Category Archives: acts of grace

Mother Nature: Defiant in the face of adversity

As the days grow shorter and the cold settles in for the winter, the river moves more slowly. Once a frolicking dance of water rushing towards the east, it slithers along its course in a smooth sinuous dance of water and light flowing together. In the middle, between the two abutments that hold the pedestrian bridge up above the water, an ever-widening island of ice is forming.

Winter approaches. Snow covers the ground. The trees stand naked on the river’s shore.

The river runs cold. The river runs deep.

The sky is dark and gloomy. Morning has not yet broken.

I sit at my desk, looking out as daylight slowly creeps across the sky. I am warm and cozy inside my home.

And then, for just a moment, I take my eyes from the river and sky to glance at what I’ve typed and when I look up again, the horizon is awash in rosy pink and golden hues dancing across the sky.

I sit in awe of nature’s ability to fill the world with beauty in just one breath.

Amidst all the inexplicable and often horrific happenings in our world, in spite of the dire news that fills our newscasts with all the things we humans do to destroy each other and this planet we share and call our home, nature continually defies our senselessness with acts of beauty.

Thank you Mother Nature for opening the morning with such grace and beauty. Thank you for reminding me that no matter how far the world seems to be spinning off its axis, no matter how dark the skies or turbulent the waters, spilling warm inviting colours all over my world creates a more inviting place to be. Thank you for showing me how a warm inviting smile, a graceful dab of laughter, a sprinkle of tenderness and kindness can push away the darkness and let the light of day shine bright.

Morning has broken. The river flows deep. My day has begun in beauty.

May we all live this day like Mother Nature. Defiant in the face of adversity. Continually overpowering darkness with light and ugly acts of violence with loving acts of grace. Let us all be fearless in our desire to create beauty in the world.

Namaste.

___________________________

and PS — if you’re wondering…. Beaumont is still asleep in bed with his dad!

 

 

 

 

 

Giving Tuesday – you can make a difference!

Today is Giving Tuesday, an annual day of giving to not-for-profits doing the heavy lifting of social change, supporting research for intractable diseases and other issues like healing our environment, helping animals and a host of difference-making work to support those whose lives have landed them in hard rock places.

Imagine if every day was Giving Tuesday. Imagine if we all believed in the importance of supporting organizations at the frontlines, monetarily and through volunteerism – and then did it!

What a world of difference we would make!

I also get that giving every day would be cumbersome – it would cost more to process a daily $1 donation than a monthly $30 one – but you could give a recurring donation every month to reflect a month of daily giving. It definitely does good things for your heart. And even the tax-folk recognize your giving by giving you a break on your taxes!

Colour me altruistic… but my dream is that Giving Tuesday becomes like Valentine’s Day (without the artificial sugariness and commerciality) — hard to ignore, simple to participate in, and an expression of our love — for humanity, the planet, all sentient and non-sentient beings, everything and everyone on this earth.

I like that.

— Making a difference in the world – everyday.

The original name of this blog when I started it on January 1, 2012, was ‘A Year of Making a Difference’. At the time, I had just left my role as director of communications at the Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre and was concerned about how I was going to keep making a difference in the world. I was doing consulting work and thinking I might continue along that vein but, helping clients (who albeit were all not-for-profits) didn’t quite feel the same kind of ‘difference-making’ as walking into a homeless shelter every day.

So I focused on finding one thing every day that made a difference in my life, other’s lives, the world at large, and I wrote about that.

It definitely made a difference in my life to put my attention on difference-making/makers every day. Eventually, I moved back into working in the homeless-serving sector and at the end of that first year, changed the name of the blog to Dare Boldly. My goal was to inspire each of us to live beyond the limits of our comfort zones and to make a difference.

When I left the sector, and the formal workforce at the end of May this year, I still wanted to make a difference — Difference-making is in my blood.

Inspiring others to make a difference is also in my blood.

So, my challenge to each of us today is to find one not-for-profit organization where a donation of any amount will make a difference. And then, make that donation.

