Friday, April 30, 2010

Will you show me the way to peace?

Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures. John F. Kennedy
When President John F. Kennedy addressed the United Nations in September of 1961 the world was on the brink of disaster. Powers to be were busily fomenting what was to be called, The Cuban Missile Crisis. Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko warned that an American attack on Cuba could mean war with the Soviet Union. Across the nation, school children practiced huddling beneath their desks and in back yards and famers fields, mothers and fathers built bomb shelters stocked with enough supplies to last as long as it took for the radioactive cloud to dissipate.

And no one could predict how long that would take.

And no one knew when the first strike would come.

And everyone believed the world as they knew it was about to end.

And Kennedy spoke of peace. Of quietly building new structures.

In each of us, peace searches for that new structure to take hold, for those old, outdated notions to be eroded so that we can become one with our being at peace with ourselves. In each of us is 'a critter' busily fomenting crisis amidst our struggle to find that place where we know peace within. Two super powers busily duking it out on the playing fields of our hearts, on the uncharted waters of our consciousness rising in fear we will never find peace, we will never see a brand new day.

In our searching, we create worlds of turmoil, of discord, of disquiet. We create that which we do not seek and in our constant gyrations, we make room for everything but peace. We wonder if it will ever be possible to 'give peace a chance' when all around us the world is tossing to and fro chasing peace into the hinterlands of our dreaming about a distant day when we will find heaven on earth.

There is always a chance for peace within us.

Yesterday, I received an email from a very dear friend whom I've known since my early twenties. He once played a vital role in my finding myself in the angst of my search for the answer to the question "Who am I and how the hell do I find my way back to a place I didn't know I lost when I haven't got any ruby slippers?" In his email, he wrote

"Quiet, solid steadiness, one day at a time, is in part the key to getting through this life for me I have found. I know what is said about the importance of "the examined life" - and it is - but sometimes it is a simple measurable joy - and enough for me - to not plumb the depths for a moment or two and simply be, under often-unfair, but such is this life, heaven. Hold on to yourself, the evolved Pure Art that has emerged as you as life has chipped away from the original block of granite. Knowing your stubbornness I think "granite" is not a misplaced expression. But too it weathers all storms and remains unscathed in all its grandeur when the sun returns."

For him, peace is in this moment. In this time of life where he walks the quiet path, giving of his brilliance to the world, sharing his light so others too may know peace.

My stubbornness is well-known. Perhaps it is why, when peace eludes me I stubbornly cling to the stories I tell myself about why I have the right to my disquiet. "My discord is not of my making," I insist. "He said. She did. They were...." Those are the causes. Not me.

It is finding that place of silence within, that beautiful, deep, loving place where I embrace nothing and know all, that I become one with the One. That I breathe life into the peace I seek within me.

Lama Surya Das, in a speech entitled, "Why be a Buddhist when you can be the Buddha?" which he gave at a recent Integral Spiritual Experience event asks, "How long does it take to awaken a human?"*

The answer.

As long as it takes.

I'm stubborn. I will not give up on my awakening. I will be like the granite. Chipping away the rough edges to reveal the diamonds in the rough. I will not sink into the mire of disbelief that my birthright is not to live this one, wild and precious life on fire, in the fire, dancing up a storm of authenticity. Passionately becoming the one I have been waiting for in peaceful surrunder to all that I am and all that I will ever be in Love.

The question is: Are you waiting for someone else other than yourself to show you the way to peace?


*(I cannot post the link as it is a members only event -- go to Integral Life to find out more.)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Signature moves

Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it.Autograph your work with excellence. Jessica Guidobono
It snowed last night. Big time. Green feathered branches bend towards the ground, weighed under beneath the weight of their buds and snow. Tulips turn into themselves in an attempt to shield their spring-enthused flowers from frostbite. The pavement gave up the ghost of warmth that had shielded itself from collecting snow and green lawns have become laden fields of white flakes oozing moisture. It is a wet and heavy spring storm blasting down from the north.

I eye the snow with disdain. I eye the weather with consternation. Hello? It's the end of April. April showers bring May flowers and all that stuff? What's with the rain visible in a blanket of white?

Mother nature has signed her signature firmly on her work. She is one creative source of weather.

I sigh. She's just doing her job. I gotta get doing mine.

Jobs. We have so many. So many people fitting into places to work. To be. To create. To donate. To contribute. To give.

His job was once a tax-driver. "Twenty-five years," he told me at Project Forward the other night. "I seen everything. Perhaps the hardest, though, were the ladies. The one's with kids, fleeing their homes. You know, I tried everything to convince them not to go back. I had lists of resources they could call. Places they could go. And still, they went back. I didn't often see someone get away." He paused. Nodded his head. "It's good to see one get away."

He was speaking of the story one of the women in the group had shared about what had driven her to the shelter. "I had no where else to go," she said. "I was so scared but I knew I couldn't go back there. I had to stay here."

And here, at the shelter, she has been for a year. She's working now. Two jobs. And going to school. Finishing her high school diploma. "I'm moving out soon. You guys are helping me get an apartment. I know I can do this."

Do this. Do this thing called getting out. Moving on.

How she does it is up to her. Survive. Thrive.

Take your pick.

Like a job. How you do it is your signature.

We've all got one. Signature that is.

Mine is here, on the pages I write. Mine is there, at the shelter where I work. It's visible in how I live my purpose, everyday, bringing my best to bear in everything I do and say.

We've all got a signature. Let's make ours count. Let's make it different. Let's make its uniqueness be the spark that lights up the world with hope. With joy. With love.

She's getting out. And the man who used to drive a cab? He's hopeful. I gotta keep my spirits up, he says. I know I'm gonna get a job soon.

He shows me the ad from a job search site. I talked to the boss. He tells me it's looking good. I may be working soon.

He pauses. He's in his fifties. Addiction drove him here to the shelter. Courage drove him away from abusing himself into accepting his truth -- his addiction will keep him here unless he does something different.

I gave up drinking. Now, I gotta give myself a chance to move on.

He gave up drinking. Gave up using spirits to lift himself up.

Now, he's looking for a job. A way to put his signature on his life, on the world, that reflects what he wants to create, not what he's destroyed.

Mahatma Gandhi said, "I have found that life persists in the midst of destruction and therefore must be a higher law than that of destruction. Only under that law would a well-ordered society be intelligible and life worth living."

He's persisting. And in his persistence he is creating a life worth living.

The question is: What's your signature going to be today? How will you have signed the day when you crawl between the sheets tonight?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Love. Peace. Harmony. Joy.

This morning, my meditation transcended a moment in time when people around the world were focused on one thought, one event, one idea:

Together As One
We see the urgent need for a better world order
And, in concert with our subjective Group
We willingly stand in service
of humanity and the Christ impulse

In an email I received from the leader of the meditation group I participate in, Del Bryant wrote: "Today is The Festival of Wesak or -- the Festival of the Buddha, the spiritual intermediary between the highest spiritual centre, Shamballa, and the Hierarchy. The Buddha is the expression of the wisdom of God, the embodiment of light and the indicator of divine purpose. This Festival is fixed annually in relation to the full moon of May; it is the great Eastern Festival.

The Forces of Enlightenment are active at the time of the Wesak Festival. These Forces emanate from the heart of God; they are related to divine understanding and can reach and strengthen those who love and serve their fellow men. This energy transmits the second principle of divinity, love-wisdom, of which the Buddha and the Christ are the two outstanding expression. The forces of enlightenment initiate the new world education.

The first to be affected by them are the great educational movements, the forums of the people in all lands and the values which can unfold through mass communications media. The press, publishers of world literature, speakers, writers, radio commentators, newspaper men and social workers are all affected by these forces which stream into the minds of men. Their effects are not yet apparent to any degree, but these movements and people are the recipients today of the energies of enlightenment; as they recognize the new emerging ideas they can channel and direct energy to influence the masses of men everywhere."

As I grounded myself in my meditation practice and opened my heart in Love, I was one of millions of people around the globe doing the very same thing in that very same moment. As I embraced the light I was connected to thousands of people who were gathered beneath the light of the full moon, in a high Himalayan valley pass,at the southern end of a narrow oblong shaped valley. At the moment of the full moon, which here in Calgary was 6:20a.m. MST, they celebrated the Festival of the Buddha when the light of enlightenment passed through the Christ body out into the world. They do it every year as they have done every year for centuries.

It is a mystical, mythical, magical moment filled with the Divine grace of enlightenment.

There was a power to my meditation this morning. An energy that is not always there when I meditate alone. My thoughts were focused on connecting to this greater 'source', this bigger than me world of Enlightenment, of light, of peace seeking, of peace embracing.

