Has anyone ever had this happen?

Something very odd happened yesterday. I wrote a blog. Posted it. Had a couple of comments on it — and now it has completely disappeared. Vanished. Gone.

I can even see what the issue is — the date is gone from the page. I’ve tried to fix it. Gone in and inserted the date into the permalink — but to no avail. It doesn’t like the date.

What’s even funnier is… it’s not the blog I wanted to write originally. I wanted to write a blog about my youngest daughter whose birthday was yesterday.  But, I am under strict orders not to write about her on my blog (unless I ask her first). So, I didn’t.

But her sister did.

And in her blog Alexis mentions the arrival of aliens 25 years ago and their plot to gain intelligence about life on earth by leaving behind this being called, A Sister, when she the eldest and proud holder of the status ‘only child’ was a mere 18 months old.

I remember the day well. It was cold. Really, really cold and there was a nurse’s strike going on. Sometime during the morning of the 30th, while putting the final touches on the sponge-painting I was doing of what would become Alexis’ bedroom until L (the code name for the not to be written about younger sister) was old enough to share it, I felt a gush of water escape my body. I didn’t mention it to my then husband. I wanted to get the painting done, and I didn’t really want to deliver a baby during the nurse’s strike. Being 8 and a half months into my second pregnancy I thought maybe my bladder had just loosened up a bit…

A few hours after said water incident, I thought I’d best mention it and Grant, my then husband, suggested I phone my doctor. Now, I should explain, I had no idea what ‘labour’ felt like. Having somewhere in the mix been given a diagnosis of ‘an incompetent cervix’, (seriously, that’s what my doctor called it) I never went into labour with Alexis, and wasn’t feeling any pangs of her sister wanting to push her way into the world. So, I can be excused for not really thinking this might be ‘the big event’.

My doctor however, had no such qualms.

“I’ll let the hospital know you’re on your way,” he said.

“Um. Well… Can’t I wait until after the nurse’s strike,” I asked hopefully. I mean, my first daughter was 19 days late. He’d booked a C-section for me after nothing, and I mean nothing, could make labour begin. I was two weeks before my due date. Maybe it really was just my bladder leaking…

His response was immediate and rather curt I thought. “No.” and he hung up.

Which is why, a mere three hours later, I awoke from anesthetic and groggily reached out to hold the infant Grant extended to me. She was tiny and perfect. An exact replica of a human baby.

But, according to her sister, I was duped. She’s actually an alien.

Go figure. Nobody told me.

All these 25 years I’ve thought this amazing, incredible, gifted young woman was a natural born human.

Just goes to prove the power of a mother’s love. Doesn’t matter where the child heralded from, a mother loves it anyway. Truly. Madly. Deeply.

And so it is.

Now, as to the missing blog. I think I’m going to fool the aliens who stole it and repost it as a brand new blog — and I’ll just change the date in the permalink to yesterday. Ha! Take that you extraterrestials you. Thought you could trick me did ya! Ha!

But… just in case — has that ever happened to anyone else? Posted a blog and it appeared only to disappear later on? It’s not in my list of posts. It’s not at the top of my page when I load in my blog. It’s not anywhere… except it is — because I can access it through the link on my FB page.

Very curious. Very other-worldly eerie.

But then, it was a curious day yesterday. The celebration of the birth 25 years ago of an alien form who has transformed my thinking around love and compassion and being real in this world. The celebration of the coming into this world of my out of this world delightfully amazing youngest daughter.

 

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And today’s Every Day A Poem is posted:  Waiting for the Light

A Thousand Years of Waiting for the Universe to Turn Up.

Yesterday, while visiting over at my friend Fi’s place, Inspiration to Dream, I discovered a site I’d never heard of before. Notes from the Universe. I clicked. Was intrigued. signed up and this morning got my first message. I Love It!

Now, you might wonder why I’d never heard of Notes or its founder Mike Dooley. I mean, seriously. Have I been hiding under a turnip leaf? Mike Dooley is featured in The Secret. He’s spoken on every continent except Antarctica. He’s written gazillion books (okay maybe not that many) but he’s sure written a lot. And, he’s an accountant!  I mean, I’m a card carrying member of the Writer’s Guild and he’s an accountant and he’s living my dream. What’s with that?

Oh right. He trusts in the Universe. He keeps doing his ‘what’ and trusts the Universe to take care of the how.

In fact, that’s how his Notes from the Universe and all the rest of his work was created. He kept doing ‘the what’ and trusted ‘the how’ to appear in the Universe’s time. And it did.

