Category Archives: Essential Journey

Being present makes a difference

Calgary is a car friendly city. It’s streets and avenues are designed to carry traffic, not necessarily make the way easier for people. The downtown core is laid out with one way streets designed to make entry and egress easier, faster. You drive through downtown, not to the core.

Yesterday, as I walked from one meeting to another, I chose to consciously be present on the sidewalk as I walked. I chose to notice how I moved between people, cars and signposts. How I was present amidst people, cars and signposts.

Self-preservation won. If I didn’t stay present to the cars, I could easily have gotten in their way. If I didn’t stay conscious to the street numbers I could have lost my way.  At one point, crossing from one side of the street to the other that bisected a one way avenue, I thought, “Hmmm… They put the name of the street only facing the traffic moving from the east to the west. I was walking west to east. To see the name of the street I was crossing, I had to turn my head and look behind me.”

Last night, in the Primetime for Emerging Women course lead by the irrepressible and essential Kerry Parsons that I am taking, we began with an exercise of ‘being present’. We stood in front of each person, and breathed into our own presence, their presence, our connected presence in the room. And when we became truly present, we said, “I am here.” and when they felt our presence truly here, they responded, “I see you here.”

It was a powerful and enlightening process. Slowly, I felt myself sink into being present. Completely. Openly. Honestly. Present. No veil. No barrier, no ‘bubble’ protecting me from being present to myself and the other. It was beautiful.

I thought of my walk earlier in the day along the streets of downtown Calgary. Like the cars, even though I was focused on ‘being present’,  to ensure my safety and protect my limited time to get from point A to point B, I was more focussed on the information I was gathering about getting to the address where I was going, rather than the act of how I was walking, consciously connecting to the world around me.

It’s my Bubble World Attitude. I walk, drive, am, operate in the world from a place where fear of getting hit, falling, tripping over obstacles, running into dead ends, getting to the ‘church’ on time, keeps me doing whatever it takes to keep me safe — and separate — from the world around me.

In my Bubble World, vulnerability is not necessary — the thinking goes, “It’s not safe to be vulnerable walking the streets. You might get hit by someone or something.” In fact, when I got to my meeting, one of the people I was meeting with had somehow received a cut on his ear that kept bleeding. It was a windy day so the assumption was, a piece of debris had flown past and nicked his ear.

Aside from wearing a helmet, how do you avoid getting nicked by flying debris on a windy day in Calgary?  (and yes, that’s a rhetorical question)

Like life, we can’t control the world around us. We can’t dictate how it will unfold, who will do what, go where, go how we determine. It is in its very unpredictability and unexpectedness that opportunities unfold, miracles happen. This is life. Nicks, bruises and falls are inevitable. It’s what we do with them that makes a difference.

Challenge is, in my bubble world attitude, I can often operate from a place of perceiving the world as filled with opportunities to stumble. And in my desire to not, I miss those special moments where I can fly free. I miss those divine opportunities to risk it all and leap into the unknown, confident in my gifts, my strength, my capacity to weather any storm and life’s desire for me to achieve all that I am here on earth to become.

The Universe is with me on that one — it needs me, wants me, has evolved through me to create opportunities for me to become all that I am when I let go of fearing, the fall.

And to inspire you this morning, I am sharing Dawna Markov’s signature poem from her book, I will not die an unlived life.  We read it last night during the course and while I’d read it before, I’d never quite heard it like that! Open. Present. Vulnerable to the beauty of her words shimmering in the light of awakening.

I encourage you to take a moment during your day to read her words out loud, to savour each morsel and let them sink into your conscious awareness of being present, risking your significance to live, truly live, from that wild and brilliant place of your magnificence.

I Will Not Die An Unlived Life

by Dawna Markova

I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.

I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible;

to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.

I choose to risk my significance,
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom,
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.

A blog for Family Violence Prevention Month

November is Family Violence Prevention month and I’ve decided for this month to dedicate Fridays to a post on the subject.

I was in an abusive relationship for 4 years 9 months and know the terrors of what can happen in your mind and life when you fall in love with an abuser. I know how it hurts the one’s you love, your family and friends. And, I also know that we can stop it. We can break free and when we do, life opens up in limitless possibilities.

We can stop abuse. It takes all of us to commit to not do the things we do or contribute to its presence in our lives. I cannot change an abuser. I can stop their abuse in my life.

A Journey of Love

For four years nine months I endured a relationship of escalating terror. Looking back, I can’t remember what it is that kept me so stuck in his abuse. Looking back I wonder sometimes, what was I smoking? It must have been powerful stuff. And then, I remember the fear. Fear soaked into my pores. It damned the blood pounding into my heart. It permeated every crevice of my mind, consuming my thinking with terrifying reminders of why I could not leave him.

