Category Archives: acts of grace

6 Principles for Living Life Joyfully in the Now.

“It takes more courage to reveal insecurities than to hide them, more strength to relate to people than to dominate them, more ‘manhood’ to abide by thought-out principles rather than blind reflex. Toughness is in the soul and spirit, not in muscles and an immature mind.”

Alex Karras

Yesterday, I challenged myself to write my six principles for daily living. It was more complex a task than I thought.

First, there’s the little voice inside me that whispers, ‘rather grandiose of you Louise to think you can write such a thing.” Secondly, there’s the indecision, the questioning, the looking at the truth — do I really uphold these principles in my everyday living? Do I really live by these principles in everything I do and say?

Not sure I do every moment of every day, but — and here’s the beauty of taking the time to consciously write out what I believe are the principles that are important to me — they are principles that I want to live by, principles that guide me in every thing I do and say.

When I know better, I do better. In writing about the principles I believe in, I learn more about where I am, and what I want in my life. I learn more about me — my insecurities, my strengths, my belief structure. I have a measuring stick against which to gauge my progress, minute by minute, encounter by encounter. I have a rock solid foundation upon which to build my life.

I believe we are all connected. That when I live by the Golden Rule, ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’, I am accountable for everything I do and say. When I respect the differences between me and my fellow man, when I honour who I am by making room for who others are, I am walking my truth, being the difference I want to create in the world by connecting to what is important to me and the world around me.

I believe we are all magnificent human beings, capable of greatness in everything we do. I believe in my own personal significance. That who I am, what I do makes a difference. It is my responsibility to recognize my gifts, acknowledge them and use them wisely. It is my responsibility to step softly, to ensure my footsteps are like butterfly kisses, each imprint inspires imagination, but leaves no mark to mar the surface upon which they passed.

I believe I am responsible for my own happiness, and I trust others to be responsible for theirs. I am happiest when I am living a principled life, acknowledging my dreams and taking action to make them come true. Like happiness, my dreams are my responsibility to bring to fruition.

I believe kindness counts. That being kind creates a more caring world. When I care for the universe, everything and everyone in it, I am contributing to a better world and creating a world of value in everything I do, and every where I go.

I believe in honesty and truth. When I honour someone with my truth, I am opening the door for their truth to enter. When I am honest with myself, I love myself exactly the way I am. When I look at myself honestly and truthfully, I give myself grace to lovingly acknowledge my short-comings, my inconsistencies, my fallibilities. In my truth, I set myself free to change the things I do that hurt me and those around me.

I believe in treating all people with respect. How I treat people is a reflection of who I am. It’s my responsibility to be the best me I can be at all times.

The question is: Have you written down your principles? If not, what are you waiting for?

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I am at the 7 cities Conference on Housing First and Homelessness for the next 2 days. This post was originally posted on my Recover Your Joy blog, on Thursday, September 27, 2007. I was fascinated to see how these principles are still my truth today.

namaste.

Let your sillies out | 52 Acts of Grace | Week 7

acts of grace week 7 copy

In a world filled with opportunities to be serious, morose, sad, to feel like it’s all one big mess, or that there’s nothing we can do to end war, poverty, child abuse, starvation, environmental disaster, and a host of other serious ills-of-the-world, it’s easy to forget the lighter side of living.

Let your sillies out. Be light-hearted. Joyful. Light-of-spirit and light-of-foot. Dance when you might have walked. Spin about for no reason. Skip down the street.

No matter how silly you feel, how weird or awkward, being light-of-spirit lifts spirits, yours and others — and in the process, lifts the energy of the world.

We are all energy. And when we walk with our shoulders drooping, heads looking down, eyes to the ground, the world feels like it is resting on our shoulders. And we grow weary.

Shake it off. Shake it up.

It’s just another way to share an act of service with the world. Share it!

I know. I know.

You’re shaking your head right now saying, “Now that’s a silly idea.” “I might get arrested.” “I’ll look stupid.” “People will think I’m weird.”

So what? Do it anyway. Get out of your comfort zone.

Think about it. Don’t you love to see children spinning about, rolling down grassy hillsides, laughing gleefully in the park? Doesn’t it lift your heart and make you smile?

Why do we think that as adults we can’t be childlike in our appreciation of the world around us? When did the troubles of the world become so heavy we stopped laughing for the sheer joy of laughing? Dancing for the sheer exhilaration of feeling our bodies move in time, or at least to our own time, to the music? When did we quit having fun?

Let your sillies out. Let your spirit feel light and free.

The world needs your special kind of silly. The world needs your lightness of being joyful.

Acts of Service | 52 Acts of Grace | Week 6

acts of grace service week 6 copy

Did you look into your eyes in the mirror last week and say, “I love you”?