I discovered this gap in my trust last year when I took a 40 day online retreat with Abbey of the Arts. Every day of the retreat, I meditated on the proscribed text, created a mandala, shared my observations and in the process, wrote the entire 21 day course material for Right Your Heart Out, wrote a poem a day for my beloved, wrote an annual report for a client and the list goes on. I kept doing my what and the universe kept appearing — I don’t know how.

And through it all I discovered — I don’t trust the Universe.

I mean, I get that it’s big and it’s got my back — but do I? Do I really trust it is for me, with me, that it is in the best interests of the Universe that I succeed, that I shine my light as bright as my light can be? That each of us shine brilliantly so that the path out of the darkness can be illuminated in the light of our hearts beating in time to the abundant awesomeness that is life on planet earth. Do I get the Universe is me, and you and that we are each responsible for our journey into and through the light?

Last night on my call-in for the Living An Enlightened Life course I’m taking, one of the participants said, “Tomorrow is a thousand years away and yesterday is a thousand years ago.”

Now is all I have.

Right now is all there is for me to turn up, pay attention, speak my truth and stay unattached to the outcome.

Right now is all  have to live with integrity, be responsible, do my duty for the unfolding of the evolutionary impulse within me driving me to create more of what works in my life so that I can and do shine.

Right now is all there is. I’ve got all the time in the world for right now to unfold. And when I don’t trust the Universe to be present, I am only living one part of my right now. In my distrust I am withholding the best parts of me from the Universe because… I fear… what might happen, or not, if I truly let it rip and live my dreams. I worry… the Universe might not turn up — at least not for me.  Excuse me? I’m that important it will single me out for special treatment!  🙂

I dream of writing full time. I dream of speaking about life and living and shining bright and inspiring others to shine.

Dreaming doesn’t make my dreams come true. Action does. Speaking up does. Doing my what does.

I don’t know how the Universe works. I do know how I work. I do know the work I need to do to make it possible for the how to appear in this world of wonder, this world of infinity possibility.

So thank you Universe. I got your message. I’m listening and breathing into this moment right now — and along the way I’m laughing out loud at how stuck I can get in believing it’s all up to me! Aren’t I the funny one! :)

My Note from the Universe today.

Do you know the main difference, Louise, between messing with the cursed hows and turning them over to me? 

Besides smoother, more radiant skin. 

No, besides more free time. 

No, besides more interest income. 

Right! More laughter! 

Tallyho,
    The Universe

Love is the Way

There was a time when I believed if I just knew more about ‘why’ I was the way I was, I would be happier with who I am. To be happier, I thought I had to be different. I thought I had to be who others thought I should be to fit in.

There was a time when I struggled to understand how I fit into the world.

And then I discovered, the why of who I am or how I fit into the world is not important. Knowing I fit exactly the way I am is what makes my life full and meaningful and exciting today.

I don’t have to be taller, thinner, fatter, shorter. I don’t have to dye my hair, pluck my eyebrows, or even worry about where I wear my heart. To be happy, content, accepting of where I am in my life today, all I have to do is breathe and be willing to be open and…. vulnerable.

Vulnerable.

A word I struggle with. A word that challenges my ability to be intimate in all my important relations.

Brene Brown, in  Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, writes:

“What we know, matters. But who we are matters more. Being rather than knowing requires showing up and letting ourselves be seen. It requires us to dare greatly, to be vulnerable.”

Being vulnerable frightens me. What if…. I get hurt. What if… they take away my dignity. My pride. My passion. My… What if…. they don’t like me?

And there’s the contradiction.

I can’t be  vulnerable when I’m holding onto worrying about what others think of me. When I worry about what they can take away. And I can’t be vulnerable when what I’m holding onto are all the words I  use to define me.

To be vulnerable means to hold onto nothing. Holding onto nothing, no one can take anything from me because in holding onto nothing, I am have everything I want to be me.

And I can only be me when I allow myself to be seen, when I show up and be real.

It is in being vulnerable that I am free.

It is in being vulnerable that true intimacy arises, deepens into the core of my being and settles in as my worth.

I am a vulnerable woman.

I am vulnerable.

I am.

Arms wide, embracing the world, heart broken open in song, I dance in the light of being my most amazing self and invite you to dance. With me. Alone. Together. Apart. We dance and create a wondrous rhythm of feet pounding a beat of freedom.

The freedom to Be.

Who we are. How we are. What we are when we claim our right to live this one wild and passionate life free of fear that someone else can take away who we are.

No one can take who I am away from me.

Who I am is all I am when I hold onto nothing but who I am holding onto nothing.