When it was really bad, and the abuser raged or sat in silent condemnation of yet another of my transgressions, I would slink into a closet, close the door and sit in the dark, my eyes shut to any crack of light trying to enter the dismal confines of my mind. Repetitively I would pet the pooch’s silky fur, clinging for dear life to this one being who laid her head upon my scrunched up knees and loved me unconditionally. Sometimes, when he held onto the pooch and would not let her come to me, I would crawl into the closet and dig my nails into my wrists, scraping the skin back, trying desperately to feel something, anything, other than the pain of being me. I wanted so desperately to peel my skin away, layer by layer to reveal the veins and vessels that carried the blood of life within this person who felt so dead to me. I wanted to see who lived within me. I wanted to expose the bones that were supposed to hold me up yet seemed to be crashing down from within me. I wanted to die.

It is hard to describe how he implanted such terror into my life. It was a moment by moment seeping away of my essence. When I met him, I was a partner in a communications firm. I had my home, my daughters, my life. He kept telling me that everything I had was nothing compared to what he would give me. I would say, “But I’m happy with my life today.” And he would laugh and ask me how that could be and he would remind me of what a mess my life was. I couldn’t figure that one out. My life wasn’t perfect. But it wasn’t a mess either. Yet, he persisted and rather than laugh back at him, I retreated into silence. Perhaps he was right. Perhaps all that I had accomplished meant nothing compared to all that he had done and wanted to give me.

And then the stalking and the phone taps and the threats of bomb’s under my car and the stories of evil men threatening to kidnap my daughters and drug them and put them into the sex trade began. And I fell into despair. The unreal began to feel too real and I could not risk challenging the truth.

By the end of that ride, I did not exist. I had completely submerged my identity and scrunched it up into a tiny pocket tucked high up into the corner of my mind as I became the vessel of his deceit. We were in hiding as he tried to evade the police. He was searching for a way out of the country. I was searching for a way out. Of life. Of being there with him, And so I existed, telling myself that at least I had gotten him away from the one’s I love. They didn’t deserve him and his abuse. But I did.

For four months my daughters, family and friends didn’t  know where I was. And I was too afraid to call and tell them I was okay. Because that too would have been a lie.

I was not okay. I wanted to die. Every moment of every day. Waking or sleeping. I wanted to die. I watched buses and semi-trailers looking for an opportunity to fall into their path or crash into the solid substance of their massive sides as they sped through my life. I counted pills. I fondled razor blades. I imagined death in every form and prayed for it to come and end the darkness that was my world.

And through it all, I stayed silent. I acted the role he needed me to play to convince those who needed convincing that we were who he said we were. Even though I knew it was all a lie. I had become his lie. I was his shill. His creation. The only truth I held onto was my love for my daughters. To take my own life would be to make a lie of my love for them. And I couldn’t do it.

And then, at 9:14 am, May 21, 2003, the police walked in and arrested him and I received the miracle of my life and thus began my journey into myself, into beauty, hope and the joy of living free of his abuse.

It has been an amazing journey since that beautiful day in May. A journey filled with sorrow, tears, laughter, joy. A journey like no other. A journey of Love.

I am blessed. Once upon a time I was an abused woman. Today, I am a victor. Today, I know my power comes from within me. Today, I know my own strength. I cannot stop an abuser being who they are, but I can stop abuse in my life. And I have.

 

A Croning Celebration makes a difference

I love ritual. Love the idea of it, the need of it, the power of it.

Which is why, when my beautiful friend Marilyn asked if I wanted to be part of a Croning Celebration, I jumped at the opportunity.

Imagine! A group of women coming together to celebrate all that makes this third cycle of our lives incredible.

Imagine! 10 wise women plus a ‘maiden’ gathered in a circle to consciously choose to welcome in the changes time has cast upon us through our being here on earth as women.

Imagine!

And there I was, one of 10 Crones gathered in a circle to mark the passing of the years, the flowing out of the childbearing gifts of our bodies, the gathering up of our power and the releasing out of our wisdom. I was there. I am that woman. That Crone.

I am blessed.

Cheryl Hinds, our amazing guide last night at the Croning Celebration, created a delightful evening designed to invoke spiritual reflection, dignity and wisdom. She spoke of time passing, of bodies changing, minds opening and filling up with the knowing of who we are.

She spoke of wisdom gained through living our lives through infancy to childhood, adolescence to maiden and mother and now, Crone. We shared, the wisdom we want to give the world, the gifts we want to bestow, the beauty we want to reveal.

We laughed. We meditated. We donned purple capes and wreaths of flowers. We clasped amethyst and cast out concern and trepidation of our aging and welcomed in the wonder and beauty and sheer delight of being women of this age. We set our intentions, made our commitments to ourselves and eachother and the world. We declared our intention to be true to ourselves, to walk our talk, to become a link between the wisdom of the ancient and recent past, women of today and the women of the future.

