Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Message from the Water

Energy formula of Albert Einstein, E=MC2 really means that Energy = number of people and the square of people’s consciousness. Masaru Emoto, Messenger of Water

For over two weeks man has struggled to cope with, understand, and heal the damage caused by the earthquake and tsunami that hit the north eastern coast of Japan on March 11.

Over 10,000 people are still missing.

More than 24,000 people have died.

More than 100,000 children are homeless.

The World Bank estimates losses caused by the disaster will reach U.S. $ 235 billion. The threat of nuclear disaster continues to loom over the Japanese people and the water's and air surrounding planet earth.

While workers continue herculean feats, giving their lives to stave off a disaster, we wonder, what can we do?

Masaru Emoto has a prayer.

Dr. Masaru has studied water for over 20 years. His Emoto Peace Project was declared by the United Nations in 2005. His photographs and research have impacted millions of people around the world -- and if you ever see his book, The Message from Water, you too will be moved to flow into the healing tears of water. My friend BA gave it to my eldest daughter as a birthday gift one year, and it is amazing!

What is even more amazing is that Dr. Emoto has given each of us a simple and effective way to do something, or, as the hummingbird knows, to do what we can.

Dr. Emoto has a prayer for the Fukushima nuclear plant waters. His prayer is simple. It is a prayer, that he believes when we all say it together around the world, will help the waters, and the people of Japan. After 20 years of researching the affects of human thinking on water, he knows his prayer is effective.

Today, 12 o'clock noon, around the globe, Masaru Emoto is asking all human beings to stop what they are doing to join their hands, their thoughts, their words, their attention on one simple prayerful ceremony dedicated to healing the waters in the Fukushima nuclear plant.

To learn more about the ceremony, and Dr. Masaru Emoto's amazing water research, visit: Emoto Peace Project

To help -- forward the following link to everyone you know:

Name of ceremony:“Let’s send our thoughts of love and gratitude to all water in the nuclear plants in Fukushima”

Day and Time: March 31st, 2011 (Thursday)12:00 noon in each time zone

Please say the following prayer at noon today:

“The water of Fukushima Nuclear Plant, we are sorry to make you suffer. Please forgive us. We thank you, and we love you.”

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I rubbed a man's back today. Stood beside him and rubbed his back as he vomited into a bucket, his body hunched over in pain. There wasn't much else I could do. I couldn't stop his pain or change the course of the cancer that is eating up his strength from the inside out. And so I rubbed his back and felt the bony protrusions of a body wasting away.

And when his body quit heaving I handed him a damp towel and lead him back to his bed.

My day had started early. A presentation to the local police district office, a series of rotating talks I give early Tuesday mornings to ensure every officer in the district has an opportunity to be heard and to hear of the steps we are taking to build bridges and tear down walls of conflict. And when my presentation was over an officer from the previous week's presentation came in and apologized. He had attacked the previous week. Vented his frustration and anger over something that had happened months before when staff had questioned his handling of a man he was arresting.

I'm sorry he said. I should never have acted out the way I did last week. I should never have taken my frustration and anger out on you.

I felt your pain, I said. I sensed that you feel you were betrayed.

And he started talking. Started telling me about his 30 years on the national police force. His 30 years of being proud of the badge and the job he did.

I worked in the oil patch after I retired from the force, he said, but I missed the badge.

And so, he returned to policing, letting go of his previous rank to be an officer on the street.

I get to know that at the end of the day, every day, I have made a difference, he said. I'm not pushing paper. I'm touching lives.

We hugged when our conversation was over. No hard feelings, he asked.

I smiled. Absolutely none, I replied.

And when I got to the shelter where I work I went in search of the man who is dying of cancer. When I'd seen him yesterday he hadn't been doing well. Too much pain. Too much disease stalking his cells. The unhealthy were winning out over the healthy.

And I rubbed his back and wished there was more that I could do and knew that this was all I could do.

Later, after another meeting and editing of an article for our upcoming newsletter, I went with a new staff member, our media assets coordinator who just started working for us, to take a photo for the cover of the newsletter.

Dina, a client who has been at the shelter several years ago, came with us. She was clean and sober for five years, but fell recently. She's struggling to get back on her feet.

I love to have my photo taken she said, her arms filled with a jacket, a sweater, a hoodie. "Just in case I need to change my outfit for the photo," she smiled.

We drove across the river, up a hill overlooking the valley bottom. Across from us the shelter stood, it's seven story brick facade an imposing fixture upon an ever changing horizon.

Dina posed, Paul clicked photos and I stood in the late March sun enjoying the welcome warmth on my face.

Dina was in her element. Not shy. Loving every moment of being the centre of attention.

As we drove back to the shelter she asked if she could have a copy of one of the photographs.

Absolutely, said Paul.

Would it be possible to get three she asked. One for each of my daughters? I don't see them now. Now that I'm using again. I won't. Not like this. It's not fair to them. But it would be nice for them to have a photo.

she paused. People tell me I should quit, but my Higher Power hasn't told me it's time yet.

Another pause.

It's the 'should' that other people use that bothers me, she adds. I gotta do what I gotta do. It's what God means, she adds with a laugh. Get On Dina! And sometimes, Get off Drugs.

We laugh with her. Paul in the backseat. Me in the driver's.

I've got others she says. And she begins to rhyme them off.

HOPE -- Hearing other people's experiences

FAITH -- Finally acceptance is taking hold

COURAGE -- Conquering obstacles usually requires asking God's empowerment

Paul is so impressed he asks if she will record them for him.

She's so proud to be asked, she promptly says yes and lists some more.

SPONSORSHIP: Suffering people often need someone rigid so healing is possible.

NUTS: Not using the steps

BIBLE: Because I believe love exists

and one of my favourites

ASAP: Always say a prayer

We get back to the shelter and Dina goes to the second floor and I go back to my office.

Paul sends me an emails a short while later along with one of the photos he had taken. "I am so humbled by this place and the people," he writes.

Later, I am in the lobby to meet a reporter and a client I haven't seen for a few weeks is there. He greets me enthusiastically. I tell him how good he looks. And he does. Clean cut. Clear eyed. Confident.

I'm out, he says proudly. Working. You never knew but I'm a nurse and I'm working at the hospital.

I tell him how happy I am for him and he promises to call me soon. I want to come back and volunteer, he says. I want to give back. You guys did so much for me.

And so my day unfolds. Moment to moment. Life to life. Little steps. Big leaps. Big falls. Big changes in the right direction.

Life unfolding as it must. Not because it should, no never because it should. Always because it must. It does. It is. Just that. Life.

My day unfolds and as it does I promise to give myself a gift. ASAP

And I do.

Say a prayer.

Of gratitude.

Of thankfulness.

Of humility.

Of hope. Hope that one man's pain will end. A woman's addiction will be overcome so she can be reunited with her children. A man's journey into well-being will continue and an officer's integrity will be restored.

I say a prayer of thanks and know, my life has been touched by the lives of these people who have shared so much with me. And I know, I am better for their presence on my journey.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Oh Freedom! (a poem)

As I drove home from work yesterday I pondered the war that no one wants to call a war in Afghanistan. The war that no one wants to call a war in Libya.

And I thought of those who are dying to be free.

I wondered, would I? Die to be free?

Would you?

The following poem was inspired by my thoughts of freedom and my willingness to die, or not, to know it.

Oh Freedom!
Louise Gallagher

Oh freedom!
I cry
for your touch
against my skin
leaves me
at birth
where I wore you
like a second skin
pressing back
upon my right
to self-determination.

You were mine
given to me
at birth
by those whose blood
upon the fields
of battle
to the death
my right
to breathe
of the constricting
garments of prejudice
and discrimination

I was born
my freedom
won upon the backs
of those who cried out
segregation, fanaticism
political totalitarianism
that would have torn
my right
to never bow
under the yoke
of tyranny and oppression.

Would I die for you
so that I might walk
without fear
of death
my every move
in the night
by those who would kill
for the right
to control
my words
my thoughts
my every deed

Would I kill
for you
to know that I can
where I want to
where I want to
who I want.

