If they can make penicillin out of moldy bread, they can sure make something out of you. -- Muhammad Ali
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Monday, January 30, 2012
And she did. Do it her way.
And she does. Do it her way.
And she is. Amazing.
Twenty-four years ago on this day, at 10:16pm, Liseanne came into this world her way -- on her schedule, even while I was sleeping. The birth was by C-section and because there was a nurse's strike on, I could not be awake for the taking her from my womb part of her arrival into this world.
I may have slept through her birth but believe me, there has been no time to sleep through her presence in this world.
Liseanne does life her way and that means, sometimes, I spend my time worrying about where she is, what she's doing, what's happening in her life.
And I needn't. Worry.
She may do life on her terms, but they are always terms of endearment. Of love. Of beauty. Of truth and honest. Humility and respect.
Even as a child, Liseanne cared deeply about her fellow inhabitants on planet earth. From earth worms to sky-rockets, Liseanne wanted to know everything about what was happening, why it was happening and what could she do to make it happen, better, kinder, more caring.
At school, Liseanne was the protectress of the under-dog, the defender of human rights. She stood up to bullies, to teachers, to authority. She stood up for what was right, just, equal. "It isn't fair," became her mantra. "The teacher shouldn't have picked on that girl, mom," a common refrain when I was called to the school to pick her up early after 'speaking back' to the teacher. Again.
"I want my daughters' to have strong voices," I told the Principal. "I want them to stand up for what is right and not be silent in the face of abuse. And what better place to practice their voice than in school?"
"She needs to respect the teachers," the 'authority figure' replied.
"How she treats people is a reflection of who she is because how she treats people is a measurement of her, not them," I replied. "However, respecting them is another matter. And when they behave in ways that are cruel, that cause other people harm, it isn't about her respecting them. It is about her finding ways to express her responses respectfully. She does not need to respect anyone, however, who treats others with less than respect."
It was an oft repeated discussion. With my daughters. And those in authority. Liseanne always stood up for the underdog, for those who were being taken advantage of, for those who were being picked on. And it always got her in trouble at school.
She has a voice and she uses it.
It is her way.
To stand firm when others would bend. To speak up when others would fall silent. To listen when others would cry. To feel when others would hurt.
It is her way.
And I am so blessed to celebrate 24 years of Liseanne's way of living life on her terms. With passion, flare, laughter and Love.
Happy Birthday my darling daughter.
May you always live life your way.
Friday, January 27, 2012
Thursday, January 26, 2012
I wrote those words this morning in my journal and let their truth emanate throughout my being.
I love moments of clarity. Moments where the busy, busy noise-making chaos of the world subsides and I am alone with just the truth of the moment shining in my heart.
My mind is peaceful, my heart is grateful.
They don't come often, those moments of grace. At least, they don't come so often that when I feel like I imagine a Buddhist monk feels kneeling in front of butter pots praying, I want to get up and dance. Which of course, would defeat the purpose of my blissful state of being one with the moment -- to get into action.
It is the challenge of my existence, this wanting/needing to be 'in action' at all times.
Which is why meditation is so powerful for me. Channeling the energy, of which I have copious and it appears at times limitless amounts, into stillness.
Dance does help. At my dance group on Monday night I felt the shifts and nudges and movement of what was flowing out as I embraced what is and became one with the dance, with the movement of being alive in that very moment, just the way I was. Right where I was.
I felt it last night as well in meditation. That space of knowing, of clarity, of being One with the One. The past does not exist, it is only empty space the One said and I knew it to be true. The past is only a construct of my mind. It exists only in the one dimensional construct of space and time within my memory. And memory has been known to be faulty. It has been known to make mistakes. To reconstruct what was to fit my vision of what is today.
Take my memory and one of my sister's memory's of when I was a child. "You always faked being sick to get out of going to school," she laughingly said one day several years ago.
I was surprised. I do not remember ever faking being sick and I do not remember ever not wanting to go to school. In my memory of the past, I loved going to school. I loved learning and playing with friends and being 'useful' in the world. Plus, school got me out of the house -- and I liked that!
But there we were, both of us with different memories of the same events.
Neither of us right. Neither of us wrong. Because, today, there is no purpose, or need for those memories of what was or maybe was, or wasn't or maybe wasn't.
There is only need of what is real and true right now, right here, in this moment.
If a memory hurts you, let it go.
A therapist told me that once and I looked at them as if they were nuts and said, "But I can't." (Actually, I think I might have said something more along the lines of "Don't be ridiculous. That's impossible." -- but then, memory does like us to look better in the past so that we can hold onto the thought of who we'd have liked to have been, or behaved, or said or done.)