It was an awe-inspired moment. A Divine infused time. It was a moment of being One in Love. Peace. Harmony and Joy.

I invite everyone to spend a moment, or several, throughout the day. In your minds eye, be the peace you seek. Be the light you wish to become. Be the embodiment of the Christ impulse. Be the spirit of the Divine. Let these words wash through you as you send them out into the universe in waves of love:

“Love Brings Peace and Harmony and a Better World Order.”

And remember, throughout the day, there is power in our thoughts. There is power in our prayers. Pray today for Peace and Harmony and a better world order. Let Love be your guide.

We are One. We are all connected. We are all Love.



Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Letting shame go.

What is shame? Shame is the emotion we feel when we are guilty of acts that are unworthy of us. Steven Pressfield
I first met him three years ago when he came to live at the shelter. His, as so many are, was a circuitous journey. From worker to addict to street. From street to street worker/care-giver, he followed the call of the wild, "Go west man. There's the money." And so, he heeded the siren's call and travelled to the oilfields. Big rigs. Big money. Big problems. Drinking. Drugs. An injury. No support system. Back to the street until he ended up at the shelter door.

"Not my fault man. I got injured."

He struggled to make sense of his nonsense. Struggled to let go of the shame of what had happened to his life, without having to claim accountability for his role in making it happen.

"Not my fault man. I didn't create this mess."

And so he struggled. "I'm looking for work. There just isn't any." "I'd go to work if my back was better. If only I could afford chiropractic care."

And so, I found him the care he asked for. It wasn't enough. At least, not enough to lift the shame. Sure, he went for a few appointments, but eventually, the beast of shame drove home the message -- you don't deserve to have what you want. And he resisted, wellness, care, good-health. he resisted being accountable to the Dr. and to the gift of receiving good care. He resisted everything that he wanted that would create wellness in his life. Shame held him down.

Eventually, he started singing. He was good. One year he asked for a guitar for Christmas through The Christmas WishList. He got it. That surprised him. Getting something so important. So meaningful. Shook him up. He worked hard. For awhile. And then, the beast rode in again. "You don't deserve this. You're too good for these guys. You're better than them. You're no good at all...."

The tug-pull of self-sabotage. Not good enough. Better than the rest.

He kept struggling. He kept lying.

I am not using, he insisted. He sat in my office. His face red. Eyes wide. Unfocused. Body a constant jittery vibration.

He needed me to believe him. I don't believe your lies, I told him. I do believe in you. I do believe you have the courage to speak your truth.

He didn't like to hear that. Hurt too much. Scared him. Way too much responsibility.

He quit talking to me.

And then, one day, a few months ago, he came into my office to say good-bye. "I'm leaving," he said. "Going north. To Fort Mac. Gotta job. Gotta possibility of getting on with my life."

And I was scared for him. Worried. Fort Mac. Oil town. Big rigs. Big money. Big trouble. No support system.

My worry wouldn't help him. I focused on wishing him well.

"Be well," I wished him and let him go in Love.

And then, I heard he was back. In a rehab centre. A great place to be to find the tools to live a life free of addiction. He really wants to chat with you, a friend said. He really wants to call.

He knows he can, anytime, I replied.

I could have called him, I know. I also know, he had to make the move. No matter what I said he wouldn't have believed me because it was shame holding him back. Until he chose to let go of it, it would always lurk and the only way to let go of shame is to take affirmative action.

Yesterday, he walked into my office. He'd called the week before. "Can I drop by to see you one day?" he asked.

"Absolutely," I replied.

He walked in. Hugged me. Sat down and told me all that had happened. All that had gone wrong. All that he was accountable for.

"Man, it's a tough journey," he said. "But I know I can do this. I know I have a problem and I know to live free of it, I have to face it. And I so desperately want to do that. Live free of it. I desrve that."

He showed me the photo of his 'rock bottom' moment. His thirty-fifth birthday cake. It's big. White icing. Frosted flowers. His mother and friend brought it to him. While he was in a detox centre in Fort Mac. His first step on the road to recovery.

"Man that was scary," he said. "I knew I had to do something different. I knew I couldn't keep doing what I'd always done if I was to break the cycle."

And so he did. Do something different. And he's doing it. Something different to be free of his addiction.

He's working a program. Working hard at his right to be sober. Being accountable.

He sat in my office and shared his story and at the end he said, "I just wanted to apologize for anything I ever said or did that was disrespectful to you."

I wanted to tell him he didn't need to apologize but knew, it was an important step for him. "Thank you. Apology accepted," I told him.

He talked some more. Thanked me for always supporting him. For always treating him with respect.

"I had no reason not to," I told him. "Whatever you were doing was about you. I knew your addiction was running your life and until you could embrace that truth, all I could do was hold a space for you to be who you are. That's what we do here. We hold a space for people to be where they're at until they wake up to the truth they deserve to be somewhere else, somewhere better." I paused. Smiled, and said, "Please hear me. I never saw you as a lesser man. I always saw you as a magnificent human being. Still do."

He chewed his bottom lip. Blinked his eyes quickly. "Thank you. I'm starting to get that."

I'm glad, I replied. You deserve it. You deserve to be your most magnificent self.

We all do.

Steven Pressfield's quote is from Katdish's blog today, Good Shame vs Bad Shame . Give yourself a gift of enlightening words this morning and saunter on over to visit her at Hey Look, A Chicken!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Ripples of difference

What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others. Pericles
She was sitting by herself. Bright red wrap draped around her shoulders. Her head was bowed. I wanted to ensure she was not in distress and approached to ask if there was anything she needed.

"Is everything okay?" I asked. "Can I help you?"

She looked up at me. Startled. For a moment, I saw my face in her eyes, once upon a time. An unexpected sound. A sudden approach. I startled. Like a bird lifting off a wire.

She recognized me and smiled. I didn't recall seeing her before. She was new to the group. "Oh no," she said. "You've already helped me more than you'll ever realize. Thank you." And she grabbed my hand between both of hers and pressed it hard.

I looked at her and waited for more explanation.

She took a deep breath and then spoke. Her words flowed out in one long stream, vowels and consonants bubbling over each other in their eagerness to take form. "I bought your book a year ago," she gushed. "I've read every word many times. I've written out parts by hand. Photocopied others. I've shared it with people. Took it to my psychiatrist to show her. You have helped me so much. I've always wanted to meet you so that I could say, Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."

I stood beside her, my hand still captured in hers and felt my heart break open. Love rushed in. Love and warmth and a gentle wave of peace cascading through me.

I reached my free hand forward and placed it on her shoulder. "Thank you for telling me," I said. "I really appreciate your words. You've touched my heart."

We don't know what we don't know. We never know the impact of what we say or do. We never know how it will resonate through time, carry itself forward, move itself into hearts. We never know who is listening or watching, observing, gathering information, capturing value.

What we do know is, what we do, what we say, what we write -- it is all important. It all makes a difference. in one way or another. We just can't always see the difference.

What we do know is, whatever we do or say or write or share -- its difference will be perceived differently by everyone. We cannot be accountable for how they make a difference with what we've said or done. What we are accountable for is the heart, the truth, the reflection of our own inner beauty, our spirit in what we say or do. The difference we create flows freely when we speak our truth from our hearts, and set ourselves free into the universe to spread our wings with joy and laughter through letting our words and actions ripple out from our being in Love.

Everything we do and say, everything we are has a ripple effect. We may not be able to see it, but somewhere out there in the universe, what we're doing is creating waves.

Let our waves be gentle. Let them be 'the change we want to create in the world.'

I was touched yesterday. Touched and in awe. I wasn't going to approach this woman. I was just going to let her sit by herself and not approach. And then, I chose to do something different. I chose to step into her circle to ask if there was anything I could do. And in my approach, I received an amazing gift. The gift of gratitude. The gift of knowing. the gift of connection. The gift of having created a change in the world through my words. I have made a difference.

It was an awesome moment. An uplifting exchange.

I am blessed.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Changing the world

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. Barack Obama
This is a weekend of wonder and joy. A weekend of spirits soaring and hearts opening.

And therein lies the paradox. For out there, in the bigger world, it is also a weekend where someone on planet earth war continues to bring sorrow and suffering. Hunger continues to eat away at a child's right to live, and disease continues to rob us of life.

When Thelma Box started Choices, it was with the vision to become a force for Changing the world one heart at a time.

Like Thelma, I believe we can change the world. It must begin with me. It must begin with each of us.
To stop war. To stop violence. To eradicate hunger, poverty and abuse, we must begin with ourselves.