Who I am is nothing compared to my being all I’m meant to be when I am everything I am and nothing else.

Let me begin my day with a prayer of gratitude. For today, let me choose to be vulnerable to this moment where I release myself to the waters of life, supported by all that I am when I let go of everything in the presence of all that there is to hold onto, Love.

Namaste.

The limitless lure of time and energy

Alexis and I are sitting over a late lunch, sharing a spinach and feta crepe. We’ve just sent the better part of three hours wandering through the Vancouver Art Gallery, one of our favourite things to do.

“I don’t get how you always find time to do everything,” she says to me. “Finding time to do the things I want is the hardest thing for me.”

I think about her comment for a moment and reply. “I think it’s because I don’t question whether or not I have the time, or the energy, to do it. I just assume I do and go from there.”

Having time and energy are not my issues.

I have other issues, but not enough time or energy are not a question for me.

I’ve always been like that. As far back as I can remember, I’ve always had more than enough energy and an unflagging belief in the infinite expansion of time.

Now, most times, that works to my benefit. I get lots done.

But sometimes, that belief works against me. I think I can get it all done, that my energy is limitless, that I don’t have to recharge. Sometimes, I risk burning myself out.

It’s been a hard lesson to learn. To listen to my body, not my head, tell me it’s time to step back, to step down, to let go of doing it all so that I can be all I am in the moment, without telling myself — I can do it all.

Taking care of me is not my strong suit. In fact, taking care of me has historically come last on my list of things I must do.

Something I learned through Choices (the personal development program I coach in) is that while time and energy may be limitless, my time and energy are not.  Like the airline’s precaution to first put the oxygen mask over your face before assisting someone else, I must give myself medicine first if I am to be of service to others.

I am learning to take care of me. To allow myself ample alone time to simply be present in the moment, without thinking about the 101 things I want to get done before x time appears on the horizon. To not over fill my plate with 101 tasks to complete just because someone’s asked me to do it.

I’ve learned to say No.

I was afraid of saying no. For a long time, I thought saying No would result in someone disliking me or being angry with me. So, rather than risk their displeasure, I’d say yes, even when I didn’t want to. In my desire to please, I ended up creating more problems than if I’d just been honest in the first place. Because, in my ‘yes’, I would inevitably leave myself open to resentment building up and regrets piling on — why did I say I’d finish that report by tomorrow when I know I’ve got three other projects to get it done first? Why did I say I’d go to the event when I have another engagement that evening already?

I’d scurry around trying to fit in three events in an evening, while juggling deadlines and household chores and meetings. Or, even worse, I’d cancel out at the last minute or simply not turn up and then make apologies after the fact.

I was crazy!

And then I learned the power of “No Thank You,” and everything changed.

In my “No” I learned to stand up for me. To let my first priority be to ask myself the question, “What do I want in this situation?”

I’d never really done that in the past — ask myself ‘What do I want?” versus my automatic response of, “Oh, they want me. How wonderful. I’ll do it.”

What I wanted was secondary in my thinking. What other people wanted was what drove me — and sometimes, it drove me into all the wrong places and spaces!

Which is why I am grateful for my growing awareness of what it means to understand, to know — what I want matters. To me. For me.

What you want matters to you.

And sometimes, the two don’t meet and that’s okay, because when your wants and my wants differ, it’s not because yours are wrong, mine are right. Or, yours are right, mine are wrong. It simply means — our wants are different.

My responsibility is to ensure I am 100% accountable for my experience.

Yours is to ensure you are 100% accountable for yours.

I trust me to be responsible for my happiness — and I trust you to be responsible for yours.

I spent the afternoon wandering the halls of one of my favourite places and then sharing a meal with one of my favourite people in the world — one of my daughters.

I did everything I wanted to do and in the process, discovered, in doing it, I had all the time I needed to enjoy the one I was with. How perfect is that!

 

 

The Swamp and The River

The river is alive and moving because of its banks vs the swamp which we think of as dead, which isn’t entirely true. Do our boundaries be it moral or social, help constrain us and therefore to some degree free us?”

A friend had sent my blog, Freedom Isn’t Free, to someone he knows who had written back to ask the above question.

Their question brought to mind images of swamps and rivers, of muddy waters and smooth, clear sailing. Of flowing effortlessly or slugging it out in the tangled debris rotting away beneath the waters.

What is real? What is assumed? What is movable? What is stagnant?

In my thinking it is all there, all apparent, all present. All times.

It’s where I put my focus that makes the difference.