Would I kill
for you

Would I die
to be

I wrote this poem last night when I got home from work and readied it for automatic posting this morning as I have a 7am meeting and knew I wouldn't have time to write. A sleepless night, a mind that was restless left me wide-awake at 4:30am. I did what I know to do. I got up and started reading. I ended up at Ruth's blog, "synch-ro-ni-zing" and found a fabulous post about Shelly Gill and her daughter Kye and her book, Big Blue and swimming and the power of one word. At the end of her post, Ruth has a video of Richie Havens singing Freedom. She shares his song from Cannes Film Festival. I'll share his original from Woodstock. I encourage you to link on over to Ruth's place and get inspired, and if you have a moment, listen to the amazing Richie Havens singing a song to Freedom!

And whenever you can today, Say YES!

Monday, March 28, 2011

First, the ending (a poem)

Starting tomorrow here in Calgary, the Calgary Spoken Word Festival kicks off for its fourth consecutive year of exciting spoken word programming and learning!

I got inspired by Sheri D. Wilson a couple of years ago when she came to the shelter where I work to share random acts of poetry.

And then I found a video this morning about two poets in Ontario reading poetry to truck drivers on the busy 401 freeway -- I wonder if when cell phone usage from a car becomes illegal in Alberta if that means truckers won't be able to use their CB radios too? Just wondering...

Anway, reading and thinking about poetry this morning inspired me to write a poem. And at the end, I pasted in the video I found of random acts of poetry on the road. -- do you think that's called Word Kill?

First, the ending.
Louise Gallagher

I like to read
the ending
first flipping forward
skipping through time
to find that place
where strings are strung
threads are woven
and everyone lives happy
together ever after.

I like to read
the ending
finding that place
where life unfolds
to a beginning
where disparate threads
inticingly like cotton
candy swirls trapped
upon a cardboard tube
sharp end up
for a deft hand
to spin the strands
into a cocoon of sugary pink

Endings are perfect.

I like to read
the ending
first to know
who did it
did he get the girl
did the eagle land
did the ugly duckling
grow beautiful
becoming the swan
who skipped forward
through time avoiding
the pain of learning
how to fly

I like to read
the ending
I must live
the moment
to find the beginning
where love grows
into being
you and me, forever.

And in case there's a glitch, I've also included the link to the video, HERE.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Later (A Story)

Last week, over at She Writes, there was a prompt to write about "The moment I knew it was over." I quickly jotted down the story of my marriage ending and posted it and then, decided to edit it, to turn it into more of a story than a 'true-life' accounting of that moment in time when I knew there was no fixing what had broken open. Now, I'm quite sure if you were to ask the other party, he would tell a different story, a different view of what happened. For him, that night on the beach was probably not the breaking point. He may not even remember it. For him, it may never have happened. And that's the beauty of story-telling 'a story', I'm the writer. I get to tell it however I want. This is the story I wrote of those final moments:

© Louise Gallagher

I had been away from my husband and two daughters for a month. Finishing the first draft of my novel, I said. But really, I was searching for a way to not write the final good-bye to my marriage.

I was house and dog-sitting for friends who were travelling around the world. It was perfect. Their house was a block from the beach. Their home office equipped with all the necessary gadgetry for writing and editing and being alone. No one knew I was there even though I had lots of friends and family in the city.

I wanted that month to write and think and meditate and find myself on the page, in my marriage, in my life. For that month of solitude that's what I did. I wrote and edited and walked and meditated. I went to yoga, ran along the beach, sat in the quiet of dawn listening to birdsong as I let the muse unfold of her own volition on the page in front of me.

It was a perfect time for reflection and creation and by the last weekend, I was finished. The manuscript down. The first draft complete. I was satisfied. I had always wanted to write a novel. Didn't know if I could. Now I did.

For the final weekend of my month long retreat, my husband flew in to join me. I was excited. Eager to see him. He was going to be the first person to see my finished manuscript. I was excited to show him what I'd done. He too had doubts that I could do it. I drove to the airport anticipating his response. I was so excited, I carried the manuscript with me to the airport.

"Look," I said when he exited the terminal. I held the manuscript out towards him. "I want you to be the first person to read it."

He smiled, gave me a hug, pulled back. He looked briefly at the manuscript. "I'll check it out later," he said. "Let's get my bag. I want to stop by MEC. I’m hoping they have my size in the climbing boots I want."

He carried his bag back to the car. I carried my manuscript with me.

"Let's have a picnic on the beach," I suggested after an unsuccessful stop at MEC. I'd been writing romance for a month. I wanted to instill a bit of it into our relationship. We'd been on shaky ground for some time. The distance between us appearing as an unbridgeable chasm filled with the unspoken promise of what we'd both wanted when we promised to love each other forever. After a month apart I felt hopeful we could repair the damage. I knew I had to be willing to stand in the broken to be part of the healing. I didn't want to throw my marriage out. I wanted to build it up.

I wanted to feel like a honey-mooner. I wanted to be 'in love' all over again.

"Sure," he replied.

He didn't know I'd already bought Champagne and strawberries. Pate and a baguette. "Shall we get take-out?"

I laughed and passed him my manuscript. "I have a surprise." In marriage counselling the therapist had told me to ask for what I want. "He can't read your mind, Louise," she'd said. "Tell him in plain English so he doesn't have to guess. "I'll get everything ready while you check out my book."

He pushed away my proferred manuscript. "Later," he repeated and disappeared to take a shower.

I packed a basket with the goodies I'd bought including my manuscript. When we were ready to head out he picked up the basket and promptly put it down. "Whoa. This is heavy. What have you got in it?"

"Don't peek! It's a surprise," and together we headed down to the beach.

"Isn't it beautiful!" I extolled when we had picked out the perfect spot for our champagne feast on the beach.

Vancouver in the summer when the sun is shining is one of the most beautiful cities on earth. Truly.

"Yeah," he replied, laying out the blanket. He pulled back the basket cover to inspect the goodies inside and saw my manuscript lying on top. "Louise. I told you I'd read your book when I'm ready."

"I know. But I thought I could read some of it to you. Just a little bit."

"Can't we just enjoy the view for now?" he asked as he pulled my manuscript out, set it aside on a corner of the blanket and inspected the goodies I'd packed for our picnic. "That's it?"

I nodded. Up and down. I didn't dare speak. I didn't want to cry on what I'd hoped would be a perfect evening.

"Oh." Pause.

I clung to the idea of romance on the beach like a drowning man clinging to a deflated life-raft. "We can something at the house later," I interjected.

The idea of more food later seemed to satisfy him as I got busy laying out our mini-feast and he got busy opening the bottle of champagne.

The cork popped satisfyingly, the golden liquid filled each crystal flute I’d brought. We raised our glasses in a toast. I gazed into his eyes. "To us," I said.

He smiled, touched the edge of my glass with his and leaned back, resting his body on his elbows. He looked peaceful. At ease. Relaxed.

I felt hurt. Confused. Uncertain. Was I asking too much? Was I being push?

The silence lengthened between us like the shadows of the setting sun.

"This is nice," he said. "To just relax, enjoy the view and not have to talk."

I thought about the month apart. About my desire to share our adventures of the past four weeks. About my need to write a different ending than "Good-bye" to our marriage.

I looked out at the water, the mountains lining the horizon across the bay. Frighters bobbed where they were anchored in the middle of the strait. Sail boats scuttled to and fro. A family sat at a picnic table sharing dinner. A man played fetch with his dog on a grassy stretch lining the beach. The view was buccolic, serene, tranquil. But, my heart was hurting.

I wanted to ask him if he loved me. I wanted to ask if he thought we were even on the same planet, but I couldn't find the words.

And that was when I heard the crack of his crystal flute breaking.

It could have been defective. A hairline crack I hadn't seen.

But I knew. It was my heart breaking. Our vows splitting. Our marriage ending.

I knew. It was over. Eleven years after it had begun, there was nothing left to say. No more conversations to be written in my head. No more probing for shared secrets and desires, hopes and fears. It was over and all we could do was sit and watch the sunset in silence.

He never read my book that weekend. Never even glanced at it, even two days later when I put it in his lap, on top of the novel he was reading that he'd brought with him.

We were in bed. At his parents place where we'd arrived earlier that day to pick up our daughters before flying home.

"Please," I asked, giving it one more try. "Please read it."

And once again, he pushed it aside. "I promise, I will. Later. Let me finish this book and I'll get to it. I want to be in the right frame of mine to give you my critique."

