Tag Archives: being present

Breathe and Be. It makes a difference.

Ellie and I went for a walk along the escarpment over looking the river last night. The sun was warm and buttery. The wind whispered through the leaves of the poplars and the prairie grasses rustled on either side of the path. Below us, the river wend its way along the valley bottom, a shimmering ribbon of silvery waters glistening in the early evening sun.

I was at peace. Ellie was in her element. Tail wagging, a smile pasted on her face, she pranced in front of me, exploring every nook and cranny, nosing into gopher holes, eating grass, sniffing flowers.

Taking time for me is an important element in my self-care. It keeps me balanced. Centered. Energized. Me time makes a difference.

And yet, it’s easy to talk myself out of taking ‘me time’. After a day at work, talking to people, putting out fires and lighting others, sometimes I come home and simply want to crash. To ‘veg out’ and do nothing.

But there is a difference between vegging out and doing nothing versus being at peace with where I’m at without needing to distract myself with the nothingness of mindless TV. Sitting in front of the TV, watching movies or dramas or inane comedies where violence or suggestive humour or sheer stupidity mark each flickering frame is not, for me, the art of doing nothing. It is more about feeding myself nothing nourishing, nurturing or sustaining.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love watching mindless TV. And that’s the problem. I actually do get into it — and in that state, I find myself more tired, feeling less energized and alive. I find myself wanting to do less, and that includes wanting to take ‘me time’ that is sustaining and nourishing.

Having the energy and awareness to make a difference requires self-care.

Just for today, make a commitment to take mini ‘me breaks’. Throughout the day, take five minute breaks to simply be present within yourself. Shut your office door, or put your headset on and listen to Gregorian Chants on your computer. Go sit in the stairwell, or by the pond in the lobby of your building. Sit and be. Sit and breathe. Breathe deeply. Close your eyes, feel your body relax, feel the air fill your lungs and then feel it flow outward. In and out. Be in the moment. Breathe. Slowly. Deeply. Breathe and Be. Breathe and be.

Do it at least five times throughout the day.

And when you get home tonight, do something different. If normally you would turn on the TV and watch whatever is on, or sit at your computer and play Spider Solitaire (one of my vices) — DON’T.

Instead, breathe and be.

Go for a walk. Sit in a park. Sit by the river. Don’t worry about the weather. If it’s raining, dress for it. Just get out and breathe and be.

And then, ask yourself, what’s different when I let myself surrender and fall into the moment right now? What’s different when I remember to breathe and be?

 

Engage in the creation of beauty

A new week. A new day. A new opportunity to make a difference.

It happens everyday. Every moment of every day. And something I’m learning through this process of being conscious of what it means to make a difference is that — being requires action.

Several people have commented to me that ‘you make a difference on blogs everyday Louise.’ Thank you — Fact is, the difference isn’t that I turn up and be present in this white space. It is that I consciously fill this white space with my best with my creative intention to inspire.

My presence, your presence, in the world makes a difference by our being here. Air is displaced. We create ripples of energy as we move through time and space. the challenge is — to ensure the energy we extend to the world is the kind of difference we want to see in the world.

I did an experiment on my walk with Ellie yesterday. We took the paved trail as the off-pavement trail was extremely mucky. As we walked east, I spied a crumbled up kleenex on the path. I only had one bag so I decided to leave the kleenex until our return — and also, to see if anyone else picked it up. We passed several people going in the opposite direction as Ellie and I continued eastward. When we turned around and came back, the kleenex was still there. Bless them. Forgive me. (you know I was thinking not all nice things about those who passed the garbage by…)

This isn’t about those who missed the garbage. It’s about, once again, the action I took to ‘make a difference’. My choice. My decision.

The beauty when we take action is that we create a difference for others to experience and enjoy (there’s that ripple). Absolutely no one will know what I did. And it doesn’t matter. It isn’t about others knowing. It’s about what I’m doing to be the difference I want to create in the world. To have left the kleenex would have made a difference — just not in the direction I want to go.

There is no stasis in being present in the world — we are constantly evolving, always moving towards or away from what we want to create. I want to create a world of beauty — to actively engage in my creation, I must take action, constantly to be actively engaged in creating beauty in the world around me. And that includes picking up garbage.

Ask yourself today — what am I willing to do to create the kind of world I want to live in?

And then, consciously look for opportunities to be engaged in its creation.

Namaste.

The immeasurable moments of making a difference

I received an email yesterday from a co-worker at the shelter where I worked for almost six years. They wrote to tell me how much I had touched their life, what a difference I made for them, and how I taught them many things they appreciate and incorporate into their life today.

I am grateful.

In this individual’s note is the essence of what it means to make a difference for me.

It is not about what I do. Not about title or wealth or education or status or who I know or the perfect outfit for the perfect occasion. It is about the imprint I make upon people —  The gentleness of my touch, the kindness of my words, the softness of my step upon the delicate fabric of their hearts.

