Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Why do I believe that?

The belief that there is only one truth, and that oneself is in possession of it, is the root of all evil in the world. Max Born
from my iPhone
Fall arrives early in this land at the foot of the Rockies. Golden bursts of colour appear, spreading out like amoebae splitting on a petri dish as days shorten and nights grow cooler.

We don't get the reds of an Eastern autumn here in Alberta. Our Chinooks, those warm blasts of wind that sweep down from the Rockies raising temperatures precipitously in the depths of freezing winter, are too hazardous for maples.

Maples welcome a Chinook wind's warm breezes too eagerly. Their root system is not designed to withstand nature's teasing. They are too easily fooled into believing every warm breath of air is announcing springs arrival. Awoken from winter slumber, when winter descends again with its harsh cold reality, the maple is incapable of withstanding the frigid nature of winter's embrace.

Now, I don't know if that really is why Maples don't grow in Alberta. Somewhere in my brain, that piece of information lodged between neurons and synapses and it is the piece of information I extracted to explain the lack of red hues on autumn leaves in our province.

Like so many pieces of information, it remains unexamined. Unchallenged. Untested.

I wonder where it comes from. How it got there. Did I read it in a school book long ago? Did someone tell me once, when first I moved from Ontario to this province and queried the lack of Maples? Did I make it up?

Like beliefs I have about myself.

Some are fact.

I am 5'3" tall. English is my mother tongue. I am the youngest child of four, one of whom passed away. I have two daughters. I have no false teeth.

The beliefs are trickier. I am capable of anything I set my mind to. I don't 'do' math. I can't read music. Anymore. Used to be able to. Had my Grade 8 theory. Once. So, while the music reading muscle is weak, it actually doesn't mean I 'can't' read music. It means, I'm out of practice.

It's like my belief about my artistic ability. Until my forties, I was firm in my belief -- I have no artistic ability. I'm a writer. I don't draw or paint or do visual arts.

I proved myself wrong when I chose to examine that belief and test its validity.

I love painting. It's one of my passion. In fact, it is the reason I began the art program at the shelter where I work. I know how powerful a healing medium painting is and believed providing people the opportunity to explore their creative souls would benefit them on their journey out of homelessness.

I was right.

And yet, everyday I meet people who don't believe me. They say, 'that's nice for you but I can't paint.' Or, 'I remember my grade 2 teacher telling me I'd never be an artist, or a writer, or anything creative.' And based on the opinions of someone who had no right to tell them who they were or what they could do, they packed up all artistic expression in their life.

Like me with math. Years ago, to prove to myself I could do math and that I was good with money (another belief I hold is that I am not good with money), I became a stockbroker.

I know. Shocking.

For four years I worked in the financial realm, coaching people on how to conserve, preserve and grow their financial well-being.

I sucked.

Oh. I was good at the planning part. Good at the longterm strategies for building wealth, off-setting taxes and all that.

But as a day to day trader? Seriously, I sucked.

Mostly because -- truly, it wasn't my love. It felt so artificial to me. So, false. To tell someone, this stock has great promise as if I could predict the future rise and fall of a market based on the charts and graphs of past performances. I quickly learned the stockmarket is not in what you know, it's in how willing you are to take a risk on what you don't know.

And I am not a good risk-taker when it comes to not knowing. Stock-broking wasn't me.

But I did learn something of value. It isn't that I don't 'do' numbers. It is that I'm not interested in doing them.

They don't have the same appeal as words. For me.

And that is the thing about these beliefs we hold as facts. We often don't really know they're true, or not. We make them true for ourselves and then hold fast to their limitations.

So here's an exercise for you today. See if you can catch how many times you state something as fact without examining the validity of your belief.

Just observe. Don't judge.

See if there are some beliefs lurking in your psyche that are keeping you from experiencing the full colour spectrum of life simply because, somewhere within you is the belief, 'I can't do that.'


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Smiling again!

It is a joy to awaken in the morning and find myself on the other side of the pain that wracked my jaw for almost two months. To awaken and not rush for a pain killer just so that I could step into my day without the hot searing flame of ache.

I'm getting better.

And in the process, I am amazed by how real the pain was, and how illusory it is now. I can't 'think' it into being. I remember 'how' it felt, I do not feel the memory.

All is good.

When I was in an abusive relationship, every fibre of my being hurt. My joints ached. My mind felt heavy. My brain throbbed. I hurt. I would awaken in the morning and dread those first moments when I started to move. Every joint felt glued together with Crazy Glue. Unsticking myself was an exercise in cracking open the joints and dislodging the glue so that I could get my body into some semblance of motion.

I thought I would feel that way forever.

One day after he was arrested, I awoke, and my body didn't hurt. My joints weren't logy with pain. My thinking was still foggy but without the physical pain, I knew, this too shall pass and I would be 'me' again.

Throughout my experience with the abuser, I had been having a toxic reaction to what was happening to me. It wasn't until I was free that I realized my body had been expressing the affects of his presence through its pain receptors. My body was trying to warn me -- I was ignoring its message.

Glynn, over at Faith. Fiction. Friends. this morning writes a guest post for High Calling Blogs about toxic bosses. He provides some very helpful advice on how to survive their poisonous presence.

The challenge with bosses is -- they are in a position of authority, and as Glynn points out, there are risks to approaching management about their behaviour.

But what of those whom we invite into our lives. What of those whom we engage in contact through our own choice?

While Conrad, the abuser, is someone I invited in, getting him out was another matter.

And that's the challenge of toxic people. Their ability to overwhelm your immune system often lures your anti-virus defenses into sleep-mode.

In the course of four years, nine months with Conrad my defences became so weakened I could not see I was being poisoned. And, as long as I stayed in contact, my anti-bodies didn't have a chance of kicking the poison's azz.

It took Conrad's removal by police for me to begin to see how sick I was. Like my jaw, the pain was a warning symptom of how sick I was becoming. If I'd left my jaw, I'd have become sicker. Instead, a root canal and massive doses of antibiotics later, I'm feeling better. In the case of Conrad, his removal was just the first step. Purging my system of the toxins, cleansing my being of the vile matter that had collected in my thinking and roto-rooting into my soul was the only way to find grace today.

There were many lessons to be learned through that experience -- and the best ones come through gratitude.

I am feeling better this morning. I am grateful.

PS. And my advice on how to cope with toxic people in your life... Disengage immediately. Trying to work with them only makes you sick. :)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Missing In Action

That would be Shaw Internet capability that is missing in action.

And thus.... no blog today. I'm now at my office and swamped.

see y'all tomorrow! I hope!

As long as Shaw is willing, I'll be online.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The view from where I sit

On the east coast howling winds and pounding rain beat against the land and angry roiling clouds roll across the blackened sky.

Here, in sunny Alberta, summer's grace embraces the land in soft morning light awakening to the heat of day.

I'm not usually 'a blogger' on Sundays anymore. I post a weekly blog on the Choices site on Sundays and so give myself a break from this space.

But... I wanted to share a couple of favourite photos from the week. One, a continuation of my Ellie and Marley post is a photo of my youngest daughter who came home from work, came into the bedroom to chat with me, lay down on the bed as I sat at the desk and promptly fell asleep -- with Marley on the other end of the pillow.

The other photos are 'a view from here'. On weekends, especially if C.C. isn't here and my typing won't bother his sleep, I like to sit in bed and read and write and meditate and muse and just let morning have its way with me. I listen to the sound of the water flowing in the fountain, the chitter of the birds in the tree and at the feeder. I listen to the bell on Marley's neck jingle as he attempts to sneak up on a squirrel or a bird and fails miserably in his attempts (Yes!). I listen to the silence and revel in the pleasure of the moment.

This is my morning opening up before me. To my friends on the east coast, I pray the storm passes and life will become melodic once again with bird song and wind chimes whispering enticingly in gentle morning breezes.



Marley, the Great Cat, tired of watching me sitting in bed and ignoring him decided to take matters into his own paws this morning. He leapt up onto the bed, walked onto my lap and proceeded to press keys. Fortunately, I still had the camera beside me and was able to capture his paws -- he definitely does make working on my laptop challenging at times!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Nonsensical is not good service - Shaw Internet Blues

I awoke at my usual Saturday morning time today (around 6am -- I am a terrible sleeper-inner) intent on writing my blog, reading and posting and getting caught up in cyberland.