May we all become, as Ghandi exhorts, "the change we want to see in the world." And if we dont' believe we're worth it. If we don't believe we can, or that the change cannot begin with ourselves, then we must do it for the children. They deserve our care. They need our help.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Saturday Special

From wonder into wonder existence opens. Lao Tzu
This is a Choices weekend so not much time to post nor to even go and visit some of my favorite blogs! I do want to share a 'TED' find however -- a talk by artist/computer scientist Jonathan Harris. (Artist and computer scientist Jonathan Harris makes online art that captures the world's expression -- and gives us a glimpse of the soul of the Internet.)

Jonathan tells about his incredible 'story-gathering' method using the Internet as the driver. He has created a program that sifts through daily Internet traffic searching for the phrases "I feel" and "I am feeling" as the parameters (big brother is watching!). He then creates a 'story-line' constructed of his findings -- really fascinating.

Jonathan then shares about a whale hunt he experienced in the Arctic. Using a camera timed to shoot photos every 5 minutes, or faster depending upon his heartbeat, Jonathan records his reflections of his journey.

Most fascinating (to me) was his story of Bhutan, the country that doesn't have a GDP but rather, A Gross National Happiness, which is what the government uses to base its decisions upon. Jonathan interviewed 171 people asking them about their 'happiness quotient' and then filmed them in a unique and moving way.

Give yourself a treat today and take a journey through photos and stories with Jonathan.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Telling Stories

A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world. John le Carre
It was 6:30 a.m. when I pulled into the driveway of the shelter where I work this morning. I had dropped C.C. off earlier at the airport to catch a flight to San Francisco. He's off for a 'men's weekend' retreat and I'm off to coach at Choices for the weekend.

I'm looking forward to immersing myself in a room full of people committed to living their best life yet, and I'm excited for C.C.s adventure. Proud of him for being willing to risk it. Though I did laugh when one of the organizers called and left a message for C.C. last week.

"We're going to send you back a great man," he joked.

"He already is a great man," I replied. "I'm hoping you send him back with a deeper belief in his greatness."

C.C. is excited, and anxious, about the weekend. Like Choices, he doesn't know a lot of what's going to go on -- it's not that it's secret, it is that finding our 'No' is easier when we are given more information then we can digest, particularly if we're venturing into the untried, unfamiliar, unknown. It's just the human way.

And I am excited about his journey. What a great adventure!

As we drove to the airport we chatted about 'personal growth'. "I see the growth in you over the past year," I told him.

"Hmmm. I don't see it as growth. Just deepening my understanding of me."

It's all in our perspective. It's all in the stories we tell ourselves, about ourselves, on ourselves.

We chatted a bit about current events, the Icelandic volcano and other such dire straits. I told him about an interview I'd heard on the news yesterday with a couple who had just caught the first flight back into Calgary from London.

"It was interesting to hear how dramatic their extra week in Rome became," I said. "They didn't sleep for a couple of nights. He had to stay up all night to protect his wife and their luggage. It was, in their telling, a scary situation."

C.C. laughed and said, "Sounds like they had your imagination at work in their telling."

I pondered his comment. Laughed. "True," I replied. "Except, I wouldn't have made it into a scary situation. I would have created it into a grand adventure!"

C.C. laughed too. "True. You seem to find the 'gift' in every situation."

Find Value In All Things.

How I tell a story determines how my story goes out into the world. It determines how I feel about the story. How I am perceived by those to whom I tell the story.

I can be the victim. Or the victor.

I can tell a story of trauma, stress, horror. Or, I can see the grand adventure in my story, see the value and the things I've learned that help me grow, help me deeper my experience of living a life of joy.

It's all in my story-telling.

As I drove into the drive-way of the shelter, client volunteers were sweeping the pavement. One found a small orange rubber ball and began to bat it around with their broom. Another volunteer joined in. It took them a few minutes before they saw me waiting to pull into the driveway for the parking garage. I didn't care. Watching the fun, the smiles, the laughter as these grown men, both of whom are currently experiencing homelessness, batted around an orange ball was worth the wait.

When they did see me, they stopped. Moved out of the way and let me drive past. I smiled and waved. They smiled and waved back.

It could have been different. I could have honked my horn. Impatiently gestured for them to get out of the way.

But that isn't the kind of story I want in my day.

I want stories of joy and laughter. Fun and exuberance. I want stories of life unfolding, on every street, that speak to all that is great, all that is magnificent about the human being, no matter its condition. I want stories that, even in the darkest times find the glimmer of hope shining, the flicker of possibility gleaming in the darkness.

I want stories that shine a light on life. Stories that make this one wild and precious life an adventure worth living.

And, to get the kind of story I want in life, I have to be my best story-teller. I have to be my story of this one wild and precious life unfolding with passion and joy, love and exuberance unfolding. I have to find the value in all things, and create worth in all that happens around me. And, when I tell of what I've seen, what I've witnessed, what I've experienced, it's up to me to create value in the world around me with my telling.

The question is: What kind of story are you telling on yourself today?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Prayer for Mother Earth

I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in. ~John Muir, 1913, in L.M. Wolfe, ed., John Muir, John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, 1938

Last night, as I sat in the meditation circle with my group, I felt the presence of light, of love, of hope. As can only happen in the creative space of my mind, I 'saw' Mother earth, a beautiful, living ball of energy resting peacefully in God's hands. We her children were not so peaceful. We were busy. Very busy. Building. Creating. Burning down. Tearing up. We were doing millions upon millions of things -- and not all of them so beneficial to the one who carries us around the sun, day in , day out.

Mother Earth.

In my mind's eyes I saw us. Harming and abusing our Mother Earth. We her children were acting out in anger and fear. We were waging war. Fighting. Beating, ourselves, each other. We were taking her gifts and destroying our homes and towns and cities and farmlands with our insistence we had the right to take from her what we will, when we wanted because we wanted.

And Mother Earth let us.

It is her way.

Mother Earth does not fight back.

She does not fuss and fidget when we act out, act badly, act beneath ourselves. She does not slap us down, beat us into submission. She does none of those things.

No matter what we do, Mother Earth opens her bosom. No matter what we do, Mother Earth sustains us. She opens herself up to our entreaties. She opens up her fecund belly, giving birth to plants and flowers, rivers and streams, lakes and ponds, mountains and valleys, trees and blades of grass.

Mother Earth opens herself up so we can take what we will, leaving the rest for others to enjoy.

It is in 'the rest' we struggle. It is in 'the rest' we fall. Fall into the habit of taking without giving. Reaping without sowing.

Last night in my meditation circle, I felt Mother Earth's sorrow. We are not killing our planet. We are killing ourselves.

Today is Earth Day. Do something to feed Mother Earth today. Do one thing you've never done before that will nurture the seed of renewal in Mother Earth's belly. Meditate. Walk. Turn off the lights. Eat by candlelight. Plant a tree. Donate to an earth charity. Read the poem below by KiiskeeN'tum- (She Who Remembers), out loud. Read it to a friend. To your dog. Your cat.

Let your energy today be the energy of Love. Light. Peace. Walk through your day creating only ripples of joy, of pleasure, of beauty, of Love.

Create a simple act today to give back to Mother Earth something she needs more than anything else. Our Respect.

Be of gentle heart today. Share your beauty with Mother Earth and thank her for her generosity. She sustains us. Breathes into us. Lifts us up.

Let us give back some of what She has given us.


Mother Earth Prayer

Mother Earth hear your child,
As I sit here on your lap of grass,
I listen to the echoes of your voice
In my brother, the Wind,
As he blows from all corners and directions.

The soft and gentle raindrops
are the Tears you cry for your children
Teach me the Lessons you offer:
To nurture my children, as you nurture yours,
To learn the Lessons of the Four Kingdoms,
that make up this World of Physical Things,
and To Learn to Walk the Path chosen so long ago.

Mother Earth, hear your child,
Be a bond between the Worlds of Earth and Spirit.
Let the Winds echo the Knowledge of the Grandfathers.
Who await, unseen, yet visible
if I only turn my eyes to their World.
Let me hear their Voices,
in the Winds that Blow to the East.

From the East: I seek the Lessons of Childhood:
To see with the trusting innocence of a small one,
The Lessons of Spirit, Given in Love by our Creator.
From the South: to Learn the Ways of Questioning:
The Fire and Independence of adolescence,
The Truths, and how they help us Grow along this Path.

From the West: where the Grandfathers
teach us Acceptance of Responsibility
That come during the years of Marriage and Family.
That my own children grow Strong, and True.
From the North: where the Elders, who by their long lives
Have learned and stored Wisdom and Knowledge.
And Learned to Walk in Balance and Harmony
with our Mother, the Earth.

