Dare boldly

Inspiring acts of grace in everyday living


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Shed a little tear | 52 Acts of Grace | Week 48

Yesterday was a tough day.

It began with an issue that left my heart feeling raw as my CEO and I worked together with members of the team to navigate the turbulent waters of the media’s need to ‘get the story’ and our responsibility to address the needs of staff, board members, all our stakeholders and the public.

I wanted to cry, in sorrow and dismay and confusion. Why did this happen? Why is there no avoiding the devastation and brokenness left behind in the wake of what has been brought into the light?

At the end of the day, I spoke with my sister who had gone to the doctor with my mother that afternoon. Turns out, the ‘something pulled’ in my mother’s hip/knee was actually the hip joint coming out of the socket. Her pain had been real and excruciating and no one figured out why until two weeks later.

I wanted to cry, in frustration and dismay and confusion. Why didn’t they see it on the x-rays two weeks ago? Why did they have to leave her in such pain without doing anything?

My mother has to make a decision. Have the operation to repair it, an operation they are not sure she will survive. Or live with the pain. Challenge is, no matter what they do, the cause of her hip coming out of the socket will continue to be an issue. Her bones are soft and fragile. A replacement hip, or simply putting the hip back in its socket may still result in the bones shifting.

I wanted to cry some more. After her surgery in December, my mother stated she wanted to live to see one hundred. And she really meant it. I think she still does but her options are limited on how she will get there.

Not ready to give into tears, I went into the studio and created. Not one of my better pieces, but it satisfied my need to breathe through it all, to find my centre again so that I could remember, now is not forever.

And the tears still waited, lurking behind the shadows of my doing.

The universe delivers the time and space for what we need to do, even when we resist.

Just before bed, I decided to take the recycling out as today is garbage day. I wanted that last breath of fresh air, especially as the temperature has warmed up enough to go out without a coat.

I carried the big blue tub that sits by the back door out to the recycling bin, emptied it and on my way back through the backyard, caught my feet in the netting that holds the vines up against the garage wall. The man who clears our snow had inadvertently caught some of it with his shovel and it was lying on the ground. In the dark, I forgot it was there.

I went flying.

Splat!

On my rear, in the wet, melting snow-soggy dirt beneath the crabapple tree.

I sat for a moment, stunned, not sure if I’d broken something.

And I started to cry.

In frustration. Anger. Sorrow. Sadness.

I let the tears flow.

For a moment.

And then, C.C. came out and helped me up.

And life moved on.

Sometimes, when faced with life’s inexplicable, all we can do is shed a tear or two for the chaos and angst.

And then, we get up and keep moving.

Tears do not resolve the issues. But they do give release to the pain we carry in our hearts.

And when our hearts are lightened of their load, it’s easier to keep moving forward, doing the things we know that create better in our world.

I feel better this morning (other than my knee which hurts like the dickens! 🙂 )

Time to leap into another day.

 

 


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Unravelling time.

 

My sister and I spent Saturday packing up my mother’s room at the assisted living lodge where she has been living for the past ten years.

In December she fell, broke her hip and 3 other bones. The operation on her hip was successful, the other bones have set. Her recovery was going well, and then, something pulled inside her knee/hip, and she is struggling to walk.

She can no longer get out of bed, or do  much of anything, without assistance.

She needs a higher level of care. She has to move.

As I said to my sister on Saturday while going through mom’s papers, trying to decide what to keep, what to throw out, “This would be much easier if mom weren’t alive.” The going through her things part is what I was referring to, not my mother’s passing. At 94, it is inevitable that some day, week, month, or year in the future, she will be gone. For now, though her body is frail, her mind and heart remain strong.

In the packing up her things, in the sorting through her papers and collection of memorabilia from her life, it feels so wrong. Like I am treading on foreign soils, an uninvited stranger. These papers I am rifling through are her life story. Her secrets, her thoughts, her hopes and dreams.

My mother seldom shared much about her dreams.