Shaw Internet had other ideas.

No service.

Can't connect to Internet.

Blah. Blah. Blah.

I tried unplugging. The modem. The router.

I waited. Sometimes Shaw goes out (one minute. five minutes. fifteen -- it's variable and mercurial in its outages) and comes back of its own volition.

No luck.

I find my cellphone. Go online and find the number to call for service.

I wait online.

I wait some more (not long this time -- last time it was 52 minutes and then they dropped my call).

Finally, a human voice connects. I tell her my problem. Let me check your account, she says. (I know it's current). Yes. I see it is current, she confirms. I'll put you through to service.

I wait some more.

A friendly man seems surprised to find someone waiting on the end of the line when he answers. No -- Hello, my name is Patrick, or Jane, or Bobby-Sue. The question mark on the end of his "Hello?" tells me he wasn't expecting someone to be on the line -- maybe they assume that people hang up if they keep them waiting long enough.

Score one for the customer -- I am persistent and Will. Not. Hang. Up.

I want my Internet service. Now.

I keep my voice, light. Friendly.

I tell him my problem. I tell him what I have already done to try to fix the problem.

He tells me to unplug my modem.

I've already done that. Twice. I remind him.

Oh. Right. Hmmm.... Well, let me check your service feed. It could be your router. He quickly adds, or it could be our modem. It does happen that sometimes our modem isn't working properly.

And as he checks, the little yellow triangle showing me something's not working disappears and my Internet resumes its connection.

Hah! It did this last time and I told the technician it was fixed and we hung up without any further conversation.

Not this time.

I wait.

His voice echoes through the phone. Oh. Hmmmmm.... Interesting. It seems you have lots of outage sprees in your neighbourhood. Could be some quirk in the network just in your area. I see you had a whole bunch of them for a couple of weeks ten days ago, and then none, until yesterday.

That would be correct, I tell him. It happens. A lot.

Oh. Hmmmm... Well, it's pretty sporadic. You have outages and then it comes back steady for awhile and well, it's just one of those faulty little connections somewhere. Not worth sending a technician out at this point because it's working fine now.

Hello? The question marked hello is in my head -- I do not say it aloud. -- It may be working fine now but it goes out like this regularly.

Oh. Hmmm... Well, if it does it some more definitely do give us a call and we'll see what we can do.

Why can't you do anything now?

Because it's working just fine now.


Good-bye. Thanks for calling Shaw. We value your business.


I hang up.

If they value my business why don't they give me consistent, dependable, reliable service?


And now, the day awaits. it's gorgeous outside. I'm off to the Farmer's Market and then Ellie and I are off for a walk. My mother's 89th birthday dinner tonight and good-news -- my mouth is not hurting as much.

Just my head.

And that's only because I don't understand why working now but not working then doesn't result in better service! :)

Ahhh.... no sense in letting nonsense disrupt the beauty of my day.

Note to self -- check into a new Internet service provider.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Author Unknown -- Message received loud and clear

Know that feeling when you read something and your heart stops and then leaps a beat and you feel light and giddy and absolutely grounded all in one breath?

This quote, by someone 'unknown', did that for me this morning. I read it and I felt myself get cold and warm and light and giddy all in one heartbeat.
"There comes a time in your life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Forget the bad, and focus on the good. Love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who don't. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is a part of life, getting back up is living." -- Unknown
The author may be 'unknown', but they sure do know life and living. As I read their words my being felt infused with light, lighter than light, lightness becoming light. YES! my mind called out and my spirit rushed in to greet its welcoming embrace.

And now, I must run. I've an early meeting and a busy day ahead.

Have a beautiful day living it up for all you're worth!



Thursday, August 25, 2011

Life lessons from Ellie

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself. Josh Billings

Ellie's mat lies at the end of our bed, a perfect circle of comfort for her to inhabit. Sometimes, she does. Often, the bed is her preferred location. Or the couch -- but that's mostly when we're not home.

Marley, the Great Cat's bed, lies on the floor in close proximity to Ellie's. Seldom is it his preferred sleeping place. He likes Ellie's mat most, though sometimes, he'll also take the bed. But mostly, that's to tick Ellie off.

There would be tension in the story - The cat slept on the dog's mat - if the dog cared that the cat slept on her mat, but the dog in question is a Golden Retriever -- of the very laid back kind. "Here, have my mat," she says. I'll sleep on the floor beside you, or better yet, the bed."Okay, so it would be a high tension story if the dog cared that the cat slept on her mat.

Soppy eyed, sometimes pathetic, Ellie is scared of most things. At the age of 11 she has just learned to push open doors. She's always been too afraid. What monster might be lurking behind the door? What terror awaits? And now, suddenly, she's decided she can do it! But please note, she'll only do it if the stakes are high and the rewards even greater -- like food on the other side.

What I find amazing is how, a 10lb cat can take up the same room as a 70lb Golden Retriever.

I could learn a lot from Marley.

About owning where I'm at. Assuming it is my right to be present in all the space I take up. About being so confident in my presence that someone else's fear doesn't radiate and disturb me. About being persistent. We have a string of Tibetan bells hanging from the front door knob. Marley learned early on that the ringing of the bells means the door is opening, or closing. He taught himself to ring the bells to let the household know he wants out. Our goal had been to keep him as an indoor cat only when we first adopted him when he was 2 years old. Marley's goal was to gain access to the outdoor world.

He won.

He was and is incredibly persistent. He will ring the bells. Again and again and again. He will ring the bells for an hour (I timed him) until someone comes and does what he wants. Let him out.

Ellie doesn't ring the bells when she wants out. She just stands and looks at you, does a little dance, races to the back door and back to you until you get the message. And if you don't, get the message, she'll heave a great big sigh as she flops down on the floor, ensuring her body is in your path enroute to... the door.

I can and have learned a lot from Ellie. About not sweating the small stuff. About being tender and gentle and kind and sweet (ok, so that one's a work in progress). About asking for what you want -- she'll come and push your hand whenever she wants to be pet (which is often) and she'll keep pushing your hand when you stop. Ellie has a clock for a stomach. She is uncanny in her ability to tell time -- especially when it's breakfast or dinner time. And woe the soul who ignores her entreaties to be fed -- we're starving here folks! Can't you see my ribs poking through my fur?

And while being food motivated is, alas, something Ellie and I share, mostly she has taught me the true meaning of loyalty.

Ellie was a pup when she first came into our home. A nine week old squirming golden fur ball that loved to be held, and held, and held some more. She's come by her affinity for sleeping on the bed honestly. The first night we had her home, I tucked her into the kennel we'd bought just for her. It was at the end of my bed. Ellie can be persistent and that night, she was. I finally relented and let her sleep with me. She was content after that, never stirring until I awoke and took her outside in the morning. She'd found her place in my bed, and heart, and that's where she's stayed ever since.

She's never gone back into the kennel. Never. It just doesn't fit her worldview. Once, when I wanted to fly her from Vancouver to Calgary, I tried to get her in. She would have none of it. I put her favourite toys, blanket, the bestest treats I could find into that kennel and she would not budge. I tried pushing, shoving, pulling. I even got into the kennel to show her how cosy and comfortable it was. She wouldn't get in.

We drove back to Calgary.

Ellie is my friend, my confidant, my cohort. We've been through a lot and through it all, she has stood by me, never flagging in her devotion.

Which is why, I'm happy to report, when C.C. isn't here, she shares the bed with me, oh, and with Marley too. :)

See, you can teach an old dog new tricks.

