Curating space for art to happen

Freefall Wednesday Writing. From my journal.

I haven’t been in the studio for awhile. A least not painting.

I have been in it ‘curating the space’, as my friend PL calls it.

I like that idea.

Curating the space.

Creating a space that not just allows for art to happen, but also pleases and soothes my soul. A space that allows me to forget myself as I fall into the sublime bliss of creative expression.

Forgetting myself isn’t always easy. The ego doesn’t like the forgetting. It likes to believe it is in control. In charge. In command. Yet, to create, to allow for art to happen, I must forget myself by letting go of ego’s need to constantly “know best”.

It is not just my ego that struggles with the forgetting. It is me. All of me.

I want to be the one making the decisions, deciding what happens next. Believing I know it all.

I want to believe I am in control of my life, determining its course and direction. Yet, to truly live bravely and love myself fiercely, I must dare to be in the moment of life, and the creative process, happening. I must dare to accept what is knowing what I can control is how I respond to life’s situations. I cannot control the wind, I can adjust my sails to weather every type of storm, every condition.

Life is a creative adventure. Creating space for the adventure to be a reflection of my life through creative expression is my passion.

I’m curating space right now. Incubating ideas. Planing seeds.

And in the process, I am allowing what is to become visible through the environment and space around me.

I am the conduit for the muse in my life to freely express herself unhindered by my ego’s calling me to ‘get control of her’.

How fascinating.

Namaste.

_____________________

 

A Love Poem A Day

Several years ago, for an entire year, I awoke every morning and wrote my beloved a love poem.

It started out as a gift of a love poem a day for two weeks.

And then… I got kinda uppity about how he was receiving my gift, let him know how I would have responded if I was receiving the gift of a love poem a day and well, let’s just say my telling him in no uncertain terms my expectations of his behaviour did not go over well.

I had to make amends.

At the time, he was living in another city and when flowers arrived for Valentine’s Day, I realized I had totally forgotten! I knew I didn’t have time to get him chocolates or anything concrete so, I offered up a pretty email with a love poem and a committment to send him a love poem everyday for the next two weeks.

It only took one day for my attitude to interfere with my intention.

Originally, my thought had been to do something that would create intimacy over the distance. Instead, I created more distance when I suggested he open my emails at 6am when I sent them versus his normal afternoon reading which was when he got to his personal emails.

Harrumph. I responded via email. If I were getting a love poem a day it would be the first thing I read in the morning.

Well, you’re not me, he replied, and went on to suggest that a gift came without expectations of how the recipient received it. That’s what made it a gift.

Ouch.

He was right.

And so, I wrote him a love poem apology and committed to getting my expectations out of the way.

When I shifted, everything shifted.

By the time the two week mark appeared, I was committed to writing a love poem a day and he loved receiving them. So I kept at it for a year.

And in that year my understanding of Love grew deeper.

It was a gift to begin every day writing about love, thinking about my beloved and focussing on giving the gift of words to the one I love.

Recently, I shared that story with a group of coaches at Choices Seminars during the G2 training process on how to guide the trainees through the process of crafting the words to their purpose statement. In the actual process, there are a series of questions that lead them deeper and deeper into the truth of what they do naturally in the world to create a difference – which eventually leads to their purpose statement coming clear.

On that day, I was the example to show them how powerful the questions are, and how beautiful a journey writing your purpose statement can be.

As I answered the questions I gained more and more and insight into what that year of writing a love poem a day gave me and my beloved. It drew us closer together. It gave him a look into my day from across the miles (I started taking a photo everyday and writing my poem to that photo and sending both). It deepened my understanding of Love and it gave C.C. the thing I wanted most to give him and had messed up so badly at the beginning — the experience of receiving Love without any expectations.

Ultimately, what I learned is that Love has no expecations. It does not look for words of affirmation, reassurance nor reciprocity. Love is and when we share it without an expecation of how the other will receive it, or give it back, we transform ourselves and our relationships.

My purpose is to lovingly touch hearts, open minds and set spirits free. When I sent my first poems and let him know my expectations of how he should receive them, I was not lovingly touching his heart; I was attempting to hammer it into submission to my way of loving.

