Monday, March 31, 2008

merciful blues II

merciful blues hum quietly
as twilight descends
onto the fields of solitary honesty
thin places of barren confession
of loss and empty denial

merciful blues grip tightly
as light fades
into shadows of kneeling contemplation
where prayer feeds breath
cupped in
hand clasped loneliness
merciful blues settle
in the stillness of the notes
blanketing the air
whispered admissions of the heart
confessions of tender remorse

music beyond words
echoing forgiveness

chasing the pieces wherever they go
walking our road covered in snow
ambling aside the river's fast flow
measuring dreams, watching them grow

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Prince Edward Island.

Conversation in my house today turned to summer plans, which we havent really paid much attention to yet as there have been so many other events and activities to focus on this spring. Predictably, the topic of Prince Edward Island was brought up because it is a favourite destination every August for at least a handful of days. The place we have gone to in the past 5 or 6 years is actually off the beaten path, away from Avonlea and Cavendish where the tourists flock by the thousands of camper vans full. But, nothing on PEI is very far to travel to.
I took the above photo on a quiet Sunday morning.....early...........I had the beach to myself. There wasn't much of a breeze and the only sounds were the seagulls and the cottager behind where i was perched on a large rock who was in his cottage playing the blues on his sax.
Up to three other families have joined us at the same time, in an area where one of our friends has a family area he knows well because this is where his roots are. We all rent our own cottages.........the bare necessity kind of cottages, all within a baseball throw from one another.......ALL with views of the beach, the sunsets, the spectacular every changing sea and sky vistas...........where the wind blows familiarity and rejuvenation. This is my daughter Martha.

The beaches in this area rarely have many other visitors except the handfull of cottagers who seem to frequent mostly on the weekends. There is space, space, space. This is a place of serenity, companionship, good walks, great talks.................lots of shared meals and sometimes a rousing game of bocchi on the beach or wiffle ball behind the cottage. Its a place where the wine flows, the beer is cold, the music is on........... where kite flying end ups being a two hour gabfest standing in a field overlooking heaven. Right, Helen? :)

It is also the place where writing found me again, three summers ago while sitting in this spot. I have this photo tacked to my computer at work as inspiration. I am forever grateful.

These steps are located just to the left of the Muskoka chairs, and lead down to the beach.

We witnessed a few BIG thunderstorms last summer........this is one coming in for a landing. It walloped us! Thunder, lightening, wind, rain..............dark skies. Somehow I ended up as the only adult in the cottage with all the kids, including my daughter who is FREAKED by storms and was under the blankets..........head and all. What is so cool about storms like this is how they usually end up with rainbow endings and amazing sunsets.

Like this relieved beauty beside beauty. xo

ps. For you Tim...........may you and your family start the plans to head north to the land of Anne Shirley.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Torridly Nice

An old joke:
How do you get 25 Canadians out of the pool?
"Can everyone please get out of the pool?"

The prompt this week at writer's island, which is located in the searing tropics under the persistant heat of the noon day sun, is torrid. The word fits well THERE but HERE in the cold northern tundra where winter has choked the passion out of the land??? have to use your imagination.....close your eyes and envision lying on the island's white sand warmed by penetrating rays, while being massaged by a dark mysterious beautiful man whose deep voice soothes and stimulates with it's charm as he encourages you to let your mind flow into a fantasy of timeless lovemaking with the person you have always wanted to.......

But, torrid in Canada? Does torrid exist here? And if it does, do we import it? Or do we just keep it under wraps until the timing is right to let a flaming sense of fervour lap up with sizzle?

One of the qualities that always tops the list of describing a Canadian is "nice." It is somewhat complimentary, (I think people are being nice when they describe us that way, so you have to accept it nicely........:) )but it does have a scent of vanilla wafting around the word and vanilla is anything but passionate. Can nice evolve into a hip grinding salsa without apologizing for stepping on the partner's feet......? (We say "sorry" a lot around here too. ) Can the citizens of this country embrace the raging hunger of the heart needed to engage in torridly fueled passion? Or are we a doomed group of frontal lobotomized chipmunks who get bent out of shape doing the right thing? Can our brains turn off in order to allow the spicy feelings to be squeezed liberally from the heart?

Yes. It may show up in different milieus, but it's there, not too far under the surface. When it rears up into the soul to stir the loins and hearts of a Canuck, it echos across the ice covered tundra like a mad woodsman pining for the love of a voluptuous woman after being out too long in the wild. There's nothing as torrid as a lumberjack in heat except perhaps a Moose. May I recommend that you be nice and just get out of the way if you happen to see either?

Have you ever gone winter camping? This is a practise many fellow Canadians embrace as a really hot time. A tent, a coleman stove for hot toddies, bundled up clothing layers to wear while cooking dinner and doing all those hearty outdoor pursuits, and sleeping bags filled with materials to withstand the arctic cold of the middle of the night. The key to staying warm? Slipping into the sleeping bag with your buddy to thaw through naked friction. Frigidly rigidly Torrrrrriiiiiiiid!

Have you ever been to a peewee hockey tournament? Not only are most of our arenas hooked up to provide heated elements and fans to blow skin drying torrid producing heat down from the rafters to the hard benches along the sides of the rink where you sit to cheer on the local team, you will find pent up impassioned parents, particularly the mothers bellowing like that Moose in heat again.......encouragement to their son or daughter playing the game. Torrid tempers reign supreme in the hockey rinks across this vast and magnificent land. I have spoken to parents who describe the moment their kid scored their first goal. With choking teary emotion, they replay the scene with such intensity you'd think they had witnessed the coming of Christ. That's puck stopping torrid.

No matter what level of hockey it is, but particularly if it's a game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens, the torrent of torrid which emanates in a room full of lovers of the game is comparable to the frenzied feeling of losing ones virginity in the back seat of a car. "He shoots! He scores!" Ask any man to describe where they were when the goal that woke up a nation was scored by Paul Henderson in the 1972 Canada-Russia series and you'll know how quickly things can get torrid. No need for viagra when those sweet memories are produced.

