Saturday, July 31, 2010

Poetry Pairings and other intriquing spaces

Photo by
Liseanne McDonald
Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you. – Thomas Jefferson

This is not what I had intended to write about today but I got inspired by Maureen -- over at Writing without Paper who is a fountain of inspiration every day -- and even more so on Saturday's when 'her finds become my finds'. So, I just couldn't avoid a sharing kind of Saturday morning because this find is inspired!

The New York Times' Learning Network has a new column -- Poetry Pairings. To learn more about this fabulous idea, visit Maureen's blog, or The New York Times, Poetry Pairings -- read down, keep reading, keep being amazed by the creativity and wonder of the human spirit.

What wonderful action to add value and beauty into our lives!

So, ever wonder how people come up with these amazing ideas? Is it just that one day someone woke up and said, "Hey! Let's pair poetry and articles/headlines from the New York Times and call it, Poetry Pairings and we'll have a weekly column and it will be incredibly successful and we'll make zillions of dollars and oh, yeah, the poets will get exposure and readership of NYT will go up and the whole world will be happy!"


But more likely, someone had an idea, and created a MindMap to explore the thoughts and possibilities of their idea.

I love mindmaps. When I used to teach creativity to elementary students I called it 'webbing'. Take a central organizing idea (and no, I did not use such big words), put it in the centre of a page and then start webbing from that idea every thought that relates to your central idea. Keep creating until no more thoughts come and then, find the threads that connect -- you can make more and more webs from each central theme -- and voila! A poem appears. A story writes...

Mindmaps have become more formal than my original webbing -- and are still just as powerful.

You can check out some great ideas on Mindmapping, here and here!

And... get inspired by this video from Felix Dennis, publisher, philanthropist, poet, is, as his bio describes him, a "Former hippie, former jailbird, former aficionado of crack cocaine, Felix Dennis built one of the most successful privately owned magazine empires in the world."

Have a wonderful day.

I'm off to enjoy the world of creativity all around me.


Friday, July 30, 2010

Stand by the DI -- our new commercials!

Some time ago I wrote about Jesse James Cameron, a band member of Makeshift Innocence (Spreading Stories), and a young Calgary musician who helped out in the recording of Stand by Me we created at the homeless shelter where I work. In my last posting, I mentioned we were creating a new series of ads for television.

They're done!

I wanted to share them with you -- I'm really happy with the way they've turned out.

There are eight ads -- 5 x 30 sec spots and 3 x 60 sec spots. I've also placed the entire recording of Stand by Me at the end just in case you want a dose of inspiration today :) !

If you'd like to post a comment on the order of your favourites I'd really appreciate it. We're currently running the ads and it would be great to have some feedback on the most powerful ones to help with our frequency.

Thanks everyone.

Have a blessed and wonder filled Friday.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Pleasantly UNdisturbed Thursday

I like to believe a person isn't defined by how big a splash he makes in the world, but by the laughter preceding the cannonball. Duane Scott

Over at Duane Scott's place there's a regular Thursday happening called, Pleasantly Disturbed Thursdays. Random thoughts of random thinking from not so random people. My friend Glynn @ Faith, Fiction, Friends contributes regularly as does nAncY @ Poems and Prayers.

So, I thought, why not get down and get random on this glorious Thursday? I mean, seriously, random thinking is my forte. I can jump from thinking about the meaning of life being too big to understand to feeling like the meaning of life is all wrapped up in the blink of a cat's eye or the wag of a dog's tail.

Last night, as Ellie and I wandered along a ridge over looking a river valley, life's meaning was encompassed in the stillness of dusk's quiet glow descending upon the mountains to the west. Caught on the serrated edges of their spine slicing heaven from earth, billowy clouds rose in pink and purple froth from their peaks, pushing back dusk's descending gloom like smoke escaping from a chimney stack in the dead cold heat of winter escaping the warmth of the hearth below.

The world was encased in serenity and I was at peace in the moment. I walked along the ridge as Ellie gamboled joyfully in the long grasses, sniffing out gophers and ants and honeybees who buzzed continuously amidst the wildflowers blooming all around us. Fireweed. Indian Paintbrush. Brown-eyed Suzies. Queen Anne's Lace. Purple vetch. Bluebells rioted in gaily coloured disarray brushing up against green prairie grasses tipped with golden fronds standing still in the sultry evening air.

How could the meaning of life be anything more than the perfection of that moment wandering along a ridge in the quiet of the evening? The river lazily drifted its course below. A hawk glided on a breath of air. The cerulean sky lay exposed above me dotted with fluffy white clouds speckled with pinks and blues and dark splotches of purples as they dipped further and further to the west. I stopped and looked up, way way up and the clouds weren't moving overhead.

The world was still and silent.

I held my breath and in that moment I felt the earth move beneath my feet, I felt my heart beat within my chest and I knew peace. Time. Distance. Pain. Fear. Sorrow. Joy. Laughter. Smiles. Happiness. Love. All of it disappeared into one transcendent moment and all that was left was me standing in this one precious moment in awe of the magnificence of life all around me.

Above me, blue sky dotted with cloud.

To the west, billowy darkness descending upon the peaks.

And all around me, the effortless grace of being right where I was.

So, not so random thoughts. Not so pleasantly disturbed thinking just pleasantly realizing here I am right where I am meant to be. .

Sitting here, right now at my desk, looking out at morning's glory unveiling the light of day, letting my fingers fly across the keyboard, letting the thoughts and images and words flow outward from my fingertips onto the computer screen, I know..


in this moment

is exactly

where it is


to be.

And I'm not so disturbed. Just pleasantly undisturbed. And boy, for me, that can be a relief!

Have an amazing day being right where you are, breathing into the moment of being right where you're meant to be in your life unfolding in grace.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Perfectly Me

The ultimate reason for setting goals is to entice you to become the person it takes to achieve them. Jim Rohn
I have, for as long as I can recall, always wanted to 'know myself'. To understand me. To love me in all my many complexities. Even as a child, I can remember feeling like there was something wrong because who I thought I was inside, who I wanted to be, was expressed so differently on the outside. I don't know how old I was when I set the goal, but it has always been my desire to be aligned from the inside out with who I am within me reflecting who I am in the world around me through love and joy and harmony.

There have been in my lifetime a lot of goals that I have set and achieved. A lot of goals that I have set and let fall by the wayside. But running a marathon, climbing mountains, writing a book, none of these have held the same joy and satisfaction and sense of mystery as working arduously on deepening my understanding of me, and aligning that understanding with everything I do and say and act out in the world.

It has been an amazing journey of delving deep within while climbing high above the fracas of my mind telling me to 'quit it'. You're okay, my mind would chatter as I felt the dissonance of acting out against my desire to be authentic, whole and complete.

Stop being so hard on yourself, my inner beast would urge in those moments where I knew that what I had done, or was doing, was lesser than the sum total of my parts, lesser than who I wanted to be.

This goal, of being my most amazing, authentic, beautiful and true self has constantly challenged me to act up to my higher good, even when I'm acting out my greatest fears.

And I am grateful.

Because in acting out, I have found the way out of living stuck in the belief, 'I can't change. It's just the way I am.'

It's not -- the way I am when I am being self-defeating, critical, harsh, obstinate, and stubborn. It's not the way I am. It is the way I am behaving. And in my behaviours I find myself again, fighting against the urge to turn up, pay attention, be true to who I am and stay unattached to the outcome.

When my daughters were small I used to tell them -- who you are is a wonderful, beautiful, incredible human being. How you behave is not who you are. You are fundamentally good, right to your core. Behaviour, well sometimes behaviour is not optimal. Sometimes, behaviour is optional. Behaviour can be changed. The wonder of you never changes.

I believe it to my core. We are fundamentally good. We want to achieve greatness. We want to live up to our highest calling. Strive to be our most incredible selves.