If the past is the swamp how do I clear it? Or, do I need to be afraid of it in the first place — isn’t the desire to ‘clear it’ part of my fear? What if… like a swamp that plays an evolutionary role in the cycle of life, what is present in the swamp is necessary to be alive in the waters of life flowing today?

When a thought or belief or feeling or memory that no longer serves me falls into the swamp, is its role to become a part of the evolutionary process. Part of the cycle of life that feeds the millions of microbes and microcosms alive beneath the waters. The swamp, like the river, are both necessary for life on earth. Are they both necessary and essential in me?

Perhaps these questions are too deep to ponder this cloudy Vancouver morning as I sit alone in the coffee shop down the street from my daughter’s apartment, the coffee shop I’ve come to each of the past three mornings to write and read and at times just to sit and watch the people and the world around me.

Or, perhaps I tell myself they’re too deep because I don’t really have an answer and I don’t like not having an answer so my habitual response is a la Scarlett O’Hara, I’ll think about that tomorrow.

I don’t like looking stupid. I don’t like not having the answers when asked a question — which, when you think about it, doesn’t make sense. How can I have the answer to every question. HOw do I learn new things if I don’t explore the answer to things I don’t know?

See, that’s the murky waters of the swamp. The past habitual patterns that once upon a time I devised to keep me safe while navigating the river and its many tributaries of my life.

And perhaps, that is the answer.

The river is always flowing. In the river are the morals and values I live by. The social constructs designed to ‘keep me safe’, yet, when left unexamined, fall into decay, become the swamp that would keep me stuck in the murky depths of living on automatic, living from fear, being afraid of looking beneath the surface. Afraid of beauty and the beast.

It isn’t the banks of the river that keep me safe, or free. It is that as I learn to swim in its life-giving waters, I become one with the course of time digging out the edges, widening the banks, carving new pathways, new eddies and backwaters, always swimming towards the call of the invitation of the wide open sea. And always challenging what I know to be true. Or not.

When we live from a place where the river = love and hold the consciousness of the evolutionary impulse to always create better as our contribution to this human journey we share, then we are always flowing in Love — and the swamp too is Love, it just represents the parts we no longer need to carry along with us if we are to be free to enjoy the waters of life in which we flow without fearing what lies in the swamp, what swim beneath the surface, what lies beyond the banks.

So, at this moment in time, my answer to the question is — Yes. No. Maybe. Sometimes. Always. We are the river and the swamp. We are free to be and become all that is life on earth. All is necessary. All is essential. How we do one thing is how we do all things. Everything is connected. We are all connected. And in our connections, we are part of the evolutionary journey of life — a journey best taken in Love.

And, PS — I’m free to change my mind tomorrow if my thinking deepens, or if I don’t like my answer! 🙂

Heroes in our midst

I had planned on writing about heroes I’ve met or heard about or seen this week. Because today is Saturday and Saturday is my day to celebrate heroes in our midst.

And there are lots. Like the father who stopped to let his little girl watch a worm crawl across the sidewalk in the rain, or the young man who gave a woman his seat on the train in from the airport, and the cashier who threw in the final 33 cents for a coffee for the man who was short of change.

And there was the police man giving directions to a couple whose English was as scant as his of theirs (something Slavic I think but I didn’t know what). He patiently traced their route on a google map on their phone as I stood beside them waiting for a light to change. They smiled and nodded their heads and he smiled and nodded his and spoke in a loud voice, slowly articulating each syllable of the words he spoke that they could not understand. Didn’t matter. They were all happy to be connected.

There was also the young girl who stopped to help a man with a walker navigate a sidewalk after she’d helped him pick up some oranges that had fallen out of his basket. And a balcony festooned with balloons and banners wishing someone a Happy Birthday. I laughed when I saw all the balloons blowing above and hoped they were the biodegradable kind — but then, this is Vancouver where environmental awareness is second place only to how their beloved Canucks are doing in the shortened hockey season. (Last I heard there was a lot of noise about bad plays and worse goal-keeping — but that’s the lot of hockey fanatics. Their team is only as good as their last win.)

But I’m not going to write of those everyday heroes — they are all around you though so don’t forget to watch for them, to see them and to celebrate their brilliance. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to celebrate the hero in you! Because, no matter how you look at it, the hero in you is dancing around, opening doors for strangers, wiping up spilt milk and taking out the garbage.

The heroes I want to write about this morning though are my daughters. Two incredible young women who have never ceased to amaze me and awe me with their hearts and beautiful spirits shining.

Once upon a time I promised to love my daughters with all my heart, and then I fell. My heart broke and I lay shattered upon the ground. It was my daughters’ love that brought me back to life. My daughters’ forgiveness that lead me back into the light.

