Sunday, March 30, 2008

Giving up hope for a better past

I believe we come into this world in love. No matter the circumstances of that moment of insemination, it is predicated on an act of love, even when the human beings involved cannot feel it.

No matter the science behind the gestational journey, there is something miraculous and infinitely mysterious about one tiny sperm in a million careening into an egg, splitting it open and planting the seed of life. There are so many possibilities within its genetic code for it to create the same old, same old model of a human being and yet, billions of times over, it produces a unique human being of infinite possibilities.

With our possibilities, and our uniqueness intact, we emerge into the world and begin the journey of our human condition. Along the way, we may lose that spark of infinite possibility of our birth. We may lose our sense of wonder and awe in the miracle of our lives. Not because someone stole it from us, but rather, because they too didn't recognize the miracle of who they are. In their blindness they could not see that we were a miracle, just like them.

Denied of our birthright, we begin the journey of our lifetimes, continually seeking for what it is we do not know we have lost. In our confusion, we feel the unnameable pain of what it is we believe is missing from our lives. We grieve the loss of the miracle we cannot see is ours because we do not recognize we were born with the beauty and magnificence of who we are. In our sorrow, we seek comfort out there, somewhere in the world. We seek an ending to our pain in addictions, in rage, in possessions, in money, in someone else's arms, in self-abuse. We are creative souls and in our creativity, we seek for what we want in countless ways we could never imagine.

In our fear of facing the truth within us, we dare not look within ourselves for what is missing. We are complex beings. Life is hard, we tell ourselves. It cannot be that simple. It cannot be that easy. We tell ourselves we come into this world as incomlete beings. Our journey is to complete ourselves and then we lose ourselves in the pain of not knowing where to look. To explain away why we are lost, we label our confusion. We call ourselves puzzles. Tough nuts to crack. Marshmallows, hard as rock, weak as babies. We get creative with the words we use to hide behind and stumble into the darkness of never being able to find the spark of light that will guide us into the completeness we have always possessed. In our despair we try to kill off our hope of ever being anything other than who we are in our pain and sorrow.

No matter how hard the road beneath us, however, no matter how many hard knocks we have taken on the journey to now, there is a spark within each of us that never dies.

It is the spark of hope.

There is no wind that can extinguish it. No breath that can blow it out. As long as we are alive, no matter how shallow our breath, no matter the depth of our despair, that spark of hope is always alive within us.

We are miracles of life and nothing can destroy a miracle. Not even death.

Every day in the Choices seminar room I witness someone awaken to the truth that they are not hopeless. Every day I witness someone embrace the truth that their past has already been lived. They can't get it back. They can't conjure up a different story of what happened or who they were. And in the realization that all hope of a better past must rest in peace, they awaken to the realization that there is always hope for a new tomorrow when they start living today for all they're worth.

Choices is not the miracle, it is the vessel of hope into which we fall when we surrender our defenses to being all we're meant to be. The people in that room are miracles. Every single one of them. In all their woundedness. Despair, loss, sorrow, pain. We are, each and everyone of us, a miracle of life unfolding in hope, faith and love.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Being mistaken

When I was a little girl there was a story told about how my father lost a case of beer and twenty dollars because I was a girl. My mother wanted me to be born on December 8 and I popped into the world a few minutes after midnight on December 9. My mother still asks me, "Why can't you be like your sisters. What is wrong with you?" She doesn't mean me harm. She is just in the habit of asking the question.

Throughout my life, I've told the story of my father's loss many times. I've heard my mother's questions and always replied, 'Because I'm me.' I've laughed about it and yet, in my heart, pain grew. I didn't want to be unwanted or criticized for being different. I didn't want to be the cause of my father's disappointment. And, I didn't want to cause my mother pain by being me, I wanted to give her joy because I am me.

On Thursday night at Choices, I was speaking with Joe, (facilitator at Choices) about how in that room with the coaches, I feel so incredibly accepted. A very foreign place for me I told him. Never knew what that felt like in the past. Always felt like an outsider in my family. Different. Not the same. Other than. I told him how I'd always kept myself apart. Always appeared to be part of the group, but most often stood on the periphery, watching, observing, taking it in, acting like I was participating but always holding something of 'me' back.

"I'm a writer," I told him. "Writer's observe."

"What has that cost you?" Joe asked me.

"The thing I've said I want most in life," I told him. "Intimacy."

Within me is a core belief, a message, a tape I tell myself unconsciously, over and over again, particularly in times of stress. It stems from what I 'heard' in the story of my father's loss when I was born, my mother's disappointment in the date of my birth, in her questionning of why I was different, why I was 'me'.

It is not a message they wanted me to have. It is not a story they meant to give me or intentionally told me to cause me pain. They only meant to love me. And they did, the best way they knew how. But those stories, those questions became part of my life tapestry, part of the warp and weave of the stories I told myself about me. As a child, I was too young to understand that those stories were not about 'me' but rather, stories about the world around me. I couldn't make sense of them and was too frightened to ask for help so I took the stories in and held them close like a child clutching her security blanket. Those stories told me who I was. I couldn't let them go because I didn't know how to be any different. As an adult, I unwittingly cultivated the stories, nurtured them, lived them because I wanted to understand what was so wrong with me that nobody wanted me to be me. It must be my fault I can't be me, I told myself as I kept trying to figure out the answer by proving the question right.

To avoid my confusion and pain, deep within me I bought into the big lie, Nobody wants me. I am a mistake.

In acknowledging that lie exists within me, I can see where I have played it out again and again in my life, continually dishonouring my gifts, my talents, my uniqueness, because I thought 'me as me' was the mistake. Nobody, including myself, wanted me to be me.

Because I didn't believe I was supposed to be me, I tried in countless situations to be someone who I wasn't. I kept trying to walk in someone else's footprints, behind someone else's shadow because I couldn't see my own light in the darkness of believing I was a mistake. And through it all, I didn't dare show my fear that someone would know I was playing a role I had no lines for. I didn't dare let them see, I was lost in looking for someone else to pull my strings so I could move freely on the stage of life.

To protect myself from my fear, I had to keep myself on the outside looking in. I had to hide my confusion, my angst behind an image of self-confidence because what I feared more than anything was that the tape was true. I was a mistake. Nobody wanted me.

The beauty and gift of Choices is, I can hear and see and feel that tape today and know, it is The Lie.

In having spent my life trying to fix the mistake that was me, today I get to celebrate the incredible joy of being mistaken.

I am not a mistake. God doesn't make mistakes. I am a gift. A blessing in the world. A unique voice like no other. A miracle of life.

We all are.

The question is: What tapes do you play in your head that keep you from experiencing the wonder and joy of who you are? What lies do you tell yourself about yourself that limit the awesome breadth of your wingspan?