It’s not hard and it doesn’t have to be a huge amount! A quick google search of the term “Giving Tuesday” will give you lots of links to click on to inspire your giving.

I just made mine through  Canada Helps — where for today only, every donation of $25+ is bumped up by $5 — it’s fast, it’s easy and it makes a difference, plus, your favourite charity is probably listed on their site! (And PS — you can even make the donation in honour/memory of someone you love — I did and it brought a smile to my face just to write the message — see, giving is receiving!)

And here’s the thing, if giving monetarily isn’t in your basket today, Volunteer!  Or, when you’re out and about, share a smile, a kind word, an act of grace with everyone you encounter — from those you love to strangers. Share the goodness and grace of your heart.

Seriously, together we can make a world of difference. And BONUS! Giving generates lots of feelings of goodwill in your heart that ripple out into the world in joy and harmony — and what could be better than a world awash in feelings of joy and harmony?

Namaste.

PS — here’s a 30 sec video from the Giving Tuesday org that helps you understand how Giving Tuesday works as an antidote to Black Friday and Cyber Monday — I like it!

 

Let Me Taste Every Bite of Life

One of the things I am noticing about this ‘here-in-my-world not out-in-the-world workforce’ place is I am enjoying my kitchen more and more every day.

I have always loved to cook. I am intrigued by the opportunities to experiment when I dive into the process, the curiosity it ignites with its constant invitation to explore, ‘what would it taste like if I add…?’ or ‘what would happen if I do…. this….?’.

And then, when life got busy, really busy, I started spending less time in the kitchen. When every moment was determined by the extra minutes I could carve out from beneath the pile of to do’s that kept rising higher than the laundry waiting to be sorted on top of the dryer, cooking became a rote process. It took time and where was I supposed to find more of that?

In my newly embraced ‘here-in-my world not out-in-the-world workforce’ mode, I am spending more time thinking about food and the kitchen. I am pouring over recipes, checking Pinterest for ideas on what to do with this ingredient or that vegetable, dreaming up soups and sauces with the savoir-faire of a sous chef in a fine dining establishment (okay it’s more like at a ‘diner’ establishment and a sous/sous/sous chef but a woman can dream!)

And it’s been fun.

Cooking is a form of creativity for me. It is meditative. Relaxing. Soul-filling. And, having more time to spend delving into its mysteries and wonders is a gift — and one my beloved dearly appreciates as he is the beneficiary of my desire to keep creating in our beautiful kitchen!

Some lessons learnt savouring time in the kitchen include:

  1. Like life, cooking is an art form. It is best experienced with all your senses awakened and attuned to your environment and everything in it.
  2. Creating food is one part alchemy, one part science and the rest is all just pure love, joy and curiosity. Sprinkle liberally. Douse everything and everyone in love.
  3. Food is about all our senses. It not only has to taste, feel, look and smell good, it also needs to evoke an emotional response that ignites our gratitude, joy and aliveness.
  4. Cooking is all about being.  It’s not something you do. It’s something you experience by being immersed in the curiosity of its alchemy and magic, savouring each moment, tasting each morsel of energy created by the act of creating meals to nourish body, soul, spirit and wholeness.
  5. It’s fun to cook; alone or with someone(s) special. It’s always heart-filling to share your creations with another or more than one — remembering that it’s not about the food you’re creating or eating, it’s all about the community you’re building when you gather around a pot on the stove or around the table and share in a meal created with Love.

I am spending more time in the kitchen savouring the opportunity to create and imbue our home with my love of creation.

I am grateful. I am blessed. I am alive.

I wonder.

I am reading an online article about Helen Duncan who was convicted of witchcraft in 1944 in Britain and sentenced to 7 months in prison. She was one of the last women to be convicted of witchcraft under Britain’s archaic Witchcraft Act of 1735.

Bemused by what I am reading, I raise my head for a moment and look outside. I gasp.