I am blessed. So incredibly blessed. And grateful. And humbled.

By love’s majesty. By love’s capacity to heal in the broken places and lead us back to the hearts and hearths where we belong.

Once upon a time, I disappeared without a word from my daughters’ lives. It was a man. Albeit a ‘bad man’, but I disappeared none-the-less, without a word, a note, a sign that I’d be back.

Four months later, I was given the miracle of my life when he was arrested and I was set free.

Almost ten years later, I continue to live and cherish the miracle of my life today. The love and joy, the gratitude and abundance for all that I have, I am and know in this world today.

I am celebrating my daughters today. No, it’s not “Happy Daughters Day” or even their birthday, (though the youngest turns 25 in less than 2 weeks). Nope. I’m celebrating my daughters today because…. I can. I am here. Alive and loving. Alive and feeling. Alive and knowing, I am so blessed.

And because…. I read my daughter, Alexis’ blog todayAlexi’s blog today, and my heart broke open again. Just as it breaks open every day immersed in the love that we share.

I am celebrating my daughters today.

Why not celebrate the one’s you love today, just because you can. Just because you’re here and living and they are the gift that expands in love everyday.

With All My Heart

There is a civility to life here on the west coast. A politeness that superimposes itself on everyday living, infusing each breath with ease.

Unless you’re a driver, or pedestrian or anywhere near a thoroughfare — but that’s a whole other story.

Heck, even the buses are polite in Vancouver. When out of service their electronic banner doesn’t just read “Out of Service”. The story of their status begins with “Sorry”

See what I mean. Polite.

And see, there it is again. Story.

Story is everywhere. I’m writing a story right here, right now. Sharing with you the story of my life, of where I’m at in this moment, how my story is unfolding for me right now.

Perhaps you can see the chips in the wood of the round table I’m sitting at in the coffee shop down the street from my daughter’s apartment. Can you hear the music? A blend of Indie and folk? Pleasant. A slice of thought-provoking lyrics, just not too harsh for awakening minds to hear on this cloudy west coast morning. Can you see the two men chatting at the table by the window. Grey-haired salt and pepper man standing beside bald man in black. I wonder if salt and pepper regrets his decision to step over and say hello. He keeps trying to interject some positivity into the story of woe the man in black is telling him about how ‘bad it can be’. I hear them both. I know there are multiple sides to every story. Many dimensions to the same situation. And in the end, they are just stories we tell ourselves and each other.

Story.

Those two men are wrapped up in theirs. Each with a different perspective. Each with their own POV of how life is meant to be, really is and can be, or can’t possibly become depending upon the ground on which they stand.

Yesterday, as I walked back from the SeaWall a man approached me. Toothless grin. Orange hair rising in messy spikes from above a furrowed brow. He was dressed in a long down coat, clean, no tears. It was the shoes that gave him away. Tattered runners, the logo long since worn away. The laces long since disappeared.

“Oh thank you for stopping,” he said as he stood in front of me.

I hadn’t really had a choice. He had planted himself directly in my path on a narrow part of the pathway.

And he went on to tell me his story of arriving in from Australia in the early hours of the morning. Of sleeping in the lobby of a posh hotel as they searched for his luggage, his lost passport, missing wallet.

He showed me the tattoo on his arm. A kangaroo with the words, “Down Under Is Tops”, printed in black.

He told me how I reminded him of his mom. Kind eyes with a koala bear in their light. That one confused me but I wasn’t about to ask for clarification. He shook and jittered as he talked. His hands flying around his head as if shooing away pesky Australian flies.

I don’t shake because I’m a junkie, he said. I’ve got MS. And he told me how he needed to get out of town. How he couldn’t take it anymore. Tears welled up in his eyes. Rolled down his cheeks.

Please help me, he pleaded.

I offered to take him somewhere he could get help. (a shelter, a drop in centre where he could get help. Maybe even a place to clean up and… change his story.)

He shook his head vehemently.

No. No. No.

I need $48.00 to get out of town.

I sighed and gave him a gentle smile and shook my head. I can’t do that. Give you money.

There’s a bank machine downstairs in the building, over there. And he pointed to the left of where we stood.

I’m not prepared to do that.

And his shoulders slumped as he realized I wasn’t buying his story.

Story. It is everywhere.

A man at the Art Gallery tells me how he doesn’t take phone calls anymore. Text me. Email me. But please don’t phone me. I wonder what’s his story.