And sometimes, we fall down. Not in whom we are, but rather, in what we do to express our most magnificent selves in the world around us.

Yesterday, I wrote to a friend after I'd done something incredibly stupid. "Thank you from your perfectly imperfect perfectly happy with her imperfection friend."

I've come a long way baby!

Being perfect was something I used to think equated with 'being human'. The job was to reach perfection, as if being human was like reaching the summit of a mountain, or running a marathon. I've done both and there was no perfectly perfect way to do either. There was just the route I chose to reach the peak, just the path I took to cross the finish line. And in both cases, there were always surprises on the route, detours on the path that made me rethink where I was going and what I was doing. And when I reached the peak and crossed the finish line, I was perfectly happy right where I was in that moment.

And that's the thing about life. My life. Me.

I am perfectly happy where I am. Perfectly content with who I am, how I am when I let go of perfection and simply fall into all that I am when I am breathing deeply into the sheer joy and wonder of living this moment fearlessly in love with all that I am.

My friend, the one I wrote the thank you note had written me, "don't beat yourself up 'cause you know it's hard to be perfect and so be happy to be the best imperfect".

It is hard to be perfect. And perfection is not my goal... any longer.

For today, I choose to be me. In all my complexities, vagaries, contradictions, ups and downs and ins and outs. I choose to be me, in all my human imperfections, because my imperfections are perfectly perfect for me.

I'm easing up. Easing off the pedal. Steering straight away from needing to find myself on the road to perfection and falling sheer away from the cliff of self-destruction. I am letting go of having to 'be' and surrendering into being me, just the way I am, how I am, in all that I am.

I am letting go of the quest for the perfect answer to me and holding onto the perfect truth for me -- I'm perfect, just the way I am.

The goal isn't to 'be perfect'. The goal is to accept myself, to love myself in all my beauty, warts and all. The goal isn't some far off distant peak. It's right here. In this moment when I open up myself up in wonder and allow the radiance within me to be expressed with love and joy in the world around me.

There is no place called, "Knowing me". There is this place called now where I embrace myself and whisper lovingly and gratefully from the depth of my soul, "What a wonderful world. I'm exactly where I am meant to be. All is well with my soul. All is well with me."


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ego Bursts (a poem)

Ego Bursts
Louise Gallagher

Painful bursts
of angry self-righteous
lobbed with the ferocity
of a terrorist’s grenade
I crouch
behind insurmountable walls
of cool smooth alabaster
etched with prophetic words
under the skin
of my insistence
I must protect
my right
to be wrong
at all costs.

No footholds
too hard to climb
my ego clings
to its position
where I remain
locked tight
behind my assertions
I am ok.

Erratic folly
of my ego
screaming outbursts
like a volcano
from the epicenter
of my painful assertions
I must protect
my heart
from feeling
beyond the boundaries
of my knowing
who I am
when I am not
with who you are.

I am not ok
when who I am
is locked
behind my ego
in foolish self-righteous
from being
who I am
when I am ok
with who you are.

Blowing up
the walls
that would constrict
my heart
and I fall
into that place
where I am
in the arms
of Love
embracing me
in my being
with who you are
and who I am
we may be.

Today is Blog Carnival Tuesday. The one word prompt day where I breathe into a word and write it out. Today's prompt is: Ego.

Blog Carnival is sponsored by Bridget Chumbley at One Word at a Time and Peter Pollock of Rediscovering the Church. It's a biweekly online event open to anyone. Participants write on a one-word prompt or topic. This week's one word is "ego".

At Bridget's place you'll find a list of links to all of the contributions, which are posted throughout Tuesday and often through to the end of the week.

Monday, July 26, 2010

One hand on the doorknob

The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right place but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment. Dorothy Nevill
It was a weekend of lifting spirits, widening smiles and wide open hearts. Every Sunday of Choices, I work in the Purpose Room - it is the last process of Givers 2 -- the second weekend trainees return to complete the 'student' part of Choices. To complete the circle of experience, says Thelma Box, founder and facilitator of Choices, you need to come back and coach.

On the Sunday, trainees are guided through an experiential learning process of discerning their life purpose. It is always exciting to watch faces glow, to hear the catch in someone's voice as they 'get it' or the tears that flow as they embrace the truth of what they 'do' -- every day, and have always done -- in the world that is uniquely of them, their voice, their essence, their purpose.

Before the process begins, there is always a spiritual meeting -- another opportunity to stretch. For some, going to church is part of their Sunday routine. For others, church and religion and spirituality has overtones of the past -- of places they'd rather not visit. The spiritual session is an opportunity to simply stretch in a new direction, to flex muscles not often used, to change glasses and look at life and living through divine eyes.

Yesterday's speaker was Bill Spangler. Bill is one of those people whom, when they speak everybody listens. His words are deep and round and full and juicy. He has a way of touching hearts and opening minds with grace and ease. He creates safety in conversations. Places where each person feels heard and seen and visible and real. Bill is a Choices employee. He used to be a pastor and gave up that role, went through Choices and eventually became Choice's representative in Western Canada. I'm so glad he did.

Bill's talk yesterday was on 'conversations with one hand on the doorknob'. You know, that place where as you're about to leave you turn back to say one more thing, to speak one more truth, to try to connect one more time with the person you're leaving.

Those conversations are often deep, said Bill. Perhaps it is that in the act of leaving we do not want to disconnect from the person being left. Or, perhaps we just want to connect one more time with authenticity before heading off into the not so deeply connected world beyond the open door, he suggested.

I think there's another reason why, 'one hand on the doorknob' can be so profound.

I think the open door is an invitation to cross the threshold into territory never before explored. As we look beyond the place we're at to the possibilities of where we're going, we become fearless. In that moment of stepping across the threshold into the unknown, we connect with our courage, bravery, authenticity to test what it means to 'go deep', to delve into that place of 'knowing' deep within us.

We all carry it, that place of knowing. We all have access to it and sometimes, in this crazy, busy, noisy, chaotic world, our hearing is blocked and we don't take the time to access it.

But, at the door, one hand on the doorknob, we sense the call of the wild rising in our hearts. We feel the lure of the unknown awakening our deepest longings, and we let loose.

I've had a lot of conversations started at that place of one hand on the doorknob. And often, the reason for their beginning is to give me something to come home to. Something to carry with me, some thought or idea or feeling that will keep me open to discovering what is out there, knowing that what is back here, back on the other side of the doorway, is my place of refuge, my serenity corner, my sanctuary.

And then, sometimes, those words spoken with one hand on the doorknob are the one's I've feared speaking while in the room -- perhaps because I feared the other's response and didn't want to hang around to hear it :), or perhaps, because openness is easier when I see the way out isn't blocked by someone else's words.

It is an interesting thought -- conversations at the door. One hand on the doorknob. Where are you feet? Both on one side of the doorway? One in. One out? Both out? Are you standing on this side speaking? Are you leaning back in?

Where are you in those conversations that mean most to you?


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday Wonder

Exhilarating, captivating and just downright enjoyable....

I found Chris Thile and How to Grow a Band from the Ground through a link from the always entertaining Katdish which led me to Bob at Wilderness Fandango. Enjoy!

and one more of Chris Thile playing Bach -- lovely!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Saturday Picks

It's a Choices weekend so I'm off to coach -- which means, little time to post.

I wanted to share with you some finds worth finding.

First off, Glynn over at Faith, Fiction, Friends has a list of amazing prose and poetry and photographs to wander through. I'm blessed with being part of his list, especially because I'm amongst so many powerful writers.

Billy Coffey at What I Learned Today writes a beautiful piece on a friend who became mired in an addiction that he couldn't let go of. Really powerful piece.

And Diane Walker at Contemplative Photography wrote a piece, Stumbling Into Belonging -- I swear she was in my head!