Mother Earth, hear your child.
Hold my hand as I Walk my Path in this World.
Guide me to the Lessons I seek,
bring me closer to Our Creator,
Until I return to the Western Direction,
to once again Enter the World of Spirit,
Where the Sacred Fire Awaits,
and I rejoin the Council of the Elders,
In the Presence of the One Who-Created-All.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The bridge to self-respect

The hardest thing in life is to know which bridge to cross and which to burn. David Russell
Several years ago I had a friend who lied. Constantly. She lied about the little things. About the things there was no need to lie about.

"Really mom," my daughters asked. "Why do you keep seeing her. You know she's lying. You know she can't be depended upon."

I didn't want to believe she was lying. I told them, "She just likes to stretch reality a bit to make it more comfortable. She has issues and so many friends have deserted her. And she's done so much to help me get back on my feet..."

And, I thought I had to be nice. I thought I needed to be grateful. For how she'd helped me when I really needed her help. For the things she'd given me when I really needed those things and was still struggling to make ends meet.

And then one day, while driving back from a local Garden Centre, her cell phone rang and she breathlessly told the caller how she was on her way to meet them and was just getting out of a meeting and she'd probably be another half hour at least but she would be there. "I'm so sorry for being late," she said. "It couldn't be avoided. I simply couldn't get out of my meeting any sooner."

Now, the back of her vehicle was filled with bedding plants. We had just spent an hour wandering through the garden store's aisles choosing white over blue border plants, red over pink begonias. We had not been in a meeting that could not have ended sooner.

"You know, we could have gone to the garden centre another time if you had a meeting," I commented when she hung up.

She laughed. "Oh. That. Well they've been bugging me to go to one of those sales pitchy things and I can't get them off my back." And she kept driving on as if nothing was amiss.

We reached her house. Unloaded the bedding plants and dirt. She went into the house to make coffee and I set to work in her garden.

A short while later she came out of the house, all tidied up, car keys and purse in hand. "Oh, Louise," she exclaimed, "I just got a call and have to go meet a client. They've got some crisis going on. I won't be long and I'll bring us back some lunch from Mercato's (a trendy, oh so expensive Italian deli that makes the best Baked Ziti in town)." and she was gone.

I knelt amidst the bedding plants and garden tools, the fertilizer bag and gardening paraphernalia and thought about what had just happened.

My daughters were right. She was lying and I was digging in her dirt.

I stood up. Dropped the tools in my hand. Dusted off my knees and walked away. I got in my car and drove off without looking back.

Sometimes, we gotta burn our bridges to create room for us to see the truth in our lives. Truth was, I hadn't ended that friendship before because I was afraid of endings, of any kind. I was afraid if I ended it she wouldn't like me. Afraid to let go in fear of the unknown. Afraid to stand up and speak out against behaviour that was insulting, demeaning and undermining of my worth.

My friend called a few days later. She didn't mention the unfinished gardening. She wanted to get together for dinner.

"I don't want to have dinner with you," I told her.

Silence. "How about tomorrow instead?"

I took a breath. "I really appreciate all you've done to help me. You've definitely made a difference in my recovery. And some of that difference is felt in my courage to speak the truth right now. I want to surround myself with people whom I trust to tell the truth, no matter the circumstances. And I don't have that kind of trust with you."

She laughed. "Oh you're still upset that I didn't get back until late the other day."

I paused. (She thought I'd kept waiting until I couldn't wait any longer? Don't you hate it when your grand gesture goes unnoticed?) "Actually, I didn't realize you didn't get back until late. I left right after you left."

And I hung up.

Sometimes, we don't see the bridge to the truth until we burn the bridge separating us from seeing it.

This friend. She lied. It's what she did. It's how she got on in the world.

What I was doing with her. It was untrue too. I was grateful for all her help. But, I was letting my gratitude keep me mired in the dirt of her bad behaviour muddying up the waters of my living with integrity in my life. I was letting her bad behaviour separate me from living up to my higher good.

It wasn't just that she had lied to the person on the phone. It was that I was catching myself doing the same thing. I was letting her bad behaviour be an excuse for me to act badly. I was letting myself off the hook of being 100% accountable for me.

Bad behaviour's like that. It seeps in and leeches away self-esteem, self-worth. It cloudies up, 'doing the right thing' to mean, doing what keeps me from facing the truth about what I'm doing.

See, I was lying to my friend. Whenever she called and set an appointment, I seldom believed her. Whenever she told me she was late because of this or that, I seldom listened. I didn't believe her. Sometimes, I'd lie to her. Tell her I would be somewhere and not turn up and then fabricate an excuse just to avoid telling the truth -- I mean, she did it to me all the time. What was wrong with a little quid pro quo?

Or, more often than not, I simply stayed silent. Never spoke up. Never spoke my truth.

I woke up that day. Shook off the dirt and dug myself into acting with integrity in everything I do and say.

I don't have to change her behaviour. I don't have to teach her a lesson.

I did have to change my behaviour. I did have to learn my lesson in humility and self-respect.

What I have to do is stand up and speak the truth -- no matter the mud I'm stuck in -- I am responsible for speaking my truth so that I can walk with dignity and grace in the garden of my life, planting seeds of honesty, trust, respect, integrity in everything I do and say.

And I can't do that if I'm walking on a bridge of lies, digging into someone else's dirt on the far side of where I want to be -- digging into my roots, living my life with grace and ease flowing freely as I journey through my life in love with all of me being the best me I can be.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Controlling my state of being.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22)

I read the theme for this week's Blog Carnival and thought, maybe I can miss it. Maybe I can be too busy? Perhaps on Tuesday I'll have a funeral to attend, Or a root canal booked. Perhaps, I'll give myself a break. I just won't do it. No excuses. No reason. Just because... I choose not to.


That's the word prompt.


I exercised it recently. Just last evening. Took Ellie for a walk. It was a picture perfect early spring evening. The river flowed in the valley bottom. We walked high up on the ridge. The wind rustled through the grasses, telling stories of places far away, of where it's been and how it's going to pass along the secrets of other times.

I walked along the trail that edges the ridge and Ellie meandered amidst the grasses.

Above a wedge of swans passed over. I looked up. Looked through the ethereal white of their wings. Whispered edges. Blue sky streaming into infinity. I listened to their honks. Joyful. Gleeful. Filled with delight. Necks craned forward, they flew, delicate tapestry of wings whirring in the air. They flew and honked and I stood beneath them, neck craned upward, staring up into their beauty. Entranced. To the south, a lone swan honked. Plaintive. Complaining. He furiously flapped its wings. "Wait for me. Wait for me." he cried, wings flapping as he flew, closer and closer, cutting the wedge off as it arced towards him. Relieved, his plaintiff cry turned joyful as he added his honk to the caucus of the bevy.

Exercise in self-control.

I wanted to scramble down the ridge to the valley bottom. I wanted to meander through the woods, let Ellie race into the water. I wanted to linger in the evening glow of dusk settling.

It was too late. Too much at risk wandering through the woods at night. Coyote. Cougar. Bear. They frequent this river valley too. Man as well.

Time to turn back.

Ellie looked longingly at the river below. I turned back. Turned towards the beaten path. Another time, I told her. We'll start out earlier in the evening.

I paused to savour the view. I glanced west towards the gold and crimson, violet and indigo hues of the setting sun.

I breathed deeply.


Once, I feared losing control. Feared being out of control and got so far on the other side of my control, I could not control my self.

I let go. Let loose. Unhooked. Untethered my connections.

Out of control I lost all sense of direction, all knowing of my self.

And then I found myself on the other side of the darkness. Found myself in that place where to control my self, all I needed was to remember, that was then, this is now.

This is now.


I imagine a car. A fast little sports car. The smell of leather. Wooden panels. Gleaming lights on console. Tight space. Bucket seat contoured snugly around my body. Hand warm on the knob of the gearshift. Cool, smooth wood. Foot on accelerator. Foot pressed into clutch. I ease up on the clutch. Ease into speed. Smoothly.Deftly. Change gear. Speed up. Feel the road beneath me. Feel the car hugging the pavement. Leaning into the curve. Speed up. In control. Shift gears. Faster. Faster. Shifting gears. Eyes on the road.

In control.

I cannot help myself, my eldest daughter once proclaimed after a particularly dramatic outburst involving her sister, a borrowed sweater and a missing button.

If you can't help yourself, I asked. Who can?

To control my life is to give up all need to be in control. To lean into what's happening around me is to let go of all control of the world outside me as I shift into gear my inner being, my inner knowing. I am exercising self-control when I give up giving into my fear that the world around me is out of my control.

It is.