Love doesn’t work that way.

Writing a Love Poem a Day helped me learn that vital lesson in living and loving with grace.

Why not give it a try?

 

We’re all on this journey of life together.

I have stopped by my old hairdressers to buy the shampoo I love. They recently moved and this is my first time at their new Beltline area location.

As I am about to pay, I ask the young woman at the desk how she likes the new location.

“We love it,” she replies enthusiastically. “Except for all the hobos and street people everywhere. They’re awful.” And she goes on to talk about how annoyed she is by ‘their’ presence.

I take a breath. For a moment I consider not buying my products. Or, buying and leaving without saying anything.

Silence in the face of ignorance is not my strong suit.

“Just as a piece of information,” I say to her as calmly and kindly as I can. “Hobo is a really derogatory term. The individuals you are referencing are human beings, like you and me, who have fallen on really hard times. You may want to consider using the phrase ‘individuals experiencing homelessness’. It’s less offensive.”

She looks at me. Squirms a little and pastes on a smile. “Oh well, you know, it’s just a word,” she said.

“Yes. And words have power. Did you know there’s an apartment building across the street that provides housing…”

And before I can finish my sentence she chimes in. “Oh yes. It’s a halfway house.”

I take another breath. “Actually, it’s not. It’s Permanent Supportive Housing for individuals exiting homelessness. In this case, the building supports veterans who were experiencing homelessness before moving into the building. That building is their permanent home. They live there as residents of this community. Halfway houses are generally for individuals existing the justice system in preparation of their moving on to their own housing.”

“Oh. Well there’s always lots of activity over there.” She says it in a way that makes me grit my teeth as though I’ve just heard nails scraping along a blackboard.

I breathe deeply and remind myself that ignorance is not a crime. It comes from a lack of understanding.

“I’m sure there is. It can be a struggle to leave the homeless identity behind. After years of service to your country, and then years of struggling on the street it’s hard to believe people care or that you’ve actually got a home of your own.” I take another breath and ask, “Have you gone over to meet the staff and residents?”

She looks at me with wide eyes. “Of course not!”

I smile at her and say, “It’s one way to get a better understanding of what’s going on,” I tell her. I know I probably sound a little condescending. I don’t mean to but I can feel my blood coursing through my veins. I am vibrating at a little too high a frequency.

I work on calming my racing mind. On changing my tone and position.

“I worked in the homeless sector for a lot of years,” I tell her. “Connecting and getting to know your neighbours is a great way to build a community.”

She packs up my products into a paper bag and hands it to me. “Well you have a nice day,” she says.

“I will,” I reply. “I hope you do too.”

And I leave.

And inside I feel sad and angry. Upset and dissatisfied.

For fifteen years I worked to shift perceptions of homelessness in our city. And here was a young woman, probably early 20s, who still carried the bias and misconceptions that existed when I first started working in the homeless serving sector.

We cannot know the answers unless we’re willing to ask the questions.

And we cannot ask the questions unless we hear the truth of where our judgements mislead us.

For that young woman, she may never ask another question about homelessness. Hopefully, if nothing else, she will stop spreading misinformation.

Then again, the story she shares may be about the nasty old lady who walked in and was all uppity and judgemental about her use of the word ‘hobo’ who then had to give her a lecture on homelessness..

And I breathe.

We are all just struggling to make sense of our world.

We are all on this human journey together, sharing life on this round ball circling the sun. Sometimes, we walk in darkness. Sometimes, we travel in the light. Wherever we walk on this planet earth, may we step lightly, treating one another with loving kindness, dignity and respect. May we seek first to understand before casting judgement on our companions who like us, sometimes struggle on this journey called life.

And in my heart I say a prayer for both of us.

Bless her.
Forgive me.
Bless me.
Forgive her.

Namaste.

 

What will your story be today?

I haven’t found it yet.

Not after cleaning and clearing out the back half of the basement and organizing my art supplies.

The Reading Corner

Not after clearing out the far corner of our bedroom (the reading corner) and organizing books and papers, clothes and paraphenalia.

Not after reorganizing the entire kitchen, culling dead spices and aged out dry goods.

And not after purposefully not filling my calendar with coffee dates and wine encounters.