Thursday, March 27, 2008


One thing about Choices -- it's a time of short nights and fast sleeping.

I am off again this morning to coach -- and time is of the essence.

I did have a wow moment yesterday -- each coach is invited to say a few words about themselves, including how Choices has changed their life. For me -- I told the group that through Choices, my daughters and I have found the gift of forgiveness, healing and love. My life has been enriched tenfold -- and so, I give back by coaching.

I am truly blessed.

The question is: Have you given thanks for your blessings today?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The journey within

I am off coaching at Choices until Monday.

It is one of my very favourite things to do. When I took the program two years ago, I thought I was pretty well balanced on my road to well-being. And I was. What I didn't know, was.... what I didn't know. And that's what I keep learning at Choices. How much there is to learn about me, my interactions in life, my strengths -- and how my weaknesses can undermine my ability to live my life passionately and fearlessly.

Coaching at Choices gives me a chance to give back and to receive. It opens my eyes to the beauty of every soul, to the depth of every spirit and to the humanity in each and every one of us. And, it opens my heart to living life in love.

C.C. asked me the other day why I love to go back to coach, even though it costs me holiday time at work, and I don't get paid.

"But I do get paid," I told him. "I receive the most incredible gifts every time I coach. Not only do I get to be 'on purpose' the entire time I'm in the training room, I also get to learn more and more about me. In helping others discover their worth, I open myself up more and more to the beauty of my spirit, and to accepting myself exactly the way I am. That is the most incredible gift I could ever receive -- to love myself right here, right now, exactly the way I am, and to know -- if I'm not happy with something about me, I have the power to change it, to do it differently, to create a new story that reflects the value I hold in me."

There are billions of unexplored lives out there -- the universe is deep and wide, filled with unexplored territories, universes within universes. The universe that affects me most, however, is the one within me. That deep and mysterious place where I reside. There is so much more to me than meets my eye -- in exploring this unknown territory. In getting to know me, I am celebrating the wondrous gift of life that is mine.

We all have the capacity to journey within, to fall in love with the beauty and awe of who we are.

For me, to take this journey, I needed the tools that would help me let go of my fear that who I would find within would be someone I didn't want to know. Choices helped me develop those tools.

And so, for today and the next four days, I am off on an adventure. Helping others explore the wonder and beauty of the human being within.

May your days be filled with the joy of knowing, you are a magnificent human being. May you celebrate yourself in every thing you do, for all you're worth!

The question is: Do you believe you're worth it?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Focussed attention on what I do

Scientist, Jack Dixon, wrote, "If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get results."

In my recent bout with ill-health, I lost 15 lbs. Last fall, I set a goal of losing 20 lbs, lost ten, gained five, and then kept saying I was going to lose more, and never did.

I wasn't focused on changing my health paradigm, I was simply focused on the number of pounds I said I wanted to lose.

In getting sick, I lost weight -- and now risk gaining it back unless I shift my paradigm and switch my focus from the numerical value of 'weight' to the concrete value of the changes I need to make in my health regimen to live a healthier life. Maintaining this weight is important, and I still have an an additional 10 pounds to get to my ideal weight. Most importantly, however, is to live the life of my dreams, I need to be fit, active and healthy.

There's more than just vanity at stake. My body works better when I carry less baggage. I feel better. I feel more confident, more balanced -- and most importantly, I feel healthier.

This morning when I awoke, I made a decision to shift my paradigm from a focus on losing weight, to a commitment to achieving good-health. I read a catchy phrase the other day I'm going to pin above my computer and on my fridge door: Think Smart, Eat Well and Move More! Being aware of my decision is the first step. Putting concrete action to work for me, will help me attain my goals -- and in the process achieve my desired results.

For today, rather than focussing on my end goal of losing weight, however, I'm going to focus on that phrase, Think Smart, Eat Well and Move More. And, I commit to change my habits, not weight. Three things I can do differently today are: 1. Use the stairs at work. 2. Drink more water. 3. Take Ellie for a walk this morning, and a longer walk this evening -- on leash. When I take her off-leash, she bounds about too much for her hips, and I don't walk as much. I'll do a neighbourhood explore -- see how many streets I can walk this week I've never walked before in this neighbourhood. I'll make it a game. Find out how many houses have.... black doors versus wood. Glass panel inserts. Not quite sure of the game but I know I can make one up that will add fun to our neighbourhood wanderings!

The question is: What do you focus on? What you want to get or on doing what you need to do to achieve your goals?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Breathing deeply

Yesterday, I did a cleanse in preparation for a colonoscopy today. Now that's fun!

Okay, so I'm kidding -- not about the cleanse, I had to do it. Just about the fun part.

But, there was a moment when my learnings from the experience of healing from my encounter with a psychopath came in handy.

Part of the cleanse is to drink 4 litres of a foul drink over a period of several hours. Each time I'd have to drink a glass, I'd gag. But, I had to do it.

Just like when I had to heal from his abuse long ago. In those first days and weeks of release from that relationship, my mind did not want to let go of the fear of him. I had to remind myself, that was then, this is now. He is in jail, thinking of him is all in your head. Breathe, and take this step forward. And I did.

The essence of my healing was, I have to do it for me. It may be hard, but it doesn't have to hurt. How I go through it is up to me. My choice. My experience.

Yesteray, each time I had to drink the cleanse liquid, I'd remind myself, I'm doing this for peace of mind. It is a necessary part of the procedure tomorrow. Balking at it is all in my head. Breathe and do it.

Four hours and four litres later, I was through the worst of it.

In life, there are always things we need to do but fear the thought of doing them. Fear is the construct our minds create to hold us back. Breathing through it, acknowledging we have the power to do it -- that keeps us free of fear.

And now I'm off to the hospital for the morning. I'm not looking forward to the procedure but I know I have the power within me to maintain my peace of mind. I know that by breathing deeply I will remain centered and calm because that is how I choose to go through this process.

I take a breath. Deep. In. Out. Breathe.

The question is: Are the choices you're making this morning ensuring you will journey through your day in harmony or discord? Are you remembering to breathe?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Awakening to hope

Chocolate frenzy Sunday.

Easter morning arrives steeped in religious significance.

And children scramble to unravel bunny lore in hope of finding chocolate eggs in the garden.

In pagan times, this weekend centered on the Saxon goddess Eastre, whose symbol was the Hare. The ancient spring festival was a time of rejoicing when it was believed that female and male energies were balanced. To ensure a bountiful spring, pagans honoured the gift of renewal this time of year represents and danced and sang in celebration.

I love the idea of renewal. That with everyday the opportunity to create anew awakens with each dawn. No matter the happenings of yesterday, today is a brand new day, a brand new opportunity. An unpainted canvas awaiting the paintbrush.