"I don't want your critique," I told him. "I just want you to be the first person to read it."

"I promise. Later," he repeated before returning to his novel.

Later never came. We separated three months later. I never sent the novel out. Never looked at it again.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

If I could lighten up

I gave a speech yesterday to a graduating class from a career training initiative at the shelter where I work. I wanted something fresh, lively, inspiring to read the class at the beginning of my talk.

I checked out quotes on the Internet, browsed through my documents, and came upon a piece, "If I could lighten up".

I read it and, just as happened the first time I read it, I smiled and thought, "Yes!" Like Eliza Doolittle, "She's got it!"

What's amazing and wonderful for me about this piece is, it was written by my eldest daughter, Alexis, two and a half years ago when she was 22. She posted it on her blog (a place she doesn't write in enough) and agreed to let me share it with others.

I share it with you today in the hopes, it will inspire you, as it did the group yesterday, to stand up and cheer and say, I wanna lighten up the world!

If I Could Lighten Up!
© Alexis McDonald

If I could lighten up a little I’d let myself sing as loudly as possible and I wouldn’t care if the neighbours heard.

If I could lighten up a little I’d jump on the bed. I would move to Paris and dye my hair a rich shade of red. I would take deeper breaths, stay up all night, and read poetry to strangers. I would dance. Naked. In front of a mirror. And I’d laugh at the way my flesh jiggles.

If I could lighten up a little I would take bubble baths, read more, and make decisions quickly without agonizing over the outcomes. I would breathe and forgive myself for making mistakes. I would cheer loudly at hockey games just for the hell of it. I would do cannonballs off the diving board. I’d paint with my feet and relish the goo sliding between my toes.

I would do more work and less procrastinating.

I would build sandcastles too close to the incoming tide. I would dress up in gowns and make fake Oscar speeches. I would sit inside grocery carts and have someone push me down the aisles. I would just get my license already.

I would hug people instead of shaking their hand, kiss everyone on both cheeks, and when I laughed it would be from the depths of my joy.

I would stop complaining about the weather and get dressed in the dark. I’d shake out my worries by shaking my soul.

If I could lighten up a little maybe I wouldn’t be so scared. Maybe I could shake the blues with a strawberry milkshake.

Maybe I would be able to take a breath without choking on my tears.

Maybe I’d get over all the things I can’t do, haven’t done, don’t want to do or haven’t done right.

Maybe I’d throw my hands up in the air and proclaim “How fascinating” before I had the chance to knock myself down.

Maybe I would be less selfish, more selfless. Less fake, more real.

Maybe I would surprise myself with how great I really am.

Maybe I’d take less and give more. Maybe I would have the courage to get closer to God. Maybe I would appreciate the moment and live from the heart.

If I could lighten up a little, maybe I would help to light up the world.

Alexis, you lighten up my world every day!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hippies and Eagles

"There is an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud." Carl Sandburg
This morning, All Art Friday over at Maureen's place, Writing Without Paper, includes a video Witness: The Art of Jerry Pinkney. Jerry Pinkney is a highly acclaimed visual story-teller/artist whose first book was published in 1964 and who currently has an exhibition at the Norman Rockwell Museum. An African American, Pinkney tells the story of how his high school art teacher, thinking he was protecting his African American from attempting to fly too high and getting harmed, didn't hand out scholarship applications to his non-white students. Pinkney wasn't deterred. He acquired the applications and gave them to his fellow African Americans and... the rest is history.

He could have chosen to be a hippopotamus.

He chose instead to be the eagle. To take limited thinking and expand it into a life of possibilities, and success, in the arts, by spreading his wings and flying free of prejudice and racial discrimination.

Yesterday, while researching an article I'm writing on the history of the shelter where I work -- we are celebrating our 50th Anniversary this year -- I came across a paper titled: They smell bad, have diseases, and are lazy’:

Now, I'm not going to give you the rest of the title, yet, because I don't want to ruin the punchline. I surveyed co-workers, a volunteer and a client at the shelter to ask them, "Who do you think this report is about?"

Everyone agreed. Homeless people.

Nope. I replied. Published in 2009, the report is about undercover work by RCMP officers in the sixties investigating..... HIPPIES!

Not hippopotamus. Hippies -- those flower-child bearing, marijuana smoking, drop-out, anarchists that threatened the stability of our society not to mention our social mores way back when I was.... a flower child era wannabe.

The sub-title of the report is: RCMP Officers Reporting on Hippies in the Late Sixties The Canadian Historical Review - Volume 90, Number 2, June 2009, pp. 215-245 - University of Toronto Press.

Pinch me if I'm wrong, but aren't those very same flower children generation the leaders of today?

Aren't they the one's who didn't wallow in the mud, but rather, broke the rules, pushed against the boundaries that helped break the bounds of the very discrimination that Jerry Pinkney talks about in his video.

Okay. Colour me purple, but the title of this report really got me -- as do its contents, but that's for another post.

Like Jerry Pinkney's teacher who wanted to protect his African American students from dreaming too big, society once thought they needed to protect themselves from those who 'smell bad, have diseases and are lazy.'

I love history! Love our ability to come around again to where we began. Once African Americans were deemed 'unfit' for contact with white society. Once hippies were deemed 'unfit' for society.

Today, homeless individuals are branded with many of the same words, same limiting beliefs, same constrictive directives that would limit their movement on our streets.

Here's to the Jerry Pinkney's of the world who do not believe society's limiting beliefs need to limit their flight.

Here's to those who spread their wings and soar free!

And for those who just want the pure sensual enjoyment of wallowing in the mud, here's Flanders and Swann singing one of my favourite tunes! (and yes! That is an eagle you see soaring in the beginning of the video. How sweet is that!)

I am here.

Do you ever get those thoughts that just float into your mind, unbidden, unfelt until they appear, their truth ringing as clear as a bell, their simplicity shining like the answer to a math equation that always equals zero no matter how you look at it?

Last night was one of those moments. I was sitting in our meditation circle, joining in our collective energy, being of service in the circle. Our focus for the evening was on sharing the silence, and the light, to be of service to the world. Together we were sitting in the circle to delve into the infinite space of silence beyond persona's directives so that we could connect with the light of universal consciousness to create healing in troubled places.

It had not felt like a particularly 'peaceful' meditation practice for me. My mind chatter was chirping away. Images and thoughts kept leaping into the forefront of my peace of mind, muddying up the waters of my tranquility.

I'd breathe, deeply, refocus myself on being in the light, and settle down only to find an unfinished piece of business from the days happenings sliding into view. Before I knew it, I'd be scripting the response 'I should have given' to a news reporter, crafting the text for a social media campaign for the new book we're launching, or simply thinking about what to make for dinner this weekend.

Darn. I'd lost it again.

Where did that center of being one with the Universe go?

And I'd breathe back into the silence, let the music flow through me and re-enter the light.

Believe me, I've got a lot of thinking to silence in my meditation -- and sometimes, it feels like the thinking wins out over being in the presence of love and light and service to the world.

I'd struggled with being present in the moment of meditation for most of the hour we practiced together when, deep into the last segment of music, a thought slid into view with the ease of water flowing in a river. It's clarity made me smile. It's simplicity made me laugh. It's truth made me want to dance.

Whatever the question, the answer is in the question.


The voice repeated itself (I think it knows I don't always listen well when I'm busy thinking of other things I 'should' be doing).

Whatever the question, the answer is in the question.

Ah ha.

Why are you saying that?

The answer is in the question.

It is?

The answer is in the question.

Why are you saying that? The answer is, I am saying that.

I looked around my mind again.

Where did that center of being one with the Universe go?

Even the 'knowing' has a sense of humour. The answer is, It didn't go anywhere. You are that center of being one with the Universe where ever you are.

Oh yeah? Well, here's a tough one for you... Why are they killing each other?

The answer is, they are killing each other.

And then I saw it... It isn't the question that's the problem. It's the searching for answers -- and the answers we come up with, that creates the problem.

People kill each other -- trying to find reasons for the killing doesn't stop the killing.

Why don't people stop killing each other and love each other instead? The answer is, they love each other -- and the killing is the only way they know to love eachother -- at this moment in time.

When they put down their guns. When they embrace with arms of love instead of war, the killing will stop.

The universe isn't making them kill. God doesn't want this for them, killing is the answer they've created to the questions they've asked.