She has shared often about her past. About her life in Pondicherry, before the war, before a handsome airman breezed into town and stole her heart, or at least the part of it she was willing to give that wasn’t attached to the land and people of her birth. That part she’d always left behind. Clinging to the regrets of having deserted her parents long ago to follow a man to the other side of the world.

She’s often shared her regrets of leaving India. Of leaving her family and life behind.

But she seldom shared her dreams.

I wonder now if she had any. I know before she met my father, she wanted to be a nun. That she was a teacher at the convent.

I know that marriage for her was scary at first.

My father breezed into town with a letter of introduction from one of her cousins, or perhaps it was an aunt. They met, shared a dance, or part of a dance at least because the story she tells is of him leaving her in the middle of the dance floor because he couldn’t dance. Two weeks later they were married, despite his lack of dancing shoes.

Four weeks later he was gone. Back to the war.

He came back two years after that.

The war was over and he was returning to Britain. With his bride.

She’d been unsure if he would return. “The nun’s said these soldiers would come to town and take advantage of us,”  she told me. “They said he had no plans to return.”

The nuns were wrong, and my mother’s journey away from the heart of her story began.

She was 23 years old.

On Saturday, I sorted through my mother’s things and found bits and pieces of her story, morsels left upon the road of life, leading me back to where her story began.

In Pondicherry, India.

There is so much more to this story and in my eldest daughter’s words as we chatted on the phone last night, it became crystal clear that is it time to gather the threads in search of the missing pieces.

Namaste

************************

Thank you  Joshua Becker, at Becoming Minimalist for the inspiration this morning. Joshua shares a beautiful story about his grandfather, a man who continues to work at 95 years of age as a pastor.

His story:  Top Five Regrets of the Dying, begins with:

Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse who spent several years caring for patients during the last 12 weeks of their lives, routinely asked her patients about “any regrets they had or anything they would do differently.”

Bronnie spoke of the phenomenal clarity of vision that people would gain at the end of their lives and the common themes that surfaced again and again during these conversations.

Eventually, in a book about the experience, she would distinctly identify “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.” They are:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so much.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

From Joshua Becker:  Becoming Minimalist — Top Five Regrets of the Dying

The read the rest of Joshua’s beautiful story, click here.

 


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Honouring times of fallow

 

No 25. #ShePersisted
Winds of Change
Mixed Media on art paper

My friend Kerry Parsons recently gifted me a set of “Soulful Woman Guidance Cards.”

It is no accident the card I pulled today is called Time of Fallow — Creative manifestation occurs more easily when I have nurtured myself and honoured my time of fallow.

Nature understands the meaning of honouring its time of fallow. Spring fields produce healthier bounty when they have had a time of fallow.

I have been considering this blank page for a while this morning. Wondering what do I feel calling within, yearning to come out.

And the muse quietly rests, calling me to honour my creative urgings through a time of fallow.

I have been so consumed by the creation of the #ShePersisted series, I feel my creative energies calling out for a rest, a respite, a reprieve.

Life is ebb and flow. We breathe in. We breathe out. We step forward. We step back. We repeat.

On another level, my immersion into the #ShePersisted series is an honouring of my time of fallow.

It has given me space to gently and effortlessly explore my desire to stand up and step up to be heard. To clarify my voice, my gift, my offerings to the world.

It has given me beautiful guidance on what I want to do to create a world of difference.

If I change my glasses, shift my lens, I can see this time of creating the #ShePersisted series as my journey into my soul where I delve into exploration of our human condition through wonder and awe for all we do collectively to create war and peace, discord and harmony, walls and bridges, abuse and comfort, deception and truth, hatred and love.

As the images and words for this series have flowed, and continue to flow (I’ve still got a list of over 10 quotes that have popped into my head at random times), I have been enthralled by the experience of giving into the creative process, fearfully and fearlessly, haltingly and effortlessly.

It is the yin/yang of creativity.

To be afraid of a blank page. To dive hopefully into the open space calling itself into being.

And in that realization, I am overwhelmed by a sense of gratitude. Joy. Knowing.

