Tag Archives: be the change

Can you let go of fear?

Photo by Ev on Unsplash

Some time ago, I was working with a group of formerly homeless individuals to create a video about their experiences of being housed and the difference having a home made in their lives.

One of the participants, I’ll call her ‘Gladys’, when asked, “What did you fear most when you were homeless,” replied without hesitation. “Dying on the streets.”

Someone else responded with, “I’ll die and no one will find me for days.”

Another, “No one will know I’m gone.”

Gladys is living in an apartment now. In her new way of being she is supported by people who understand her fears, and who believe that with compassionate care, she can thrive in community.

Her thriving will not look like yours or mine. It will be different. But then, mine is different than yours and yours is different than someone else’s. It is our differences that create the vibrancy of our communities. It is our diversity that builds strength into the intersections of our lives.

There is possibility in our differences. There is connection.

In my life, I have done many things and learned many lessons. Some, I’d like to keep. Some I can live without. What I’ve learned most though is that all things make a difference. It’s up to me to determine what kind of difference I want to make through my experiences. And while the past is a good teacher, it can also be a lodestone.

It all depends on what I do with my experiences.

My experiences make me who I am today, but my past does not define me. I do.

When our experiences lead us to believe the past is a closed loop of repetition, repeating again and again what happened then, we close off possibility of better.

When we use our experiences of the past with the intent to inform our actions for the better today, we can create better, we can make a difference and make our world a loving kind of different place for everyone.

There are people living on our streets today, and in our emergency shelters, who have given up on believing there is another way. They live with the constant fear that dying on the streets will become their future.

In the streets they walk everyday, they have lost sight of possibility. They have lost hope for a new way of being present in the world.

There are people living in our communities today, who have given up on believing there is another way. They live with the constant fear that without high fences, without holding on to what they have, they will be unsafe in their homes and in their community.

In the streets they walk everyday, they have lost sight of possibility. They have lost hope for a new way of being present in the world.

To be present in this world in new and loving ways, we must see this world in new and loving ways.

When I see it through eyes of fear, I know fear.

When I breathe into possibility, when I open myself up to allowing possibility for another way to arise, my world becomes a reflection of what I want to create more of in the world around me.

We all know fear. We have all been touched by change and its constant hammering away at the walls of our comfort zones demanding we learn to stretch and find new moves to take us away from where we are into that place where anything is possible. To do that, we must let go of holding onto to what we know and free ourselves to let go of what we fear.

Just as Gladys is learning to let go of her fear she will die on the streets, the possibility exists for each of us to let go of our fear the future will be a repetition of the past. In letting go, we set ourselves free to create the kind of world our children will be free to live in without fearing the past will never end.

To find a new way of being present in the world today, we must we let go of believing the past is the only door we can walk through to get to a better future.

____________________________

Photo by Ev on Unsplash

When stars do not fall and the sun’s shadow casts moonlight

The stars held their place in the universe last night. Their sparkling light cast a net across the night time sky twinkling joyfully in fiery abandon. They did not fall to the ground to smother earth in their blanket. They held their place and shone bright.

The moon stayed on high, shining bright, spending its time reflecting the light of the sun as earth orbited in orderly fashion around it.

And shadows lengthened. And shadows shortened. And tides ebbed in and out. And the universe continued its journey through time unnoticed, unremarked, unobserved.

All is as it is. All is what it is in the universe. We walk this planet oblivious to its grand design, and all is as it is.

Have you smiled this morning in gratitude?

Have you smiled?

I awoke this morning to Beaumont’s quivering body squirming to get out of his kennel where he spends the nights sleeping at the end of our bed.

I smiled.

And I laughed.

And I cuddled his sweet puppy body against my heart and whispered, I love you dear Beaumont, as I carried him outside to the grass. I stood in the sun as he sniffed the dew-kissed earth searching for just the right spot to relieve himself. I stood in the sun and felt the warmth of morning light falling upon my face. I smelt the fresh crisp air of morning. Heard the birds singing in the trees.

And I breathed deeply of morning’s grace and I smiled.

What a wonderful day to be alive.

I am grateful.

For many mornings past, I never stepped out into the world around me when first I arose. I had no reason and did not make the connection that stepping out into the air outside my back door awakens my senses to the wonder and beauty and bounty of the earth all around me.

I am grateful for Beaumont’s presence and his reminder to appreciate and give thanks for the world around me.

Scientists predict that by the year 2050 we will be over 9 billion people on this planet.

9 billion + people.

They also predict that with so many people on earth, we will each have to be make do with 40% less of life’s essential resources — water and oxygen.

Staggering thought.  Will we have to breathe less? Drink less? How will we survive?

What can I do today to create better for tomorrow?

What can I contribute, give, create that will improve life on earth today and thus, ripple out into the future in ever increasing waves of joy-inducing harmony?

My smile.

My joy.

My laughter.

My love.