I didn't go to the river's bottom last night. I exercised self-control. It is a muscle I am learning to control so that my world does not drive itself out of control. Last night, I pulled back before I journeyed into the darkness of the forest. Before I felt the cool of night edging at my peace of mind.

I told myself I didn't need to slip into the darkness. I didn't need to exercise my will to defy my self-control. I only needed to surrender and fall into that place where I am at one with my world, no matter its condition, no matter my state of being. That place where I know, all is well with my soul. I am safe in God's embrace.


It's another Blog Carnival Tuesday, sponsored by Bridget Chumbley of One Word at a Time and Peter Pollock of Rediscovering the Church.

No matter that the theme awoke my trepidation of venturing into that place where I feared the need to examine self-control, it is a wonderful day!

The Blog Carnival is a biweekly online event open to anyone. Participants are invited to write an essay on a one-word prompt or topic. This week's is "self-control".

Click here to become immersed in what other's have written on the power of self-control. I promise, you will be enlightened!

Monday, April 19, 2010

An automatic response

A mind once stretched by a new idea never regains its original dimensions. Oliver Wendell Holmes
I love the act of writing. The placement of one letter after another to form a word followed by another.

I love the art of writing. The placement of a word in context to the next that creates a picture of a story worth telling.

I love writing. Reading it. Acquiring it. Fetching it from other places, other voices, other names. I love writing that is good. I even love writing that is bad if only because it reminds me of all that is good about good writing.

This week, over at High Calling Blogs there's a discussion going on based on Julia Cameron's, The Right to Write.

If anyone isn't familiar with Julia Cameron's writing, her book, The Artist's Way tops my list of 'must read', must act on, books -- not just for writing or being creative, but for living a creative life. The Artist's Way puts me in touch with my inner muse and opens me up to wonder.

On Writing

I can't remember a time when I didn't write. When the idea of vowels and consonants streaming across a page didn't excite me. I loved words as a child. Clamored to make sense of the letters marching across the pages of my sister's school books long before I ever joined her in the ranks of those getting 'edumacated.'

I wasn't concerned about the value of the letters. Fat ones. Skinny ones. Juicy plump vowels or ripe luscious consonants. They made up words and I wanted to know the words they made up. Words, I believed, were the gateway to understanding what made up the world around me, the people, the places, the things, the events. I wanted to know. to understand. And I needed the words. And then, once I learned the words, it wasn't the words that got me, it was the images. The imagery they evoked. The feelings they awoke. The possibilities they made possible.

One word could make such a difference. If I read about the cat who sat on the mat, it didn't make much difference to me what happened next. But to read, "The cat sat on the dog's mat," ahhh, now there was tension. There was intrigue, mystery, curiosity, possibility. What happened next awoke and I was hooked.

As a child, writing the rules and stories for our 'club' always fell on me. My imagination worked over time, triple time (so 'they' told me and I didn't question their judgements. I just assumed everyone's imagination worked like mine. 'They' told me I was wrong. How sad I thought. What is life without a vivid imagination?). And so I lost myself in it. My imagination. Writing let me let it loose, get it out, set it free. I could always dream up a good story. Just ask my parents. They'll tell you. I was always making up stories.

The story of my writing began way back when. As a little girl I once told my mother something bad her brother did to me. She got angry with me. Denied it could have happened. Insisted I was making up stories. And so, the story was born. "Louise is always making up stories." I lived up to my moniker. Took to creating stories where ever I went. Whatever I did. It was the bad thing that became the gift of my lifetime.

As a child, I was always afraid of putting my stories to the test of other people's eyes. To protect my stories, I carved them out of darkness in the secret rooms of my imagination. I carried them up out of the dark of night where I would sit on my bed, a flashlight beaming beneath my covers, shrouded in a tent of mystery, an Arabian tent of a 1,000 tales I could tell, or a 1,000 stories I could read that would take me to far off lands and wide open spaces. My stories were not for prying eyes. My stories were not for anyone else to criticize at birth. They needed time to grow, to be nurtured, to be loved into that storied place where they could live on their own.

I've grown a long way from that little girl who feared sharing her stories would expose her to ridicule, to condemnation, to being ostracised. I've come a long way from that special place beneath my covers, scribbling in the dark, reading words of other authors coming to life in my imagination.

And no matter how far I've come, my love of words, of writing, or creating stories and images from letters and words, sentences and paragraphs has never waned. It only grows stronger the more I write.

The history of my writing goes way back. Way, way back. I can't remember a time when I didn't write. Wouldn't want to. Writing, like breathing, is an automatic response to living this one wild and precious life in the rapture of now.

Funny how those memories of long ago can be awoken with one idea shared here, in cyberland. Hop on over to Glynn's place or L.L. Barkat's or High Calling Blogs and get ready to be inspired. It's all about our right... to write... from the inside out... getting it out, getting out the stories, the images, the ideas, the notion that we are creative souls writing it out from the soul of our hearts and minds.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Something Special Sunday

Yesterday, on Glynn's blog, Saturday Good Reads, he posted a video of Natalie Merchant singing poetry to life.

I want to share it here as it is stunningly beautiful and well worth the listen. At the end she sings Thank you -- immerse yourself, let gratitude descend and embrace you.

Enjoy and have a beautiful Sunday.

I'm feeling like a 7 out of 10 today -- so am going to live my 7 to my 100%. Some fresh air, walk with Ellie, contemplative time, reading and writing time. A blissful day of quiet.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Grateful for this day

It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start. Mother Teresa.
In my life I am very blessed. I have love, joy, fulfillment, happiness and contentment. In my life I am grateful. For all that I have. For all that I experience. For all that I am able to give and receive.

Filling my heart with gratitude every day creates a place where love can grow, where ideas can flourish, where I can awaken to the amazing opportunities in my life.

I am blessed.

This morning, I awoke with a flu bug that has lingered at the edges of my consciousness for most of the week and has just not been willing to disperse. I'll give it attention today. It's what it wants.

What a blessing.

It is a beautiful sunny day and I can lay in my bed, looking into the back garden and watch the birds flitter in the apple tree, pecking away at last year's fruit still clinging to its branches. The feeder is full. The bird bath has water. I can spend my day reposing, soaking up nature's bounty watching spring unfold from winter's maw. C.C. is away. The house is quiet. Chores can wait as I sink back into bed and relax. Today I start with giving love close to home -- to me. Giving myself medicine my body needs -- rest and relaxation.

May your day be filled with blessings. May your heart be filled with gratitude. May you know love.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Seven Words. Seven Wonders

So, I decided last night to get a bit techie. You know, to enter that place of HTML code and wizzardry that would make all things possible on my blog... if only.

Ah right. The if only... No 'what if' in my experimentation. I tried every What if... I could think of and still came up with, 'if only...'

If only I knew what I was doing.

If only it really was as simple as they tell me in my google search for "How to embed an MP3 file into my blog..."

If only isn't working.

Neither is, what if...

It's the thing about technology and me. I spend hours -- I do get fixated and determined -- to make it work. Sometimes. It happens. Sometimes. Like last night and this morning. Not.

Reality is, I did my best. My best is good enough. I'll have to ask a pro.

I like to learn things on my own. figure them out. Once, when our dish-washer broke down, my former husband said, we'll have to call a service man. it annoyed me that he would come and for $80.00 tell us whether or not he could fix it, then he'd go get the part if he could fix it and then, he'd come back and fix it -- over and above the first $80.00.

It was just the knob thingy that controlled the settings such as On and Off. had to be a less expensive way I decided. "I'm sure I can fix it," I said. And I did. I took the control panel apart, went off to the service depot, purchased the required piece with a little motor thingy, came home, installed it, re-assembled everything and Voila! A working dishwasher.

I like to believe I can fix things.

all kinds of things. It can be a blind-spot.

It is my blind spot when it comes to people.

I like to fix broken people. Broken hearts and smashed egos. And I can't. Fix other people. I'm not that powerful.

What I am is wise enough to know, I have the power to 'fix', read that 'heal' myself. And, I am courageous enough to know and understand what works for me -- and then be willing to share what I have learned and experienced for others to use and see and feel if it works for them.

I like to believe I can help. Make a difference.

It is part of my nature. Part of my belief system.

And so, last night, I downloaded an MP3 recording gadget, created a five minute recording of a guided meditation I created to inspire people to step into the world of wonder within them. I uploaded it to an audio recording site so I would have a URL for my MP3 file. Embedded the file in the HTML for the recording. Should work.... if only....

The piece is called, Seven Words. Seven Wonders.

It steps you through a process to find your seven power words -- those seven words that speak to your soul, lift your spirits and awaken you to all that is magnificent, unique and special about you.