Then there's curling. Have you heard those maniac beer slogging stone throwers when they are down to their last rock and it needs to hit the button? You'd think you were privy to the last vestiges of an orgasm. They bark and bellow and moan out the most bizarre phrases......"hurrrrreeeeeeeee...... ......haaaaarrrrrrd! ....... as they sweep with a passion comparable to scoring with the local puck bunny. The typical nice Canadian watching this openly expressed passion usually blushes, but deep down they a grateful for the chance to be close to such expressed animalistic passion.

But, I'd have to say that most of our torrid packing punch is saved for politics and satire. It is this arena which pops the lid off the pressure cooker, which makes our kettles whistle, which produces the foaming boil in our beastie breasts. Whether one LOVED or HATED former Prime Ministers Brian Mulroney, Pierre Trudeau, or Jean Chretien.......whether one is on the side of the Harper government or's opinions are fueled with kerosene exploding as it is poured onto a campfire. And it doesn't matter what level of government is the source of the topic for the day, municipal, provincial or federal, torrid packs a wallop. Trudeau, known for his standoffish eccentricities once said that politics do not belong in the bedrooms of the nation. He's wrong, wrong, wrong........Not only is it discussed in the bedrooms of this nation, it can actually spark the passion, which in turn kicks the temperature in the room up a few notches.

Our comedians know this is where it lies............and satirical political commentary is a cottage industry in Canada. Humour bites hard and furious. It's like we have been weaned on it's quirkiness and lap it up like an aphrodisiac. When you ask a Canadian what is the most important characteristic you look for in a mate, humour tops the list. Not sexy cheeked butts, or faraway eyes.........NO! "She's gotsta make me laugh,'s a right turn on doncha you know? Who gives a flying fig if she's not got a funny way about 'er?" The next two characteristics on the list? Knowing how to put up a tent in -35 degree weather, and enjoying Hockey Night in Canada. HOLY! I just described myself! And as an added bonus, I have a sexy butt too. :)

I do think we have uncorked our repressed desires to keep our patriotism, our lovemaking, our stirrings and yearnings under wraps over the past two decades. We wave our flags a little more often. We share our opinions more vehemently. We speak passionately and with feelings which recently were too hot to handle. And given the length of this particular winter, I would hazard a guess that there will be a torrid little boom of babies born in the early fall.
I guess you just have to be in the right place at the right time to feel it..........and you just may be in luck to be in the room where torrid comes a callin.' Anyone for some road hockey shinney?

For more torrid stories, visit Writer's's a hot hot site.

Friday, March 28, 2008


Westerly winds cast downward in gusts of weeping grey
shivering through stark spaces of lonely birch bodies
with long fingertip branches
reaching a hollow sky
like a prayer that has lost it's way
in the wet remnants of weathered tears

Affirming colour fades into a landscape of dulling dusk
light filtered through clouded apathy
scraping energy
from willows too tired to weep
from pine too burdened to stand tall
casting shadows no one can see
in the grey powdered pallour of mourning.
Flickering dots alight whistling safe haven streets
opening blurried eyes refocusing gold on grey hope
seeking out the sound of reassurance
it's rays stretching out
to tickle invisible shadows
like a prayer seeping soundwaves of lights
over the land too tired to lift it's head.

Nature's canvas last night really seemed bleak while my dog Lily and I walked up on Springhill Road. At first, it knocked whatever energy I had left at the end of the day right out of me. I found my thoughts to be swirling in negativity as I swore at the black and white and grey landscape. The clouds blocked all hope of a sunset. There would be no moon, no stars last night. Out of the blue it seemed, wet snow began to drop unpredictably.........just enough to be irritating. I walked on while Lily made her way along a snowbank in search of a stick.

March in Canada is definately not a time to be promoting tourism. The sleepiness of hibernation still aches in the bones of this nation. It's true. However, so is the dogged determination to fight get outside, to plan for spring. A little bit of sunlight to begin the meltdown of accumulation carries a medicinal essence which is craved and sought. Everyone may look too pasty to be healthy. Winter coats and paraphenalia have a sorrowful look of a well worn uniform. Mittens, which have long lost their fancy fur to mottled overuse, are seen like roadkill on the sides of roads. Winter boots reek of telltale cycles of wet and dry and wet and dry. Salt stain remnants tatoo the season.

We seek out our clothes, in our food, in our music, books, creative endeavours...........spice and colour to reinforce an awakening. Dark colours are replaced by shades of Easter affirmation. Depression has an opponent now that we're nearing the transitions of the seasons..........a four letter word..................HOPE.

The vista canvas I saw last night at dusk was like a black and white photo. It stretched as far as I could see up the Saint John River valley..... In it's own way, it was starkly beautiful. Then, the streetlights came on on the other side of the river. It was like someone took the photograph and wired it with dots of light. Have you ever seen one of those kitchy pictures? It resembled that kind of scene. The warmth altered automatically, as did my energy level....... as did my love for where I live.

We have very distinctive seasons here and I like that a lot. March (and you could argue November fits this bill too) is a season all on its own I think because of it's feel of deadness and apathy. It's like a forgotten prayer.........or perhaps one that no one hears.....muffled in the wandering aimlessness of the day. It's the persistance of spirit that remains unmuffled, albeit hidden under the layers, which helps us appreciate the gifts of nature just waiting to be uncovered.
Our appreciation runs deep when one is just waking up from hibernation. The sap is running................sweet sleepy life tastes golden.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

the face of peaceful honesty.....

" Your Majesty, Members of the Nobel Committee, Brothers and Sisters.

I am very happy to be here with you today to receive the Nobel Prize for Peace. I feel honored, humbled and deeply moved that you should give this important prize to a simple monk from Tibet I am no one special. But I believe the prize is a recognition of the true value of altruism, love, compassion and non-violence which I try to practice, in accordance with the teachings of the Buddha and the great sages of India and Tibet.

