Truth is not a weapon I wield like a sword, chopping down those who oppose me.
Truth is where I stand in my heart, allowing all things to be as all things are, without the need to make all things be my truth.
So often, we believe to have our truth heard, we must speak above others, drowning out their voices so only ours remains.
That is not truth-speaking.
For our truth to be heard, we must speak it in peace. Using our words kindly to create space for someone else to hear us, and for us to hear them.
Sometimes, truth can hurt. But it hurts much less when we take care to speak our truth with compassion, giving care to how the other will feel when the words we speak stand between us.
Are our words a barrier or a bridge?
Are they a minefield of discord or filled with a desire to find common ground?
Do our words pierce like an arrow or open minds to understanding one another’s hearts?
I was at a meeting yesterday where two years ago, the same people sitting around the table sat on opposite sides of the fence. To find common ground, we had to make room for all truths to stand without judgement. We had to allow space for our opposing views to be heard without fear of being drowned out in the anger and fear of our differing perspectives and understanding of what had happened. We had to listen to what ‘the other’ had to say about what had gone wrong, and what wasn’t working without denying the truth of what was said.
In the process, we found room for all our views to co-exist. We found strength to bridge the gaps between our differing views to create a better everyone could live with and within.
There is truth in everything, yet not all things are true.
It is true, there is war in the world. Yet, the whole world is not engaged in war.
It is true, there is discrimination in the world. Yet, discrimination does not rule the whole world.
It is true, there is poverty. Yet, poverty is not true for everyone.
Until we hear all things without fearing ‘the truth’ of all things, we will not find the path to see and hear and feel what is true without fearing the other’s truth will prevail, take over, overcome what is true in our world.
Until we speak our truth, in peace, allowing love and compassion to soothe our words, our truth will be viewed by someone as untrue or unkind.
“Truth without love is brutality, and love without truth is hypocrisy.” ― Warren W. Wiersbe
Until our truth becomes the ground upon which we stand in love and harmony, our truth will be the weapon others use to stand apart.
We can either do life or be done by life. There is no in-between place where life is not happening.
As so often happens, the words emerged as I was rising out of my meditation this morning.
And then I forgot them.
I scrunched up my eyes, scrunched up my face into a grim expression and fought to remember the words that had hit me like a potent cocktail just moments before.
Relax. Breathe, the voice of wisdom from within me whispered.
And the words emerged.
We can either do life or be done by life. There is no in-between place where life is not happening.
There is no in-between place.
Where are you in your life today? Are you standing in your power? Standing in your voice, speaking out in loving kindness for what is true for you?
Or, are you letting life have its way with you? Letting life dictate the ebbs and flows, rhythm and tempo of your journey? Stuffing down the words you yearn to speak, the actions you ache to make?
It’s often been said, ‘life is not a dress-rehearsal’.
It’s the real deal. The real thing. And we only have one crack at gettin’ ‘er done.
Get on with life today.
Breathe deeply and tell yourself, this is not a dress rehearsal. This is my life where I stand tall, speak up and let out all the wonder and magnificence that lives within me, just waiting for me to wake up and set it free.
It’s easy to feel defeated. It’s easy to feel like life is a daily struggle to get by, moment to moment, without any thought for the quality of each moment passing by.
Being passive in life is easy. It’s what you’ve done for so long. It’s how you’ve felt for the forever past you can remember.
Being passive in life doesn’t get you anything other than more misery, more feeling defeated, more feeling like you’re not worth the bother.
Give it up.
And hold on.
Hold on to the belief that if you don’t turn up and speak your truth and live your life as if it’s the only life you’ve got, no one else will. No one else can.
Sure, there are rocks on the road, hills to climb, obstacles to overcome.
And so much more.
There are sunrises to witness. Sunsets to breathe into.
There are rivers to swim and seas to cross.
There are mountains to summit and ocean deeps to dive into.
There are pools of love to fall into. There are arms to embrace and smiles to share.
There are moments to experience the wonder and awe and pure joy of being alive, being here, being you!
We are all human scientists, continually searching for evidence the lies we tell ourselves about ourselves are true.
Last week, an incident occurred that fired a deep-seated lie within me. The details of the incident are not all that important. What is important for me, is my response to what happened.
“See Louise,” the critter voice hissed. “You don’t belong. Nobody wants you. I told you not to trust them. I told you if you let down your guard you’d get hurt. Ha? See. You should’ve known better.”
I knew that my fear I did not belong or was not wanted was not real, but for a moment, it didn’t matter. These are toehold beliefs. I felt the old familiar ache in my heart. The tears gathering at the back of my eyes. The constriction of my throat.