And my therapist eplied, "Memory is always our choice. We may not be able to choose what happens in our world today, but how we remember what did happen is always our choice."
I remember a time when I fell in love with a man who abused me. I remember those days and surround the memories in Love. In gratitude. Not for what he did. No. I am not grateful for what he did. I am grateful for where I am today. For who and how I am today for it is through those experiences I got here.
And when I am moving too fast to be still, I know it is me, just me, running from what I need to embrace, to sit still within and let be for as long as it needs to be.
I know that in my running from, I am escaping to a place where I do not have to be present in the moment of being me.
This morning, my mind is peaceful and my heart is grateful.
I am not running.
I am being. Present. Right now. In Love.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Your vision is the promise of what you shall one day be; your ideal is the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil. James Allen
I met with my business partner last night. We spent time visioning and creating maps of what the future could/will/can look like.
Putting it down on paper gives clarity to vision.
We talked about dreams and mind-mapped and shared our belief and our fears, about what we can do, together and apart when we are focused on 'the value we bring to the world.'
Another friend dropped by and said -- I get that what you both can do is amazing. What I see is a lack of focus.
And we focused, because our friend was right. We were avoiding articulating our value to the world.
"What's the pain you address?" our friend asked.
And we pondered and meditated and doodled some more.
The pain of how our sad stories keep us from living the life, having the success, being the one's we've always dreamed of, we replied.
And so, an idea grew, a dream awoke, a vision clarified and we are on the path to creating that which we dream of -- a world where stories enable people, no matter where they stand on the corporate ladder, no matter where they hang their hat, to live their dreams, fearlessly, joyfully and freely.
It was an evening of creativity. An evening where my spirit felt the wings of hope fluttering gracefully in the mind-space of possibility.
It was an opening. A doorway. An expansion.
It was, exciting and fun and challenging. It was pure magic and this morning I awoke feeling invigorated, excited and happy!
My partner is one of the most courageous people I know. When faced with questions that probe the darkness, she steps into the light, illuminating her truth without fear of the shadows lurking behind the next answer.
She is fearless and I am blessed to be in this partnership where we can both express our true selves without fear of criticism, judgment or ridicule. A place where both our voices are heard, all our perspectives honoured.
What a blessing.
This is what 'business' should feel like.
Now, to get out there into the world, and create what we envisioned!
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
When guests would come he'd put on Big Band favourites and the house would groove to the trumpets and saxophones and smooth notes of Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller and Mel Torme. Sometimes, he'd ease into light jazz and rhythms like Herb Albert and his Tijuana Brass or Louis Armstrong. Sunday mornings he'd put on marching bands and the house would awaken to the pounding timpani of bagpipes and bass drums marching through the walls.
And my father would laugh and call out, "The early bird catches the worm, time to get up sleepy heads." And we'd get up to the smell of bacon and eggs and toast laid out on the dining room table as the Marching Bands shifted to nasal twang of a country crooner or Ravi Shankar's sitar which he loved to play just to bug my mother. "It's your heritage, Iris," he'd insist when she asked him to please turn that noise off. "No it's not," my mother would reply. "I was born in India but I'm French."
My father loved my mother and would turn off the Sitar but not the music. He loved music too much to ever turn it off.
It is a love my siblings and I share today. When my brother was alive he had a favourite game he insisted everyone play, "Name that tune." It didn't matter if I was in the same room or three thousand miles away. He'd call out, or phone me and say, "Listen to this!" and he'd play a few notes, and I mean just a few notes, of a song and ask me to "Name that tune".
I wasn't very good at it, the game of naming tunes. I must be a slow listener because it always took me more time than tune to figure out the name. And don't ask me, 'Who sang that?" I wasn't good at naming singers either.
But I loved the music. Still do. Though my tastes are not as far-stretching or eclectic as my father and my brother's were. From African drums to East Indian Sitar to Native American chanting, my father and brother held music in awe. They breathed it and it breathed life into them. With music they were animated. With music they sang, even though both were tone deaf.
I remember standing beside my brother in many a Christmas Eve mass, trying to stay on tune as we sang Christmas carols and my brother belted out at the top of his off-key lungs every single word. "It doesn't matter if I'm out of tune," he'd insist. "It's the music. I gotta be part of the music."
My father seldom came to Midnight Mass so hearing him sing was never an issue.
Though I'd have liked to, hear him sing. It was something he didn't do much of in life. Sing. Life was too busy, too serious, too tight and wound up for him to sing. And anyway, as he liked to say, he didn't need to sing. There were those who did it for him far better than he ever could, because, no matter the mood or the occasion, there was a song to fit your every mood on one of the two-thousand plus albums that filled the bookcases of our home.
