Friday, June 17, 2011

Her spirit will continue to teach us good lessons.....

Betty Fox died today.  Her spirit was as strong as her son Terry's.  Her drive just as fierce.  Foisted into the spotlight when Terry's Marathon of Hope gained national attention and enthusiastic support, Betty and the rest of the family supported his dream.  When Terry had to stop his run because his cancer had returned with a vengence and died not so long after he was airlifted home,  the family rallied the rest of the country to embrace the dream of raising money for cancer research.  

Betty took the reins of her son's dream.  30 years later, after touring the country and taking his message beyond our borders, after starting the Terry Fox run which happens every September in most communities from east to west, Betty Fox raised hundreds of millions of dollars.  On her son's behalf.

Anything I've read about her, she was described as a feisty shoot-from-the-hip woman.  Emotional too.  I liked that about her.  She was not afraid of letting the tears fall when she spoke of her son to a classroom full of kids, or to a boardroom full of suits.  The Foundation that became the backbone of the tremendously successful fundraising was her venue.  Her determination to ensure the Fox family retained control of the direction and mission of it is well known.  She knew what she wanted........ to keep Terry's spirit, and  his dream of eradicating cancer moving forward.  With integrity. With very specific parameters on what the Foundation supported.  She was a hands-on hard working dedicated Mother who adopted her son's dream with her whole heart and soul.   The acorn didn't fall too far from the maternal tree. 

I never met Betty Fox, though it never sounded like it would be a difficult thing to do.  The woman was everywhere promoting the Terry Fox runs and the other fundraising events.  But, I honestly felt like I knew her.  We all did.  When she walked onto the Opening Ceremonies stage at the Vancouver Olympics carrying the corner of the Olympic flag along with a wonderfully eclectic group of distinguished Canucks, it was simply joyful.  She looked marvellous.... her famous white hair, her big smile, her natural-ness shone through to all that watched the ceremonies. I think it was the last time I saw her in the media until recently when they announced that she was very ill.  

This woman deserves unbridled recognition.  Her own spirit represents the intensity of love and devotion all parents feel for their children. The success of the Terry Fox foundation belongs to her unrelenting efforts.  It was her lifework, when she decided 30 years ago to turn her grief into productive energy.  We all know, however, she would've traded it all for the gift of having her son alive and well and by her side.   Of course.

Like Terry, Betty will continue to be a role model for every Canadian.  She shared herself and her family with the rest of us.  By so doing, her presence on the landscape and her generosity transformed our individual pursuits.  Never give up.  Do what is right. Find that cure.  Live and love fully.   

So, how can a nation honour her with the respect she has earned a thousand times over?  What gift can we give?  Formal recognition on Parliament Hill is a start.  Important too.  But given her earthy unpretentious nature, what is needed it our embrace of Betty's lifework.  It is up to us to take it on....... to ensure that the good fight continues, to keep the internal flame of her spirit lit.   And since we all have felt like she was a friend of us all......... this will come naturally.  Just like the love of our children.

May she know peace without mourning.  God bless her.  

Betty and Rolly Fox carrying the torch during the Paralympic Games.

Monday, June 13, 2011

oh, the places you go.................

 this morning's sunrise from my back deck....

It was only last Thursday when I didn't think I had a darn thing interesting planned for the weekend.  Feeling a little sorry for myself, I even whined about it.  But, like most of life, if you open up to whatever comes you way, and if you put yourself out there a little bit.............even a tiny bit, there's always a good chance opportunity comes knocking.  From the least expected places.  

The thing about opportunity is that it often sneaks up on you. It rarely knocks because more times than not, it can't find the front door.  Instead, opportunity resorts to sending a flare, a smoke signal, a firefly sizzle of a light in front of darkness.  If you have your head down going about your serious business, working and slogging away, you may miss the tap on the shoulder or the wink from the Cosmos from that sassy opportunity all dressed for an occasion. 

Like a relay race..... if you're running the second lap, you can't be daydreaming about some far away landscape when the breathless runner is about to pass the golden baton to you.  You've gotta be paying attention.  Full frontal focus.  Zippity open to opportunity when it shows, or glows or flows......... 