I had fun going through the process. I just can't get the audio file to embed in my blog and play. I can get the gadget to appear -- but there's no file attached. I'll keep working on it, but for now, I'll leave you with the written piece.

The Invitation: Read the following. Let the words sink in, then close your eyes and IMAGINE!

When your seven words appear, write them down. Cherish them. Nurture them. Throughout the day, savour them. They are your truth. Your beauty. Your magnificence.


Seven Words.
Seven Wonders.

Imagine, as only you can in the creative space of your imagination, that there are seven wise people in your world. They are your guides, mentors, sages. They are your Magnificent Seven. These magnificent seven know, see, understand, feel and appreciate the seven wonders of your world. They know everything about you and everything they know about you is founded on the absolute truth of the wonder they know in you. They have always known these truths.
From time before your birth they have seen and held safe your perfection,
your uniqueness, your beauty.

In the creative space of your imagination, see these individuals. Really, really see them. They are dressed in magnificent robes. Red. Blue. Purple. Gold. Green. All the colours of the rainbow, and more. Their robes are trimmed with ermine and silk. They rustle as they walk. They shimmer in the light.
You are in a grand hall. Marble floor. Arching buttresses that soar high above into the shadows. Beautiful stained glass windows. Gilded golden columns. It is a space fit for a King or Queen.
You are seated on a throne. A beautiful bejeweled, ornate throne that sits upon a dias slightly higher than the magnificent seven who stand before you.
You are confident, comfortable. At ease.

Slowly, the Magnificent Seven walk towards you. Each one smiles. Their eyes are warm. Their presence comforting, relaxing, soothing. Each of the Magnificent Seven is carrying a box.
A beautiful hand crafted box of gold and silver, bronze and wood, leather, jewels and glass.
One by one, each of the Magnificent Seven approaches where you sit upon the throne.
They kneel before you and one by one, open the lid of the box they carry.
Inside each box is a piece of wood. Carved into the wood, etched with golden paint, is a word. A word that speaks to you and only you.
It is your word of wonder.
Your word of truth.
Seven words. Seven wonders of your world.

Carefully, with great care you take out each wooden and read it out loud. As you read each word you feel warm. Peaceful. Calm. As you read each word, you know the joy of being bathed in the light of your truth. You feel the ecstasy of sinking into beauty, into love, into this moment where you are your perfection, the perfection of your birthright, the perfection of your being who you are always meant to be in this world.

You breathe in. Deeply. Slowly.

You exhale. Deeply. Slowly. And as you exhale, you say each word
and send it out into the world on a breath of love.

These words that you hold in your hand, these words that you speak, they are your truth.
Your beauty.

Your wonder.

Take a deep, deep breath.

What are you seven words?

Let the boxes open. Let the words be revealed.
Pick them up. Hold them.
Feel them. Feel the weight of them.
The rounded edges. The carved curves. The smoothness.
Their depth. Feel them.
Now speak them.
Let each word roll around inside your mouth.
Let each word roll off your tongue.
Release each word into the universe. For these words are your truth.
Always have been.
Always will be.

Dig (a poem)

Dig it
Dig in
dig up
dig out of
this place
where the cool dank smell of earth
is buried beneath this cold hard place
of no fixed address
The Street.

C'mon, dig into
dig into
dig into
getting out
getting up
getting on
with living free
of drugs
and alcohol
lies and abuse.

ain't no truth
on the street
to dig into

ain't no place
at rock bottom
to cling to

All ya got is nowhere
and nothing
to dig
but the dirtiness of life
on the edge of nothing.

dig in.
Get up
Get out
Get moving
Dig in
and unearth
your essence
buried beneath
the sick foul smell
of lives rotting
beneath the cold hard
buried deep beneath
the street.


Over on Glynn's blog, he writes a poem about Roses -- reading about digging into the Missouri earth I was inspired, (and envious. we're still brown and frozen in these northern climes). He wrote his poem from a prompt by Nancy Rosback at The Cunning Poet's Society. Their motto is, "I'd rather be a cunning poet than a dead poet".

So... I got inspired and wrote about the first thing that came to my mind when I read the prompt, "dig".

Telling that I write about homelessness. My work life is immersed in it and, I often feel like homelessness is the mirror of our world. The dark side we don't want to look at, but must, if we are to be 'dig into' our lives and live the life of our dreams! As a friend called to tell me the other day, I write about three things -- my relationships, my work, or my past relationship that was so unhealthy.

Regardless of what I write about -- I write to create value -- in my life, in the lives of those who come to read, (you) and the lives of those who may someday drop in... that value may be felt in laughter, smiles, tears, compassion, empathy, insight, -- regardless of how it is experienced, the value of what I write is felt within me, deeply.

My dream is, you dig what I write and it digs into you!


The Invitation: Try the poetry prompt -- Picture the word 'dig' in your mind, start writing. Don't censor yourself, don't try to write 'pretty'. Just write and be amazed by what appears before your eyes! When you feel 'stuck', keep writing. No censoring. No freezing up and thinking. Just write!

You are amazing!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Walk in Wonder

It is the morning of a new day.
All that is needed is before you.
Awaken to the possibility of love everywhere.
Julie Redstone, Calendar of 100 Days

In the short film, The Butterfly Circus, the Master of Ceremonies states, "All this world needs is a little wonder." It may not be all the world needs, but wonder is essential to living the life of your dreams.

This morning, I got lost in wonder following links. Scott Sheppard dropped in yesterday and I took a stroll over to his wonderful site, Rekindle Your Heart.

Maureen over at Writing Without Paper, wrote a piece on poet Debra Cash, and I became entranced by Debra's words and followed their trail to her blog, Dancing in the Present Tense.

From there, I wandered over to and immersed myself in a couple of talks on Compassion.

And then, I wandered back here.

Now, you might think I'm ADD or perhaps just hyper-active with a really short attention span to my fingers on my keyboard. In reality, I have a curious mind and can easily get immersed in 'learning' more. (At least, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!)

As Sendhil Mullainathan suggests in his Ted Talk, I want to start my day "a little bit dumber", aware of how much there is to learn about this amazing planet upon which I live and all the people's who make up this incredible world.

His talk is compelling, and provocative. By knowing I'm a 'little bit dumber', I want to start my day 'in wonder', asking questions, open to possibilities as I move into motion, out into the world. I don't want to hold onto the belief I have the answers or hold all the questions even. I want to hold myself open to finding our more, experiencing more, being more than I could ever imagine possible.

In his Ted talk, Sendhil asks some very big questions, one of them being, "What are the irrational choices we make that perpetuate poverty, corruption, discrimination?"

Yesterday, I read a paper on the causes of homelessness in Canada and while I didn't learn much I didn't know, the author did provoke a couple of thoughts. 1) the causes of the current homeless 'crisis' are based on good intentions from the past. 2) We can't solve homelessness without first acknowledging we created it.

And I wonder, where do I spend inordinate amounts of time trying to solve problems in my life without first acknowledging my role in creating them?

Take, for example, my recent tiff with C.C. that I wrote about yesterday. When I focus on fixing 'him', I'm not open to learning more. I'm not open to looking for new directions, or even to using what I know to find a different path. I'm focused on his issues, his problems, his stuff. Which is rather convenient for me -- it means I don't have to look at my stuff and find my answers in me.

So, in keeping with my wondering mind, I asked myself the questions this morning:

What do I want in relationship with C.C.?

And then I listed the attributes I want. Those core values that are important to me, such as, Openness. Honesty. Communication. Intimacy. Passion. Truth. Connection...

And then, I did the tough one. What do I bring to my relationship?

And that's where it got interesting.

What I want and what I bring are not the same.

See, I want some pretty global and yet important things in relationship.

What I bring is this complex being with a history, with some patterning that isn't always healthy, with a past that isn't always quiet. And all of those things affect what I bring and how I bring me to this relationship.

And that's when it hit me. What I bring is nearly always focused on the 'how'. How am I feeling in this moment. How am I seeing him -- through eyes of love and wonder, or, through eyes of criticism and frustration? How am I seeing this situation? Through eyes of love and wonder, or, through eyes of fear and sorrow?

It gave me pause to think. What if....

I did it differently?

What if I focus only on what I bring to the relationship -- so that what I bring becomes the fulfillment of what I want?

What if I quit focusing on the how and become my 'what'?

What if, I quit focusing on 'how' I'm feeling, from sad to happy, glad to mad -- and instead, step back from my feelings to become what I want?

Rather than saying, "I'm frustrated" or" I'm feeling sad" or even, "I'm feeling happy", what if I changed it to:

Frustration is present.

Sadness is present.

Happiness is present.

What if...

