Tag Archives: acts of grace

Begin Again | 52 Acts of Grace | Week 18

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We know the things we need to do that keep us healthy. We start a regimen, get going and everything goes along swimmingly until a life hiccup interrupts the flow and we stop. We stop exercising daily, writing in our journal, meditating, eating healthily.

And in the stopping, we tell ourselves, “I don’t have time.” “I’m too tired.” “I’ll start tomorrow.” “It wasn’t making a difference anyway.”

And resistance rises. Avoidance mounts. Shame grows.

Stop.

Stop and breathe and tell yourself, “I shall begin again. Right now. Right where I am at.”

And begin again.

Stop the mind chatter. Stop the litany of reasons why you can’t, or how you are such a loser because you never follow through, always fall down, can’t keep agreements with yourself.

Give yourself the grace of letting go of ‘the story’ of why not, and begin again.

Always begin again.

 

Grow your world more wild, beautiful and free

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When my daughters were little they had many favourite books. One of them was, Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney. Because they couldn’t pronounce Rumphius easily, we called it, The Lupine Lady.

Read us about the lupine lady, they would plead at bed time, and the three of us would snuggle together and I would read and they would ooh and aaah over the beautiful pictures, taking turns to carefully turn each page.

It is a delightful story of a woman named Alice who as a young girl, upon hearing the stories of her uncle’s travels, promised him she too would one day travel the world and then come home to live by the sea. Just like him.

“That’s all very well,” her uncle said when she told him of her plans, “but there is a third thing you must do. You must do something to make the world more beautiful.”

Little Alice grew up to work in a library and still the yearning to travel remained. She packed her bags and travelled the world, made friends that remained in her heart for ever, and when an injury laid her up, she returned to live by the sea.

Her promise to her uncle stayed with her. There was one thing she still needed to do.

She needed to make the world more beautiful.

One spring, after a long winter nursing her injured back, she felt well enough to go for a walk. In a field beyond her home she came upon a patch of lupines the wind and birds had planted with seeds from her garden.

Alice decided that, to make the world more beautiful, she would cast lupine seeds where ever she walked on the island. And the world grew more beautiful.

What seeds are you planting today that will grow your world more wild, beautiful and free?

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There are several versions of Miss Rumphius on Youtube. Here is one to spark your imagination and inspire your actions.

Say I Love You. | 52 Acts of Grace | Week 17

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On the far wall at the end of our bed is a sign that reads, “Always kiss me goodnight.”

I hung it there several years ago so that my beloved and I would always remember the most important thing before falling asleep. We are together in this world. We are partners. Cohorts. Lovers. And the best thing to do before falling asleep every night, is to seal our commitment to one another with a kiss.

It’s easy sometimes to forget to tell those you love the most that you love them. You become accustomed to the ebb and flow of daily life. The ins and outs and permutations of daily living. The relationships you count on most become part of the life you live and sometimes, acknowledging the ease and comfort of your most special relationships is forgotten.

Sometimes, distance, time, happenings put a strain on a relationship and we forget that to cross the bridge of discord we must let go of the past and remember what is most important today.

Sometimes, we tell ourselves they don’t need to hear the words. They simply know the truth.

Whatever they do or don’t know. Whatever the state of your important relationships, take a moment today to acknowledge the other by telling them, “I Love You.”

And be open to whatever happens next.

Create Kindness | 52 Acts of Grace | Week 16

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Ever think the world is just too crazy and running out of control? That anger and hatred and intolerance are running rampant no matter where you look?

Create kindness.

The only way to overcome hatred, anger, intolerance is to be the opposite. Be kind. Be loving. Be considerate. Be positive. In all ways. In all things.

And the more kind and loving you are, the bigger your ripple of loving kindness in the world. And the more people experience your ripple, the more people will be encouraged to create their own ripple of loving kindness until the whole world will be awash in loving kindness!  Now that’s a vision worth holding.

Create kindness today and watch the world around you change, one simple act of loving kindness at a time.

 

And a chant for loving kindness to inspire your day.

Give Love Away | 52 Acts of Grace |Week 14

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In this world of sensory overload, of having to get where we’re going faster, of feeling pressured to get things done in seemingly ever decreasing minutes to do them in, it can be easy sometimes to forget the Loving Path. To think, I need to butt into line here, or sneak into this place there because… and then we give the 1,342 reasons why our need to get somewhere faster, do something quicker, have something more than anyone else needs to take precedence over their right to the same consideration.

Stop. Breathe. Think about your personal accountability for being kind, generous, considerate throughout the day. And Give Love Away.

The other day, on a busy road, a driver cut in front of me, zipped in and out of traffic only to get to the same red light as me. They might have shaved 10 seconds off their journey on the way to the red light, but that’s about it.

My initial thought was to not think very kind thoughts of them and their driving. In fact, I might even have called them a not nice name and sat with a smug smile on my face as I stared through their rear view window at the red light, silently willing them to look back at me so that I could smile innocently at them.

I needed to Stop. Breathe and think about my personal accountability. What did I want to send out into the world? Irritation and discord? or, Peace and harmony?

Peace and harmony make the world turn more smoothly.

In choosing the loving path, I choose to breathe into my ire and whisper quietly, Bless them. Forgive me. (for that momentary lapse in consciousness where I didn’t think kindly of my fellow human) And let it go.

I cannot change all the bad and inconsiderate drivers I meet on the road. In fact, there may be instances where I am that inconsiderate driver causing others to whisper angrily under their breath about my lack of road smarts. In those instances, I too need the grace of others to help me find my way back to thoughtful, cooperative sharing of the road.

For today, no matter the circumstances, no matter your ire, let Love be your answer. Find the most loving path and Give Love Away.

As Paul Brandt suggests, “You gotta give it away.”  “Because the more you give, the more you get.”