The purpose isn't to question the universe, or God, or Buddha or any ancient teaching or mystic Being.

The purpose is to live the truth of who we are, where we are, how we are as Divine creations of God, Allah, the Almighty, the Great Creator...

Not as creations of our interpretation of who we are -- but as reflections of the teachings of the Bible, the Koran, the Torah, and other spiritual books that have lived through the ages to guide we humans to be the Divine expression of God's amazing grace.

It was a busy place in my mind during meditation last night, but, in the end, the answer was simple -- stop asking questions.

Stop asking, "Why am I here?" Start living the truth. I am here.

I am here, right now, living this one beautiful and precious life as the whisper of God's breath in a world of pain and sorrow, joy and love. I am living in the Divine breath of grace, alive in this moment, right now, right here.

I am here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Ted Talk worth watching

So.... I had my post ready to go this morning and lost it! And then, I had to be out the door by 6:30 to get to a talk I was giving at 7am and didn't have a chance to see if I'd saved it somewhere...

So.... it means, no post. I don't have my laptop with me. I don't have time to recreate.

Which means... I'm going to share a video because... well, I just like sharing things that inspire me! I watched this talk by JR, a semi-anonymous French street artist, last week and was blown away by the images and the method he uses to gather and empower people to tell their stories. I am inspired by how what are often perceived to be barriers -- religion, race, history -- are non-existent in his photo-art. Fascinating!

Have a great day.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Every way I am.

Personal integrity is one of the most important guardians of mental health. Put simply, integrity is the absence of contradiction between what we know, what we profess and what we do. Nathaniel Brandon
I like to think of myself as a woman of integrity. And I am. As much as I can be. Sometimes, I grow weary and simply need a place to rest my head for a moment to regain my strength to carry on. Sometimes though, I fall. And always, I get up and continue to be the best that I can be.

On the weekend, my daughters and I had a long discussion about life and next steps and what's happening. "You don't listen to us, mum," they both asserted. "You never do."

Now, never is a long long time and I do take umbrage to the idea I don't listen -- because I believe I do. It's a question of integrity for me. Listening to others.

It isn't the listening that's hard for me. It's the remembering.

Years ago I had a car accident. I was 27. Young and single. I lived in the country. By myself. A forty-five minute drive from the city where I worked. I loved living alone in the woods. Loved the solitude. The beauty. The silence. I loved the sunlight filtering through the trees. The nights of moonlight and owls hooting and coyotes barking. I loved it all.

One year, I bought myself a new little BMW. Very sporty. Very chic. I even loved the drive into the city -- both to and from. It was a time to decompress. To wind out the kinks of the day as my car wended its way towards my destination. Driving alone is and always has been thinking time for me. And I love it!

Now, before I tell you more, I must explain -- I always wear my seatbelt. Did back then. Do now. It's just my little BMW came with a defect. The locking part for the driver's seatbelt was missing when the car arrived. The dealership didn't have that part in stock and had to order it from Germany. The car was to go in the very next day to have it installed.

In the interim, I drove on the country road without plugging my seatbelt into the passenger's side as it was a stretch and uncomfortable against my neck to wear for long like that. When I hit the pavement, I clipped it together. I always figured on the back country road, I'd be fine.


It was on the back country road the accident happened. I came over a hill on a long stretch of road. There were no other cars, but earlier, a grader had passed along the road and piled the gravel into the centre line in preparation of making its swing back to smooth it out. When I came over the hill they think I must have hit the gravel, slammed on my breaks and the force of coming over the hill, along with the car's forward momentum and the loose pile of gravel that I hit, set it in motion. The car flipped and I fell out the open sunroof.

I was lucky. Had I stayed in the car I would have been even more battered up. As it was, the car flipped back onto its wheels and never hit me. But my head did hit the gravel road. My collar bone did break and I did require 50+ stitches in the top of my head along with needing an ear lobe reattached to my skull.

Other than that -- no cuts anywhere else on my body. My face was bruised, as was my entire body and I hurt, all over. But there were no other cuts.

The eerie part though is, I have absolutely no memory of the couple of hours before the accident, the actual accident or the thirty-six hours following it. All of it is blank. Gone. Wiped clean. Which isn't all bad. It's nice not having to re-live that horror. I can't even imagine it! It's just not there.

But, one of the residual effects is... my memory. It can be spotty. At times, downright non-existent.

Over the years I've done a lot of work at strengthening and improving it. I've taken various courses on how to exercise your brain and mental gymnastics. I've worked at memory games and nurturing my mental synapses to enhance recall.

And still, I forget.

Some of that they tell me is also part of my aging process. I'm trying to do it with grace but believe me, if I could remember where to tell them to stick it, I would. But I can't even remember who 'they' are and most times I don't even remember grace's name!

And when my daughters tell me they told me something, or I said something, and I don't clearly remember the words or circumstances, it frustrates me. I want to remember. I want instant recall. Sometimes, I do but it's different than what they remember. That frustrates me too because I'm sure I'm right. They're sure they are -- and I know how faulty my memory can be.

And then, there are the times I just don't remember.

And that can be scary. First off, I have to trust in other's to tell me what I don't remember. Hello? They might say it their way, and forget what I said, really!

Secondly, when their remembrance suggests I lack integrity -- I freak out! I mean seriously. I am a woman of integrity. I don't want to consider I could say or do things that lack in what I believe myself to hold as a principle of how I operate in the world! (Did I mention I'm a bit of a perfectionist? I don't like to make mistakes.)

And here's the tricky part. I don't want to beat myself up for the lacking in integrity part. I don't need to. It's not that I don't remember because I don't want to. I don't remember because I don't.

For twenty-somethings, or most people for that matter, that can be challenging to understand. "Of course you remember," they chime in and no matter how much I tell them I don't, they don't believe me.

And so, I struggle to believe myself. Do I really remember? Or not? Am I just choosing to not remember?

It's the struggling to believe myself that I struggle with most.

It's something I've always struggled with. Believing in me. Believing in my right to live the life I want. The life I choose. The life that fits me.

And one good thing about not remembering is, I don't have to remember the struggle. I just have to remember how much I like being here, right here. Becuause right here, I'm okay. I know it. I believe it.

I'm okay.

I may not remember everything I hear. I may have trouble recalling what day of the week it is, but I do remember one thing always.

I love myself.

Spent my life getting here. And through it all, I've been gifted with insight to know -- I'm worth loving, just the way I am. Even if I can't remember who I am! :)

Just kidding. I remember. I am ME. In every way I am.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Lenten Time. (A poem)

I read with great envy the stories of those who live in coastal climes and southern states where spring is in bloom and grasses turn from winter brown to springtime green.

Here, at the edge of the Rockies, on the windward side of winter, spring is not yet ready to awaken.

I hunger for the spring. For warm winds and birdsong, for crocus pushing up through softened, muddy soils. I hunger and in the waiting of this Lenten time, I breathe deeply into patience and renewal and coming home again to my heart awakening to the promise of new birth, new life, new hope, a new season of change.

In honour of our winter days not yet kissed by spring's caress, I offer my poem of waiting for spring.

Lenten Time

Winter lingers
in this season of waiting
pushing against the celebration
of spring's promise edging up against
filigree quilts of snowy down
and filling in
and filling in.

Spring stalls
against winter's hungry tongue
licking at the frost
clinging desparately to the roots
of springtime promises
new life in
new life in.

Winter silences
fall into the edge of spring
awakening slowly
beneath the sun soaked soil
warmed by the kiss of sun, light
into spring
into spring.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

An anniversary

An anniversary of sorts came and went, and I didn't notice it. A date that marked the beginning passed and I was unaware of its occurrence, until I read my friend Mark's post over at Mark Musing today about his eighth year of blogging and realized I have passed my fourth year at this place.

Four years ago, March 10, I posted my first blog in this space. It was entitled, Scooping Up the Shadows -- using cleaning up the dog poop in my back yard, I came front and centre with my desire to ignore the evidence of taking care of the 'dirty work' in my life -- without complaining and procrastinating.

I posted again on March 13th and then on March 21 I posted my commitment to write in this space everyday, A Brand New Day. That post was about commitment. About keeping my commitments -- to me and others. It is something I struggle with -- not the writing here -- the writing here is habit, a part of my day, a beautiful beginning each morning to living life on purpose. No, it's the commitment to take care of me, to give me my best that I struggle with.