He had them all alphabetized. By category. To find a specific album, or even song, all you had to do was flip through the pages of one of the blue binders that sat on a shelf in the living room. He'd typed up those pages. Typed ever single album title, genre, artist and song for easy reference. He was an iTunes library long before digital recording ever became the state of the art.
My father and brother are both gone from this world. Their last breaths taken only their song of their love of music remains.
And I am grateful. Time has marched on from those days when my father and brother fought over which song to play, or who named that tune and still, the music fills my world. Under the spell of its melodious call, it fills my heart with the memory of these two men who once breathed their love of music into me.
Monday, January 23, 2012
Friday, January 20, 2012
But recently, several people I know are experiencing the letting go of their obsession and I wanted to stand in the light to support their journey.
It was an amazing meditation.
I saw 'my obsession' as a preying mantis, its huge eyes bulging, its mandibles biting into my flesh, its incisors chomping down on my spirit. I wanted to crush it, to shake it off, to flip it away.
I breathed and held it in the light. I surrounded it in love and In Love it transformed itself. Its spindly legs that angled up on either side of its head became wings and it became a dove. But where it was, there was another, and then another, and then another until every insect transformed themselves into doves and I was surrounded by beautiful white doves of hope, of peace, of love.
And I breathed.
And these birds gathered up the thread of my obsession and carried it up into the wind where it became just a wisp of smoke evaporating like the entrails from a jetliner passing overhead on a clear, blue sky day.
Nothing can withstand Love. Nothing can live when Love is present. There is only Love.
And as my obsession evaporated I knew.
I am free.
I knew it. I felt it. I breathed into it.
And I saw my friends, transformed. I held them in the light, surrounding them with love pouring out all over and they became the light and we were one in Love. And Love was One in us.
There is only Love. And Love is God, the Divine, the Bodhavista, Allah, Yaweh.Whatever name we give it, There is only Love and to Love is Divine.
In Love there is only that which we need to know -- Love. Joy. Laughter. Beauty. Peace. Hope. Mystery. Life.
We are all these things and so much more.
We are never our obsessions. Though our obsessions do become us when we let go of Love and believe someone else can give it to us. Someone else holds the key to our obsessions in their hands or in our minds.
Long ago I believed there was a man who could make me happy. Who could give me the world, make my dreams come true.
In Love, I know, I am responsible for my happiness. I am responsible for my dreams. I am my own obsession in Love.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
"Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out." James Bryant Conant
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
I struggle some days to find that place of equanimity. That place where the world is spinning in space and I am balancing gracefully upon its surface, my relationships in balance with my need for solitude and my desire for togetherness.
And when I do, find that place, it is often fleeting, ephemeral, whipped away by winds of change that happen along without the grace to even ask if they can blow in and push me over, down, under, or, as is sometimes the case, lift me up and deposit me somewhere I never ever expected.
Sometimes, to balance me in a sea of change, the muse visits with words of comfort, insight, inspiration. Sometimes, she drifts through gently pushing words before her, crafting images and lines of verse that only she can see where they end. My task is to follow the warp and weft of her design as I come to rest in the peacefulness of knowing, all is well in my world when I am well into being me.
And in her passing through, I am gifted with the words that comfort me....
Broken. In time.
my heart beats
the steady measures
of life flying by.
the memory of flight
lifts me up
above the pain
in time passing
in time passing by
where I stand
searching for that place
where grace finds me
heals my heart
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
I am awake earlier than normal. I sit at my window looking out at the cold and am grateful for the warmth inside. I sit at my desk wrapped up in a sweater, a blanket around my legs to keep myself warm. I'm trying to keep the heat down -- the city has been experiencing skyrocketing power usage with records being broken daily, but the furnace is working overtime just to keep the temperature a couple of degrees below normal. Every degree makes a difference so I keep my thermostat lowered slightly.
Baby it's cold outside.
Which won't stop the birds in my backyard from flocking around the feeder, scrambling for food when the sun gets up.
It is 5am and a man just walked past my window, walking with his dog. Did I mention it is cold outside? There is something sad about his figure. Head hidden beneath a fur-trimmed hood, shoulders hunched, dog walking many steps behind, long leash extended. The man plods when he walks. Each foot firmly planted one in front of the other. Heavy steps. Heavy body. Aged. I wonder if he lives on my street. I wonder if he lives alone. If his wife has died and the dog his only company. I wonder if he walks at 5 am because, like me, he has awoken early and cannot get back to sleep and while I have a computer to come and visit, he has no other way to get a different view on life than to plod along the street with his dog.