Author and historian, Barbara Kingsolver wrote, "The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof."

Living under the roof of hope, I aspire to a life of joy and contentment. Under the roof of hope, I live passionately and fearlessly. I cherish every moment knowing it is my best as I surrender and fall, in love.

This is Easter Sunday on the Christian calendar. A time of celebration. A time of reflection. A time to rejoice.

No matter the date on the calendar, or your spiritual belief, it is a day when hope spreads its wings and whispers a silent prayer of jubilation in honour of the wonder and joy of this day awakening to renewal.

I breathe deeply in the morning air. The birds twitter in the tree outside my window and spring awakens to the gentle warmth of the rising sun.

May your day be filled with blessings. May your soul sing a song of joy as hope fills your spirit and lifts you up.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Hindsight. Foresight. Insight.

Saturday awakens with bright blue skies soaring above, searching for infinity's end. Last week's snows have melted, the earth is warming up and buried beneath its surface, spring struggles to break through frozen ground.

Inside, my home is warm and cozy. Spring flowers blossom on table tops, gentle aromas of fresia and lavender permeate the air in breaths of wonder.

My life is a vibrant garden blossoming with promise.

Last night, C.C. and I made dinner for a friend of his and his ladyfriend. Earlier in the day, we went to the market and wandered amidst laden stalls searching for the perfect ingredients for the repast. At one point, I got very excited about a grocer's display of eggplant. Purple, plump and shiny, they glistened in the early afternoon sunlight streaming from the windows high above. Nestled between a bright red bed of vine ripened tomatoes and a frothing display of leafy green lettuce, they teased my senses with their beauty. Lele, who had joined us for the market outing, laughed along with C.C. at my rapturous, and vocal, appreciation of the beauty of those eggplants. I wanted to buy a basketful, but settled for just the prerequisite one I needed for the vegetable dish I was preparing.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. To me, those eggplants were the perfect mix of colour, texture, shape and contextual contrast to the vegetables beside them. Had I purchased more than just the one I needed, some of the beauty would have been lost because it was in context to their surroundings that they took on such incredible awe-inspiring delight.

Sometimes, a day may seem just a day, until one moment is lit by the hindsight garnered from what just happened providing foresight to what will happen next. Through the juxtaposition of the past, enlightening the future, we have the rare opportunity to gain insight into the profound beauty of the moment we're in right now.

This morning, I awoke before the dawn. The house was bathed in moonlight. Shadows edged the room as I quietly slipped out from beneath the covers and padded my way downstairs with Ellie silently following. I turned on the fireplace, lit a candle, put a favourite CD in the player and sat in the half light soaking up the sensations of early morning. Laughter and conversation and smells from last night's dinner lingered in the air. I looked back upon the evening, relished future get togethers and sank into the joy of the moment I was in.

I take great pleasure in entertaining. At one point, the lady guest asked me, What have you learned about C.C. that you didn't know before since moving in together? I laughed. Everything, I replied. And nothing. He is who I knew him to be. He is the man I knew him to be. What I'm learning most, is about me -- about how in relationship I am challenged to be all of me without fear that I will be judged, found wanting, thought to be not enough, or too much over the top or too little under the surface.

I see the past. I relish the future and in this moment, I revel in the joy of being me, in love with my life right now, in love with who I am, right now. This is my one precious and wild life. In hindsight, I cannot do anything different. In foresight, I can do everything different, or not. The future is yet to unfold. With my insight of what was and what can be, I delve into the now and live this moment with joyous abandon, revelling in the power of love to break my heart wide open.

The question is: Are you stuck in your hindsight fearing the future? Or, are you willing to let hindsight guide your foresight into lighting your path inward?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Living it up

German poet and author Goethe wrote, "Things which matter most should never be at the mercy of things which matter least."

Recently, I read a story about a woman in Hawaii who had never travelled from the island upon which she had lived all her life. When asked, but don't you want to see the world? She replied, "Why? Everything I need and love is right here. I catch fish, grow taro, sit in the sun, swim in the ocean, play with the grandkids, dance the hula. All the tourists work all year to spend two weeks doing what I do for free everyday."

My western mind immediately jumped to the thought, "But there must be more? More to living than just swimming in the ocean and dancing the hula."


Because I'm conditionned to believe it.

Everyday I work with people who have nothing and believe nothing is all they deserve. Most want something different, but are too afraid, or too wounded, or too tired too lost to look at what they can do differently.

Take Bill*. He's a gifted photographer. Quiet. Kind. Always has a smile. He walks around with his satchel filled with camera equipment and a laptop computer, taking photographs of the world around him. He's been at the shelter for several years. It's a 'comfortable' place for him because he knows the environment, and he has not yet had the compelling desire to let go of the alcoholism that keeps him there. But he wants to make a success of his photography. I asked him the other day if he wanted me to connect him with a photographer friend to give him some advice about how to market his photographs online. "I'm not ready," he replied.

I wonder if Bill will ever be ready. And then I realize, my ready time is not his ready time.

Awhile ago a professor of Social Work told a class I'd been invited into for a presentation, "One of your greatest challenges will be to allow clients to go at their own pace. To not leap over the table and want to shake them because they're just not 'getting it' at the pace you think they should."

Contentment in this moment often escapes me when I let go of where I'm at and focus on where I'd rather be. The art of zen in living now is to embrace where I'm at because it is a reflection of the life of my dreams that I've created now. When I am not living on purpose, not writing, not being all I'm meant to be, a fissure of unease, distress, discord ripples through my being. When I am avoiding doing what I know I want to do because I am allowing fear to hold me back, then I am not living the life of my dreams -- and I am not living on purpose.

It's up to me.

Bill may never get to ready -- I can judge his progress, judge his life, or... I can acknowledge he's doing what he's doing because that's where he's at -- and then, continue to live my life on purpose, demonstrating through my example that life is meant to be lived without fear. Life is the adventure of my lifetime. It's up to me to live it up.

The question is: Are you living it up, or living your fears?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Heeding my body

What a difference a day makes.

Yesterday, I awoke feeling lethargic and groggy. I rested for the day and this morning, I feel great!

A good lesson for life.

My habit is to storm through uncomfortable feelings, pushing them aside, and trampling them underground. By resting, letting the lethargy flow through me without pretending it didn't exist, I gave my body what it needed most -- rest.

In looking at where else do I do this in my life -- ignore my feelings, ignore my body, I see a mountain of molehills that could have been avoided had I listened instead of ignored.

Great learning for today. Listen to my body. Heed its call for rest and treat it with tender loving care.

The question is: Where do you act without heeding your bodies signals? Where do you pummel your emotions into submission and head off into the storm without thinking?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Surgery went well. Still groggy.

