Ellie the wonder pooch is getting older.

IMG_0152She doesn’t whine. She doesn’t groan. She doesn’t even grumble. But I know she’s hurting.

Where once, the minute I awoke she would eagerly look to see if I would let her out, give her a treat or simply greet her with a pet, she now lies quietly on her mat until I call her for breakfast.

Last night, rather than come sleep on her mat in the bedroom, she didn’t move from where she’d been lying all evening in the den.

She is getting older my Ellie the wonder pooch. She is getting older.

She was 9 weeks old when we brought her home. Alexis, Liseanne and their friend D. and I drove out to a small town south of the city to pick her up the day we were told she was ready to come home. It was a beautiful autumn day. Clear blue sky. Golden leaves falling. The mountains lining the western horizon like a dragon slumbering at the edge of the rolling foothills through which we drove to arrive at the ranch where Ellie had been born.

evening walks 008IMG_1159We’d already decided on her name. We needed to call her something ‘singerly’ as we’d picked her out the day Liseanne and I waited for Alexis at her very first workshop audition for The Young Canadians of the Calgary Stampede. TYC is a singing/dancing troupe of aspiring performers that she performed with for 5 years and getting a scholarship to the performing school and being invited to join the troupe was a real coup.

We need to celebrate said Liseanne as we left the hall where Alexis would spend the day rehearsing and handed me the newspaper where she’d circled several ads for Golden Retriever puppies.

“But I didn’t say we were getting a dog,” I said.

“But mom! Alexis and I agreed on a Golden Retriever without even fighting about it. Shouldn’t you be rewarding us?” Or something like that.

Ellie's new bed

Needless to say, even though I hadn’t planned on getting another dog (I wrote  a blog about the last dog I had — a crazy Jack Russell terrier I’d adopted and eventually had to find a new home for. She was keraaaazzy!) there we were, one month after picking her from the litter, driving south and west to bring home our new family addition.

She was small and cuddly, her tummy a round soft bowl of squiggly fur that she loved to have tickled and rubbed. She’s named after Ella Fitzgerald but at first, the girls called her Buddha Bellie and the derivative, Ellie, stuck.

Ellie has been my ballast, my friend, my comforter, my guide for almost 13 years. She went through those dark final years of that relationship from hell, quietly padding beside me, leaning into me when I would sit and cry in the dark, laying her head on my lap when I would lie on my bed and not want to move.

For years, her favourite place to sleep was on the bed but in the past year jumping up is not something she’s able to do. Where once, jumping into the back of the car was a joyous precursor that inevitably lead to hours of running and wandering through her favourite parks, she can no longer make the leap. I started helping her into the lower back seat and now, have resorted to neighbourhood walks to avoid making her climb into the car.

She is slowing down. Arthritis is taking over her limbs.

And sadness is weighing down on my heart.

Last night I told a friend how I am living in the future with Ellie, dreading when she is gone. I need to come back to the moment, now, I said, to be with her here. I know the inevitable looms but I cannot look out there and start missing her already. I need to keep myself here. To treasure and be with her now.

and it’s hard.

IMG_1323So very, very hard.

But, she deserves my presence now. She deserves my being joyful with her now. She deserves my best. Right now.

And then I remember. Ellie is a garbage hound. Maybe she ate something she shouldn’t! Maybe she’s got the flu. Maybe a trip to the vet’s is all she needs to perk up.

But, I don’t want to take her to the vet. I fear being told something I don’t want to hear.

As my daughter wrote in her blog this morning about a completely separate matter, Avoidance strengthens fear.

I know that.

I’m the one who originally said it to her.

Dang.

Did she have to write that this morning?

Did she have to remind right now that I my fear is blocking my capacity to be brave, courageous and loving?

Because right now, the most loving thing for my Ellie is… to sit with her and be with her and take her to the doctor to see if maybe it’s just something other than age that’s bringing her down.

 

 

How Fascinating!

It is one of those occasions. One of those mornings that doesn’t happen very often but when it does, I dance for joy.

I slept in.

Yup. Me. The one who awakens at 5:15am, without an alarm clock jarring me out of my slumbers, everyday — including on weekends. The one who needs 6 hours sleep every night. Who cannot get back to sleep once she awakens, even if she didn’t get to bed until after midnight.

