Saturday, July 30, 2011

A dancing whale

It is a beautiful Saturday morning here. Not to hot. Not to cool. Perfect.

And, here is a beautiful video to watch. A humpback whale was caught in a fisherman's net in the Sea of Cortez when a family in a boat came upon her and saved her. After getting free, she dances in the water for an hour, showering them with joy.

Have a beautiful Saturday.

Michael Fishbach, co-founder of The Great Whale Conservancy (GWC), narrates his encounter with a young humpback whale entangled in local fishing nets.

Friday, July 29, 2011

A fellow human being

He is sitting on the floor in the middle of a mezzanine area at the mall when I see him. Backpack on the floor behind him. Elbows resting on knees. Both hands covering his ears.

He is looking down between his legs, head bowed, tucked into his shoulders.

I think for a moment he is on his cellphone. I think he's just sitting there talking.

No one seems to be bothered by him. Or notice his presence. They walk by, skirting him. Avoiding contact.

Thoughts quickly flit through my mind.

"He's okay. I shouldn't disturb him. I don't want to bother him. I'd only embarrass him, and myself, if I stop and ask he's okay."

"I don't think he's on his phone. Yes he is. No. His hands are simply covering his ears. You'd best stop."

"No. Let him be. Give him his privacy."

"There's no privacy sitting in the middle of the floor in a busy mall."

I stop, bend down. I keep my voice soft. Gentle. I touch one of his shoulders as I speak. "Excuse me sir. Are you okay?"

He doesn't move.

"Sir. Are you okay. Do you need help?"

Slowly he looks up at me. He doesn't say anything. He just looks at me.

"Is something wrong? Can I help you?" I ask.

"You tell me," he replies.

"Are you okay? Did you fall down?"

"I don't know," he mumbles.

I look around. People are walking past. No one is looking at us. I look towards the Starbucks kiosk a few feet away.

"Can I get you some water?" I ask him.

He doesn't say anything. He's gone back to holding his head. Staring at the floor.

"Wait here," I tell him. "I'm going to get you a glass of water and call for help."

I go to the Starbucks, ask one of the staff for a glass of water and to call Security. "There's a man sitting on the floor in the middle of the foyer," I tell the girl and I point over to where the man is sitting.

We both look. He is now lying sprawled out on the floor. People keep walking past and no one stops.

"Can you call Security please?" I ask. "He's in some distress." And I go back to the man and sit on the floor and wait for security.

He is unresponsive. Talking in short bursts of incoherent sentences.

I tell him my name. Ask for his.

He looks at me. Suspicious. Leary. He offers his hand. "I'm Trevor."

I take his hand and gently ask. "Have you been drinking Trevor?"

He nods his head. Up and down. "I can drink a lot," he says.

"How much have you had today?" I ask.

He doesn't answer. Shrugs his shoulders.

We sit quietly.

"I don't know what to do," he suddenly says and he starts to cry.

"Are you feeling overwhelmed?" I ask.

And he nods his head again. Up and down. Up and down.

"Breathe," I tell him. "Deep slow breaths."

He gulps in air. He's almost sobbing now.

And people keep walking by.

A security officer from the mall rides up on his bike. Parks it. Walks over to where Trevor and I are still sitting on the floor.

"Did he fall?" he asks me.

"I don't know." I tell him. "I was walking by and saw him sitting here and stopped to ask if he needed help. His name is Trevor."

"Hi Trevor," the security man says in a friendly voice. "What's happening?"

"I don't know," replies Trevor. "I don't know." And he covers his ears with his hands again and looks down at the floor.

The officer is young. Kind. Caring. He too attempts to ask questions. He too gets few answers.

He turns to me. "Anything else you can tell me? Did he fall? Do you know if he hit his head?"

"I don't know," I reply, inadvertently repeating Trevor's response. "He says he's been drinking. He's feeling overwhelmed. He was just sitting here when I came upon him. He is sweating a lot though. And he's not very clear in his speech."

"I've called EMS," says the security man.

And so the hour unfolds. A man. Lost. Frightened. Overwhelmed sits on the floor of a busy mall crying out for help.

"I don't want to fall apart," he says. "I'm so sorry for falling apart."

"It's okay to fall apart Trevor," I reply. "Sometimes, the only thing we can do is to let it fall apart so we can find the pieces we want."

He looks at me. Tears stream down his face. "You're too nice," he sobs. "Don't be so nice."

A police officer arrives. He asks if I'm with the man on the floor. Trevor looks up. "Oh no," he cries quickly. "She's not part of the problem. I am. I'm sorry to be a problem. I am so sorry."

And the police officer quickly reassures Trevor he's not a problem. We're all there just trying to find out how we can help.

EMS arrive. Trevor looks at me. "I don't want to make trouble," he says.

"You're not," I reply. "The lady from EMS just wants to help you. Can you let her?"

And I move away to make room for the EMS worker.

Another officer arrives. Asks if I can fill him in on any details. I tell him what happened.

"So you were just at the mall to shop and happened upon this guy?"


He smiles. "Well. Thanks for helping out. You okay?"

I smile. I don't tell him I work in a place where this kind of thing happens every day. I smile and tell him I'm okay. "I hope Trevor is too."

The officer nods his head. "That's our job," he says and smiles again. "You're job's done here."

"Yes it is," I reply and walk away leaving Trevor and those who could help him to do their job.

Life's like that. We are on a journey, goal, destination in clear sight when something unexpected appears on our path. I had gone to the mall to get a prescription filled at the drug store. I was walking back to my car when I happened upon Trevor sitting on the floor.

I couldn't just walk by and leave him. I had to stand in until help arrived. And maybe, sitting on that floor was the best thing Trevor could do in that moment. Maybe, sitting on the floor is his next step to getting help for whatever it is that is overwhelming him today. Maybe, my stepping in was what he needed to get out of the dark space he was lost in.

"What do you see when you see me?" he asked at one point.

"I see a fellow human being in distress," I replied.

His eyes went wide. "You see me," he whispered and he started to cry and my heart cried with him.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dandelions are free

Taken from my Iphone

You have to decide if you're going to wilt like a daisy or if you're just going to go forward and live the life that you've been granted. Kevin Costner
Dusk was gathering on the horizon when Ellie and I headed out for our evening walk. The air was fresh and cool. A storm had blown through hours before and rain still lay in glistening puddles on the sidewalk. The grass was wet, the river wend its way lazily along the valley bottom, a giant liquid snake moving slowly through the greenery below.

We passed walkers and gawkers, children playing ball, a couple sitting on a bench immersed in the pools of eachother's eyes. We passed a family packing up from a late evening barbecue, a group of young men playing touch football, two girls rollerblading.

The air was velvety cool against my skin. The sky was golden mixed with warm summer blues streaked with clouds tinged in evening hues of rose and purple and amber.

I walked and let Ellie pull on the leash as my mind wandered, my eyes soaking up the view, my thoughts drifting effortlessly like the river below.

Sometimes, to get the most out of life the only thing you can do is savour it, just as it is. No pushing or pulling, no need to tweak or adjust. The only need is to savour. To be present in the moment. To let each breath roll across the tongue, in and out and in and out. To let the sounds of life play joyously on your heartstrings. To let it all in. Completely. And let it all out. Completely.

No need to hold on. To grasp. To yearn. No need to want.

You only need to let it be.

And in that moment of letting it be, just the way it is, life unfolds, just the way it is.

I have a friend who has all the money she will ever need who feels an unidentifiable anger bruising her world with its unsettling quest to steal her peace of mind.

Maybe it's because you have so much and there are so many in the world with so little, I suggested.

If that were the case I'd just give it all away, she replied. Which in many instances she does.

But giving it all away will take away the one thing money gives her -- a sense of safety. I know I'm safe when I have limitless money in the bank, she said. This friend has worked hard for her money. And she continues to do so while remaining one of the most generous and giving people I know.

It's not about the money, we agreed. It's about what money can't do. It can end, 'poverty', but it can't end suffering. It can change the state of the human condition in the world, but it can't change the human condition. It can change our state of being present in the world, but it can't change our state of mind, our being who we are, our being human.

Only we can do that.

Only we have that choice.

To change.

To grow.

To evolve.

To quit wilting like daisies and start growing like weeds. Up through the cracks. Shaking off pesticides and dirt and all attempts to kill us off.

You gotta love the dandelion. It is resilient. Persistent. Stalwart. It grows in spite of every attempt we make to rid our world of its presence.