I still haven’t found it.

My rhythm in the post-retired in the process of rejuvenation life.

And yes, I know. It’s only been seven weeks, four of which I spent away. But still… throughout my working life, my days were prescribed by the known of my routine; dependable, predictable regardless of unexpected happenings, crises and daily demands.

I feel adrift. Cast-away. Free-falling through time.

In the dissonance of my discomfort, I struggle against the flow and search for meaning in my life even in the presence of knowing, there is no need to search for meaning. The meaning is present when I am present in my life.

Ahhh. The ennui of taking myself too seriously!

Yesterday, Bernie at Equipose Life wrote about her search for her rhythm and I had to smile. I’d been wondering about the very same question since getting back from my month long trip and had been planning on writing/meditating on it today. Once coaching at Choices Seminars was over, I had this wide open playing field, and I was struggling to stay calm in the center of my life.

I think I’ve forgotten how to play in unscripted, unmarked spaces. To simply be in the moment of being rather than the rush of doing.

It’s possible I’ve spent decades forgetting.

And now, in the sudden onslaught of unscheduled time, I am peering too far into the future searching for some glimmer of what happens next.

I close my eyes and breathe deeply.

Patience grasshopper. Patience.

There is lots of time to figure out the future. There’s no other time than now to be present in today.

I take another breath, and the wise woman within whispers to my heart. “It’s okay. This unease will pass. Open your heart and bring your sights closer to home. Step lovingly into the space you’re in. Do not criticize yourself for feeling unease. Celebrate your willingness to be in its presence. And now, let go of looking into tomorrow. Today is calling.”

I open my eyes and smile. I am worrying about an unknown future when today is calling me to be present to its many gifts.

Outside my window the river flows past, the wind whispers through the leaves that line the bank. Through their filigree canopy I see the azure sky stretching out to the horizon.

I am in a land of new horizons. To be free of ‘what was’, I must stretch out of my comfort zone, lengthen the familiar muscles like the sky stretching out to the horizon and become present to ‘what is’.

Arms free, heart open I breathe into the possibilities, the joy, the wonder of being here right now. I slip into the river of possibility where life is inviting me to get into the flow of a new rhythm. When I quit figthing its pull, it will find me.

There is no need for me to crowd my time with a list of ‘important things to do’ or to worry about a yet to unfold future. Tomorrow will arrive soon enough.

I breathe into being present in my life right now. I open my heart and mind and greet the day. Life greets me back with its alluring invitation to release my fear and step into the flow of a new way of being in this world of wonder and possibility.

Namaste

Make your difference count.

My ego took a trip yesterday.

It wasn’t a long trip, but it was long enough for me to realize that no matter where I go, my ego comes with me.

You gotta pack the right ideas, thoughts, feelings, beliefs or your ego will attempt to step in and sidetrack your journey.

One of the foundational processes of Choices Seminars is to find your contract word(s) that will remind you, in those tight or sticky moments of life, about how and who you need to be to create the more of what you want in your life.

When I first went through the program in 2006, my contract statement was, “I am a passionate and fearless woman.” It didn’t take long for Thelma Box, the founder of Choices to ‘out’ me. It happened in one of the Coaches circles that take place before the trainees come into the room. The coaches talk about the process and how to move the trainees through it. In this instance, we were discussing Contracts when Thelma mentioned that one word contracts are best but two words are okay too.

As I sat and listened to the conversation I started to smile at myself. I hadn’t played the ‘Contract Game’ with much integrity when I went through the program as a trainee. In fact, the chip on my shoulder was big enough that my ego and I figured I knew everything they were trying to teach because I’d already done all my work.

Coming back to coach I quickly realized how I had been playing self-defeating games while I was in the room as a trainee.

On this morning, as we discussed the Contract process with Thelma, I put up my hand and said, “I have a two word contract but it doesn’t actually work for me.” When Thelma asked for clarification I explained how anyone who knows me quickly recognizes that I am passionate about what I do. I had stuck the word I was comfortable with before the word I most needed to be. It was kind of a smokescreen, I told her.

For the next seven years, “I am a fearless woman” became my contract.