That one. That me.

I slept in.

Which also means, I’m running late. Not a lot of time to write. No time to read. No time even to meditate — but I did it anyway because that’s an essential. My morning meditation is what sets my day up right. It’s what moves me into the day open-hearted and peaceful minded.

I just made it shorter than normal.

So, as I am late, and as I need to get running, right now, this post is short.

Which means, in lieu of my words, I’m sharing a video I believe worth watching.

I shared this one several years ago on my Recover Your Joy blog — it is one of my favourites.

From TED.com — Conductor Benjamin Zander has two infectious passions: classical music, and helping us realize our untapped love for it — and by extension, our untapped love for all new possibilities, new experiences, new connections. (Recorded March 2008 in Monterey, California. Duration: 20:46.)

CDVC: November is Family Violence Prevention Month

cdvcI am speaking out against abuse on Friday at the launch of Family Violence Prevention Month 2013.

I am nervous.

I am grateful.

I am excited.

And I remember. All these emotions are present in my being present. They do not make me who I am. They are a measure of what I am feeling, in the moment. They are not me.

It was something I learned in my healing journey away from abuse. Anger is present. I am not anger. Sadness is present. I am not sadness. Regret is present. I am not regret.

Just as happiness, joy, gratitude are present. And in their presence I choose what I want more of in my life by choosing to breathe into those things that feed me, nurture, love and heal me. I choose where I shine my light.

Once upon a time I called myself an abused woman. It was not me. I did not own the abuse. I was not the abuse. I was a woman who was abused. It is not mine to hold onto, to claim, to own.

What is mine to hold onto, to claim, to own, is freedom. Freedom from abuse. Freedom from allowing another human being to determine my worth, to dictate my being free, to control my expression of me.

And in that expression I choose how my emotions control me. I choose how I control my emotions. I choose to set myself free.

in freedom, I accept and acknowledge and celebrate the fact that I create, permit or allow 100% of what is going on in my life. I am not a piece of flotsam tossed about by the waves of life, out of control, rudderless, directionless, powerless.

I am powerful beyond my wildest imaginings.

I am talented beyond my greatest dreams.

I have the capacity to make my own dreams come true and the ability to create the life I envision.

Isn’t that amazing? If I have that much power, if I am the one directing this ship, then I am capable of steering away from rough waters, and, weathering any storm. I am able to chart my course, change my path, adapt and shift my direction — as and when I choose.

No one has me locked down or dialled into the coordinates of my life. I do. it’s my choice to not change direction and to change direction. It’s my decision to take A to B or Y to Z.

It’s my life.

When I was in that relationship that was killing me, it didn’t feel like that. Like I had the power, because I didn’t. I had given it up. Allowed myself to fall so far into the distress and dis-ease of his abuse that I could no longer see or feel or even hear my voice of reason, my voice of knowing, my voice of power calling me to rise up and throw off the yoke of his abuse. I had become so blinded by the power of my fear of breaking free, I could not stand up and step free.

And so I fell.

It didn’t feel like a willing fall. It wasn’t that I wanted it to hurt so bad I couldn’t make it stop. It was that I had lost all sense of who I was, where I was, what I was doing and going and being. I was lost.

That’s the thing about abuse.  In its grip, you lose all sense of direction, all sense of self, all sense.

Abuse is insidious.

It kills.

Hopes. Dreams. Spirit. Lives.

It robs us of our will to live. It steals away our heart’s-desire to create, to conceive, to be free. It destroys self-worth, tears apart families, rips apart homes.

Abuse is wrong.

Stop it.

And if you can’t stop it, then get help. Reach out for support. Call someone. Talk to someone. Find someone, something to hold onto that will shine a light on the darkness of where you’re at so that you can find yourself swimming free of the dark and dangerous waters pulling you under.

Abused or abuser, abuse hurts.

Abused or abuser, there is help. Out there, beyond the dark, dank depths of the shame and fear and horror of what is happening in your life.

When I was in that relationship, I believed there was nowhere else for me to be, nowhere I could run to get away. I believed I was all alone.

I wasn’t alone. And there was lots that could be done to stop it. But I was too lost, too scared, too ashamed to see, it had to start with me. I had to choose to change directions, stop my drift and reset my course away from what was killing me.