I awake and feel the tendrils of the drugs seeping at my energy level. No amount of shaking my head, pushing back, or kicking at the lethargy dislodges it. Sleep is required.

I'm not accustomed to being low energy. I'm not accustomed to sleeping in. I balk and realize I must give into the lull of sleep, give into the lasstitude rather than fight it.

A different perspective for me.

Some people call me stubborn. Some just think I'm persistent. Someone once likened me to a Jack Russell Terrier -- hmmm, having owned a Jack Russell for a year once, I don't think that's such a great thing!

Never the less, I am stubborn. I wanted to get up and go into my office today, but sleep over-powered me. I awoke two hours later, and couldn't get out of bed.

Hmmm, I thought, what if I just work from home? What if I sit at my computer and get some work done there?

C.C. tells me to be patient. Let the drugs take their course. The Doctor told you to rest today -- apparently, I'm still 'under the influence' and can't drive until this evening. Go figure!

Truth is, I just want to go back to bed. But, my guilty mind says, you have to go to work. The ying yang struggle of responsibility versus self-care.

If I don't take care of myself, how can I take care of others.

So, I'm heeding my bodies cry for sleep and going back to bed.

Question is: Do you listen to your body, or do you let your mind talk you out of doing what is most healing for you when you are sick?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

In honour of my brother

Tomorrow will be ten years since the fateful accident that took my brother and his wife.

Tomorrow I won't be writing here as I will be in hospital for the day. Time to have the stents removed that were placed inside 3 weeks ago.

Tomorrow is also St. Patrick's Day. That Day when Irish and wannabe's lift a pint and say a toast to the Patron Saint of Eire.

In the journey from slave to his exhalted position as the man who converted Ireland from paganism to christianity, many myths abound about St. Patrick's feats. Did he really clear Ireland of all venomous snakes, or is that just an analogy for his having converted so many Druids, who held snakes in great esteem, to Christianity? Did he really use the three leaf shamrock as a way to explain the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit or is that just part of the folklore that became the legend centuries later?

No one can see the past that has long since departed, just as we can't touch the dead who have left this world. Like St. Patrick's life, in our world today, myths abound, misbeliefs pepper the landscape with tales of how life is tough, life isn't fair, life is not for the weak.

And through it all, it is up to each of us to find our own truth, to uncover the rainbow behind the clouds, pots of gold at the end of every trouble, and four leaf clovers nestled amongst the grass, hidden amongst their three-leafed brethren.

Like St. Patrick, my father wasn't born in Ireland. But he always thought of himself as Irish. Growing-up in our home, St. Patrick's Day was a sacred event. A day to celebrate, to laugh, to party.

Like my father, my brother loved St. Patrick's Day. Perhaps that's why it's fitting that in celebrating the Saint's day, I also celebrate my brother's life that ended too soon. A troubled man who fell hard upon the road of life, my brother was my idol when we were young. Five years older than me, the only boy amidst three girls, he made me laugh, he made me cry. He made me sit up and pay attention. He made me proud. He made me angry. He made me happy. He also drove me crazy. He had this irritating habit of always playing a song on the record player and saying, "Listen to this. Listen to this." and before I could even catch a note, he'd be onto another song, saying, "Listen to this."

It's how he lived his life. Always listening for the next note. Never still. Always interrupting. Disagreeing. Overpowering. Over-bearing. And he was my brother. And I loved him.

My brother loved music. Loved girls too. My girlfriends always wanted to hang out at my house, just in case the dark-haired George appeared. He had a hearty appetite for life. Great generosity of spirit, as well as a love of the spirits that eventually tore apart his peace of mind.

He was a powerful soul, my brother. Passionate, fiery, strong and kind, and in the same breath weak, and troubled and sometimes cruel. And I miss him.

When George and his wife, Ros, left this world ten years ago, they left behind two beautiful daughters, a family who loved them, friends who adored them. They also left a sea of turmoil and angst. In their passing, however, I believe there is only one thing they would have wanted to have left behind, love.

In honour of George, and Ros my sister-in-law, I celebrate their lives with a prayer for peace and harmony in my world today as I surrender, and fall in love with the world around me.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Reaching out to help

Yesterday, coming back from a meeting, I took the elevator up to my office on the sixth floor at the shelter where I work. A client, "James" got on at the second floor.

"James" has been a client at the shelter for a couple of years. In his late 50's, he suffers from serious bouts of depression. Sometimes cantankerous, he is always pleasant when we meet -- mostly because on those days when he wants to be left alone, he avoids contact with people by leaving the building right after breakfast and staying out for the day.

Yesterday, as we rode the elevator together, he commented that he hadn't seen me for a couple of weeks. "I was ill," I told him.

"Oh," he asked. "Everything okay?"

"Absolutely," I replied.

As the elevator stopped on his floor he turned back to me and said, "If there's anything I can do for you, let me know," he said. The elevator doors closed on his smile.

Sometimes, on weekends, I will take Ellie, my golden retriever, to the shelter and James will take her for a walk along the river pathway. He likes to tell me he's training her to behave on leash, and I like to pretend she's better behaved onleash after her walks with James. During the week, whenever I pass him on the second floor (which is the day area), he always asks, "Where's my dog?"

I always reply, "At home, sleeping on her bed."

Ellie has become for him, his connection to the life he lost sometime ago when an addiction, and eventually depression, took him down.

James doesn't like living at the shelter, but it's the life he's grown accustomed to. The life he's familiar with now. The shelter is a place where he feels safe.

But he misses the dog he used to own. He misses the walks. The companionship. The unconditional love of his best friend. Those occassional walks with Ellie mean a lot to him. They bring him joy and they help him feel 'normal', part of regular society as he likes to call it.

As I drove home last night to prepare dinner for two girlfriend's who were coming over, I thought about James' comment about offering to help me if he could.

He meant it.

A man with so little, offering to do what he could to help me.

That is generosity of spirit. It is gallantry. It is humbling.

I am blessed in all I have. Blessed with love, with joy, with a life I live fearlessly.

James doesn't have a lot to give and yet, he offered to help.

Everyday someone asks me, "Isn't it depressing working in that place?"

"No," I reply. "It's inspiring. Everyday, people get up and try again. No matter how bad their lives are, the messes they're in, they take another step. It may not always be a step in the right direction, but they try, again and again. For me, it is a testament of the power of the human spirit to survive. And eventually, to thrive."

James may never have a dog of his own again. But, in connecting to Ellie, he has connected to something that has great meaning for him. And in that meaning, he may find his path out of homelessness.

And in the interim, he will reach out to others to offer help whenever he can.

That's inspiring.

The question is: Are you willing to reach out even when you're feeling low?