What I find odd about a jumble of days without a gameplan that ends up becoming full of encounters, connections, good deep conversations, sunshine and shifts in thinking from new ideas?  It takes a bit to process afterward.  When you reflect on the separate activities, they are meaningfully affirming on their own.  THEN, when you take the escalator up to give yourself a chance to see all around you......... to see the collection altogether, you can glean various themes, shared characteristics that heighten the belief in serendipity.  Similar topics discussed.  Similar paths shared.  Agreed upon understanding of what is important in life....... Big picture awareness.

So, I took that escalator up above and what did I see?  Well, this weekend's theme can be summed up with one word:  Recovery

Not quite ready.  In the throes of it.  Take a break from it.  Not knowing what to do with it, or how to go about it.  


Learning how to embrace the vulnerability of it.  Learning that the pain before it was far worse than choosing life altering avenues.  Learning how to admit to a Higher Power.  Learning that one needs to heal.  

To recover. 

  • A young man making the transition from a cloistered life wrought with social anxiety to an enrolled student in the fall.
  • A middle aged woman who has found true love after many hardships and soul bruises is about to embark on a new shared life.
  • A friend who is close to inhaling freedom.... the necessary ingredient in reclaiming her healing and wholeness
  • A  family living far away from loved ones and support  who have had MORE than their share of major life upheavals in the course of two months..... from heartbreak to serious illnesses, to losing their Mom/Grandma..... recovery will take time as they focus on the small blessings in the world around them....
  • Close friends temporarily living in Christchurch New Zealand near the last quake epicentre... surrounded by resilience and recovery missions.  Amazed by the support they've received, but still quite emotionally startled by their experience.
  • A new friend who through a moment of heart stopping grace saw the flint spark of light and has now fully embraced his own recovery by recognizing his authenticity comes from God
Me.  I fit here too.  So do you.  We all do. Recovery is lifework.

Whether its from an addiction or a deep gash from mourning, it causes us to be shook up enough to be emptied.  Temporarily.  Recovery is what we attempt when we encounter those negative forces beyond our control, but shake us to our core..... WHEN we are ready, we seek out help.  We admit, and then begin to heal by learning how to let go of pride, debilitating fear, and rationalizations.  We begin to heal when we stop fighting against reality.  Against truth.  Then we allow truth, honesty and vulnerability to be the balm on the wounds....... Painful wounds. 

What amazes me everytime I am given this opportunity to delve into the machinations of recovery, and to share the stories that peel the layers of defensive boundaries away, I realize again how it takes complete and utter emptiness to re-fuel our souls with a new energy.  When there is nothing left in the tank, you can't go anywhere except down on your knees, with no skin left to protect.  From that vantage point....... down in the holy well of tears, a crack forms......... that's always where the light gets in.  And it the light, however dim, that reveals opportunity.  

May we have the strength and the supports to grab hold of the opportunity to recover.  More importantly, may we garner the spirit of courage to grow beyond our wildest dreams into a place of forgiveness of ourselves and others.  

What an amazing weekend.  My life is far more enriched because of all of the encounters and experiences shared with me.  

ps.  My good friends living in NZ just experienced another day of earthquakes.  They are fine..... the recovery continues....... 

Sunday, June 05, 2011

the beauty of resilience.....

The other day while at the College, I was standing just outside a classroom quietly talking with a colleague just around the time the students took a break.  (I wonder why we don't call it recess at the College?)  A 25-ish year old student opened the door and stepped out right in front of me.  She was wearing a low cut tank top and jeans. Peaking out of her top were two elaborately designed tatoos of hummingbirds.  In flight. Larger than life. They looked like they were escaping from her breasts.  

Before I could stop myself and gather my sense of decorum, I exclaimed..... "Wow!  I love your hummingbirds! Those little birds fascinate me!" 

Luckily no one around me seemed to consider this a gaff and the student was thrilled that her "birds" were acknowledged.  My enthusiastic outburst  led to hearing the story behind her choice of tattoo. She came to life. Big smiley bright eyes!  Pleasantly surprised that I had even noticed.  I mean, how could one not notice??  The woman has brightly coloured hummingbirds flying out of her breasts and no one comments?  