Get inspired by the art offerings at Maureen Odallas' All Art Friday -- as always, treasures to mine and wonder to behold. Did you know Glenfiddich is the Celtic word for "Valley of the Deer"? I thought it was just the name of a delightful scotch whiskey!

On my sidebar are all sorts of wonderful offerings by other writers and photographers under the Blogs I Follow -- Kathleen has a beautiful poem to sweet peas. And Susan's Milkweed will leave you breathless. And the ever effervescent Kat has written a two part series, Why I hate writing 1 and Why I hate writing 2 -- priceless! My daughters even have blogs -- though my eldest daughter's posts on How I Survived Myself have been few and far between, ("wink wink, nudge nudge"), Liseanne has been sporadically updating her European adventures at "One Girl. One Backpack. Too many Shoes". And there's so much more.

And for the creme de la creme! Here's a new Ted Talk that is a must view!

And now, I am off for a day of wonder. A day of watching spirits soar and hearts break open in love.

May your day be filled with joy and love and laughter. May you know the feeling of the sun kissing your face and the breeze caressing your skin as you embrace the wonder and beauty of all you are in this moment.


Friday, July 23, 2010

What works

Photo courtesy of

Wake Up. Become aware of what works, and what doesn't, in your life, and in your world. Jean Houston
I got the quote from my friend Joyce's blog, Peaceful Legacies. Using Step One, Wake Up from Jean Houston's nine step process which will be discussed at her upcoming workshop, Social Artistry. Social Alchemy, Joyce writes an open and candid message about the importance of finding meaning and making meaning in our lives and our world.

Yesterday, I had the gift of meeting up with a woman who is taking the same online course as me -- Feminine Power 2010: The Essential Course for the Awakening Woman. We spent a delightful couple of hours listening and telling, exploring and decoding what we've learned and where we're struggling to grow and shift and embrace and understand and accept.

In FP there is a lot of talk about Radical Self-responsibility -- focusing 100% on what is 'us' in every situation. The I am the source of my experiences and my experiences are founded on my beliefs, way of thinking.

Which got me thinking about Joyce's commitment to blog every day about Jean Houston's nine steps for Social Artistry. Social Alchemy.

And my commitment to turn up here every morning and blog about what is happening, what is not happening, what is going well, what is not going so well, what is exciting, what is draining in my life.

Recently, a girlfriend said to me, "You know Louise, your challenge is you believe in Love. Big L. Little L. You just believe in the power of Love."

Not romantic. Not heart-throbbing love but Love. And it's true. I do. Believe in Love.

Oh, I believe in the romantic kind that makes your heart-throb and pulse. I believe in love that makes you crazy, that breaks your heart into a million painful shards that glitter in the light of love and loss. I believe in all that love and then some.

Because, what's working in my life is never about what is 'happening'. It's always about what I believe in.

And I believe in Love.

When I look out my office window and see grey skies, I know, the sun still shines. I believe it is there behind the clouds, hanging out in the universe, just not in a way I can see today. But tomorrow? Ah, tomorrow is another day and who knows what the skies will bring?

When I sit across the dinner table from C.C. and feel a sense of loss in our relationship, I know, love still lives, love still is part of our equation, just not one we're sharing intimately with each other today. But tomorrow? Ah, tomorrow is another day and who knows what love will bring?

In a guided meditation that was part of one of the classes in FP, we were invited to 'visit our future'. To 'see' as only we can see in the powerful space of our imaginations, ourselves as 87 year old women and to listen to what our older selves had to say.

I saw and listened to myself at 87 and was in awe of what is yet to come. "The adventure is just beginning," my 87 year old self said. "Despair not. There is so much excitement opening up ahead of you. So much you are yet to do, to become, to see, to know, to express, to create. Life is extraordinary and I am the evidence of the greatest possibility of your life!"

Tomorrow is another day and for today, my responsibility is to turn up, pay attention, be accountable, speak my truth and stay unattached to the outcome. For today, my responsibility is to fearlessly step beyond the confines of the known into that space where the unknown becomes visible and I become free to express myself. For today, my job is to be a presence of love, loving deeply all of humanity, taking risks from a deeply seated faith where I am aligned with the goodness of life and love.

What does not work in my life is when my beliefs would have me dim down, live small, live a little bit of all that I can be because I fear what other's may think, or that my living up to my higher good will disrupt the status quo. Life is about disrupting the status quo. Growth comes when I step outside my comfort zones to explore that never-ever land of possibilities beyond my wildest imaginings.

What works is when I express myself, fearlessly and openly. What works is when I step into my day pregnant with the creative possibilities of me expressing myself from a foundation of wholeness, harmony and grace. What works is when I surrender fear and fall, with joy and abandon into Love.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

One step at a time

A co-worker knocks lightly on my open office door. “I’ve got a man here? Can you listen to his story?”

Sure, I reply. I am the story-collector. Telling stories of the lives of the people we serve. Bringing a human face to life for other’s to see.

A short and stocky man walks into my office, black track suit, white t-shirt. He clutches a teddy bear in one hand. The other wipes at the tears streaming down his face.

He stands in front of my desk. Eyes wild. "I don't know. I don't know." he cries. "I don't know what to do."

I don’t know what to say.

I offer him a chair. Can I get you water? Coffee?

He gulps a tentative breath, collapses into the chair and sobs. “My son. My son is dead.” He looks at me, his eyes confused, red and watery. His shoulders start to shake.

Breathe, I say.

And he takes a breath, shakes his head and says again, I don’t know. I don’t know what to do.

I hand him a box of tissue. Breathe, I say softly.

And he breathes again.

Breathing helps, he says. I saw him. Just last week. I gave him a hug. He jumped off a bridge. Or maybe he fell. He’d be 22 this month. I haven’t seen him for 17 years. He’s not supposed to be gone. My daughter. My daughter she came and found me and told me what happened.

I went to the police. They told me but I don’t remember. I don’t remember what they said. I did then. At the time. I knew. But I don’t remember now. What's wrong with me?

And he looks at me as if there's an answer that will help ease his pain and confusion.

You've had a huge shock. A terrible loss, I say. You're feeling overwhelmed.

Yes. Yes. Overwhelmed. My mind is lost. I don't know where I lost it. God must have known. He must have known he was going to go cause I saw him. Just last week.

He’s staying out at the satellite shelter. I gave him a hug.

He pauses. Shakes his head.

I saw him in a line-up. Heard his name. Asked him if that really was his name and he said, Yeah. You're my dad.

I'm his dad. How strange. Him staying out at the satellite. I’m here. He’s there. Haven't seen him in seventeen years. I used to stay there. But now, I’m here. On the second floor.

My buddy, on the fifth, he asked me why don’t I move up and I told him I don’t know. Lotta responsibility to move up there. I don't know if I can do it.

I don’t know. How can I not know?

He sobs loudly. Tears stream down his face.

Breathe, I remind him.

My daughter. She’s tough. Real tough. She doesn’t like men. She came to find me. How did she find me? I don’t know. But she’s got a daughter, seven. Haven’t seen her in five years. My daughter’s a single mom. She's tough but not that tough. Good mom. Best mom in the world I think. I didn’t let her see me cry.

He stops. His shoulders shake.

What’s wrong with me? I’m losing my mind. They gave me some rocks. You know, the Victim Services people. And this teddy bear, and he holds the teddy bear up to show me. They said I could give it away to someone else. But I can't. I can't give it away. The two police officers, they told me everything but I don’t remember. What’s wrong with me? Being homeless makes you crazy. I’ve been homeless five years.

Crack. I hate it. Haven’t used in two months. That’s pretty good right? I had money and didn’t go for a fix. That’s pretty good right?

He pats his jacket pockets. Pant’s pockets. Finds what he’s looking for.

See, here are the rocks. They told me I could have one but I need all three.

He lines them up on his leg, one by one.