There are no blank pages. Just beautiful wide open spaces calling out to me to breathe into my creative essence and with every exhale, blow away my fear of being the change I want to see in the world.

Namaste.

 

To view the whole #ShePersisted series, please visit my website.

 

 


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I surrender

I have an early morning meeting today.

Had two events last night.

Busy. Busy.

Yet, no matter how busy, the invitation is always there to co-create with the muse, the universe, life.

My dear friend Sheila K. sent me the MEME above. It’s inspiration, and her creative spark, will lead to another piece in the #ShePersisted series. “They said calm down. She created winds of change.”

Yesterday, at an International Women’s Day Luncheon sponsored by BDP, I listened to Elisabeth Manley speak about her journey through mental health issues to the Olympic medal podium. Her words inspired another piece for the series. “They said there’s nothing you can do to change it. She did what they said couldn’t be done.”

The universe is filled with invitations to co-create. To fall into the flow and let yourself be carried away by life’s juicy creativeness.

As I am leaning into co-creating the #ShePersisted series with the muse, giving into the flow means surrendering to life’s urgings to express my creative essence, fearlessly, honestly and freely.

I surrender.

 


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I have tolerated bad behaviour. It’s time to change. #BeBoldforChange

I have tolerated a lot of bad behaviour in my life.

I have had men hit on me with the promise to support my career if I slept with them.

I have had men offer money for sex, because I was standing in a hotel lobby by myself or walking down the street at night.

I have had men ask me to take notes at a meeting, not because that was my role, but because I was a woman.

I have had men ask me to grab them a coffee, again, not because that was my job, but because I was a woman.

And, I have had men tell me crude jokes, or make suggestive comments on the phone, confident they will not be corrected, abraded, or called out.

Sure, it may seem small potatoes in the big picture of the pressing dangers women face all over the world, everyday. Rape, war, violence against women and  female genitalia disfiguration and so many other inhumane practices that do not serve our humanity well.

But, gender based biases where I allow bad behaviour to be the norm, or laugh them off with a wave of my prettily manicured hand and shrug as if to say, “Oh well. Boys will be boys,” does not change anything.

Boys will be boys and they deserve so much more than being the target of women’s ire and disdain.

Thank you Ghandi. We need to BE the change we want to see in the world.

Change depends on our doing the small things and the big things.

Change depends on our not tolerating the innuendoes and the sexual assaults.

Change needs us to speak up in the face of discriminatory practices and to yell out, loud and strong, when faced with attacks on our sex, gender preferences, race and faith.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is:  Be Bold for Change!

My #ShePersisted painting for this day is about being brash, loud and bold.

It’s about wearing whatever we want, without fearing reprisal.

It’s about speaking up, without fearing being shut down.

It’s about being bold, without fearing being emblazoned with labels that denigrate our femininity, sexuality and humanity.

Let’s each of us, men and women, rise up in support of our sisters (and brothers too) for whom real life dangers continue to threaten their rights and lives, everyday.

And let’s each of us, men and women, do the small things today that create positive change in our lives, everyday, for everyone.

Let’s stop tolerating bad behaviours. Let’s start doing the right things for one another.

 


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Speak softly. Step gently. | 52 Acts of Grace | Week 47

 

One of my mother’s favourite sayings when I was small was “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

She held her own counsel, seldom vying from the path of kindness towards others.

Yesterday, my sister and I met with my mother and a transition worker to talk about next steps.

Since her fall and subsequent operation in December, she has not recovered well. She started out strong, defying the doctor’s predictions for her recovery.

And then, she had a set-back. Something pulled in her left hip/leg where she’d had the surgery to repair the break, and now, the pain is constant and she can barely move that leg.

The trauma of losing her mobility, of having to move from her current residence which is a light assisted living situation to a more intensive long-term care model, is heart-breaking.

And still my mother persists.

She continues to speak softly. She  still has only sweet words to share with everyone.

We could all use a page from my mother’s playbook.

Speak softly. Step gently.

Namaste.


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It’s just a bad day

just-a-bad-day

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.