It's so easy to get pulled off course when I am not paying attention to where I'm at.

When I lose sight of where I am in the moment, when I fall into the trap of hearing other's words as a statement of my value, I forget to be centered in my own "I", to be grounded in my own truth.

I expect so much of me and one of the things I realize is, I don't expect me to fall down.

I give lots of space for the world to fall down, for others to trip or slide or dig into their 'own stuff'. But I don't give space for me -- to be human.

Four years writing in this space and I am opening up to the message. I am human. Exactly me. Just the way I am.

And sometimes I fly. And sometimes I fall. And always, I am free to experience my journey just the way I am.

There is no right or wrong, better or worse path to get to where I'm at. There's just the path I take.

There is no right nor wrong to being human. There's just the way I am.

And today, I celebrate all I am, right where I am. Right here where I am meant to be.

Today is the 1,356th post I've published here. (And yes, that does not divide into 365 per year. It divides into the number it is. It includes the days I've posted and embraces the days I've missed because, as part of my commitment to loving me where I'm at, I gave myself permission to not be here when I am being all of me somewhere else.)

Some of the words I typed were words to live by, others were words to forget or simply to set aside until another time when they resonated or fell into forgetfulness. No matter the value of the words, there are and are, my words. My heart speak that matters most to me. My heartfilled thoughts that continue to speak to all I am, all I'm meant to be in living my purpose: I am a radiant women igniting joy in an enlightened world.


Happy Spring Solstice!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Nap time.

As Mark just reminded me -- it is now past noon and I have not posted. I've not been slacking though!

Last night, our dinner of eight grew to fourteen -- sheer delight -- my daughters, boyfriend and daughter of a friend joined we 8 adults and shared their joy and laughter, insights and commentary on what proved to be a wonderful evening -- and the food was great too!

This morning, I was out the door early to facilitate a World Cafe community consultation on a triborough city park system -- a friend is overseeing the community engagement and called desperate for one more facilitator, so I said I'd help.

I'm glad I did.

I learned lots. Heard lots. Saw lots and was inspired... you guessed it -- lots.

Need to process. And... need a nap! My favourite Saturday afternoon pasttime.

Hope your Saturday is filled with light and love.

Friday, March 18, 2011

What I've learned.

I have learned a great deal working at a homeless shelter -- about myself, about people, about how I am in the world, about how I want to be in the world.

I have learned about compassion and being true to my beliefs, about standing up, in love, for what I believe in, about standing in a space for others to hold their beliefs as their truth without fighting for that space.

I have learned about compassion and caring and softening my heart.

I have learned the difference between the need to not fight to change people, and the need to fight to change the world.

I have learned that change begins with me. That I truly am, as Ghandi exhorted, the change I want to see in the world.

There is so much I have learned from people who have nothing to give yet who give so much. There is so much I have been given.

The gifts are many and all of them count in creating within me the change I want to see in the world.

And today, that change begins with my favourite meeting of the week. Every Friday morning at 7:30 I meet with another woman who works in the sector. A woman who inspires and challenges and encourages me, as I do her, to create more of what we want in the world. We talk about heart matters, we share our triumphs and our tribulations and, we inspire each other to create change, to be the change, to embrace the evolutionary nature of our beings.

Must run!

Thank you everyone for dropping by and chatting. For commenting. For sharing your stories. I am blessed.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Hummingbird Story

The hummingbird story was told by Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai in May 2006 at a conference on poverty elimination in Montreal. The story she shared is:

One day a terrible fire broke out in a forest - a huge woodlands was suddenly engulfed by a raging wild fire. Frightened, all the animals fled their homes and ran out of the forest. As they came to the edge of a stream they stopped to watch the fire and they were feeling very discouraged and powerless. They were all bemoaning the destruction of their homes. Every one of them thought there was nothing they could do about the fire, except for one little hummingbird.

This particular hummingbird decided it would do something. It swooped into the stream and picked up a few drops of water and went into the forest and put them on the fire. Then it went back to the stream and did it again, and it kept going back, again and again and again. All the other animals watched in disbelief; some tried to discourage the hummingbird with comments like, "Don't bother,it is too much, you are too little, your wings will burn, your beak is too tiny, it’s only a drop, you can't put out this fire."

And as the animals stood around disparaging the little bird’s efforts, the bird noticed how hopeless and forlorn they looked. Then one of the animals shouted out and challenged the hummingbird in a mocking voice, "What do you think you are doing?"

And the hummingbird, without wasting time or losing a beat, looked back and said, "I am doing what I can."

When speaking to groups about homelessness my goal is to engage them on an emotional level through story-telling and connecting with the words we use to identify, name, and label the human beings experiencing homelessness.

I ask the group to give one word each that they would use to describe themselves. I tell them a word I would use is 'passionate'.

Quickly, people call out words -- no matter their age -- yesterday was a group of Grade 8 students -- that I write on a whiteboard.

Ebullient. (she looked it up on her Iphone to make sure she had the right definition)
Gamer. (this was a Grade 8 boy)
And many more...

On the other side of the list people have given me, I write the word, HOMELESS, at the top and ask them to give me the words they use to describe people experiencing homelessness. Inevitably they start with the more gentle words:

Got nothing.
Mentally ill
Mental health

I encourage them to say the words they use in their heads, or with friends as well. To speak the unspeakables we all think when presented with someone whose life, condition, state of being is beyond the boundaries of our societal norms or whom we simply do not get, or are afraid of, or do not understand.

No good
and many more...

You are not alone in these words, I tell them. They are, in my experience, universal. They are words we all think and speak to describe people whose lives we do not understand. They are the labels we use to position someone in our minds so that a) we don't have to think about them; b) we don't have to do anything about them; c) we don't have to learn more; d) we can avoid empathizing... and a host of other reasons to help us not connect with those whose lives are beyond the pale of our experience.

And then, I talk about the words those experiencing homelessness use to describe themselves -- words I've heard in classes and talks I've had with the people we serve at the shelter where I work.

They are the same. Strong. Intelligent. Creative. Kind. Considerate. Compassionate...

All the words we use to describe ourselves are the same words people experiencing homelessness use to describe themselves.

And then, I share the words those experiencing homelessness tell me are the ones they believe, and in many instances have heard, people in our communities use to describe them.

They are the same as the second list -- mostly without the nice words -- Bums. Lazy. Deadbeats. Drunk. Good for nothing. Scary. Crazy.

There is power in our words. There is power in our thinking.

Change one thought -- you could change your world and someone else's.

Working in the homeless sector can feel like that hummingbird dropping water on a forest fire. There is so much to do.

We must do what we can.

I invite you today to think of one thought you hold that denigrates, undermines, or belittles someone else.

In the creative space of your mind, put yourself in the place of that person. Imagine your self telling that person (whom you are pretending to be in your mind) that word or thought you hold.

It's hard, isn't it? You don't want to say it.

Then don't.

Find a more caring, compassionate, loving, kind thought to describe them - and set yourself free to do what you can to create a more caring, compassionate, loving and kind world around you.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Going back to bed.

I am tired today. The after-effects of Daylight Savings time changes. Long days. Busy work schedule. Restless nights.

Yesterday, I left the house at 6:15 to pick up a co-worker for a 7 am meeting. It was 8:15 pm when I left the shelter where I work after giving a presentation and tour to a group from United Way. In between, I had a director's meeting, a meeting with our Alderman, a meeting with a cohort at another agency to talk about a joint venture we'd like to initiate. I sat in on our play writing group. Wrote an email to a troublesome volunteer and met with one of my staff to talk about our upcoming Volunteer Appreciation. And sprinkled amidst the meetings I answered phone calls, emails, and queries from those who stopped by my office with a quick question, idea, or comment to share on various topics.

And then, when I left the shelter, I joined two girlfriends for dinner. I had thought of cancelling -- I had anticipated my presentation and tour would be finished by 7:30 but, between their questions, issues that arose as we walked through the building, and a guest speaker at the beginning of the session, it had taken longer. I called my friends to say I was just leaving the office, and they told me they had waited on dinner until I got there. I got there. Enjoyed our conversation and was home and in bed by 11:30.

I am tired.