Baby it's cold outside.
And I realize, I don't know my neighbours. What if something goes wrong? C.C. is away. I am alone in the house with just Ellie, the wonder pooch, Marley, the Great Cat and Harry, Sally and Sue, the fish. Other than the wonderful companionship they provide, what help would they be in an emergency?
I've never thought about this before. Never considered the 'what if's' of what could happen if..., except last night I discovered my kitchen sink is plugged. Draino hasn't cleared it. I'll have to call a plumber. And I wonder if the pipes are frozen. Should I put a heater under the sink to warm them up? I check downstairs. No water leaking out anywhere.
And I wonder if the pipes are frozen.
Baby it's cold outside.
And it snowed again last night. I'll have to shovel the walk this morning. Fill the birdfeeder. A garbage truck goes rumbling by and I remember today is pickup day. I must put the garbage and recycling out. One good thing about the cold. The grass doesn't grow and won't need cutting until spring, weeds won't need pulling and the garden won't need pruning.
The paper just arrived. The delivery man pulls up in his jeep, leaves the engine running. Jumps out and heads to my door, his arms filled with newspapers. He is bundled up, but getting in and out of a vehicle must be uncomfortable. After our house he heads next door. There are three more papers in his arms to deliver.
And I wonder who my neighbours are. Must remedy my lack of awareness.
I wonder if after paper delivery the man in the jeep goes home, helps his wife get the kids ready for school and then they both head off to their fulltime day jobs. I wonder how many children he has. Did he immigrate here from somewhere else? Is he a doctor in his homeland? Or perhaps, he's a writer and delivering the paper is how he supports his craft. He drives away and his story leaves with him. Maybe tomorrow...
Baby it's cold outside.
When I was a young girl of five or six, we lived in Calgary for a couple of years. My brother had a paper route and when it was really, really cold, I did the deliveries. I didn't mind the cold. I'd load the papers in my sled and trudge on down the road. I remember the lady in a blue house with a long drive and lots of trees in her yard. She used to give me hot cocoa. Back then, kids had paper routes because the paper wasn't delivered until end of day after school was out and before husbands came home.
I remember my father coming home from work, pouring a scotch and sitting in his big easy chair to read the paper while mom made dinner in the kitchen and we four kids tried to not fight while doing our homework. That's what fathers and mothers and kids did back then.
Times change. News is immediate and newspapers scramble to be ahead of the times, getting their paper copies to doors of households where mothers and fathers rise early to get children off to school before going off to their own work. Little time for sitting with a scotch to read the paper after work. Little need. The news has already been told by then. It's already happened.
Have you heard the news? Baby, it's still cold outside.
But in case you haven't heard the news. It's -27C -- that's -17 south of the border. And that doesn't include the windchill.
Monday, January 16, 2012
Coming home was no better. Tires crunching on frozen snow covered pavement, I moved towards home, inch by inch, row by row, planting seeds of harmony on my route as I held my frustration at the traffic and congestion in thoughts of "Bless them. Forgive me."
An arctic chill has descended upon the city. The world is white and crisp and frozen. Ice crystals dance in the light, a surreal pattern of notes suspended in air that moves thickly, sliding icily around objects, slicing nostrils as it slips inside huddled bodies brave enough to step outside into its biting maw.
And now I am home again. Warm and snug. Inside looking out. Ellie, ever hopeful for a walk brought her leash to me when I came in the door. I had to promise a walk later when it warms up from -27C to -23C. I'm hoping she won't like it any more than me so that it can be a short walk today, but Ellie is persistent so it could be she doesn't let me cop out too quickly.
Then again, I'm persistent too.
Last week, my persistence paid off.
I have been attempting to build my own website. I am not a website developer. I am not particularly techno-gifted. So, building a website was a huge undertaking. Just the thought of diving into code and HTML and all sorts of things techy frightened me. Not to mention the thought of committing dollars to a web-hosting company whom I don't even know. I mean, seriously. You want me to give you money to host my cyber-identity and we haven't even met?
But I did it. I researched and stalled and thought some more about it and then I did it. I jumped in with both feet, committed to godaddy.com, bought my very own online identity (www.louisegallagher.ca) and began the process of building my site.
I like learning. I like challenges. And believe me, this gave me lots of opportunity to experience both.
Decisions I'd never dreamed of had to be made. Platforms. Templates. FTPs. ABCs and every other letter of the alphabet came streaming towards me as I navigated techno jargon that would drive even a saint to curse.