I couldn’t do it alone. I didn’t have to.

I needed help and support to stop the abuse in my life. And in stopping it in my life, in you stopping it in yours, we create a ripple that begins to move out into the world inspiring change all over the place.

And that’s the thing about abuse — for it to be present, anywhere in the world, we must all in some way collude in its presence. For it to end, anywhere in the world, It takes all of us co-creating a world free of abuse to make it stop.

No matter the weather.

IMG_4782Five more days. It’s all we needed. Five more days to get through October without snow and the weatherman blew it. And I mean big time blew it. Outside my office window this morning the world is covered in a soft, pristine blanket of white. Very pretty if it were the week before Christmas. Not so welcome now.

 

It is always a shock, that first snowfall. It’s as if, over summer and the beauty of autumn here at the foot of the Rockies, the entire city has collective amnesia. We forget. This is a northern clime. This is a place of four very distinct seasons. And no matter how hard we spend our time wishin’ and hopin’ and prayin’ it ain’t so, winter sweeps in with a cold blast of Arctic air long before we’re ready or mentally conditioned for its arrival.

IMG_4776Fortunately, C.C. and I spent Saturday raking the leaves up in our yard — before the snow fell.  At least when it melts, the lawn won’t be covered in a sodden mess of golden autumn colour. And it will melt. Soon. Even as soon as tomorrow when the temperature is predicted to climb back up into the positive side and stay there the rest of the week.

That’s the other thing about the weather in Calgary that is very very predictable. We spend a lot of time being angry with ‘the weatherman’ for getting it wrong. He predicted the snow — the forecast also said it would be in the plus side yesterday and today. Now… it’s not until tomorrow.

I mean really…

And that’s what makes me smile. Every time the snow flies. We take it so personally. We treat it as if we have some control, or at least the weatherman does, over what happens with the weather!

It snowed yesterday. C.C. and I stayed inside, cosy and warm. We read and chatted and I slipped out to the grocery store to pick up a few things for dinner with our daughters. And then the girls arrived and it didn’t really matter what the weather did. We got to bask in the warmth of family time.We got to share a meal and laughter sitting around the dining room table connected through the one thing the weather can’t change, ever. Love.

The weather is the weather. Living here at the foot of the Rockies, we have to enjoy it, no matter what, because it’s always bringing us something unexpected, something to laugh and complain about, distress and grumble over and sometimes, even enjoy.

And regardless of what’s going on with the weather outside, inside it is warm and toasty. Inside, love sets the table and prepares a meal to share with friends and family. Inside, our hearts beat for joy, no matter the weather, when we are connected in Love.

 

Are you willing to shine?

What are you resisting? What greatness do you fear expressing? What inner beauty do you hesitate to unfold, hold or simply allow to be present in your life?

What are you resisting?

Long ago I did an exercise in a course I was taking that asked each participant to write their own eulogy.

It wasn’t easy. The voices of self-doubt, the one’s that leap into the fray of living brilliantly and say, oh you can’t say that about yourself, people will think you’re conceited, vain, uppity up, kept interfering with the process. Which was kind of funny when I really stopped to think about it. I mean really? I’m supposed to be dead when this thing is read and I’m still worried about other people’s opinions of me?

As part of the exercise we were invited to set the scene for our funeral. Where is it? What’s happening? Who’s there? Who’s not there that you would have liked to have had there?

That was the tough one. Who’s not there?  What did their not being there say about our relationship? What was left unresolved. Unforgiven? Incomplete?

That was the kicker, for my eulogy to express the truth about me in the future, I had to live my truth today, To leave this world without any discord lingering, to rest in peace, I would had to have dealt with the unresolveds. The unforgivens. The incompletes. Before I left.

How was I going to do it? What was I willing to give up to not leave these issues behind? What did I need to create, hold onto, let go of, make room for, to ensure every day was filled with what I want more of while I am living so that when the time of my passing comes I would leave behind only the best of me? Joy. Peace. Kindness. Love.

Tough questions to face when death seems far away — and yet, important questions to examine in the here and now if when the time comes, only the best of me ripples out into the ever after.

