiful memory loving you into being all you're meant to be. May you let go of the past and fall, in Love, with the wonder and joy of who you are today.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Where truth found me

"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending." Maria Robinson
My blog friend Diane, over at Contemplative Photography wrote today about the goodness inherent in each of us, and our proclivity to sometimes avoid seeing the 'roundness' of our nature. We're uni or two dimensional in our inner view at times -- not being able to see the full depth of our selves, she suggests.

When I was in my early twenties I married a boy I met at University in France. He was Canadian, and not having lived in Canada since my tweens, he was my ticket back to the land of my birth. I also told myself I loved him. I must, I said, he was kind and caring, funny, intelligent and he had a good future.

We married, much too young, and separated less than two years later (13 months to be exact). I didn't want to marry him. I wanted to dance naked in the rain, to run through puddles laughing and screaming at the sky to fall down around me. I wanted to feel life, in every pore, to know love in every vessel of my being.

He wanted to build the good future he promised me. He wanted to play safe. To not disrupt the status quo. To not disturb the peace.

He wanted to be a good husband. I did not want to be a wife.

I knew that the day I stood outside the church with my father. It was autumn in rural Ontario and autumn leaves were falling all around. Blazon red patches of leaves clung to branches, losing their grip in their defiant insistence they did not need to fall.

I did not want to enter the church. I wanted to push the hood of my white jersey gown off my head and go for a walk. (I refused to wear a veil. Refused to carry a bouquet. Refused to change my name -- but I lost that one to my husband's insistence it was the proper thing to do -- give up my name to take his. I took my own name back when it was over. Giving up his name was the only thing I could do with something I should never have taken in the first place.)

"We can't go for a walk," my father said where we stood at the bottom of the granite stairs leading up to the church doors. "There are people waiting inside for you." And we climbed the stairs.

I got drunk at my wedding dinner. I seldom ever got drunk. But I got drunk that night. And I stayed in a stupor for the next many months. Not drunk. Just in a non-alcohol induced haze of fear and trepidation and worry -- I didn't know how to fix the mess I was in. I wanted to feel good about being married. I wanted to feel like it was the right thing for me to do.

And I knew it wasn't.

It was a fight with my parents and my brother that set me free. They saw things in me I didn't see and while their version of what they saw was not really me, the truth was what they saw was me 'living a lie'.

And I was.

It just wasn't the lie they thought they saw.

They thought I was getting 'too big for my britches'. They thought I was 'upping' myself. Making myself 'better than' them, the rest of the world, everyone else.

They thought I was being someone I wasn't.

And that was the truth -- I was being a married woman, going through the motions of living a marriage I didn't want, living a life that didn't fit.

I didn't want to be married.

I loved the boy. I just didn't love him enough to commit my whole life to him -- at that time.

And so, after my parents and brother and sister-in-law left in the middle of the night, their voices continuing their condemnation of me, I curled up into my body, sobbing and crying, waiting for my husband to come home -- I never did wonder why he stayed out so late so many nights. I thought he was at a meeting -- and that's another story. When he did arrive home around three, he found me, a soggy dishevelled puddle of tears, lying in the middle of the living room floor.

"They'll tell you I kicked them out," I told him. "They'll say I picked a fight and forced them to leave. That I wouldn't let them stay."

It wasn't true. They were welcome to stay. I had only asked that they quit talking about me in terms of good and bad, with the bad being the predominate descriptor.

They couldn't stop. I couldn't let them stay.

But, their insights lingered. Their words filtered through my fuzzy unease and I knew the truth.

I could not stay in my marriage when I didn't want to be there. I was hurting him and me. I did not have the right to do that.

A year and a bit later I accepted a transfer out west. I didn't care where I went. I just wanted to get away.

And that's where the truth found me. Living alone. Loving life. Finding myself where ever I was.

It would still be a year or two before I found the courage to forgive my brother for what he'd said.

If he were alive today I'd thank him.

While his words hurt, and were projected from a story I didn't relate to, they were the impetus that set me free to become me.

All of me. Beauty and the beast. Light and dark. Shadow and illumination.

We don't always see ourselves as we truly are and often family are the only one's who can tell us what they see in our not being who we truly want to be.

Sometimes, what they tell us is filtered through their own pain, their own vision of reality. Sometimes, their truth hurts.

Pain is illusory. It passes.

Truth never dies. It never leaves. Truth has light and patience. It is willing to wait for us to catch up to it. To be willing to open our eyes to it. To be able to open our hearts to its beauty.

And always, the truth is illuminated when we step from the shadows of our fear we will never be enough as we become the enough we truly are.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Memories and spring

I had intended to write of spring, rites of spring, crocus of spring springing up, spring blossoms slowly budding on denuded branches.

I had intended to write of my walk with Ellie yesterday evening. Of fresh breezes and blue skies deepening into dusk. Of rustling prairie grasses and a river serpenting through the valley bottom.

I had intended to write of promises and possibilities. Of potential sparkling in the prism of sunlight fracturing off a piece of glass.

That was my intent. And then I read Maureen's poem, Consequence, over at Writing Without Paper and followed up that provocative and delicious read with a visit to Ruth at Synch-ro-ni-zing and all thoughts of writing of spring vanished in a memory bed of my father and the harsh discipline he sometimes wielded with the 'whack' of his belt.

My father was not a violent man. Angry. Yes. But not violent. He had a poet's heart. Saw beauty in every facet of the world. Determined. Strong-willed, some would say stubborn, he wrote poetry to my mother and long letters to we children once we had moved from home. He liked to give advice, and then caution his words with his insistence we needed to do what we felt best.

I always feared that what I felt best would displease him. And thus, learned to submerge 'my will' to fit his.

My father ruled with a strong hand and a stronger will. And when we could not, would not bend to his will, he used the might of his belt to impress upon us the need to conform, to fall in line, to bend.

I was thirteen the last time I remember my father using his belt. The issue between us was a boy. I don't remember the boy's given name, only the nomenclature we used because of his bright red hair. Bozo.

He was older than me by three whole years. A lifetime of experience according to my father.

I had no right to be with him. Especially alone.

The day in question Bozo and I had gone for a walk. We'd sat on a grassy knoll and while I don't remember what we talked about, I do remember the feel of being 'seen', of being visible to this much 'older' man.

He wanted to hold my hand as we walked to the woods across the street and up the hill and beyond the curve in the road that lead away from the apartment complex where we lived in Metz, France. He wanted to hold my hand through the woods, through the ruins of the Roman aqueducts that lay in stony silence in the woods along the path that lead to the knoll where we sat and talked and talked for hours, long past the hour for dinner when I was to have been home.

I knew I was late but I wanted to keep talking. And talking.

And then the hour caught up to me and I stood up and insisted I must get home. Must get back for fear my father would be angry.

The boy stood with me. Started to walk with me. And I insisted he shouldn't. Couldn't. But he insisted he must. He wanted to hold my hand through the woods, down the hill, around the curve that lead back towards home.