And now, many days after my first tentative toe in the waters of website building, my site is live. It works and while it's not yet finished, it is a good foundation upon which to build.
Please do visit. All feedback is welcome and appreciated. I haven't got my portfolio online yet. That's my next big step, but the framework is there. and I am pleased. I did it. With the help of some really nice folks at the helpdesk at godaddy, I figured out how to upload Wordpress, how to download a template and how to make it all come alive. Who knew I could actually download Wordpress twice and not even know it? Who knew using my user ID from one download with the password from the other would send my system into a spin? Who knew?
And yet, inspite of myself, I now know I can do it. I did do it. Louise Gallagher is live!
Sunday, January 15, 2012
Friday, January 13, 2012
Forgive and remember differently. Forgive and be transformed.
Father Kevin, Mt. St. Francis Retreat Centre, January 12, 2012The invitation came over dinner. "I'm going out to Mount St Francis for a women's twilight retreat," my friend Rosemarie said. "Would you like to come."
I was excited. I've known about the retreat centre run by Franciscan monks for many years, had always wanted to go, never gotten there.
Last night I did. And though it was dark when we pulled in through the gates of the centre, the silence and peace of its rural setting embraced me as I stepped out of the car. And the welcome inside was equally as comforting.
But it was the twilight retreat process that left me feeling peaceful and enlivened. Joyful and renewed.
Father Kevin, the speaker, was funny and engaging. He gave a delightful and inspiring 45 minute talk and then we moved into a half hour of meditative silence followed by a reading of Ecclesiastes 3:1, which were the words of the opening song he'd used to establish the 'Transition' theme of the evening, (the Byrds singing "Turn. Turn. Turn.") A brief prayer, a song (Susan Boyle singing the Prayer of St. Francis), a statement of gratitude and the evening was over.
But not really. Over. It kept resonating as Rosemarie and I drove back towards the city. It kept vibrating along my heart chords as I meditated before bed and it is still creating harmony in my world this morning.
Transitions are frightening and necessary, Father Kevin told us. We must look to nature for inspiration. And he spoke of how the beauty of fall is followed by the death of every leaf. It isn't about being perfect, he said, it's about the willingness to acknowledge our human imperfections, make amends and forgive so that we can transform our hearts and lives.
It was the forgiveness part that was surprising. How he wove it into transitions and made it relevant and integral to the theme. To let go, to allow change to happen, to embrace its presence, I must forgive what isn't, what was, what wasn't, in my life that hurt me, caused me angst, caused me pain.
And in that forgiveness is the gift of more. More peace. More gratitude. More possibility. More grace.
It isn't that forgiveness negates justice or the need for justice. It is that forgiveness sets the forgiver free -- and possibly the forgiven too. It is that forgiveness opens our hearts to possibility. Renewal. Hope. Peace. Love and Joy.
Forgiveness makes me whole. Because no matter what justice I deem necessary, or the law determines right, there is and always will be room for Divine mercy.
Mercy is the right of the Divine, Father Kevin said. and forgiveness the deepest mystery of all.
A mystery is not something that cannot be solved or to be frightened of. Mystery is something I do not understand enough. And in the quest to understand the mystery of forgiveness, I am strengthened in my quest for inner freedom.
It was an evening of wonderful company, insight and peace. It was an evening that continues to resonate as I explore what it means to be human on this journey of my lifetime.
A human being who makes mistakes but is never a mistake.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
When they arrived they didn't have names. "I've never named my fish," said Dave the friend who gave me the fish. He is moving away and cannot take them with him.
I'm happy they're here sitting atop a low bookcase in my office, right beside my desk.
Ellie, the wonder pooch, is happier.
I went off to meditation last night and Ellie decided to help herself to fish food. She tried to eat the entire container but managed only to consume its contents.
Who knew a container of fish food flakes could be so enticing to a hound. Oh right, she's a scavenger, a glutton, a pig.
Not really. But she sure does like her food and she sure can't resist temptation.
When I arrived home after my meditation group and went to feed the fish as Dave had instructed me to do, I couldn't find the container of fish food where I knew I had put it in the corner, on the floor beside the tank. The cleaning agent was there. The extra dish and paraphernalia were there. But no fish food.
I wondered if I was mistaken. Had I put it in the cupboard? Had I put it somewhere else.
It was Ellie's behaviour that tipped me off. She wouldn't come into the office with me. She hung about the door, poking just her nose into the room.
"What did you do?" I asked her. "What did you do?"
She hung her head, slunk into the room and headed straight to her bed in the far corner of my office, the furthest point away from where I stood watching her accusingly.