Glynn Young over at Faith. Fiction. Friends has a guest post today over at High Calling Blogs. In, Pixels and Electrons Glynn distills his day into the importance of the 'little things' that add up to a whole lot of something that can, and does make a difference in the world when what we do comes from a place of Love.

It's well worth the read. And a tweet!

Glynn quotes Frederick Buechner from, The Magnificent Defeat. Glynn writes, "Frederick Buechner wrote this 20 years before anyone thought of desktops and laptops, mobile computing and the internet:
“All the absurd little meetings, decisions, inner skirmishes that go to make up
our days. It all adds up to very little, and yet it adds up to very much....""

To read the rest of the quote, and Glynn's article, click HERE.

You'll be glad you did.

In the meantime, I'm going back to bed for an hour. When I awake, I'll feel refreshed, renewed, refocused.

Have a great day everyone. A day of wonder. A day of knowing that sometimes, the little thing that is most important is to STOP. Stop Typing. Thinking. Doing more of everything so you find that sacred space where life appears in the simplest gifts. Like the silence that arises when you quit filling time with 'busy'.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lizard brain and doing the right thing

I am not late. I do not need to hurry. It is refreshing.

I am at the University to give a talk on homelessness to a group of 4th year Sociology students. I park in the main lot between two cars; dark blue SUV on the right, burgundy something compact on the left. Lots of room on either side.

I open my driver's side door and a gust of wind rips the door away from my hand. It smashes into the burgundy something compact on my left.

I swear.

Not too loud. I mean, what if someone heard me?

I get out. I don't have to crawl out, or slip out. There's lots of room. Except, of course, for the fact that my door is jammed into the handle of the car beside me.

I try to pull it free. It won't budge. I try again. No luck. I try again -- you know that adage, doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different outcome... call me crazy, I kept thinking I could pull the door free.

No luck.

I wonder what to do next. There's no one around. I sigh. Damn.

I walk around the back of my car, around the front and push against the opposite side of the door. Won't budge. I push again. Pslift. It releases its grip on the door handle of the burgundy something compact beside me.

I look at the handle. The side of the door. Definitely evidence of my door's contact with its surface.

I sigh. Again.

I don't want to open the door on that side. The wind is still blowing fiercely.

I move to the passenger door of my car. I test the distance between the door and the side of the SUV. A few inches to spare. I get in the passenger side. I search my bag for a piece of paper, all the while angrily muttering under my breath about warm winds blowing in from the west. Gotta love Chinooks. But man, they are fierce. Gusty. Gutsy. Strong.

And here's the tricky part. The part where I admit the little voice in my head whispering, oh so sibilantly, 'C'mon, you don't need to leave a note. No one will know. No one saw you.'

Shh, I admonish it as I furiously scribble on a sheet of paper my name and cell phone number and a brief description of what happened.

C'mon. It wasn't your fault.

Doesn't matter, I angrily reply. It's not about fault. It's about doing the right thing.

Doing the right thing, schmetterrling. Forget everything. You don't have to worry about a thing. (I hate it when lizard brain thinks he can be cute with rhyming and made up words chanting them to the tune of a Cole Porter song. Heck! Lizard brain can't even sing!)

I sigh. Again. Yes I do. I have to leave the note.

Okay. So leave the note but don't put it too securely under their windshield wiper. It wouldn't be your fault if the wind whipped it away.

Go away, I hiss back at it.

Stop being such a good girl, it hisses back.

It is unrelenting.

I walk away.

It comes with me.

I walk through the campus, searching for the Social Sciences building where I've been a hundred times. I mean, I took several courses there, I know where it is. But the wind is howling, my mind is cavorting and the lizard brain is slithering this way and that.

And behind its whisper is the thought of how much it's going to cost to fix the person's car. Damn. I don't feel like paying for damage to someone else's car.

I get to the theatre where I'm presenting. I've still got time to spare. I buy a bottled water, glance through my notes, set up my presentation on the computer and ready the overhead projector.

My cell phone buzzes.

I have a couple of minutes. I glance at the screen. It's a text from a number I don't recognize.

"Hi! I just got a note on my car from you. I poured water over my door and there's nothing worth worrying about. Thanks for leaving the note though!"

I breathe a sigh of relief. Doing the right thing always pays off. Always lifts my spirits. Always creates more of what I want in my life -- while maybe even creating a ripple effect that a stranger will possibly, someday, somewhere, pay it forward.

And what's even better! I don't have to carry guilt, shame or self-condemnation with me about not having done the right thing. I don't have to justify to myself, and probably anyone who will listen, how the wind ripped the door from my hands and.... changing the ending to not have contact with someone else's car so that I don't look so guilty.

Oh, and did I mention? I don't have to pay for damage. A little bit of water washed it away.

Not bad.

But damn, I wish I didn't have to listen to lizard brain slithering back into its cave. I mean, really, couldn't it just wash itself away like the scratch on the burgundy compact something on my left?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Soul Naked

Over at Peaceful Legacies this morning, the lovely Joyceann speaks of putting her 'naked soul on the page' in her blog, Conversation with Yoda. It is only in that condition of vulnerability that she is of service to herself and the world she suggests after a fascinating and enlightening conversation with Yoda.

I don't have conversations with Yoda, but reading Joyceann's blog, I might have to start. He's a pretty wise and insightful guy!

Getting soul naked on the page is what I do here. It is my belief. My vision. My desire -- to dance soul naked through words stripped of past-present participles and conjugated verbs that shroud who I am behind the veil of fear I am too naked when I reveal who I am without the constructs of the language I employ to keep me safe from being seen.

And if that isn't a conjugated, convuluted, complicated sentence -- what is?!

Stripped of its fluff, it means -- I gotta be soul naked to connect on a soul level.

Naked souls don't need clothes to keep them warm. Heartspeak keeps souls warm.

Living from the heart of what matters to me, or 'wholehearted living', as Brene Brown calls it in The Gifts of Imperfection, keeps me living from the inside out, fearlessly engaging through my gifts and vulnerabilities with LIFE.

It's all about LIFE. How I engage it. How I embrace it. How I live it.

Soul naked, I engage life on the playing field of heart-matters.

Soul naked, I embrace life in the arms of vulnerability.

Soul naked, I live life through eyes of LOVE.

Yesterday, I wrote to a friend and shared how I am in awe of this journey -- this place where I feel my very essence filling up with the knowing of who I am is expressed in being of service to the world -- not somewhere else, but right here, where I'm at.

Being of service does not mean hopping on a jet and flying to Japan to offer relief. I do not have the skill set, nor training to do that. All I can provide for Japan and other troubled spots in the world are my prayers and what financial resources I can give to support those who have the training and tools to do it.

There was a time when I dreamt of jettisoning my life and taking off for far flung places to relieve suffering in the world. I imagined myself in war torn lands, pulling tangled bodies from shell-rocked buildings and healing spirits torn by rape and genocide and grief with simply the touch of my smile and warm and loving hands.

Because, seriously. I didn't have much else to offer. 'Cause I never did get around to going to medical school or getting a doctorate in PTSD. I never did get the prerequisite tools to be effective in such work -- like trauma training and medical knowledge and all sorts of things that would have qualified me to add value and not be a hindrance to the work of those who felt compelled to share their knowledge and training in ways that added value on the ground.

All of which speaks to how deep the ego drive was to 'be known' and how facile the ego's attempts to convince me of its possibilities without my having to do 'the hard'.

That was a time when my ego dictated my ways. That was a time when my ego needed me to plump it up with thoughts of 'all I could be doing' rather than facing the reality of doing 'the hard', of staying in the place I was at to find myself beneath the trauma and pain and sorrow and the daily grind of getting soul naked in my life.

I got an ego. Gotta love it. It's mine.

I just don't need to feed it the mind-driven placebo of doing 'great' things somewhere else in the world than where I'm at.

My naked soul isn't into doing. It's into being. Naked. Open. Vulnerable. Of service.

Being of service knows that being there I would be a hindrance. Being here, my service is in sharing my best, sharing my wisdom, my story, my journey in ways that celebrate the majesty of the human spirit, in ways that awaken others to their magnificence, in ways, as my purpose statement says, that, "ignite joy in an enlightened world".

Soul naked service asks me to step into the realm of being my self, of sharing my journey through light and love and words that come from my heart.