The dandelion knows who it is. It believes in the purpose of its presence in this world. And it doesn't relent.

From tiny seed to yellow stemmed flower to delicate puff, the dandelion does what it does best no matter its environment. It grows and grows and grows because it knows, this is the life it's been granted.

Best savour each moment and fill each facet of our being with beauty.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lows are not the blues

It isn't often I wake up feeling tired, or even that I move through my day feeling de-energized or sluggish. But, a toothache and a cold will do that to me. And that's what's happened over the past week.

A cold I couldn't shake.
A toothache that won't abate.

And I'm a poet and my feet sure show it... they're Longfellows! :)

haha -- isn't it nice to know my sense of the 'funny' hasn't vanished with my foggy thinking.

But seriously, I don't like feeling rundown, or out of sorts. Yet, sometimes, it's the only way my body knows to get my attention. To run me down.

Going full tilt, not taking care of 'me', not paying attention to the details of my life is always a sure sign I'm off-balance. And sometimes, the only way to get back into balance is to stop, assess, regroup and recalibrate.

In The Power of Story, Jim Loehr writes,
"Story is everywhere. Your body tells a story. The smile or frown on your face,
your shoulders thrust back in confidence or slumped roundly in despair, the
liveliness or fatigue in your gait, the sparkle of hope and joy in your eyes or
the blank stare, your fitness, the size of your gut, the tone and strength of
your physical being, your overall presentation--those are all part of your
story, one that's especially apparent to everyone else... What's your story
about your physical self? does it truly work for you? Can it take you where you
want to go in the short term? How about ten years from now? What about thirty?"
Loehr goes on to invite readers to investigate their story and ask whether or not you're willing to die with 'this story' because, as Loehr writes, "like it or not, there will be a story around your death. What will it be?"

An exercise I did long ago as part of a writer's workshop was to write my epitaph. Not an easy task. To write as if someone I love is speaking of me at my funeral. What will they say? How will I be remembered?

In this place of low energy, it is daunting to think what people will say if 'this' were my story.

In reality, 'this', this moment right now, is not 'my story'. It's part of my story. Part of this journey, but it's not the whole trip.

Just like being in an abusive relationship was not my 'whole story'. It is was five year segment of a rich and vibrant life, a moment in time. Not the whole story.

Yet still, I grate against this place where I feel low. I struggle to just take time for me. To take care of me. I struggle against this niggling doubt that I'm not just faking it. Or that, this will be me for time to come.

I'm not blue. I'm just low -- and maybe the big struggle for me is to acknowledge I'm tired, not blue and need to take care of me if I am to take care of others.

Perhaps it's that I work in a place where getting sick is not acceptable, I struggle to give into the feeling low and drag myself around at half energy, doing nothing well and everything else but taking care of me. I asked C.C. last night if I was 'less than' because I felt so crummy in an undefined way and wanted to stay in bed for a day. His reply was reassuring. No. It's just your conscience talking back, he said.

So, I'm giving my conscience a break and giving myself a much needed rest. It's back to bed. I've a dentist appointment to take care of my tooth and a commitment to take care of me. What more do I need!


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Taking care

Photo, Swing Boats © Georgios Alexandris courtesy of Dreamtime. Used with permission.

They sat, side by side,
in boats of yore,
two erstwhile travellers
sailing across the sea.

They were five and six. Two sisters. Almost identical in look. Eighteen months apart in age.

They sat, each to a swing. Side by side.

The swings were at Heritage Park, a historical village in the city that depicts "How the West Was Once' on the prairies long before concrete towers and paved parking lots replaced prairie grass and buffalo.

The swings were wooden boats suspended from a wooden frame, painted blue and red and gold. The boats creaked as I stood between them pushing one and then the other. One and then the other.

Higher! Higher! cried one little girl.

Not too high, cried the other.

The younger one stood up. Arms spread wide to either side, she leaned out beyond the 'helm' of the boat. "Look at me! Look at me!" she called out, smile beaming, hair streaming around her face.

"Be careful!" called her sister. She reached out one hand from where she sat as if to stop her. she kept her butt firmly planted on the wood seat of the swing. "Mum! Make her stop. She'll get hurt."

I smiled. "It's ok, honey. She's having fun."

A woman approached me, small child in tow, tiny hand gripped firmly in her protective grasp. The child minced her steps to keep up to her mother.

"Do you have to use both swings?" she asked. "My daughter would like to use one."

Surprised, I stopped pushing. Liseanne, my youngest daughter, the one taken to living dangerously by swinging high, sat down quickly.

"We're just leaving," Alexis, my eldest daughter of sound mind and cautious feet, piped up.

"We are?" asked Liseanne.

"Yes," replied her sister. "We've swung long enough."

We went to the bakery after that. Bought a loaf of delicious sour dough bread. The girls ate the crust and left the insides. They always did that at Heritage Park.

We ran through the fields. Rolled down hillsides. Stopped and watched cattle graze. A horse drawn carriage ride. A turn on the Ferris wheel, circa 1880. We wandered through turn of the century houses. Crystal glasses set beside china plates on a lacy tablecloth, waiting through the years as if the family would be returning from across the centuries any moment now. We sat in tiny wooden desks in a one room school house, admired an original Ford, ate an ice cream cone in the Parlour of the Beer Hall where cowboys once plunked a dime upon the counter and ordered up a brew and girls danced in flouncy skirts and feathered headpieces to the tinny sounds of an upright piano.

And when the day was done, tired and replete, we climbed into the car and drove home. We laughed and chatted over dinner, the girls bickering as they often did over who's turn it was to clear the table, scrape the plates, load the dishwahser, empty the garbage, feed the dog.

I listened as I tidied up, letting them negotiate their own way to common ground in their chores.

"I cleared the table last night," said one.

"But, I helped mom unload the dishwasher," said the other.


I waited to hear what would be the next point of negotiation.

"But you made me get off the swing today before I was ready," said the youngest. "You should have to clear the table to make it up to me."

"The little girl wanted to use it," replied her sister.

"Then you should have given her your swing," said Liseanne.

"I didn't want you to get hurt," replied Alexis. She turned towards where I had retreated to watch them from the chair in my tiny office alcove off the kitchen. "Mom." she said in her sternest voice. "You have to take better care of us. You can't let Liseanne just do what she wants. She could have fallen off the swing today."

"But I didn't!" said Liseanne.

"Well, you might have if I hadn't made you stop," said her big sister. She came and stood in front of me. Big brown eyes wide. A serious expression on her face. She looked me in the eyes. "You've got to take better care of her mom. She could get hurt."

And I wrapped my arms around my eldest daughter's shoulders and held her close. "I would give the world to never let either of you get hurt." I told her, holding tight. "But I can't promise that you won't. Get hurt. Life does that sometimes. Hurts us. That's why we've got to love each other with all our hearts. So the hurts don't hurt so bad."

She put her tiny arms around my neck. "I love you."

"I love you too."

And from across the room her sister came running, full speed ahead, arms wide, hair streaming behind her, smile wide upon her face. Laughing, she threw her body toward where Alexis and I hugged and landed on her sister's back.

"Awww! That hurt!" cried Alexis.

"No it didn't" replied Liseanne as she wrapped her arms around her sister and hugged her. "I love you."

"I love you too," said her sister.

"I love you both," I said, holding my daughters in my arms.

"It still hurt," said Alexis.

"No it didn't," replied Liseanne.

"Yes it did."


"Stop," I laughed. "It's bath time."

And off we traipsed to the bathroom where sailing boats and foreign seas hid amidst bubbles and laughter.


It's another Blog Carnival Tuesday over at Peter Pollock's place.

One word prompt. Write a story. A poem. a verse.

Today's word is "Swing". And you're invited to play, or just read...

Sail on over to Peter's place and check out the other treasures writers from across the globe have left for you to enjoy!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Life is callling my name!

Morning breaks night's blanket, the sky is clear blue streaming into infinity. outside, the birds twitter at the feeder and I wonder if their messages are worth a tweet or two!

@flying high Having a peck at sunflower seed #4531 Chickadee Lane. Food's great. Come on over. (94 char)

@earlybird Heard on the telephone wire this morning. Stay clear #356 Swallow St. There's a cat without a bell prowling the yard. (131 char)

@tweetybird New bird bath #Woodpecker Way hosts murder of crows. Way too noisy. Try 498 Falconry Lane. (101 char)

@Bluebird_of_Happiness Caught a squirrel in the feeder #531 Wren Ave. Gave him a real tweeting to! He won't be back for awhile! (137 char)

It was that kind of weekend. Lazy. Laid back. Relaxed.