"You didn't..." And I headed into our bedroom to check her bed which lies at the foot of ours. It's where she tends to take all the food treasures she manages to steal.
Sure enough. There it was. One empty plastic fish food container with puncture marks across its skin. One torn up label from the container. Was she trying to hide the evidence?
Ellie doesn't seem to be the worse for wear. Fish food agrees with her. Though her breath is kind of stinky.
Harry, Sally and Sue however will be scavenging along the bottom of the tank until I get to the pet store this morning to replace their food. There were enough dregs in the bottom of the tub to sprinkle them onto the water last night. And maybe, just enough to appease them until the store opens.
And I am the wiser for the adventure. When bringing new friends into the house, ensure special diets are kept safe from those who believe if it's food, eat it. (and pretend you didn't do it!)
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
And then, my soul laughs, a deep bellyful laugh. What more to give? Everything! And it leaps up and down and rolls on the ground and repeats itself. Everything!
I wrote in my journal last night: I admit it. I am a codependent. I enable the people who do not nice things in my life to do the not nice things in my life they do. I decide right now to stop this. It hurts. Me and them.
Yup. That's me. The enabler.
Now, don't get me wrong. Enabling has it's good side. But when it gets into the realm of being harmful to my emotional, spiritual well-being, it hurts. Big time. And I need to stop it because, only I can stop it.
I wrote the enabling comment in a journal I last wrote in five years ago (I've got lots and lots of journals that I write in - and each has a different 'meaning'/purpose). In this journal which is sort of a, hmmm, oh look there's a magpie/shiny object kind of journal that I happened upon when I first used it and happened upon again when I cleaned up my office the other day, the last thing I wrote in it was on February 7, 2006. And what I wrote was: It takes two people to be in an abusive relationship. It only takes one to end it.
That was 2 months before my book, The Dandelion Spirit, was published. The pages before that one statement are filled with my doodlings for the book. With ideas and thoughts cluttered together in messy and tidy pages. With scribbles and notes and wonderings about what am I writing about. What am I doing?
And the book was published and helped many people and I moved on and now, I'm writing a new book and I am back to scirbblings and wonderings and notes and messy and tidy pages all nudging up against eachother, overflowing into words screaming to get out and other's resisting their birth, pushing back against the creative impulse to be seen and heard and drawn out into view.
This creating is messy busy. It pushes me into my own messy thinking. Into my angst and fears and insecurities and when I am pushed up against the angst of feeling like I'm enabling bad behaviour in my life, it is my responsibility to push back against the angst to get drawn into the muck of worrying about what other's are do. I am not accountable/responsible for what other's do. I am 100% accountable for what I am doing, what I allow in my life, what I create in my presence.
So... let it be known. As of today. As of this very moment right now, I have resigned my position as a codependent. This is my manifesto. My declaration of independence.
You're on your own everyone. You are 100% accountable for your life. And I am 100% accountable for mine.
So... can we agree that we are all magnificent beings of wonder and joy? Miracles of life inspired by the Divine to create a world of peace, love, harmony and joy?
Can we agree, this is our one and only life. Let's live it up in the rapture of now.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Years ago, (1996ish) I took a four day workshop on Gabrielle Roth's five wave movement work. For years afterwards, whenever possible, I actively engaged in The 5 Waves by joining in dance groups whenever I could.
And then, I started to work at the shelter and found myself mired in the pain of so many lives in turmoil, of so much drama and trauma. For some reason, I let go of movement. I let go of dancing and convinced myself -- I didn't have time. I was too busy. The shelter needed me more.
And I became stuck in the pain and lost sight of the promise of all that is possible in our world.
It is the challenge of working at a place like a homeless shelter. When so many lives filled with pain come together in one place, there is little room to breathe freely. I think one of the things that happened inside me was I felt that to move freely would take me away from that place, and I didn't want to do that. I loved my work. I loved being there. The people. The possibilities for change. The idea of creating it. I loved the feeling of making a difference everyday.
And so, I stopped dancing. Except for when my daughters and I went to the Choices Saturday night dance during seminar. Then. I danced. We danced. Moved. Spun and twirled and bent forward and backwards and under and around. We danced and I felt alive and free and oh so powerful.
I stopped dancing with my group though because somewhere within me was the belief/fear that to dance would open me up to the world beyond the shelter. And I wasn't ready, yet, for that to happen. I found my home at the shelter. I didn't want to leave it.