I accept the prize with profound gratitude on behalf of the oppressed everywhere and for all those who struggle for freedom and work for world peace. I accept it as a tribute to the man who founded the modern tradition of non-violent action for change Mahatma Gandhi whose life taught and inspired me. And, of course, I accept it on behalf of the six million Tibetan people, my brave countrymen and women inside Tibet, who have suffered and continue to suffer so much. They confront a calculated and systematic strategy aimed at the destruction of their national and cultural identities. The prize reaffirms our conviction that with truth, courage and determination as our weapons, Tibet will be liberated.

No matter what part of the world we come from, we are all basically the same human beings. We all seek happiness and try to avoid suffering. We have the same basic human needs and is concerns. All of us human beings want freedom and the right to determine our own destiny as individuals and as peoples. That is human nature. The great changes that are taking place everywhere in the world, from Eastern Europe to Africa are a clear indication of this.

In China the popular movement for democracy was crushed by brutal force in June this year. But I do not believe the demonstrations were in vain, because the spirit of freedom was rekindled among the Chinese people and China cannot escape the impact of this spirit of freedom sweeping many parts of the world. The brave students and their supporters showed the Chinese leadership and the world the human face of that great nation.

Last week a number of Tibetans were once again sentenced to prison terms of upto nineteen years at a mass show trial, possibly intended to frighten the population before today's event. Their only 'crime" was the expression of the widespread desire of Tibetans for the restoration of their beloved country's independence.

The suffering of our people during the past forty years of occupation is well documented. Ours has been a long struggle. We know our cause is just Because violence can only breed more violence and suffering, our struggle must remain non-violent and free of hatred. We are trying to end the suffering of our people, not to inflict suffering upon others.

It is with this in mind that I proposed negotiations between Tibet and China on numerous occasions. In 1987, I made specific proposals in a Five-Point plan for the restoration of peace and human rights in Tibet. This included the conversion of the entire Tibetan plateau into a Zone of Ahimsa, a sanctuary of peace and non-violence where human beings and nature can live in peace and harmony.

last year, I elaborated on that plan in Strasbourg, at the European Parliament I believe the ideas I expressed on those occasions are both realistic. and reasonable although they have been criticised by some of my people as being too conciliatory. Unfortunately, China's leaders have not responded positively to the suggestions we have made, which included important concessions. If this continues we will be compelled to reconsider our position.

Any relationship between Tibet and China will have to be based on the principle of equality, respect, trust and mutual benefit. It will also have to be based on the principle which the wise rulers of Tibet and of China laid down in a treaty as early as 823 AD, carved on the pillar which still stands today in front of the Jokhang, Tibet's holiest shrine, in Lhasa, that "Tibetans will live happily in the great land of Tibet, and the Chinese will live happily in the great land of China".

As a Buddhist monk, my concern extends to all members of the human family and, indeed, to all sentient beings who suffer. I believe all suffering is caused by ignorance. People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their happiness or satisfaction. Yet true happiness comes from a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood. We need to cultivate a universal responsibility for one another and the planet we share. Although I have found my own Buddhist religion helpful in generating love and compassion, even for those we consider our enemies, I am convinced that everyone can develop a good heart and a sense of universal responsibility with or without religion.

With the ever growing impact of science on our lives, religion and spirituality have a greater role to play reminding us of our humanity. There is no contradiction between the two. Each gives us valuable insights into the other. Both science and the teachings of the Buddha tell us of the fundamental unity of all things. This understanding is crucial if we are to take positive and decisive action on the pressing global concern with the environment.

I believe all religions pursue the same goals, that of cultivating human goodness and bringing happiness to all human beings. Though the means might appear different the ends are the same.

As we enter the final decade of this century I am optimistic that the ancient values that have sustained mankind are today reaffirming themselves to prepare us for a kinder, happier twenty-first century.

I pray for all of us, oppressor and friend, that together we succeed in building a better world through human under-standing and love, and that in doing so we may reduce the pain and suffering of all sentient beings.

Thank you."
Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance speech, December 10, 1989
I would love to meet this honorable honest man of peace. It is beyond laughable that we keep hearing leaders from China try to convince the world that the Dalai Lama is a liar? How offensive! How naive to think that this beautiful mystical man is anything but a spiritual guide loved by the rest of the world.
Let us all send him and the people of Tibet our unflinching support as they struggle to break free of the unrelenting oppression they have lived with for far too long. Will his peaceful attempts to seek freedom and democracy for his beloved Tibet be successful? Let us pray that his way of being...........his method for conquering oppression as well as the recent violence they have had to endure can work. I believe we are watching history in the making, similar to Gandhi's struggle for India.
Whether our government should consider an official boycott of the Summer Olympics, I don't know yet. It would be devastating to the athletes who are working so hard to ge their time in the spotlight. The Olympics have been boycotted for lesser reasons...........should we be supporting a boycott?

toddler needs impact adult needs

I wrote this piece ages ago and never posted it because at the time, it seemed too long for a blog post. But, it needs to see the light of day..... the timing is right.
Developmental psychologist Erik Erikson promoted his theory that at every stage of human development, we are confronted by a conflict we need to resolve through our interactions and actions within the environment we are born into before we can successfully move forward to tackle another conflict. If we for any reason the conflict is not resolved, Erikson believes we continue to struggle with issues pertaining to the stage and remain in a state of arrested development.
These stages continue on right through to old age, with the underlying presupposition that we are always working towards self sufficiency, independence, autonomy. If we are a healthy well evolved individual who has been successful in our relationships, productive in our work etc, we will eventually end up in our twilight years with a resounding feeling of self actualization. Or something like that.

The first stage human being newbies wrestle with is "trust vs. mistrust," and it is resolved through safe, secure, consistent care and unconditional love from the parents or caregivers. We all know that a baby thrives if their physical and emotional needs are met. They learn to trust and to feel secure knowing that their little world is predictable and stress free. They learn that their dependence on their Mom and Dad is healthy and expected.