Except of course for this itty bitty toothache that needs some attention. Pronto.

I am not a fan of dentist's. Don't know why not. Know it's just a state of mind that needs adjusting. That if opened up would reveal itself as an unbased fear lurking to disturb my peace of mind, to keep me holding onto nothing but 'a fear of nothing real'.

but still it exists. And still it perpetuates the myth within me that -- dentists are scary. (sorry to any dentists and dental hygienists out there. It's not personal.)

But even a toothache cannot diminish the beauty of this morning. C.C. sleeps. Marley the wonder cat lays curled up between his legs and Ellie the food motivated, 'I can never get enough' super hound prowls from office to kitchen and back again in the hope that I will get the message and give her some breakfast.

It's not time yet. Okay. Breakfast isn't until 7:30. I know she knows the time. Seriously. She's like clockwork. We go through this shtick every morning. And still she persists. Feed me. NOW. I'm hungry. Wait already.

Hope lives eternal in Ellie's mind.

On the front lawn two magpie and a squirrel peck at the grass, searching for morning grub. Two rabbits play Chase across the neighbour's lawn bounding out of my peripheral view. A man on a bicycle rides past. No hands on the handlebars. They're full as he texts on his phone. I wonder if he got the tweety birds' tweets?

And the day awaits.

Filled with mystery and lots of the unknown, it unfolds like a road leading into the future. A ribbon of possibility woven through the daily grist of life on planet earth. What will it hold? What will it reveal?

Some things are predictable.

There will be traffic on the road to work. Lighter than normal. Summer holidays have taken thousands of workers out of the downtown core. There will be phone calls and emails to answer. A newsletter to send off to the printer. A report to work on. A meeting to attend.

And some things will not be as predictable.




Need for input.

Need for advice.

Need for time.

For support.

For getting together.

In the predictability of another day breaking, I open up to the mystery of life awaiting, of a day teeming with life. New. Old. Impossible. Doable. Irresistibly intriguing. Undeniably alluring.

This is life.

My day. My way. My opportunity to live it for all I'm worth.

@new_wings_spreading - The day is awaiting. Gonna spread my wings and fly! Come on and join me. Life is calling my name! Yours too! (131 char)

Have a great one -- Life is calling your name!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Fragments ( a poem)

Over at Maureen's blog, Writing without Paper, her Saturday Sharings, (My Finds are Yours) includes a link to a beautiful and provocative animated short by Freek van Haagen called Broken. As I watched, the images of the words to the poem below flit through my mind.

And so.... I let the muse write it out....


by a number

of things
indivisible courage

held fast
the one thing

he hadn't lost
faith in

God help me
he cried falling

fragments of hope
splintering on the cross

over to the other
side where eternal

grace opened her arms.

Friday, July 22, 2011

It's all good.

Deeps, a visitor yesterday who commented on my blog on happiness wrote, Falling from a great height we CAN say we are flying, but that’s just positive attitude, it wont be too long before we meet with the reality!!

Ain't that the truth!

Hitting the ground, we wake up to the truth -- if we survive the crash.

But what of in our hearts and minds. What of in that place where the belief in our ability to fly supersedes the reality of the height of our perspective?

There is a man who drops in at the shelter where I work who loves to ride trains. He's not your 'Buy a ticket. Take a ride." kind of guy. He likes to hop on, where ever he can and sit on the rails between the cars, the earth flying past beneath him. The noise of the rails pounding in his head. He jostles for position, jamming his body down onto a span of metal, holding on, holding out on death, as he likes to call it.

"That's life man! Pushing yourself up against fate. Lettin' it all just hang. Puttin' it all on the line whenever you can."

In his thirties, he sees his life as continuing on, moving from place to place. He's part of a sub-culture I didn't know existed. They ride the rails. Tag rail cars and tunnels. Scream in the pitch black of tunnels, riding fast, living hard.

"This is the life man. I'm happy," he says.

I couldn't do it.

Too much terror. Too much uncertainty. Too much grit and grime and living hand to mouth. Too much of what in my judgements I perceive to be nothing other than nothing.

And I ask myself, is he really happy or is his happiness just an illusion? A construct of not knowing that life is more than challenging death every day?

And he asks. "How can you be happy working in an office everyday. Going to bed at night knowing you'll awake in the morning where you were last night?"

Happiness is all in our perspective. And who am I to judge his?

Perhaps it is in knowing, I can't live his life that I see the freedom to accept he must live his the way it is to be free.

For this man, his life statement is written across bridge abutments and rail cars. His statement is as transitory as his life, washed over by teams of workers dedicated to keeping the rail lines free of graffiti.

Hey man, at least they got a job because of me, he says. and he laughs. His loud raucous, deep from the roots of his joy laughter. "We're all connected man. I tag. They slag my tag. It's all good."

It's all good. What makes me happy is not what makes you happy. What brings me fulfillment is not what brings you fulfillment.

and so it should be.

It's all good.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What makes me happy?

The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today. H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
Yesterday was a busy day. But I say that everyday. Busy. Busy. Busy.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining but I am concerned. All this busy-ness doesn't seem to make me happier.

Which begs the question... What makes me happy?

And I breathe. Settle into myself. Pause.

What makes me happy?

Small moments experienced in the awe of beauty. A sunset stippling the sky in rose and golden hues.

Feeling useful. Feeling like what I do makes a difference.

A conversation with a friend. An evening laughing and sharing.

Lying in bed in the morning and hearing the birds outside my window.

The sound of the water falling in the fountain outside.

Seeing the bright pink petals flowering on the plant on my desk.

These are all sensations of what makes me feel happy... yet still I wonder... What makes me happy?

What is happiness to me?

I am reading, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Gretchen spent a year 'changing her life' to feel more happy. She began her project knowing she 'should' be happy -- she had it all. Fabulous husband. Children. Fascinating work. Wonderful friends. Great home. But... she didn't feel happy. There was an unidentifiable ennui eating away at her peace of mind, and she wanted to know what and why and how she could change it. So, she set out on a year long project to do something every month to raise her happiness quotient.

It is the very first statement of the chapter, Getting Started, that woke me up. "I'd always vaguely expected to outgrow my limitations."

I hear ya' sister.

One day I will stop eating when under stress.

One day I will remember family and friends birthdays. I'll get those cards in the mail. I'll learn Photoshop (I signed up for a course yesterday!). I'll watch more documentaries. I'll quit playing Spider Solitaire. I'll only eat 'healthy' food. I'll....

And then, one day turns into the next and suddenly a year has gone by and I wonder... am I wasting my life?

And while I know the answer is a definitive 'NO!', I still feel the ennui of wondering... if I'm doing so much to make a difference, why don't I feel 'happy'.

It's not about feeling 'unhappy'. I am fundamentally happy. With me. About me. In my life.

No, my ennui doesn't come from discontent with my life. It's about finding contentment in the moment without the niggling worry of all the little things I leave undone.

Like the paperwork that needs filing. The bills that need paying. The dishes that need washing. The laundry that awaits piling.

And from that, those little things undone are symptoms of a bigger ennui that undermines my happiness in the bigger picture of my life.

I am letting things pile up because I am avoiding looking at circumstances in my life that are grating on the edge of my contentment.

And at the moment, I'm not prepared to write of them here simply because they have far ranging implications which I need to deal with professionally to ensure fallout doesn't contaminate a larger field of play.

But, in having recognized, and acknowledged where I'm at in the 'playing field of my life', I am empowered to address the situation -- and not play, if I stick my head in the sand long enough, maybe erosion will unbury my thinking. In the sandstorm of my denial, I have been holding my truth silent in the belief that if I don't rock the boat, the sands won't shift (don't you just love those mixed metaphors! :))

Seriously. I am staying silent in my own life, holding myself still in the hopes I won't have to make a decision. That things will change without my having to do anything.

And that's where my 'happiness project' awakens.

I have in the past been a passive observer of life. I've tolerated the unacceptable. Accepted the opinions and actions of others as tolerable, even when they violated my beliefs and values.

and in my passivity, I have allowed myself to drift, to wallow, to sometimes drown, in my own life without fighting for my very life!

No more.

uh uh.

I am a victor, not a victim of circumstances.