The river runs red reflecting the rose-red and golden hues of the morning sky.

I stop reading, grab my phone and run to the deck. I have to capture this beauty.

Back at my desk, I laugh at myself. I became so busy taking photos I forgot to just be with the beauty.

I go back out on the deck, without my phone, and breathe into the sunrise. I listen to the river flowing, the hum of traffic crossing the bridge, the dry leaves rustling in the morning breeze.  In the distance, a train rumbles along the tracks aligning the river. A bird caws as it flies over.

I fill my senses with all that is around me. Morning has broken and I am one with its beauty, mystery and magic.

The pink-streaked sky has vanished. Dull grey-blue clouds blanket the horizon.

The river runs steely-grey.

The day continues on.

I am grateful.

While I was able to capture the photo above, I am even more grateful I remembered to let go of ‘doing’. In choosing to go back out onto the deck, I was reminded to breathe and let myself be with the feelings and sensations of standing in the chill of morning, allowing the beauty of a dawn-streaked morning to enter my awareness and imbue my body with its brilliance.

I am grateful I let go of capturing the moment to simply be present in its beauty and awe.

And I wonder… how often do I let go of being present to ‘get ‘er done‘ or to capture some one-dimensional impression of what is, rather than being in felt relationship with all that is?

I wonder.

 

The Rainbow Chasers Guide to Changing the World through Loving Self-Talk

You can be hard on yourself or kind to yourself.

Either way, you’ll get things done.

The hard way will be harder. The kind way will be easier.

The hard way, or the easy. Which do you choose?

I know, it sounds so simple. Just be kind to yourself and it will all work out.

Being kind to ourselves isn’t all that easy when the habit of being hard on ourselves takes up most of our inner conversation.

Many years ago, I kept track of the number of times I gave myself negative self-talk versus positive. I carried around a little notebook and for one week I made a check mark in either the negative or positive column on the page.

It kind of made me want to cry to see how much the negative outweighed the positive.

It was definitely an eye, mind and heart opener.

I sure wouldn’t want to hang around me if I was constantly shedding negativity into the world.

Oh wait! I was. And I was holding it all inside me. Ugh.

Hanging around with myself wasn’t a choice. The choice was, what was I willing to do to make the experience of being with me more enjoyable?

Right.

Change my relationship with me.

I’m not saying it was an easy transition, moving from always talkin’ sh*ttalk to myself to being a voice of gentle loving-kindness. But it sure made a difference once I made the decision to stop the sh*ttalk and get with the “I’m okay. I’m human” talk.

For me, it meant ensuring the ‘Positive’ column in my notebook was filled with more check-marks than the negative side. My consciousness of that goal kept me aware of my inner talk. Every time I caught myself saying something negative to myself, I had to find one positive to match it. That way, at least the negativity didn’t grow into the longer column!

Eventually, I moved from one positive to two until, now, when I do say something negative to myself, like ‘how could you be so stupid?’ or, “Seriously? What were you thinking?” I quickly breathe in (deeply) and give myself grace. “It’s okay Louise. You made a mistake. Your job is to be accountable for your mistakes, not give yourself a life sentence of grief.”

See, sometimes, when I do make mistakes, like say something that hurts someone, or do something I’m not all that proud of, I want to revert back to that place where my mistakes are worthy of my being whipped, tarred and feathered. In those moments, I must surrender my need for punishing myself by making myself ‘not okay’ and call on grace to love me through it.

We are all ‘okay’. It’s our behaviour that can be optional. And when our behaviour gives evidence to our not being as okay as we’d like to be, then we work on our behaviour.

Changing behaviour isn’t about working on our essential goodness, our inherent human magnificence. Those are givens. They are universal in all humanity. Remember?  We are born magnificent and then… life interferes and gives us reasons to doubt our magnificence. Our job then becomes remembering what we forgot so long ago, we worry it no longer exists.

That’s our universal human journey. Returning to love and our inherent magnificence.