Lighten Up! | 52 Acts of Grace | Week 10

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Ever sat at your desk, looked down at your socks and realized, they don’t match? Or mid-way through the day had someone tell you that your sweater is on inside out?

If you’re like me, you probably wanted to race home and change, or did immediately turn your sweater right side out.

Stop it!

Don’t mess with the happy consequences of lightening up unintentionally.

Do it with intention. Do it to shake up your psyche! Unsettle your status quo. Upset the apple cart of your habitual behaviours.

Do it as if it’s fun!

I know. I know. I struggle with this one. Wear mis-matched socks? Two different earrings? My sweater on backwards? Intentionally?

What will people think?

Right. Who cares what people think?

But they’ll…

Stop.

So, what if I just think about it but don’t do it?

It’s not the same thing.

Our critter-minds crave the familiar, the same old same old. Critter-mind wants us to believe the familiar is safe. The different is too risky, scary, insecure.

Tell the critter-mind to take a nap.

Shaking it up a bit makes space for big shifts to happen that we don’t even know are possible.

Think of it as a gift for your heart. An act of grace to stir its beat and jazz it all up.

I don’t know who said this but I like what they said, “Doing things differently leads to something exceptional.”

Anthony Robbins is credited with having said, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”

My youngest daughter once responded when asked why she always wears mis-matched socks, “Why do you wear matching socks?”

If you always wear matching socks, you’ll never know what it feels like to consciously unmatch them, to go about your day with your feet unbridled by the convention of matching socks.

Go ahead. Try it. Just for today, do something that makes you feel uncomfortable because it takes you out of your habitual behaviours. It’s not about breaking ‘the law’, it’s about breaking the innate laws of society that dictate you must do things the way you’ve always done them because that’s the way they’ve always been done — and don’t worry about people whispering about you if you get out of the rut of convention — they will but that’s their issue, not yours!

Lighten up and shake up your senses. Set your heart free to beat to its own rhythm.

Let me know what happens!

Me… I’m wearing mismatched earrings today and if anyone happens to notice, my response will be… Thank You!

I’ll let you know if I hear things differently.

Practice Deep Listening | 52 Acts of Grace | Week 9

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It doesn’t have to be a co-worker you take out for coffee. It could be a daughter or son, your cousin, neighbour, a friend, your spouse…

The question, “What are you passionate about?” is a direct line of communication to the heart. It speaks to purpose without asking “what is your purpose in life?” Which for some people can be a daunting question if they’ve never really stopped to think about their purpose in the world. Being asked the question,”What is your purpose in life?”, especially if we’ve never explored the question, can cause us to feel vulnerable, exposed. It leads us directly into our heads as we scramble to find the ‘right answer’. And, because we think there’s a right answer, it can ignite the fear we won’t get the answer right, or that we’ll be judged if our purpose isn’t clear, or ‘big’, or headline making.

But when we ask, “What are you passionate about?”, we are speaking heart-talk. We are saying, “I have a deep interest in knowing who you are and what you’re about.” In the open expanse of the question, people click into that space within where their heart beats freely and their mind knows what they’re talking about is not about getting the answer right, but rather about what calls to their heart.

People can be passionate about many things. Collecting stamps. Being a Big Brother or Big sister. Their family. Reading. Mountain Climbing. Volunteering at a hospice.

Asking them to share about their passion, and listening deeply, builds connection. It strengthens the bonds that unite us as human beings and as we listen deeply, gives the gift of being heard, seen, known and valued.

 

Ask a question and listen deeply.

You may be surprised by what happens next.

Give the Gift of Life | 52 Acts of Grace | Week 8

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For the past few months I have been part of the organizing team for a conference that was held Wednesday, Thursday, Friday here in Calgary. The 7 cities Conference on Housing First and Homelessness attracted over 410 delegates, 85 presenters and people from across Canada.

When we were planning for the event, we wanted to create a space where knowledge could be shared, ideas sparked and successes recognized, as well as a place to learn from mistakes so we could all do better. We also wanted to create a space where we celebrated the amazing people who are at the front lines and in the back offices planning, organizing and mapping out strategies to end homelessness.

We decided to create a Photo Booth with a Hero Wall — a space where delegates could dress up, act silly, and take photos of their ‘inner hero’. People were also invited to complete two statements on a piece of coloured paper — Ending homelessness means… and  Excellence already turns up in my work… and to hold their answers up while they were having their photo taken in the photo booth.

The second question came from a conversation I had prior to the conference with one of our Friday keynote speakers, Michelle Cederberg. When I explained the Hero Wall she quickly identified ways to tie it in with her talk — and even came to the Thursday noon keynote session to ensure she aligned her talk with the theme of the conference and the audience. Her insightful and high-energy talk on energizing for excellence inspired everyone with simple and practical ways to take care of themselves. She offered helpful tips on feeding and tapping into our personal pool of internal energy so that we can direct our outward attention, in a healthy way, at the important work of ending homelessness. (I highly recommend Michelle as a keynote speaker)

Ending homelessness is hard work.

Having fun is good self-care.

When we were in the planning stages for the conference there was some concern the Photo Booth would be a dud. Nobody would dress-up. People would think it was silly.

We needn’t have worried.

The Photo Booth was a huge hit!

It showed very clearly that — we all want/need to ‘let our sillies out’, as Week 7’s Act of Grace suggested.

Taking ourselves too seriously can wield a death blow to creativity, energy, enthusiasm and compassion.

Cutting loose, letting your hair down, letting it all hang out — they are antidotes to the weary that can overshadow our work and lives when we get stuck trying to push through each day pulling our energy out of an empty well.

Did you ‘let your sillies out’ last week? How did it go?

 

 

Acts of Service | 52 Acts of Grace | Week 6

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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

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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.