(P.S. I have chosen to write a light-hearted piece today as my jaw is still aching, and I needed something to write that would make me smile. I'm back to the dentist today, on my third dose of anti-biotics and they still aren't making much of a dent in the problem! But, how can I not smile when as I type, the hound and the feline lay beside me making this big beautiful world an even more wonderous place to be!)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Being and becoming

Sailboats flirted with the air and water as Ellie and I walked along the ridge delighting in the beauty of their white sails slipping like ghostly dancers across the horizon. Dandelion puffs shimmered in the evening light. Sunspots tumbled on the air. Night lurked on the far eastern horizon, not yet seen it lay in waiting, arms widening its embrace into the light at end of day.
People passed and smiled and kept moving. And inevitably someone would stop and say, "What a happy dog," and Ellie would accept that as their invitation to bounce on over, her body wriggling with delight under their touch. She's a leaner. Her body crowding up against human legs, pushing into their hands. She tends to make a real spectacle of herself, moaning and groaning as if to say, "Thank you. Thank you. No one in my house ever pays attention to me. Please. Pet me more."Con artist. I don't see her begging to go home with every passer by. Nope. She's an attention craving junkie, and she knows where she gets the most attention. And food.

This morning, thinking about those sailboats, the beauty of the evening, the lightness of the air, the following flit into my mind, poured out through my fingertips and onto the screen.

Lightness of being permeates my skin, wrapping me up in the deliciously delectable delight of being me in this moment -- Life is delicious!

Being and Becoming
I was
who I am
when I was
who I am
where ever I am
being me

and still I wonder
where I am
when I am busy
who I want to be
in my new age
of becoming all
I'm meant to be.

Will I be
who I am
if I become
who I want
to be
or not
who I am
who I am
meant to be
if I am

Being and becoming
my being
right now.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

One Shared Story

Our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared. Barack Obama
When he called me, I had to scour through my memory banks, searching for the thread that would lead me back to childhood. Not too far back, not to the womb or primary years but later, into the teens, or adult childhood as I liked to call it back then.

I was into reading. Writing. Boys. High School newspaper Editor. Yearbook Editor. Boys. School Vice-President. Cheerleader. And boys.

He was not a boy I was into. He was one of the 'bad' boys. You know the kind. In trouble all the time. Getting kicked out of math class for adding the wrong behaviour into the equation to equal a whole bunch of trouble. He once snuck into the chem lab and replaced the ammonia with water. We didn't get any ice crystals that day, though we did get a lot of laughs at the teacher's consternation.

He was silent. Sullen almost. Unhappy.

Most kids ignored him, or if they paid him any attention, it was to mock him, to ridicule him, to let him know he was 'the outsider', not part of the in crowd.

I was part of the 'in' crowd. My brother, four years older, was 'the boy' every girl wanted to know. That made me very popular. He had gone away to flight training for his last year of high school and had returned to complete it a year later. I was in Grade 10 then and oh, how every girl wanted to be my friend.

The outsider boy hung around the periphery of our crowd. In and out of trouble, he'd drop in and out at the edge of our circle, occasionally making a foray for the centre. Repulsed by the 'attitude' he got in the middle, he'd scurry back to the margins, expressing his disdain through acting out.

In later years I'd learn about the drinking in his home. The yelling and screaming and violent outbursts of his father.

At the time, I remember feeling sorry for him, but I didn't really spend much time thinking about him. I was too busy thinking about me, my life, what and where I was going, and boys. Boys always played a part in my thinking.

And then, the phone call came. "Hi. You might not remember me but this is Dan K. We went to high school together."

And I followed the thread of his name into the recesses of my memory and found a faded glimpse of a sullen faced boy with black hair and dark eyes lurking on the edges of time.

"I remember you," I replied, surprised to get a call so many years beyond those days of teen angst.

"I got your number from Linda B. Hope you don't mind me phoning you like this but I just really wanted to call and say how sorry I was to hear about your brother. He was a good man." There was a momentary silence and then he blurted into the phone. "And I wanted to thank-you."

"Thank me?"

"Yeah. Thank-you. Back then in high school, I was a real mess and you and your brother were the only two people in the school who treated me with kindness. You never made fun of me like the others. You always tried to make me feel part of the group."

I was surprised. I didn't remember going to any great lengths to connect with this boy back then.

"If I'm ever in your city, would you be willing to have a cup of coffee with me?"

"I'd love that," I replied.

And so we did. Get together for coffee. He'd quit drinking somewhere in his thirties. "I drank enough to last a lifetime," he told me. And that's when he told me about the abuses of his childhood. The dark forces that drove him to act out throughout those childhood years of trying to find his place in the world.

We met a few times after that, whenever he was in town. And then, he moved out of province. Remarried. Planted down roots in another city on the prairies.

I heard about him not long ago. He'd been sick. Diabetes. Complications set in and he passed away. Our mutual friend let me know. I was saddened to know he was gone. Saddened to realize we'd lost touch once again through the years.

And I was grateful. Grateful for my parents who had instilled in me the belief that we are all equal. All human beings. All deserving of kindness.

They'd done that ever since I was a little. Our home was always the place that 'strangers' could come and find a welcome. From Nigerian Princes to wandering hobos, my father always insisted we treat each other with respect. He always insisted we knew, we are all connected. We are all human beings struggling to understand our human condition.

My brother and the boy are both gone from this world and still, the threads they've woven through my tapestry of life resonate with the vibrant colours of their passing through the warp and weave of my history.

And woven into their midst are the lessons of childhood that have stood me well. Lessons of kindness and reaching out to strangers. Lessons of standing up for what I believe in, what is true for me. They are lessons that have stood up to the tests of time to prove today that we truly are one world, one people, one shared story of life on earth, spinning through time, weaving a story of love and joy and sorrow and grief and all the colours of the rainbow in between.


I love One Word Blog Carnival Tuesdays! Peter Pollock, host of the carnival, offers up a one word prompt and invites everyone to write and read or just sit awhile and read the offerings of bloggers from around the globe. Today's one word prompt is: Childhood.

Kathy Richards over at Katdish, shared a post today about a boy in school who taught her the value of staying true to her principles and beliefs. Kathy's post inspired me to remember the boy who took the time to call me, many years later, to thank me for having treated him well in high school.

And that's the power of the Carnival. Whatever you read will trigger a memory, thought, idea... emotion... and you will be transported -- and maybe even transformed.

C'mon over to Peter's place and take a boo at all the great ideas being shared. You'll find your favourites, Glynn and Maureen for example, and a whole bunch of new and exciting folk to share a word or two with as you stroll through each story, savouring every morsel of delight.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Limited by what is.

"You have brought to this life all the knowledge and wisdom your soul has gathered since it's inception. Do not limit self with life's perceptions. Know whatever your inner voice tells you, you can do. Also know there will always be the means to do it. Seek and you shall find. Ask, and it shall be yours" Robin Taylor, Soul In My Shoes

I found the quote above at Fi's blog, Inspiration to Dream. When I read it yesterday I thought, 'oh yes. This is exactly what I needed to be reminded of today -- Do not limit self with life's perceptions.'

My friend Dave shared a quote from a psychologist he knew, "There is no such thing as love, only proof of love." He'd originally shared this with me months ago, but it wasn't until Saturday when we met for a coffee and he shared it again that it's meaning truly resonated.

I think the same could be said of anger, hatred, joy; of all emotions. There is not such thing as..., only proof of....

The emotions themselves are not 'tangible things', they are feelings, expressions of our feelings, physical manifestations of something inside seeking release.

What I do, what I say, how I am with you or her or him or them are expressions of 'my love', they are proof I care. Which doesn't mean, I don't love you, when I'm being grumpy and growly, it simply means, I'm not expressing the proof of my love, but rather the proof of my emotion in the moment.

It's like God. The only proof I have that God exists is the miracle of life all around me -- in all its myriad beautiful, shocking and sometimes heartbreaking expressions. I believe God exists -- and therefore, He exists.

Which is why, on those mornings when I awaken with a gloomy disposition of the world, it is vital I not limit my experience of life through my perceptions of what colour the sky is, or isn't that day in my head. Because, the only proof I have that I am in a 'foul' mood, is in my perceptions of life.

Okay, so I'm not sure this one is working for me -- but I'm letting myself sit with it. As I said to my friend Dave the other day, sometimes, there's a thought, an 'AHA!' lurking, creeping through the ether that just hasn't yet come into clear view yet. No matter how I push and prod at it, its light is just beyond the horizon of my thinking. My job is to take my attention off of 'making' the thought clear. My job is to keep my attention on clear thinking. To not let my perceptions of 'what is' be limited by my experience of 'what is'.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan (a video)

There are some things I wish I didn't know or see, and yet, am grateful for the knowing and seeing.