I do not stand for the unacceptable. I stand up for me. For what I believe in. And I believe everyone has value. That treating every human being with respect is a measure of my worth and the worthiness I see in others. I believe Love is the answer. And the path is the way to Love.

I believe we all have the power to create happiness, fulfillment, purpose and joy in our lives. WE all have the power to be all we're meant to be.

And no one can do that for me! No one can take it from me either -- unless I give it up.

And I'm not willing to do that.

What makes me happy?

Knowing I am loved. Knowing I love. My daughters. My partner. My family. My friends. My pets.

The rest... they're just trappings. The things I do. The things I have. They don't make me happy. They just dress me up.

And while I like being all dressed up, I know the dressing is nothing compared to the body of work I am when I am being all I'm meant to be without fearing who I am is anyone other than my most magnificent self!

Amen Sister!

have a nice day y'all!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Naked in the flame (a poem)

Naked Flame.

I sleep
walk straight
into memory
of you curved along a crescent moon
dripping magic
stars falling in the night
behind closed doors
opening wide corridors
of delight stretched
along skin moist
against your touch
into the night

I breathe
breath trapped
raw edges
sliding against
bare skin
peeled back
along skeletal details
of your passion
burning bright
along the moon’s path
through the night

I quiver
back arched
upon cupids bow
pulled tight
by your fingers
moon beams
upon my skin
stripped bare
in the fire
your touch
burning hot
against my skin
in the night

I sleep
in the flame.

There's a new place in cyber-town, a neighbourhood pub where poet's and artists and visitor's are invited to come and join in conversation, poetry and good times. dVerse Poets Pub is celebrating its opening tonight by inviting those who will participate to contribute a poem in tonight's Open Link celebration.

The above poem created itself -- it just appeared out of the cosmos, bled through my fingertips onto the page.

There's a whole bunch of amazing words by incredible poets waiting to be read over at dVerse Poets Pub. Click on over and feast your creative spirit. You'll be glad you did!

What is time?

Over at Integral Options Cafe this morning WH shares a fascinating video on time, from Through the Wormhole. The fundamental question asked is, What is time?

Well, I know this morning, that in letting my mind wander over to the documentary, time flew and I am now 40+ minutes wiser, but behind schedule. Because, in becoming entranced with the documentary, I lost track of time -- and it kept moving along, or is it that it kept passing me by as I sat transfixed by Morgan Freeman's voice talking about time?

But how can time pass me by? I am part of the movement of time. I didn't freeze while watching the video. And I definitely didn't 'not age' while watching it either!

Newton described time as absolute, but time, as Einstein noted, is relational and my relationship to time this morning has me running to catch up.

Note to self: save documentary watching until evening. When pressed for time in the morning, don't get caught up in watching time.

It was a good use of my time though. In taking the time to watch the video I had the time to reflect on .... you guessed it... time!

I wonder how many uses of the word 'time' there are?

Time flies
passes me by
stands still

Time passes
all in good time

But can time
be wasted
when I am
passing time
in the moment
of time
passing by?

Regardless of what is happening, at this time, I gotta go! Even though I've got a list of blogs to read, comments to post, I gotta go! I've spent my time, up. Used it, up. Can time ever be used down? Moments ticking away like the metronome. Except, the metronome has no finite end to when it stops.

We do. But, time itself doesn't stop, even when we do.

Hmmm..... many questions about time.

You'd best watch the documentary and find out for yourself.... What is time? (If nothing else, you'll get to spend some time being seduced by Morgan Freeman's velvety voice. It'll be time well spent!)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Watch me!

When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers. Ralph Waldo Emerson
As I typed the title of this post, I was reminded of when I was a child and I would call out, "Watch me! Watch me!"

Sometimes, someone would watch and say, "Well done." But most often, or so my lizard brain would have me believe, no one was there to watch. No one was there to applaud and I would dive off the high board with no one to witness my feat, no one to exclaim at my proficiency, or prowess in overcoming my fears, "WOW!"

I am engaged in an online course called, Integral Enlightenment: Awakening to an Evolutionary Relationship to Life. In this course, the guide, Craig Hamilton, talks about the 'oneness' of the universe and how it is 'with us' not against us.

A radically different perspective than considering the world to be a 'great bully'. Constantly throwing obstacles in our way. Continually fighting against us in our quest to find our direction, our own path.

It is perhaps that somewhere in our collective consciousness there is a belief rooted in folklore and legend that it is 'me against the world'.

With that perspective as my ballast, I am constantly standing up against the great bully, or at least thinking I have to. And in my experience, standing up to bullies doesn't end well, so, rather than stand up, I walk away, fall down, sit down, or, as is often the case, sit out, engagement.

In my sit out, I become the passive observer of life unfolding with me as the victim of fate, of happenings and circumstances, of life.

No more victim for me.

I am not standing up to the world. I am standing with it. I am inviting 'it' to work through me, to support me, applaud me, be with me as I take giant leaps to uncover my greatest evolutionary purpose on this planet called earth.

Whew! Now that's scary!

To not be flotsam on the sea of life.

To not be at the whim of destiny to toss me this way and that, never taking the helm of steering my own way through whatever storm, or calm sea life presents.

Oh baby. Now that' s a refreshing point of view. An invigorating, and challenging, new perspective!

Game on!

Just watch me! Watch me expand into possibility. Watch me evolve into being One with the One, with the oneness of the universe supporting me in all my dreams, in all my endeavours, in all my being who I am meant to be.

Watch me leap off the diving board of life into the deep waters of living this one wild and precious life in the rapture of now!

What about you? You willing to take that leap beyond the edge of the known into that space where everything is possible if we just let it happen. Let go. And surrender?

Are you willing to surrender and fall In Love?

I am!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Blog Free Saturday and Sunday

I have made a decision to not blog on Saturday/Sunday on a regular basis -- simply because...

I can make this decision :)

So.... I'm acting on my decision.

have a wonderful weekend my friends!

See you Monday!

Friday, July 15, 2011

I didn't say that!

Every morning I receive a "Did you know today is..." commentary along with an inspirational quote from Langford Inc. I had to laugh at today's Did you know because I had just finished typing, in a Word document because my Internet access was wonky this morning, "Cyberspace is schizophrenic" and Internet access came back and I read my Did you know for today and... here it is...

Did you know...

... that today is Paranoid Schizophrenic Duck Day? In 1996, according to the comic strip, "Mother Goose and Grimm," after years of therapy, Daffy Duck finally changed his name to Paranoid Schizophrenic Duck. ;-)


Today's Inspirational Quote:

"Be like a duck. Calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath."

-- Michael Caine

Who knew, ducks and cyberspace had so much in common! Maybe that's why the little bar that is normally clear kept displaying a yellow exclamation mark in front of it. Ducks and yellow just seem to go together -- or am I making it up?

Regardless of the connection between yellow and ducks and cyberspace and schizophrenia, the little icon that advises me of the strength of my Internet connection kept displaying that irritating yellow exclamation mark.

If only life came with a ‘connection adviser’ that displayed an exclamation mark when my connections and communications – to people and things and life and happenings – was unclear. Just imagine!

Miscommunication wouldn’t happen.

Misunderstandings would never take place.

Directions would never be misunderstood.

Ideas and thoughts would never be misinterpreted and feelings would never be hurt.

And if and when they happened to get hurt or I was misunderstood or misunderstood someone else' meaning, it would only be for a nano-second because the little yellow exclamation mark would appear like a hologram in front of my face immediately advising me that – I don’t understand! You’re not connecting. You've mis-interpreted... And everything would be clear again!

If only.

In reality, misunderstandings happen all the time. It's how I 'take them', or the story I create about them that makes the difference.

Take last night. I was to have gone to a BBQ with my mother but left my office feeling sick. Got home, napped for two hours and awoke, too late to go to the BBQ but with enough time to get to the airport to pick up my wonderful friend BA who was flying in from Vancouver. On the way, I picked up my daughter Liseanne, who had been out with friends from work.

When Lele (as we call her) got into the car she immediately undid the side zipper on her little yellow sundress.

"Whew!" she exclaimed. "I couldn't breathe. It just got too tight after I ate and had a beer!"

Problem was.... when she went to get out of the car she couldn't get the zipper done up -- no matter how hard we both tried. It could also have had to do with how hard we were laughing because no matter how hard we pulled the fabric together, the zipper was just not going to join the sides together.

Sitting at the airport 'Cellphone Waiting Area', waiting for BA to text to say she was curbside with her luggage, I laughingly text Lele's sister in Vancouver to say her sister was weird because she was sitting in the car with her dress undone, and unbeknownst to me, Lele text (from my phone) as an addendum to my original text... "She's fat."