For a moment, I couldn’t speak.
I swallowed hard and gave my automatic response in times of fear. I smiled and sat there and didn’t say a word.
The critter was on full alert, screaming at me to Dive! Take cover. And above all, “Don’t trust yourself to stay in this place. Don’t trust anyone or anything around you!”
The critter doesn’t believe he’s telling me lies. He sees his job as keeping me safe. Without a thought to the longterm consequences, or to the reality of where I’m at, he compares past events with current and determines the best and quickest route to safety. And then, he madly goes about trying to convince me to heed his advice.
The critter does not see into the future. He can only look back and back there, behind me, is a mess of times when I felt unprotected, unaware, unconscious of my own power.
This time, when the critter went into high gear, I slowed down.
I breathed and breathed again.
And here’s the deal.
This all happened in the passing of a few moments. It had little to do with the circumstances I encountered that triggered the critter’s cries to dive and take cover.
It had everything to do with my old path of believing the lies I tell myself when I feel unwanted, insecure, invisible or just simply take what someone else is doing as a measure of my worth.
When I spoke with the individual whose words/actions triggered my unease, they asked me a very important question.
“What’s it going to take for you to know you are loved here Louise?”
“I don’t know,” I replied.
And then, I got to thinking about their question.
What’s it going to take?
It’s going to take me making the decision that I am and then, acting as if I believe it’s true – no matter what.
See, that’s the thing about being a scientist. We get to prove what we believe, true or false.
I believe Love is always present.
Yet, in times of stress, my disbelief in Love overwhelms my belief and I become fixated on proving “I am not safe” true.
Most of us do that with our emotions. We find one that works, that seemingly keeps us safe, and then, we bring it out, again and again in similar situations hoping it works, again and again and again. We might have a set or series of different emotional responses to similar situations we incorporate into our being, but always we bring them out, again and again when faced with situations the critter determines are similar to past experiences. Unfortunately, when dealing with our hearts, we don’t tend to look for new ways to respond unless our health, relationships, life is compromised to a point, we have not other choice.
Change or be changed. Find a new path or stay stuck in the fear our deepest fear is true.
I am grateful. I was given the gift of seeing my deepest fear is just a reptilian response that does not serve me well.
Instead of giving into my fears, all I have to do in moments when my fear Love isn’t present is triggered, is to breathe and decide, I believe it is true — and then, spend my time proving myself right.
We all carry scars on our hearts. Those leftover renmants of the wounds and pains inflicted upon our beings when we were too young to understand or decipher the circumstances of life we didn’t understand or couldn’t make sense of.
In our youthful ignorance, we thought the things that happened to us were true, our fault, messages of our worth and took to heart the painful and unkind words or actions of others to mean, we were unloveable, stupid, undeserving, unworthy.
As we grew into our teens and adulthood, we carried those scars with us, believing that holding onto them would protect us from further pain or hurt. And as we grew, the tissue around the scars hardened until our hearts became a mass of hard knots not even our brightest thinking could unravel.
In desperation, we adapted our behaviour to protect ourselves from our deepseated fear; those harmful words and actions, those wounds we carried, are our truth. That we really are stupid, undeserving, unworthy, unloveable. And to hide our fear it is true, we acted out. We hid behind our masks, those smiles we put in place to disguise our pain, the laughter we wielded like a sword, the anger we carry like a shield, the sadness we inhabit like a cloak to protect us from the chill harsh winds of life.
They are not true. Those thoughts that rifle through your mind, telling you that you do not deserve to be happy, that others are always out to get you, that the universe is not on your side or that nothing good ever happens for you. They are not true.
Just as it is not true that you are unworthy, unloveable, undeserving or stupid.
Those are just the thoughts that formed long ago when life dealt you a harsh blow and you were not old enough to make sense of other people’s nonsense.
We are all deserving and worthy of love. We are all loveable and loving. We are all unique in our own perfectly human way.
It’s just, hurting people hurt people.
When we were young, our parents, those who cared for us, those who taught us and lead us did not know any better than to do what they did to make sense of their worlds. What they did was never about our worth. It was always an expression of how worthy, or unworthy, they felt themselves to be. It was always a statement of what they believed to be true in their life.
We all carry wounds on our hearts. Our job, as adults, is to heal those wounds so that they no longer dictate our actions and limit our capacity to love and find joy in this world of wonder.
This time, the thought does not float into my mind as I am sitting in the quiet of meditation. “I am engaged in a battle of wills. My ego will versus my body will.”