And then, a series of events gave me pause to consider if Fearless was keeping me walking with integrity in my life. With the help of Mary Davis, Thelma’s daughter and facilitator of Choices, I changed my contract statement to, “I am a trusting woman.”

For me, trust is a big word, and being trusting can be a real challenge. It means I have to trust myself to be okay, no matter how the winds blow. And that’s what a Contract word is about. It’s meant to be that statement of self that reminds you of your power, your capacity to live your dreams, to stand tall and proud when your ego/critter is pounding you with thoughts and feelings of your deficiencies. It’s that statement that says, “Your limiting beliefs are not the truth about you. The truth about you is….” And you fill in the blanks with your contract statement.

For three years, I am a trusting woman, was a powerful statement for me. And then, as often happens as we grow more assured and confident in our capacity to stand fearlessly and lovingly in our own light, I realized that I was still hiding behind a contract word that, while powerful for me, did not keep me walking fearlessly in my truth, in every circumstance, every kind of weather.

In April, when I coached for the first time in a couple of years, I realized how my Contract statement was still my ego’s way of keeping me from walking my truth. Yes, I need to trust myself. I need to walk with and in integrity to do that.

And that is where my ego most often challenges me.

It wants to lure me off my path by telling me it’s okay to not ‘do the right thing’.

It wants me to let go of taking care of myself with its insistence I’m too tired or don’t have enough time.

It wants me to act out when I am feeling frightened or alone or like nobody cares or like I don’t matter.

Or, like yesterday, it wants me to take a little trip that does not serve me well.

Our egos have their purpose. But, when the ego hisses from the darkside of our fears with its insistence we get small and hide our light, the ego is not acting in our best interests. It is acting out of fear.

For me to stand fearlessly in the light of my own brilliance and be a light for others to stand in theirs, no matter how dark the times, I must claim my truth – I am a woman of integrity. (A woman of integrity will clean up her messes, and even more importantly, avoid making one in the first place.)

Ego trips can be fun (in a sick kind of way) but what’s even more fun is to know we are living life, no holds barred. No stone unturned. No dream unlived.

To do that, we’ve got to give up ego trips and play the game of life as if everyone is watching. Because what we do in the dark is a reflection of who we are in the light of our own brilliance.

May you shine bright today. May you dance as if no one is watching and live as if everyone is. Because, what you do today, who you are and how you are, matters.

Namaste

_______________________________________

Contract words are found through a process of discernment and self-assessment. For me, it has been an evolving process. One where listening to my heart required being able to discern the difference between my ego/critter’s insistence it knows best versus my heart’s truth calling me to stand in my own light. It has required patience, self-compassion and love.

Will you choose to love yourself?

Yesterday, a beautiful man wrote a note to tell me how my words had moved him. (Thank you M) (Thank you also to several others who commented) and then, this morning, I received a note from a woman in New Zealand asking to use one of my poems on her blog.

My writer’s soul and human heart gave a deep sigh of contentment.

There is no greater gift as a writer than to hear that something I wrote has resonated, with another and created space for our heart awareness to connect. In that connection, we both feel less alone, less unseen, less unheard.

I write because I must. It is as much a part of me as breathing.

Many years ago, when I was lost in a relationship that was killing me, I didn’t write. I couldn’t.

Writing for me is about speaking my truth. And I had no truth left in that relationship other than what he told me was true, I was worthless and deserved to die.

The morning after he was arrested and I got the miracle of my life back, I pulled out a lined notebook and began to write. About healing. Broken heartedness. Broken spiritedness, Broken places. One of the first sentences I wrote about healing was, “Now for the hard part.”

I remember writing that sentence and then stopping. My pen poised above the page, I took a breath and wrote next, “Wait. Going through that relationship was the hard part. What if I choose to simply heal without judging how difficult it will be? What if I simply choose to stand in the brokenness of my heart and give myself room to breathe and heal and grow through the pain into Love?”

I’d love to tell you the healing from that relationship was ‘easy’. It wasn’t. But, it also wasn’t hard, though it definitely had its very hard, jagged places. Healing was the best thing, in fact the only thing, I could do. And so I chose to do it with what I now see as ‘grace’.