Alexis, thinking I was the one typing, "She's fat." was incensed.

She promptly text back, "No she's not."

Now... I didn't know the texting was going on as BA had arrived curbside and I was driving, so Lele kept up the subterfuge and responded. "Yes she is."

Alexis, aghast that her mother could be so insensitive and inconsiderate furiously text back that I had to stop calling her sister fat! (Calling her fat would be a joke anyway as she is as slim as a willow)

And all the while, I was oblivious to the entire conversation! Until Lele fessed up that is and told her sister, when she later called because she had to set me straight, "It was me! I text that. Not mom."

Amidst the laughter, and the "You rotten child" comments, was the thought of how out of whack communication can be when we don't know what we're really saying is not what's being heard.

So often, we rise to the moment, and the comment, to defend something we don't realize doesn't need defending, or supporting, or denying, or justifying, or anything, other than a request for clarification.

I had read Alexis' first response which was, "She's not fat."

And not reading back through the texts to see Lele had added to my first text, I responded, "I know. But she is weird sometimes!"

And then, I was driving and not texting! But, the rotten child (and I say that laughingly and lovingly) was. And Alexis, thinking I was serious in calling her fat, became incensed.

While ultimately this was a playful interlude between a mother and two daughters, if that had been 'real', imagine how misinterpreted and hurtful everything could have been!

So often, we hear something and tell ourselves stories about what we've heard.

And, so often, we don't hear what's really being said because of the story we're telling ourselves about what was said.

We hear something, become incensed and stop to ask questions after our temperature's risen. Heated up, it takes time to cool off. Fogged up with indignation, it's hard to seek clarity.

We laughed about the conversation and in the end, the world righted itself and continued to spin through space, its orbital progression restored.

And eventually, Lele got out of her sundress and donned blue jeans and cowgirl shirt and all was well with the world as she breathed a sigh of relief in an outfit that gave her room to enjoy a delightful meal with people who love her, just the way she is.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tip Your Hat a royal success!

Life has got a habit of not standing hitched. You got to ride it like you find it. You got to change with it. If a day goes by that don't change some of your old notions for new ones, that is just about like trying to milk a dead cow. Woody Guthrie
We weren't plannin' on milkin' no cows, dead or alive, yesterday, but we sure were out to shake up the headware of Stampede revellers with the crazy and wild concoctions we had ready for the auction block.

But the weather had other ideas in mind!

Day broke and the rain fell. At 9am it was still falling. At ten, it came down in sheets.

This is Calgary, someone said. Wait five minutes.

And we waited. We didn't want to move the Tip Your Hat Auction indoors. Our audience would mostly come from passers-by on the mall during the noon hour. We needed the traffic to make the auction work.

At 10:30 we huddled beneath sullen skies dripping with rain. At 11:45 we debated if we should call media and let them know -- it would be an indoor affair.

At 11:50 we looked up and saw a tiny sliver of lightness amidst the grey cloud. At 11:55 we made our decision and cast our fates to the wind.

We were goin' outside, on the mall, amidst the hustle and bustle of noon hour office workers out for fresh air and tourists wandering the streets looking for Stampede activity.

What a grand time was had by all.

The clouds parted. The rain stopped and the festivities began.

At High Noon sharp, Abe Brown, our MC and auctioneer, took up the mic and began to call out to passers-by to come on over and take a look at the extravagance of the hats on display. Mayor Nenshi arrived to model the first hat and wowed his audience with his poses and his sense of fun. And when he was finished modelling "Voices from Within", a cowboy hat entirely covered in photos of people who live and work and volunteer at the homeless shelter where I work, he shared a story about the hat his sister bought last year at the auction.

We've got two hats in the family, he said. He'd bought one the first year and then his sister bought mine -- titled, Cowdi-gras -- last year.

And then he told the crowd about an event he and his sister were at during Prince William's visit this year. "I dared her to wear her hat," he said -- it is quite outrageous and colourful and sparkly -- and she did and the Duchess of Cambridge, (Kate) loved it and the Mayor's sister got to chat with her all because of a hat designed by Louise, he told the crowd!

Yippee! I thought - surprising myself -- I've got a Royal connection!

All in all, it was a fun filled zany hour on the mall in almost sunshine -- and definitely no rain.

And when the laughter, good times and fancy hats were all auctioned off, the This is My City Art Society was richer by $2,814 that will all be used to support art initiatives within the homeless community.

Well done pardners!

To read a review of the affair in the Calgary Herald go HERE.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

And.... they're off!

And... They're Off!

It's Tip Your Hat Auction Day -- and we're praying the skies don't unload buckets of water on our parade!

They're grey... but not swollen.... and it's real hard to tell in this here cowtown just what the skies will do. They're stubborn and unpredictable, wilful and wily. Just like a thoroughbred at the gate. Biting at the bit to get out the chute and tear up the Infield only to fall back of the posse on the homeward stretch, you never know what the end run will be with weather in Calgary.

So.... we pray. And hope and make plans for 'IN CASE OF RAIN'.

We've also got Angela Knight and the DO Crew at the shelter this morning, serving up a stampede breakfast and heaps of smiles. Gotta git goin' to be there to give them a big ole' western, "YAHOO!"

It's a busy day in the west.

Hay's a growin' (though the sun ain't shinin') and I gotta run!

See ya'll later. Ya'hear!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The past retreats

My youngest daughter and I spent the evening yesterday at the Stamped Exhibition Grounds. We watched the Team Cattle Penning event and then went off to the Chuck Wagon Races and the Grandstand Show. It was fun, especially as we got to spend the time together. The only thing wrong with the picture was her sister wasn't with us, nor was she on the stage of the Grandstand Show as she was for so many years in the past.

It also means, I didn't get to bed until after midnight and I slept in! Which, for me, is a rare occurrence.

Which means, my meditation/writing time was cut short, very short this morning. And because it was, I'm sharing a piece I wrote several years ago about a Stampede encounter I had while volunteering parking cars at a church not far from the Stampede Grounds. It's a great money maker -- one spot goes for $20! Parking in Calgary is the most expensive of any city in Canada, btw.


From the archives. Originally posted, July 14, 2007

He was short and swarthy. It was a hot day but he wore a jacket over his plaid shirt. His jeans were well-worn, his running shoes scuffed. He was an angry man searching for a target. Searching for a way to let his anger out.

We were two women. Some would say past our prime. I would say entering it. Stampede Volunteers. We were parking cars in a church parking lot to raise money for a charity. We didn't want to be targets. But there he was, coming towards us, full steam, words and venom spurting from his mouth with the fiery exhaust of lava bursting from a volcano. Standing in a vacant spot between two cars, a brick wall behind us, there was no where for us to go.

"What kind of f***ing church is this that can't even give a hungry man a piece of bread?" He yelled, his arms gesticulating wildly, his alcohol doused breath enveloping us in its sweet sickly scent.

At first, I didn't understand what he was saying. He had appeared quickly. I had been exiting the building and he had hurried over to my co-volunteer. I quickly lessened the distance between the three of us as he began to rant in her face. My girlfriend tried to explain we were volunteers, but, caught in the trap of his confused thinking, he couldn't hear what we were saying.

We hadn't seem him at the front door of the church, pleading for food over the intercom, speaking to the faceless voice behind the door. He'd given the door one good kick and then darted across the parking lot towards the street, but when he saw us, he veered off course to accost us with his anger.

His expletives burned the already heated air to scorching. He raised his fist. Shook it in front of our faces. He had questions. Angry. Fear-riddled questions.

We had no answers for him other than to ask him to move on. To ask for food at one of the many pancake breakfasts taking place that morning.

I suggested he visit the Drop-In where I work. "You'll find a good hot meal there," I told him.

He told me to go to the shelter myself. He wasn't stepping foot in a place 'like that'.

I didn't tell him I worked there. I didn't want to engage him in conversation. I wanted him to leave. He was scaring us. He needed to go.

Behind my back, my hand searched surreptitiously for my cellphone in my pocket. I wondered if I could press 9-1-1 without him noticing.

On the street a short distance away, people walked purposefully towards the Stampede grounds a few blocks away. The sun shone. A large man walked by with his girlfriend. He glanced at us.

I didn't want him to come over. I didn't want the situation to escalate. Not seeing anything amiss, the man kept walking.