That’s the thought that arrives, unbidden, to taunt me with its truth as I am walking along the street with Beaumont, smiling at his antics as he sniffs every blade of grass and chases errant leaves tossed on the wind.
And it’s true.
My ego will would have me slip into sluggishness, defying gravity and time’s pull upon my body, telling me I’m getting enough exercise. I don’t need to lift weights or do anything special to keep my body carrying me around with minimal aches and pains.
My body will would have me rise up and get moving, in every direction, in every way, to keep it sliding effortlessly through gravity and time, defying my ego’s sibilant whispers to slip into something more comfortable and relax, ease out, ease up.
As the story goes of the native elder telling his grandson about the two wolves, black and white/good and evil, the winner will be the one I choose to feed.
In a battle of wills I must feed the one that serves me best.
My ego would have me believe that ‘becoming fit’ is too far away, too lofty a goal. Take it easy. Relax.
My body knows, there’s no arriving at a place where I become ‘fit’, or whole or everything I want to be. There is only this constant becoming.
In all things.
In all ways. I am constantly becoming in whatever direction I am going.
Whether I do more, or do less, I am constantly becoming, it’s just sometimes, I am not always going in the direction I need to go to find myself at ease.
When I find myself someplace I don’t want to be, thinking about it won’t change where I’m at, just as thinking about anything does not make it so. Taking action does.
I have spent many years thinking about who and how I want to be in the world. Thinking about it does not make it so. It is the constant becoming, the continuous doing of who and how I want to be that creates the me I am in the world.
There is no place where I can arrive to where I am ‘fit’. There is only this constant becoming. This continuous opening up to the more, the wonder, the awe of being alive and living each day fully where I choose to take action to create the more of my becoming all I am in the world.
No matter what my ego might tell me, my thoughts become my reality. My actions make it so. When my thoughts lead me down the garden path to becoming stuck in the mud of inaction, I must give my body full license to lead me back to becoming all I am when I let go of believing everything I think is all I am.
I am constantly becoming.
I get to choose if my becoming is more or less of what I want to create in the world.
We didn’t set out to do it. We didn’t have a plan of getting it done, now.
There’s still many months, over a year in fact to go before it’s needed.
But, there we were on Tuesday, late afternoon. Four of us seated in a fitting room while my eldest daughter, Alexis, tried on ‘the dress’.
“Is this your dress?” her friend Victoria asked on Facetime where she joined us from her office in Vancouver.
Eyes teary, voice a soft whisper, she replied, “Yes it is!”
And so it’s done.
At least the choosing part is done. Alexis has found, ‘the dress’.
We’d begun the search on Friday afternoon when her sister and dear friend DK had booked a couple of appointments with bridal shops as a surprise for Alexis. Her wedding is next September, 2016. But it’s never too early to start shopping they said.
At the first session there were 7 of us, including my mother.
My mother turns 93 next month. Tiny, as delicate as a little bird, she has definite taste in wedding dresses.
Too pouffy. A definite two thumbs down.
Fitted but the lace edging the bodice too cheap looking, or the style not elegant enough; a hand held out flat, fingers splayed as she moved it back and forth… maybe…. but I don’t think so
Form fitting lace that hugs Alexis’ body, two thumbs up and a “That shows off your curves. Perfect.”
We laughed when she said that. She took us by surprise.
My mother is not known for her revealing style of dress. Always well-turned out with matching jewellery and every aspect of her dress perfect, she did not like it when as teenagers, my sister and I dressed in anything too revealing. Blue jeans were definitely not allowed and mini-skirts — forget it! Too low cut a top got a, “Go and change” and trying to sneak out wearing make-up. Dream on.
But there she was on Friday, giving commentary on the fit of every dress, her sense of style impeccable.
Out of the 10 or 12 dresses Alexis tried on at the first shop, we found a definite two maybe three maybes.
We had criteria.
Wow Factor _____
Authenticity ____________ (did it reflect the true inner spirit of Alexis?)
Venue appropriateness ____________ (they are getting married on an island off Vancouver. It will be outdoors surrounded by forest and rock and ocean)
Danceability ____________ (Alexis LOVES to dance — she has to be able to kick high in her dress — and too heavy will restrict her movements)
Can she wear cowboy boots with it?
Between the two shops Friday she tried over 20 dresses and made an appointment with the first shop to go back and re-try 3 of the dresses (which ended up being another 10).
In the end, nothing she’d tried on could compare to the final dress she tried on Tuesday.
It was perfect.
It made all of us cry.
My friend JD, who, along with her daughter, had joined Alexis, her sister and me, for the shopping adventure, was overwhelmed.
