Dare boldly

Inspiring acts of grace in everyday living


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A meal full of love makes a difference

It is bright and sunny today. Clear blue sky. A gentle breeze stirs the branches of the pine tree outside my office window. Ellie still sleeps on her mat at the end of my bed and Marley, the Great Cat, has just come in from a night of carousing the neighbourhood.

I am grateful. I am driving to Saskatoon today and like good weather on the road.

Last night, my sister, her husband, my youngest daughter and I took my mother out for dinner for her 90th birthday. We chose a restaurant that is my mother’s favourite and while the price was reasonable, the food fair — plentiful, just not great — it was the atmosphere that made the event not too great.

The restaurant was noisy, chaotic, packed. And while it was uncomfortable — it didn’t really matter. We were celebrating the birthday of this woman who has knit together the fabric of our family and kept us coming back to the table, no matter how far we roamed.

Because of my mother and father, one of my favourite things to do is to entertain.  I love having people crowded around my dining room table. And, as anyone whose ever come to my home for dinner, you’re bound to find someone who was just invited that day because I’d run into them at the market, or on the street and invited them on the spot. it’s something my parents were famous for — there was always room for ‘just one more’ at the dinner table, no matter how late in the day one of we four children invited a friend over.

Though I do think I’m getting old. I did find the noise and chaos in the restaurant a tad disturbing last night. Except, even my 24 year old daughter found it stressful. Both my girls worked as servers while going through school, but working there would never have happened. “I couldn’t do it,” Liseanne said as we left. “I’d have gone crazy and probably yelled at someone to put their phone away. They’re at the dinner table.”

My daughters don’t allow phones at the dinner table. They are in fact a bit militant about it — which probably accounts for why she wanted to get up and tell the woman at the next table to get off her phone last night. Her two year old was throwing food, the father was insisting the son SIT DOWN NOW in a very loud voice and the mother was texting.

In my daughters circle, even their friends know, when they’re out together sharing a meal, do not text. Do not check your email. Do not put your phone onto the table at any time. Their reasoning… “We’re sharing time together. We can’t be present in eachother’s company if someone’s talking to someone, or texting someone else who isn’t present while we’re all sitting together in the here and now.”

We took my mother to dinner last night for her 90th birthday. It was wonderful to share the evening with my family, to connect over a dinner table into the circle of love which binds us all together.

In spite of the chaos, despite the noise and confusion of the room, there is something special in celebrating the birth day of the woman who gave birth to our family.

Ninety years ago, my mother was born in Pondicherry, India. The third in what would become a family of ten children my mother is a peace-maker and a bridge builder. She was twenty-five when she left the land of her birth to travel far across the seas with my father whom she’d married during WW2. Eventually, husband and wife made their way to Canada where all four of her children were born. Back and forth across the Atlantic. Back and forth across this great country she followed my father several times, carrying with her all her hopes and dreams and fears and promises to love her family, to create a family circle that could not be broken.

Our family has grown smaller with the years. My father and brother and his wife have passed away. Many of my aunts and uncles are gone too. And while the losses have been hard on my mother, no matter how far she travelled, how many years separate her from that moment of her birth, she carries with her the exotic mystery of her homeland. She carries with her the kindness and gentleness of her spirit. She carries with her the Love of her family that has knit us together, no matter how far apart we have roamed.

We took my mother out for her birthday dinner last night and in the chaos of the restaurant, no matter how uncomfortable I felt, it didn’t really matter. Because, no matter where we are, there is one thing that is always present, always greater than the environment in which we sit or stand, walk or run. What is present is the thing that ties us all, heart to heart, even when there are those missing from the circle.

We took my mother out for her birthday last night and shared a meal full of LOVE.


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Living from our essential essence makes a difference

I love magical evenings and last nights gathering for The Essential Journey teachings by the magnificent Kerry Parsons was just that — a magical evening.