I made him stop at the corner, before the apartment block came in view. I made him drop my hand and stay there so that I could make the final approach alone. And as I ran, breathless, late for dinner, I dreamt of stories I could tell to explain my tardiness.

None of them included a boy.

It didn't matter.

My father knew. He always knew.

And he was disappointed. Angry.

And I was defiant. Stubborn. Rebellious.

And as his temper rose, my stubbornness entrenched itself in stony silence held up before me like a shield protecting me from my father's voice angrily insisting I 'listen to him'.

I didn't want to listen to his yelling. I wanted to listen to the boy telling me all the wonderful things he saw in me. I wanted to replay our conversation, word by delicious word. Thought by provocative thought. Feeling by tender feeling.

And my father's anger was making it impossible for me to hear the conversation in my head.

Finally, I bit back. Disrespectful. Irreverent. Rude. And the belt appeared and I glared in rebellious retort and took my punishment without a cry.

I always did that.

Did not cry. No matter how much it hurt. Years of being called a cry baby. Of being told to stop crying had beat my tears into submission.

I would not cry. I would not let them see me hurt.

And the belt whacked and I remained silent and my father cried out for me to apologize. And I wouldn't. I couldn't. Let him win.

Go to your room and think about what you've done wrong, he yelled.

And I did. Go to my room. But I didn't think about what I had done wrong. There were too many illicit and enticing thoughts of a boy crowding my mind to think about wrong-doing and obeying the rules.

And so, in the quiet of my room I curled up on my bed and wrapped myself up in thoughts of a boy who thought I was beautiful. Alone in my room, I immersed myself in memory and dreams of handsome princes riding in on white charges to whisk me away from the everyday world that had me trapped in believing I could never be free to do it my way without a boy to rescue me.

It was the last time my father used his belt on me, but it would be many years before I broke free of believing I did not have the power to create the life of my dreams, without a boy to make it all come true.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Long View

It was a sublimely beautiful weekend. C.C. and I, needed to work through some challenges and decided to get out of the city to give ourselves time and perspective, along with an opporutnity to just be, the two of us.

And we did. Get an opportunity to spend time together, just the two of us, along with gaining some perspective.

It was apropros to our weekend that our room at the Rimrock Hotel offered an expansive view of the Bow Valley. The longview into beauty. From the vista of our eigth floor room, we could see as 'far as tomorrow'. From that view, we gained perspective of the challenges we've been facing -- C.C. is working in a city 7 hours drive away. He will be there for a couple of years. The question has been -- when will I move?

Our realization and understanding together over the weekend was -- I won't. The beauty of gaining perspective of where we've both been at odds over the past few weeks has been to understand how, where not communicating all our thoughts on the situation, has created strife between us. He's been feeling 'wrong' thinking I should move. I've been feeling uncomfortable thinking I should move. He hasn't wanted to pressure me into moving, and in fact, had decided I won't -- but the way he voiced that left me feeling I was unwanted. I haven't wanted to make him feel I wasn't supporting him in his work there, and thus had thought that I was making the best of a 'bad' situation by finding value in moving there.

And thus, a real hodgepodge of misunderstanding ensued.

From the long view of our room, we were able to both hear each other, and to realize -- we both want the same thing -- to be together, but we don't need to physically be together every day to have what we want.

It was, a weekend of revelation. Of rebirth. Of rekindling all that makes our relationship whole and loving and valued.

As I said on Saturday night when the Sommelier at EDEN, the restaurant in the Rimrock where we had dinner, asked us, "what are you celebrating?"

"New Beginnnings," I replied.

And we both clinked our crystal champagne glasses and toasted, new beginnings.

Very apropros to Easter. Very apropos to Love's healing power.

And, btw, if you ever have a chance to dine at EDEN, do it! It was truly the most divine, decadent and enchanting meal ever! My eldest daughter, when she found out where we'd dined exclaimed, "OMG! That's considered the best restaurant in Canada!"

I understand why.

And as I sat in our room, curled up in a big leather chair, gazing at the view, the muse visited...

The Long View

Silent still
they stand
dark sentinels
guarding forest path
where lone wolf roams
and mule deer lope
in communion with nature's beauty.

Silent still
the forest marches
across valley bottom
up stirated mountain crags
the weak fall back
and only the brave survive
to stalk mountain peaks
where sunlight dances
upon ancient rock
challenging the sky
to fall down
upon its beauty.

Silent, still
nature's glory
beneath cerulean sky
by man's trespass
eroding silent forest
and meandering stream
through ancient rock
that has not given
way to man's insistence
he can claim
nature's beauty
the mountains stand
silent against time.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Saturday Smile

A smile for Saturday morning. C.C. and I are off to Banff for the evening so I won't be posting tomorrow. See you Monday morning. Happy Easter!

And now for the smile!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

Make each day your masterpiece. John Wooden

May this Good Friday fill your soul with light. May your heart be opened in Love.

mumford and sons - Roll Away Your Stone

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Nothing survives Love

I am standing on a small knoll looking out over a vast plain. Not to far in the distance, there is a village. It looks peaceful from this vantage point and I approach. As I get closer I hear guns firing, screams. I smell gunsmoke.

I enter the town and see a village at war. People killing people. I see a small child. Crying. I bend to pick her up and a soldier approaches, his gun aimed at me. "Please stop," I plead and he puts down his gun but someone from behind shoots him and he falls to the ground.

I feel helpless.

I breathe, deeply. I know my voice cannot be heard amidst the gunshots and the shouting and the crying. I know I am not powerful enough to stop the fighting.

I call upon my 'group', others who believe like me that only love can destroy war. My meditation group is there. We join hands. The child linked between us. We walk from the village and turn to face it. We are part of a circle of thousands and thousands, love light streaming from our hearts, surrounding the village.

We stand and pray and hold the light on the village.

The shooting stops. Guns are laid down and people walk from the village towards us. they are smiling. They are peaceful.

Nothing can survive love, says our meditation guide, Del, after the village exercise last night in our meditation circle. "The village and how you were in your meditation is how you are in your true core self," he told us.

I was relieved when he also explained that in my case, I have a strong belief in the need to 'save the world' through Love. Through working with group, collaboratively, to bring about an end to war.

Whew -- it was a relief to know I wasn't of a warlike state of mind! Everyone else had beautiful, happy, scenes and there I was, I thought, mired in war!

It isn't about the scene in the village. It's about what you do, how you behave, he told me.

I do. Believe. Ending war, anger, discord, enmity can only happen through Love. I do believe I am not powerful enough to change the world alone, we must do it together.

It was a powerful meditation last night. After the village scene I saw my human form standing alone, and I poured love and light upon me. I felt at peace, at One. I felt divine.

Nothing survives Love.

I like that. It gives me courage and strength and the conviction to know, in Love, nothing survives but Love.

May your day be filled with the power of Love creating all you dream of in your life.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Let us live it, in Love.

Good morning Life,

How are you? I'm here to greet your Day. Standing here beneath the big yellow sun, holding my face up for your kiss.