This morning, as I sat in meditation tendrils of that exercise and the eulogy I wrote drifted through my mind embodied in the question, What are you resisting stepping into Louise? What greatness are you not expressing? What story will you leave untold in the fear of shining brilliantly today?

I believe we are born great. Magnificent. Brilliant. We are created of these things. They are our essence.

And then life happens. The memory of our brilliance dims as we fall into the circumstances of our lives. We forget our magnificence is inherent in our being as we unfold our human condition into the comfort zone of playing it small, playing it safe, playing it ‘normal’.

What greatness am I not expressing? What doorway am I not entering? What threshold am I not crossing?

Great questions for me to breathe into as the day awakens and I step into my day holding onto nothing but the brilliance of the sunrise caressing my face reminding me that this is my one and only life. Live it up. Live it now. Be all that I’m meant to be in this moment, right now. It is all there is to hold onto. All there is to breathe into. This moment. What will I fill it with? What will I create? What am I being with all my heart?

I do not know the day and time of my passing. I do not know when death will come knocking. What I do know is that no matter how unexpected, or known that moment in time will be when all breath leaves my body and I am still forever more, to leave behind what I want more of in the world today, I must live the truth of my being who I am today in every moment. I must live in the now. I must let go of fear of my own brilliance and shine bright.

What are you resisting? Where are you hiding your light?

What are you willing to do to create a world of peace, harmony, Love and joy, right now.

Are you willing to let go of fear and shine in Love?

Are you willing to SHINE?

Please say yes!

 

Premier’s Half-Time Show moves the ball forward on ending homelessness

Last night the Calgary Homeless Foundation (CHF) held its annual Fundraiser. This year, the Premier’s Half-Time Show was a collaboration between CHF and the Calgary Stampeders. We are half-way through Calgary’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness, and the Stampeders have crossed the 50 yard line towards their goal of winning the 2013 Grey Cup.

For both organizations, it is a long and winding road to get to the goalposts. It’s hard. Filled with bumps and hurdles, the unexpected and the unknown.

And still, we keep moving forward, keep forging on. Defeat is not an option. Giving up not on the agenda.

Last night, I stood with the 250+ guests in attendance and celebrated the work done to date, and acknowledged the work yet to come.

Sometimes, in the midst of the fray it’s hard to see the goal posts, it’s hard to know that every step on the journey matters. Which is why, sometimes, it’s important to take a time out and say, Hey! We’ve come a long way. Let’s not miss the markers on our path, let’s not forget to say, Job well done, so that we can tweak, redirect, and focus all our energies on the job ahead.

It matters. Every game. Every time out. Every win. Every loss. Every drop of the ball. Every completion. Every touchdown. Every point marked up on the score board matters. Because, at the end of the season, one team will win the Grey Cup. One team will cross that finish line and hoist the giant silver cup and celebrate their achievement. The dream is, the Stampeders will be that team.

And, in 2018, it will matter even more to the people we serve because, for CHF and all the agencies working towards ending homelessness,every step. Every win. Every move forward matters in their lives.

Homelessness is not okay. One single person homeless on our streets means, we dropped the ball. We lost the play.

We are just over half way there. We’ve still got a lot of work to do. There’s still much to build and create and get done if we are to achieve our goal and cross the finish line.

Looking back on the first five years of the Plan, it’s easy to see where we’ve fumbled, where we’ve dropped the ball, where we’ve missed a play. And, while we may not have a scoreboard flashing out wins over losses, we do have markers of our success that also show where we’ve picked up the ball and gained yards, where we’ve intercepted a play and turned the tide of the game towards our finish line of having the resources and programs and system of care in place that by the 2018 no one entering a shelter will stay longer than 7 days before being redirected back home.

The game is on!

Like the Stampeders who make every play count, we have to be on top of our game every step we take. We can’t afford to falter. We can’t afford to sit on the side lines and wait for the ball to come to us. We have to be on the streets, under bridges, in the shelters, in every nook and cranny of our city lighting the path for everyone to come home.

Because no matter

We celebrated and raised funds (nearly $200,000!) and recommitted last night to the road ahead. It matters that we are carrying this ball, it matters  what we do every day towards reaching the goal posts of ending homelessness because, lives depend on us every step of the way.