For several months I have worked with Kerry, Howard and Ian Munro on co-creating a generative alliance of new-thought leadership called, The Centre for Conscious Living. Last night, Kerry presented the foundational teachings of the alliance to a group of friends/supporters/interested on-lookers. Those who have been coached through Kerry’s gifts experience the Journey in action. For many in the room, however, this journey was new. A virginal landscape of new-thought leading to the limitless possibilities of living life from the core of our essential selves. That place where we are as we are born — magnificent, radiant, brilliant, divine…

When I became a mother there was one thing I knew for sure I wanted to instill in my daughters hearts and beings — that they are at their very core, ‘magnificent’. Their behaviour was not, is not, who they are. It is a reflection of where they are at, how they are interpreting the world, and where they are standing in that interpretation. You can change behaviour, you cannot change who you are at your core — because, no matter what they did or were doing, who they/we are was never diminished. Can never be changed.

We are magnificent.

It is a truth I can remember holding from a very young age. It didn’t matter what was happening around me. Through chaos, parental fights and sibling rivalries. I knew, deep, deep within me that we were all ‘good’. It was our behaviour that was sometimes optional.

Of course, as a child, I struggled to align the goodness I knew lived within me with the craziness of the world around me. And in my struggle to make sense of my world, to fit in, to be part of the community of my birth, I adapted. I re-wired my thinking to accommodate what was happening in my world so I wouldn’t feel so out of step with everyone around me. That re-wiring helped me survive because that’s what the adaptive journey is all about. Survival. It is a basic instinct. A core imperative of the life impulse.

Challenge is, in my adaptations, I began to behave in ways that pushed back my feelings of unease so that I wouldn’t have to constantly struggle against thoughts of “I am unworthy’, I am bad, I am not enough’ by proving, I am worthy. I am good. I am enough.

And then  I became a mother and I knew, I could not, would not allow my daughters to believe anything other than the truth — they are magnificent miracles of life.

And again I struggled. I am not that powerful that I can change the world I told myself as I fought to get the world around them to quit saying, “What a good girl,” if they did something ‘good’.  Please don’t make their behaviour about who they are, I asked. Again and again. 🙂  (old habits die hard) Who they are is separate and distinct from their behaviour I insisted. They are fundamentally ‘good’. I want to deal with behaviour. I never want to question their inherent ‘goodness’.

It was a tough road but I was determined to hold my course.

My daughters are young women now and they know, in their core, that they are magnificent. Sure, they still like to tease me about withdrawing them from a playschool because the teacher insisted on calling them, ‘good girls’, or bad girls depending upon the circumstances. And, they love to tell the story of my storming into a math teachers class to confront him on calling one of them out about a messed up math book. But in their hearts, they know the truth — they are magnificent.

In my mother’s heart I know it is the greatest gift I could have given them. To know they are beautiful, radiant, brilliant, magnificent. To know this world is all our world. It is not a world divided. It is one world and it is all our planet. By living our magnificence, we can create a world for all of us, this one humanity we share in, to live from the truth of our shared experience of our essential selves.

We are all magnificent.

From the place of knowing our magnificence, all things are possible. Operating from possibility, we make a difference that radiates out into the world in Love, Joy, Peace and Harmony.

Namaste.


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Making the world more beautiful makes a difference

I didn’t drive my car yesterday nor did I spend any money. It was a commitment I’d made when I started this blog in January — to spend one day a week where I helped the Universe by not contributing to green house gases, and by not spending money.

And then, I started working downtown four days a week and 3 day weekends became times to ‘get things done’ including completing work for other clients as well. In the throes of ‘busy’ I took my focus off my commitment to not contribute to pollution and focused instead on cramming what I could into my available time every week.

The world shifted. Moved on. Continued to pass. But I wasn’t fulfilling on a commitment I had made.

I did it yesterday. It wasn’t necessarily a conscious choice at the beginning of the day. But, an appointment I could walk to, a meeting cancelled and the decision to work at home so that I could complete edits on a report and I was able to realign the workings of my day to include not driving my car.