What happens if a baby is not born into such an ideal environment? Most babies arent. What if the first couple of years of their lives are fraught with inconsistency in love and belonging and in the physical and emotional care needed to fully thrive? What if the baby feels abandoned all the time, or never has a chance to bond or attach with their primary caregivers? A wide range of consequences take place, and really depends on if intervention to rectify the situation happens quickly and on the level of abandonment and distrust that is instilled. A baby's temperment also plays a role. Some babies for whatever reason need more attention and reassurance than other babies............just like kids............just like adolescents............just like adults.

Many find it quite dubious that a bad start in life, even if it is just in the first year of life can affect a person for the rest of their life. Sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes a person is not affected.. And yet, it can happen, and it most often manifests itself through the inability to maintain healthy relationships.

The second developmental milestone according to Erikson is Autonomy vs Shame or Doubt. Think of that toddler, who is playing just down the hall a bit from his Momma. He is an industrious little being, focused on the piling of blocks into a tower and knocking it down........trying to manipulate a telephone dial with his newly found fine motor skills. Comfortable and relaxed in his environment and seemingly oblivious of where Momma is. All of a sudden, his head comes up and he frantically looks for Mom or drops his toys and toddles off to find her...........just for reassurance. He's feeling independent enough to play for a little while, but then needs to know where the safety valve is.

We promote autonomy.........and for good reason. It is our social conditioning that also promotes independent thought and problem solving. Learning to be autonomous is a skillset all animals teach their young. It's a survival thing. If we are confident in our coping and problem solving abilities............if we can figure it out and rely on ourselves to look after ourselves we have a better chance of surviving. Autonomy vs. Shame or Doubt is where this skill begins to find it's foundation.
And if a baby has never felt a sense of trust in his world, how in the heck is he going to work on becoming autonomous.?? How is he going to learn to trust himself and others? There are many in our communities who struggle with how much to trust, and how much to rely on themselves. Decisions impacting the type of relationships they find themselves in and how they end up can sometimes be traced back to a rocky start like this.

If your first bonding experiences weren't healthy.......

Recently, I learned about a little boy who has serious attachment issues. He fights, bullies, acts out. He breaks into homes and makes big messes. He is rude and inpudent with his teachers. He even bad mouths police officers and any other people of authority. He doesn't give a shit.......or that is what his attitude and behaviour screams.........LOUDLY. Abused sexually, physically and emotionally.......neglected, and brought up in a violent yelling home....... surrounded by damaged adults who escape through drugs and alcohol...not one positive male role model in his life it any wonder???

He is now 11 years old. There are many professional people who could figure out how to save this little guy and yet he seems to have already been written him off with comments from them predicting he will end up in jail........he will do something really bad when he gets a little older.........he will end up incarcerated.

He needs a big brother ........ a strong male who can challenge, encourage, accept and teach........and who could love him give him the rules and structure he is so lacking.......and to role model goodness........ ONE Big Brother. I guess the waiting list is 2 years long!! Any takers out there????

Today, I spoke with a person who grew up in a similar environment.......never had a place to call home.....was moved from one foster home to another. Driven and determined was his temperment, however. He was able to maintain his focus on school and survival. Friendly and engaging he remained. He never acted out like this kid, so he ended up finding people who finally loved him unconditionally, who mentored him and never gave up. They also never let him down. The early damage was undone..............for the most part, thought he tends to second guess himself in certain situations, and needs reassurance on a job well done more than most. But apart from that? He thrives and feels a sense of belonging.

Autonomy only happens when healthy people connections are made and when one can RELY and COUNT on the people connections to be there. They aren't going away.......and they are there to cheer you on along your journey. Autonomy doesn't mean one has to take the journey all alone. In fact, our confidence to be autonomous and to be able to love ourselves enough to reach out to others in a healthy manner is fed by the love and unconditional regard we feel, see, touch and hear from others.

We all have the toddler in us. It reappears when we are unsure of our footing. We return to that saucer eyed stage when we are confronted by new, by uncertainty. Those times make us waffle and stagger a bit.....make us double check on our supportive people in our lives. And if we don't have someone just down the hall keeping an ear out for us in those challenging moments.......we all fall down...........

My heart goes out to the little bully kid who has been basically written off by the system. My guess is that he will end up in the court system for most of his life and still won't meet up with the help he needs. Where can he go to learn how to connect to his community? Who can he turn to if he EVEN knew he needed to turn to someone? One little kid whose barking out through his actions a cry for help and we are failing him miserably. He's definately not the only one either. I wish I could bring him home and be the one who is there to help him find his footing. What is so darn frustrating when you hear these stories........ you can't do a damn thing about it.

Monday, March 24, 2008

it is meant to be.......

There are many overused phrases in our lexicon. They usually start out with a feeling of original authenticity, and then somehow end up sounding insincere and trite. Or sometimes they get picked up in the world of verbal verbosity and repackaged so that they can be lobbed out as something completely different than what it was supposed to mean. We have a tendancy to do that. It's like we're too busy to find our own words, our own way of saying something which leads us to resort to canned goods...... It's like the difference between a homemade meal and a frozen dinner. The packaging is always more pleasing to the eye than the taste will ever be.

Sometimes words just don't cut it. Sometimes they get in the way of genuine feelings that for some reason don't have the right words to convey the depth and width of how one really feels. They also have a tendancy to fill in the important silence as a way to add a glossing over in order to kill the discomfort which is needed when truth is rearing it's ugly head. Words help us hide behind the intellectualization method of coping. In order to avoid our own fears of feeling too darn much, we will use our words, particularly the canned goods cliches to put a cork in it.

But............yes, there's a but.......sometimes the words fit JUST right.

How often do you stumble across an event or someone else's path which seems to have no clear rhyme nor reason to it happening? You can bang your head over and over in the pursuit of trying to make sense of it, or you can just simply accept it as a blessing. I feel like I've been inundated with such experiences over the last couple of years.