The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan is one such documentary.

There is a part of me, the part that would like to keep her head stuck in the sand, to ignore what goes on in our world to harm children and other innocents, that wishes I hadn't watched it. I am grateful I did watch it, for in the watching I am awakened to another truth I never knew -- and inspired by the courage of one man to bring this travesty of the human condition to the attention of the world.

It is a disturbing video yet, in its viewing, we honour the work and efforts of award-winning Afghan journalist Najibullah Quraishi and his producer, Jamie Duran bringing this into the open. I am in awe of his courage and spirit and am committed to support his efforts by supporting efforts to stop this practice.

It should also be noted, the practice of Bacha Bazi is not condoned under Islamic law, was outlawed by the Taliban in Afghanistan and is illegal under Afghani law. It is about power and control, exploitation and a subversion of moral law. It is a practice that some think has its roots with the ancient Greeks and Romans.

Whatever its roots, it must be ripped out of the fabric of our world so that young boys in Afghanistan, and everywhere else in the world where children are exploited, can be freed.

To watch, The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan, click HERE

Friday, August 19, 2011

Capricious nature

This was the view to the south when Ellie and I set out on our walk this evening.

I hadn't glanced north. Didn't want to see the dark roiling clouds gathering in the northern skies.

We started walking, me determined to get in our evening stroll. Ellie excited to get her constitutional in.

There was no wind ruffling the water. No breeze to disturb the leaves.

For the first five minutes that is.
We headed east, blue quickly becoming dark. We passed a couple sitting on a park bench along the ridge. "It's fabulous to watch the storm move in," the woman exclaimed as Ellie and I walked past.

In front of us, walking into the east, the storm was barely visible. But thunder reverberated across the sky and I thought of turning back, but Ellie was prancing and I was exalting in the evening light turning dark.

And then the wind picked up. Whipped the waters, rippling in continuous motion across the gun metal grey surface of the reservoir below. A branch cracked and fell to the ground behind us. The leaves rustled angrily as we passed, the wind's capricious dance stirring them into angry response.

Finally, I turned back, Ellie prancing beside me, we walked into the storm. The wind whipped around my face, rain began to pelt against my skin. It turned to hail, frozen pebbles of water pummeling my head and Ellie's fur. I thought of taking refuge under a tree, but feared the lightening that flashed in the distance.

I kept moving west into the storm.

It was wild and raw and exciting. Rain drenched hair, cotton twill pants soaked with rain flapping against my ankles. Ellie kept shaking herself as we walked, almost ran along the ridge. I laughed, a burst of pure joy escaping my lungs and Ellie looked at me, startled.

And then, as quickly as it appeared, the storm rolled into the south leaving behind a sodden world embraced by a rainbow that spanned the sky.

Yes! Life is delicious! An exhilarating dance of capricious nature luring us into all kinds of weather. It doesn't matter what storm may roll in, as long as we keep seeing the rainbows breaking through the sunlight filtering through the clouds, life will expand in ever widening circles of joy.

And just to give you a smile, this is the self-portrait I tried to take with my IPhone of Ellie and me after the storm. Rain-soaked, we sure were happy. (though she wasn't too happy to have to lie on a blanket by the front door to dry off!)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A loss of principles

I had a call yesterday from a reporter wanting to talk about 'the crack pipe issue'.

Since 2008, Safeworks, a harm reduction service of our health care system, has been distributing screens and mouth pieces along with new crack pipes to addicts. They have a mobile clinic from which they distribute the items, though they do hand out screens and push pins from their office in the shelter where I work.

It's wrong! decry citizens. It's enabling. It's illegal. I don't want my tax payer dollars to go to support drug addicts. It's about the principle. How can we support such illegal activity.

Yes, I replied when the reporter asked me for my thoughts. Crack is an illegal substance. Being an addict is not. Handing out pipes is enabling. It enables people to stay alive. To be safe. It prevents the spread of transmittable disease. And in the end, it saves tax dollars.

It is so easy to paint such an issue black and white. To brush it over with 'it's wrong' judgements as we push ourselves into a frenzy of puritanical righteousness about our political leaders incompetence in allowing such a transgression to transpire.

Doesn't change the fact, it saves lives.

I don't agree with crack usage. I don't agree with a lot of things our clients do -- just as I don't agree with murder and rape and war and all the things we, as human beings, do to harm ourselves and each other and our world.

It doesn't mean we don't have a responsibility to take care of those for whom life has lead them to a place where the only thing they believe is that they need their next fix to feel alive, to feel life, to feel human or part of the human race. Or, that the only way to stop the pain of living in this world is to numb themselves with the next fix, the next snort of some illegal, or legal, substance that will take away the reality of their lives -- where ever they live.

The 'crack pipe issue' has lead to the program workers being told to quit handing out crack pipes while a review of the process is undertaken.

Oh for leaders with courage!

These are our tax dollars at work. Our tax dollars are saving lives.

It's not about right or wrong. It's about keeping people engaged in admittedly high risk behaviours from dying. It's about giving these individuals a chance. Any chance to make a different choice, because in this program, the hand that reaches out to pass the pipe is a caring professional well-equipped to connect, to build a relationship that could, one day, lead to the one taking the proffered pipe making a different choice.

It's all about keeping the lines of communication open.

It's all about reducing the harm and building bridges.

It's about prevening death where possible.

But they choose to take crack. They should live with the consequences. Why should I have to pay?

People choose to smoke cigarettes. They do not choose cancer.

People choose to overeat. They do not choose heart disease or diabetes and while the correlation between their behaviour and the outcome can be made, it does not mean we do not offer treatment and support. We don't shut the door on a cancer patient because his/her cancer is 'self-inflicted'.

I have never met someone with cancer who insists they always intended to get it. I have yet to meet an addict who insists they always dreamt of being an addict.

Sure, our choices do lead us to paths we never imagined. and sometimes, those paths are places the rest of us in 'righteous society' abhor and shun.

I can't change the choices someone made to get to crack alley. I can affect how they're treated. I can ensure they do not fall further -- by opening my mind to the possibility that where ever they're at, they need help. And while the medicine may be hard to swallow, sometimes that help means all I can do is hold a space for them while they struggle through whatever turmoil they've encountered. If that turmoil includes an addiction to illegal substances, I can do whatever it takes to prevent that addiction from killing them.

It's like teaching safe sex and handing out condoms in schools, I told the reporter. Just because I might think it's 'wrong' for teens to have sex doesn't mean it makes it right to ignore that they are. Reality is, sexual activity is starting younger and younger. To pretend it isn't taking place is to leave our children at risk of communicable diseases, unplanned pregnancies and a host of life impacts for which we, as a society, will be responsible. And perhaps, in the conversation about sex, some will make different choices. If we don't have the conversation, the opportunity to learn and grow will never happen. And teens will engage in unsafe sexual practices.

These are the same tax dollars at work. The same harm reduction practices.

I can't stop an addict from using. I can make it possible for them to have the opportunity to be safe by doing the difficult things that reduce their risk to harm.

It's something we all can do, all must do.

I'd rather lose my principles than lose a life to drugs.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

You Left (Part 2)

Reading morning blogs is always an inspiring journey. "Perfect" strangers share bits and bytes of their lives, showering me with the blessings of their words and images, photos that touch my heart, ideas that awaken my thinking.

Glynn, over at Faith. Fiction. Friends. shared his thoughts on a passage from C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, this morning. As always, Glynn's writing is filled with heart and soul. It tugs at 'the better in me', awakening my thinking into reverie and wonder.

Do you remember in High School reading the likes of Yeats and Browning and other great poets and being asked to 'translate' what they meant by this word, or that. "What was the meaning behind the words, the images, the tone of the poem?"

Do you remember the derisive sighs and moans and groans of the class? The beaking about, 'Who cares what they meant? They're dead, man. They can't explain themselves anyway.'

Well, I'm going to tell on myself a little! I loved that exercise.