In front of us, the angry man's dark eyes peered helplessly out from behind the veil of alcohol clouding his vision. He stared at me. He stared at the woman beside me. He peeled back his lips, bared his teeth. His body went rigid. His left arm lifted up, he held it high. I stayed silent. He glanced at the silver star on my cowboy hat. "You think you're an f'ing sheriff." he sputtered. "I was a vet. I've killed men. Bet you don't even know where Viet Nam is."

Gently, I repeated my request for him to move.

"Do you even care?" He bounced towards me, shaking his fist. "You need to go now," I repeated my request for him to leave, looking steadily into his eyes.

And then, suddenly, like a balloon deflating, he dropped his arm, his shoulders drooped and he walked away, down the street in search of food, another drink, another avenue of escape.

In the aftermath of his passing, I stood shaking. Tears formed in my eyes. My breath was short. My heart raced.

My girlfriend laughed and said, "He didn't bother me. I was ready for him. I had my moves set in my mind if he advanced any closer."

I believe her. Her husband is an ex-police officer. He teaches self-protection courses, had even taught my daughters and I when the man who had once abused me was scheduled to be released on parole.

At the shelter this kind of behaviour is not out of the norm. I take it in my stride. But, out there, on the street, exposed, I felt vulnerable. Helpless. I didn't know what to say. I didn't know what to do. I wanted him to leave. I couldn't find the words to reach him. I couldn't find the answers that would appease his irrational anger. I couldn't sober him up.

He left and behind him the frothing wake of his anger coursed through my day. I knew my discord was not all to do with him. I knew he wasn't the cause of my disquiet.

I'd known a man who raised his fist and angrily bared his teeth and screamed into my face. "It's all your fault," he'd yelled. "Because of you my life has been torn apart."

Back then, I knew the truth and fell into the lie. I believed him instead of listening to myself. I accepted it was all my fault. I knew the man that day was not homeless because of me. I knew I was not the cause of his anger.

But for one brief moment I felt the fissure of fear, the disquiet of the past disturbing my peace of mind.

I took a breath.

That was then. This is now.

I cannot awaken the spirit of someone who has drowned his soul in alcohol. I cannot connect with words, or gestures. All I can do is stand my ground. Stand in my light and push back the shadows creeping in upon memory of a man who raised his fist and yelled.

The man is gone. The memories subside and I am reminded once again of the beauty of my truth today.

This is my one and only life. My one and only opportunity to live this day for all its worth. To be all that I'm meant to be. To experience all the day holds. To uncover the hidden treasures waiting to be revealed in every moment.

This is my life and I'm worth living it up with gusto! The past retreats and I step into the brilliant light of this moment. I am free.

Monday, July 11, 2011

All that I am

Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing. ~ Mother Teresa
I am smiling this morning. In spite of the rain that fell like silver bullets in the night scorching the roof with its timpani of noise. In spite of the thunder that roared with the force of a mountain waterfall in full spring run-off rushing over the edge and crashing to the rock below.

I am smiling because it is morning and another day awaits. And this day began with reading Glynn Young's review of WHERE: 50 years of ending homelessness. I am smiling because Glynn 'got' the essence of the book. He captured the raison d'être at its core -- we wanted to tell the story of people. Not 'the homeless' or homelessness. They're just labels. We were talking about people -- and Glynn got it and I am grateful because in his sharing what he got, other's will get it too.

I smile within. My day awakens and gratitude infuses my heart with its sweet nectar, enriching its harmony of beats of joy.

Yeah. It's a great day to be alive.

In the "Awakening to an Evolutionary Life" online course I am taking guided by Craig Hamilton at Integral Enlightenment, Craig asks the question: What do you want to give life?

I have been meditating on the answer for a couple of weeks, working up 'artsy' responses that show the depth of my wisdom, the power of my intuit, the completeness of my being 'one with the world'. I have written, and rewritten my life giving statement, wanting to ensure it truly does reflect all that I am and all that I want to be in this world.

As if the universe doesn't know... all that I am.

As if it can't see that all my word-wrangling is just my ego's way of being in control. Of keeping me controlled and controlling. Of controlling the outcome.

Which is an oxymoron in itself as truly giving to the world recognizes I cannot control the outcome, just as I cannot control the waters flowing over a mountain's edge or the rain drowning the roof in sound.

I am not in control.

I am out of control. Dancing wildly in the flow of life. Laughing hysterically in the drumming of the rain pounding my senses into abandoned joy.

I am and all that matters is that I am.

I awoke this morning and felt gratitude sweep through my being. In gratitude I awaken to the wonder of being alive, in this moment, right now.

And then I get it. What do I want to give the world? My smile. Streaming joyfully from my heart. Flowing effortlessly in Love.


That's what I want to give.

No matter how dark the skies, how narrow the road, I want to light up the world with my smiling heart.

Thank you Glynn for your words. You light up the world and my heart.

Thank you Fi, at Inspiration to Dream, for the quote by Mother Teresa this morning. You too light up the world and my heart!


PS -- to read other reviews of WHERE, go HERE and HERE. To order your copy of the book, go HERE.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Frozen (a poem)

Photo courtesy of Neil Alexander and One Stop Poetry


Beneath cerulean sky
a lone
in the shutter
of an eye
full stop
on the shadows
of an alley
passed by.

One moment
lost to
past and future
the child
forever framed
in the blink
of an eye


Thanks to Glynn over at Faith. Fiction. Friends. I found my way over to One Stop Poetry and their regular Sunday challenge hosted by Dustus and Chris. That was almost a year ago.

Today, is the second to last Sunday Challenge. Do drop in to read the interview with travel photographer, Neil Alexander, and do, give yoruself the gift of wonder by romping through the lush and delicious words writers have on display, prompted by Neil's photograph.

Here's what Dustus and Chris have written in their almost farewell... *On a sad note, next Sunday will be the final time Chris and I will appear on One Stop Poetry. We thank you for your support and participation over these past Sundays. It has been both a privilege and honor getting to know your work. Truly, every one of you have helped to make One Shoot Sunday the amazing experience it has been. Next week is the final one.

~Thank you for your understanding,dustus & chris

It has been a wonder to visit and be inspired and find poetic release and encouragement at One Stop!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Living no regrets

Closure is a funny thing. We seek it, thinking 'closure' will give us peace of mind. But how can you put 'closure' on a life? How does closure fix a broken heart, or mind? What is closure anyway?

This week MacLean's Magazine published an obit on Terry Pettigrew. Terry was the client at the homeless shelter where I work whose voice created awareness across the country around the issues of life and death and cancer and being homeless, and most importantly (to me) being human.

And in the closure that article brought was the seed of rewriting the past that left me wishing I could ask Terry to speak up, speak out, against what happened long ago to drive him so far from home it took 33 years for him to reconnect with a brother he loves and who loves him. In that article Terry's father tells the story of 'why we kicked our 7 year old son out of the home' and I wonder if anyone will ask -- what could make a little boy so angry he would pick up an axe? And how could a little boy (because no one denies that Terry was always small for his age) pick up an axe and be dangerous. And why would the parents never see their son until he was 18? And ...

And I breathe.

If I were a parent who mistreated my child and had the chance to rewrite the past to my credit -- would I take it?

At the shelter there was a young man whose stories of his past are so horrific it is hard to believe he escaped it to arrive at the shelter door. Yet, after a journey through the back alleys of several cities, a lot of trusting of the untrustworthy, a lot of wrong turns and deadend lanes, he did. When he arrived at the shelter he was broken, very, very broken. And now, he is thriving. Working. Going to school. He's got his own apartment and is taking a course on how to manage his financial, social and independent living. A parent in his case has come forward to say -- not true. not true.

They want closure. To have his mouth closed to 'untruth' so that only their truth will be heard.

But what is truth in a situation like this?

When Stephanie Findlay, the reporter who wrote the article on Terry, asked me, 'Do you believe all of Terry's stories?" I told her that it wasn't about believing in his stories. It was about believing in the man. Accepting him as he was at the shelter -- and caring for him as he was -- not because he was a cowboy who had fallen off his horse, or an addict who had gotten clean, or an angry child who had become an angry man and never healed. It was about caring for him exactly as he was and honouring the truth of who he was -- a human being. A funny, witty, sometimes moody, sometimes open, sometimes secretive, sometimes happy, sometimes sad, sometimes scared, always loving human being. Just like you and me.

Our job isn't to know the past of the people we serve, I told her. It is to honour the present and their presence here, at the shelter.

