Dare boldly

Inspiring acts of grace in everyday living


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The Art of Becoming What You Hold On To

In the Soul of a Pilgrim course I studied during Lent one year, course moderator and Abbess of Abbey of the Arts, Christine Valters Paintner, asked in one of the lessons, “What if I truly believed the path before me was blessed?

And the muse answered — There would be no misstep. Only beauty. Only the perfection of each step, in darkness and light.

It was a scary thought. To hold true within me the thought that each step before me was blessed. For, if I truly believed each step before me was blessed, I would stop striving to ‘become me’ and fall with grace into being me. I would dance on my path. I would sing loud. I would laugh and spin about and not fear the path beneath my feet. I would embrace fearlessness in each step. I would not fear falling away from being me. I would fall into being all of me.

The Path is the Way, I wrote in my journal. Trusting in the Universe I find The Way to trust in me on the Path where each step unfolds as a blessing before me.

When I let go of my need to be…. seen, heard, known. When I release my desire to be…. somebody. A writer. An artist. An advocate. An executive…  my need to seek approval, acknowledgement, recognition is released. Free of my desire to be more, better, other than who I am, I become that which I do not need to seek, because that which I seek is always present, always within, around and about me  — Love.

In Love, being Love, I sink back into that place where I know, deep within me, that all my seeking for understanding is just a way to keep myself busy seeking ‘The More’ I tell myself I need to become to feel fulfilled, worthwhile, present, valued, valuable.

When I let go of seeking, ‘The More’, my heart has room to breathe freely, my mind has space to open wide and I become my light shining fiercely in love.

And in that space where I breathe freely into letting go of becoming the ‘being’ I think I need to be, I become, all that I am.

May your day be filled with being all that you are when you stop trying to become all that you can be. May you be Love shining brightly in all your being you.

Namaste.


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It’s just a bad day

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I found the quote above at Singing Loud and Strong’s website.

When I first read it, my heart smiled in recognition. I love her attitude!

Singing Loud and Strong is recounting the story of finding her car towed away after a really bad day in court. Yet, even in the frustration and crazy-making drama that fall-out of the circumstances of spending a day in court with the husband she is divorcing, she was able to keep it all in perspective. It’s just a bad day.

That’s courage. Fearless honesty. Living her truth with love and grace.

So often, it is easy in the midst of a ‘bad day’ to think, this is my life! Bad from the get-go.

Seldom is that true.

Year’s ago, while teaching a course at a homeless shelter on self-esteem, one of the attendees said, “When I was born, my mother said, ‘he’s a bad one’. I think I’ve been living down to her judgement of me ever since.”

He was 24. Had spent the majority of his young life in and out of correctional institutions.

He’d never had a ‘good day’, or at least an easy one. Life was hard.

In the session, I invited the students to write a love letter to themselves. We talked about the challenges, fears, possibilities of writing kind words to yourself.

“If you can’t write it from you to you, write it from someone in your life you admire, or write it in the words you wish someone in your life had said to you.

The young man wrote the letter to himself from his grandmother. At the end of the session, he asked if he could read it to the class. The class agreed to hear his words.

 

There is something humbling about sitting in a group of men, all of them homeless, most of them sporting multiple jail-house tattoos and attitude to match, and listening to the words of a young man making them cry.

In his words, possibility awoke, hope arose and spirits took flight.

After he read his letter he told me that even when times were tough with his mother, and in his life, his grandmother was always there for him. “It wasn’t all bad,” he said.

For everyone in that class, as he read his letter, the bad days that seemed to continue one after the other with the speed of a freight train careening out of control, seemed to stop, even if only momentarily, so they could each catch their breath and know, there is good amidst the bad. Possibility amidst the hopelessness. And Love, amidst the fear.

It snowed here last night. The world is pristine and white. The roads not so pretty.

Part of me wants to say, Oh No! Not Snow!

Remembering that young man, I am reminded to move into gratitude. For my life. The love and friends and laughter and joy that permeate every day.

Even with the snow outside, it’s still a good day.

Even behind the grey skies, the sun is shining.

Even beneath the freshly fallen snow, spring is waiting to peek out from beneath the ground.

The snow shall pass. Spring will come and summer will follow. And no matter the weather outside, my heart is grateful for this day.

Life is good.

Namaste.


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When triggers are pulled.

He said, you ruin everything.

She said, No. Alcohol does.

This conversation happened the night before my father’s funeral.

My brother was holding court on the patio at my parent’s home. He was drinking Irish Whisky in honour of dad, chatting about the past and sharing stories.

My mother was sitting beside him, almost falling asleep in her chair. I suggested it was time she go to bed when my brother told me to stop being so difficult. You ruin everything in this family, he said.

His words came through the fog of grief and Irish Whisky. But they still stung.

And, while his words were said in 1996, they can unexpectedly pop back into my mind when triggered by something in the present.

I know why that moment in time memory came back.

It is March.

On March 17 it will be the anniversary of my brother and his wife’s death in a car accident.

Last night, as I tried to engage C.C. in a conversation about “our relationship” and things we could do to make it better, he jokingly said, “You just ruined my day.”