Friday, March 14, 2008

There is beauty all around

I drove to Canmore yesterday to give a talk at the high school on women and violence and homelessness. After a couple of invigorating presentations filled with great questions, dynamic dialogue and young minds searching for understanding, I got back into my car and began the 45 minute drive home.

It was a picture perfect, rocky mountain high kind of day for a drive. Clear blue sky soaring into forever, snowcapped peaks straining to touch the skies and ice covered lakes breaking into spring thaw. As I drove eastward, the mountains receded behind me giving way to sprawling ranchlands and rolling foothills. Horses gamboled in the springlike air, hawks soared on updrafts and gophers poked their heads up out of the earth, scurrying from hole to hole.

What an amazing place I live in.

This morning, I read my eldest daughter, Alexis', blog from Australia. At the end of her descriptive verse about the beauty and wonders she is seeing every day, she wrote, "Hope that everyone who reads this is finding the beauty all around you too!"

There is beauty all around us. No matter if you live on the rolling prairies, at the foot of majestic peaks or the edge of land tumbling into the ocean floor, there is beauty where ever we look.

We just have to open our eyes to the majesty of the world around us, and the magnificence of the world within us.

So often, as I journey through my day, busily getting done what needs doing, putting in place what needs placing and tidying up what needs tidying, I forget to lift my eyes from the ground beneath my feet to witness the world around me. So often, I am so fixated on my task at hand, I lose sight of nature's greater task of creating beauty.

At the end of the block from my house there is an off leash park. Most days, Ellie, Mollie and I trundle down the street to the park and stroll along the ridge, westwards, then eastwards. Depending upon the time of day, the outlook changes. In the morning, if skies are clear, the sun steals across the eastern sky bathing the city skyscape with rosy hues. On cloudy days, like today, the skyscrapers are lit from within, their lights twinkling in the soft morning light. In the evening, the mountains to the west stretch across the horizon like a giant sleeping dragon's back lifted up towards the sky. Clouds tumble overhead, prairie grasses whisper in the wind and traffic snakes its way homeward bound through the quietening streets.

No matter the time of day, there is beauty all around me. I just need to open my senses and breathe in the awe and wonder around me.

I am blessed to live in a place where mountain vistas beckon to the west, and prairie grasses roll into that place where tomorrow will rise in the east.

The question is: Do you see the beauty all around you? Are you open to breathing it in and filling your senses with awe?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The gift of laughter is meant to be shared

Yesterday, we had to close our building for the day due to some maintenance work that could only be performed with all air ducts, vents and ventilation shut down.

At 8:00 in the morning, we started moving clients out of the building to the park across the street. The majority of the approximately 600 clients who would use our services during the day, dispersed. However, about 100 remained behind, including three elderly clients who are relatively immobile. When lunch was served, clients returned, enjoyed the barbeque and dispersed again.

The day was expected to be sunny and warm. But, this is Alberta. Weathermen do not have a direct conduit to the weather -- and the weather can be capricious. Instead of warm temps, we were treated to slightly above freezing with a stiff, cold wind.

Staff brought blankets, mitts, hats and jackets out for clients. We had coffee and a snack, and a barbeque lunch ready at noon -- but still it was cold.

For staff, the reality of standing out in the cold for hours on end was taxing. For the clients, it was simply par for the course.

I don't often find working at the shelter depressing, but, yesterday, one staff member and I talked about how sad it is to see so many people succumb to the chilling reality of, 'this is my life'.

There is something unnerving about the cold. It digs deep into your bones. Zaps you of energy, of will, of a sense of purpose. Like a barnacle stuck to a whale, the cold clings to your skin, sucking you dry.

Yesterday, I watched clients build little fortresses of blankets on the grass, burrow into sleeping bags, snuggle into a mound of bodies to keep the chill away. The colours were drab. Grays and dingy blues and blacks. Unshaven faces. Silents footsteps shuffling in line.

For our three elderly clients, the day was particularly daunting. At one point, we put them into a van and a staff member drove them over to a sister agency to ask if they could remain there for the day. The answer was, No. The three clients have dementia. They require some attention during the day to ensure they use washroom facilities, etc. The other agency was not prepared to give them shelter and so, they were returned to our building and provision was made for them to spend the day in the computer lab which is adjacent to the main building and not affected by the maintenance yesterday.

It was a day of sadness, a day of rude awakening (how can a shelter refuse to help three elderly people without some pangs of conscience?). It was also a day of laughter and good times, of sharing and caring, of people helping out and doing what was right.

At one point, I was walking around the park with a big green plastic bag picking up garbage, one client saw me with my bag and yelled over, "Hey! Now you're a bag lady!" I laughed. Others around him laughed, except for one woman who became quite incensed by his comment.

"How rude," she muttered. "He shouldn't talk to you like that."

"I thought it was rather funny," I replied.

"Well you're wrong." she insisted. "It was rude."

I walked away with a cheerful, "He made me laugh on a cold day. I think that's great!"

Throughout the day clients picked up garbage, ensured the park was left as pristine as we could get it after serving 1,000 hamburgers for lunch. Thankfully, a group of volunteers came in from an oil company downtown and helped us serve up the burgers. Clients were appreciative of the aroma of burgers grilling, of potato chips and pop, of having a chance to kick back on the grass and enjoy something so simple as a barbecue in the park.

It may have been a cold, windy day, but for those accustomed to enduring the elements, it was a day filled with the opportunity to connect, to feel a sense of 'normalcy', to let the depression of homelessness lift for just awhile.

For me, it was a day to count my blessings, to remember that laughter is a gift best shared and that attitude is all in our perspective. And when it was over, I climbed into my car, turned on the heater and the music and drove home to loving arms, wagging tails and the security and warmth of my home.

The question is: What are you blessings today? Are you willing to share your laughter?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Cup runneth over.

In 1994, while crossing in a crosswalk, she was hit by a 5 Ton truck. Doctor's predicted she'd never walk again. She proved them wrong.

"I had amazing support from my family," she told me last night as we sat at a table at a fundraiser for the homeless shelter where I work and for the Parkinson's Disease foundation. "And it really helped that where I was doing physio I was surrounded by young athelete's determined to overcome whatever injury they had sustained. They coached me and cheered me on. I had to walk again if only because those kids were determined I would."

And then, in 2002 she started falling. Several months later the diagnosis was complete. Parkinson's Disease.

The cause? It's believed to have been the accident.

"Doesn't matter what the cause is," she said as we shared a cup of tea together. "The cause doesn't change the fact I have Parkinson's. Nothing can change that fact. I can, however, change how the disease impacts my life and my family. I have to do whatever it takes to ensure the disease doesn't destroy my life sooner than it would if I didn't take the right steps to slow down its progression today."