To change the world, I must raise my consciousness on how I walk on this planet. I must go in peace. Softly. Gently. Respectfully.

Changing the world begins with me.

When each of us accepts we are the change we seek to create in the world, and act from our higher ground, acknowledging and being accountable for every step, every breath, every act, we will create a better world as we treat the world better, together.

Namaste.

 

 

 

A Cry for Peace

IMG_5842I cried yesterday. I sat on the ridge overlooking the river and tears spilled gently over my eyelids kissing my cheeks as softly as dew clinging to a leaf in early morning light.

I cried for the children who will go hungry tonight. For the boys who will hoist guns as long as their bodies and kill in the name of a peace they have never known. And for the little girls whose childhood’s are lost to faceless men who believe the only way to know love is to rape it from another.

I cried for mothers who weep at the gravesites of their loved ones lost to war and famine and disease and for the father’s who desperately want to teach their sons to grow into men, and do not know the way to quiet the fear within their hearts that their sons too shall never find their way to peace.

I cried for this world, this planet upon which we each rely for our existence, this planet we take for granted and treat with such disdain.

And I cried for humanity, our humanity, our human kind lost beneath our history of destroying one another in the name of God, Allah, Yaweh, Satnam, All Powerful, Vishnu, and 70 x 70 names I do not know but hear whispered upon the cries of millions of others dying to defend their right to worship at the altar of their choosing.

These were needed tears. Gentle. Cleansing. Healing. They were the words my heart could not speak out loud.

IMG_5846And when the tears were shed, when they had run their course, compassion flowed freely like the river winding its way through the valley bottom below, each passing drop changing the course of the one before.

And in their passing, I was left alone upon the hillside, sitting in the sun, cherishing the beauty of the day, savouring the gentle autumn breeze caressing my skin, the sound of the grasses whispering, the geese honking their plaintive lament as they journeyed south.

There is darkness in this world.

And there is light.

It is in the darkness the light shines brightest.

Yet, I want not to see the darkness. I want not to know its thrall, to feel its drag pulling me under. I want to steer clear of the darkness and still I know, it is only through acknowledging its presence that I will be free to shine my light fearlessly. It is only through letting go of fear of its nature I will be free to stand fearlessly in mine.

IMG_5851I cannot rid this planet of war and pain and sickness and hunger. I cannot heal the children of the world. I cannot silence the guns.

I can create beauty in my world. I can create peace around me by letting go of my fear that to witness the darkness is to let go of the light.

It is when I hold onto light for fear it will go out that darkness takes hold.

I cried yesterday. And I will cry again today. And in my tears, I find myself flowing in Love and compassion, holding onto nothing than the truth of who I am and all that is possible when I let go of fearing I cannot change the world.

If not me, who? If not now, when?

We are each capable of changing our worlds, of creating peace where there is discord, healing where there is pain. We are each capable of putting down our guns and holding out our arms in love, peace and forgiveness.

If not us, who? If not now, when?

 

 

The past is not the only avenue to the future.

When asked, “What did you fear most when you were homeless,” Gladys* answered without hesitation. “Dying on the streets.”

Recently, I met with the board of a community association where the foundation I work for is considering building a 25 – 30 unit apartment building for formerly homeless Calgarians.

It wasn’t an easy meeting. It wasn’t all sun and roses and welcome to our community.

There was openness. Curiosity. Awareness and a desire to be inclusive and supportive.

There was also fear. Concern. Misunderstanding and misconceptions present.

And there was possibility.

It is the possibility I want to stay with. To expand. To stretch out across the room, the community, the city so that every Calgarian can understand, fear of dying on the streets is real for some people. It is a constant grinding away at their existence. A continuous eating away at their experience of life leaving them to believe, there is no other way, no other street to walk. There is only this existence that is killing them.

Gladys no longer worries about dying on the streets. She is living in an apartment now. In her new way of being she is supported by people who understand her fears, and who believe that with compassionate care, she can thrive in community.

Her thriving will not look like yours or mine. It will be different. But then, mine is different than yours and yours is different than someone else’s. It is our differences that create the vibrancy of our communities. It is our diversity that builds strength into the intersections of our lives.

There is possibility in our differences. There is connection.

When I left the meeting, I marveled at the similarities of our perspectives and experiences.

One man at the meeting, in an attempt to ‘do good’ in a community in another city, had bought a building that was in receivership. He renovated it and provided low rent housing for individuals living on the margins.

It was not easy. It was not a good experience, he shared with the group. I will oppose this project 1,000 percent, he said.

I can understand his fears.

Like Gladys (*which is not her real name), his fears are built on an experience that did not meet his expectations. He set out to ‘do good’ and felt bad with the outcome. He felt abused. Betrayed. Confused. Why would people treat his property so badly? Why couldn’t they see he was trying to help them? To make a contribution to society?