I laughed and said I wasn’t that powerful and we carried on with our conversation. Okay, maybe not that conversation (what is it that makes men so adverse to talking about ‘relationship’?) 🙂  And yes, that’s a rhetorical question. And yes, I know I was just painting ‘all men’ with the same brush. But seriously? If we don’t talk about the things we can do to create ‘better’ how do we know what the things are that we can do to create ‘better’?

And this post isn’t actually about creating better in my relationship. C.C. thinks it’s perfect. 🙂

This post is about memory’s power to trigger its own threads and leave us having to find our own way back to the present.

Recently I chatted with my eldest daughter about something that is happening to someone in her life that is triggering memories of those dark days when I was lost in a relationship that was killing me.

It’s important to heal trigger points, I told her. But you can’t heal it if you keep your finger on the trigger.

For me, triggers are the gift that remind me to always move into, through and with forgiveness, compassion and gratitude.

Forgiveness, for myself and whomever it is that I hold ‘accountable’ (okay, blame) for the sting or pain or whatever emotion it is that is causing me disquiet today.

Compassion, for myself and others so that I can lovingly disconnect from whatever remnant of the story from the past that I am clinging to that does not serve me today.

Gratitude, for the opportunity to see the connection between the past and this moment right now so that I can lovingly take my finger off the trigger and move back into this moment where I know, I am safe. I am loved. I am deserving of joy. I am human. I am okay.

My brother is gone from this world. The memories I cherish are the one’s that fill my heart with love. I loved him dearly. Always will.

 


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It’s a matter of time.

In a meeting yesterday, someone said, while discussing next steps for a project. “We’ve got to get started because, before you know it, a month will have passed and you didn’t even notice.”

Time is on my mind.

As I look forward to where I want to be in the next 6 to 12 months, I see possibilities expanding for me to move beyond the work I do now, day to day, to other things I want to do.

Like paint more.

Write more.

Create more and inspire more through my creations.

And then I trip over myself.

Yesterday, I took on an added workload. When I walked out of the meeting where I’d volunteered to take it on, I had to ask myself, what have I done?

I knew what I’d done. I’d said yes to being of service to others without first stopping to ask myself, Does this serve me well? (And yes, there might just have been a little bit of the ‘I can’t say no’ chatter going on in my head too!)

There is nothing wrong with taking on more work, or pitching in to help out in a bind. In fact, stepping into the world from a place of, “How can I be of service”, creates space for gratitude and humility to be present.

However, when being of service to others adds stress or diminishes your capacity to step continually forward towards your passions, then the act of service is not being made from a place of humility. It is coming from a place of hubris. It won’t lead to an attitude of gratitude. It just leads to resentment, especially when you set yourself up to be taken advantage of through not asking for what is fair, or right, or what you deserve.

I like to feel wanted. That what I do makes a difference. When I diminish my value however, by not standing true to what is important — ie. asking for what I deserve or saying no when I need to — then I am not coming at the work with a ‘pure heart’. I’m stepping in with a hungry heart.

I have a vision to retire and immerse myself in inspiring others to explore their creative essence through offering workshops and teaching people how to tune into their creative core to express themselves freely.

I won’t get there if I don’t stand up for myself and take time to consider each item on my plate and the value it brings to moving me closer to fulfilling on my vision for my life.

Finding balance, measuring our time and considering how best to fill it to create value for ourselves and the world around us, is essential to living pure of heart in gratitude and humility.

Point taken.

 

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The sixth painting in my #ShePersisted series is HERE.


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How Do you Change the World?

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I love to ask the question, “If you were setting off to change the world, where would you start?”

“I’d start with passion,” a friend once replied to that question. “Always start with passion.”

Someone else once replied,  “I know what I’m passionate about. I know where my passion wants to lead me. I just don’t know how to get there”

Follow. Follow your passion. Whenever you are faced with a choice, a decision or an opportunity, follow your passion. The rest will fall into place.Passion.

 In Isabel Allende’s 2008 Ted Talks speech, Tales of Passion, she says that passion lives in the heart and heart is what drives us and determines our fate.
Heart.
The driver of great deeds. The driver of great people.
As humans, we are born great of heart. We all possess a greatness of being just the way we are. As we expand and move into being all we are when fear dressed up as hatred, racism, discrimination, intolerance and a whole host of characteristics we express when we move through fear, does not hold us down, our inherent greatness shines through. In our drive to dig deep into our hearts, to fuel the passion of our creative spirits, we change — ourselves and the world.
 And who could ask for a better world than that? A world of passion, driven with heart, filled with the desire to be the most amazing we can be. And in that desire to be our best, we will create a world of the best around us.
When I was 23, I believed I could change the world. I just didn’t know how to do it.
Now, I know that to be the change I want to see in the world, to create more love, joy, truth, kindness, caring… I must be passionate about living this one precious and awesome life in the passion of being loving, joyful, truthful, kind, caring.

“How can I change the world?” you ask.

Begin with yourself and let your heart lead the way.
Begin with being the most passionate person you can be, doing what you are most passionate about, what you love to do.
We can all do that.