Not having an answer to homelessness isn’t good enough

She is walking towards me deep in conversation with another woman. She is animated. Expressive. Her whole body engaged in her conversation. It is a warm October afternoon but she is dressed for colder weather. Toque. Mitts. Big heavy winter jacket. Blue with a fake fur collar. Khaki pants tucked into the tops of laced up black walking boots, the kind you’d picture if someone said, “your mother wears army boots,” in an attempt to dis you.

As we pass she looks at me. I smile. She stops. Calls out. “Hi! How are you? Haven’t seen you in awhile.” She darts between two passers-by and comes to a full stop in front of me. “Where do I know you from?” Before I can answer she blurts out her response. “The Women’s Centre! That’s where.”

I start to correct her. I’m not sure I know her but perhaps it was the shelter where I used to work, but her words keep rattling out towards me like a woodpecker digging into bark. “You still there? I sure hope so. You stood out. You always do. It’s why I noticed you on the street.”

Again I attempt to correct her, to tell her I don’t think we’ve met and then I let it go. Sometimes, people just want to be heard.

She tells me about her husband. ‘The abusive bastard’. They put him in the ground three years ago. That’s how she says it. Put him in the ground. I wasn’t there. No f*cking way, and her expletive is loud enough it startles someone walking by. They skirt our little tableau where we stand at the corner of the avenue where the C-train rumbles by.

She tells me the story of how he kept her locked up on 149 acres. Sixteen years I suffered, she says. How she’s lost a son to suicide. Hung himself. Why would he do that? she asks.

I hope she doesn’t expect an answer from me. I don’t have one.

She’s lost another to cancer and the third, well, the good for nothing, and again she inserts a loud expletive, is in jail. Just like his father. She says. And she shakes her head making her salt and pepper curls bob up and down. “How come I couldn’t do nothing good in the world?” she asks. “Tell me that? How come?”

I am grateful she keeps on talking without waiting for an answer. I don’t have one.

She shares more of her story. Dates. Places. Names. They are written on her memory, streaming out in a continuous tide of re-telling. She animates her conversation. Bounces from one spot to another in front of me. One moment up close, almost whispering in my ear, the next stepping far back. “You stay there,” she says. And I wonder, does she mean me or is the statement part of her story.

She talks about the Catholic school she attended as a child. The abuse. The nuns. The priests. She points to two tall brick buildings down the avenue from where we stand. “Big as those,” she says. “I had to walk in and tell them I was there to demand an apology for my sister. She was one pound when she was born. You could hold her in the palm of your hand.” And she cups one hand holding it out towards me like a child begging for alms. “She was that little. I had to protect her. I had to get her away from them.”

She breathes and I look into her eyes and say, “It sounds like life was very hard for you.”

“You don’t f*cking know the half of it,” she sputters and continues on with her story. Jumping from her sister to one of her other 10 siblings. “Only 8 of us survived the first years of our lives,” she says. “There just wasn’t enough to go around.”

“I seen my sister just before she died,” she says. And she moves in real close to my right ear and whispers. “I walked up to her bed, she was so sick, so close to dying, and I said, ‘Terry’, real soft like. She knew it was me. Tears rolled down her cheeks. She knew it was me.”

“I’m sorry,” I say. It is all I can think of to offer her in way of comfort.

“Nah. She’s better off dead.” And she continues on re-telling stories of her life. A 1963 GrandAm she once owned. A shotgun that belonged to her husband that he used to threaten her with until she gave it, along with his other 20 guns, to the police.

“He told them he was a collector. Insisted they give them back. I got away though. Took the bus to Edmonton. I’m a registered LPN. I’m not stupid you know. They tell me I’m bipolar. F*cking baztards. What do they know? I’m 74. Of course I have moods.”

Another C-train rolls by and I know I have to go. Ellie the wonder pooch is waiting for me at home. She’ll be anxious for her dinner.

“Hey! I’m glad I saw you,” she says. “You listen good but you gotta speak up good too. For others. Will you do that for me? Speak up? Get us some justice? I got a place now but ya’ know, there’s so many who don’t. Will you make sure they get a chance?”

“I’ll do my best,” I tell her.

And we part and move in our separate directions and I carry her story with me. I wonder how she got so lost. How life could have been so difficult and still she clings to it, fights for it, and others.