What an attitude. What an inspiration.

She is a victor.

Life may have served her lemons but she isn't crying in her lemonade.

She is actively participating in her well-being. She is committed to her Be. Do. Have. (Be committed to Do what it takes to Have what I want).

She would like a life devoid of Parkinsons -- but the fact is, that's not happening anytime soon. Rather than bemoan the fact she got it, rather than whine about the unfairness, or fall into the 'why me' boat of self-pity, she is dealing with reality and calmly marching forward, determined to live a full and loving life.

Life is filled with trials. Yet, admidst those trials there are ample opportunities for joy. There are immeasurable moments to experience love.

Fifteenth Century playwright, John Heywood wrote, “If you will call your troubles experiences, and remember that every experience develops some latent force within you, you will grow vigorous and happy, however adverse your circumstances may seem to be.”

I don't know how I would deal with Parkinsons. What I do know is that sitting and chatting with this woman last night, and others who have been afflicted with the disease, I am in awe of the power of the human spirit to overcome hardship. I am in awe of the courage this woman displays in the face of adversity. Her husband sat beside her, every so often interjecting a joke, a smile, a word of support. He'd touch her hand, gently carress her shoulder, laughingly commented that "I'm not going there," when she commented on her 'my witchy time' -- when too much of one drug radically changed her behaviour.

She is a tiny woman. Dark hair framing her face. Twinkling brown eyes, a shy smile. She was married at 18 to "Bill", her husband of over 50 years. "My mother had to sign the papers to allow me to be married," she told me. "Back then, you had to be 21 to do it yourself." She smiled wistfully. "How times change." And then she laughed. "No one can predict what happens in life. All you can do is deal with what happens with as much grace as you can muster and know, God will always support you in your journey."

The question is: Are you crying in your lemonade or revelling in your cup running over?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Loving my ever-expanding soul

I wrote this morning to a blogger that I have a list of things I've been 'meaning to get to'.

Wonder when meaning to get to becomes the actual getting to it?

Last night, my daughter Alexis called from Australia. Hard to imagine she's been gone for three weeks already. Her voice sounded so near and clear. Like she was just down the street or in another part of the city. And yet, she's down under, on the other side of the world where water drains in reverse and the season's turn opposite.

Once upon a time I had a dream to get to and I let it go. I dreamt of travelling the world, writing articles, entertaining readers with my experiences in distant lands and far flung places. I never got to that dream. Never got it all together.

And yet, there's still time.

There's always time for dreams to come true -- as long as I take action.

Getting from point A to point B is not a mind map challenge. It's a question of action. And some days, action towards my goals is not as apparent as action away from them.

I've been in one of those funks lately. Perhaps it's because of having had surgery. Perhaps it's because I'm just feeling the blues, or simply not willing to step beyond my comfort zones and challenge myself to keep moving forward, keep doing not just thinking.

Whatever my excuse cum reason, not taking action towards my goals and making my dreams come true keeps me stuck in unfulfilled living.

Like Alexis exploring her ever-expanding soul in Australia, it's up to me to drain every moment of my living. To wring out every ounce of joy and to pour into every moment all the heartfelt, passionate life and love I possess so that I make this moment, right now, my best moment yet.

This morning I received an email from someone whom I love dearly but for whom I failed, some time ago to give her the love and support she needed. She talked of her realization after reading a comment I'd made on Alexis' blog, that she can love her ever-expanding soul in this moment, right now. She doesn't have to wait for someone else to do it for her. She can do it for herself.

Pretty wise young woman -- pretty awesome concept. To know my soul is ever expanding and to recognize it's up to me to love myself for all I'm worth, just the way I am.

Here's to getting to it, right now, today and not someday soon.

Here's to creating a life worth living moment by moment by living it on purpose. Doesn't mean big moments. It means knowing I am being ALL I'm meant to be, living free of regret and breathing into each moment as I surrender, expand into my soul and fall in love.

The question is: Are you letting inertia hold you back from living your best moment yet? Are you using excuses to keep you from embracing your ever-expanding soul in love?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Leaping into the morning

Monday morning. Time leapt forward yesterday and the sun is hurrying to catch up. Morning is not yet bright, night creeps slowly towards the west.

Me on the other hand, I'm awake. Ready to leap into my day -- but an hour behind!

Even Ellie hasn't caught up to the time change yet. She's still sleeping on the bed with Charles -- she finally made the leap up when I got up. Her arthritic hips are limiting her movement these days as we struggle to find ways to ease her pain and keep her limber.

Time moves on. Time changes everything.

Time, however, does not heal a broken heart. Love does.

Years ago my heart was broken. Today, my heart beats wild open in love. With me, myself and I. With life. With the world around me.

Years ago I didn't believe I deserved love. I didn't believe I was worthy of this one, wild and precious life I have been gifted.

Today, I know I am. Today, I claim my right to live this one, wild and precious life on my terms. With abandonment. With passion. With courage and commitment to be all I'm meant to be.

It's that kind of a morning. Wild and free. Sky lightening. Rosy hues seeping into the eastern sky, tinting night with filigree clouds of pink and rose and yellow. Night escapes westward. Day breaks and my morning explodes with the limitless possibilities of my life today.

What a day to be alive and living. What a day to stand in love, in awe with the world around me.

The question is: Are you ready to leap into the day leaving the darkness behind? Are you ready to claim this one, wild and precious life as yours today?

Saturday, March 8, 2008


Saturday morning dawns bright and shiny. For some, this day will be the best day of their lives yet. For others, it will be a continuation of the pain and sorrow of the past.

It is all in our choices.

Unfortunately, sometimes we can get so lost we don't see that we have a choice to take a different path.

On Thursday, I sat in on a talk a client of the shelter where I work gave to a group of Grade 9 students. She's 37. Looks 25 -- very unusual for someone who has lived the rough and rumble life of the street. Mostly, the street ages you 10 to 15 years. For this woman, let's call her Carrie, the street has been a place of 'safety' since she was 12 and ran away from alcoholic parents.

Now, one of the challenges with hearing the stories of those whose lives have wandered so far from home is being able to hear the larger story without looking for truth in every detail.

It is a common occurrence -- lying. As Carrie said in her talk, "You have to know who I am. I'm a drug addict. A liar. A thief. A cheat. It's who I am."

For Carrie, one of the biggest challenges is to acknowledge the truth that who she says she is today, is not who she has to be forever. Claiming her magnificent self will be a journey of discovery -- should she be willing to take it.

Carrie told the students that she hasn't used a needle in two and a half months. "That's big," she said. "I used crack two weeks ago," she paused and laughed. "Actually, I used yesterday but it was the first time in two weeks. I gotta get straight. I gotta see my kids again. They're 8 and 12 and I haven't seen them in five years."