And, to change the world, to make it a better place for everyone, we must all do that. Follow our passions and express our greatness in everything we do, in every way we can so that all the world can see that change is possible when we let go of our fear of never being enough and live passionately into our greatness of being human.


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Where’s the Love?

Black Eyed Peas did a new version of Where’s the Love?

I saw it on FB this morning — it’s powerful, provocative and, I sigh. If only we could listen. If only we would open our ears, our eyes, our hearts, our minds, we wouldn’t have to ask, Where’s the Love?

We’d be it.

Challenge is, to each of us, every 7 billion plus humans who inhabit this planet, our experience of Love is not the same thing.

And as I write that, I can hear my brother-in-law saying, “Don’t forget the animals. You can’t leave them out of a discussion about Love.”

See what I mean? Love is… whoever we are. However we are in this world.

We see Love through our perspectives, our worldview, our priorities, passions, beliefs, experiences.

I remember Thelma Box, the creator of Choices Seminars, saying once that she’d read an article on child abuse and in it, the author stated that for someone who abuses their own child, it is an expression of their love for that child. Not because that act is what Love Is. But rather, because in their mind, that is how they learned to express, get, show… Love.

Years ago, I was in the midst of a relationship that was killing me and finally found the strength to go to the police. The Detective I spoke with said as I was walking out the door, “You know, this isn’t love. Love doesn’t hurt that much.”

Intellectually, I knew he was right.

Spiritually, emotionally, I didn’t believe him.

In that relationship ‘love’ had become so warped by the abuse I was living within, I believed the pain made Love real — I also believed I didn’t deserve Love anyway, so the pain was better than nothing.

Love is…

Everything and all.

Love doesn’t have to change.

We do.

And that’s the challenge.  Love is IN everything we do because Love is all around. It’s just, we get trapped in the darkness of our expression of the pain within, so captured by our need to create the world the way we want to see it, we forget, there are 7 billion plus expressions of Love on this earth.

Where is the Love?

Love is in the father hitting his child. The mother doing drugs on the corner, leaving her children alone.

Love is in the tender touch. The gentle look. The loving words.

Love is in the soldier raping a woman because he holds the gun and she is just a spoils of war.

Love is in the soldier putting down his gun to carry a puppy out of a bombed out building.

Love is in all these things.

There is no question about where Love is.

The question is, What will you do for Love? Where are you in Love?

Are you hiding behind your pain, denying Love access by stomping on hearts, killing your own dreams?

Are you pushing your anger out into the world to keep from caving into despair?

Are you staying locked in your room, surrounded by loneliness because you are too afraid of getting hurt by venturing into the world?

Are you using your love as a weapon, as a means to get what you want, control who you can, create a world of mass destruction?

Or, are you willing to give into Love to create a world of peace, within and all around you?

Where is the Love?

It’s in you. Live it. Now.


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Intersections: my word for 2017

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Intersections — Mixed media on watercolour paper 11″ x 14″

For the past several years, every December I meditate with the intention of being open to a word appearing that will be my guiding thought for the following year.

Sometimes, the word struggles to reveal itself as I block the process, pushing and prodding and trying to direct its natural appearance. In my desire to control the process, I test its strength, purpose, presence and put up roadblocks everywhere.

Sometimes, it appears and there is no getting away from it. It just is, and any machinations on my part simply affirm its presence more soundly.

The word for 2017 was such an occurrence. It appeared early in my process and wouldn’t leave. It stuck around, gently pushing me, instead of me prodding it.

As in past years, my intention was to meditate on the word and then, create a painting that represented it. I don’t ‘create’ it as much as it creates itself.

This past weekend was slightly different. I didn’t have an intention of creating a painting of the word. It just happened.

I was in the studio and started playing with my Gelli Print pad (a really fun rubbery pad that let’s you create prints of images – search for Gelli Print on Pinterest and you’ll find lots of references). I didn’t really have an intention for what I was doing. I simply wanted to explore, have fun and be open to whatever happened.

Using a pale yellow tissue paper as my substrate, I printed images on several pieces, experimenting with colour and texture. With some I used a bird stencil. Others, I used string and various shapes. Eventually, I decided I’d created enough prints and moved on to my canvas paper.

And that’s where the fun started.

Gelli Print image used in painting

Gelli Print image used in painting

Underneath the painting you see, is an old painting I wasn’t too fond of. It’s presence informs the process, creating interesting texture and background that would not have been as rich had I not chosen to trust in the process. Included in this painting are cut up pieces of one of my Gelli Print images as well as pieces of grey self-adhesive drywall gridded tape that I decided would be fun to experiment with.

See, often when I paint, I don’t really have a ‘destination’ in mind. I simply have a desire to express my creativity and be open to the process.

For me, that’s where the excitement, the joy and the contentment intersect.

The painting for my 2017 word, INTERSECTION, is the outcome of trusting in the process, leaning into creativity and letting it lead the way. There was no path, no guaranteed outcome, no sure and safe way to do it. There just was ‘the way’.

Which once again affirms that when I trust the process, the way appears.

Namaste.