I've been missing your friend, Day. I've been missing leaping from Night's bed with an open heart, eager to face you. Missing standing in the beauty of your light streaming down in golden hues to anoint me with your blessings and embrace me in possibilities.

I know. I know. I've been absent. Crawling sleepily, eyes squinting, limbs heavy every morning. I know. I know. I've been grumbling endlessly about the long dark nights of Winter. but, I'm here now, Life. I'm here and I'm awakened.

I'm eager to see you. Eager to meet you on the corner of Anticipation. Please welcome me to your Light. I can see her, streaming full of you joy, tumbling, full of abundance, into the garden of Peace.

I can see you now. And I am eager to meet you all the way on the other side of the darkness, stepping fulling into Life.

Your faithful servant,

Me :)

Ok. So don't ask where this greeting came from -- I couldn't tell you. But, when my fingertips hit the keyboard this morning, this is what came out. So, I went with it. Went with the flow and let Life take over.

I taught last night in Project Forward, a 12 week Financial management and life skills course I teach with a volunteer, Ram. I am not the financial side of the equation. I do the life skills :).

I asked the class my favourite question -- to give me one word to describe themselves. The list held words like Honest. Truthful. Kind. Energetic. Positive. Hopeful.

I asked everyone, "What do you want more of in your life?"

"Respect." "Hope." "Opportunity." The answers were many -- and money was way down on the list.

Integrity. Work. Possibilities. Honour. Stability...

We also did the part of the exercise where I ask them, "What words do you think people use, 'out there', to describe those who are experiencing homelessness?"

Lazy was the first response. Bums. Addicts. Worthless... and the list of negatives came quickly.

There was silence in the room for a moment as everyone stared at the list of negatives written on the white board beside the positives. You could hear a pin drop.

"So," I asked. "When you go 'out into the world', knowing you live in this place called a homeless shelter, which words do you carry with you? Which self-concept do you hold?"

Silence. Finally, one man spoke. "Wow. If I believe people are thinking that about me, then it's not their thinking that is limiting. It's mine."

and the conversation grew.

We talked about the challenges of using what they'd learned in the class when they believed they were, 'unworthy'.

"I'm so grateful you did this list," said one man who has lived at the shelter for about six months. Tall. Good looking, not 'visibly homeless'. It was gambling that brought him down to street level. "If I believe myself to be worthless, even if it's in other's eyes, I'm not going to give myself worth in the community. I'm going to live what I perceive to be their truth of me. I won't hold my own value. I'll just keep sinking."

And sinking. Added another man.

It is all in our attitude, said one.

Yeah, agreed another. And my attitude sucks sometimes. I've got to quit beating myself up. I've got to start holding my head high.

And the conversation kept going, and the men kept sitting taller and I kept seeing human beings lighting up, finding the courage and strength and beauty within, so that they could step beyond the boundaries of the walls of a homeless shelter, into the light of a brand new Day waiting to greet them. Into the joy of Life seeking to embrace them.

And that's where that letter this morning came from. A place of joy. A place of gratitude. A place of knowing -- we are all human beings, doing whatever it takes to find our place in the world. Being our perfect selves, perfectly human in all our human imperfections.

Let us live today with hearts filled with gratitude, spirits lifted in joy and our faces uplifted to greet the morning in anticipation of a Brand New Day. Let us fill our hearts with hope. Let us open our minds to our limiting beliefs so we can see how limitless the possibilities of this day when we let go of the fear, we are not enough. Let us live today without judgments. Let us live it in Love.

I invite you to write a letter to Life today inviting her in to fill your day with her limitless possibilities.

May your day be filled with the beauty of you. May your world be filled with love, joy and peace.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011


It is done.

This book, WHERE, that we have been writing and creating for the past seven months. A simple idea that has grown and shifted and changed and become this piece of history of which we are very proud.

I took it to the printer yesterday. The print proofs signed off. Minor changes marked for the last time.

It is done.

And all is well.

And now, the planning begins in ernest for the launch. Just three weeks away, May 4.

We'll be having an exhibit of the photographs. Inviting special guests to an event that will also see the documentary we created a year ago on our recording of Ben E. King's, Stand by Me.

It is a celebration. And because it is a celebration, I am sharing with you the final word of the book:


Homelessness is a world of darkness pulling those walking our streets under; despair, desperation, loneliness, confusion, fear, they lurk like dealers hanging out on street corners waiting to drag each person down. Homelessness is a world of darkness and of light. It is a world filled with compassionate and caring people -- on both sides of the street. It is a world where every human life holds the possibility of more, of other than the darkness of living on the street.

The street is the microcosm of the macrocosm of our world. On the street, disharmony,
disorderly conduct, despair mirror the disharmony,disorderly conduct, despair in our greater world –disharmony and despair we often try to ignore or pretend does not exist as we close our eyes to the darkness of the street.

The darkness is not the opposite of light. Homelessness is not the opposite of home. Darkness is the absence of light. Homelessness is the absence of home.

What happens on the street is not an aberration from life, it is life. It’s life as we never want to see it yet, it exists in the lives of thousands of Calgarians every day.

For fifty years, at the DI, we have celebrated life, in all its complexities. Every day, we celebrate people. We celebrate the small steps of an addict staying clean for one day, the big leaps of a drop-out going back to school, the giant bounds of a street worker leaving the life behind. We celebrate people’s arrivals and departures. We celebrate smiles and hugs and sadness and joy. We celebrate no matter the times because every life is precious, every life counts.

We are grateful for being able to count on so many people over the past fifty years as we work to make a difference in the lives of the people we serve. Thank you. We are grateful for your presence and look forward to continuing this journey of ending homelessness with you, in this place Where People Matter.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Techno-geek envy, and other cravings

I have looked at Ipads and Kindles, Kobos and other devices that promise technological advancement at my fingertips. I have wandered through the aisles of computer stores where pimple pocked youth spout nano-second treatise laden with techno-speak I cannot understand.

And I have hesitated. Is it just the fascination with the latest and greatest I seek? Is it just for the sake of consumerism that I buy? Is it geek envy that compels me to purchase the latest gizmo?

I mean, seriously. If I'm left behind in cyberdust will I vanish in a cloud of bits and bytes consuming all memory of my passing through this world?

Then again, maybe, I just need the technology. Maybe I need the fastest, bestest, most gigabyte loaded, app laden gizmo to ensure I am at the head of the pack, leading the way to the second generation of the coming of CPU performance enhanced graphics that give me virtual reality in an unreal world of technology.


D'ya think it's so?

Me. I don't know. I do know I spent fifteen minutes in an Apple store test fingering smoothened keypads and fingertip smeared touchscreens and felt the craving for more. Not the 'gimme the techno-buzz' more kind of crave, hell I wouldn't know an INTEL 4GB RAM harddrive (or whatever it's called) if it bit me in the you know where!. No my acquisition angst is more the ooohhhh, this is so fresh and cool and with it and shiny. Oh yes. Shiny and glittery and all smooth and clean. Oooohhh. It's groovy man. Grrooooovy!