Believe. I gotta believe there’s a reason for all this.

Strength. They asked me if I was thinking of suicide. I told them yes. But I’d never do it. Death is God’s business. I need strength to get through this, oh and this one.

He holds up a blue rock with gold letters.

Courage. I need courage. I gotta have courage. Not to get through this though I need courage for this too but I need courage to get straight.

I put my name in for Calgary Housing. I was at the Foothills Shelter. I was the Mayor of the shelter. I’d been there since it opened. And then they kicked me out. Made it to the Salvation Army. Even got onto the paid floors. You’re doing good, they said. Real good. I told them not to say that. I told them not to say it until I paid my next month’s rent. I didn’t. Pay the rent. I used.

I haven’t used in two months. That’s pretty good right?

But what do I do? I don’t know what to do. I don’t know nothing. How can I know nothing?

You knew you could come to the DI and get help, I said gently.

Yeah. I did. I walked all night. I think I been walking forever. After I heard, I bought a six pack. Sat on a curb downtown in some parkade. This dude. Big guy. Real big guy. Came up and asked me 'what are you doing'. I started crying. Right there in the street. I started crying and he sat down on the curb and talked to me. That was real nice. Wasn't it? Nice?

Yes, I reply. It was very kind of him.


He’s not supposed to go before me. My mom, she’s gone. I thought my dad was gone but my daughter told me he’s alive. He’s in some 24 hour care place. I don’t know if I’m allowed to see him.

He starts to sob.

Breathe, I remind him.

Breathing’s good, he says.

If I get an apartment what will I do? I’ve never paid bills. When I wasn’t married I always went back to my parents. I made money. Everyone else took care of the bills. And then the crack came and I ended up homeless and now...

My son. My son.

Who will say good-night to me if I live alone? I've got two-hundred roommates on my floor. We say goodnight to each other. We care.


What do I do?

My daughter will organize the funeral, he says. I need clothes.

Don’t worry about that right now, I tell him. One step at a time.

Yeah, one step at a time. I gotta breathe. Breathing’s good.

I have to go see the police again. Talk to my daughter. She'll know what to do. But I can't talk to her today. No. Not today. I can't let her see me like this. Can't go where people are. No. Too many people. Not good. Not good.

There's a knock on my door. It's one of our counsellors.

I open the door.

Hi Jim*, he says. Let's go down to my office and we can chat quietly there.

Jim stands up.

Yeah. Gotta keep moving.

His shoulders start to shake. Breathe, he says. He looks and me. Thank you. Breathing's good.

He moves towards the open door and the waiting counsellor. He stops and turns back to look at me. One step at a time? Right? I know how to do that.

Yes you do, I reply. Yes you do.

And he's gone.

So much regret. So much sorrow. So many losses.

For now, he takes one step at a time.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The View From My Place

Yesterday I posted on my work-a-day space. Today, a view of my morning writing space -- evening too. Well, mostly my writing space when at home, though sometimes, I move my laptop to the bedroom and sit on my bed and watch the birds outside in the backyard through the matching bay window from the office where my desk sits. In my office, the bay window looks out over the front yard and the street. Grass, trees, roadway, hedge to the left side. A carport with C.C.s white 1968 Karmen Ghia and 1975 Mercedes, buttercup yellow, lined up in my direct line of sight.

In place
tulip bulb lamp
delicate, transparent
'what is that' my daughter asked
when I brought it home.
Art deco, I replied.
It looks...
and she paused, searching
suggestive, she said.
She can be kind
when she wants to
I see it. Again. Through my eyes.
Sensual. Sexual.
two metal pipes
delicate like prairie grass
arching upwards
dipping over
heavy, white bulbs
pregnant with light
hanging, open
tinged with pink
like a woman's body
opening up
to receive
to give
to become.
I become me
in its soft glow
a mug,
shaped like a tiger's head
painted yellow and black
filled with pens
paper opener with giraffe's head
scissors, frothy Santa Claus pen
it jingles
so childish
so silly
a purple candle in purple glass
stained glass metal dragonfly
to its side
held in place
by two metal claws that dip
over the glass edge
into wax
Hand lotion
white sage
pink alabaster heart
a cast iron mini bird bath
complete with bird
tail feathers up
it's water dish filled
with angel cards
to greet the day
today's angel
she kneels
and feeds a white unicorn
I trust
this process
to turn up
with me
to blossom
African violets
delicate purple flowers
beside a
vase of peonies
set in jelly
real to look
not so real to touch
they last
like words
in a notebook
my latest jottings
scribbled across the page
"Purpose of power is to cause the
flourishing of life"
above me
a string of gardenia lights
three silver birds
in flight
like my desk
ready to take flight
my laptop
a telephone
I immerse myself
in this space
and let thoughts flow
where ever
they desire
to go
to be
to become
like me
not wanting
wanting comes from Latin
desire is
'awaiting what the stars
shall bring'
this place
brings me
This place
my place
to be.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Work-a-day Place

Yesterday, Glynn over at Faith, Fiction, Friends responded to L.L. Barkat's invitation at Seedlings in Stone to write, In Place. A descriptive verse, paragraph, essay about your workspace.

I was at work and took five minutes to jot down my desktop -- to have described the general 'artistic' disarray of my office would have taken much longer!

Later in the day, L.L. Barkat dropped into my blog to invite me to post my poetic discourse with a link on Seedlings In Stone. So, here I am describing my work-a-day place. My morning space is another view...

Now, it must be remembered I am the 'odd man out' on the management team at the homeless shelter where I work. I am fundamentally creative. Artistic. A free thinker, or, as my eldest daughter laughed and said last night while we were at Chapters browsing the books and I momentarily kicked up my heels to tap dance my way closer to her as Frank Sinatra sang "My Way" over the pa system, "A true free spirit."

Like my fundamental leanings to the creative, my office leans towards the chaotic. Bookcases line one wall. Art books. Art paper. Art utensils. A pair of child's red leather shoes, worn and scuffed rest beside a vase filled with multi-coloured markers. The shoes were used in a photo shoot for a commercial that my predecessor undertook many years ago -- not sure they've ever been dusted but even dust has its place. The markers used every day to highlight whatever my whimsical nature feels needs highlighting -- or to add a touch of colour just because! There are books on PR. Fundraising. Wellness and spirituality. And, a stack of paper's I've read, to be read, to be filed, to be kept just in case.

Windows line the wall beside my desk and the opposite wall from the bookcase has a print of an A.Y. Jackson lake scene in the fall and one of my large paintings of waterlillies all luminous blues and pinks and greens and blurry like a Monet because I love the impressionists and I so get this thing with dimming eye sight and age that softens sharp edges and rough corners.

On the far wall where the door enters, or exits depending upon your perspective, another window and a row of black and white photos of the people and places around the shelter. A long low wooden filing cabinet, the top of which is mostly consumed by a huge vase of silk flowers that were donated and no one knew what to do with and I figured my office could always use the colour and the froth and, a painting by one of our clients.

Amidst the social workers and PhDs in education and social work and one financial guru whose personality generates lots of pushback, my creative leanings often tip the balance between doing things 'the old way because that's how we've always done them' and 'let's see what happens when we expand our thinking to embrace the unknown'. I've learned to be patient and gentle in my approach though sometimes I forget myself and push into the unknown not sure whose following and not really all that concerned if they're there, or not. Change doesn't come easy in a place where change has brought people to this brink of nothing other than the clothes on their backs. And only change will get them somewhere else.

And then... there's my desk. The poetic verse I posted yesterday in a five minute break from working on my report on "Cycling in and out of Homelessness. A study of the repetitive nature of homelessness in the lives of clients at the Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre". In the midst of client interviews and statistics and facts and assumptions, I often find taking a creative dip propels my thinking into new zones and new ideas that enhance whatever I'm working on.