I become present to each moment and choose to acknowledge my emotions as present, and choose to not make my emotions become me acting badly in the moment?

I wonder what in the world could happen in my day? In my work? In my relationships? In my life?

Good wondering for me on this cloudy -- and not snowy -- April morning.

In a quote by poet Antonio Macado I read at Debra Cash's blog, I found a wonderful way to enter my day. Macado wrote, "we make the road by walking."

May I walk in wonder. May we all walk in wonder throughout our day.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Spring Showers

Be still sad heart and cease repining;
Behind the clouds the sun is shining,
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life a little rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

Spring comes slowly in these northern climes. I read of pear trees and mrytle bushes as Glynn wrote in his beautiful post this morning, Mourning the Sheep or see the buds photographed by Susan at Just... A Moment in her post, Spring and I want there to be buds and blossoms and greenery all around.

And we have snow. Visible rain, I tell myself. It's just rain looking to be seen.

Spring edges in slowly, holding onto vestiges of winter, clinging to the thought of chilly nights and roaring fires. Of silent dawn and sugary branches bending toward the ground.

Spring comes slowly. Tentative. Curious. Cautious.

Like relationship. It unfolds, pushing back and edging forth, skirting areas where fear and possibilities co-exist in tentative harmony. Seeking fertile ground. Embracing new life.

There is always a little frost to be chilled out in relationship.

Recently, C.C. and I had a tiff. Don't remember the source, or the exact content. What I remember is the discord. The feeling of unease, of playing the role of 'victim' and clinging to it like a leaf dreading fall's inevitability.

After a day of living in my discord, which felt mighty uncomfortable, I grew tired of myself. Spring thaw was awaiting and I was blocking up the flow with my icy thoughts and frigid demeanour.

What's the story I'm telling myself about C.C.? I asked my journal.

And the words flowed.

He was. He is. He doesn't. He can't. He didn't. He won't...

You know, that litany of sins another casts that shadows our happiness in the moment. The doings of another that are not our fault...

Who's telling the story?

Well, that would be me, myself and I.

What's in it for me to keep telling a story that causes me angst? Gets me less of what I want in life and in our relationship?

Oh shoot. There's that irritating spring bud poking its way out of the ground, breaking through the perma frost, searching for light.

There's a lot in it for me to keep myself in the victim's place and him in the perpetrator's role. I mean, really... it's not my fault... I'm doing my best...

Do I need to make him look like he's doing his worst? Or at best, mediocre?

What if it's not about blame or fault or who's right or wrong. What if it's all about getting through this frigid clime to find the hope of new blossoms shooting through the growth that comes with owning up to my accountability and responsibility in this relationship?

What if... it's about me being real and accepting this is real. This relationship is our common ground. We determine its value. We determine its worth -- and I get what I give.

What if... it's all about breaking up the ice to flow freely under spring's welcoming warmth.

Spring comes slowly in these northern climes. Sometimes, a spring snow shower frosts the earth in a splendid white blanket that momentarily hides the buds and promise of new blossoms to come.

Sometimes, clouds hide the sun.

And always it shines.

The question is: What do I want in relationship? The answer is: What am I willing to give? What do I bring?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Safe in God's embrace

If you want to find God, hang out in the space between your thoughts. Alan Cohen
I have always known that when under duress or stress, my default coping mechanism is to eat. I've always believed if I could manage stress, my eating would not get the better of me. So, it was surprising when, at my meditation group last week, I discovered that underlying the stress is another motivator, a far deeper, more destructive when out of control, factor that I am constnatly attempting to feed in order to feel... Safe. Within me and without me.

The focus of my Wednesday night meditation session was, 'our higher intention'. I've only recently begun attending this group. I've always meditated alone, though in the past I have taken various courses. But a friend had invited me a few weeks ago and I decided to join the group to meditate together every Wednesday evening for a couple of hours.

It has been a wonderful and enjoyable experience. Not only have I met some great people, I've also had the opportunity to share in incredible energy -- for when eight to ten people get together to meditate, there is an energy that comes alive in the room. It is tangible and almost visible. There is peace. There is love. There is nothing.

Before the session began last week, the leader invited us to focus on our higher intention throughout the meditation. In the first part, he suggested, focus on the what of your higher intention. What is it? What does it look like? What is it's depth, height, width?

In the second segment, focus on living it, feeling it, getting into it and becoming it.

And then, in the third segment, be it. In every facet of your being, experience it as though it was a living, breathing entity. Be your Intention. Let your Intention be you.

At one of the nominal parts of the meditation where the leader makes suggestions for how to be in the meditation, he guided us to a mountaintop, "As can only happen in the wonder of your creative imagination," he said, "imagine that you are standing on a mountaintop. You can see forever."

I stood on that mountaintop and as has happened on every mountaintop upon which I have stood (and there were many when I used to climb with my former husband), I felt the urge to leap, to soar, to fly.

I've always held back. Always known that to leap would be to test the boundaries of gravity with possibly serious repercussions. But, safe within the wonder of my creative imagination, I leapt.

And I soared.

And a giant eagle flew beneath me picked me up and supported my body as we travelled together through time and space.

Until I found my courage to let go of his feathers and let myself slide off his back.

And in that moment of release, in that moment of free falling through space, I felt myself supported, embraced, lifted up.

On air.

Ahhh, my mind said. "I am safe within God's embrace."

And I settled into being safe within God's embrace. Light. Free. Complete. At peace.

It was a powerful and profound moment.

So much of my life has been about 'creating safety'. About chasing dreams and ideas and ideals to create safety within me.

And I could never quite grasp it. Never quite attain the safety I sought so furiously throughout my life.

Until I released, let go and surrendered to fall, in Love.

To know safety all I need is to know, to believe, to have faith.

I am always safe in God's loving embrace.

Something shifted in that moment. Something moved within me, like clogs of a clock clicking together to send time on its way, I clicked and fell into place.

I am always safe in God's loving embrace. It is within me. Of me. Me. Always and forever.

I do not need to chase after it. All I have to do is breathe deeply, surrender and fall, In Love.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Sunday Zen Story

In Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, Paul Reps tells the Zen story, Is That So?

The Zen master Hakuin was praised by his neighbors as one living a pure life.

A beautiful Japanese girl whose parents owned a food store lived near him. Suddenly, without any warning, her parents discovered she was with child.

This made her parents very angry. She would not confess who the man was, but after much harassment at last named Hakuin.

In great anger the parents went to the master. "Is that so?" was all he would say.

After the child was born it was brought to Hakuin. By this time he had lost his reputation, which did not trouble him, but he took very good care of the child. He obtained milk from his neighbors and everything else the little one needed.

A year later the girl-mother could stand it no longer. She told her parents the truth - that the real father of the child was a young man who worked in the fishmarket.

The mother and father of the girl at once went to Hakuin to ask his forgiveness, to apologize at length, and to get the child back again.

Hakuin was willing. In yielding the child, all he said was: "Is that so?"

Questions for Sunday: What does this story mean for you?

May your day be filled with moments of grace. May you breathe and fall into acceptance, surrender and fall into Love.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Spreading Stories

A story is non-rhetorical. It's not looking for an answer. It's just looking to be spread. Jesse James Cameron

He is, a singer, song-writer, poet, musician, soul-ful and soul-felt traveller on the road of life. He isn't very old. Mid-twenties. But he's wise. Bigtime wise. He is big. Big body. Big voice. Big personality.

His name is Jesse James Cameron. He's part of Makeshift Innocence, a local band that has played venues all across Canada. Jazz. Blues. Jazz/rock/rap fusion.

I met him a year ago at The Beach, a recording studio here in town. He'd turned up to participate in the recording of the DIs (the homeless shelter where I work) recording of Stand by Me.

He was a bit intimidating. Tattoo's spiral up his arms. He's gregarious. Out-going. Uninhibited. He loves to laugh. To play practical jokes. He talks fast. Moves fast. Does everything as if there's no time to lose. Life is moving fast and he is moving with it. Gathering up every bit of passion and love and joy and spreading it where ever he goes, in everything he does, in every song he writes and sings and plays.

And, he loves to give back to the community.

I was reminded of Jesse's big personality and equally big heart yesterday when I spent the day with the videographer with whom I'm working to put together a documentary on the shelter. When we were recording Stand by Me, we interviewed the various musicians and technicians and staff who came out to lend a hand.

Yesterday, the first interview we watched was Jesse's. And we were moved. Touched. Inspired.

During his interview Jesse tells the story of having run away from home at the ripe old age of 13. "It's what this song [Stand by Me] means to me," he said during his interview. "It's a pillar in the music world which means it's something we can all lean on. It holds us up because the whole song is about being comforted, supported. And we all need that."