And I resist. I walk out of the store after the fresh-faced, young, did I mention really young, sales clerk reassured me that, "We don't work on commission at Apple so you don't have to worry about buying from me, right now.", I walked out and felt relieved.

Another bullet dodged. Another techno-acquisitive laden moment released without fulfillment into the atmosphere of unrequited consumerist cyberspace.

Freed of my inner drive to acquire, I wandered the mall resisting the urge to buy. Okay, so I did pick up that cute pair of black pumps I've been craving. And a new pair of pants that I really, really need. Oh, and I did...

No I Didn't!

I did not buy.

I will not buy.

I am an anti-consumer driven weapon of buying non-conformity. I do not NEED those shoes. I simply want them.

And I am free of wanting what I do not need.

Yup. That's me.

Though... I may have to acquire a Kindle. Ever since I tried to purchase 2:46: Aftershocks: Stories from the Japan Earthquake, Written by ' Our Man in Abiko (@ourmaninabiko)', a British resident of Japan who felt helpless to help those caught up in the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami of March 11, it is meant to support quake victims in Japan. Published in just two weeks using tweets and blogs and other electronically enhanced media, it is available online at Amazon.

And there's my dilemma

The only way to acquire it is .... on an electronic reader. Yup. It is sold only through Amazon and can only be downloaded to a Kindle or KOBE or some such device with a peculiar name I cannot remember.

I learned about it through the amazing Maureen, over at Writing without Paper, She wrote extensively about it this morning. And it is well worth the $9.99 -- all proceeds from its sale go to victim relief.

But, you do need an electronic reader.

I've been resisting.

Who needs more technology?

But... it is the new wave. The next generation. The future.

And I gotta get me on that ride!

Oh well. Back to the electronics store to be bedazzled by technology. Back to acquiring some new technology.

(And she sighs in relief.) See, it's not because I'm experiencing techno-envy. It's because I need it. I really, really need it!

Gotta go. Gotta unplug and get plugged in over at the electronics shop so I can relieve my techno-cravings with the pleasure of bits and bytes that will rock my world and connect me to virtual reality in dizzying speed.

I hope.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Job well done.

I know. I know. It's 2pm and I haven't posted yet!

I've been lazing about. Enjoying the... snowday. Yup. you read that right. It's a snow day in April. Mid April to be exact, and it's snowing. Like crazy!

But that's not really why I'm lazing about. The real reason is, last night I had the Book Team over to celebrate -- We five plus partners, my two daughters and one boyfriend. Twelve in total. I spent the day cleaning and cooking, totally engrossed in preparing a meal for the Team to thank them and congratulate them on a job well done.

The designer, Rebecca, brought over the galley proofs and I spent the morning reviewing them. This is the stage where the only edits must be critical -- because these edits cost. So, it's about looking at something and asking... can I live with that? Will anyone notice it? Other than two photos that have a touch of 'green' where none should be (that's a photo processing issue, all is well. Except... I want to change the last page. I'm not happy with what I've written for the word, CELEBRATION.

I think, when I wrote it, I fell in love with the words and didn't step back far enough to ask the question -- what is best for this page?

It's 'live-with-able' but.... I'm thinking I may not want the last page to just be 'live-with-able'. I want the last page to be... A CELEBRATION.

gotta think on that one.

In the meantime, it was a great evening. Fun. Laughter. Stories. We all reviewed the pages. Congratulated each other. Toasted and cheered. Job Well Done.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Family Reunion

I heard a man's heart break last night. I heard it crack and splinter as blood flowed and love descended into the open spaces filling it with sorrow and joy, juxtaposed on the regret of time lost when two brothers lost touch.

And then they touched.

Thirty-two years later. They touched. Hugged. And cried together.

TP met his brother last night. Met his brother and two nephews and tears flowed and these four men leaped across the void of time lost not knowing where each other had gone. (I wrote about the brother's contact earlier this week, here.)

It was a beautiful sight.

Years ago, I yearned for my father to have such an experience. I was in my early forties when I learned I had an aunt I did not know.

My eldest sister called. "So, what do you think of dad's sister?"

"Dad doesn't have a sister," I replied.

"He does now," she told me.

I phoned my father. "So, who's Evelyn," I asked.

"My sister," he promptly replied.

"Um, and where has she been all these years?"

"In England. Where she always was," he said. And that was that. End of subject. End of the discussion about this sister whom none of we four children had ever known existed.

Over the next two years, bits and pieces of the story would emerge. He was nine, she was seven when their parents divorced. She may have been 'the cause' of the divorce. An affair. An offspring who's parentage might not have been my grandfather's. No one is sure. So much is conjecture. What we know -- when my father's parents divorced they shipped him across the Atlantic, all alone, where he was met in Montreal by a stranger, placed upon a train and deposited another 3,000 miles away at a Jesuit school in Gravelburg Saskatchewan.

The sister stayed with her mother. The mother remarried. The daughter, my father's sister grew up, married and never had children. As she entered her sixties she wanted to find her only family in the world, the brother she'd lost long ago. She sent a letter to the RAF veteran's affairs who didn't know where he was but did know after serving in the RAF had joined the RCAF. They forwarded the letter to the RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force) who did know where my father was. They sent him the letter and one day my father called. His sister.

Fifty-plus years after they were separated, they spoke on the phone for the first time.

For the next two years they would argue across trans-Atlantic lines about who would go see whom.

"She needs to come see me," my father told me. "She's the one who came looking."

"Does it matter?" I asked. "Don't you want to meet her after all this time? I know I do."

We'd always believed my father was an only child. We'd never met our paternal grandmother. Had only encountered our grandfather a couple of times, briefly, on journeys across Canada. Once I remember clearly. We were in Montreal. He came to our hotel room. There was heat. And anger. And confusion. I don't remember much else other than that he disappeared with my father and I never saw him again. Nothing was ever said about that visit, ever again, either.

My father was a stubborn man. But slowly, over those two years of speaking with his sister occasionally on the phone, he began to relent, to soften his position. He was 'thinking' about going to see his sister in England.

And then, late one Sunday night, the doorbell rang at my parents home and two RCMP officers stood at their front door.

"Are you Louis Gallagher," one asked.

And my father said yes and the officer replied, "I'm sorry to tell you there's been an accident. Your sister has fallen and died."

And they never got to meet. This brother and sister who were separated as children for no reason other than the adults in their lives could not give them what they needed most, their family union. In that moment of his sister's fall and death, all hope died of their ever getting to feel their hearts breaking wide open, ice melting, years flowing together into that one moment of reunion when what separated them meant nothing compared to what was meant to bring them together throughout their lives. Family. Love. Connection. Unity.

TP met his brother last night after thirty-two years apart.

I am grateful.

Friday, April 15, 2011

I have walked away (a poem)

The prompt was: Write a poem of love gone wrong.