Luckily most of the situations which find me in awe of the whys and wherefores have been positively life affirming. What comes to mind right away are the new friendships I have experienced in the virtual reality of this medium. I have found myself many many times asking the same kind of questions........... How has this happened? What is the meaning behind the connections? What have I done to deserve this? Logic doesn't seem to be a part of the equation. The probabilities are too miniscule.

The most profound path crossing occured a year and a half ago when I first began reading Pip's blog. Interestingly, the navel gazing questions never materialized. Instead, I automatically moved into an overwhelming sensation that I was meant to meet him. "We are meant to meet" became my mantra whenever we swapped emails, whenever he would send me loving encouragement to keep being the authentic "Me".......... whenever I listened to the music he posted on his site.

So many times when I have read something Pip has written, about the world he lives and works in and how it has touched him deeply, I could automatically relate to the thoughts and feelings he was expressing. His world, though it is across the big pond has many similarities to mine. I knew he would understand my stories at a level some couldn't. And, like many others I'm sure, there are times when I read his blog and feel that the message has been written just for ourselves to find and to absorb, particularly the ones that connect to faith. I could feel his messages seep into the way I looked at the world and the way I looked at me.

I boldly told my emerald friend, Mr. Pip....."we are meant to meet."

It is meant to be......this silly bunch of words make me smile........because they are TRUE. And you know what? My writing evolved and grew deeper and more satisfying because I knew that there was someone out there who was cheering me on.......this beautiful friend I am meant to meet. Words, phrases.........reading material fed my thinking which encouraged to stretch beyond my borders. turns out that this destiny meant to be thing? It took a different turn. Initially I tried to find a way to arrange for Pip to deliver his workshops in Canada at a conference last year for Career Counsellors. It didn't pan out the way I had hoped. However, I do believe I may still be the Canadian agent, and will continue to work on this happening. :) This winter, though, my thinking went from conversations that started with "If we meet........" to "when we meet....." and I could FEEL my yearning to spend time with my talk live face to share in person. After the sudden death of John O'Donahue, a profoundly beautiful man and a friend of Pip's whom I have never met but whose words and poetry touched me deeply, I decided right then and there that I was going to make it happen.

Life is too short and too unpredictable not to make a leap to make things happen. Life broadens and blooms in ways that are also unpredictable when one makes things happen. As Father O'Donahue stated in one of his talks when he was quoting a man he was with near the end of this man's life............"you've got to grab hold of life and SQUEEZE hard." Right on! (Click here and it will take you to a site where you can read some beautiful words about a man who died way too young, and see part of his talk at the Greenbelt festival last year).

It is meant to be and it's going to happen in May. Life is meant to be SQUEEZED. Life is meant to be lived fully. You don't want to get to the end of it with one item on your list, right?

I am very excited about my trip............about spending time with Pip and Joan, just hanging out sipping that Cointreau, and talking into the wee hours of the night. Just normal friendship "getting to know you" stuff. Though our friendship began in an unusually modern manner, it has given us the avenue to find our way into one another's lives. It makes me wonder..........if it is was meant to be, how would it have happened without the world of blogging?

And you know what is making it even more wonderful? Since I decided to make it happen, other connections are going to happen too. Beautiful Guernsey Girl Katie is flying in to spend two FUN days with me in London! YES! And it's happening because our meeting is meant to be too. I have a feeling we'll be just as chatty in person as we are online.

When it's right, it feels just right. These are some of those SQUEEZING life times and it's all because they are meant to be. No other explanations are needed. Well, except I have a sense we'll get past the "meant to be" and slip into the essence of why. It'll be found beneath the words in a level 5 place where shared emotions abound.

loveitloveitloveit..... :)

sharing a reflection.....

Old train bridge, now part of the Trans Canada walking trail and a wonderful place for outdoor reflections. There is a river underneath that snow and ice. I know there is. :)



I've been tapping away here on and off all day and still havent completed the piece I will eventually post. Not that it's long............I think I need to go off and tidy up the house in some mindless manner and let the words stir and find me. Just before i was going to do that, I visited this blog and read the nicest story about a caring person who stretched herself by changing her Saturday morning routine. By so doing, the gift of grace was given to her.........

Baby Sweet Pea is someone who has recently been leaving comments on my blog and because she reached out and did that, I found her too. I think this beautiful person doesn't live too far from me..........perhaps we have crossed paths many times and didn't know it. Perhaps because of the magic of blogging, we will meet one day at the Market one Saturday.

I welcome you to read her blog and particularly the post entitled "A New Earth, Part II, Words". Please let her know how her latest story made you made my day.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

the serenity of hope.

Sometimes hope is as impossible to grasp as trying "to catch the wind" as Donovan so beautifully composed in the 60's. His yearning to find solace through love encapsulates our own attempts to seek hope outside of ourselves. We have a tendancy to mesh these two together, or at least I do. Hope and love.........being loved fills us with hope. And so we go off in search of it.

love, love, love........hope, hope, hope......

There's a classic line from a movie which was spoken in angst with a strong Bronx accent by Harvey Fierstein......."I wanna be loved. Is that so wrong?" I don't know why it has always stuck in my head, and for the life of me, I can't even remember the movie if was from. But, the line was expressed in a way that made you laugh and feel eye widening compassion for his character at the same time if that's possible. I think we all can relate.
There are times in our lives when we feel terribly unloved and it's a crushing feeling. It has to be one of the loneliest sensations we can experience. It usually happens when we have done something we are ashamed or simply don't want to face, or when we are trapped in a maze of being misunderstood and dismissed by the people who matter in our lives. When the feeling washes over, it seems to strip you of hope too because it feels like the dark side of eternity.