In Barbara Cooney’s classic childhood story (and one of my daughters’ favourites), “Miss Rumphius”, a young girl named Alice tells the story of her great-Aunt Alice who liked to help her grandfather paint the figureheads he created for ships being built at the docks just around the bay and other art he created. One day, after helping him ‘paint in the skies’ on a painting, Alice told her grandfather she wanted to do what he had done, “When I grow up,” she told him, “I too will go to faraway places, and when I grow old, I too will live beside the sea.”

“That is all very well, little Alice,” said her grandfather, “but there is a third thing you must do.”

And he told her that no matter what, she must do something to make the world more beautiful.

In the storybook, little Alice grew into big Alice, a librarian who travelled the world, visiting far away places until she has an accident and comes back to live by the sea to recuperate. Not yet having done anything to ‘make the world more beautiful’, she begins to sow Lupine seeds where ever she goes on the tiny island where she lives. And suddenly, the world becomes more beautiful for the blue and purple and rose-coloured flowers blossoming in roadside ditches and along country roads and around the church and school and city hall.

In recounting the story of her great-aunt, little Alice, the story-teller, commits to doing as her namesake did, travel and see the world and live by the sea, and make the world more beautiful.

Sometimes, it’s not what we do that creates beauty, but what we don’t do.

Yesterday, I didn’t drive my car.

And, while in the grand scheme of things one person not driving their car for a day may not seem like a big difference, imagine if we all decided to spend a day not burning fossil fuels. Imagine if we all chose to walk, ride a bike, or use transit instead of driving our cars? That could add up to a big difference.

I started out unconsciously making a difference by not driving my car yesterday. By the end of the day I had become conscious of the choices I was making and realigned my day to support my commitment to make the world more beautiful by not doing something I habitually do.

It wasn’t a ‘big difference’ in the world, but within me it reconnected me to the power of my every act to change my world.

In the not doing, I was reminded of the power of my choices to make a difference in the world, and, perhaps even more importantly, it reminded me that no matter what I do, I must always do something to make the world more beautiful.

****************************************************************************

and… if you have 12 minutes to savour a story of beauty, do watch and listen to the telling of Miss Rumphius below. You will be moved by beauty.


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We must do the best we can to make a difference

We must be the change

It is just one hummingbird. A tiny green creature of exquisite beauty whose wings vibrate at such speed it can hold its beak in the tip of a flower and sip the nectar in a few seconds.

I am sitting to the side, just three feet from the red flower that has attracted this tiny creature. I am sitting quietly in the garden, not reading, not doing, just being present to the world in that moment. And in that moment, this beautiful bird appears to tease my heart, to awaken my awe, to touch my spirit.

And I am reminded of Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Wangari Maathai’s who passed away last year at the age of 71 after a lifetime of creating change in the world, “I will be a hummingbird” story.

I must do the best I can, said the tiny hummingbird to the forest animals who stood helplessly watching a mighty fire consume their homes. They laughed and mocked the hummingbird as she flew back and forth from the stream, picking up what water she could in the tiny beak and then flying back to douse the fire with it. “You are too small to make a difference to that mighty fire,” they told her. And she kept flying. Back and forth. Back and forth. Picking up water. Dropping water. Doing the best she could do to make a difference.

Sitting on my deck, watching that tiny hummingbird, I am reminded of the need, no the necessity, to do what I can to make a difference in this world. My playing small does not serve the universe, nor does it serve my life. My playing small only keeps me mired in the ennui of not living my life 100% accountable for my experience; 100% in the game of living life in the rapture of now, living it up for all I’m worth.

It is a drive we all share. To experience lives of meaning, purpose, contribution.

To share our gifts so others will be inspired to share theirs.

To light up the world so others can find their way in the dark.

What gifts are you sharing? What light are you shining to illuminate the path for others to follow out of the dark?

Here’s a simple exercise to help you find your answers:

Ask yourself, “What do I not want to be known for when I die?”  Write down your thoughts.

Now, ask yourself, “What do I want to be known for while I am alive?”  Write down your thoughts.

Now, write down one thing you can do today to be known for that which you want to be remembered for. If it’s ‘kind’, write down one kind thing you can do for another today, and then do it.