Which is why, after writing yesterday's You Left and then reading Glynn's, Liberation Theology, this morning, I wasn't all that surprised to 'feel' the context of yesterday's poem deepen within me.

Glynn writes about faith, having it, trusting it, knowing God is there.

Now, I need to be clear so that I don't distress or inadvertently disturb anyone's belief -- I am not a card carrying Christian with a capital 'c'. I believe in God, in a Divine being, a Divine order to the world. My interpretation of faith is very personal -- and very liberal.

In Glynn's post this morning, he writes, "He wants your heart. He wants you committed to Him – and leave the heavy lifting to Him."

I have felt God's capacity to carry the burden of the past. I have been humbled by His Love.

Yesterday, in my poem, I wrote of the sweater being on a closet floor.

It wasn't actually a sweater that was there. It was me.

In the really dark days and nights of that relationship, the darkened closet was my refuge. I would sit in the dark, holding on for dear life to Ellie who sat silently beside me. I would sit and cower and cry and I would pray. Man would I pray. And pray.

"Please. Please. Please. Make it stop. Make it stop."

And then, the sun would rise, or the moon would sink, and my hopes would disappear into the vast darkness of my fear it would never ever stop. That this, this pain and sorrow and horrow would be my life, forever and a day.

I lost all hope, all faith, all belief during those dark days. I lost all sense of direction. All knowing I had value, worth, that God loved me, just because I am. That God was even there, capable of loving such a wounded, broken soul as me. "Even death has no time for me," I believed. "Death was too busy greeting those worthy of his passing on."

And then, Conrad was arrested and I got the miracle of my life -- I was set free.

In freedom, I would walk with Ellie in the woods at the end of the street where my sister and her husband live, and with whom I was staying, and cry and wonder, "Will I ever repair the chaos of my life?" "Will I ever breathe freely again?"

The burden at times felt too heavy, too great for me to carry. And I would cry.

And then, one day, walking within the shadows of the tall whispering pines I glanced up and saw the light shimmering through the tips of the trees.

"Call on me," a voice said. "Trust in me."

Now, trust was not something I had in great capacity in those days, and trusting in God? Well, hello? Where were you when I really needed you?

But the voice kept whispering through the pines and eventually, the burden grew so great I couldn't think of anything else to do. And so, I breathed deeply and asked, 'the voice' to please carry the burden. To take the weight of my despair so that I could take one step towards the light. No matter how hesitant, no matter how small, I wanted to take one step in the direction of doing one thing for myself that day that would help me heal.

And the burden lifted. The weight shifted and my shoulders straightened.

He carried the burden through those dark and scary days of facing the past and releasing the grip of the terror of those days where I sat huddled in a closet, crying myself to sleep.

Looking back, I know why He didn't 'stop it'. Only I had the power to do that. And until I found my voice, He couldn't carry the burden of my pain, because I didn't believe I had the power to stop Conrad's yelling and scheming in my life. I didn't believe in me.

I couldn't stop Conrad from being who he was/is. I could stop his abuse in my life. I just never awakened to that truth until I awoke to the power of my voice.

In freedom, God could and does carry the burden. He set me free to walk this beautiful world knowing -- I am all I ever need to be, a woman of worth, a human of magnificence, a being of great wonder.

The following is a poem I wrote shortly after Conrad's arrest. He was arrested May 21, 2003. I wrote this poem in July of the same year.

Nameste. (And thank you Glynn for the gift of your words this morning. You set my heart soaring.)

He Set Me Free

Born free, but when pain invaded,
I retreated behind my smile
pinned in place by time and memory
dark with the fear
that hid me from the beauty of the life
He had created, just for me.

Here He found me.
Trapped behind the mirror of my confusion
surrounded by the lies I had created
to protect me from the pain
inside my battered heart.

Tormented by the agony of my sins
Blinded to the beauty of His love
I held my spirit captive.

Here I am, said the Lord.
But I could not hear Him through my fear
I was unworthy.
Here I am, He called again.
Let My love guide you to the light
beyond the darkness you have reflected
on your soul.
Here I am.

Frightened, I held my mirror high.
But my arms grew weary.
My heart was hungry.
And I could no longer defend my sins
against the truth of His love.

I could not speak.
I peeked from behind my defences
and saw His brilliance reflected in the world around me.

And the eyes of my heart were opened to His light.

He set me free.
Free to sing His praises, dance His joy.
Free to walk His path of beauty.
Free to be. Me.

Here I am.
He set me free.
My love for Him will keep me free.
Forever and a day.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

You left. (a poem)

I have a memory of a moment with the man who promised to love me, once upon a time, and who took what time we had and burned it into the retina of the past view where I was the victim and he was never ever the victor.

Those days are gone and now, when they arise on the patina of the past, shiny with the rain falling, I smile and let the muse have her way, eagerly awaiting to see what she has brought as a gift.

Some days, I am surprised by her offerings. Like an archaeologist, she digs into memory's bank, withdrawing images and sounds and moments in time connecting now to then in a wonderful weave of colour and sights and sounds.

Sometime in the past few days, I heard a snipped of an interview on the radio with a Canadian song-writer who was performing in Banff that evening. Before I had to leave the car I didn't catch his name, or the name of the song he was singing. I did catch a line in his song that caught my imagination -- "I found your sweater and took it apart thread by thread".

Imagination caught up to memory -- of a moment in time when Conrad, the man who wanted to take my life, was angry with me for something -- there was seldom a 'real' reason for his anger -- I was just 'supposed' to know.

On this day, I was at the park walking with Ellie and he drove up in his shiny silver Mercedes sports car, roof down. He didn't open the car door, he leapt over it. (He was into les grands gestes) He stormed towards where Ellie and I stood on the ravine edge watching his arrival. He'd phoned me to ask where I was. I always told him.

When he was several feet away he proceeded to berate me for some imagined transgression. I stood silently listening to him, my mind numb, my body wilfully blocking off all feeling. When he was done, he turned to walk away. "We're through," he said as a parting shot. And I sighed a giant breath in relief.

I watched him walk away.

He was wearing a pink argyle sweater that day. I watched him walk away and he stopped, turned back towards where Ellie and I still stood silently on the ridge where we had been walking. He walked back towards me. I braced myself for more of his vitriolic. But he didn't yell. He simply walked up to me, took off his sweater and shoved it into my hands. "Here, you might need this," he said. And then he walked away.

But not for good. No, his walking away for good wouldn't come until I closed the door on that chapter of my life so that I could dance freely in the sunshine of today.

I followed the muse this morning, linked to the comment heard on the radio. She lead me here, to this place where I am free. Free to associate without the pain of the past trapping me in its angry maw.

In the muse's flow, I immerse myself in the beauty of my day and let my imagination have free rein as I unravel the threads and find the joy in living fearlessly in the rapture of now.

You Left

You left
behind a sweater
on the closet floor
scrunched up
remnants of you
I pulled
each thread
a part
of me unravelling
with its weave and warp
on the ocean
of memories
upon which I drift
for a reason

you left behind a sweater

I pulled each thread apart.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Not bad for a weekend

The view from my IPhone
The weekend promised to be beautiful. Hot. Sunny. A perfect August weekend to get out and enjoy our short summer season. I had a plan but I was still feeling the affects of this jaw/tooth pain, and realized I wasn't up to much of anything but taking it easy. But, the pain-killers give me windows of 'almost normal' so I decided to capitalize on the energy I had and treat myself to a weekend of painting.

Friday night, Ellie and I went for our walk and I captured photos of trees and the view to paint.

Saturday morning, I hauled out my paints, covered the dining room table in plastic, set up my 'studio' and contemplated where to begin.

"You know you've been wanting to paint the kitchen for almost three years," that voice in my head whispered. (We moved into this house in November 2008 and painting the kitchen was one of the first things I intended to do -- and then we thought of renovating and the project was postponed...)

I contemplated painting the kitchen versus painting a tree. A tree gives me something beautiful to hang on the walls -- but the walls are pretty full of other paintings. The kitchen gives me something beautiful for everyone to enjoy. And, both are meditative processes.

I eyed the paints and palettes and canvas ready to receive the gift of colour. I eyed the white walls of the kitchen, ready to receive the gift of a new look.