"Why not?" asked one of the students. "Don't you love them?"

Carrie pressed her lips together. She jerked her head quickly, her chin dropping towards her left shoulder, her eyes closed. I wondered if she wanted to strike something as I watched her fists clench and unclench by her sides.

She took a breath. "Yeah. I love them. Have always loved drugs and getting high more so social services took them from me. They deserve better than me." She paused. "But I'd sure like to see them again."

At 12 years of age, Carrie ran to the street. Not much of a choice for a child. Her choices since then have been predicated upon the life that has been sucking her dry since her first trick, her first high, her first fall from grace.

Carrie wants to change her choices. She wants to make better choices but first, she has to learn that she has the choice to choose getting high over getting straight.

"I'm grateful to be able to come in here and talk to you kids," Carrie told the group. "Cause I know I've done something good today, I know I won't get high today. That's good. I'm making a different choice."

Some of the choices I have to make are not as big as Carrie's. They're not as life defining, but still they impact whether I have the best day of my life yet, or a day just like another.

For today, I choose to make choices that celebrate me. I choose life filled with joy, embracing all I'm meant to be, beauty, warts and all.

The question is: What about you? Do you choose to celebrate you for all you're worth?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Peace and joy in the here and now.

Sometimes, I like to make the easy difficult. My cyber gap turned out to be easily remedied, but I thought I could do it myself without calling my provider.

LOL -- I had all the steps right, but I didn't have the timing right.

A few minutes on the phone and voila! I'm connected.

We are in the process of cleaning out my mother's apartment in preparation for her big move into a lodge. The other night I spent a couple of hours going through cupboards, sorting, packing, ditching and reminiscing. The journey backwards through time was precipitated by the 15+ photo albums I found in one cupboard.

It is very hard to sort through my mother's life, particularly as we are doing it without her there.

This is a very difficult move for my mother. She believes it represents the loss of her 'life', her independence, her identity.

Looking through those photo albums, I didn't see the loss of 'life', I saw a vibrant, colourful, rich and varied life. A life filled with people, family, friends, special events and quiet moments.

But it was tough.

So many photos. So many moments. So much history.

My mother was/is a very beautiful woman. I looked at photos of her when we were kids and she was absolutely stunning. A huge smile, bright brown eyes, black as night hair. Petite. Delicate.

As I looked through the albums I kept looking at her smile. I don't remember her smile. I remember her tears, her sadness, her fears.

Perhaps it is my memory that has overshadowed the truth of who my mother is. Perhaps it is my pain that riddles her past with regret like acid rain permeating deep waters of a lake.

In the past two months my mother has been in a care facility to work on her depression. They've taught her tools to deal with her emotions. Given her affirmations to shore up her self-esteem.

We've witnessed the change. Seen the difference it's made in how she deals with situations. Sure, she still has outbursts, but she displays greater self-control. And still, I hold my breath, waiting. Wondering. Worrying about when she'll strike again. When will she lash out at me. When will she latch onto an issue and dig the needle of her anger under my skin like a tic burrowing under a dog's fur.

It's time for me to breathe. To let the then and there go so that I can move freely in the here and now, accepting my mother as she is today, not as she was back then, or as I remember her back then. It's time for me to quit competing with memories need for a place to hold onto in fear of letting go of my critical assessment of her. It's time to breathe deeply and move fearlessly into love.

This is a difficult move for my mother. She is displaying great courage. She may not be moving with total grace and ease into this change, but she is moving as gracefully as she can. If she displays emotion, it is because this is an emotional situation.

To pack up her things, I must set my emotions aside and focus on the task at hand. To help my mother move with grace and ease into her new living situation, I must breathe into my emotions and give room for hers to surface without engaging in mine. I must focus on what she needs, not on telling her what I think she needs or wants.

Dale Carnegie said it best, "Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving."

It's time for me to dive into my character and fall in love with my mother exactly as she is today.

The question is: Where does memory keep you in the there and then, battling against finding peace and joy in the here and now?

Thursday, March 6, 2008


So.... I awoke to a technology gap this morning. No Internet access.

Have to phone and get it fixed. Time demands I get going.

Will be back later today.

In the interim, remember these wise words of Henry David Thoreau who said, "Lo! Men have become the tools of their tools."

I am a tool of my computer -- and when cyberspace widens the gap, I become tooless!

See ya later!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Morning's dawning appears earlier in the eastern skies these days. A visible sign that winter is easing it's way south of the equator. That time is waking up to spring's arrival.

Alexis is revelling in southern climes, her blog a tantalizing tease stirring wanderlust and a quest for endless beaches and warm summer breezes. I marvel at her vitality, her youth, her enthusiasm. She is growing. Expanding. Changing.

Ellie, my trustworthy pooch, is showing signs of arthritis. She slept on her bed in the living room last night. Her aching joints too sore to make the journey up or down into someone's bedroom. I've introduced glucosamine and other remedies into her diet and keep a watchful eye on her movements. She's slowing down. Moving into that time where life takes on a quieter hue.

Signs of spring. Signs of change.

The hands of time revolve. Time passes. Time moves on. Time changes. There's no stopping time.

And there's no stopping ageing.

Sometime ago, Alexis was giving me a 'make-over'. I was going to a party and she wanted to do my make-up. As she applied eye shadow she paused, looked at the tiny wrinkles on my eyelids and exclaimed, "Oh mummy. It must be so hard getting old!"


But I smile.

It isn't hard. It's just different. It's just change.

Part of life. Part of living.

The lines on my face aren't the measure of time's affect upon my body. They're simply the gentle easing of my physical boundaries into the world around me. The lines on my face are simply time's passing, time's moving on.

The real changes are within me. Deep down. Inside. Rooted in my soul. Bouyed up by my spirit that has expanded into its being all I'm meant to be when I live free of measuring time by how many tomorrow's I have to go until I get there.

I'm there. Right now. Right here. This is where I'm meant to be.

Thousands of miles away my eldest daughter is leaping into living life with abandon. She's expanding her soul, moving into her spirit and finding her joy.

Me. I sit right here. Right now and expand into the truth of who I am and where I am meant to be.

Living life at the edge of time, filling each moment with the joy of being all I'm meant to be.

The question is: Where in time are you? Living it up large today or counting the sleeps until you get to where you want to be someday, somewhere, somehow?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Patience grasshopper

The sun crept into the leaden grey sky struggling to push back the night like a thief creeping through a window. I lay in bed willing morning to not appear, struggling to push back the covers and get up.


I am not accustomed to it. To being tired. I'm high energy. High voltage. High enthusiasm.

Patience grasshopper.

I remind myself that I am still recovering from surgery. That I still have two stents in my body which at times cause me discomfort. I remind myself to treat myself with tender loving care.