If you want to be remembered as a writer — write something today and then…. share it. Send it along to others.

If you want to be remembered as a great gardener — go out into your garden, weed it, thin it out. In fact, share some plants from your garden. I recently had a woman share some lilies from her garden. I planted them last night and am in awe of the power of her gift to warm my heart, to connect us, and ultimately, to create more beauty in my garden — and hers.

We all have gifts to share. And I don’t mean the gifts we buy. I mean our internal gifts. Our words. Actions. Thoughts. Deeds. Simple acts of kindness. Gentle words of comfort.

And in those gifts, our difference radiates out into the world in never-ending ripples of peace, hope, love and joy.

Sharing our gifts we create a world of difference because — sometimes that is all we can do to put out the fires of discord. Sometimes, that is the best we can do to create harmony in a world of strife.

A tiny hummingbird visited my garden last night and I am reminded that no matter how big or small, I must do my best to create the change I want to see in the world. And I want to see, to experience, to know more peace, hope, love and joy in this world we share.

And to inspire you… here is a short video of The Hummingbird Story as told by Wangari Maathai.


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Music makes a difference

in the backyard before night fall

After picking my sister, Anne, up from the airport the other night we spent a delightful dinner with my youngest daughter at one of our favourite restaurants. Comfortably full from dinner, we dropped Liseanne off at her condo and returned home to sit in the backyard and enjoy the beautiful evening.

Dusk was settling into night. The stars were beginning to peek out from the velvety blanket above and the quiet hum of traffic was fading into the deepness of the night.

Wrapped in blankets, Anne and I chatted and sipped a glass of wine as we reminisced and laughed about our lives — especially those childhood moments the two of us shared. Being 2 and a half years apart, we were always up to something. As children, getting in trouble was our middle name and always, one would threaten to tattle-tale on the other and we would bribe the other to ‘not tell’. We had one doll that exchanged hands so many, many times neither of us can remember who the real owner was in the first place.

As ‘the youngest’ it was Anne’s and my job to do the dishes. Back then, we didn’t have a dishwasher so the only recourse was to wash them in a sink full of soapy water. I washed. She dried. Or, if we happened to be in the ‘don’t tell’ mode, we exchanged jobs or one would do both while the other looked on and supervised. Our kitchen had a door we could close so nobody was any wiser to which role we were playing. Washer. Dryer. Provocateur. Nobody dared come in any way because washing dishes was our best excuse to do what we loved best. Sing to our hearts’ content. And mostly, the rest of the house avoided hearing us.

Deep in the night

Sitting on the deck with my sister, walking down memory lane, telling tales on each other, I was reminded of those childhood moments where it was just the two of us, a sink full of soapsuds, a stack of dirty dishes, a drying towel and cupboards to fill. It was never a straight line between drying rack and cupboard. There was always room for a few pirouettes, a few notes of “Alberta Bound” or “Scarborough Fair” or any of the many songs we knew, and loved to sing together, as we washed and dried and spun about and lifted glasses high and dipped down low, our voices following our body movements, up and down the scales, in and out of harmonies.

We were awesome we believed. And nobody could tell us any different.

The other night, my sister and I sang together in a different way. But sing together we did. My iPad primed to play my favourite tunes, Anne asked, have you heard… and she named a musician I’d never heard. Thank you, YouTube! There they were. We listened for a bit to a tune, and then moved onto the next. We sang along with the music. We sang without the music. Quietly, I might add. We do have neighbours.

And it didn’t matter. We laughed softly in the night, our voices humming and singing. It didn’t matter the years since those childhood days in the kitchen. There we were again, two conspirators singing our hearts out.

And we were awesome! Nobody can tell us any different!

Music has always made a difference in my life. It is the thread that ties me to my family, to my past, to shared experiences of being just the two of us against the world, to memories of tight spots that a song, a note has lifted me out of, or pulled me away from. Music binds us fast. To the past. To our hearts. To who we are inside. Wild and passionate notes of life springing up to be sung, to be heard, to be shared.