Like Gladys, this man is stuck in his experiences and fears, in his belief that no matter what he does, or anyone else does, it can never be another way. The past dictates the present and determines the future.

My experience is different. My experience has led me to this place where I believe the past does not make the present a repetition of what happened then, again and again. My belief is that when we use our experiences of the past with the intent to inform our actions for the better today, we can create better, we can make a difference.

There are people living on our streets today, and in our emergency shelters, who have given up on believing there is another way. They live with the constant fear that dying on the streets will become their future.

In the streets they walk everyday, they have lost sight of possibility. They have lost hope for a new way of being present in the world.

There are people living in our communities today, who have given up on believing there is another way. They live with the constant fear that without high fences, without holding onto to what they have, they will be unsafe in their homes and in their community.

In the streets they walk everyday, they have lost sight of possibility. They have lost hope for a new way of being present in the world.

For my world to change, I must change how I see my world.

When I look at it through eyes of fear, I know fear.

When I breathe into possibility, when I open myself up to allowing possibility for another way to arise, my world becomes a reflection of what I want to create more of in the world around me.

We all know fear. We have all been touched by change and its constant hammering away at the walls of our comfort zones demanding we learn to stretch, to find new moves that will take us away from where we are into that place where anything is possible if we let go of holding onto to what we know and tell ourselves we cannot let go of.

Just as Gladys is learning to let go of street life so that she can embrace a new way of being present in the world today, the possibility exists for each of us to create the kind of world we want to live in. The kind of world our children can live in too. To find a new way of being present in the world today, we must we let go of believing the past is the only avenue to the future.

 

 

 

 

Let us be the change — it makes a difference

IMG_2991We met for brunch yesterday. I am grateful.

The band of ‘peace angels’ as Kerry Parsons, the inspiration behind Calgary Summer of Peace calls us, met at my home for a celebration of all that we accomplished this past year and to create space for all we’re capable of creating in days to come. As we went around the table sharing what was in our hearts, I sat in awe of the beauty of the souls with whom I have experienced such joy and peace throughout our journey through Summer of Peace and beyond.

We began the festivities with the lighting of the Advent Candle, one of four candles set in a wreath I have created to honour the season. The Advent wreath is a ritual that connects me to my past, to my Catholic upbringing, to my history, my shared experience of being part of a circle of love within my family. Kerry spoke of opening our hearts, of expanding our minds, or grounding ourselves in our capacity to create change, further evolution, be of service to the world. She spoke of letting the light of the candle ignite the flame within each of us to continue to serve the world in peace, hope, love and joy.

Later, as I shared my experiences this past year and where I’ve felt myself expanding into peace, hope, love and joy, my friend Judy said, “You’ve had a year of practice.”

So true.

Writing this blog has been one of the opportunities I’ve experienced this past year to grow into my commitment to be, as Gandhi invited all of us, “the change I want to see in the world.”

I believe in our capacity to create change, to be part of life’s evolutionary impulse to always create, become, expand. I believe in our ability to become ‘the change’ we want to create in the world.

At the beginning of the year I began this blog with the intention of staying conscious of ‘how’ I embodied what it means to ‘make a difference’. I began with the commitment to write about ‘making a difference’ every day.

In the doing, I have changed. In the doing, I have become more of what I want to create in the world — peace. hope. love and joy.

There have been other aspects of my journey that have opened up the space for me to ‘be the change’. From the beginning of the year of choosing to stand in the broken with my beloved and commit to creating the relationship we both desire and deserve to gifting him a poem a day for 14 days at Valentines — and the amazing and awe-inspiring power of that small act to deepen my understanding, and knowing. I continue to write a poem of love every day, to begin each day with Love as my companion and it continues to expand my capacity to open my heart and being to Love every day.

This morning, I sent out my first segment of the Advent meditation and reflection course (Make Time for the Sacred) I’ve created. An act I could not have envisioned doing at the beginning of the year. A step I could not have imagined taking before I consciously brought ‘making a difference’ into my daily commitment to ‘be the change’.

I am grateful.

This year has been an amazing journey. I began nervous, concerned, somewhat tentative. I had just left a job I loved in a place my heart was called to be. I was fearful. Worried. Hopeful.

I reminded myself of the saying, “When one door closes another opens.” I kept watching for open doors, I kept my mind and heart open to their appearance… and they appeared.

Constantly.

I am grateful.

Being here with you each day, meeting you, getting to know you, exchanging thoughts, sharing ideas, feelings, words has expanded my heart and my capacity to be present as ‘the change I want to be’ in the world.

Thank you.

We have entered the first week of advent. As we prepare our hearts, as we open our beings up to the wonder and the majesty of this holy time of year, let us ‘be the change’.

Let us welcome in the change we want to see in the world.

Let us be. Peace. Hope. Love and Joy.

Namaste.

And…. in case you’re wondering if the Advent Reflection and Meditation is something you could become part of, here’s the link to the first recording…