In place

my desktop strewn
with papers and a pink water bottle
and my favourite mug creamy white
on the outside
a red dove embossed on its side,
red on the inside
three origami swans,
several heart rocks
smooth stones
one says,
another Fearless
I am Fearless
I Believe in my dreams
An Inushtuk a client gave me
he carved it himself
soap stone warmed by hands
gnarled by time
like rocks formed by heat
and the pressing of time
and the passing of years
a photo of my daughters
the view out my window to the south
the SaddleDome a giant sagging hump
lining the horizon
three dried roses
a paper weight gifted to me
by the Government of Canada,
a copper maple leaf embedded in glass
the copper from the roof of the Parliament buildings
Two postits stuck to my computer monitor
from my daughters
One yellow
One blue
I love you.
I love you too!
An open magazine,
quote circled
"artists navigate complex systems all the time.
they make sense of the world in shifting times."
Collin Funk, Banff Centre
Creative Programming Director.
A report
half finished
notes in margins
notes circled like so much
half finished
done up
ready to be completed
ready to be
side lined
on my desk.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Turning away from nothing

When we tug at a single thing in nature, we find it attached to the rest of the world. John Muir
Turning away
from nothing,
I fall
into all
that I can be.

It is the thought that drifted through my morning meditation. Turning away, I find myself where ever I am in the nothing that I fear when I surrender myself to being my most authentic self.

In that moment, I become all of me without reservation, without fear, without conditions.

As I have been consciously creating a generative base from which I turn up in my life in faith, I have discovered this place deep within me that distrusts the very thing I desire -- turning up in faith.

What a fascinating conundrum!

That which I am actively engaged in creating is that which I fear -- a leap of faith.

Not faith in God as in my Catholic roots, but faith that Life, in all its exciting and limitless possibilities, desires to express itself through me. That life and I are co-creating this exciting journey where my heart's desires manifest themselves in all that I do, all that I say, all that I see.

In this unwinding of a relationship that I cherish, I find myself acting out. I hurt and to ease my pain, I sometimes express myself in ways that speak of my fear and disappointment, not my belief that Life is delivering to me limitless opportunities to create all that I desire in my life. How I turn up in challenging situations is a reflection of my belief -- in myself, in life, in others, in Love.

My beliefs create my experiences. And, because I lack faith in the goodness of life, I have created situations where I can prove my most powerful beliefs true -- that the world is full of lack, of limited expression of the goodness of life!

In recognizing that I am a woman who has operated from a 'faithless in the goodness of Life' modus of control, I liberate myself to take that leap of faith where I celebrate with Life all that is good, all that is great, all that is beautiful in the world around me.

As I liberate myself to express the beauty and wonder of the world around me and the world within me, I free up space for Life to express itself through me in Divine wonder.

These are not challenging times. These are times to dance in the rain, to wonder at the beauty of raindrops sparkling on a leaf, to marvel at the beauty of a worm edging its way across the lawn.

These are days of wonder when I turn away from nothing and surrender to fall in Love.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

It is Sunday

In the wonder that is my daughter, the world comes alive. Colours vibrate in a rainbow strewn sky where sun prism's dance on raindrops and grey clouds blush with pink and purple hues.

All is well with my world.

It is Sunday -- and I am off to play.

Blessings and light to all!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Saturday Picks

I slept in today. An almost unheard occurence. I actually slepts until almost 9am. Wow! My daughter, Alexis, when she awoke said -- I'm so proud of you mom. You slept in!

And because I did, I had time to contemplate how to 'spice up' my weekend posts.

Today's spice is actually a referral to some referrals my blog community made on their blogs -- so, I'm sending you off on a treasure hunt today to check out some inspirtation, art, ideas and thinking that could just shake up your world and spice up your life!

Have a great adventure!

Maureen over at Writing without Paper posts a regular Saturday column -- click here to read all about it! -- My finds are your finds

Glynn at Faith, Fiction, Friends, is a deep and thoughtful thinker who graciously supports other writers' blogs. Check out his Saturday Good Reads. I always feel this fissure of gratitude and humility when I find my name amidst his Good Reads listings.

And for a touch of inspiration, check out Diane's Contemplative Photographer post, Touched by Divine Humor.

And for just a really awesome read, visit Billy Coffey's blog via the amazing Katdish.


Friday, July 16, 2010

For goodness sake.

Animals know nothing of Freud, Jesus, Buddha, Wall Street, the Pentagon, or the Vatican. They live outside the politics of human intention. Somehow they already inhabit the eternal. John O'Donohue
I was there when he burst from the chute. A bucking, heaving, rippling mass of energy bound flesh. I was there when he projected his body across the corral, writhing, twisting, heaving. His entire being one massive muscle intent on ridding itself of the agony of the flank strap tight around its girth and the weight of the rider on its back.

I was there when novice bronco rider, Steed Cline, was dismounted in a flurry of swinging arms and legs to right himself in the dirt.

I was there when he dusted himself off and turned to watch the beast who out rode him to the eight second bell leap away.

And I was there when his look of frustration and disappointment turned to disbelief. Later he would tell a reporter, "I kind of feel bad... but that's the rodeo and life goes on. You can't have it perfect every day."

It was not a perfect day for Sinder Mountain, an eight year old bucking bronco from the Calgary Stampede Ranch stock. The torrential rains hadn't fallen yet. The hail hadn't come. The wind hadn't howled. All of that would come soon after the drama that was to ensue unfolded.

But first, man leapt safely to the ground. The mighty beast he'd ridden continued to buck across the corral. 20,000 spectators held their collective breath. The PA system went silent for one pregnant moment and the next ten minutes would drag like hours. A hush would fall over the stadium, the skies would darken but not yet fall. The heavens glowered. Dark clouds loomed. The wind picked up as all hell broke loose on Monday, July 12th in the second heat of the rodeo at the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, The Calgary Stampede as Sinder Mountain, rodeo bucking bronco went down.

I was there when he went down.

There was nothing majestic or beautiful in his fall. He stumbled, tripped, fell and couldn't get back up. His hind legs splayed behind him, he struggled to raise his body and collapsed again to the dirt. A pick-up man leaped from his horse, ran to Sinder's head and grabbed the harness. He tugged. The horse writhed. He tugged again. Tried to drag him across the corral to the gate. The mighty beast looked up. His mouth gaped wide, teeth bared. He shuddered. And the pick-up man hauled. It was as if the thought of 20,000 spectators looking on compelled him to fulfill on the unspoken Cardinal Rodeo Rule. 'Never let the audience see an animal down'. It was if the agony of the horse didn't matter. Getting him out of sight did.

Another pick-up man raced to the aid of Sinder. He beckoned to a volunteer at the edge of the corral. Frantically. Cowboy hats in place, 'dusters' flapping against their flanks, more men ran into the fray. Some carried a giant black tarp. Quickly, they closed ranks around the fallen beast. A curtain of black appeared and all sight of the mighty bucking bronco disappeared.

I was there when the ambulance arrived. I was there as the black tarp moved like a giant undulating caterpillar towards the open doors at the rear of the 'bus'. I was there when the tarp fell back to expose nothing but corral dirt tracked with a whirl of messy footprints and drag marks leading towards tire tracks where the ambulance had once stood waiting.

And I was there when back doors shut, the ambulance disappeared out the gate to some unknown destination behind the Infield at the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. The Calgary Stampede.

The gates closed. The corral returned to life and the show went on.

I was there.

I wish I wasn't.

I wish I knew nothing of Freud, Jesus, Buddha, Wall Street, the Pentagon, or the Vatican. I wish I knew nothing of the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. The Calgary Stampede.

I wish we knew better. I wish we, these two legged creatures of limitless possibility, whose minds can create cures for smallpox and rabies and put men on the moon and fly rings around Mars, I wish we knew better.

"We treat them [the animals] like family," said Stampede spokesman, Dough Fraser.