In receiving their email yesterday it struck me that out of all the things I did at the shelter, from raising community awareness, building relationships, creating an art program, opening an art and music studio, writing/publishing a book, recording Stand by Me with clients, creating a concert, a documentary, plays, the writing, the commercials, the teaching, the creating opportunities for community engagement, while all of those things are important, what matters most are the ‘intangibles’. Those immeasurable moments that touch my soul,open my heart, awaken my mind. It is in those quiet moments where hope stirs, spirits lift and I am connected, heart-to-heart in service, that I am most alive and grateful.

For it isn’t in the concrete things I do or did that make the difference. It is in the hearts I touch. The hearts that touch mine that I find myself steeped in gratitude.

As a friend said when I told him I was leaving the shelter, “What you did will flow back into the miasma of the universe. Things will change. What can never change is how we touch people. How we made them feel. How we connected to their hearts.”

I am grateful. In my co-workers email I am reminded that making a difference isn’t all about what I ‘do’, it’s about how I am, how my being shows up in the hearts and minds of those I encounter on my journey. It is about being the difference I want to see in the world and making my difference through being the best me I am when I let go of my ego’s call for more and give into my soul’s desire for quality in all my relationships, for beauty in all my doing, for humility and Love in all my being me in this world.

Caring about others

There is something different in the world this morning outside my window. It snowed last night. Nothing I do or say or think will change the weather outside my window. The only changes I can effect are within me.

This consciously ‘making a difference’ everyday and writing about it takes concentration. It takes presence. It takes me being aware of my surroundings, my environment and my inner spaces.

As I am no longer employed and setting up my own consulting practice I am networking with people to let them know who I am, where I’m at and what I’m up to.

It is not my favourite thing to do. Networking. I like to believe it will just, happen. And while the Universe is working for me and with me for success to transpire, it requires my active participation to get engaged, be involved in creating more of what I want in the world. It takes me getting out there.

Yesterday, two such opportunities presented themselves — and all I had to do was turn up. Pay attention. Speak my truth and, the most challenging part, stay unattached to the outcome.

A lunch with a brilliant woman lead to an idea for something big, something creative and inspiring and all the things I want to see in the world. We’re building the framework for taking our idea to the next level. We’re creating the environment for change to happen. More on that later.

A coffee with a man I admire greatly lead to opportunities to make a difference. An invitation to participate in a community based initiative  transitioning people back into community after addictions treatment, an invitation to create opportunities for change in how the sector serves the community, all of these and more have appeared on my horizon. I am grateful and in my gratitude is the commitment to be an agent of change, to be a steward of creating more of what works, and less of what doesn’t in the world.

And as we sat at coffee, making a difference simplified into the singular act of caring for another human being. A woman at the table behind us stood up to leave. As she gathered her belongings I noticed the middle button of her blouse was undone. Her bra was plainly visible. As she passed our table I interrupted my friend’s conversation and gently called out to the woman. “Excuse me”. She stopped, surprised. She wasn’t sure I was speaking to her. Did she know me?

“I just wanted to let you know your button’s undone,” I told her.

She glanced down, saw the two sides of her green blouse gaping open. Quickly she juggled her purse and belongings to do up the button. “Thank you!” she said, a big smile warming her face. The button connected, she left to go out into the world free of unintentional exposure and my friend and I continued our conversation.

There are opportunities to make a difference everywhere, every moment. And each of them, no matter their grandeur requires one simple act, that I begin with caring about others.

Being present

I thought it would be easy, this making a difference. And while doing things to make a difference is easy, I am finding myself challenged to stay in the consciousness of being present at all times, watching for opportunities to present themselves, so that I can effortlessly turn up and make a difference with grace.

There are moments when ‘the difference’ appears without any prompting. Standing on the deck at the ferry terminal in Nanaimo, watching the ship roll into the dock, I see a mother and father and their two sons. All decked out in Canuck hockey jersey’s, the mother is taking a photo of her boys against the backdrop of the harbour.

“Would you like a photo of all of you?” I ask.

And she smiles gratefully, shows me how to operate the camera and moves back to join her family for the photo. It was the same with the trio of women on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery later that afternoon when Alexis and I were leaving the gallery. “Would you like a photo together?” I asked and they gratefully accepted.

And the panhandler sitting on the sidewalk. It was easy to give him coins, just as it was easy to drop a $5 bill into the open guitar case of a busker. Making the decision to give to people on the street is a simple case of deciding to share what coin I have.

But, what of all those other times I didn’t notice? That’s where I find myself challenged in this process. Those chunks of time where I am moving through my day on auto-pilot, not really connecting to the world around me.

I notice it in other’s eyes as well. Walking along the street, intent on getting to where they’re going, they pass me by, engaged in some other mission than being right there where they’re at, looking for opportunities to be the difference they want to see in the world.

It is not the ‘making a difference’ that is the challenge. It’s the being present, being in the moment that eludes me as I catch myself drifting away, sealing myself off from the world passing me by, moving through my day by rote.

Yes, it is in being present that I must be different.