For the young man whose parent is angry he has said 'untruths' about the past, it isn't the truth of the past that matters or makes a difference in his life today. It is the truth of the present. He is thriving. He is growing, learning, becoming who he wants to believe he is -- a magnificent human being.

This past week someone asked me, "Do you regret what happened with the man who abused you?"

No, I replied. In having had that experience I get the experience today of loving myself exactly the way I am. Of knowing I have worth, I am worthy. Of knowing my value is not in what I did, it is what I am doing right now to create a world of beauty all around me. To regret what happened then would be to undermine what is happening now -- and I love my life too much to spend time regretting what I cannot change.

"But how do you get closure?" they asked.

I laughed. It was never about closure for me. The past isn't a door to be closed. It is an opening to be explored.

It was never about closure. It was and is always about healing, growing, expanding, breathing into all that I am when I live fearlessly in the now of celebrating my most magnificent self exactly the way I am today. Living life for all I'm worth. Embracing love for all there is for it is In Love that I become free.


PS -- Thanks to my brother-in-law AJT for sending along the correct spelling of Namaste. In his input my output was made better. And what could be better than that!

PPS -- this is the second version of this post because as I went to publish the first version, Blogger crashed and the saved version was only half of what I'd written! LOL -- maybe even blogger was working to make my output better!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Yahoo! It's Stampede in Cowtown!

It is Parade morning for the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, The Calgary Stampede! Getting to work this morning was an arduous journey. The road was clogged by buses laden with parade goers and marching bands heading to the round-up area. Horse drawn wagons vied with pedestrians attempting to cross downtown avenues where the crowd was already forming in anticipation of the parade.

It was a stampede! Cars. Trucks. Wagons. People. Horses. And a clown. One very energetic (especially for 7:30 in the morning) clown who was attempting to keep the crowds entertained along one stretch of the parade route that I had to pass through. He juggled. Spun. Made funny faces and put smiles on the faces of those waiting for the parade to begin at nine which would hopefully get to their area by eleven.

I got to watch the clown because I was in my car. Stuck. In a traffic jam of five lanes of traffic narrowing to one to get through the mass of people lining the roadway.

It was unusually busy this morning. Will and Kate are here and an anticipated 300,000 people will be out in hopes of catching a glimpse of the fabled royal couple.

Call me crazy but seriously... I can see staking out my spot to watch the parade. Heck, when my daughters were little I too was part of the masses crammed into the downtown core. But... for a two second glimpse of two strangers? Though, given that they've just spent the past two days in Alberta, maybe I shouldn't be calling them strangers. They've been in our homes, on our electronic devices, plastered on the front page, second page, third and all the way to the back page of every newspaper and online media outlet.

I'm getting royally weary.

But I digress.

At the shelter where I work, this morning is the only morning we close our doors and sweep everyone out. It's not that we want them to watch the parade -- though it could be fun. It is that in Calgary, when the parade is on, every employer has to provide their staff the morning off to watch. Which leaves us short-staffed and thus, to ensure the safety of everyone, including the building, we shut our doors on good weather parade days -- and today is one of those. Yee Haw!

As I drove in through our gates (at the terminus of my twenty minute drive that took me forty-five minutes this morning), I had to avoid driving over clients stretched out along our sidewalks and parking area.

See, this may be the friendliest town on earth, but for the people we serve, friendly hands don't always stretch across the economic barriers that keep some folk livin' on the wrong-side of the street. Friendly don't mean everyone. It just means those we choose to include as long as they comply with societal norms of conduct -- including dressing the part of 'normal' and not acting out in ways that would embarrass us in front of the eyes of the world turned to watch today's spectacular spectacle unfold.

It's Stampede in cowtown and I am already weary. A pre-stampede function two nights in a row for this 'get me to bed' early cowgirl is too much mid-week play! Gotta find me a place in the sun when I can sit back, tip my hat over my eyes and catch me a few winks.

But wait. This is cowtown. We don't allow vagrants to catch forty, or even five winks on a bench. That's against the law, pardner. Gotta keep them streets clean. Gotta make it all purdy for our guests.

And so, the gap widens as those who have nothing eye everything they can't have in this city laden with Stampede spirit and little place for them to rest along our streets.

Yahoo pardners!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Where is my heart?

Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure. Paulo Coelho
It's an interesting question. "Where is my heart?"

Today my heart is heavy. A tight work schedule. Stampede craziness. And, a heart-breaking situation with a client at the shelter where I work that leaves me feeling frustrated and the one thing I hate to feel - helpless.

He received a ticket from a police officer. Littering. $500.

As one staff member said when I asked him about how best to approach the gentleman about the situation, "How could they give him a ticket? One minute conversation with him and you know he's not all present. You know he's living in a world of his own."

The man in question is homeless. Visibly so if you were to see him on the street. He pushes a walker on which he has piled on and tied up his most precious belongings. He talks to himself. He talks to anyone around him. About music. Current affairs. Politicians. Anything that interests him. He uses big words. Big vocabulary. He has lots to say but it is hard to follow the thread of what he's saying.

And he got a $500 ticket for littering.

I didn't do it, he told me yesterday when I approached him to talk about helping him with his ticket. I don't need help.

I showed him the ticket he had put in the mail to the Court of Queen's Bench.

He immediately began to talk. Fast. "You shouldn't have that. I mailed it in. How did you get that. I didn't do it. I've got it all dealt with. There was a bus. I was waiting. I told the officer what I was doing. He asked for my ID. I waved at the bus driver. I had to go around some construction. How did you get that. I've mailed it in. That's a copy. I don't need help. I didn't even do it. I wasn't smoking. How could I have thrown away a cigarette butt? I don't throw butts. I roll them. How did you get that?"

I know you mailed it in, I told him. But the address you used for the courthouse was the shelter's address. So it came back to us. I'd like to help you with it.

And he repeated. "I don't need help. I've dealt with it. Talked to a commissionaire. I told them I can't pay it. I didn't do it.

And he walked away, back to the table where he had been sitting prior to my asking him to join me in the supervisor's office of our Day Area to talk about the situation.

When I spoke with our police liaison she told me the officer who gave the ticket didn't remember the details. "He'll have to appear in court. Get a court date and then hopefully, the judge will dismiss it."

But he doesn't believe he has to appear I told her. He believes he's dealt with it.

If he doesn't appear they'll issue a warrant and then he could be picked up next time for anything and he'll be remanded, she reminded me.

I know. But he doesn't.

And the circle continues.

A man with mental health issues. A homeless man who walks the streets everyday, a gentle and non-violent man who cannot comprehend how a ticket addressed to the shelter that he mailed with the intent of sending it somewhere else, is not a sign that 'someone' is watching him, following him, is now afraid.

Not of the ticket.

No, the ticket isn't the issue. He's dealt with that he said.

He's afraid that the 'someone' watching him is me and that I represent someone far more suspect than just 'administration' trying to help him right a wrong.

It is a tenuous situation for this man. His mental health doesn't provide the capacity to understand the gravity of what needs to happen with the ticket to ensure he doesn't lose his freedom to walk the streets whenever he wants.

His paranoia aroused, he believes the fact I had the ticket means I got it through nefarious means. I am party to those 'someones' who continue to watch his every move, track his every action.

And the ticket becomes obscured in the mists of his thoughts. The ticket from an officer who was just 'doing his job'. A ticket that doesn't serve any purpose other than to, perhaps, satisfy an officer's need to appear on the right side of the law with a man who has no understanding of his rights, let alone where he is now standing in jeopardy of the law. And now he is at risk. His freedom and his well-being in jeopardy if we do not find a way to help him move from paranoia to a place where he can understand what needs to happen to deal with a situation he doesn't understand.

Where is the treasure in my heart?

It is in knowing, believing, that there is a way through this confusion. That there is a way to help this man that will not cause him more distress, but will relieve the distress he is feeling.

I know there is a way. I just need to search for it outside the box of the law's constraints that would say, as the police liaison told me, there's nothing we can do at this point. It's in the system.

The ticket may be in the system, but this man doesn't need to be.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

No post today

Have been at a meeting since 7:30 am...

My post will have to wait -- as I've run out of time to finish its creation! Stampede is fast approaching and that means.... busy, busy!

I'll be back tomorrow for sure!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Life is amazing!