Did the voice, that irritating little critter-mind voice of self-doubt and critical intent jump in and whisper those nasty sweet nothings like, “Really? Who are you kidding?” “Don’t be ridiculous.”…

Did you feel silly? Uncomfortable? Embarrased?

If you felt any of the above, relax. You’re just human.

It happens to all of us. We want to applaud ourselves. Tell ourselves the things we love most about ourselves, and some little primordial voice, some voice from the distant past that admonishes us to “Not be conceited.” “Don’t get too high for your britches.” “Don’t be vain.” wants to leap in and save the day (or at least our egos) by keeping us from shining our light bright.

You are born to shine bright. The world needs our light to find its way out of the darkness. Keep shining. Keep celebrating the wonder of you. Who you are makes a difference.

And if by some chance you don’t believe me, watch the video below about one teacher’s brilliance in 1988 continues to inspire light up lives today.

 

 

Celebrate You | 52 Acts of Grace | Week 5

acts of grace week 5 copy

I know. I know. Saying nice things about you, to you, from you, feels… conceited. Weird. Odd. Uncomfortable.

Don’t let critter-mind thinking steal your light. Don’t let doubt undermine your capacity to celebrate you!

To receive compliments from others, you have to be willing to hear them and accept their words as truth. And what better way to practice truth-hearing than all alone in your bathroom?

If you are uncomfortable standing in front of a mirror, looking into your eyes and saying, I Love You, ask yourself… What’s the worst that could happen?

So what if you blush? So what if you cry? You’re alone. Maybe you blush because it’s true and you’re afraid to state it. Maybe you’re afraid it’s not true and that makes you cry. Whatever the response, let it be what it is while you practice standing in front of a mirror, looking yourself in the eyes and saying, I Love You.

It’s good soul-food.

Some time ago a friend gave me a package of crayons that write on glass. For weeks, I wrote a love note to my beloved every morning on the bathroom mirror. At first, he didn’t say much and then, he started to write me notes on the mirror in our bedroom.

What a gift.

I loved getting his messages. I loved knowing he was thinking of me. (Note to Self:  Dig out the crayons. Get writing again!)

So, if you are uncomfortable writing the love note to yourself, write it to someone else — and then… read it out loud to yourself!

Bonus! The other person, whether they read it or not, will have ‘received’ your gift of words, and so will you!

Go ahead. Explore what it means to say nice things about yourself. Let your imagination run wild. In its wild cavorts of fancy and delight, the critter-mind won’t be able to find the air to flare up and douse your passionate embrace of you with its flames of condescension and condemnation! YES!

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Last week’s Act of Grace — to share a hug — brought interesting results. I started with people at the office and found both joyful acceptance and guarded acceptance. But always there were smiles.

I asked a woman at the grocery store who shared a story while we looked over the tomatoes if she would like a hug and she promptly said, “Yes!” There we were, standing heart to heart in the produce aisle, surrounded by plump fresh vegetables and fruits. I swear they did a little dance!

When a man at the park offered Beaumont some water, I didn’t ask if I could give him a hug of gratitude. I did thank him and say, “That is very kind.” Like readers said, being conscious of boundaries is important.

A little girl gave me the best hug ever. She is the grand-daughter of a woman I often encounter at the dog park and when I met her, I didn’t need to ask if she wanted a hug. She just stepped in and hugged me. Pure delight! Of course, Beaumont wanted in on the action too, which made her giggle with pure delight.

An interesting self-observation I notice is that the further in time I get from a week of coaching at Choices, the less likely I am to hug people when I meet them. I think it comes from feeling safe, or not, in the world. The Choices seminar room is an incredibly safe and loving space, I don’t ‘think’ about hugging, I just do it. In the beautiful, rarified air of love and acceptance that I find in the Choices environment, connecting with people is easy, effortless and second nature.

Did you hug last week? What did you observe?

Namaste.

 

 

 

 

Do you validate?

In response to yesterday’s reflection on Week 2 Acts of Grace where I remembered I forgot to remember to give gifts of words often enough during the week, Mark Kolke of Musing’s and other writings, shared a video of a speech on validation by Lance Miller.

Lance’s speech was brilliant enough to garner him 1st place in an International Toastmasters competition.

In his speech about learning the value of validating other people, Lance says, “I began to find something I could stamp on everybody I met. That little bit of goodness. That little bit of brightness.” As in, I looked for something positive in each person I met, and then I told them what I saw.

Imagine if, we all went through the world searching for the positive in each person we met.

Imagine if, we told them what it was we saw that made such a difference in our eyes.

Imagine if, we did the same for ourselves.

Imagine.

You tell yourself the positive things you heard about yourself throughout the day — instead of the negative.