And now I have, left, and now I'm finding myself beyond the pain and sorrow and trauma of a homeless shelter. I still believe I can make a difference in that world. I still believe it's important work. I just know that being immersed in the daily workings of a shelter is an invitation to shut down the bigger perspective of the world beyond its doors. I believe there's a time limit on how long one should stay at a shelter -- whether client or staff.. And if one does stay in the shelter/work, it is imperative that one keep moving, keep doing things, everyday, to create emotional, spiritual and physical well-being -- and that's what I had quit doing to a degree. I opted for the myopic view that I could take care of others without first taking care of me.
It's easy to become isolated and insulated in a shelter. It's easy to lose contact with the promise beyond its doors.
And now, moving again, I know how important it is that I move the pain out and connect back to the promise of the more that awaits when I free myself from the belief -- this is all I can do.
There's so much I more I can do when I set myself free to move.
I am dancing again.
I am happy!
Monday, January 9, 2012
If you can learn from hard knocks, you can also learn from soft touches. Carolyn Kenmore
Sunday, January 8, 2012
And then, a image galloped through my mind, "White Horse. Black Stallion."
I didn't know where it was leading but I had to drive so I let it lead itself into the quiet until I got home and a poem wrote itself out. I love how ideas collide and mesh and evolve and appear -- an interview on CBC Radio and the fact that when I wrote this, it was the Epiphany, January 6. The fact I was thinking about my daughters and how much they've taught me and how grateful I am and how life is yin and yang, light and dark, beauty in the duality of our existence.
White Horse. Black Stallion
(a poem for my daughters)
Friday, January 6, 2012
But that was the original topic of this blog.
And then, I saw a tweet from the Huffington Post and watched the video it directed me to and I was so taken and moved and stirred and inspired by what I saw, I realized...
I have to share this in the hopes that you too will watch it and be taken and moved and stirred and inspired by what you see.
I'm not going to use any words to describe Jeff Harris and his project to take a photo of himself everyday for 13 years and counting. I'm going to let him speak for himself. He does it well. He does it spectacularly. He is a hero.
Thursday, January 5, 2012
What's exciting about this format for me is -- I created it. I took the photo. I created the background and using a blogger template as the foundation, I created the screen format.
I am proud of me! And, to make it even sweeter, I built the badge at the side bar that will take you to my new blog, A Year of Making a Difference. And, at A Year, I created a badge that will link back here.
Not bad for a day's work.
And what's really cool is, before yesterday, I didn't know how to do that!
Now I do.
I'd always been afraid of attempting it. It seemed so 'difficult'. That's for techies, I told myself before running off to find someone else to do it for me.
Which is the funny thing about avoiding doing something -- I told myself all sorts of stories about why I couldn't do it without ever even attempting to do it. And then, when I did it, I discovered it's not really all that difficult. It just takes time and practice and a whole bunch of patience.
And I wonder where the notion I should know how to do it before I do it comes from. Because seriously, the thought -- it's hard -- must come from a place of believing I know what it takes. And truth is, I don't. Case in point -- I didn't' know what it took to create a new blog look, and I didn't know what it took to create a blog badge -- until I tried to do it. And then, I learned I could do it.
Which makes me wonder -- I wonder how many things there are in this world I don't attempt because I tell myself, before I ever even attempt them, that's too hard. Or, I can't do it. Or, I don't know how.
I wonder how many opportunities to learn something new I've turned down because I've judged my capacity to learn before I even attempt to learn it.
I'm betting.... many.
Note to self. Stay open to next experiences. Stay open to trying things I've never tried before. Just because my head tells me I can't do it, or it's too hard, doesn't make it true.
Truth is, I have an infinite capacity to learn new things. We all do.
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
It will wait for next Christmas to appear on the horizon like Ellie, my golden retriever, waiting by the door for me to come home. She knows I'm coming home, she just doesn't know when. And morning 'til dark feels like a lifetime in dog years. Just like I'm sure January to December feels like a decade to the little drummer boy and tin soldier nestled in their beds all year.
As a child, I was the proverbial, 'are we there yet' questionner. I didn't like surprises and always wanted to know, what's next, is it ready, are we there, why is it taking so long.
I am reminded of my childhood impatience as I take down Christmas. It is such an opposite experience to putting up Christmas. Putting Christmas up, I savour every ornament. Tell stories about where we bought this one, who gave us that one, to anyone who will listen. It takes time to put up Christmas. It takes loving care and attention. It takes the entire family.
Taking it down.... not so much.
Sure, I do tenderly place each bauble and ball into tissue before placing it carefully in a box. I don't want any broken glass come next Christmas.
But loving care?
The tree is brittle. It's needles fall everywhere. I'm constantly ouching and groaning as I search the branches for hidden treasures.
And as to family involvement?