In my healing, I could have chosen to continue to beat myself up or love myself in all my brokeneness.

It is a choice I get to make every day.

To love myself as I am, all of me, beauty and the beast, exquisiteness and flaws, yin and yang, light and dark. Or, I can shine my light on the dark places forgetting that the light shines brightest in the dark as I focus on finding ‘the beast’ within, bemoaning the existence of my flaws and beating myself up for being so human.

It is a choice we all get to make, every moment of every day.

To see ourselves as exquisitely human or as damaged goods, flotsam floating on the dark and murky waters of a life not lived in grace.

It is our choice. To love ourselves with grace, celebrating our being so beautifully perfect in all our human imperfections, or, to treat ourselves with inhumane disregard for being so human we make mistakes, forgetting mistakes are our pathway to change and growth.

Change and growth are inevitable. How we navigate them is our choice.

What will you choose for yourself today?

Will you forgive yourself for your mistakes? Will you step into the broken places with grace? Will you give yourself the grace of being human?

Will you love yourself for all your worth knowing you are worth Love?

It is your choice.

Namaste.

 

Life Happens. What then?

We come into this world not knowing what it means to hope or dream. We have but two fears: the fear of ‘falling’ (of losing support) and the fear of loud noises (startle reflex). We are precious. Perfect. Divinely innocent.

And then…

Life happens.

The perfect family we deserve is human.

The perfect world we need to treasure our innocence and perfection is flawed.

We grow and learn ways to adapt, to cope, to make sense of the imperfect world into which we were born. And in our adaptations, we learn coping skills that seem to keep us safe, keep us breathing, keep us living.

And then, after what feels like a lifetime of living in the fear of feeling unsafe, the pain of not breathing deeply, the sadness of not living completely, one more thing attacks the protective walls we’ve constructed along the way and we can’t take it anymore.

We feel so alone. Has any other human ever felt this way? Why does everyone else seem to have it all together? What’s wrong with me?

Tired. Exhausted. Broken. We lock the door to the wall we’ve built around our heart and tuck the key away somewhere deep within our psyche. We take another step. It’s not a light one. It’s not joyful. But it’s another step.

We resign ourselves to the fact, this is just the way life is. We’re born. We live. We die. And along the way, life happens to us and the best thing we can do to keep ourselves safe is not remember where we hid the key to unlock the door to our heart. That way, no one can break our hearts or hurt us again.

We dry our tears, put a smile on our face and tell ourselves it’s just the way life is. We can’t change the past. We can’t see the future. There is only the heaviness, or the numbness, of today.

What if it could be different?

Last week, I had the gift of standing in a room with people choosing to awaken to the full possibilities and beauty of their lives. And as happens for me every time the Choices training finishes, I am in awe of the magnificence of our human condition and our capacity to shine.

As always, there were people in the training who had lives they’d lived with courage and strength for many years. Lives in which they’d built careers, known some success, achieved many goals. But somewhere inside, they still felt like something was missing. Perhaps it was their closest relationships didn’t feel all that close. Or maybe, their hearts were heavy with a loss. Whatever was going on in their world, within them there was a silent wish for more; perhaps a sense of belonging or connection with those they love that would give them peace of heart and mind or perhaps it was a wish to give up feeling like they had to control the world just to feel safe or find comfort within themselves.

Some were just starting out on their journey and already they felt like life was hitting them with adversity every step of the way.

Some had listened for so long to the voices in their heads telling them they were worthless, they believed they were. Why hope for anything better? Life was hopeless, but hey! It was better than the alternative. But sometimes, in the silence of their darkest fears, they would wonder… Was it?

Some felt broken. Some didn’t. Some were curious. Some were scared. Some might even have thought it was all a joke that would eventually make them the laughing stock of the room.

It doesn’t matter what they felt, what they’d done or achieved or acquired in their lives. What mattered most was that they were willing to risk taking a deep dive into themselves. Because, in the end, when we dive into ourselves there is only one truth we will find.

We are each incredibly beautiful, magnificent, precious, unique.

We are each worthy of joy, peace, kindness, happiness, Love.

May you live today, and everyday, knowing you are worthy. You are Beautiful. You are Love.

Namaste