As much as we may feel like the life raft needed to stay afloat is not within arms reach, as much as we sometimes feel like our arms are just too tired to tread water any longer while searching for that seemingly unreachable reassurance, as much as we don't know how we are going to cope with the onslaught of waves rolling in the windy tide because the strength in our hearts has been zapped of usefulness, we survive. There is an innate drive which can push us beyond what we perceive to be our limit. But, it doesn't come from trying to find it outside of ourselves. Hope and love are nestled in the remnants of our life experiences. I truly believe that. We have many external triggers which most definately surprise us with that uplifting sensation and these matter because they remind us that hope reawakens in every breath we take. It is in the spirit of life. And if you look at it that way, we do have the ability to catch the wind.
Today is a celebration of capturing the wind and transforming it into our breath of life. It's like we have been given a whole new fresh bunch of air to fill our bodies with a sense of being reborn. And by just simply taking one breath at a time, we can regenerate our empty vessels with the necessary ingredients to begin anew. We can't see it or hold it.........just like hope and love, but we can breathe it into us every time we fill ourselves with fresh oxygen.
How miraculous is that? It doesn't matter who we are, or what we are coping doesn't matter what colour our skin is, how disconnected we are with our own doesn't matter what we look like, or how old we are, and it surely doesn't matter whether we attend a formal church service, or whether we seek out the meaning of life going down a different path, we are all given the same gifts to quiet our hearts. WE are offered the serenity of hope, one breath at a time. We are loved. It's in the wind around us and in us. That's not so wrong.

Happy Easter.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

morning thoughts.......

Last night my husband and I attended a Good Friday Concert at the Wilmot United Church. I expected it to be very sad, but in fact I found it uplifting in so many ways. The concert included a chamber orchestra and a choir along with guest Soprano and Bass performers. They played/sung a variety of pieces from Bach, Handel and Mendelssohn, and then performed the Faure Requiem. Most of the music I recognized and enjoyed. I've included the piece I loved the most.

As I was listening, I took in the visual beauty of Wilmot church. Its one of my favourite places of's so uniquely painted inside with colours that have the same flavour as one you would see in Europe, particularly the Alps. It's hard to explain...........I will have to take pictures of it one day.

I was also intrigued by a little one who was attending with his Dad and his Grandparents, and sitting across the small aisle from me. I have a feeling that his Mom was performing. He was an absolutely adorable toddler, around 24 months old, and so well behaved, especially at the time of night. When the concert began, I looked over and he was sitting on his father's lap taking it all in. In fact, he was just the right size to fit in the "L shape"........his head touching his Dad's chin, and his feet reaching his Dad's knees. All snuggled in........... And I was whooshed by the remembrance of when my kids were small enough to fit perfectly like that.

He wiggled a bit, but never ever made a fuss while he tried to find the right position to fall asleep to the music. And all the while, his Dad hugged him and rocked him with such gentle love that always sends just the right message to a little are safe, you are loved. His wriggling never was an issue for either his Dad nor his Grandparents........every now and then a book or a small toy would appear to refocus him. Meanwhile NOT a peep, except when the music had concluded between pieces.

I watched him mostly out of the corner of my eye...... He brought LIFE into a Requiem concert. This little being lifted up all who were watching him from the corner of their eyes. At the end of the two hour concert, I leaned over to him and gave him a finger puppet of a chick I had in my purse (don't all good bloggers have finger puppets in their purses??)and stuck it on his pointer finger...... The look on his chubby little face was priceless. A big smile formed behind that soother he was sucking on! And I thought...........wait til Easter morning kiddo, you've seen nothing yet.......

His first real Easter egg hunt.....dont you want to be there to watch his joy erupt as he runs around his own house finding treats?
Today, I have 18 (including my family) coming for dinner...........which includes 10 "bunnies" of all ages. We have a surprise for them too. Guitar Hero has arrived at our house! I have a feeling we'll be rocking it out Nugent style tonight!! A weeeee bit different than the concert last night.......

jesu joy of man's desiring.......

This was one of the pieces played last night. Enjoy.........

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

Today is the saddest day in the Christian calendar and in three days, we will be celebrating the gladdest day. It is where sorrow meets joy, where pain meets blissful healing. Compassion, which is derived from the term "suffering with" is the empathic bridge to balancing the paradoxical feelings which impact our thoughts as we try to understand the layers of meaning behind the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is compassion which allows us to envision in our hearts that His sacrifice, painful and bloody almost beyond comprehension, was out of love and forgiveness.

Grief and sorrow provides the gift of love and forgiveness......

We all Dostoevsky stated......"to live is to suffer........" I don't believe we could ever grasp the purity of gladness without the true understanding of suffering. We wouldn't know if we had nothing to compare it to would we? This weekend, we are offered the clearest connection to this life realization all within a couple of days. Not only that, we are offered a chance to recognize the gift of life, to speak the word of gratitude and to hopefully take the next step in our personal journeys towards a life filled with acts of love and kindness.

I can't help but perseverate today over the many many suffering spots in this world, where poverty, violence, oppression and killings are a way of life for millions of human beings. I read a diary post of a missionary living in Malawi this morning which touched me deeply. I listened on the radio to a man who lost his whole family in the killings in Rwanda, and how he has reclaimed his life and his joy piece by piece while living here in Canada. And I watched some of the secretly taped videos that have slipped out of Tibet, listened to the journalists describe the situation in the small villages which have never erupted in anger before. I watched the Dalai Lama as he spoke out against the violence by threatening to resign. There is such suffering in oppression.

Good Friday may be a Christian holy day, but today it feels as though it embraces the multi-hues of faith, and the many human beings who are on the hurting side of grief and sorrow.

And the only thing I can think to do is pray. I wish I knew how.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

restless abandonment

Why have you forsaken me?

The sound of a hollow bell tolls in the mourning spot left vacant from being forgotten. A sparse fragility forms like ice over a weeping heart as the message peels away one layer of skin at a time. It leaves a raw wounded human being alone and unable to see beyond their own brokenness. Disconnected, unloved...........unable to find trusting love.

"I don't care about what happens to you,"spoken in loud bitter actions, tones of dismissal, unresponsive denials. Heard with sensitive transparency
found in the hesitation between the chosen words.......