I've never stuck my children in a pen and tied a strap around their middles, tight, real tight, just so they would explode out into space in a frenzy of defying gravity in their efforts to release the tautness around their girth. I've never stuck 200 pound sacks on their backs and forced them to buck and shake and do whatever it takes to get the weight off.

I'd never do that to my children.

Why do I accept it being done to these magnificent beasts?

"It was a very, very difficult day for the Stampede," said Doug Fraser.

Yeah? Well it was even more difficult for Sinder Mountain.

It's been difficult for my conscience too.

But, that's rodeo and life goes on.

And my life will go on better without rodeo.

Fare-thee-well Sinder Mountain. Be of bold spirit. May you run free in the great range in the sky.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

She's Home!

"Becoming a mother makes you the mother of all children. From now on each wounded, abandoned, frightened child is yours. You live in the suffering mothers of every race and creed and weep with them. You long to comfort all who are desolate." Charlotte Gray
When she was little I used to sneak into her room in the dark and watch her sleeping, her face softly lit with angelic glow by the night light beside her bed. I'd stand in the quiet of her room and feel my heart melting within me.

This is Love, a tiny voice whispered within me. And I knew peace.

She once wrote in a Christmas wish to me, "When we are first born into this world, our every breath, our every gurgle and tear is witnessed. Our mothers watch over us with the most careful of attention, as if we are brilliant performers on a world-class stage. Our first smile is celebrated with unmatched joy. Our first steps are rejoiced over, and our cries break their hearts.

I can remember many nights, hours after bedtime, I'd be gently woken as the crack of light hiding behind my door grew wider. The figure of my mother would appear, but I would never let her know I knew she was there. I would just lie very still and feel her watching me in the silence. Just watching me breathe. As if it were something really special. As if I was special."

She came home last night. This child of the magical first steps and brilliant laughter who silently watched me watching her breathe in her sleep. This child of my heart who has wooed me out of separation within into loving all of me fiercely embraced in the wonder of her being in my life.

She came home. Just for a week. To visit friends and family. To Stampede and kick it up cowboy style, home from the range.

I stood at the arrivals gate at the airport, worried that in the long line-up to get into parking, she had already come through the doors and I would miss her entrance. Miss that moment of catching sight of her where my breath would stop for just one moment as I realized, this beautiful young woman is here to see me. she is my daughter.

I watched people exit. Laughter and smiles. Hugs and kisses. Firm handshakes. Awkward hellos. children running to meet grandparents. A woman in a wheelchair waiting to meet her family. A man with flowers waiting to greet his lover.

I glanced behind me towards the luggage carousels, turned back towards the doors and there she was, walking quickly towards me, her smile wide, eyes bright. I felt it. That moment where my breath caught in my heart and I was enveloped in the wonder of her being in my life. She moved quickly towards me. Arms outstretched and we embraced and held on and she whispered, "I've missed you!" And I replied, "I've missed you too. I'm so glad your here." And her arms tightened around me and my arms tightened around her.

We went out to dinner. Just the two of us on a walled-in patio under leafy branches of trees whose trunks were spun with twinkling white lights that glowed like fairy breath in the darkening night. A glass each of Chenin Blanc, a shared Pear and Gorgonzola flat bread pizza and deep conversation that stirred my spirit, soothed my soul and warmed my heart.

She is home. This child of mine who lives at the ocean's shore running along beaches and boardwalks. Hugging homeless men and gathering stories of travellers on their paths to where ever they are going.

"I love Vancouver," she said. "Is it wrong of me to want to come home so I can take care of my sister? If only for a little while? I really, really miss her."

She'll be back for a year this September to finish off her degree. She and her sister plan on living together.

They'll both be home. For awhile. And my heart will be soothed by the lull of their laughter and sweet voices filling my world with joy.

"I love having you home, honey," I said when we came home and were sitting on the couch chatting with C.C. about her adventures and misadventures in 'Lotus Land', the nickname those who live on this side of the Rockies dub Vancouver in our envy of its beauty and bounty. "But..." and I pause and smile and pick carefully through my words like she used to do as a child picking out the vegetables she never liked. "But... it would be great if you'd put your boots inside the front hall closet."

She laughed. A child's giggle. A surreptitious grin. A flip of her hair. Her hand stilled halfway inside the cookie jar half an hour before dinner. "I knew you missed me!"

She's home. And in the early hours of dawn, I quietly open her bedroom door, slip silently into her room and stand by her bed. I watch her sleep and wonder if she is only pretending. I smile. A secret mother's smile of contentment. Her every breath is so special. She is so very special.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Life is Good.

Life is meaningless only if we allow it to be. Each of us has the power to give life meaning, to make our time and our bodies and our words into instruments of love and hope. Tom Heard
Yesterday as C.C. and I stood in the kitchen briefly catching up, I said, "I'm sorry for causing you pain. I never meant for my love to hurt you."

"You don't need to apologize," he said. "You didn't do anything wrong."

"It isn't about right or wrong," I replied. "Whatever my intent, I said things that hurt you. And I want you to know I never meant to do that." I paused. "An apology isn't just for me. It's for the other person too. I see their pain. I see them. I want to create peace, not pain. I am willing to hold myself accountable so that they can let go of feeling like they have to hold me accountable."

We went along our way and I wondered, "Is that true, Louise? Do you really believe that?"

Yes. I do.

Whatever my intent, or whether I meant to hurt someone or not (and sometimes, on a deeply unconscious level the intent is to hurt to avoid internal pain), if in their receiving of what I've done, they perceive it as painful, then I must be true to my authentic self. I must stop my inner chatter of justifying why I am right and they are wrong and the mind game of 'well if they weren't so immature they wouldn't take it that way', or 'I'm not responsible for how they hear what I say' and all the other mind games I like to play to absolve myself of taking responsibility for what I have said or done. An apology ends my relationship with justifying my bad behaviour in my mind, it frees me up to be authentic and relieves both of us of the burden to carry the pain of our encounter -- if we choose.

It's always in our choices.

I have, in my relationships with pretty well everyone I know who is close to me, at some point or other, acted out. Not because I intended to. It is never my intent to act down to my lesser instincts but always to act up to my higher good. But, because I am human and because I sometimes forget myself in the heat of a moment or the fear of having my feelings hurt, I act out. I lose sight of my accountability factor in what I do and say, and react from a visceral level where, in the face of disappointment I contract into a knee-jerk reaction designed to protect me from perceived pain in the moment. And often, those knee-jerk reactions involve inflicting pain on those closest to me in my external world to avoid pain internally.

The conclusion of my relationship with C.C. holds great disappointment. In the face of disappointment, I always have the option to contract or expand. To contract and act out in a haze of habitual defense mechanisms designed to protect me in the face of disappointment. Or, to expand into the question "Who am I going to be in the face of this?"

Life's stumbling blocks hold enormous opportunity for me to grow and learn and expand and breathe into the magnificence of my destiny. Who I am in the face of disappointment reflects my worldview, and, it determines my future. If I operate from a scarcity model -- there is no love or lover for me. I shall always be alone. -- the in the moment experience of disappointment will trigger my 'lesser than' thinking. I will view the world as against me. I will think in, 'the universe doesn't care', sound bites. 'God is only there for others, not me.' 'What's the point? Love doesn't last.' 'I'll never find true love.'

When I stand up for what I believe. When I turn up for me, with dignity, grace, respect, life expresses itself through me in a myriad of bountiful and beautiful ways. When I shift my perspective from 'life happens to me', to 'I am the source of life happening through me', I acknowledge my power to co-create with Life. I acknowledge my true destiny of being One with the One in a partnership designed to express my life's desires in wholeness, unity and harmony.