Her choice of personal skin-art  was a tribute to her Dad who had passed away.  He had a backyard full of hummingbird feeders that lured the little beings to his home every summer.  He loved their vitality.  So does his daughter. 

Serendipitously,  I have been a bit obsessed with these tiny creatures of late because I have a few hummingbirds who have made my backyard their home this summer too.  During times when I've found a few moments to take a relaxing breath over a  morning cup of tea, or an end of the workday sigh, I have watched them with fascination and tried to capture their life essence in a poem. 

I find myself drawn to their energy as they flit and flummer, wings thrumming as fast as plane propellers, from one flower bloom to another seeking sweetness.  Did you know that a hummingbird lives on the tipping edge of dying?  Their full flight bursts exhaust their energy reserves so dramatically that they are constantly on the verge of starvation.  It makes sense.  They rarely stop!  Their busyness and focused determination to fill up their reserves with sugary sustenance seems to defy this fact. 

Hummingbirds exude excitable confidence. Inherently, they use their needle sharpe beaks to hone in on the blossom's soul where honeydrips await.  I watched one hover around a purple lilac with such purpose and focus. His irridescent wings and purple and green sheen body never stopped.   As it reached into every little bloom, I wondered if the little hummer felt like it had won the jackpot!  One flower head.  A thousand honey spots.

The other morning before it was time to head off to work, I sat on the side steps of my deck to enjoy my tea and the view of the river.  The weather this spring has been so wet and gloomy that when the sun manages to push away the grey clouds, there is a stronger sense of hopeful joy in the moment than if we had been blessed with better weather.  

Quiet and still..... grounded.  That's how I felt as I took in the sights and sounds of nature all around me. There was a chorus of songbirds harmonizing, communicating, expressing their truimphs and their love desires. Beautiful sounds!  As I listened,  I let the breeze spirits seep through me skin to let it replace my tiredness.  It felt like an awakening........a spa for the senses.   Then, I saw him.  This tiny speck of a being sitting right in the middle of the yellow clothesline in my neighbours backyard.  One little hummer with the line all to himself.  It was comical.  He looked like a B-flat note from a music chart.  One little note from a universal scoring.  

He didn't sit perfectly still.  Hummingbirds are hyperactive. But, for him, he was perched pretty darn quietly.  His wings had stopped.   Though he was too tiny to make his head do a "bob and weave" like you would describe if you were trying to capture the head movement in a larger species, he did make the same movement....  It was more of a tip and a flit as he scanned the yard like a Lord looking over his kingdom. Then, I heard his birdcall.  He somehow managed to project his voice above the louder tweets.  I heard him call out.  I'm HERE! 

It left me in awe....... It left me feeling as sense of kindredness with my backyard buddy.  My life is so busy.  For the  most part I like it that way. There are days though when the activities are survival ones.  Maybe not physically like the tiniest member of the bird family, but emotionally/spiritually.  On the tipping edge.  Then, I take a moment to sit on my rejuvenating steps to draw in the blessed goodness of my life.  

We have the gift of nature to be our mentor.  The life that unfolds with growth and determination all around us sends messages of importance life affirming learning.  All we have to do is pay attention and relate. 

The eagle teaches us to soar in freedom...... catching gust of wind under our own wings.  The robin shares many lessons about how to build a home, to protect and provide.  Mourning Doves live in love with their soulmates.  And the hummingbird?  He is the biggest gift of them all because he is the the mentor of resilience.  

There is beauty in the song of resilience.  No matter how ugly life can get we are all more beautiful because of our attempts at making it happen.  The key is to take the time to savour the honeydrips and to keep at it!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Trust-Me Boulevard.

 thin skinned beauty

The other day as I was driving home, I ploughed through a mass of dandelion fluff floating through the air.  Millions of feathery seeds once attached to a stem had  uplifted from the field beside the road and then got caught in a breezy travelling draft only to eventually disperse and settle to begin the cycle again on someone else's lawn.  My car parted through the fluff.  Before I knew it, I was on the other side this dandelion storm heading in the same direction.  Smiling.  It was a very cool experience.