I sat on the deck with my sister and sang in the night and the stars shone more brightly and the world spun more comfortably on its axis. All was in tune. All was as it should be and always is when we share the music of our hearts.

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And here to take you down memory lane, or to create a memory for you, whichever the case may be, is one of our favourites… Simon and Garfunkel’s “Scarborough Fair” set to another classic, The Graduate.


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Guest Blogs make a difference. You can too!

I am shaking things up today — you know, a change is a good as a rest and all that.

Plus, I hadn’t organized a Guest blog for today :)!  Which brings me back to the question — if you are interested in being a guest blogger, the guidelines are really simple and easy. Fame. Fortune. Fans. and all that stuff await you.

Okay. Maybe not fame and fortune, but you’ll find fans and definitely GRATITUDE and a sense of the wonder at the joy of making a difference in another’s life with your words and thoughts on what it means for you, ‘to make a difference’.

Seriously, I’d love to have your submission. It only needs to be 300 to 700 words. Any angle on making a difference that you choose. Whether it’s something you’ve done or experienced. Something you feel or think about making a difference, or a difference you’d like to see in the world. The slate is open, and so is the Sunday Guest Blog — open to your submission.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share a powerful quote from Leonardo da Vinci who said, sometime in his life between 1452-1519 —

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough, we must do.”

To be the difference we want to see in the world, we must do that which we want to see.

To make a difference, we must do.

The desire to make a difference in the world is inherent in all of us. We are born to make a difference. Our very presence makes a difference because in our being present in the world, we change the flow of life around us — in our families, our communities, our schools… everywhere we go, we bring our energy, our knowing, our thoughts, our actions — make them count.

And the Sunday BLog is one easy way to make a difference!

Go ahead. Try it.

Just post me a comment and I’ll email you back.  Or simply email me your desire/post — and I’ll put it up.

Thanks!

Have a beautiful and blessed Sunday.


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An unlikely hero

This is a bit of a different Heroes in our Midst today.

There was a hero. A man whose feats were so unbelievable, he inspired millions of others to get up and ‘do’. To take the challenge. To fight on. To never give up.

He received many awards and rewards for his perseverance, his stamina, his choice to not quit but to forge on, in spite of  the steepness of the road, the darkness of the weather and times. In spite of all that life threw at him, he kept fighting and climbed the highest pinnacle of success he could achieve.

And in the process, millions of others chose to not give in, or give up. Millions of others chose to pick up the gauntlet of making a difference, of being the difference they want to see in the world.

Lance Armstrong was stripped of his medals yesterday. And while it has not been proven in a court of law that he doped to achieve his best, in the court of our shared human condition, it would appear he did.

I don’t know that I wouldn’t have done the same in his position. I don’t know that I wouldn’t have given in to the lure of the drugs that could give me the edge to beat out my opponents, especially knowing my opponents were using and doing the same.

I don’t know.

I do know, what he accomplished through and after his battle with cancer is still remarkable. Inspiring. Exhilarating.

I do know that in his quest to not give into the disease, he inspired millions of others to do the same. And in his drive to use his fame to raise awareness and funds to fight the disease, he achieved huge success. I know people who have taken the Ride to Conquer Cancer because of Lance Armstrong’s inspiration. And I know how powerful that ride was in helping them to fight the disease that was eating away at their life or the life of someone they loved. Whether they lived to tell the tale of beating their disease, or not, their fight was inspired by this man’s drive to not let the disease get him. And in that act, he gave them hope, a sense of purpose, a belief in what they could achieve as long as they didn’t give up.

In the end, it is drugs that helped all of them beat cancer. And I know there’s nothing wrong with that.

For years I saw Lance Armstrong as a super-hero. A larger than life persona who even through his trademark arrogance, accomplished what no other man had ever achieved.

He may not be ‘super’ today, but he is still a hero. Because for me, Lance Armstrong fought a disease and won and he helped millions of others do the same.

Anyone can ride a bike. Not everyone beats cancer. And in life, beating cancer is the greater win.