Cracks and Other Openings

In the dryness that is an Alberta winter, my fingertips tend to crack if I don’t keep applying lotion to take care of them.

My heart feels the same. Except ‘the dryness’ is the lack of quality time spent with those I love. Hugs. Touching hands. Sitting side-by-side.

To soothe the cracks, I must take care of my heart. I must keep feeding it with the things I know are good for it.

After writing about ‘creating sunshine‘ in my life yesterday I decided I needed to get some things done!

Taking care of the little things clears space for big (and little) shifts within and all around me. It also makes room for the sunshine to stream in!

Yesterday, after walking Beaumont the Sheepadoodle, I packed up three different parcels waiting to be posted, organized a cupboard and… La cremé de la cremé, after stopping at the post office, I picked up books from an amazing woman, Lisa Gareau of Candy Event Consulting. Lisa is holding a Lisa’s Big Bookshelf Blowout event on FB. For fourteen days in February, she is gifting hardcover books from her collection to anyone willing to pick them up.

It pays to be an early riser. Yesterday, Lisa posted several creativity books — all of which I didn’t have. I messaged her and said I’d love to give them a new home and la voilá…

I spent the afternoon lying on the bed, nurturing a sore back with inspiration divined from my new books!

In her description of the event on FB, Lisa writes, “In this lovely month of love … I want to SHARE the love … by giving away (half) of my hard copy “hold-them-in-your-hands” books!”

What a lovely and inspiring thing to do. And… a wonderful way to give herself self-care — not only does she feel the joy of giving others the gift of reading materials to hold gently and lovingly in their hands, she also creates space for big and little shifts in her own world. Space where the sunshine can stream in!

Which got me wondering, do I have items in my home that are no longer serving me that could be of value to others?

It’s great food for thought and a great way to find the ‘Marie Kondo‘ ethos in our home…

Which brings me back to the cracks in this time of sequestered solitude.

Giving is receiving.

In the giving, joy rises up from both the giver and the receiver to meet on the field of reciprocity created between open hands and receiving hands. In that space, our hearts welcome in the soothing vibrations of generosity that stream in all directions, creating healing waves of gratitude flowing everywhere, including into the cracks.

Spring is just around the corner — okay so it’s a far-off corner here in the land of long winters — but it will arrive. The season’s are like that. They always change. It’s just their timing is not always predictable and their duration not always dependable. But they do change.

Perhaps, as I wait for spring, and a vaccination and an easing of Covid restrictions and the paling of Covid in our lives, it’s a good time to begin a springlike opening of spaces in my home and heart.

Perhaps, the cracks will become less sensitive to ‘the missing’ as joy, gratitude and generosity fill my spirit with hope and open me up to the infinite possibilities of Love flowing everywhere.

Perhaps, it’s time to look at the cracks as openings. A place to feel and know and see that what I give to the world fills the inward places of where I feel ‘the missing’.

As I open my mind and heart to new ideas on being present in this world today through giving and receiving, my world shifts and so does my outlook.


PS… I checked with Lisa if it was okay to mention her 14 day Big Bookshelf Blowout (it’s on until Feb 22) – and she said “Yes! I’ve still got lots more books to give away.” Do check it out HERE.

Perhaps, even if you don’t find any books to hold in your hands, you’ll find inspiration to help fill in the cracks between the here and now and the beauty of days to come when we can all gather together again.

Giving Tuesday – you can make a difference!

Today is Giving Tuesday, an annual day of giving to not-for-profits doing the heavy lifting of social change, supporting research for intractable diseases and other issues like healing our environment, helping animals and a host of difference-making work to support those whose lives have landed them in hard rock places.

Imagine if every day was Giving Tuesday. Imagine if we all believed in the importance of supporting organizations at the frontlines, monetarily and through volunteerism – and then did it!

What a world of difference we would make!

I also get that giving every day would be cumbersome – it would cost more to process a daily $1 donation than a monthly $30 one – but you could give a recurring donation every month to reflect a month of daily giving. It definitely does good things for your heart. And even the tax-folk recognize your giving by giving you a break on your taxes!

Colour me altruistic… but my dream is that Giving Tuesday becomes like Valentine’s Day (without the artificial sugariness and commerciality) — hard to ignore, simple to participate in, and an expression of our love — for humanity, the planet, all sentient and non-sentient beings, everything and everyone on this earth.

I like that.

— Making a difference in the world – everyday.

The original name of this blog when I started it on January 1, 2012, was ‘A Year of Making a Difference’. At the time, I had just left my role as director of communications at the Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre and was concerned about how I was going to keep making a difference in the world. I was doing consulting work and thinking I might continue along that vein but, helping clients (who albeit were all not-for-profits) didn’t quite feel the same kind of ‘difference-making’ as walking into a homeless shelter every day.

So I focused on finding one thing every day that made a difference in my life, other’s lives, the world at large, and I wrote about that.

It definitely made a difference in my life to put my attention on difference-making/makers every day. Eventually, I moved back into working in the homeless-serving sector and at the end of that first year, changed the name of the blog to Dare Boldly. My goal was to inspire each of us to live beyond the limits of our comfort zones and to make a difference.

When I left the sector, and the formal workforce at the end of May this year, I still wanted to make a difference — Difference-making is in my blood.