I was reminded of this tiny burst of a moment tonight when I was trying to figure out where I've been and why I haven't been able to settle down enough to write.  I realized that whenever I've tried, I couldn't harness my thoughts.  I couldn't remain attached to the stem of an idea.   I have been emotionally, cognitively, physically uprooted.  Spiritually too. 

At first inward glance, I focused on the negative reasons.  We tend to do that don't we?  As much as I strive to be a "glass half full" person and can encourage someone else to alter their inward glances from the negative to a more productive positive, when I'm at my worst I can't make the switch very well at all.  So, I looked at it from that angle and this is what I saw...........

There have been days when I've felt like a train wreck and I'm so bloody busy trying to keep up with everything I have to do around here!  Exhausted, alone, overwhelmed.  Discarded.  I second guess myself.  I let my confidence sag like milkless breasts.  OOOOOoooooo!  I get all chilled and flushed at the same time even writing about it/thinking about it because the most predominant feelings that stream through me are shame and guilt. Failure. My emotions are so raw and on the surface way too much these days. There are many reasons for this which have left me with a sense of stalled vulnerability.... a heart open too wide and for too long.  This leads to serious brain flooding and over reacting!  And a jumble of questions........ ones that certainly don't have easy answers.

How do you love like you've never been hurt when you've been hurt?  How do you truly forget or let go of past shambles so that it doesn't impact a new relationship?  There has to be a way.  There has to be a different avenue.  I keep seeking.  I want the street I seek to be named Trust-Me Boulevard, but I think it will have a new name.  I just don't know where it is or what it will be called but let me catch a draft heading in that direction. Please! 

What happens if allow your inward glance to lean towards a more positive perspective? This is actually where I am tonight.  For the first time in weeks, I am breathing differently.  I think.  For now anyways.  No doubt I have been scattering my energy in too many different directions.  Scampering and scattering.  Unbalanced.  Seemingly floating in air without the tendrils to keep me grounded.  Caught in a draft.  Seeking and fearfully uncomfortable as I take new risks, form new relationships and TRY to juggle everything else in my life I must focus my attention on.  

However, it may not be such a bad place to be at all.  Challenging!  FOR sure!  Taxing? YES!  Messy?  YOU BET!  But, being in this place of transitional movement is ripe for opportunity.  I'm learning every day.  I'm also getting things done around here.  Maybe not as efficiently as I should or would or could.  But, I am.  New front steps.  Repainted another room.  Decluttering as best as I can.  I've got a load of gravel sitting in my driveway just waiting for someone to shovel and level it!  Any offers?!!  

The garden is blooming.  So are the weeds.  The lawn is lush green and where there were patches of winter kill, it is newly seeded.  The laundry isn't folded. There are cobwebs and dust in the corners of my home.  But my kids are thriving and so am I.  In spurts and starts and stalls and stops.  My love life is a bit of a minefield, but that's to be expected.  I'm learning to trust again.  Tearfully, fearfully, bravely.... in my own wonky way.

I'm also experiencing many many many light bulb awakening moments.  Big stuff!  Big blooming stuff..... like how messed up my boundaries are with the people in my life ...... and how much they have altered.  I'm learning that I have a long way to travel when it comes to trust again...... and I realized tonight that the name of the avenue I am looking for won't be named Trust-Me Boulevard.  Rather, the first street I seek out will be  Trust-IN-Me Place.  This comes with letting myself off the hook by stopping the shame and guilt feelings.  Acknowledging them of course, but then telling them to piss off!

If I'm ever going to be like that dandelion fluff and settle down again to begin a new cycle,  I have to be patient with the journey, and accept the fact that it will never be a straight arrow path.  Air drafts, like the pockets of unexpected life messes take you to destinations you may never have seen before.

Hey God are you around these days??  Will you take a moment to check on me... just for some reassurance.  Please let me learn to be more accepting and less sensitive to judgement.  Let me settle where I land.  Let me bloom there on Trust-In-Me Place.  I just know its where I belong........ it's where I can learn that hard lesson of loving again like Ive never been hurt.  Gotta trust in me first, right God?