In the gift of my relationship with C.C. I have found the answer to 'what do I want in relationship'. I never really had a clear understanding of what is possible, what is important, for me. I had a paternal view with the man as the father, and me as the child. Just as God is the father and I am His child.

In my new and enlivened perspective, God is my partner. I have a say in those things I am yearning to create.

The universe is not out to get me.God is not out to get me. And Life is not out to pull me down.

C.C. was not out to get me. Nor to pull me down. Like me, he was out to find love. To live love. To be in love. Through our relationship we have both learned much about how we are in relationship. How we relate to a beloved.

I have been blessed with this relationship. Through it, I have come to appreciate where I still hold onto fear and limiting beliefs of what 'being in love' means for me. The gift is, to embed my learning within me, to view this relationship as a regenerative process through which I grow and expand and become more of who I am when I embrace the truth -- Life is good. Life is for me. Life desires to express through me the limitless possibilities of my greatest creations in Love.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Summer Lies and Memories Last Forever.

"In summer, the song sings itself." ~William Carlos Williams
It is perhaps that as C.C. and I struggle to unwind this relationship that is not a relationship I find myself writing poems of love lost. It is perhaps the summer heat that dissipates into summer storms that I find myself flooded with melancholy. It is perhaps just the summer doldrums setting in to cast me adrift in an ocean of emotion where I breathe deeply of summer's beauty blooming all around me, that I find myself once again in the heat of summer gasping for breath as I struggle to find my way back to myself to be at peace with this wondrous place where I am in the Summer of this season of my life.

Summer is...

... a lost childhood where endless days spun themselves into magical journeys into the imagination. My sister A. and I had a favourite activity in summer. We would act out our favourite scenes from The Parent Trap (the original release btw). I was the mischievous twin, always getting into trouble, always making scenes. She was the more refined, more thoughtful of the two. We'd set up camp on our parent's front lawn and go through each scene with deep commitment to the script.

"No. No." I'd exclaim. "She didn't do it that way. It's like this." And I'd demonstrate with great passion the 'right' way to play the part. My sister, ever cooperative, would follow my actions, her eyes intently watching, and then, when I was done, do it her way anyway.

It was our 'schtick'. I'd boss her around. She'd do her thing. And we'd both be happy.

Summer was a time when I would get on my bike and ride along country roads exploring fields and gully's and anything else that appealed. I'd always end up at the farmhouse of an old couple who lived several miles from our home. She would feed me fresh milk and cookies. I'd pet the cats and play with the dogs and sometimes, he'd even let me help clean out the horse stalls. Those were special times and I wish I could remember that couple's names. But they are lost like a summer garden gone to seed, the memory of their names cast upon the wind.

Most days, summer found me in the pool. It was my favourite place. Immersed in the water, lying on my back, I'd float, like an angel with wings, the water just covering my ears, the sounds of the laughter and children's voices and mother's calling muffled in the water's caress. I'd close my eyes and drift, imagining scenes of wonder all around me. The world became a magical place when I floated on the water's surface. Sometimes, my eldest sister's friend, Peter, would be there and we'd have a tea party on the floor of the pool. I don't know why he took the time to amuse a young girl. But the memories of those under water fetes still fill me with the same joy as my imaginary cucumber sandwiches filled me then.

Later, in my teens, I'd grow up to become a swimming instructor and I would struggle to instill my love of water into my students. Sometimes, I'd hold elaborate tea parties on the floor of the pool, laughing and watching the bubbles rise to the surface as we each struggled to stay on the bottom and drink our imaginary tea. On those days, my classes went swimmingly. The students loved the water and me and we shared a common bond in a sea of delight. Sometimes, the heat and tiredness, an allergy to Ultra Violet rays would wear me down and I would be short and uninspired in my teaching. I'd drill them. Make them tread water. Do their strokes again and again. Like this, I'd cry, and demonstrate on land what they needed to repeat in the water. Immersed in the summer heat and the angst of being fifteen, every minute of class dragged by in a sodden mess of tears and wails of "I can't do it." as I impatiently insisted, "Yes you can."

I wonder where those children are now. Did they grow to love the water and under water tea parties or to remember the moody teenager who had no patience with their cries?

Summer is a time of memory laid back against the heat of a garden wall bathed in sunlight. It is a time of bare feet slithering on a wet lawn, of rainbows dancing in the sunlight fracturing a sprinkler's gush.

It is a time of memory.

And today is Blog Carnival Tuesday. The one word prompt day where I breathe into a word prompt and write it out. Today's prompt is: Summer.

Blog Carnival is sponsored by Bridget Chumbley at One Word at a Time and Peter Pollock of Rediscovering the Church. It's a biweekly online event open to anyone. Participants write on a one-word prompt or topic. This week's one word is "summer".

At Bridget's place you'll find a list of links to all of the contributions, which are posted throughout Tuesday and often through to the end of the week.

The Blog Carnival's FaceBook page is here.

(Thank you Maureen at Writing without Paper for providing such a clear and concise description of Blog Carnival.)

To read Maureen's amazing poem, Summer Headlines, go here to read it at her blog, or here to read it as part of One Word at a Time.

And.... my Summer poem...

Summer Lies
by Louise Gallagher
Summer lies
in a season of
hot red blossoms
upon ripe ruby lips
in a kiss
so sweet
love ripens
into a bed
of roses
two hearts beat
as one
promised forever more.

Summer passes
in the parting
of two hearts
in the fall
of parting
upon the sultry heat
of a long forgotten
solstice night
that once welcomed
the hot red blossoms
of summer’s
ripe lips
spread wide open
on a song
of love
forever more.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Unleashing the Feminine

"Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it." Buddha

The course I am taking right now is called, "The Cocreative Power of the Feminine". It is a seven week online course that is designed to connect 1,000 women with their inherent ability to create from the unseen that which sustains and nurtures and celebrates life. I'm on week two, a week behind the coursework but that's the beauty of an online course -- you don't have to be 'current', just consistent.

Week 2 explores the ways in which we cocreate every situation in our lives. It's about radical self-responsibility -- focusing 100% on 'what is us' in every situation to see, where do my patterns act as source in what is happening in my life? What evidence do I cocreate to generate the patterns? How do I discern my false beliefs, those somatic constructs constructed from the 'meaning' I gave to things long ago, from 'truth'.

The course leaders take us through various exercises to discern our patterns and the beliefs underlying them. At one point, the speaker said, 'take the most difficult, uncomfortable belief, that one statement that makes you winch, and focus on it. Don't discount it. Don't think, ooohhh, I can't work with that one, it's yucky. Work with it.'

Ooohhh, I didn't want to look at the one that popped into my head. I didn't want to think that I held an, "I am..." statement that contained the word, "Evil". But I did/do.

I breathed into. "I am evil."

It is not true. I am not evil.

Where did it come from? This harsh and mind-numbing belief?

From a little girl who heard what others said and took it to mean that's who she is.

I grew up in a Catholic household. My mother said the rosary every day. We knelt in the living room every Friday evening and prayed the decades. We went to church every Sunday. I helped her change the flowers on the altar every Saturday. I helped polish the brass and silver.

Church-life gave my mother's life meaning. She loved the community. The people. The ritual. God.

There is God and there is the devil. The things I did that disappointed her, they were devil made, she'd tell me. Even the things I didn't do but she believed I did, they made me bad. Evil. And I believed her. I didn't know any better. Neither did she.

My mother despaired for me. She prayed for me. She tore her hair out for me. She cried and wept and wished and whispered, "Why are you so evil?" She sprinkled holy water. Prayed the rosary a thousand times a thousand. Shook her head and sighed. There was no hope for me. But she never quit praying for me.

And I cried and despaired and wondered, "why does she hate me so?" as I struggled to be the little girl she wanted and never quite measured up. I went to church, confessed my sins, "I forgot to brush my teeth before bed. I fought with my sister. I talked back to my mother." And I was absolved. Of sin. But never of being the daughter I believed my mother didn't want.