Inspiring others to make a difference is also in my blood.

So, my challenge to each of us today is to find one not-for-profit organization where a donation of any amount will make a difference. And then, make that donation.

It’s not hard and it doesn’t have to be a huge amount! A quick google search of the term “Giving Tuesday” will give you lots of links to click on to inspire your giving.

I just made mine through  Canada Helps — where for today only, every donation of $25+ is bumped up by $5 — it’s fast, it’s easy and it makes a difference, plus, your favourite charity is probably listed on their site! (And PS — you can even make the donation in honour/memory of someone you love — I did and it brought a smile to my face just to write the message — see, giving is receiving!)

And here’s the thing, if giving monetarily isn’t in your basket today, Volunteer!  Or, when you’re out and about, share a smile, a kind word, an act of grace with everyone you encounter — from those you love to strangers. Share the goodness and grace of your heart.

Seriously, together we can make a world of difference. And BONUS! Giving generates lots of feelings of goodwill in your heart that ripple out into the world in joy and harmony — and what could be better than a world awash in feelings of joy and harmony?


PS — here’s a 30 sec video from the Giving Tuesday org that helps you understand how Giving Tuesday works as an antidote to Black Friday and Cyber Monday — I like it!


Let the change begin with me.

The requests are simple. An electric kettle. A set of double sheets. A heating pad. A gift card to a bookstore.

And underneath the requests, is that place of humility. Of humanness. Of gratitude. Of community.

This is the second year we’ve organized Christmas at the Madison. The second year we’ve held the concert. Interviewed clients for the wishlist, bought gifts and put on Christmas dinner.

It isn’t something I do alone. It’s something that happens becase many people commit to being part of it, to sharing their talents, time and treasures to ensure no one is left out in the cold on Christmas morning.

The wishlist idea stemmed from my work at the homeless shelter where for over 7 years now, clients have been invited to share a bit of their story that is then put online so that Calgarians can read their wish and possibly make it come true this Christmas.

Yesterday, I spoke with Jennie Keeran, the founder and brilliance behind the Christmas WishList, and the found of “Homeless Partners“. When she originally walked into my office in 2007 I really had no idea what she was talking about, or even if it was possible to fulfill on her dream of sharing the spirit of Christmas with clients at the shelter. But, Jennie is a woman of vision. A woman who doesn’t recognize the limits of ‘no’ and sees only the possiibilities of ‘yes’.

That first year of hosting the WishList for Homeless Partners was kerr-aazy!

Volunteers descended upon the shelter night after night, organized by the indefatigable Brandi M who also hears only the power of yes — Yes! Of course we can do that. Yes! Let’s make it work. Between Brandi and Jennie, and all the volunteers they organized to interview and to post the stories and wishes online, over 600 people received a gift of their choice that year.

It was incredible. Mark P, who works at the shelter, and his wife Natalie dove into receiving and organizing and sorting the gifts, giving up their Christmas weekend to be on site to ensure every gift was placed into the right hands, every thank you was captured.

The Christmas WishList is a story of community and collaboration. It’s about being committed to not just ‘giving’ but of connecting, hand to hand, heart to heart, to ensure everyone feels seen, acknowledged, visible on Christmas morning.

Yesterday, when I chatted with Jennie, I found myself enveloped once again in that special place that she creates where there are no limits, no ‘can’t do that’s’ no, impossible’s!

I found myself sharing in this one woman’s passion, commitment and heart. I found myself inspired to keep turning up, to keep allowing, to keep being the change I want to see in the world.

It is for me, a wonderful gift to receive. To be reminded, that no matter what, it isn’t how people receive that makes the difference, it’s that I give. My best. My all. My utmost to ensuring this world becomes a kinder, more caring, more compassionate and just world — every day of the year.

Yes, the Wishlist focuses on Christmas. But underneath the glitter and the bows, the gift-giving and the unwrapping, is the message that speaks to me of what it means to be alive and breathing on this planet every day of the year.

We are all one planet. One air we breathe. One earth upon which we walk. And while maps may show invisible lines of demarcation, zones where war wages and countries are bounded by barbed wire and armed guards, there is no dividing line between our humanity.

We are all one.

We all have the capacity to give. To create. To be the change we want to see in the world.

I want to see a more compassionate, caring, kind and loving world. I want to see a world where children do not awaken to bombs exploding in the night or dive beneath their beds (if they have one) to avoid being beaten.

I want to live in a world where everyone knows, they matter. Where everyone feels their own power to express themselves in ways that create a world of awe and wonder. A world where being kind to one another trumps doing whatever it takes to make sure no one gets me before I get them.

I want to live in a world where Christmas wishlists are no longer needed because no one is that far from home they cannot reach out to touch and be touched by the one’s they love.

And until that happens, I will continue to do whatever I can to create a world where I am free to give my all to ensure that where ever I am, whatever I’m doing, I am the change I want to see in the world.

It’s the least I can do to ensure that the Jennie Keeran’s of the world and all those who work so hard to make a difference know, they’re not alone. I may not be able to do all that they do, but I sure can lend a hand and do my most to be part of the magic they create when they turn up and ask me to say, “Yes!”

Because, while there may not be a Santa Claus, we can all do our part to light up the dark by turning up and letting the brilliance of our hearts shine for all the world to see.


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.