Well.... let's just say it's a lonely job taking down Christmas. I didn't know grown children could still disappear like ghosts of Scrooges Christmases past when the words 'why don't you help me take down Christmas' are spoken.
They can help put it up. Why can't they help take it down?
And maybe that's the thing about taking down Christmas. When putting it up, I make a fuss about setting the atmosphere. There's anticipation in the air, there's laughter and good treats and music playing and the house is aglow in the excitement of Christmas coming to visit one more time.
I don't do any of that in the take down mode. It's a job. Let's get it done. Many hands are better than two. Pitch in why don't you?
I think my Christmas spirit gets taken down in the holidays and is all worn out by now.
I think maybe taking Christmas down is a job best done alone, anyway. That way, nobody else has to share in my ill humour. My 'why do I always have to do it alone?' whining.
Maybe, taking down Christmas is my opportunity to get a little more year-round mirth spirited away in my heart.
Maybe... it's not the taking down Christmas that's the problem. Maybe... it's me!
Oh well. There's always next Christmas to be cherry about pine needles all over the floor and dust bunnies tucked away behind baskets of pinecones and a missing box that just won't appear to place the snowdome into.
Yes. That's it. There's always next Christmas!
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
If I had my life to live over... I'd dare to make more mistakes next time. Nadine StairNadine Stair's quote made me smile and think this morning. I wondered -- is it the making mistakes that's important, or is it the being willing to risk 'a mistake' that counts?
Monday, January 2, 2012
C.C., my sister and I are back to Vancouver today. Lee, Anne's husband is staying on the island to do some chores around the house and will return tomorrow with their two cats -- ferries are less busy on weekdays, he said. Which makes it easier on the kitties.
It has been a delightful sojourn here on Gabriola. An island of 5,000 people, it's laid back at the best of times. Over the New Year's weekend -- it almost goes into reverse. :)
And it is beautiful.
Yesterday, while Anne, Lee and C.C. explored Island places (C.C. has never been on Gabriola) I took the 1 o'clock ferry over to Nanaimo to visit a friend who has been in attendance at a rehab centre since early November.
I am in awe of this friend. For the over 25 years I've known her, alcohol has been a dragon she's never willingly faced. And then, a series of circumstances caused her to pay attention -- and boy, has she paid attention.
"I have to take care of me," she told me. "I have to quit avoiding life and get into living it on my terms without fearing what others think."
We sat in the coffee shop at the centre yesterday and visited and laughed and teased each other. She is doing great. and I was grateful to have the opportunity to spend some time with her. She's chosen to remain at the centre after completing their initial 9 week program, even though it meant missing Christmas with her family.
"It was a really hard decision," she said. "But, I want to be well. I want to live without my addiction controlling my life. And to do that, I have to be will ing to make hard decisions."
Addict and muggles, as those on the 'outside' are called at the rehab centre by my friend's favorite counsellor, are always faced with 'hard decisions'. And most of us will do anything to avoid making them at times. For an addict, using is the route out. For muggles -- we use other coping mechanisms to avoid, the hard.
Leaving the DI, the homeless shelter where I worked until the end of the year, was a hard decision -- one I avoided making for almost a year. Not making the decision, putting it off, rationalizing why I stayed even when I knew the environment was becoming toxic to my health, was easier than saying, "I'm done. I'm leaving. I have to go."
And so I stayed, amidst growing dissatisfaction on my part for what was going on.
I rationalized my staying with reminders of how much I loved what I did, how much I loved the people, how important work was to me. And in my rationalization I avoided taking responsibility for my choice to stay, for holding onto something that was not healthy for me anymore.
It's hard to make hard decisions, yet, when we do... life opens up and opportunities appear and creativity abounds.
From being afraid of making the decision, to living in the wonder of life after the homeless shelter, I am in awe of how choosing to stay was what was holding me back from experiencing the joy of life 'on the other side'.
Like my friend yesterday, the decision to go to rehab was harder to make than being there. Now that she's there, her world is opening up with wonder. Her eyes are growing bigger with all the opportunities that are appearing on her path. Even when hard decisions appear on the path, she knows she can work through them when she stays true to her path and doesn't avoid 'doing the hard.'
I had an amazing day yesterday with a courageous and beautiful woman.
I am grateful for life out in the wide wide world beyond the shelter.
And maybe, I'll just call this post in honor of my friend Glynn at Faith. Fiction. Friends., (http://faithfictionfriends.blogspot.com) Pleasantly Disturbed Monday! :)
PS -- and an opportunty to make a difference presented itself quite naturally on the road to the ferry yesterday.
I wrote about it over at -- http://ayearofmakingadifference.wordpress.com