Wondering when or how can love go wrong, when Love is all there is, I thought, I'll write a poem of how wrong I have been in love, knowing, there is never wrong in love, only poor timing, poor judgment, poor sight.

There is never wrong in Love for there is only Love in Love. The rest is just being human.

I Have Walked Away
© Louise Gallagher 2011

I have loved
of the heart
broken down into pieces
like tiny petals of a daisy
pulled from the centre
where the heart
of what's the matter
lies tossed out
upon a marriage bed
of believing
he loves me
when he loves me not.

I have cried
for another chance
to be
as I want to be
pulled into the vortex
of my lover's arms
wide open
holding me
upon a marriage bed
where promises of love
forever more
held me silent
in the face of danger
to embrace me.

I have walked
never looking back
to see
his figure
in the mists of love
gone wrong
gone bad
gone anywhere
but happily ever after.

I have walked away
and never looked back
in that backwards glance
I risk
turning back
and never having
the love I want.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Key of Joy

But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads? Albert Camus
Yesterday, my lovely friend BA added a link to her comment on my blog. It is so beautiful and powerful, I wanted to ensure everyone saw it. So, I'm including it at the end of today's blog.

Before meditation last night I met a friend for tea. One of the comments he made set me to wondering -- really? Is that true?

All humans seek is validation, he said. It is our primal need. A universal truth.

Really, I wondered?

Later, in meditation, his statement slipped into my consciousness. Validation. I validate you. you validate me. Life is about validating each other. Am I real if you do not validate me? Do I exist without your validation -- or my own validation?

Our theme for last night's meditation was Aries and our Christ-like impulse for rebirth. In the pre-meditation instructions, Del, our guide, read the following:

Aries coincides with the Easter Festival, the great Christian festival of rebirth. The Crucifixion experience was meant to demonstrate the reality of “life more abundant”, not the focus upon death that has characterised the church’s interpretation of the event. The keynote of the new age understanding of this festival will be upon resurrection, symbolising the precipitation on Earth of a new kingdom in which all will be free from death and released from the cross of matter. Christ came to show us the nature of the “saved life”, to demonstrate the quality of the eternal self which is in everyone. And the lesson of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection is that the lower nature must die in order that the higher may manifest, and the eternal immortal soul must rise from the tomb of matter.
Each year at this festival there arises the restoration and renewal of all life in all human hearts. “I come forth and from the plane of mind, I rule.”

At one point during practice, I saw myself running in the desert. Scattered all around me I saw the many facets of me I believed I needed to gather and reintegrate. I was so scared these many parts of me would escape, that I would never be able to collect all of them, that I would never be whole, I kept chasing after them. And then, a voice whispered. Stand still. Be still. Still your fears. Allow. Allow integration to happen. Allow life. Allow rebirth. Allow.

I stood. Still.
I feared.
I feared there would be nothing.
I would be nothing more than this fragmented being running after herself.

I let the fires of fear consume me. And in their consumption I felt myself become whole. Complete. One.

Ah, the voice whispered. You fear you do not exist. You fear you exist.

The duality exists.

With or without your fears.

Fear not.

The duality exists. Your existence on this human plane is but a nano-second of your eternal existence on your soul-full being. You are whole. You have always been whole. Wholeness becomes you.

And I breathed and for one exquisite moment felt the deep knowing of my soul's journey. Felt it rising up within me, around me, of me.

And in that moment I knew, fear is just part of this human journey. Fear is just a human emotion. Like trust and hope and anticipation. Human, all of it.

With or without fear. With or without validation, we are all participating in this human experiment called, life on earth. We are the subject of our experimentation. We are the object of our lives. Whether we fear, or not, is optional. We are here to live this one wild and precious moment in the rapture of now. It is why we're here.

Never, do I need to fear it.

always do I need to live it. Experience it. Express it. Evolve through it.

And in the process, I get to choose -- happiness. Or not. In the way I lead my life. I get to choose harmony, or discord. It is always, my choice in how I live the moment.

Me, I'm choosing joy today. right now in the moment of now. Whatever is happening, I choose to experience it in the key of Joy.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Brand new day

It's gone. The designer has tweaked the last detail. I've redlined the last edit. though... at 4am I did hit my computer keyboard and make a few additional changes to the last piece in the book. Colour me crazy!

Gosh. Perfection is so hard to achieve!

it is now what it is. Whether or not my 4am changes can make the press will be seen. I'm counting on them being there though -- you know. They really do make it all better :)!

And now I've got to get running for a presentation at 8am. I know. I know. Balance. I promised.

tomorrow. tomorrow.

Tomorrow I will start working on balance.

Stop! What about right now! What about getting it in the works starting now?

Right. I will go to my 8am presentation. Meet the reporter I have to meet at 9:30. Proof the video we're working on for the Volunteer Appreciation on Friday and...

See what I mean.

I'm laughing as I type this. I'm so predictable! Balance is not my forte, but, then again, maybe this is balance in my life. This is balance as it appears for me.

Gotta think on that one.

In the meantime, gotta run. I've just spent two hours tweaking the last piece in the book, along with editing one of my daughter's final essays and writing C.C. a love note.

See, I have balance. It just comes in the middle of the night.

Still smiling. Still running into my day, arms wide open, greeting all that comes with anticipation, expecting the unexpected and not being disappinted.

It's a brand new day!

And because it is, a brand new day, here's a great song to get your day shining with anticipation

Sting -- Brand New Day (there's a brief ad at the beginning -- it's worth it to get to the song)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A family reunited

I notice the same number has called a couple of times on my cellphone. I've been in a meeting most of the morning regarding the book and launch events planned for May 4 and did not take my cell. When I listen to the caller's message, I feel the tears.

TP is dying of cancer. Throughout his life he's had very little contact with his siblings. In fact, since his father kicked him out at age 8, he's had no contact with him. The caller in this instance is TPs eldest brother's wife.

"We've been looking for him for thirty years," she tells me when I call back. "Finally, last night, a really nice staff member there connected them and they talked. My husband is over-whelmed and is coming to see TP. Will he be okay until Friday?"

I reassure her that at this moment in time the prognosis is he will and assure her that I will let her know if anything changes.

"He's bringing our two sons with him," she adds, her voice clogged with tears. "They've never met their uncle."

I go to see TP in his room on the fourth floor. It's quiet there during the day. The floor isn't open to clients. Our funding doesn't provide for staffing of the sleeping floors during the day, other than Day Sleep on the third floor -- for those who have a medical certificate or job confirmation for night work. To ease TPs journey, we have given him a panic button and made it possible for him to be on the floor during the day.

TP is resting, watching a movie on a DVD player. "I just had a chat with your sister in law," I tell him.

He smiles a little grin. "Yeah. My brother's coming to see me. Driving all the way from," and he names a city several hours to the east of Calgary.

I sit beside him and we chat of mundane things. He asks me how the book is coming along, what's the deadline. Will I be happy to see it finished.

"Yes. I will," I tell him. "I'm hoping it gives me a chance to put some balance back in my life."