It was amazing.

Heartfelt. Joyful. Memorable.

And it made a difference.

To mark this age, this third cycle in my life,  this place and space and being in time where I can say with joy and elation, I am a Crone. I am one of the circle of elders. I am wise woman. Seer. No longer the ‘doer’ I share my wisdom and gifts with those around me to illuminate the path with my light of knowing the power within must move without to become the shift we must all make to create a world of wonder. A world where peace rises through the ashes of the past where we believed to ‘have more’ and do more was the answer to creating and being more of who we want to be in the world.

Having more is not the answer. Becoming more attuned to the rhythms of our bodies, the cycles of our lives, the wonder of our hearts — these are the places where we find the more. these are the spaces where shift happens, miracles unfold and beauty awakens.

I took part in a Kroning Celebration last night.

Ritual. Laughter. Joy. Women gathered around a flickering candle. Women sharing that which makes us so powerful. Our beauty. Our community. Our age. Our gifts.

I am grateful.

 

 

 

 

The light of evensong makes a difference

I walked beneath the light of the full moon, the air chilly against my skin. Ellie, the wonder pooch, pranced and danced beside me, her tail wagging enthusiastically as she sniffed for scent of gopher, squirrel maybe chipmunk beneath the snow covering the ground.

It was the in-between time. That hour just before darkness falls where dusk draws a silken veil across the sky and tinges the horizon in pink and rosy and golden hues. The time of Vespers, an ancient Catholic ritual of expressing gratitude in the twilight hours.

I walked and soaked in the air and view and quiet of the evensong drawing day to a close.

I walked and silently gave thanks for my day. A day of quiet. A day to work on a project for  my beloved (and I can’t tell you here because he reads here and telling you would spoil the surprise!). A day of sharing a meal with good friends and talking about the Essential Journey and how to translate ‘the knowing’ of our essential selves into service for the world.

“Louise,” my good friend Kerry Parsons sat across from me at lunch and as is her way, asked the questions of her heart. “You go out into the world and do your thing and do it singularly because, that’s what you do.” She glanced around at the other two members of our Essential Journey team. “That’s what we all do. But how do you, how do we, do it collaboratively? How do we enter into the spirit of co-creation and keep it as our collective vision?”

It was a good question. An important one.

How do I move from the ‘Me’ to embracing the ‘We’. How do I ignite possibility through collaborative energy versus singular drive?

I don’t know. I’m learning as I go. It’s evolutionary.

That’s the thing about the evolutionary process. It is constantly evolving. Continually unfolding and growing and emerging.

And I grow with it, emerge, become.

When I was a child I didn’t like team sports. Not because I wasn’t good at them, but rather, because I feared criticism. I feared letting others down. If I just say “I’m not a basketball player, volleyball player…” or whatever the sport was that required me to cooperatively engage in exercising with a collective, then no one will expect me to be part of the team. And in the release from that expectation, my expectations of not being wanted could be ignored.

I never had to challenge my belief — I am unwanted.

It also meant I took up singular sports and those where it was me against an opponent. Running. Skiing.  Racquetball. Tennis. Squash. I could be good at those because I never had to ask if I was wanted on the team, I just needed to turn up and be my best.

Except, being my best also came with mixed messages of childhood. “You think you’re so good.” You think you’re better than everyone else. Don’t get too smart for your britches. Nobody likes someone who always wins.

And so, I began to hide. My light. My drive. My brilliance. I began to hide behind the mediocrity of getting along, getting by, getting it done. Even though there were brief bursts of ‘wow! I can do that!’, I did my own thing — but never to the best of my abilities, always to the best of my belief it was vain and self-serving to shine.

I adapted.

It is the core message of the Essential Journey. We are born into this world with gifts and light and perfection shining. And then, we adapt.

We adapt to fit our family unit. Our circle of friends. Peer pressure, cultural biases, faith dictates, all impact our journey, moulding us into adaptive beings capable of living life and fitting into the norms of our society.

In the Essential Journey we learn to identify our adaptive beliefs and behaviours as we release the essence of the magnificence of our birthright. The brilliant, shining light of who we are born to be in this world of wonder.

The Essential Journey asks, “Who am I when I live up to my higher-self? What can we create through the collaborative energy of the highest expressions of our magnificence?”

Imagine what a world this would be. Imagine the difference we can make, imagine what we can inspire when we let go of living from our adapted selves and allow the full expression of our magnificence to unfold with grace and ease in a world of wonder.

Just imagine.

I walked in the light of evensong and felt gratitude, joy, Love and humility rise within me and all around.

I may not know how to operate in the collaborative but I do know how to allow the process to unfold. In its unfolding, I let go of making it happen to make room for miracles to happen, everywhere, because my life has been an evolutionary journey of Love. And in Love, I know, all things are possible. In Love, miracles happen.