Soul naked service asks me to not dim my words. To not hide them behind walls of fear and self-doubt.

Soul naked my words stand. Out. Up. On. Under. Behind. Before. Me.

Thank you Joyceann. Your words this morning are cascading through my mind. You're one amazing incredible woman. Thanks for igniting my thinking, sparking my desire and setting my heart on fire.

Thanks for inspiring me to get 'soul naked'.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Let us hold eachother together.

I'm going to die anyway, he said. So why should I quit smoking now?

The doctors agree. At this point, quitting would only add unnecessary stress. And the objective at this point is to eliminate stress, to create around him a space where he knows some comfort, some ease, some grace and dignity, in spite of the pain.

In spite of the pain and fear of dying, he is strong. In spite of the knowing his life is measured in days and hours, not years, he continues to flirt, to politely express his gratitude for the small things people do to make his day more comfortable, to make his presence known.

Last week, I gave a tour of the DI, the homeless shelter where I work to an amazing man, Mark Horvath. Mark has created a website where he celebrates PEOPLE, Invisible People. The people who tell their stories at Invisible People are human beings who happen to be experiencing homelessness. Mark has travelled across the US and is hoping to do the same in Canada, interviewing people who are homeless and giving voice to their stories. Today is Mark's birthday -- Happy Birthday Mark -- This link will take you to a video he shared of his conversation with Terry while at the DI last week. I wrote about Terry's Big Day riding a horse and penning cattle, here . In spite of the cancer, and his pain, Terry took the time to chat and smile, to be welcoming to Mark.

It's the' in spite of' that gets me.

Rumi scholar and a man with a melted chocolate voice Coleman Barks, suffered a stroke at the end of February and it is his voice that is hampered. Coleman Barks (whose reading of This We Have Now I posted yesterday) is healing and still he takes time to offer up a note to strangers and readers who follow him. In spite of his situation, he wants to ease the concern of others. Joyceanne over at Peaceful Legacies posted a copy of his email here -- it is a testament to the dignity and the greatness of the man.

It is a day of 'in spite of'.

In spite of the time change, time keeps passing without speeding up the events across the Pacific that would give closure to the pain and agony of an island nation.

And in spite of the devastation of the past 72 hours, in spite of the earthquake and the Tsunami and the fires and the horror and the pain and the fear and the desperation, the Japanese people are holding onto their politeness. "Glue of politeness holds nation together" writes Laura King in the Los Angeles times.

In spite of one man's journey through cancer, in spite of the disaster in Japan, beauty abounds in the space between each of us, the spaces that connect us. It is in those spaces, love, hope, light, possibility exists.

And so, in spite of the sorrow and pain in the world today, and because of the sorrow and pain in the world today, I choose to share something of beauty. Ruth, at synch-ro-ni-zing shared a post with me yesterday that she wrote November 4th, 2007, The Music, the Dance, about an evening she spent listening to Coleman Barks read Rumi while David Darling played cello and magic filled the air. Today, she's posted a powerful piece, Disaster, and why we write and at the end of her post, she shares a YouTube video of one amazing man's magic transforming a tray of water-filled glasses into music that speaks to the majesty and the magnificence of humankind.

I share it to express my gratitude and my awe and love and respect of humankind. In spite of the destruction all around and because of it, I offer this video to remind each of us that no matter the weather, the times, the happenings around us, life is sacred, life is divine, life is all we have to live. Let's celebrate it and eachother, in good times and bad, in Love. Let us support each other, care for each other, give to each other. Let us hold eachother together through Love.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Love never left.

She is angry, this woman of exquisite beauty and gentle heart. This child who was born of a mother's body on a day that lives forever as a miracle of life. This child who came fighting and screaming into the world, connected through a tube of life-giving sustenance that was severed at birth. Limbs freed. Body cut with a single slice from the cord that fed her for those nine months where she lay captive in the womb of her creation. Thrust into this world where she fought against the air breathing against her skin, the sun beating against her flesh.

There is no source to the anger. No "You did this and thus, I react so," reason. Hormones out of whack. A subterranean disquiet that surfaces when stars and moon misaligned like two tectonic plates grinding off the coast of Japan.

Sometimes, there is no reason for anger other than its need to be expressed. To be released. To be heard.

And in its expression there is and always will be, Love.

Even when its after-shock creates ripples of heat emanating from our bodies, that scorch and burn and thrust into the heart of those who love us. Even in our unquenchable thirst to suck dry the well of love, to prove to ourselves, for no other reason than we can, that we are undeserving, unworthy of that which has been bestowed upon us through the very act of birth. There is and always will be Love.

There is no disproving Love.

There is no killing of its essence. No tearing apart of its core. No ripping into shreds the fabric of its being all there is to Life. For no matter what weapon we pick up, what daggers we hurl or bullets we shoot, Love is always there. Love is always present, even in our darkest hour. Even at the moment of our death. Love is and always will be, present.

Love that endures, all our efforts to break it apart. To shatter it into a thousand pieces of proof, testifying to the lie we hold onto for fear the truth stored in a kernel of hope at the core of our existence will never be proved; we are worthy.

Accept it. It is true. We are worthy. We are Love.

There is no burning love. There is no destroying it. Converting it. Subverting it. There is no death to love.

Anger can be destroyed.

Fear can be subverted.

Lack of faith can be converted.

And love cannot die.

There is no end to love.

No matter how hard we fight to end it.

There is no end to love.

Love lives, always, and forever.

Such is Love.

No matter how hard we try to walk away, to sever the ties that bind us, there is no going back to a place we never left.

We are born in Love. Created through an act of unifying love that created all the world around us. There is no returning to the womb. No going back to that place where we were immersed in the mystery and the mysticism of our creation.

We cannot return to the womb. We cannot return to Love. We never left. And love never left us.

Never will.

This We Have Now (Coleman Barks and David Darling) from Integral Life on Vimeo.

Friday, March 11, 2011

I choose.

There are moments when it seems trivial to write of mundane matters, of everyday affairs, of personal dreams and aspirations. When wars are waged in the Middle East and earthquakes and tsunamis pound Far Eastern shores, it feels as if the world is collapsing in upon itself, and my musings have little value and effect.

I give my head a shake. Take a breath.

I don't write here to calm wars or troubled seas. I write here to calm me, to claim my peace of mind.

It is in times like these that it is vital and important to write of heart matters, to dream of peace and love, to work for peace and love, to breathe into the pain of a world in upheaval and pray... for peace, for healing, for calm to be restored so that homes can be rebuilt, lives reclaimed, life re-engaged.


Yesterday a friend wrote and asked, What else could you do every morning at 6am other than be at the computer blogging? i.e. is it the best use of your considerable energy and talent.

I'm sure there are other things I could do. But I like doing this. I choose to do this. It brings me pleasure, keeps me living on purpose and connects me to a world of beauty and wonder and amazing people. Writing here every morning keeps my writer's fingers nimble, my mind engaged, my spirits lifted. Writing here is what I do. Writing here is something I do every morning just for me. It is my choice. It makes me happy.

Years ago, a therapist I was seeing asked me to close my eyes and imagine I was sitting under a tree, resting in the heat of a hot summer's day. Someone approaches and offers me an ice cream. "What kind of ice cream do you choose?" he asked.

I thought a moment and said, "Lemon Gelato."

"Why Lemon Gelato", he probed.

I had to think of a 'good' answer. I hemmed and hawed. "Because gelato's got fewer calories than ice cream."

"Why else?" he asked.

"I like lemon."

"Why else?" he asked again.

He was beginning to tick me off. I struggled to find more reasons and did -- find more reasons.

Finally, he threw up his hands and exclaimed, "Louise! Stop. Do you see what you're doing?"

I looked at him, confused. "Answering your question."


"Because you asked me why I chose lemon gelato. I was telling you why.

"Do you need to justify why you're choosing lemon gelato? What business is it of mine? Who gives a damn why you want lemon gelato? What's stopping you from stating, 'It's my choice?'"

And that was when the truth hit me. In my need to answer his question was my victim's voice.

In my constant searching for the 'right' answer was my victim's place of feeling obliged to explain myself. In my answers were the clues to my feelings of being less than. My need to 'find the right answers' so people would like me.

The power is in my choice. The power is in claiming I choose what I choose because I do.

The power is not in my justification of my choices.