He laughs. "Louise. I've never known you to not be busy. Why change now?"

I smile in return. "Because I want to. Because you've taught me I can."

His eyes squint into tiny slits. His mouth purses. He takes a deep breath.

"You know, I didn't have a falling out with my siblings. It was always about my dad."

I nod my head and keep listening.

"My brother said they have been looking for me for 30 years. Even knew where I was working seismic. When I was hauling horses." He pauses and laughs. "Always said you had to be two steps in front of me if you wanted to catch me."

"I'm glad they've caught up with you now," I reply.

He breathes deeply again. "Yeah. Guess I finally slowed down enough to get caught."

This Friday TP and his brother will be reunited. He will meet his nephews for the first time. His sister-in-law's father saw the article in the Calgary Herald last week and sent it along with a message, You have to read this.

His sister-in-law sent me an email later in the afternoon. "I can't tell you how much this visit is affecting my husband. He can hardly wait to hug his brother!!"

Two brother's hug for the first time in 30 years. Two young men meet their uncle for the first time in their lives.

A family reunites. The circle of love that was broken long ago is reconnected.

All is well in the world today.

I am grateful.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Gratitude prayer

When we walk to the edge of all the light we have and take the step into the darkness of the unknown, we must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for us to stand on or we will be taught to fly. Patrick Overton
... And either way, something amazing will happen. Because the edge of light turning to darkness is always there. Brene Brown in The Gifts of Imperfection writes: The dark does not destroy the light: it defines it. It is our fear of the dark that casts it into the shadows.

Ask yourself, did I awake this morning and immediately think, "I'm tired." "I didn't get enough sleep." "I don't want to get up."

Or, did you awake and thank the night for the darkness of sleep?

Did you greet the day fretting of all you have to do, worrying about not enough time to get it all done?

Or, did you embrace the time you have, acknowledging gratefully that your day is filled with moments for you to enjoy exciting, wonderful work and play and that you have all the time you need to live it up?

Lynn Twist in The Soul of Money writes:

We each have the choice in any setting to step back and let go of the mind-set of scarcity. Once we let go of scarcity, we discover the surprising truth of sufficiency. By sufficiency, I don't mean a quantity of anything. Sufficiency isn't two steps up from poverty or one step short of abundance. It isn't a measure of barely enough or more than enough. Sufficiency isn't an amount at all. It is an experience, a context we generate, a declaration, a knowing that there is enough and that we are enough.

Sufficiency resides inside of each of us, and we can call it forward. It is a consciousness, an attention, an intentional choosing of the way we think of our circumstances.

Our fear of never having enough, doing enough, being enough keeps us from seeing the 'enough' we have. We are a society of having to 'do more'. Be thinner. Get richer. Grow up. Dig in. Root out... we keep looking for more, not seeing what we've got is all we need to live in the moment, living fearlessly in what we have.

We keep looking to do more and have more without realizing, what we have is sufficient. It is enough to give us joy and happiness. We are enough to be okay, just the way we are.

The darkness frightens us because we fear living in the light.

My goal for today -- embrace everything before me with love and gratitude. To fill my heart with joy I must fill my thoughts with thankfulness for what is before me and around me and within me.

I am so excited. I received the next to final proof of the book, WHERE, last night. Today, I am grateful for the opportunity to edit and review each page, thankful for the creativity that went into its creation. Thankful for those who have shared their gifts so generously to make it happen.

Today, I will live in the light, thanking the darkness for the night that has given me rest so that I can have the energy and peace of mind I need to go to the edge and fly.

My prayer for today is: Thank you! I give enough. I have enough. I do enough. I am enough.

May you live your day filled with gratitude. May your day unfold in joy.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Relaxing Sunday

Sunday morning quiet. 'the book' is off at the graphic designer's for another cut at it. I should be getting a PDF back today. Another run through. Meeting tomorrow to go over final changes/layout/edits (only minor need apply) and then.... one last PDF. One last proof and Wednesday morning it is off to the printer.


I was telling my daughters last night that one of the things I've loved most about working on this book is the team. there are five of us. Myself, a co-worker, Jordan, the two photographers, christina (plus) nathan and the graphic designer, Rebecca. We each feel connected to this project. Connected and committed. The two photographers have donated countless hours coming to the shelter to take photos over the past six months. They've set up lights and taken 'Mona Lisa' shots of staff and clients and volunteers. They've chatted with clients, getting to know their stories before taking a perfect shot that reflects their humanity and their uniqueness.

Rebecca has translated an idea and hundreds of words and photos into concrete beauty on the page. She's created a visual space for each photograph to sing and for the words to resonate in hearts and minds.

Jordan, who is the Volunteer Coordinator and PR Assistant at the shelter, has created sanity in a sometimes insane process. He's pulled together threads of ideas, set-up photography sessions and ensured the details keep getting crossed off so that the final product becomes a reality without any missing pieces.

As a team, we have gelled together, laughed and flipped pages, teased and turned to another photo. We've spent hours at Bumphy's and at the Good Earth, crowded around a table, checking out Rebecca's laptop screen as she's shown us design alternatives. We've touched the screen of Christina's IPad and voted into the book, or off the page, the shots that speak to us or not. And we've done it all collaboratively, without one person feeling left out, vetoed or criticised.

it was been a dream team to work with.

Tomorrow, we will meet in the multi-purpose room on the sixth floor of the shelter where all 124 pages of the book will be laid out. We will juggle pages, balance text and colour and feel. We will do it all and in the end we will know,

Job Well Done.

These past two weeks have been particularly hectic as the 'end' has neared. Doing the creative work of writing for some of the words that were missing their meaning simply couldn't/didn't happen while I was at work. Not enough space to think clearly, to feel the muse calling, to hear the rhythm of the words flowing. I've had to do it at home and so, after working all day, I'd come home, take Ellie for a walk to clear my head, and then, pour myself a glass (just one glass because more diffuses the muse), I'd grab my laptop and wine and crawl into bed or sit on the settee in our bedroom and I would write and edit and flow into the words.

It has been a wonderful process. Enervating and exhilarating all in one.

and hopefully, within the next week, I'll be creating balance in my life!

that's my goal! that's my dream! And I can make it happen!


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Moments and gratitude

Two images stay with me. I am driving to work. I pass a man, a familiar soul who walks the streets of downtown Calgary, a constant grid of east to north to west to south. The story is, he was an engineer, high up, in a glass walled office where he spent his time pour over maps and mathematics searching for liquid gold beneath the earth. He had a wife. A daughter. Maybe even a cat and dog who lived together in a house in the suburbs.

And then one day, something happened, an accident, no one is sure, but the wife and daughter were killed and the glass walled office cracked, his life shattered and he tumbled out onto the street.

That's the story, but no one's sure. This man who walks the street seldom talks, seldom engages with anyone at the shelter, police, outreach workers, passersby. He seldom engages. He only walks. East to north to west to south and east again. Avenue to street to avenue to street. Around and around.

I've heard he lives in a cardboard box down an alley. I've heard he has a one room hideaway. I've heard so much about him and never spoken with him.