And I wonder, what is the best for someone who’s needs are so complex, whose mental health is so fragile that they would reach out to a relative stranger and tell them their story standing on a street corner? How can my best do anything to offset the demands of a life lived on the edges?

And I know, Not having an answer to homelessness and abuse and lack of support for mental health issues isn’t good enough anymore. We can’t keep pushing the problem along, sweeping it into shelters or someone else’s backyard. We’ve got to speak up, give voice, stand up for those who have been beaten down so far they no longer have the strength to do it alone. We gotta do it together. All of us.

 

 

 

Hold on… to Love.

Life is a series of teachable moments,, each one flowing from the last, expanding into the next. Each moment holds a gem of a thought, a jewel of an idea, a precious glimmer of inspiration to light your path.

Unless you’re walking with your eyes closed in which case, no matter how many lights shine or jewels sparkle along the way, you won’t be able to see them lighting the path.

Once upon a time, I walked through life with my eyes closed, tight. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to see the light outside, it was more that I was afraid that maybe there was no light for me. Maybe I was so different from everyone else that not even the light of Love could reach me. Lost in a world of darkness, I dared not risk peering through even the smallest crack to see if there was light beyond.

I thought I was doomed to walk in the dark and didn’t dare risk finding out the truth by opening my eyes, even a little bit.

I was lost.

Very, very lost.

And in that place of darkness, I could not believe the light was out there, beyond the inside of my eyelids, waiting for me, if only I’d open my eyes.

There is a song  called, Open the Eyes of My Heart. I heard it for the first time the Sunday after the man who tried to put the ‘final parting’ into the promise to love me ’til death do us part was  arrested. My sister had invited me to go to church with her and a girlfriend and I went along — not because I wanted to (I was kinda angry with the Big Guy upstairs and didn’t really want to talk to Him ya’ know?) but I didn’t have any other plans that first Sunday after getting my life back so I went.

On that beautiful Sunday morning in May 2003, I sat in this bright modern church and looked around me and wondered, what’s wrong with these people? Why are they smiling? Why do they look so happy? Don’t they know, I’m dying inside. I’m lost and afraid and I don’t know what to do and the bad man is gone but inside me my heart aches and I know I just got a miracle but what if I can’t do it? What if I can’t fix this mess? What if the miracle-workers made a mistake and the miracle I got was actually destined for someone else and the delivery van came to the wrong life? What if they got me confused with that other person who really, really deserved this miracle?

I was grateful for being alive, well sort of, I was still kinda dark and frozen inside and my thoughts veered into suicidal ideation way too often but I was getting the hang of this being free but man, it was hard to hold onto all the pieces of myself, they were so scattered and broken and cracked I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to find them all.

And then, that song came on. Open the Eyes of My Heart.

I didn’t hear it at first. At least not the words. But then people started singing all around me and I couldn’t help myself, I started to listen and the words started to find their way into my heart.

And I started to cry.

Tears flowed from my eyes like ice cream melting down the sides of a cone — the warmer it gets, the faster the ice cream melts. The deeper the words flowed, the warmer my heart felt and the faster the tears came.

I kept crying throughout that first Sunday after his arrest. I cried and I cried and I cried.

After the service my sister’s girlfriend asked me if I wanted to have coffee with the Pastor. I didn’t quite get the ‘with the Pastor’ bit so I said yes. I didn’t realize ‘with the Pastor’ meant, ‘with’ the Pastor. Me and him. Just the two of us. No buffer. No distraction. Just me and him. And wouldn’t you know it, the ice cream kept melting.

He asked me if I needed a friend.

I didn’t really trust him. I didn’t really trust anyone actually, but, I am polite and replied, “Doesn’t everyone?”

And he said, “Then why not ask God to be your friend?”

Unfortunately, my politeness does have its limitations. I sputtered into my coffee and replied, a tad sharply. “Yeah? Well some friend he is. Where was he when I needed him?”

I remember that Pastor’s smile. It was warm and gentle and loving and kind and I really really hated it in that moment. (See I still didn’t believe I deserved to be treated with kindness or gentleness or love or anything other than abuse.)