I decided to paint the kitchen.

And I'm glad I did. Not only did the kitchen receive a much needed and desired coat of paint, I created a 'gallery space' for some of my paintings that comes alive with the golden colour of the walls.

It was a quiet weekend filled with the contemplative process of painting. Where I could have laid around, watching too many movies and feeling sorry for myself, I spent my time breathing deeply in to the into the quiet, my arm moving rhythmically up and down as I swept golden yellow colour onto my kitchen walls.

And when I was finished, I pasted on the wall art I bought a year ago while C.C. and I were visiting friends on a lake in Ontario -- Life is delicious. You can't see them in the photo, but there are four silver dragon flies in the air above the L. They make me smile. :)

My jaw still hurts but I managed to create a room of colourful light and in the process I feel like I accomplished something. And in the process, managed to forget to feel sorry for myself throughout the weekend!

Not bad for a weekend's work. Because, no matter how you look at it, Life is delicious.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The (in)absolute of certainty

In, Creative Transformation: A Practical Guide for Maximizing Creativity, ethicist, scientist and philosopher, John David Garcia states, "creativity is destroyed by inaction."

I get it!

Writing here every morning, awakening without always a clear idea or notion about what I will be writing, is an exercise in trust and action. I trust the 'muse' to flow. I take the action necessary to give voice to the flow.

According to Garcia, when we fail to take action, we fail our purpose. And living without purpose, is to live an unfulfilled life.

It is a vicious circle.

There is no such thing as 'absolute certainty', It is, as Garcia writes, 'an illusion'. In fact, absolute certainty is stultifying. It limits options. To believe I know something with absolute certainty is to suggest there is nothing else to learn, that no new information can be received that would revise my view or opinion or belief about something.

And that just ain't so!

There is always something new to learn, to discern, to understand about everything -- including, and especially, about myself!

When I take the position that I know everything there is to know about me, that I cannot change, or cannot learn something new, I discourage input and creativity. I block myself off from the muse, from the creative flow that moves all around me and within me. I lock myself into a box and shut the lid.

It is, in my experience, one of the most stultifying aspects of thinking 'inside the box'. I am the one who created my box. I am the one willfully (and virtually) keeping myself there.

There is no box. Seriously. There is no box.

We create it. In our minds. It does not exist anywhere else.

And while I can't say with 'absolute certainty' that we can all get out of the box, I can take action to remove the box from my thinking, and to live my purpose, inspire others to take action to remove the boxes from their thinking too!

And that I do know. We all have the power to get rid of our boxes. We all have the power to take action.

And I'm off to an early morning meeting and then back to the dentist. While I was hopeful, it seems the root canal did not alleviate the pain in my jaw. Gotta go take action and create opportunities for well-being in my body.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Upon the wind

The storm had blown through when Ellie and I set out for our walk. Above, rain laden clouds hung like pregnant whales floating in an ocean of grey. A hawk glided on the wind that rustled through the trees whispering stories of the places it had been and wild flowers bent their heads towards the earth offering up their seed pods to be borne upon the breeze.

It was a blustery, beautiful evening for a walk.

Ellie, oblivious to the wind and clouds above sniffed and snuffed her way along the path. In a former life I swear she was a horse. She loves to eat grass and canters like a quarterhorse if let off leash.

Me, I am earthbound, grounded, firmly planted on this great ball of life spinning through space. I am mother earth's child, illusions cast to the wind, reality gripping me in its gravitational pull to keep on trekking, keep on putting one foot in front of the other. There is much to see, and even more to do in whatever time I have to create my path through this world of wonder all around me.

Life is good.

Even when memories pull at gravity, opening doors into another element of the past that lay forgotten on the trail from there to here.

It happens occasionally. Not often anymore, though in the past, these moments came more frequently. Perhaps it is as we move beyond the pale of 'what was' into what is true today, gravities drag looses its intensity as we become more centered in the now.

I think the trigger came in a comment I read in Jim Loehr's, The Power of Story. "Individual and collective disasters happen when we don't examine our story to see if it's really ours anymore." p183 He went on to write about Stockholm Syndrome and wrote, "if you don't start listening to your intuition, you make your evolving story vulnerable to hijacking, to rerouting, to programming."

I have a story from the past that shed light on my life in ways I never could imagine. Sometimes, like storm clouds rolling in from the north, however, it sweeps in to pull me back, to remind me of 'what was and shall never be again.'

And when it does, sometimes, my imagination gets caught up in the thrall of the story swooshing in with the wind, and I begin to vibrate like leaves on the tree rustlings.

The story's pull manifests itself in odd and disturbing ways. I walk into the garage and imagine 'he' is standing outside waiting for the door to roll up. I once asked a security expert if I was wrong to get into my car and lock the doors before opening the garage and he said "No. You live in the inner core of a big city. That's just smart behaviour."

It is a fine line between defying gravity versus living freely in the moment of now.

Yesterday, as I loaded Ellie into the back of my car I waited until I was inside before opening the garage door. Changes in my habitual behaviours need to be observed. I need to question myself -- "what is this about?" "What am I fearing?" "What does this signify?" "How real is this 'fear?'"

I smiled as I pulled out of the garage, doors locked. "He" wasn't there but he was taking up headspace -- and that's a place he doesn't need to be.

I thought about my actions as Ellie and I walked along the ridge that skirts the river valley far below.

What if 'he' was standing outside the door?

There was a time when my daughters feared he would hunt me down and kill me. There was a time when I feared his presence.

But I faced that dragon. Turned into the wind and confronted it head on.

He had already tried that. And more importantly, my life is not the most precious thing I hold dear. My family is.

I learned that through those dark and cloudy days of his walking through my life.

I almost lost my family back then. And then I had the chance to reclaim what I love the most in this world. My daughters and my relationship with them.

To have lost my family would have been more devastating than my life because in losing my daughters, the story of my being a victim would have perpetuated itself through their lives. They would have continued on their journeys believing their mother hadn't loved them enough to turn up, to fight for her life.

I have been blessed. I have had the opportunity for redemption. I have had the gift of healing, a gift founded in Love. A gift more valuable than any I have ever been given. I have reclaimed my relationship with my daughters. Rebuilt my family.

I am truly blessed.

I walked along the ridge last night, wind blowing at my back as Ellie and I walked eastward, pushing me away, away from those times, those dark clouds of discord that veil the beauty of today when I give into the pull to succumb to fear.

I have no need of locking away my heart. No need to put up my defenses to protect my thinking. I open the windows and doors of my mind and set my thinking free to soar, to roam to glide upon the wind like an eagle catching the updrafts.

And in the meantime, when I feel the pull, I'll lock my doors and keep the boogie man at bay. He doesn't deserve the time of day to disturb my peace of mind!


Wednesday, August 10, 2011


To control others is to have power, to control yourself is to know the way. Lao Ma
Relief at last. My dentist drilled and pulled and cleaned out root canals and the pain has subsided. What didn't appear to be the problem was the problem.

Isn't that just like life?

What is in front of our eyes doesn't appear obvious until we open our eyes to the obvious.

Today, over at Faith. Fiction. Friends. Glynn Young writes, "Poet Michael Dickmann, in his latest collection called Flies, confronts and deals with a death too soon. To see how he does it in poetry, take a look at my post today at The Master's Artist."

In The Power of Story, Jim Loehr invites everyone to ask themselves the question, "Am I okay dying a senseless death?"

Reading Loehr and then Glynn's piece on Dickmann's book, I hit upon the obvious answer to a question that has sat on the edges of my peace of mind for years.

The question began to form on St. Patrick's Day, 1997 when my brother and his wife died in a collision. There was lots of mystery and drama around their passing. Lots of unanswered questions. Truths too horrible to face and so we let the details of the events leading up to their death pass and focused on mourning their loss.

But the questions grew.

Did they or didn't they do it intentionally? Did they or didn't they know what the consequences of their actions would be upon their two beautiful daughters and all of us who loved them? Did they or didn't they have the courage to right the wrongs, face the truth, face, as it appeared they would have had to do, the judge and jury and the outcome of what had gone so wrong leading up to that fateful St. Patrick's Day.