Yesterday, our paths momentarily interestected again. I was driving east, stopped at a red light. He was walking south, crossing at the intersection. I hadn't seen him for a couple of weeks. The deterioration in his condition is evident. His left leg is dragging. He looks to be in pain. He crossed in front of me. I wondered what I could do. The light turned green. He carried on, southward bound. I carried on eastward bound.

I wrote a log on our internal database at the shelter where I work. Please watch out for him, I asked staff. We need to find a way to help.

I chatted with a police officer who works with the street population. She too is at a loss of what to do. He refuses all contact. He is not a danger to himself. He is not a danger to others, she said. Can't we get him into a hospital for assessment. Maybe he had a stroke. Maybe that's why his leg is dragging.

She too will put out a notice.

The second incident is on my way home. I am driving west, stopped at another intersection waiting for the light to turn green. On the far side of the busy downtown street I see a man walking on the sidewalk. He is younger, maybe late twenties. Long dark trenchcoat. Big backpack. Scraggly beard.

He walks to the corner, looks at the red hand cautioning him to wait. There is a garbage can beside the light pole. He glances inside. Looks away. Glances back inside. He puts a hand inside. I think he must have seen a bottle or can someone has discarded. I watch and he pulls out a Styrofoam coffee cup. Inspects its contents. He stares for a long moment.

I watch the play of emotions on his face. I cannot read his mind. I wonder, is he thinking 'how did my life get to this?'. I wonder, is he confused. Frightened. Concerned. Does he worry that is he takes that sip, it will be one step closer to that place where his worth will only be found in a garbage can on the street?

I keep watching. He doesn't put the cup back in the garbage. He turns and walks back in the direction he came, the cup in his hand. Slowly he raises it towards his mouth.

I cannot watch.

I want to cry. I want to leap from my car and yell, "Don't do it. You don't need to drink someone else's throw away. Please stop. You are worth more than this."

The light turns green and I lift my foot off the brake pedal, press down on the gas. I continue westward towards home.

The echoes of scenes from the street linger in my mind. I think of the broken lives of those who wander, who peck through garbage cans, who drink throwaways.

No matter what we do to end homelessness, there are those for whom homelessness is not the issue. Their spirits have been broken. Their direction lost.

I do not have answers for their lives. I do know that we must continue to do what we do to see the humanity, to see their worth beneath the tattered clothing, the smells and dirty finger nails. We must do what we do to speak up for those who cannot find their voice.

I am grateful this morning for my life. For the sun shining between the trees that are slowly beginning to hear the whisper of spring calling them to bud.
I am grateful for Ellie, my wonder dog, sleeping on her matt beside me. I am grateful for my cup of coffee. My daughters sleeping safely in their beds. For small moments of quiet, big moments of laughter. I am grateful for this day.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Living beliefs

It is hard to let old beliefs go. They are familiar. We are comfortable with them and have spent years building systems and developing habits that depend on them. Like a man who has worn eyeglasses so long that he forgets he has them on, we forget that the world looks to us the way it does because we have become used to seeing it that way through a particular set of lenses. Today, however, we need new lenses. And we need to throw the old ones away. Kenichi Ohmae

My belief this week has been -- I gotta get this done. And I did. The book, WHERE, that is. The editing. Proofing. Writing of additional copy. Drop-dead date is Tuesday and it is nearing 'real fast'!

In the midst of working on the book, I had to get our sixteen page newsletter written, compiled and off to the printer -- proof that seriously, Miracles do happen, because yesterday, Paul our creative assets guy hit 'upload' and the newsletter is at the printers.

At the same time, I had the pleasure of sitting in on two first year Communications classes as they presented their project summaries. Two separate teams had been coming into the DI, the shelter where I work, for the past three months, researching and compiling data to create two separate projects -- one, a video for our Volunteer Appreciation event. Two, a social media strategy and DVD cover for the launch of our 15 minute documentary, Standing by: A DI Documentary.

In listening to the students present Wednesday and Thursday afternoon, I had some of my beliefs shaken and stirred.

So much is said about today's 'new generation' of cyber-connected, jaded and apathetic youth I was beginning to believe it was true.

It's NOT!

These young people care. Truly care. And, they are willing to play a part, take a stand, be part of making a difference in our world.

What struck me most was that for these young people, coming to the DI, as they kept repeating, changed their lives.

Fear became acceptance. Judgments became understanding. Wounds became wisdom.

It was a pretty amazing, and busy week. And now, I'm off to a meeting at 7, a day of final edits, read-throughs and filling in gaps. This weekend I plan on doing more of the same, as well as visiting so many of my online friends with whom I haven't been able to visit over the past week.

And if anyone else is experiencing trouble with getting Blogger to accept formatting -- HELP! I have to put the HTML code for paragraph break in -- and it still gives me extra paras. If I don't put it in, I don't have any paragraphs, just one long stream of sentences. Anyone?

Thanks so much. May your day be filled with wonder. May your world revolve around you as you stand in the light of your truth and beauty. May we all wear different lenses today. May we all see the world through eyes of wonder that see the beauty of our world in all its complexity and possibility.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Paul Brandt at the DI

"Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy." Thich Nhat Hanh

I love my job. It was my tweet yesterday as I toured mega country star Paul Brandt around the shelter where I work. When we made the arrangements I had committed to keeping his presence low-key. He was there to shoot a segment for his upcoming series, Build it Forward.

A few weeks ago the show producer called to ask if one of their participants could come and do their volunteer work at the shelter. I quickly agreed and in the process, we also donated two refurbished laptops from our Computers for Low Income Calgarians program (CLIC). CLIC provides clients and low-income Calgarians computer technician hands-on training while also providing the opportunity for them to take the courseware to obtain their certification -- for free. Providing the laptops to Paul to take to an orphanage in Mexico was a great opportunity for our clients to participate in a 'bigger than where we're at' kind of initiative.

And, it brought Paul Brandt to the shelter!

So, there I was yesterday morning, greeting him in our driveway and leading him throughout the building.

But that notion of keeping it low-key? ha!

Do you know how fast a wild-fire can spread?

Do you know how fast someone can whip a cell-phone camera out of their pocket?

Can you spell 'lightning'?

Paul hadn't walked ten feet from his car when a young female client runs up to me, throws her arms around my shoulders and screams into my ear, "OMG, is that...?"

Paul walked up, extended his hand and introduced himself.

Cameras flashed, cellphones materialized and she was in seventh heaven. Not only did she get a photo, she got a hug too!

And that was just the beginning -- before we even entered the building. Just before going down to greet him I received a call from our medical office. "So... I hear you've got someone special coming today. I think he needs to see the medical office, don't you? You know he used to be a nurse." I laughed, thought about wildfires, and promised to bring him by.

It was all fun! All enjoyable and throughout it, Paul was gracious and kind. Sharing stories, learning people's names, shaking hands and giving people his smile and his time.

He spread a lot of joy!