I walk past the Coal Harbour Community Centre and watch a group of mostly women bend and stretch and lean into downward dogs and stand up to welcome in the sun (it didn’t work — it rained most of the day) and I pass people walking dogs and riding bicycles and hear the flap flap flap of joggers shoes running past me on the wet pavement. Carrying their stories with them. Bending them. Shifting them. MOving them along.

I sit and sip a Chai Latte in a coffee shop overlooking the harbour and hear the metal on metal chatter of boats bobbing, a float plane’s engine revving up in the distance. I walk past a public garden space and hear the sound of a shovel as a man tenderly prepares the earth for spring flowers. I walk along and overhear a woman on her cell phone laughing as she tells her listener, “He wants a divorce he can have one. But if he’s driving away in a Porsche so am I.”

I listen to my daughter share her story of dreaming and waking up and seeing life in a whole new perspective as I sit over lunch with her sharing a glass of wine and an assortment of Greek dips. Later, we sit in an oyster bar and laugh and chat and share another glass of wine (Prosecco this time) and chat with our waiter who is from Saskatoon. He’s an actor here, but somewhere within him that prairie boy still yearns for the wide open spaces and clear blue skies of his home, that place where his mom and dad still live. And as we leave, we fall into the lyrical notes of the voice of the man giving us directions and sigh deeply into the sensual textures of his words. His Irish accent lures me into remembering the stories of a distant green island where my roots run deep into the earth of my father’s Irish ancestors.

An then, we join 30,000 people, mostly women, to hear a woman share the stories of her journey out of the poverty of rural Mississippi onto a global stage where her story of the redemptive power of forgiveness and gratitude reigns supreme.

Oprah rocked the house last night. She moved about the stage, sharing stories, sharing laughs, connecting. The dots and so much more. Connecting hearts and igniting minds to the majesty, the wonder, the amazing grace of being alive.

Who are you? she asked and my answer was right there. I’ve known it for some time now. I’ve felt its call rising within me, stirring me up, igniting my passion to be present, alive and inspired in this moment right now.

I am the divine expression of God’s amazing grace.

And in that answer I will do as Oprah suggests. I will live my truth with every breath, with every act, word, thought. I will be who I am with all my heart.

Namaste

Notes to my self

I am sitting in the airport waiting for my flight to be called. It is early. 6am kind of early and I am on my first latte of the day. I think of how I’ll treat myself to a second when I arrive at my destination. How I’ll walk along the sea wall, soaking in the moist ocean air, smelling the foliage, hearing the sounds.

I’ll walk and then stop at that cute little caffe in English Bay, the one where that man kept staring at me one day only to inform me, “You remind me of Madeline Albright”

Excuse me? Madeline Albright? Ummm. She’s …. How do I say this? Old? Matronly? Brilliant! Yes. That’s it. Brilliant.

It was a first. I’ve been told I look like Lisa Minnelli. Bonnie Bedalia. Catherine McKeen. (the wife of a former Canadian prime minister). But never Madeline Albright.

I wondered if it was a new kind of pick up line for the over 50 set. Didn’t matter whose name you used. It started a conversation, and wasn’t that the point of trying to pick someone up?

That day I smiled and grabbed my latte and C.Cs Americano, thanked my unknown ‘admirer’ and joined my beloved.

Today, I’m looking forward to time alone. Time to people watch. Cloud gaze. Breathe into this space of where I am.

It’s not my way. To drink more than one latte a day and usually it is consumed in the warmth and familiarity of my home. But today is special. Today, I am off to Vancouver to spend some time with my eldest daughter and have the luxury of unscheduled time until I meet up with her later in the afternoon.

I’m excited.

C.C, my beloved, gave me this gift for Christmas. A trip to Vancouver and tickets to see Oprah!

Alexis is over the moon. Not only is she going to Oprah, we’re going together.

The airport is busy already. The waiting area for Gate 42 filling up with travelers eager to be on their way, going home, going places, going away. No matter the direction, I am surrounded by people going places this morning.

And I wonder, where am I going? Not the ‘this is my destination I’ll know when I get there’ kind of going. No, this is more the ‘where is my spirit calling me and am I listening’ kind of going.

This place I’m headed isn’t so much ‘out there’. It’s not a physical place that once arrived at will entrance me with its sights and sounds and new people to meet and new things to do.

This place I’m going is less physical, more ethereal. It’s that place within me that says, “Yes! I’m here and there’s no where else I’d rather be, no one else I’d rather know than me. I’m okay, just the way I am. In fact, I’m beyond ok. I’m magnificent and in my magnificence I see and experience your magnificence and together we create a world of wonder all around.”

Yeah. That’s where I’m going and some days, I know I’m in that zone. I can feel it, breathe it, live it and feel completely, absolutely at ease.