"You don't matter."

"I won't protect you."

"You're lying. He wouldn't do that to you."

"You deserved it.....deserved it......deserved it......."

Inescapable hollowness seeps into the vacant place leaving shards of abandonment in the dark alley where loneliness prevails. Unloved pools of tears accumulate leaving an internal drowning in sin. Does it matter? Do I matter? The inner voice repeats over and over......."why have you forsaken me?" "Do you love me?" "Can't you protect me?"

"Do what you want," says the Protector, self absorbed in her own life traumas.

Words in response drip out of the vacant place..... no one cares, no one can be trusted, no one believes I matter. "I am a nobody. I have been forsaken."

A mindfield of tormented discord strangles mercy. Ice grows thicker around the weeping heart, leaving more desperation to feel something other than the pain. Each step alone mimics the hollow tolling............

Left on the front step of an empty home where love never stoops to thaw the discards, he wonders where to turn to find the warmth of someone who will be brave enough to touch his raw open wounds where the layers of skin never form again.

Left in the alley soaked in torn dreams, she rubs her swollen belly in hopes that this unborn will fill the vacant place where unconditional love has never grown before.

Left to their own devices in a sea of self absorbed permissiveness and entitlement, they flounder and flail their adolescent arms as they try to grab hold of a life raft.

Left after years of pounding storms of abuse, barely alive and washed up on the shore, he tastes the salt on his lips and remembers a time when he was able to trust someone. Was it ever real?

Who will stop the hollow lament?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

wordless wednesday....shuttered

not so wordless i'm afraid. i've always been intrigued by Carmi's wordless wednesday offerings.....I thought I'd join in. For more photos, link to Carmi's site.

early morning thoughts

It's early morning and it feels like I'm the only one awake on the planet. It always feels more intense at this time of year when the outdoors (which I can see out the window from where I'm sitting) looks so damn foreboding and COLD with all the chunks of snow piled up along the street. Even though I live in a neighbourhood, I find that late winter produces a feeling of isolation, which drives a sense of melancholy. Writing is a warming antedote for capturing the essence of aloneness on so many levels. It helps unravel the intrusively overlapping thoughts which always seem to visit during these times. Coupled with the miracle of the internet and blogging, writing offers an open door to step through and into a venue of sharing. I may be sitting here alone, with only the fridge hum, the ticking heater and the occasional snore from my dog to keep me grounded, but I can switch on my computer, open up my blog and touch fingertips with many smiling fingertips out there.

I like that. Melancholy can feel like a blanketing of woe, but it can also be a motivating channel which pushes a desire to capture its essence. Though I may feel alone and tiny in this vast world right now, I recognize that I can make the best of the silent stillness or it can make the best of me. My choice. This morning, I choose to harness the feelings circling in my system as a jumping off point for writing and thinking. Besides, if I allow myself to feel these feelings in the early morning hours, I am left with a deeper understanding of the human condition I share with everyone else. We all have been there whether we conciously recognize it or not. So, here I am feeling a little bit more connected already, and my creative juices are humming more than they have in a long time.

I have been on the road lately visiting people in their homes and have heard some heart wrenching and compelling stories. I've also met with individuals in my office recently whose personal stories have scraped at my soul. This is what I do as a counsellor. This is what moves me and drives my raison d'etre. Sometimes their sorrow and pain fills a room. Sometimes their life journey is wracked with such brutal unfairness at every single step along the way that it's difficult to know where to begin to help them figure it out.

We all have burdens loaded up on our backs and shoulders which are added to by life and what it throws at us. Some of the burdens are heaped up there by our own doing as the choices, sometimes impulsive in nature, we make. In the long run? It doesn't matter. Once the burden is felt, it's there. It just seems like there are some people who seem to have to carry a heavier load than others. Why is that?

Often, on the way back to my office with my music playing and the scenery rushing by I process what I have just heard and experienced personally having had the honour to meet and to hear some of another human being's trauma, I get stuck in the have they managed to keep it together as well as they have? How much more can they handle? Would I ever be a resiliently strong? Why do bad things happen to good people?

Once I have rambled through the anger I feel for the unfairness of the uneven suffering, I usually find my thoughts end up leading me to wondering what in the hell do I do now? What is my role in helping? What can I take on.........what needs to be shared and with whom?.......... who else needs to be involved?..........and why in God's name can't people be nicer to one another?? Usually a plan is hatched by the time I reach my office, or at least a first step. Sometimes I will seek out a kindred colleague just to simply blab out the story as a way to think it through, but mostly as a way to share the load. I can't imagine counselling without that outlet. It would be way too hard on the head and heart to keep it all in.

I am not at liberty to share most of what I hear or experience when I'm meeting with someone in need of counselling. That's the cardinal rule of course. When I have shared some of those stories on my blog, I usually mesh a few together. The facts are real, but the character is created. The majority of what I hear and what I am doing to help someone will never see the light of day on this medium. However, I share with my colleagues and they with me, and I often have to write up the specifics of what I've been told as a way to help them obtain my assistance from an unrelentingly rigid system. My writing skills come in handy offline too. Human stories put to words can't be ignored.

So often I end up sitting at the computer writing about optimism and hope. It's my nature, thank God. But, usually I end up there after I have had a chance to process the day through other avenues, which frees me up to write on topics which to some may seem light and fluffy. However, I don't see it that way. In fact, writing about uplifting topics, or posting photos of a what I have seen on a walk during a lunch hour? You can be assured that it is what I have been doing to find some much needed balance in my soul. My latest post of photos for example? That little lunchtime excursion lifted me up and out of the seriousness of my day. And while I was clicking those pictures, I was absolutely clearing my head that at the time seemed filled to the rafters with too much to handle.