It's so easy to tell someone else what to do, how to do it. Not as easy to give myself the same medicine.

I'm a throw back the covers, leap out of bed and explode into the morning kind of gal.

Right now, I'm not.

Accepting that now is not forever. That it's okay to creep slowly into the day like the sun easing its way across a snow-filled sky, is tough for me.

But, it's also part of healing.

I breathe.

Henry Wadworth Longfellow wrote, "For after all, the best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain."

The best thing I can do when I am healing is to be patient. To accept my body needs time and loving care to reclaim its vibrancy and vitality.

As I journey through my day I shall meditate on the word, 'patience'. What does it mean to me? How does it settle within me -- does it settle within me? Where do I engage impatience to disturb my peace of mind.

Awhile ago I gave a presentation to a group of 3rd year Justice Studies students at a local college. The professor commented that one of the hardest aspects of being a social worker is to be patient with your client -- "You believe you know what's best for them. You believe you have their answers and you want them to get it -- now. Learning patience is one of the toughest things I've ever done."

In our give it to me now, make it go faster, higher, bigger, better world, patience takes a back seat to immediacy.

I want to get it all -- now. I want to understand it all -- now.

Patience grasshopper.

There is no point in total understanding. The journey is in the path to understanding.

The question is: Where do you grow impatient with loving yourself just the way you are? Where do you treat yourself with less than you deserve?

Monday, March 3, 2008

Living on purpose

The sun pushes night from the eastern sky and I awaken to a brand new day.

My first day back at work after being off sick for two weeks. My first day of the rest of my life.

What kind of day will I create?

I know I can't control all the events in my day, but I can prepare myself for my day by putting controls on my moods, my thinking, my actions. I can determine how I respond to the events beyond my control.

In an article I recently read at, Dr. Liane Leedom quotes a recent study that states 1 in 30 US males between the ages of 20 and 34 are behind bars. It's estimated that 30% of the prison population are sociopathic.

One of the attributes of a sociopath is poor impulse control -- the ability to think before taking action, to pause before causing harm.

This morning, as I think about what kind of day I will create, I acknowledge that my impulse control will be a key factor in what I create in my world, harmony or discord?

The choice is always mine.

I can start with the intent to create harmony, but still end up making choices that engender discord if I let my feelings compel me to react without thought.

When my eldest daughter was young, one of her favourite sayings after an action of poor impulse control was, "I can't help myself."

I always responded with, "If you can't help yourself, who can?"

There is no one else who can create a better world for me. I'm it. This is my one wild and precious life. No one else can live it for me. No one else can change it for me. No one else can be it for me -- I'm it.

When I read Liane Leedom's article on the importance of the values and principles we as a society extol and uphold, I turn my light back on me and ask myself -- what will I do today to create a better world?

Thelma Box, founder of Choices, says her purpose is to 'change the world one heart at a time'. Everyday she focuses on her purpose and ensures what she does is creating a world of change reflective of caring, loving hearts.

For me, my purpose is to 'touch hearts and open minds to set spirits free'. To ensure I am living on purpose, I must focus each moment of my day and commit to taking action -- even when my impulse is to act out -- that enliven my purpose and create harmony in the world around me.

I can't change the world, but I can change the world I live in by living it on purpose. If each of us do that -- we will be changing the world!

The question is: What kind of day will you be creating around you? What's your purpose today?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Lesson learned

Morning rises and my spirits lift. It is a beautiful day to be alive. A wondrous day for living.

C.C. and I had a fight last night. Not a knock 'em out, drag 'em through the dirt kind of thing but rather a, here's my boundary, you've crossed it, I need to understand why.

He gave me his why, and his apology.

I insisted on getting more understanding.

The challenge of being me.

I want to know. Everything. I want to rotor rooter through the dirt digging up tasty morsels of gritty knowledge that open doors of understanding and windows of opportunity for new growth.

I want to use a sledgehammer where a gentle "Thank you. I accept your apology" would do.

Fortunately, we eventually breathed through the discourse and discord. Fortunately, we both recognized what is most important.

Lesson learned -- When someone admits they're wrong and apologizes, don't hammer them with acknowledgement, embrace them in love.

The question is: Where does your need to understand someone else prevent you from seeing yourself?

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Do I want to be 'right? or, Do I want to be happy?

I have added a new process in my morning ritual. After making coffee I sit and meditate by the fire, letting my mind free itself from conscious thought, from processing, from directing my thinking.

As I quietly sat letting my thoughts drift through my mind like white fluffy clouds on a summer's morning, tears pricked at the edges of my eyes lids and began to flow. Thoughts of my mother passed through my mind. Sadness. Sorrow. Tears.

My mother has never been a happy woman. I can't remember laughter or even songs of joy. I don't remember doing things with her without the fear that there was something I needed to do to make it all perfect for her. In my memory and experience, my mother has always worried. Always been fearful. Always been frightened by life and men and what might happen and what people might think and what might be if....

My mother has lived with fear throughout her life.

Yesterday, my mother signed the papers for her room at the assissted-living Lodge where she will be moving in the next few weeks.

Big change. Big adjustment. Big fear.

My eldest sister and I were speaking this week about mom's insistence that she be allowed to take a large piece of furniture with her. My sister has tried to convince her it's not a good idea -- it won't fit. You'll be too crowded. You won't have room to move, she's told her.

I don't care, my mother replied. I'm giving up everything else. I want this piece of furniture in my room.


Usman B. Asif said, "Fear is a darkroom where negatives develop."

My mother has lived in a darkroom most of her life. Frightened of exposing her fear to the light, she has remained lock in a world where negative values overwhelm the positive.

And yet, she struggles to find peace. It is her greatest wish -- to have a peaceful heart.

In giving up her independence my mother is confronting her greatest fear -- she is frightened and she is doing it anyway.

Perhpas it's time to celebrate her accomplishments and let go of my need for her to do it the 'right' way.

There is no 'right' way for her to move from living on her own into an assissted living lodge. There is only the way that gives her the most peace.

I owe her an apology. In my desire to ensure she was safe and cared for, in my desire to ensure she no longer abuses drugs and alcohol, I thought I knew the right way for it to happen.

I don't.

My mother doesn't need me to tell her 'how' to do this. She doesn't need me to criticize how she's doing it -- she needs me to support her in her fear, applaud her for her courage and above all, love her for who she is -- not who I want her to be.

It was a beautiful meditation today. It brought to light the negative pull of my desire to control the world around me.

I can't control the world around me -- I can stand in my light and get out of the way of controlling where it shines.

The question is: Where do you focus on doing things the 'right way'? Where do you let go and experience the gift of letting things unfold in the light of awakening to your truth?