Confession didn't work. I quit going to church. Rebelled. Balked. Dug my heels in the ground. I started going for long walks on Sunday mornings when my parents were going to church. Up into the hills surrounding our home. Up into a place of quiet. Of solitude. Of silence. A place where I could sit and survey the countryside spread out like a beautiful quilt before me. A place where, beneath the rustling leaves of a walnut tree I could pet my dog and be at One with the One who understood me.

But did He? Or She? It?

I had so many questions and no one to answer them.

I became lost. Lonely. Alone. Frightened.

It was a great big world out there and I didn't know where I belonged. Didn't know how I fit. At home I was the black sheep. The trouble maker. The Brat. At school I was the honour student. The leader. The school book editor. The student council president. I taught a class on living cooperatively and meaningfully to a group of Grade 3 and 4 students. I'd convinced my Grade 13 biology teacher that I was better at inspiring children to live fully through a class on how to learn vicariously that I created than I was at dissecting frogs and baby chicks. I sang in a folk group. I was a student counsellor -- part of a program to train students to counsel students. I was chosen to attend an intensive week long training program at a monastery in northern Germany where I learned 'who am I?' meant I was capable of being anyone I chose to be. But I didn't know who I wanted to be.

And I was scared.

Scared of that big world out there. Scared of that dark place within me where I believed evil grew. If only people saw inside the darkness they wouldn't think I was so beautiful and lovely and smart.

And I hid my fear. I wanted to be the beautiful, lovely, smart person people told me I was.

And I didn't know how.

I struggled and churned and ground my way through life, always searching for the wonder within me.

I've had a lifetime of working on myself. I've identified and analyzed my patterns, I've struggled to untether my psyche from their hold only to find their tenacious tendrils winding through the story of my life-time.

and underneath the patterns. Below the surface of their hold, I find myself face to face with a belief that makes me shudder. That makes me cry. that makes me want to scream aloud. "I am not evil!"

and I laugh.

This, this statement of woe, of limitations, of definition too grisly to comprehend, this is what I believe about my most magnificent and Divine self.

Hell No! Uh, uh. That ain't me. that's some foreign object ground into the dirt of my past, embedded in my cells like a grain of sand in an oyster's shell.

That belief ain't me. It's just a thought that ran errant to become a pearl of wisdom for me to consume today. It's just a thought that I propelled a lifetime of searching for the truth to unveil the lie.

I have been the source of my own agony.

I set myself free.

I am.

Ain't no limitations on that.

I am.

And that is all I need to be.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The important thing is not to sop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity. Albert Einstein
A thought for your day.

The most wonderful thing about spending time with my friend R. is that she too is a 'green' woman. In personality color codes, that means we're curious, thinkers. We want to understand, and believe -- which can be a trap -- there is a perfect and right answer for everything.

There is no perfect and right answer for the universe. There just 'is'. Our joy is in the discovery of answers -- and sometimes, we get trapped into believing our own stories.

Yesterday, R and I spent a marvelous day exploring the countryside. The Pancake Breakfast was held at the Saskatoon Farm, a fabulous greenhouse, nursery/restaurant/gift shop/art gallery set in acres and acres of rolling hills. It is a stunningly beautiful place to explore. And... the pancake's weren't bad either, especially the Saskatoon Berry syrup!

No matter what we did, R and I enjoyed deep conversations exploring what makes our humaness, what makes us tick.

What fun!

Ellie, in her inimitable fashion, continued to boss Chester around, making it quite clear at all time that she is the alpha, and he is just a mere man-dog. Don't mess with me dude the watchword of their relationship.

We stopped at garage sales and curio shops, met an artist in his gallery and wandered the streets of Okotoks, taking in the country-feel of this town just minutes from the southern end of Calgary.

It was a sublimely relaxing and enjoyable day -- and now, I must be off to enjoy myself some more!

Have a blessed and peaceful Sunday.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Dog antics and Pancake Breakfasts

I'm spending the weekend visiting with a girlfriend at their house in the country. Her husband is away on a course and so Ellie and I have come to relax and refresh, surrounded by rolling hills, green valleys and wild flowers blowing in the gentle breezes of summer.

Of course Ellie, the wonder pooch, is in heaven. Acres to roam. Another dog to terrorize. Cows to bark at. Gophers to chase and Magpies to attempt to catch. I love watching the Magpies taunt her. They'll land on the ground in front of her. Stand and peer cockily at her. She crouches. Lowers her head to the ground. Tenses up her body. The Magpie hops. Once. Twice. And suddenly, Ellie is off in pursuit. The Magpie flips her the wing. Rises into the air and lands on a tree branch just out of reach of her head. Ellie jumps up, vainly trying to gain enough height to reach the cawing irritant laughing at her in the tree. The Magpie doesn't move. He knows he's gone just high enough to be safe. Ellie, tiring of the game, walks off in disgust. The Magpie waits just the right amount of time, lands in front of her and the cycle is repeated.

For some reason, Ellie has not yet, in all her nine years, figured out they're just teasing her into pursuit for the sake of pursuit. Or, perhaps, she does know and just enjoys the game.

She loves it out here -- even though she has to share the 'space' with my girlfriend's beautiful Doodle Retriever, Chester.

Chester is only one and a half. A loopy, gangly, lovingly adoring and very large, blond puppy who has the most doleful eyes and loving ways. He cannot quite understand why Ellie wants all the attention.

And she does. Want all the attention.

It is amazing watching her antics. She is 'alpha'. She is possessive. She is insecure. She is submissive. She is loving and caring and really really sucky when she wants her way. If one of us is petting Chester, she is immediately in the mix, sticking her head into your hand, rubbing up against your body, saying, 'what about me? what about me?

Hmmmmm...... I wonder where she learned these things?

We're off to a giant Pancake Breakfast at a Saskatoon Berry Farm -- flapjacks, sausages and C&W in the mornin'!

What could be better?

Oh, let me think about that. Well.... Vivaldi. A fruit shake. Meditative time. ...

No Seriously. Country PBs are fun!

See you tomorrow.

Have a wonder filled day.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Move along pardner

It is Stampede time in the city. Cowboys and cowgirls strut the streets, 'just out of the box' pointy-toed boots shining, belt buckles gleaming amidst freshly pressed jeans and denim shirts. Smiles greet strangers, and visitors become your next best friend beneath the brim of white stetson's and SmithBilts -- some of them even decorated up by Calgary artists who participated in yesterday's Tip Your Hat! auction festivities.

The wild west is alive on every street corner. Wrangler dudes stage shoot-outs and rodeo ropin' contests amidst square dancin' couples jostling up against hungry patrons eager to chow down on pancakes and sausages being served up from the grill. There's a pancake breakfast in every quadrant of the city, every morning of the week for the next 10 days. There are barbecues and corn roasts too. It's a party and everyone's invited. Yeehaw!

And amidst the flowing skirts and denim jackets, the pearly whites and firm handshakes, I watch a homeless man shuffle through the crowd. His shirt is grimy. His jeans torn. A once white sock peeps out from the left toe of his scuffed up sneakers. "Got any spare change for a coffee?" he asks and before the patron can respond, a police officer walks up and takes him firmly by the shoulder. "Move along sir. Move along."

It is the constant litany throughout the city during this time of high spirits and foot-stompin' good times.

Move along sir. Move along.

There is no place for the down and out in a city high on the excitement of staging "The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth". There is no room for poverty amidst the prosperity of a city eager to strut its stuff for the over one million visitors who will take in the festivities over the next ten days. this is Big Business and Big Business has little room for little brothers strugglin' to make ends meet on the other side of the street. Down and outs are bad for business. We gotta move 'em along.

And the man moves along, only to return when the coast is clear. "Got any spare change for a coffee?" he asks before moving along, to the next and the next and the next.