Alexis is the first of our three daughters to get married. We were pregnant together. Learned the in’s and out’s of new motherhood, of toddlerdom and pre-teen angst and teenager woes together.
Our four children have grown up together. The picture from our wedding, above, is a re-enactment of a photo captured as children with the two eldest hugging one another, and the two youngest following suit.
We have shared many firsts as mothers and this was the first time we’d all gone looking at dresses, together. CJ had joined us Friday but her mother couldn’t make it.
That was okay. We thought we’d be doing it again. and again, at least until November when the final deadline loomed to ensure Alexis had the dress in time for the wedding next September.
We hadn’t planned to find one so soon.
She thought she’d go back to Vancouver and check out stores there. Her sister and I were planning a trip in September especially for dress hunting.
But there it was. Fitting like a glove and begging her to ‘Say yes to the dress.’
Life is filled with milestones. As a mother of two daughters, I’ve savoured every moment of their journey from birth to now, finding joy in all the transitions and milestones they’ve each encountered.
I’m so grateful and happy she’s found ‘the perfect dress’ that makes her feel beautiful and elegant and flirty and fun all in one. I’m glad this dress is so incredibly perfect for her it was off the WOW chart!
But secretly, I wish we could keep shopping, just as I used to wish she’d stay a little girl spinning in front of the mirror, pretending she was the bride and practicing her I do’s to an imaginary man of her dreams.
Watching my little girl come out of the dressing room all grown up and looking so incredibly beautiful, I remembered those days long ago when Alexis would enact weddings from every era, creating stunning concoctions of lace and crinoline just so she and her sister and friends could play “the Bride.”
And here I am, many years later, watching it all unfold in real life. Where once a little girl spun in front of the mirror acting out her wedding day in some future year, she stands today, strong and proud, beautiful and free, a woman in today’s world, confident, kind, creative and a reflection of the friendships and love and family that has always surrounded her.
They can be like a sun, words.
They can do for the heart
what light can
for a field.
-St. John of the Cross, Love Poems from God (trans. Daniel Ladinsky)
I read the words above this morning in an email from Abbey of the Arts and felt my heart break.
Open to the possibility of words shining light, of my heart lighting up in the possibility of what can happen when the sun shines through the cracks, through the darkness, through the unknown.
We use words. Every day.
We use words to build relationships, to tear down walls and sometimes, to tear apart one another.
We use words to create bridges, to cross paths, to reach beyond the gaps in what we know to see and hear and feel and understand what another knows.
Sometimes we use words as a means to keep one another apart, separate, distant.
Sometimes we used words to connect to one another, closer and closer until all there is between us is the common ground upon which we stand and build a new way of being together.
Yesterday, I spent the day in a leadership retreat with my peers at the foundation where I work.
The day was filled with words.
Words that expressed ideas, that opened up or shot down positions. Words that connected us, that bridged our differing perspectives that lead us from one strongly held position to another place where we could see there is perhaps another way, another space to fill up with new ideas, new possibilities.
Words are the tools we use to find common ground, to hold our ground, to stay stuck or to free ourselves to hear and see and understand differing perspectives.
Words allow us to connect to one another, whether we agree on the differing positions we cling to or they hold onto, or not.
Words hold truth and lies. Words hold positions of right and wrong. Words open up or close down possibility.
Words are our tools to create and our weapons to destroy.
Words are the language we use to create openings for the light to shine on where we stand.
Words are the language we use to block the light from getting through.
Yesterday, we met and used our words to explore and assess and share our thoughts and ideas and beliefs and fears on the future of the Foundation.
We used words as the language we needed to carry us into the known, and the unknown territory of our five year planning. Words helped us see the ground upon which we stand, and the path to where we want to go.
It was a day of discovery, of exploration, of aha moments and at times, laughter.
And, no matter what words we used, the common denominator was our agreement to use our words to create better, to create more, to open up understanding, acceptance and heartfelt sharing that would allow our words to be heard and honoured by one another.
There is truth in everything and not all things are true.
No matter how strongly worded our assertions are, the truth is always, we each hold positions. It’s how we use our words to defend our right to do so that can make a difference between a world of embittered defending of where we stand or a world of tolerance, compassion and kindness that allows each of us to stand confidently and lovingly on the ground beneath our feet as we find the words to move forward together.
Today is day 2 of our leadership retreat. I’m excited to see the words we share evolve into a path to creating a future where homelessness ends for every Calgarian, every day. A path where all Calgarians find their way home to being at peace with where they’re at, unafraid of what tomorrow will bring because no matter what tomorrow may bring, they know they are safe at home today and everyday.