My edginess didn’t bother the man one bit. He continued to smile and gently suggested, “Open your eyes Louise. Look around. It’s a beautiful day. The sun is shining and while you may not know it or feel it or want to accept it, God never let you down. He was the one helping you walk through the dark.”

Don’t you just hate it when someone says something that pierces all your defences and leaves you breathless in the sparkling clarity of their words?

I am not what you’d call, a Believer. But I do know miracles when I see them and I don’t doubt any longer when they happen to me because they’re always shimmering in the light of Love and when the eyes of my heart are open, I feel and know and live in Love.

Open your eyes. If the darkness inside scares you, open your eyes, open your heart, open your mind, open your ears and hands and arms and hold on… to Love.

________________________________________________________

That song still makes me cry. It also makes me smile and remember — my heart is a loving place. It’s my choice to open my eyes and feel the joy of living in Love.

AHA! Flashes of clarity

As a child I was inquisitive, and talkative. My father liked to drive and often, on family vacations, he would drive late into the night to get to where ever we were going. Because I liked to ask questions and chatter away, I was often honoured with the front seat. My parents knew my father would never be able to fall asleep with my continuous stream of questions and chatter about the world around me.

I wanted to understand. Not just how the world worked, but how I fit into it and how my fitting into it impacted others around me. It was my nature. I was about 13 years old when I bought my first copy of Psychology Today and while it was an odd choice for a teenager, it was my favourite magazine. In my final year of high school I convinced my biology teacher to let me out of dissecting frogs by pitching him on the idea that my talents would be better served creating and delivering a course on vicarious learning in grade school children.

The human mind fascinated me. It still does.

Not the mechanisms of it but rather the why’s of what we do, and the how’s of our capacity to change, to transform, to evolve.

This weekend at Choices, the personal development/life-skills program I coach in, I had one of those things that continually percolate in my life, particularly when I’m in a Choices room — an AHA! moment.

I don’t remember exactly what was being said that caused me to sit up and take note of the thoughts drifting through my head but suddenly I was hyper-aware of a ‘knowing’, a deep inner sense of self that in one flash of clarity made sense of so much that had caused pain and turmoil within me in the past.

I have always treasured my mind and its capacity to work through thoughts, ideas, feelings. I have always believed the mind is a powerful engine of creativity and possibility. And, I have always felt that our mind’s are the portal through which we must step to see and experience the wonders of the world. .

As a teenager, when others were experimenting with drugs or getting crazy drunk, I couldn’t do it. I inherently knew that to do that would mean to give up control of my mind — and I wasn’t willing to go there.  One, I didn’t like the idea of not being in control, and two, I was scared that I might forever damage my mind and I wasn’t willing to risk my mind on an instant high that could impact me forever.

At the same time of treasuring my mind, however, I also constantly questioned and distrusted it. Was I right? Did I really remember that or did I just make it up? What was I feeling? Did I have a right to feel that way or was I wrong to feel that way? What was the right way to feel? Is there a right way to feel or was it okay to just feel and not try to analyze the feelings? If everybody tells me I think too much, how do I stop? Can I stop? What’s wrong with me that I can’t stop thinking? Why can’t I stop? Do I have to stop? Why do I have to ask so many questions?

It was a vicious circle. I thought and therefore I was, and in whatever I was, I questioned the who, what, how, of my thinking, continually doubting myself.

It was a learned response to having been teased as a child for my constant questions and musings about the world. It was a learned response to having felt outside of the norm, looking in for so many years. It was a learned response of what I called my ‘observer’ role. I didn’t like to ‘get in there and get dirty’ as much as I liked to hold myself on the edges so that I could watch and observe and analyze from the outside looking in.

My AHA! moment came barreling in on the realization that I have allowed other people’s judgements of my capacity to think to limit my acceptance of my own thinking. I have let other people’s opinions of me be the measure of my doing in the world.

And, I have carried a world of hurt within me that I never, ever acknowledged, disclosed or revealed.

And that’s when the AHA! leaped out and whacked me on the side of the head.

I can let go!

My thinking is nobody else’s business but my own. I am 100% responsible for my thinking — and how I claim it, express it and send it out into the world. It is my choice to ensure my thinking expresses itself in ways that create more of what I want in the world.  Peace. Love. Harmony. Joy. Possibility and Hope.