In the end, the answer to my question is, the questions do not matter. What matters is Love.

Always has. Always will.

Pain is transitory. At least this pain in my jaw was. When it didn't seem to have a known cause, when it appeared to not have an obvious answer, it's transitory nature was not obvious.

What was obvious was, it hurt. It was affecting my outlook on life. Oh, and I was taking way too many pain-killers.

In finding relief from 'the pain', I have a clearer mind and an opportunity to reflect on the impact of the pain on my daily living. Not good, btw.

I was grouchy. At times. Listless. At times. Staying way too still. At times. And... not breathing deeply. At times.

And yet, at times, I was effective. Engaged. Active.

It all depended upon my level of pain and the degree to which I succumbed to the lure of believing -- if I do nothing the pain won't hurt so bad!

Reality was, if I did nothing, or did something, the pain wasn't really any different. It was just my attitude, and my belief in my ability to overcome the pain that differed.

Like grief.

Immersed in the loss, we cannot see the world beyond the obvious darkness of our feelings of grief.

Beyond the grief, it's obvious it was our dark thinking that was keeping us connected to the truth we desperately want to deny -- we cannot change the circumstances of who or what we've lost. We cannot bring them back. We can only change how our loss impacts our lives -- will it have meaning? Or will it be 'senseless', as Jim Loehr calls it.

And that is the truth I stumbled upon this morning reading Glynn's post.

My brother and sister-in-laws deaths were not 'senseless'. All the facts, proof, details of what transpired cannot change one irrefutable truth. I loved my brother and his wife. Still do.

And there is never anything senseless about Love.

Mother Teresa was right, I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.

I had a toothache. It is gone.

And love abounds. Always did. Always will.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Tooth-ache and other jawing motions

There is but one success -- to be able to spend your life in your own way. Christopher Morley
I have been nursing, or unnursing, however you look at it, a sore jaw for the past month. Okay, not just sore, attention riveting pain that casts a black outlook on my outlook!

It has gotten so bad that on Friday night, while sitting with Liseanne, my youngest daughter, watching a movie at home, I finally said, "Honey, I think you need to drive me to the emergency." I'd taken an anti-inflammatory an hour before, and then another and nothing seemed to be working. The pain had me in tears. We quickly got in the car, got to the parking lot outside emergency and as we walked in I declared, "Honey, We don't have to go in. The pain is abating."

She looked at me in consternation, not quite believing me (she knows how doctor adverse I am).

"No, seriously," I insisted. "It's abating. I just waited too long to take a pill so it had to work harder to make the pain go away."

We drove back home and all was 'well', though she did insist on not going on later as planned.

Now, it's not that I haven't sought medical attention for this pain. I went to the dentist and the verdict was, "Look Ma! No cavities." There also doesn't appear to be any infection or abscess or any other signs of where the distress that would make one believe the pain is tooth related.

My doctor says, if it's not your teeth, it must be... and names some nerve disorder I'm positive it isn't. The cure for this condition is a very harsh drug with not so nice side-effects. It's not a remedy I want to experience.

What I do want to experience is a pain-free jaw. It has definitely shadowed my outlook for the past month. Anti-inflammatories work -- but in the quantity needed to keep the pain at bay, they too have undesirable side-effects. I am on strict medical orders to not go over the limit which is laughable if it didn't hurt so much at times!

I returned to the dentist last week and he thinks it could be a molar that was crowned several years ago. When he taps on it, it is sensitive to touch. And so, in an effort to alleviate the pain, and hopefully solve the problem, I will get a root canal on the tooth he thinks might be the problem, even though it doesn't appear on the x-ray.

Wish me luck.

In the meantime, precious sleep is being lost -- and I am scrounging it where ever I can. Which means, I may or may not be posting tomorrow since I never know when the pain will awaken to steal me away from dreamland!

It's not all bad. It's definitely helped put me on the path to losing weight as eating seems to be a big contributor to the onset of pain in my jaw! :)

and, I've gained an appreciation of people with chronic pain. It is not nice!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Time Unravelling (a poem)

Over at Integral Options, WH shares an interview The Guardian, UK reporter Stuart Jeffries did with Slavoj Zizek. The name of Zizek's book, Living in the Ends of Times intriqued me, and inspired the muse to awaken in poetry.

So, just so you don't think I'm blue or lost in reminiscing old loves and lovers, I truly have no idea for whom or about whom this poem is written. I just let the muse write through me! :)

Time Unravelling

Living in the ends of time
I fall into remembering

were so forgettable

I no longer remember
your parting
drifting into a farewell
I have long forgotten

how we met
then said good-bye

did you walk away
or did I turn my back
for just a moment too long

the ring
of bells tolling

binding me
in a knot
that could not keep
the matrimonial vows
from coming

I bid you

you bid me

and walked
into a dusty sunset

while I stood facing
the dusty
rose of sunrise
the back of night.

Living in the ends
of time
the knots
that keep me looking
I turn towards the sun
letting go
of gravity
pulling me down
with time

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Each of us has been put on earth with the ability to do something well. We cheat ourselves and the world if we don't use that ability as best we can. Gracie Allen
My eldest daughter is incredibly talented. A singer, dancer, actor, writer, she has a heart of molten gold and a spirit that radiates light and love. She is amazing.

Yesterday, she shared a snippet of conversation she'd had with her 92 year old grandmother, her father's mother. Grammie, as the girls call her, recently fell and is now in a care faciility healing a broken hip. Until the fall, she had been living on her own in her beautiful home on the ocean. It is a place she loves. Cherishes. Has been defiant in her insistence she is capable of living on her own in a house on a cliff over-looking the Strait of Georgia. Her independence is commendable. Her agility, strength and courage inspiring.

And now she risks losing it all. Her son and daughter are talking of moving her back to Calgary because she has no one there to help her or visit her should she need to move into a senior's oriented centre.

This is a woman who is adamant in her right to 'do it my way'. Fierce. Critical. Not-overly optimistic, she has managed to maintain her independence in spite of arthritis and other ailments. While her body may be showing signs of wear and tear of living (at 92 it's kind of to be expected!), her mind is as agile and sharp as it ever was.

"It's the problem with too much talent like your's Alexis," she told my eldest daughter yesterday. "You have too many choices."

I think about the story my daughter tells about her many talents, that any of us tell about our gifts -- where did the story come from?

I wonder where someone begins to believe there is such a thing as a 'problem' with talent or even that a person can have 'too much' talent or too many choices inhibiting expression of one's gifts?

Did this woman of 92 years once have a dream she never lived because she couldn't decide, or didn't have the support to choose the path to her dream instead of the path to marriage and a family?

Does she fear dying with her dream unspoken, unlived, unrealized? Does she regret the path that lead her to a beautiful home on the water yet kept her far from the dream she once held so dear?

I used to spend a great deal of time with this woman. Once. When I was married to her son. But separation, divorce, distance and time pulled the weave of our relationship apart.

I never made the effort to stay in touch, though when her husband died, it was me who brought the girls to the funeral, who stayed with her for the week after his passing to help her move through the initial stages of her grief.

When I was married to her son, I made the effort to temper her negative outlook with my desire to show her the sun. Post-divorce, the energy needed to shine the light on her outlook wasn't there. I turned to shoring up my life, leaving this lonely and embittered woman to fend for herself.

Thoughts of this woman came to my mind this morning as I was reading Maureen's poem, Ways of Losing at her blog, Writing without Paper.

Maureen writes:

/The sink with the last strands
of untouched grey hair, and the room at the end of the hall they took

me to the day I heard my father had died and my grandmother
and my brother, none too old, and my friends, every one too young.

These are some ways of losing, and what we lose we pray for,
sit shiva, clothe ourselves in a fashionable black and pronounce

for our period of mourning. Some of us want process, declaring first

denial, then anger, moving from bargaining through depression,

finally giving in to acceptance. Don't you believe it's so easy as that.
When you lose what you love, you still love what you've lost.

When dreams are lost, do we still love them?

My daughter commented yesterday that if she were not to pursue acting it would be a waste of her education, "I'd be giving up my dream," she said.