And then, there are those other days. Those moments, those broad sweeps of time when I’m not really feeling it, not really living from deep within my essential self or even that I’m out of the zone. It’s on those days I need to stop, take a breath and feel my way back into being present, aware and alive. Fully conscious of the air against my skin, the light shining all around.

It’s on those days I need to examine my story and ask, “whose story am I living now?”

In his book The Power of Story, Jim Loehr writes, “Our destinies follow our stories. It’s imperative we do everything in our power to get our stories right. For most of us, that means some serious editing.”

I’ve yet to write an article, report, blog, story, poem, anything that doesn’t require editing, that doesn’t deserve or need a second read.

I’ve yet to live a day that doesn’t deserve a shift in direction, a change of perspective, a second glance, another look, a different take on how I’m doing, being, loving life.

And while I’m not about to edit my life to look like Madeline Albright’s, I can take a page from her book and use it to inspire mine. She’s a feisty woman, self confident and self-expressed. She had a clear vision of what she was doing to change the world and she lived it to her best ability.

I could learn a lot from Ms Albright’s story. And on those days when I’m not feelin’ it, I can choose to change my state. I can kick up my heels and jazz it up a la Liza!

And maybe, I could even find a stranger to pick me up and swirl me around and make me laugh at the sheer outlandishness of the notion I could be anyone else than me!

And a quick update. I’m on my second latte, sitting in a cafe overlooking the Harbour. Life is so sweet!

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The everyday poem is posted on A Poetry Affair

Freedom isn’t free..

"When you strip away everything else – love remains." ~  Diana Schwenk ~
“When you strip away everything else – love remains.” ~ Diana Schwenk ~

And the completion of Freedom Isn’t Free (a line from a song the Up With People troupe I sang with in my teens) is…

“You gotta pay a price / you gotta sacrifice / for your liberty.”

Freedom rose into my awareness this morning while visiting over at Liz’s place — Just be. Love All. Live Life. — where she’s celebrating One Word Wednesday with the word FREEDOM.

In my teens, I thought freedom meant singing songs with an American singing troupe while living in Germany (that particular one celebrated the American Revolution and the invasion of what was to become  Canada, the land of  my birth — go figure) and talking it up amongst my peers about ‘what I’m gonna be when I grow up’.

And then, the grown up years were upon me and I had no clue about what I was going to do let alone be because I was too busy figuring out who I was.

Google dictionary defines freedom as:

free·dom

/ˈfrēdəm/

Noun
  1. The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.
  2. Absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government.
Synonyms
liberty – independence – license – licence

So, here’s the challenge, when haunted by the past, when held in the grips of adaptive thinking predicated upon the lessons learned about how to be in the world at a time when how to be was all about fitting in and surviving childhood through adolescence, acting, speaking and thinking without hindrance or restraint is impossible.

We gotta’ let go of the past to be free in the present.

But, when we don’t see the connections, when we are unaware of the link between our limited thinking blocking our view of what is possible like a line of trees blocking the not so distant horizon, how do we let go of something we don’t recognize as holding us back?

This has been my life journey. To let go of looking back to free myself to see the limitless possibilities leading out to a far and distant horizon of infinite wonder.

On her post today, Liz shares a Jim Morrison quote I love — “The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.”

Inside me a revolution has been waging. Inside me the masks have been falling. Inside me I’ve been committing  acts of treason against my adaptive self that would hold me down to keep me from rising up and being free.

It is no longer good enough for me to just do.

The world needs my best. It needs me to be acting out from my higher self, not my lesser beliefs in the limitations of my possibilities.

My higher good is to be my all. To live my most. To love my best.

Freedom isn’t free. It’s true. And neither is the past. It comes burdened with all kinds of adaptations that once upon a time protected me from, or helped me make sense of, a world that was too big, too scary, too much of everything scary my child’s mind couldn’t grasp it all. I had to adapt to understand the world around me.

Free today to see myself in the light of this moment, I have a choice.

To let the past control how I am in the world today, or, to be myself as I am without the past controlling me today.

I choose to be myself.

I choose to step fearlessly into the freedom of jettisoning adaptive behaviours that don’t serve me well. Behaviours that would have me hold a mask in front to protect me from unseen ghosts and boogie men (and women) who once upon a time taught me to believe that hiding out was safer than being seen, that fear was greater than love.

It just ain’t so.

The courage to be seen trumps hiding out, every day. Love is greater than fear, always.

Once upon a time, I  trapped my spirit in a glass jar believing it would keep me safe from all the pain in the world.