I believe that one of the prime gifts I have been offered through the work I do as a counsellor is that I have been allowed to experience depths of feelings of pain, sorrow and grief through helping others. Because of this, when I write about the flip side of comes from as deep a well. I have learned to feel joy with a deeper sense of gratitude than I think I would have known had I not chosen this field. I should also point out that I believe the people I meet with can as well because of their own life experiences. Despite the fact that for the most part our lives cross paths because of the hellish situation they are enduring, I often find myself in conversations with them where beautiful joyful stories are shared as well.

This is the gift. The range is wide, and I'm grateful. Emotions drive our lives and fill it with multi sensory magic.

Writing lifts me out of melancholy. It is an avenue I use as therapy, and as a way to sit in a place of aloneness and stillness in the comfort of knowing I can feel the touch of others who happen by. Writing in the early morning when all are still slumbering? It is my opportunity of inhaling the spirit.......the breath of faith found in the holy space of silence. I used to be afraid of melancholy. I used to be afraid of being alone with my thoughts. Now, and I think this has been nurtured by the individuals who have felt safe to share their stories with me, I am not afraid to feel and to reach out in the quiet dawn to a hand I cannot hold, but a hand I know is always there cupping my tears of both joy and sorrow.

ps. I've been writing now for about an hour and a half and I'm left feeling good about what I've written. It may not be as linear as I would like, but it feels like the most open hearted piece I've let flow in a long time. ahhhh...... Dawn is about to show it's splendid colours. I can see the line of beautiful orange just above the horizon. It's morning and it's a new day. Before I wake my sleeping family, I will make myself another cup of tea and stand by my livingroom window and watch it unfold. I'm ready to take it all on again, whatever is tossed my way today. Make the most of yours OK? Share your human touch. God is one of us....trying to make His way home....... :)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day

If you're in Fredericton today, come join us at the Boyce Market from 4pm-8pm for the FIRST annual Stew and Brew. The Fredericton Shelter and the Community Kitchen have joined forces to offer a kick off to your celebrations tonight. They will be serving free Irish Stew to all who attend. Green Beer and other Refreshing refreshments will be available as well for a good price. Donations are warmly received at the door. Entertainment, Irish style..........will also be doing it's best to raise the Market roof.
If you don't happen to be living in and around the area, I wish you a Happy St. Patrick's Day.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

far away echos

"Memory is the place where our vanished days secretly gather." John O'Donahue

Last night, I sat in a one room turn of the century school house with a lively group of people and performers, some of whom are friends of mine. It was the first (and I hope the beginning of many) Coffee House organized by the local Keswick Ridge Historical Society and I think everyone there would agree it was a rousing success.

I had never been in the old schoolhouse before but there was a familiar connective feel to it, to the music, to the people who attended. I felt comfortably settled and happy to be right there in the middle of the joy of sharing it with others. Ranging in age from 3 to 83 we all joined in to share a Saturday evening of singing along with whoever happened to take centre stage. Coffee, tea and homemade sweets were served......all fresh and warm from a local oven. The music was eclectically wonderful with a feel of amateur that made it all the more special because we could all join in even if harmony wasn't a gift we had been provided in our genes.

The song genres ranged as well, and it seemed like every old song or tune conjured up sweet echoing memories that visited my thoughts. Music has that capacity to allow us to visit that place where our vanished days secretly gather. In one evening, I found myself thinking and wondering and revisiting several friends and family members, some of whom have died. They all seemed to be linked to my in the moment evening in Keswick Ridge.

We never lose touch with our far away echos of ancestry and kinship. The people, the stories, and the events from our past ground us in a comfort of belonging. There is a recognition of who were are and how we interact in our present day environ based in our memories. I could sense this last night. As with everyone who attended, I was visited by my personal echos. It was like the air was filled with ancestry. Vanished days permeated the space all around us. So, even though we were all sharing an evening together singing and playing instruments in harmony, we were also entertaining our own thought journeys in our memory compartments.

Our spirits breathe in the soothing recognition of far away echos as we live and celebrate today.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

feeling alive.......

Talking a walk together across the river.
Will you join me?
"God's calling is found in the place
where one's deep gladness
meets the world's deep need."
Frederick Buechner
How do you find a way to respond to this call? Much contemplation, prayer and discussion will help you explore God's reflections. Sometimes we stumble across our calling when we are least expecting it. Sometimes we spend our whole lives searching and expecting God to drop a line or send an email only to realize it's up to us to simply go out into the world and find where gladness and calling cross paths on our own. Knowing it's out there is impetus enough to take part in the treasure hunt. We don't need to wait for God's green light. He gave it to us by giving us life. That is our green light.
Where and when does gladness sweep over me? Where do I feel the most resonating sense of "this is what I'm meant to do when it comes to helping meet the world's deep need?"
It envelopes me when I see the anxious timid man who has never felt unconditional regard lift his head to look me in the eye for the first time with half a smile and an admission that he has never told anyone his story before.
I am honoured.
It touches my glad heart when I'm visiting a woman in her cold unheated home, and who lives too far away from her family and any help from the services in the city, and she lets her guard down to let her tears well up and spill as she admits to suffering from a broken heart over the loss of her daughter 20 years ago.
I am suffering with her.
It holds my hand when I listen to a telephone message from someone I hadn't seen or spoken to in 5 years........calling to thank me for helping her a long time ago..... She just wanted to let me know.
I feel valued.
God's calling filters through to all of us in different rays of light........we all have something to offer others and in so doing, we find that we have received more in return. If you follow God's calling, you will always be shifting through the stretching towards understanding the meaning of life. You will never feel the same way again. Viktor Frankl said it best.....
"We can discover this meaning in life three different ways: 1)by doing a deed, 2) by experiencing a value, 3) by suffering."
This is where a calling dwells........ May I add one more word to end the quote?
"We can discover this meaning in life three different ways: 1)by doing a deed, 2)by experiencing a value, 3) by suffering" ................... Together.
I am more alive when I can help others feel more alive.
I am more alive if someone allows me to help them feel a sense of gladness.
I am more alive when others help me feel more alive.
It is the circle of life......... and I want to be a part of it.
This is where gladness and calling meet for me. How about you?