From wonder into wonder existence opens. Lao Tzu
It is so easy in our busy lives to miss the little moments of wonder all around. It is so easy to get caught up in the fumes of snarled traffic grinding through road construction. To grit our teeth and close our eyes as we inch our way down the long slow line snaking towards our destination. And in our quest to reach where ever we're going, in our mission to get done what ever we're doing, we forget to look up and see the beauty all around. We forget to let go of life's biting inequities and take a bite out of life's joy.

Yesterday, as i drove to work, I was cruising down the freeway when I noticed a couple waiting at a bus stop. She was dressed in bright pink flounced skirt with a lacy white crinoline peeking out from beneath its scalloped hem. She wore a matching bright pink and white cowgirl shirt. Her white hair was tucked under the brim of a clean white cowboy hat. Her partner was all duded up in black. Pants, a black and white cowboy shirt with pink and silver trim and his black cowboy hat sported a feather sticking out along the brim. I smiled as I drove past. Stampede starts this week. They're getting into the swing of it early!

Later, at the shelter where I work, I saw an older woman decked out in a red and white checked shirt, blue jean vest embroidered with tiny pink flowers and a blue jean skirt. Like the couple at the bus stop, she too was sporting a cowboy hat on her head. As I looked around the vast expanse of our Day Area, I spotted numerous cowboy hats amidst the 100s of people gathered for lunch.

And then I saw one man dressed in multi-coloured Hawaiian style shirt, bright pink leggings over which he'd donned a pair of multi-coloured surfer shorts.

He made me smile even more.

And the day just kept continuing to unfold in wonder. A dear running through the park, stopping to stare at C.C. and Ellie and me as we walked along the ridge. Lele (my youngest daughter) returning from her trip to Montana, tanned and happy after spending four days on a boat. A conversation with my eldest daughter in Vancouver who raved about the incredible day she'd just had. A call from a radio station to do an interview on our new book, WHERE. A review in the Calgary Herald Sunday that garnered lots of attention -- and promoted lots of book sales. A Bluejay at the bird feeder. A big hare hopping down the lane in front of my car as I drove towards the garage. Was he leading the parade? Was I his lone 'float'? Did he care or was he just leading the parade because he could?

So many things in my day to wonder at, to stand in awe of, to breathe deeply in the beauty and joy of the moment.

So many things to override the daily grind, to underplay the grit of daily living with notes of harmony and joy.

So many moments to exalt in!

So many ways to share in life's wonders. To celebrate everyday people doing extraordinary things.

And on that note, I am sharing two videos. The first piece is a short documentary, Finding Forgiveness, by Journeyman Pictures. It tells the compelling story of a woman who befriends the two young men who tried to kill her when she happened upon them as they attempted to steal her car. They shot her and left her with brain damage but they couldn't take away her compassion and hope and joy. This woman is amazing. Her capacity to forgive, to live life where she's at, not where she wishes she was, is awe-inspiring.

The second piece is a flash mob dance organized by an amazing everyday woman named Kim MacGregor. Kim created it as a tribute to her best friend Erika Heller who died of colon cancer last year at age 31. Each and every telephone conversation they ever had, Erika would end by telling Kim "You're an amazing woman!" Well, Kim wanted to do something special to honour her friend and this is the result. It was filmed at the Toronto Eaton Centre after only one 6 hour rehearsal..

Kim's dream is to have it viewed by 1million people on Youtube -- I want to do my part of helping her make this happen. Please take a few moments and be a part of this amazing woman's dream!

Click on the links and get inspired and awed and get into the wonder of everyday!

Namaste. May you enjoy a day of wonder!

Monday, July 4, 2011

In Liberty's Gaze (4th of July 4 repost)

You can protect your liberties in this world only by protecting the other man's freedom. You can be free only if I am free. Clarence Darrow
She didn't know her own strength. She'd never been tested. Never been put up against man's nature to tear things down.

No one knew what would happen when the winds of advertsity blew. When the gales howled. When the hurricanes ripped through the foundations of her belief. Give me your tired, your poor...

No one knew the measure of her strength under pressure of another's assertions he knew best, that his truth was the righteous belief of mankind's salvation. No one knew.

And, when the winds came, as they often do, they howled and careened around her body, pummeling her righteous stance, her insistance that she not be swayed. Her belief that she must hold fast. Be strong.

The winds screamed like a thousand banshees roaring through desert sands, a storm of idealogies cast upon the winds, swirling around her, rising up into a hailstorm of dissent, rising up with hatred and condemnation, fear and loathing. A typhoon of evolutionary calamity in the making of war that would never know peace until quietened in an oasis of calm at the sheer strength of her steadfast gaze through time. ...Give me... Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore...

The winds roared and she stood strong and true as she stands strong and true today. True to the foundation upon which she was built, a symbol of friendship, freedom and peace, this lady of liberty. This lady of the strength to hold fast the belief of nations and the dream of all mankind. Liberty for all. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me...

Hers is the strength of a dream woven into the fabric of their collective nationhood aspiring for equality, justice, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness for all mankind. A nation of people who stand true in their belief in the rightness of all men to worship from their own separate pew. The strength of a nation that stands true to the right of all men, women and children, where ever on earth they may stand to rise up and be heard, be seen and be free. I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

The above is the inscription inside the base of the Statues of Liberty in New York harbour, Swan Ally Island in the Seine River in Paris and Paris' Luxembourg Gardens. The lines are found in a sonnet by Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus written in 1883.

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles.
From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Emma Lazarus, 1883

I have reposted this in honour of our American neighbour's July 4th Independence Day celebrations.

Happy July 4th my friends!

PS -- having since written a piece on the African term, Ubuntu -- I can see the connection in all things -- We are all connected. Ubuntu from the Bantu language, represents the philosophy that -- "I am what I am because of who we all are."

May we all be free together. May we all know our magnificence together. May we all be together.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Push Back

It was Friday. Canada Day. Red and white flags fluttered in the breeze. O Canada rose from many voices gathered to celebrate the day.

I was working at the East Village Street Fair. We had a booth set up to sell our book, WHERE: 50 years of ending homelessness. the DI story, we well as another space with our Two Chairs initiative. An invitation to sit down, relax, get comfortable in one of two big comfy easy chairs and have a conversation. No technology. No distractions. Just two people sitting and talking, about anything the guest wants to talk about.

And talk they did.

The first man stopped to look at the display behind the Two Chairs. A conversation, he asked. That's it? You don't want anything else?

That's right, I replied. You're welcome to just sit down and chat.

He sat. And chatted.

About his wife and her debilitating illness. About the uncertainties of his job. About living in a basement suite. About their struggles to make ends meet.

"We had to go to the Food Bank last week," he said and paused. "Now that's humbling."

Later, a woman sat and told me about her fears of walking in the East Village at night, and during the day for that matter. "I don't go out much," she said. "Unless there are lots of people around."

"What are you afraid of?" I asked.

She thought for a moment and then looked at me as if surprised by her answer, "I don't know."

"What would you do if you weren't afraid?"

She laughed. "I'd get outside." She looked around. The street was crowded with people. Children drew on the roadway in front of us with chalk we'd supplied. There were smiles. Laughter. Happy voices.

"I need to get over my fear," she said. "I need to get out more." And she stood up and walked away.

A man took her seat. He lives in the East Village. "It's really changing," he said. "The developers are doing a lot of work on the land, but they're not doing much for building community. Right now the gophers have the biggest say in what happens."

"The gophers?" I asked.

"Yeah. They're eating everything in the community garden. We need to put in some snow fencing to deter them."

I wonder aloud if gophers are afraid of snow but he reassures me. It's not about the snow. It's about the plastic nature of the fencing.

"A community garden is a great place for people to meet and to work together. But the gophers own it right now. We've got to take the land back."

Like the streets. We've got to take them back. From the drug dealers. The pimps. The pushers. The addicts. The homeless.

It was a refrain I heard often during the day. "We gotta take the streets back."

"Push them [the pimps, pushers, addicts, homeless] out," said another man.

"And where would they go?" I asked.

"I don't care," he replied. "I just don't want them in my neighbourhood."

And so we push and prod and poke and pull and the ebb and flow moves in and out. And through it all we seldom ask -- what is pushing 'them' to become dealers, pimps, pushers addicts, homeless?

Somewhere something is broken -- and it's not on our streets. It's in our homes. Our schools. Our communities.

Something is broken and it is appearing on our streets.

We need to push farther back into the core of what is causing what is broken to appear on our streets so that we can 'end homelessness' in the lives of those who have been pushed so far down their only recourse is to take to the streets in search of answers.