It doesn’t matter that in the past I’ve allowed people’s statements of  — “You think too much” or, “your head is too dangerous a neighbourhood for you to be in alone” to affect my sense of self. It doesn’t matter that I’ve accepted their opinions as fact.

What matters is, it doesn’t matter! I matter to me. I am the one who has my thoughts. All of them. And the number or frequency or complexity or depth of my thoughts is nobody’s business but my own! And for all I may have carried hurt or felt belittled in the past — today, I feel empowered, charged up and excited about all that I am capable of — because all my thinking led me here.

I don’t have to make my thinking right for everyone else. I just have to do right by my thinking for me and the world around me!

AHA!

 

We are connected through our hearts touching.

I touched someone’s heart yesterday. Made a difference in their life they told me.

I felt blessed. Humbled. Honoured.

She was a participant in a group I was speaking to about living life large. When I speak to groups like this I use the story of having fallen in love with Prince Charming only to awaken 4 years 9 months later, broke, broken and lost.

How did you heal? She asked. What did you do specifically to let go of the past?

I made a choice, I told her and the other 8 women in the room all of whom are part of a program to support formerly street-engaged women leave high-risk life styles behind.

I chose to only do those things that were loving, caring and supportive of me. I asked myself every minute of every day — will this (whatever I was thinking, doing, experiencing) create more of what I want in my life, or less? Will it build discord or harmony? Anger or love?

And if my answer was tilted towards the negative, I made a choice to move the needle towards the positive. No matter how hard. No matter how daunting. I made a choice to move away from the darkness into the light.

I chose to forgive myself. To treat myself with tender loving care.

I chose to forgive others. Everyone. Including him. I chose to keep repeating, I forgive. And then, to not question my decision. to not challenge the act of forgiveness.

And I quit asking “Why?”

Why did he do it? Why did I let myself fall? Why did it happen? Why did I take so long to wake up?

Why is a crazy-making word when used in relation to an abusive relationship. Why kept me stuck in the merry-go-round of looking for sense in the nonsense. Their was no sense in spending my time looking for truth in all the lies. Sure, there were some, I’m sure, but why waste my precious breath looking for my truth in what he did?

My truth is in what I do, right now. Right here. My truth is in me. Not in anyone else.

My job was to uncover my truth. To find myself beneath the pain and sorrow and trauma and horror of the past so that I could shine, fearlessly, brilliantly and oh so alively, right now. Right here. Just the way I am because I am, enough, just the way I am.

And when thoughts of him entered my mind, when thoughts of what he’d done or wonderings of what he was doing now interfered with my life, I held up a STOP sign in my mind and heeded its directions.

I stopped my thinking of him, dead in its tracks and shifted directions to things that loved, cared for and supported me.

I deserved my loving attention. Not him.

Was it hard? she asked.

Of course. But it was my choice. To heal. Or not. And letting myself focus on him. Keeping myself held in the arms of sorrow and despair denied me the right to shine. It deprived me of the gifts of forgiveness, gratitude and Love.

And I deserved those gifts.  I truly did.

But didn’t you think you didn’t?

Of course, I told the group. But that didn’t matter. That was just my stinkin’ thinkin’ trying to keep me from tripping up on the far side of my fear. My ego wanted to keep me safe and the only way it knew how was to hold me back from flying free.

My heart knew. I deserved to fly.

I chose to listen to my heart. I chose to spread my wings and fly free of my fear of the past, my disbelief in my worthiness, my need to play it small and stay quiet.

I chose to stand up.

and stay standing.

I chose to let go

and stand free.

I chose to forgive

and stand in Love.

They were the only choices I could make to have what I wanted most in my life — freedom from abuse. Freedom to live with love, joy and laughter in my life today.

And in that freedom I got what I deserved. Forgiveness. Gratitude and Love.

I got my relationship with myself.

I got my relationship with my daughters.

I got, my life.

and I love my life today.

What could be better than that? What could have a greater impact on my life and the world around me than to be 100% in Love with my life today?

I spoke up yesterday to give back. and in the giving I received so much more than I gave. I received the joy of living on purpose, of touching someone’s heart and knowing, we are connected not through pain, but through courage, determination and Love. We are connected through our hearts touching.

I am grateful. I am blessed.