One of my favourite moments had to have been while we were walking up the stairs from the second floor (DAY AREA) to the third floor (EMERGENCY SLEEPING). It's a big open staircase and as we climbed a client on the second floor saw Paul and yelled out -- "Don't take my bed!"

We all laughed and kept climbing.

It was a wonderful morning. Though, I hadn't planned on being part of the filming as well. My original plan had been to have one of the other director's do the interview, but, time constraints left us without the director we needed. I mean seriously, there I was, on camera, laughing and chatting with Paul Brandt in our CLIC lab and I didn't even have a chance to check my lipstick!

There was a lot of joy in the shelter yesterday. People were smiling and laughing. No one was too overtly country star googly eyed crazy. And whenever asked, Paul acted like he had all the time in the world to chat. He graciously responded to requests for photos. He shook hands and introduced himself spontaneously.

At one point, we stepped onto the Fourth Floor (Supported Living) and found four clients and a volunteer perusing photos on a laptop. They're part of the photography club and were critiquing each others photos.

Paul shared his song-writing memories -- I do the same thing when I'm writing. I get others to critique it with me. Gotta listen to other's feedback 'cause they always hear something different.

The photography club members were delighted, thrilled, excited to have the chance to talk art with him. And he appeared equally as pleased.

Colour me country. I am now an official Paul Brandt fan.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Where is Ai Weiwei?

Every individual can take action. Every individual can make an impact. Ai Weiwei
I cried this morning. Hadn't intended to start my day with tears but I was watching a video Maureen at Writing without Paper posted this morning, and the tears came.

The video is an 'underground' recording of artist, social activist Ai Weiwei speaking about the need, the right, the imperative of each and everyone of us speaking out, speaking up, taking action -- in his case, against the government of his country, China. He speaks up for the absolute necessity for all of us to not stay silent in the face of those who would deny or take away or corrupt our freedom of speech, our freedom of movement, our freedom of being self-determining human beings. he speaks up for the need to allow democracy, allow transperancy, allow openess in how we govern, build and create buildings, town, cities, countries... the world.

This is a must watch. How one man can be so fearless, so committed to speaking out regardless of the consequences to his life is inspiring and humbling.

Please take the time to click over to Maureen's place and read her blog and watch the video.

Please pray for Ai Weiwei who was "detained" April 3 at Beijing airport en route to Hong Kong, his studio and home subsequently raided. He has not been heard from since.

Please give voice to your prayers and speak out so that everywhere around the world, people are asking the question and demanding the truth -- Where is Ai Weiwei? Set him free.
Thank you.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


My life is busy at the moment. Very busy. Along with pulling together the 16 page newsletter for the shelter where I work (I'm Editor), I am in the final throes of getting our new book ready to go to press next week.

Colour me wordy!

It means -- for all my efforts yesterday to carve out me time, I ended up working until 10:30 editing the book. And that's okay. I still got Ellie out for a lovely evening walk. Sat and meditated for twenty minutes and chatted with both my daughters.

C.C. is away so I took my laptop to bed at 8pm and worked from 'bed central'. Which meant, when Liseanne got home, she leaped onto the bed for a hug and then decided to work on her laptop sitting beside me. When Alexis got home after work, she came into the bedroom and chatted -- not for long as it was after 10 already, but at least long enough for me to ask permission to include a piece she'd written about a hug she shared with a panhandler in Vancouver in the book we're putting together for the shelter's 50th Anniversary. And she agreed.

I got a lot done last night. Feel less pressured this morning -- work is not work when I'm in the zone of comfortable surroundings, doing something I love. And I love putting this book together. I'm working with a fantastic team. Excited. Eager. Committed to creating something of worth, of beauty, of exquisite depth.

Launch date is May 4. We've got a big soiree planned and at the same time we'll be launching the World Premiere of a documentary I co-produced last year on our initiative to record Ben E. King's Stand by Me. There are a couple of changes we need to make to the doc -- I met with the producer yesterday to get the edits in the works -- so that everything will be ready to go on the 4th.

And here's one of those eerie happenings. Lewis, the producer, and I met at a local coffee shop. While we're reviewing the edits I've marked for the video and discussing how to insert a clip of our new Executive Director as the old one has retired, the song that was playing over the audio system filtered through to our cognitive brains. Stand by Me. A version neither of us had heard before. But there it was, Stand by Me.

It's exciting times. And busy times too!

But, something I learned last night, when I slow my pace down, I can continue to focus and work without stressing and depleting my energy. Sitting in bed last night, comfortably ensconced in my environment, I wasn't working, I was Passioning!

Yup. My new word of the day. Passioning. The art of doing what I love without running myself out of gas.

And, just to give you a flavour of our new book, WHERE, I'm sharing a link that will give you an idea of what it's all about! WHERE

Must run. Busy day ahead! May your day be filled with passioning on what you love to do in ways you love to do it!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Give Yourself a Break Day!

Almost all words do have color and nothing is more pleasant than to utter a pink word and see someone's eyes light up and know it is a pink word for him or her too. Gladys Taber

Having spent the weekend talking about Criteria Words and speaking to someone's heart, I love the quote by Gladys Taber.

Having spent the weekend being of service, I've decided to designate today, "Give myself a BREAK DAY!"

As in, give myself the medicine of time to savour the moment. Time to fill in the gaps. time.

It was an amazing weekend. Filled with Aha! moments. Quiet tears and openings hearts. Fading fears and rising courage.

It was a weekend to dance, to laugh, to smile, to sing out loud.

it was a weekend to love.

And during it, I made a commitment to take better care of "ME"!

this morning, I received an email from a very dear person, a man I knew many years ago with whom I am, gratefully, back in touch. He commented on how much I do and wondered how I fit it all in.

And the truth is.... I don't.

that's the challenge.

There is a difference between cramming every moment of life full of all the wonder and joy there can be,


Stuffing so much into the moment there's no time to treasure the wonder and joy there is.

I'm suffering from being over-stuffed.

Time to kick-back, lay-off, lay-up awhile to savour the juicy bits of life that appear in the quiet moments of being at peace.

Time to relax.

But.... first.... (there's always a but). It's time to get my sorry-butt out of here!

I have a 7am meeting and must run. But! I'll be back and my goal this week is to carve out more 'me' time and less 'gotta do it' time!

My mission is to slow it down to enjoy the moment I'm in!

I am woman, hear me BREATHE!

Okay, so that wasn't as funny as I think it is. Truth is, after a wonderful weekend and then a dinner last night with friends from New York, I am filled with joy and laughter and that sense of wonder at the depth of the human spirit and our human condition.

WE ARE AMAZING! Beings of light and wonder. Beings of beauty and soul. We are truly amazing.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Choices all weekend

This is a Choices weekend and I have to get running.

I am so blessed. I shall be surrounded by people committed to growing and moving and being their most amazing selves -- I get to bathe in love and passion and whole-hearted living all weekend!

It also means, I've got a lot to do today to clear my mind so that I am open and able to give and receive.

See you Monday!