Today, the glass is broken.

There is no pain in the world greater than living trapped within fear of the past.

There is no joy greater than being myself when I drop the masks and let go of fearing all that I am in freedom.

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I’m using an image a day (mostly taken from my iPhone) to create my Everyday Poems over at A Poetry Affair. The photo today is the genesis of today’s poem, Into the Distance.

 

What’s It Gonna’ Take?

I got inspired yesterday. Really inspired.

I went with a couple of friends to  Onalea Gilbertson’s one woman play, Blanche: The bittersweet life of a wild prairie dame. Blanche is a one hour play Onalea wrote and produced as a tribute to her grandmother, Blanche Gilbertson who passed away shortly after Onalea completed her first draft. Performing Blanche as part of this year’s High Performance Rodeo (HPR)  is a dream come true for Onalea. In the five year’s I’ve known her, she’s always dreamt of bringing Blanche to the HPR stage. And now, after much hard work, commitment and perseverance, she’s done it. She’s shared the story of her grandmother here in her hometown. Through original songs she wrote, recordings of her interviews with Blanche, photos and video footage from her grandmother’s attic, Blanche came to life on the Rodeo stage. It was inspiring, entertaining and heart-warming.

And it was a reminder — That’s how dreams come true.

I first met Onalea when I worked at the Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre. I’d started an art program and we were partnering with the City of Calgary in the This Is My City project. Onalea walked into my office one day and said, “I want to start a singing group.” It seemed reasonable. There’s a lot of unsung talent at a homeless shelter. Many clients play instruments, write music, sing. Creating space for music to happen was another opportunity to connect people to their creative core. And Onalea’s resume as an actor, singer, performer, writer, poet, unsung hero is pretty vast. Why not do whatever possible to help make it happen?

And happen it did. Over the next year, Onalea’s regular Monday night appearances would become the highlight of many people’s weeks. In the end, The DI Singers would become a weekly staple at the shelter. A place where anyone, from clients, staff and people from the community could come to sing and share in their love of music. Eventually, after a lot of hard work, organizing, begging, borrowing and pleading for the resources to make it all happen, Onalea and the DI Singers would perform the world premiere of   Two Bit Oper Eh! Shun as part of This Is My City and HPR 2010.

Two years later, after more hard work, commitment, perseverance and a whole lot of numbers juggling to make the finances work, Onalea would remount Two Bit as, Requiem for a Lost Girl at the New York Musical Theatre Festival in July 2012. Two clients from the DI would fly to New York along with other performers from the original production to be part of the off-broadway debut of the play.

That’s how dreams come true.

Yesterday, as I sat over a late lunch with Onalea after the performance, I was once again reminded of how special this one woman force of nature is. Beautiful. Talented. Heartfelt and heart-driven, Onalea does not give up. From scrambling to make ends meet on a show by show basis, to work-shopping every line and note of music, to making sure every performer on stage with her is paid fairly, Onalea never gives up on her dream of creating music, being a performer and igniting the imaginations of everyone she comes in contact with. It doesn’t matter how high the obstacle, how wide the gap, Onalea will do whatever it takes to get her over the next hurdle, get herself across the divide that separates her from her dream.

Because, that’s how dreams come true.

They don’t just appear, fully formed, all coloured in and ready to roll out upon the stage of life. Dreams are breathed into existence, moment by moment, step by step. They take care, nurturing, effort, blood, sweat and tears. They take vision and commitment, determination and perseverance. Making dreams come true takes heart.

And Onalea is a woman of great heart.

I was blessed yesterday. I got to see and hear and witness the story of Onalea’s 93 year-old grandmother told through the eyes of her granddaughter who loved her dearly. I got to hear the voice of Blanche recall tales of her life. I got to hear her laugh, see the photos and watch the home movies she’d taken long ago when she was young and life was an adventure waiting to unfold. Because of Onalea’s dream, I got to meet a woman I’ve never met, who, like her granddaughter was filled with a love of life bigger than a prairie sky.

And I got to be part of witnessing Onalea’s dream come true.

What a gift.

And in that gift is the reminder of what it takes to live the life of my dreams. It isn’t about wishin’ and hopin’. It’s all about living large, about taking risks, putting myself out there and living it up for all I’m worth.

I’ve got a dream. Do you? What’s it gonna take to make your dream come true?

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For Ticket Information on Blanche: The bittersweet life of a wild prairie dame please click HERE. Blanche runs until February 26 at the Lunchbox Theatre in Calgary.

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Today’s everyday poem is posted over at A Poetry Affair. Do drop in for a visit!  I’d love to see you there.