His grandmother was the reason he got off the streets. She gave him a guitar in his teens and he's never put it down since. "She endured some pretty bad music but it's because of that guitar I became the man who I am now."

And he's quite a man. Warm and loving. Whenever I've seen him at a concert, or run into him on the street, he makes me feel like I am the only person in the room. He makes me feel special. As he makes everyone he meets feel special.

As I watched the footage of Jesse's interview yesterday, I was reminded of what makes this young man so special. During the interview I ask him questions about his singing. About why he's helping with the recording of Stand by Me.

"Everyone seems to think homeless people are criminals or addicts. But they're not all delinquents. Sure there are a few and some people do bad things. But most aren't like that. They're just people in bad situations. In the wrong places at the wrong times."

And then, he tells the story of walking along St. Hubert Street in Montreal a couple of years after his own escape from street life. "I see this guy sitting on the sidewalk pan-handling," he says, "and I sit down beside him to chat."

Jesse isn't shy. Nor is he afraid of anyone. He is curious. Inquisitive. And kind. "I wanted to understand what had led him there," he said. "I mean, I was 13 when I hit the street and I got off. I was young. I wanted to understand what it was that kept him there."

Jesse asked to understand and the man wanted to share his story. "He told me some crazy stories about how he became what he was in that moment and it was sad. He wasn't a bad guy. Just in a lot of tough situations. He talked. I listened."

After three or four hours of listening, Jesse got up and dug in his pocket and found all the money he had with him. Ten bucks.

"I handed the money to the dude and he pushed my hand away."

In the interview, tears are visible in Jesse's eyes. His voice grows soft.

The man wouldn't take his money. "You've given me something I've never had before," said the man. "No one's ever taken the time to hear what I have to say. Nobody's ever cared enough to listen."

Jesse pauses. Catches his breath.

"A story is non-rhetorical," said Jesse. "It's not looking for an answer. It's just looking to be spread. Close your mouth. Open your ears and you'll hear the truth behind people's stories."

A story is non-rhetorical.

Powerful. Provocative. Passionate.

That's Jesse James Cameron.

And those are his words.

A story is non-rhetorical. It's not looking for an answer. It's just looking to be spread.

Today, may we spread stories that speak to strength and hope and love and courage. May our stories spread wings. May they be the breath of God whispering in the hearts of everyone we meet, of every life we touch. May our stories ripple out into the world to create wonder and joy, beauty and truth.


Makeshift Innocence -- Jesse James Cameron (note -- the music starts after she goes out door)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Lifted Up

Beauty and Love are as body and soul:
Inexhaustible mine, and diamond-beyond-price.
I loved his beauty and Love flamed from me:
I grew beautiful, Love whispered my name.
- Jalal-ud-Din Rumi
(Translated by Andrew Harvey from A Year of Rumi)
It was a day of wonder, of miracles unfolding, of God's gentle whisper creating joy amidst the chaos.

It began with a couple, a mother and father, who came into the shelter in the hopes of finding their son. They haven't seen him very often over the past three years. He hit the streets running and keeps looking back to ensure no one's following. We see this fairly often in young men, 19 - 25. Schizophrenia is the big driver. The big push away from stability into a world where voices urge them to act out, strike out -- on their own, at those who love them, for destinations unknown.

For this young man, three years of keeping the voices at bay by listening to their urgings to run away have driven him to the shelter.

And yesterday, his parents came looking. His mother crying. Pleading. Lost. His father tall and stern. One arm around his weeping wife's shoulder, the other held rigidly at his side.

"Have you seen our son?" the mother asked.

By law, we cannot tell. By law, we cannot reveal who is or isn't staying at the shelter. What we can do is take their information and promise to give it to their loved one, if (and that is the if we cannot confirm) they are staying with us.

The staff member took the mother into an office to explain the regulations. The father walked through our day area, a large space where over 500 people gather during the day to chat, to lay their heads down on a table and catch forty winks. An area where, during meal times, over 1,000 people congregate and where at night, the tables are pushed back to create a sleeping space for 150 mats for those who are not over the top intoxicated and can walk up the flight of stairs from the Intox area on the first floor.

It is a busy place and the father wandered through the tables and chairs, his eyes constantly searching.

To no avail.

His son was not there.

The mother, after leaving her contact information, came out of the office and as the staff member lead her back towards her husband a female client approached, looked at the woman and exclaimed, "You must be Kevin's mother! You look just like him."

The mother caught her breath. Tears fell fast. She sighed. "Yes. I am. You know my son?"

"Sure," the woman replied.

And for the next half hour the mother and father sat with this woman, a stranger, who gave them news of her son, who shared what she could.

It was a touching scene. A moving moment of faith, hope and charity.

And then, I checked the Comments on our blog and God's whisper caressed my heart.

In a world where sometimes it does seem like the problems are unending, something happens to make me sit up and realize -- there is no good reason to not make a difference. There is no good reason to stop doing what we do here at the shelter. There is no good reason to not care for people in their distress, to not care for them when they're messing up, to not care for them when they're falling down.

Yesterday, a visitor said to me, "You just enable people here (referring to the fact that of the 1200 people we sleep every night, approximately 300 are under the influence of drugs and alcohol).

"Yes," I replied. "We are great enablers. We enable people to stay alive. To keep falling until they find the courage, or strength, or desire -- whatever it takes -- to stop doing what they're doing to hurt themselves so they can start doing things that heal, that help, that support them. We enable people by keeping hope alive even when they've lost all hope."

I leave you the link to delve into. To experience the wonder and the beauty of the human spirit when it alights on truth -- some may remember this post I wrote during our 12 Days of Christmas at the Shelter -- regardless, give yourself the gift of reading this woman's comments at the bottom.

You will be lifted up.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Putting Love into action

Rich, over at Bouncing Back left me a video yesterday and I wanted to share it, along with the thinking Rich kick-started with leaving this gem in my Comment Box.

See, the speaker in this Ted Talk's video is 12 years old. Her first book was published when she was 7 -- yup 7 -- and it continues to create ripples in the world as she travels around the country speaking in schools and Universities and at a Ted Talks conference. Imagine, a 12 year old with something to teach adults.

And that's the point of Adora Svitak's message. Children have lots to teach adults because learning, she suggests, should be reciprocal. " need to listen and learn from kids and trust us and expect more from us. You must lend an ear today, because we are the leaders of tomorrow, which means we're going to be taking care of you when you're old and senile. No, just kidding. No, really, we are going to be the next generation, the ones who will bring this world forward."

Imagine, a world where adults trust kids. If 'giving is receiving' that would suggest kids would trust adults not to do things that limit their imaginations, stunt their growth and inhibit their creativity.

Kids would trust adults not to destroy the environment, deplete the ocean's, pollute the air and poke holes in the ozone layer.

Kids would know, without a doubt, this is a safe and wonderful world we live in. They would know, 'My future is rosy because the adults of my world are not out there waging war, poaching bears and tigers and elephants, making drugs and putting children and women and everyone else in harm's way with their insistence that they have the answers and there is no other way than their way.'

They would never have to question, 'why' do we do that. Why do we scream and yell and fight and support bigotry and cruelty and racism and all kinds of 'ism' that create chisms of hatred and distrust and fear here on earth. They would know that everything we do is with the intent of leaving this precious planet in a better state than how we found it. They would know that heaven isn't beyond the end of life, it is life.

Our children would know, without a doubt, that we, the adults, the leaders and followers, the citizens of planet earth, their parents, their teachers, guardians, mentors are keenly involved in keeping the world safe, for every creature, plant, body of water, mass of land and animate and inanimate object on this fragile ecosystem spinning in space.

They would never have to fear our intent. They would know we are invested in saving the world by creating value in everything we do, every word we speak, every place we go, thing we build, or don't built, in everything we do on and to and in this planet earth.

Because they would know, we always have the best interests of humankind and all of 'kind' at heart. They would know we are listening and learning, measuring what we do against its impact upon our neighbours, near and far. Upon those we love, those we brought into this world upon the sacred trust of the miracle of life we connected into when we were born, and that connects us for time eternal through the children we bring into this world.

They would know, we are continually investing the best of ourselves so that our children know, they can trust us to do the right thing no matter the cost, the circumstances, the situation.

Because we would know, when we do the right thing, we teach our children how to do the right thing too.

And what can be better than that?

Thank you Rich. And thank you Adora Svitak. Thank you for reminding me that there is much I can learn from my children, much I can learn from all children. You have reminded me to 'listen up', to get moving and doing and being all I'm meant to be -- to trust in the most important lesson of all, a lessson my children have taught me time and time again -- Putting Love into action requires my actions to be Loving.