"Was acting really your dream?" I ask. "Or was it to make a difference, to reach people and inspire them to live their best life yet? You can't lose what you learned, experienced, the tools you gained, the understanding you have of voice and movement and the human condition that you gained during your years of study."

There are many paths to living our dreams. It's in the living that our dreams come true.

Maybe it isn't that dreams die but that we simply awaken to the beauty of this moment where we are free to make the most of what we have.

Maybe in our dreaming, we nurture the seed of possibility that there is something more than the dream we claimed as a child that no longer fits our truth today.

Maybe, in the awakening of our spirit beyond childhood dreams, we recognize the truth of who we are is more than a child's desire to be seen.

Maybe, we all have dreams we once held dear that need to be cast free on the winds of time.

Maybe in freeing ourselves of dreams that have run past their best before date, we awaken to the beauty of possibility to become who we truly want to be -- beautiful, free, and alive -- in this moment right now living with all we've been given, being all we're meant to be.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What's your story?

He who has a why to live, can bear with almost any how. Nietzsche August is a beautiful month here at the foot of the Canadian Rockies. Summer evening stretches out into deepening shadows holding the heat of day. Skies glower and gleam and radiate purple hues stretched along the ridge of distant peaks. The air shimmers. Dusk creeps slowly into the light.

Last evening, as Ellie and I walked our habitual path along the ridge of a river valley, we spied a murder of craws seated in the skeleton of a long dead tree. Denuded of branches, it appeared dark on gray against the gathering clouds crowding the horizon. The crows cawed as they watched me grab a photo on my Iphone while Ellie grazed in the tall summer grasses, oblivious to the crows and my desire to capture the moment in time.

We walked in an easterly direction as I continued to stop along our way to capture moments, to gaze at the view, to revel in the beauty of the evening. And Ellie, her nose alive to the plethora of smells wafting her way, kept stopping to sniff and explore the scents left trailing on the bushes and grasses along our path.

Every evening we come to the same point on the trail where we know, it's time to turn back. Last evening was no different. We reached our 'marker', I looked at Ellie, Ellie looked at me and proceeded to change direction, pulling me with her for the homeward stroll. (Or at least the stroll back to where the car was parked.)

We walked westward and watched streaks of pink and rose dance upon the mountain peaks in the distance.

In The Power of Story, Jim Loehr tells the story of a client, a top seeded tennis player who lost her passion for the game. "What's your story?" he asked her. "Why do you play?"

"To be number one in the world," she replied.

"So, you become number one in the world. When it's all over, your tombstone reads, 'she Was Number One In the World.' You'd be good with that?"

She wouldn't be good with that and so he asked her to go away and think about it. What is your ultimate mission in life, he asked. What are you all about? What keeps you playing?

When she returned she had the answer, but was embarrassed to tell him. He prodded her to disclosure and she replied, "I want to be sunshine. I want to be sunshine to every person I care about and everyone who watches me play."

"And on your tombstone, it if says, 'She brought sunshine to people everywhere,' would that be okay?" he asked.

And she said, smiling broadly, "Yes."

I read that passage in The Power of Story some days ago, and it has resonated ever since. I too 'want to be sunshine'.

I want to radiate joy and brilliance and beauty and light like the sunset this evening that took my breath away. I want to be sunshine.

I can't remember a time in my life when I didn't want to 'make people feel happy'. When I didn't want to make a difference, in a really positive way, to their lives. Even as a small child I remember this feeling of wanting to touch people's hearts, to make them feel like the sun just broke through clouds and was beaming down on them, lightening their hearts and lifting their spirits.

And that's purpose. That's living this life for me with wild abandon, whole-heartedly engaged in making every moment count. In making every moment worth living and dying for.

I want to be like the sunset this evening. Awe-inspiring. Breathtaking. Deeply moving. I want to radiate sunshine, gratitude, positive energy and joy, in everything I do, everywhere I go.

That is my glorious life story. The one I'm writing today. The one I've been planning to write for many years now but was always too scared, too unsure, too mis-directed, or simply asleep to know it was up to me to release the light within so that the sun could shine from my heart and spill out in gay abandon onto the world around me.

I am finally in that place where I have the courage and conviction and commitment to put all my fingertips, heart and soul up against the pulse of what makes me tick so that I can create wonder and joy in the world around me.

What about you? What makes you tick? What's your story? Is it worth living for? Is it one you're willing to have told when you're gone?

'Cause think about it. Whatever story you are living today, it is the one you'll die with if you don't stop and ask yourself... What's my story? Am I willing to die for it? Am I willing to have it be my final song of life?

We are always telling stories. On ourselves. About ourselves. About the people and places and circumstances around us that are keeping us from living the story we've always dreamed of.

It's time to get real. Real up close and honest with the value of your story, and how it is keeping you from living the life of your dreams.

Go ahead. Ask yourself. What's my story? What's the story behind the story I'm telling?

And then, look deep, dig in, into that place within where the hero of your story isn't a victim of life, but the triumphant creator of a story worth living and dying for.

Can you do it?

I believe you can.





Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Passion. It's in us to live.

The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning. Mitch Albom

There was a time when I thought passion was reserved for lovers. That only people involved in an intimate relationship knew what passion was.

I love it when I'm proved wrong!

Passion is what I strive to step into every day -- even on days like today when I'm tired after picking up my daughter at the airport shortly after midnight and the alarm ringing at 6am felt way too early!

Passion is the force behind my dreams. It's the energy behind getting the most out of my life, every moment of every day. It's my life source.

Passion keeps me committed to awakening every morning with a song in my heart. It lightens my spirit and drives me to courageously step forward throughout the day asking myself in every thing I do, "Does this create more of what I want in my life, or less?" Passion fires me up.

Recently, while creating a dreamchart of my "Ultimate Life", I asked myself, what can I do in this moment to inject passion into my dreams.

The answer was easy. Remind myself of my purpose -- to touch hearts and open minds to set spirits free. In a nutshell, to live an inspiring life right now.

That means, to quit looking at tomorrow as the time I'll be perfect, or have everything I want or need. It means, to stop thinking about doing it tomorrow -- but rather -- getting to it today!

When I'm passionate about me, I'm passionate about my life and everyone and everything in it. I live, breathe, exude my passion. When I'm on fire, my world lights up and I take off and soar through every moment, confident, positive, convinced in my right to claim this place, right where I'm at, as my rightful, deserving place under the sun.

When I'm passionate about me, I step into the moment of being all I'm meant to be and let go of wishful thinking, yearning and pining for a better tomorrow. When I'm passionate about me, I live in this moment being completely, absolutely committed to who I am because I know, I'm one powerful woman living the life of her dreams, right now.

Do you know your passions? Are you passionate about you? Some questions you can ask yourself to understand your passions are:

1. What do I love to do for other people?
2. What is it people tell me about me that makes me feel proud, happy, that makes my heart sing?
3. What do I do that makes time stop? Makes me lose all sense of time?
4. What do I love doing most in the world? 5. Am I happiest helping people or creating things that help people?
6. Do I have special gifts or talents that I love to share? What are they?
7. If I can't think of any special gift or talent I possess -- if I did have one, what would it be?

Sit quietly, ask yourself these questions and write down your answers. Don't judge what you write, just write down what comes to you. Let the answers flow. Don't worry about punctuation. Grammar. Spelling. Just write it down. Don't let your inner voice stifle your creativity. Flow.

Once you've completed the questions, look for the pattern in your answers. Look to find what speaks to your heart.

For me, I love to help people find their purpose, their passion, their inner beauty. I love it when people tell me I inspire them. Time stops for me when I'm writing, and painting. Anything creative makes time stand still as I immerse myself in the joy of what I'm doing. I love writing, painting, creating.

For me, I'm happiest creating things that help people, bring joy to them. I love creating words that sing to people's hearts, that ease their pain, and ignite their thinking. I love to share my writing. My words. My spirit.

See, it's easy. Go for it. Let your thoughts flow. Let your imagination soar. Get creating.

Everyone has passion. Everyone has a purpose. Everyone has dreams.

Living the life of your dreams is the gift you give yourself when you free your mind of the garbage that would keep you from being inspired by the beauty and wonder of you!

Dream big. Live large and be inspired to create the life of your dreams.