Last week, I received lots of positive feedback and while I won’t share my list I encourage you to make one for yourself.

I will share what my beloved said that still resonates in my heart and soul. We were talking about being real. I commented on how sad it is that we feel the need to adjust ourselves and sometimes shift who we are to ‘fit in’ to the world and different situations.

“You don’t change who you are to fit in with people or situations,” he said. “You are always true to who you are.”

Wow.

My soul danced. My spirits lifted. My heart swelled up in love and joy.

Validation.

Affirmation.

Conformation.

All of these are the lifeblood of living passionately in the moment of now.

I am blessed.

Imagine instead though if I had stayed stuck on something that didn’t feed my soul, didn’t lift my spirits or fill my heart with love and joy.

Imagine if I’d held onto that feeling of having ‘missed the boat’ when I realized I’d forgotten to put the laundry in the dryer — and it now reeked of 3 day old dampness?

Imagine if I’d held onto that feeling of being ‘stupid beyond words’ when I took Beaumont for his walk one night and forgot to roll up his onesie so he could pee without getting it wet? (He’s wearing a onesie because he had the big ‘snip-snip’ operation last week and he’s not supposed to lick the incision.)

Or forgetting someone dear to me’s birthday? (which as I type that line I wonder about the accuracy of that phase ‘dear to me’s birthday’ and remember — it is someone very dear to me’s birthday today!

Imagine the self-talk that could ensue from all of that. I could be black and blue with words of condemnation!

It’s important to learn from our mistakes. It is also equally important to not get stuck in the negative self-talk our mistakes sometimes evoke. It’s important to not keep repeating the ‘you are so stupid’ or the ‘what a loser’ messages. We become what we tell ourselves and telling ourselves over and over again about our faults, creates the loss of our true selves.

Mistakes are opportunities to be reminded to pay attention. To listen up. To step into the moment. They are not meant to be opportunities for self-flagellation.

So, if you have trouble giving yourself positive self-talk, begin with validating others. Begin with telling those you meet about the wonderful things you see in them, and know — you cannot see it in another if you don’t have it in you.

It takes one to know one.

It takes awareness of the value of what you appreciate, to know the value of what you appreciate.

I appreciated C.C.’s comment so much because within me is the desire to know I am always walking true to who I am.

That desire lives within him too. Otherwise, he wouldn’t appreciate it in me.

As Lance Miller says in his speech, “A common denominator of all humanity is the fact that we are human. We are by nature imperfect. It takes no special talent to find an imperfection in another person. But every person goes through life wanting to be right, wanting to be valuable. Find that. Bring it out in them.”

Let’s bring it out in ourselves too.

And this short 16 minute film is one of my all time favourites. It may have also inspired Lance Miller. I’m hoping so because he inspired me, as did Mark.

 

 

Words of Affirmation| 52 Acts of Grace | Week 2

acts of grac Week 2

Last weeks act of grace was to share a smile, a stranger, a co-worker, a store-keeper. Share a smile and really feel its value.

As I travelled on the C-train, walked along the street I learned an interesting lesson — it’s hard to share smiles when people’s faces are turned down so they can read things on the tiny screen of their cell phones.

It is an ubiquitous posture. People sit, stand, walk, head down, chin tucked in, hands in front holding a tiny cell phone.

It’s hard to catch their eyes.

Except for the three people sitting on the bench on the sidewalk at the end of the block near my office. Their eyes were easy to catch. Two of them sat on the bench, one of them lay on the ground straight out across the sidewalk in front of the bench.

His eyes were closed. I wasn’t sure if he was hurt, sleeping, passed out…

As I walked up I stopped to ask the two people on the bench. “Is he okay? Does he need help?”

They smiled at me. Waved their hands in the air as if to say, “Nah. Everything’s okay.”

The man on the ground opened his eyes at the sound of my voice. Sat up.

“Do you need any help?” I asked him.

“I need five bucks!” he said, his voice filled with enthusiasm.

I laughed out loud and replied, “So do I!”

And we laughed together.

He got up to sit on the bench.

“I’m glad you’re okay,” I told him before continuing on my way, the sound of his laughter ringing behind me.

A few other people did smile back during the week. The C-train driver whom I waved at and smiled as the train pulled into the station.

The woman running towards the doors as I held them open for her.

The man I smiled at when he stood to let a mother and child have his seat.

The woman on an elevator who like me, was wearing shoes, no socks, even though it was a frosty morning. We had a lovely chat about our desire to believe it’s spring.

The woman at the street corner waiting for the same pedestrian light to change.

But it was stunning to see how many people were so engrossed in the small screen they held in their hands.

Note to self: Do less looking at my cell phone. Do more smiling at people.