What’s not so universal and not such a given is that we treat ourselves, and each other, with dignity, respect, kindness, Love.

And that’s where the work is — in shifting our behaviours to be a reflection of the values that make this world a better place.

We can make it hard. Or do the easy.

The easy begins with talking nicely to ourselves so that our hearts are at ease, our minds calm and our spirits lifted up by our generosity of spirit.

From that place, well let’s just say, changing the world becomes a cakewalk! (Okay maybe not quite so Pollyanish but if we’re all talking nice to ourselves, we’ll be talking nice to everyone else too!)

See, the Rainbow Chasers Guide to Changing the World through Loving Self-Talk! Easy-peasy!

The Age of Grace

 

I am sitting in meditation when a question slips into my mind as effortlessly as a leaf falling to the ground, ” I wonder if a rose resents its petals for losing their bloom?”  Or the tree for that matter. Does it resent the leaf for dying and falling?

I am getting older. I know. Amazing right? But wait. So are you. We all are. It is the inevitable drawing of time that began when this sacred journey of our life was first conceived.

And the fact is, while I may sometimes look askance at the evidence of time’s weathered marks etched into my skin, resenting it is like the tree resenting the falling leaf.

It makes no difference to the leaf (nor to time for that matter) how the tree experience’s its fall. Just as it makes no difference to ‘life’ how I weather my journey. It does, however, make a significant difference to me and my experience of life, how I navigate the inevitability of aging.

Holding myself in a sea of resentment at all I tell myself I’ve lost, I lose precious time to sing and dance, laugh and play, create and learn, Love and be loved.

Holding myself in joyful acceptance of all I learn and experience with every passing moment, I gift myself time to live joyfully with grace in this moment right now, dancing and laughing, spinning about, leaping for joy and embracing all of life’s wondrous gifts at every state of my journey.

Sitting at my desk right now, looking out the window at the trees that line the river, I watch a golden leaf release its hold on a tiny branch and drift slowly to the ground.

It does not rush. It does not plummet. It dirfts, effortlessly, enraptured by its timeless dance with gravity and air. Light. Joyful. Grace in motion.

The leaf will fall. The seasons will turn. Time will pass. Life will continue to evolve and each of us will continue to age until all that is left are the memories we leave behind and the Love we knew, the Love we shared, the Love we embraced.

We come into this world through an act of Love. All we can carry with us when we leave is Love and all we can leave behind is Love.

How we fill in the pieces between the Love is up to each of us.

It’s my choice whether I fall through time resisting gravity’s pull, or let gravity hold me in its loving embrace as I fall through time joyfully dancing in a sea of grace.

 

Namaste.

 

 

 

You are needed in this world.

Yesterday, I had the gift of lunch with my beautiful friend Kerry in her backyard sanctuary. After 3 hours of chatting, savouring time together and sharing the delicious meal she’d created, I realized I’d better get running as our two daughters, as well as my sister and her husband and my daughter’s partner, were coming for dinner.

The plan had been to sit out on the deck for appetizers and cocktails but the weather had a different idea in mind. In fact, right after the two girls and TW stepped through the front door, the heavens opened up and rain poured down followed by a brilliant thunder and lightening storm streaking across the sky.

Needless to say, we made indoor plans.

And that’s the thing about the weather. It will always do what it wants. Thinking you can control it, or even being disappointed in its seeming disregard of your plans is futile. With the weather, and with life, you need to be prepared for the unexpected. You also need to be prepared to change your plans when the weather does what it wants.

Like life.

You can plan all you want, but life takes its own course. The secret to happiness, joy, and contentment is to be willing to embrace what life brings with grace and ease, while always remaining true to your path and yourself, without apology.

On this beautiful day, may we each celebrate who we are in this world and all that we bring to make it a more loving, kind, creative and grace-filled place. May we each stay true to our values and beliefs, and unasbashedly embrace all that we are when we walk in the integrity of being our authentic selves.

Namaste.