That day, sitting in my therapists office, listening to the tick tock of the clock on the mantle, hearing his voice pound me with questions I scrambled to answer was, and still is, a huge lesson for me. A big leap of understanding. Of self-enlightenment. Of inner knowing.

I have often defended my choices when all that was required was a simple, "I want to." "It's what I choose." or even, 'Thanks for sharing', and leaving it at that.

I still struggle to stay out of my victim's voice when faced with having to stand up for my choices, stand up for my right to choose what I believe is best for me.

And I'm growing, deeper into my position of knowing, I have my answers. No one else does.

It was an important question my friend ask me. "What else could you do every morning at 6am other than be at the computer blogging?

In the question, I am reminded once again -- I am powerful when I stand up for me, without defending my right to stand, without explaining why I'm standing and not sitting down, without justifying my need to stand, or sit, or fall, or walk away.

I am powerful when I stand up.
I am powerful when I sit down.
I am powerful when I fall.
I am powerful when I walk, towards, away, under or over.
I am powerful.
When I stand
in my 'I'.

I am grateful for the clarity that comes with knowing, I do what I do in my life because I choose to do what I do.

My life. My choice.

And I believe in my choices for me.

I trust others to be doing in their lives what is best for them to do, that what they are doing is the choice they want to choose to create more of what they want in life.

I write here every morning because I choose to.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Shining bright

"I dream. I test my dreams against my beliefs. I dare to take risks. And I execute my vision to make those dreams come true." Walt Disney
I was deep in my meditation when the child came walking towards me in the desert. She shimmered in the light, her being refracted by a thousand rays of sun glittering all around me. As she approached she smiled and held her tiny hands towards me, offering me the brilliant ball of light that danced upon her outstretched palms. As I grasped the light I felt my body expand into hers, the light immersing us both in its brilliant prism of a thousand colours reflecting the beauty of our human condition.

After the meditation ended, as we went around the circle speaking of our experiences and I had shared mine, Del, our guide asked me, "What do you know?"

"There was a voice," I said. "There was no source to the voice. No place to find it. It simply was. "There is no past. No future. They are one and the same. They are present, here in the now," the voice said. And in its clarity I saw the truth of that moment -- I was right there. In the now. Being the light."

"And stated in the 'I', what do you know?" he prodded.

"I am my truth. I am the light."

At one point in the meditation, there was a moment where I saw mankind. A car drove down a street, hit a child crossing the road. The father came. The child lay on the concrete. The driver stood by his car, tears streaming down his face, angrily shaking his fist. The father walked towards the man, held out his arms and embraced him.

There was a mass of people, dressed in white, walking towards an army of men holding guns pointed towards them. The army fired, the people kept walking towards the guns, even as those amidst them who were hit, fell to the ground. They kept walking and the army kept firing until, the army laid down its guns and embraced the people walking towards them.

"That is the truth," said the voice, "We are beings of love."

I have a dream, spoke Martin Luther King, Jr. on a hot August day in 1963.

"Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I too have a dream. That we, the human race, are born to be free. Born to live our greatness, unfettered by the fears of our limitations. We are not born to fall. We are born to fly. We are not born to wallow in the muck of human suffering. We are born to walk and run and leap amidst the beauty of our human condition being all that we can be when we let go of fearing the beauty of our existence. We are born to dream and have our dreams come true.

I have a dream of peace on earth. I have a dream of love amidst all humankind. I have a dream of a world where war is no longer fought. Where children no longer starve or die because of unpure drinking water. I have a dream of a world where no one kills another for the cost of a rock of crack, or the shirt on their back. I have a dream of a world where humankind values themself and each other more than they value violence and drugs and money and sex and getting what they want at the expense of everyone around them. I have a dream of a world of harmony.

I do not believe my dream is impossible. I believe my dream is closer now than its ever been before. I believe my dream is possible and I am willing to risk stating my dream, to put into action all my being the light of my truth to make my dream come true.

What about you? What do you dream? What do you believe? What are you willing to risk to have your dream come true?

Do you believe? In a world of no more war. Of no more starving children. Of no more violence and drugs and people falling on our streets, lining the sidewalks leading to a shelter?

What do you believe? What are you willing to risk?

We all have dreams. We all fear taking action to make our dreams come true for we all fear our dreams will never come true. And in our fear of dreaming, our dreams die unspoken, unrealized, unseen.

Dreams can come true when we risk letting go of our fear of dreaming and pick up our courage to take action to make our dreams come true. When we choose to put down arms of war and hold out arms of peace. When we quit walking away from suffering and choose instead to embrace eachother in love. When we choose to stop falling into the darkness of despair and choose instead to stand for what we believe in. When we choose life over death, peace over war, love over hatred, joy over anger. When we choose these things that create more of what we want in the world, our dreams do come true.

For in our dreams is the truth of who we are. We are the light of the world, shining as brightly as our greatest dream of peace and love for all humankind.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Angel of Long Point

The New York Times
March 24, 1905

Abigail Becker shortly before her death in 1905

LANGTON, Ontario, March 23 - Abigail Becker, famed in song and story throughout Canada, is dead at her home in Walsingham Centre. Unaided, she saved the crew of the schooner Conductor, wrecked at Long Point, on Lake Erie, in November, 1853. For her bravery the Government gave her a farm. Buffalo shipowners $1,000, and the New York Life Saving Association a gold medal.

The events of that fateful day of November 24th, 1853 have been told in poetry and prose. The story of Abigail Becker's heroics celebrated in story and song.

In The High School Reader, Amanda T. Jones' poem, Abigail Becker is told in its entirety. All six and a half pages. All 45 verses.

In the Preface, the authors state:

"The heroic acts described in this poem seem so wonderful, so greatly superior to woman's strength, even to human strength and endurance, to accomplish, that were it possible to doubt its truthfulness, doubt one certainly would. Nevertheless the poem is not only strictly in accordance with the facts, it is even within and below them."

I'd never heard of Abigail Becker before or, if I had, I'd long forgotten the story of her bravery. But on this, the 100th Anniversary of International Woman's Day, I find it fitting to celebrate and commemorate a woman who risked her life to save the lives of seven men clinging to the rigging of the Conductor, a schooner that had run aground in a gale on the night of November 23, 1853. It was in the morning of the 24th that Abigail came upon them. Being unable to swim did not deter her. She waded out into the waters and dragged each of the seven men in to shore.

Called, The Angel of Long Point, there are many tales of Abigail's heroics. Like the time she rescued two men lost in a snowstorm and cajoled and lead them back to her fire to warm up.

She was feted by royalty, the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, stopping by to drop off a gift while on a hunting trip to Long Point. Queen Victoria sent her 50 pound which she used to buy her farm -- it wasn't 'given' to her as the New York Times obit stated.

But perhaps Abigail's greatest heroics were found in the seventeen children she raised. She had married her first husband, Jeremiah at the age of seventeen. He had six children and subsequently she gave birth to an additional eight with Jeremiah and then three more with her husband, Henry Rohrer, whom she wed a few years after Jeremiah was lost at sea in 1864. And then she adopted two more.

I'd like to have met this remarkable woman. She sounds no-nonsense. Calm and courageous. Of Dutch descent, she was strong and determined. Her life was hard, no time for schooling. She could not read or write, as the customs collector discovered when he arrived one day to give her a medal struck by the Benevolent Life Saving Association of New York. He needed a receipt, but Abigail could not sign for it. Nonplussed, he took her to a photographer where a daguerreotype was taken of Abigail proudly displaying her medal.

As Amanda T. Jones wrote in the closing of her epic poem, Abigail Becker:

"Billows may tumble, winds may roar,
Strong hands the wreck'd from Death may snatch
But never, never, nervermore
This deed shall mortal match!

Dear Mother Becker dropp'd her head,
She blush'd as girls when lovers woo:
"I have not done a thing," she said,
"More than I ought to do."

She lived and died before International Women's Day was decreed.

She was a woman before her time. A woman who believed that human life was worth saving, and the only limitations a woman faced, were the one's she set for herself.

to Abigail Becker, women's lib was unnecessary.

It is to women like Abigail Becker I say a prayer of gratitude. We've come a long way baby thanks to you!

This link is to a YouTube video of Canadian Folk Group, Tanglefoot singing, The Angel of LongPoint