Monday, April 26, 2010

rain brings change


can you see the dewy smile of the crescent moon
nestled on high in the harbour light sky? 
it catches celestial angel tears 
from hungry wounds 
of cloud covered dreams
until it fills up
beyond his shadowy rim.

it tips tender drops 
on thirsty treetops
silently releasing 
loving water drops
cleansing nature's sad sighs.

I sense the blue star in the sky tonight 
and it feels like rain.
I see the dewy smile of the crescent moon 
tip tender angel tears 
and I can feel the rain.

let it rain strength down on me.

seeds just need to grow.

ps. it was a beautiful sight last week. i hope you were watching too.

instruments of peace

Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, union;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, Grant that we may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

I always return to this prayer.  For me it holds the key ingredients to living as God intended us to –

***With a heart driven reverence for all of life by breaking it down beyond the complicated ruminations to the simple elegance of the natural elements we live amongst.

*** With the belief that what impacts me, will indirectly impact those around me and visa versa.  Our lives flow in and around one another in ways that more often than not will remain part of the mystery.  

Like everyone, I am imperfect.  My reactive emotions go awry and hurt others even when I don’t intend them to because of my lack of skills in recognizing the deeper triggers they lance.  Sometimes it’s only upon shadow driven reflection, or when someone points it out to me that I become more aware of how I’ve been perceived or how I have misbehaved.  It is only then, from the place inside where shame dwells will awareness come from the “whys” and the “how comes….”  

Our reactive emotions are ego led.  We soften and become more humble when we recognize the blind side of ourselves and how much we can lash out if we are incensed by not being understood, or by believing our personal needs are somehow supposed to be met by someone other than ourselves.   Gentleness, as it is so beautifully spoken through St. Francis of Assisi’s prayer,  is the harmony which wraps us in peace.   We hear the hymn and live the hymn when we eliminate the ambitious bully from our spirit.

*** With the intent of offering support without expectations or recognition.  This is difficult to do, because we all love to know we are needed.  We all want to be loved by the people around us.  But sometimes, through our own previous actions or because of the other person’s woundedness, or because of many uncontrollable forces that seem to penetrate our lives in ways we can even foresee let alone manage, we are fueled by our egocentric “needs” to be fulfilled.  

Our actions and reactions go from kind offerings with no strings attached to giving with convoluted expectations.  We set ourselves up if we offer ourselves to the service of others with a sense of trying to fill up our ego tanks.    I want to attract what I am, not attract what I want.   I say this prayer with that in mind, and perhaps one day that sense of contentment will not be so fleeting. 

*** From a place of honest sincerity….. I am who I am and will try my best to offer the gifts I have been bestowed, and let go so I can live my intended destiny.  The best that I can strive for is to be myself and not carry a false mask.  

What comes to mind is Thoreau’s quote:  “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours….”

Love is an action word.  To love is to be your real self and to try your best to always look through the lens of another’s gaze.

Not that any of this is easy.   

Mid afternoon light streams, 
Church of the Holy Trinity, Toronto
April, 2010

Friday, April 23, 2010

interim .....

get over it
get on with it.
you've got to move on......

not that i particularly enjoy sitting in the field during the interim, i know there is a purpose.  to reach a place where bitterness is left behind, where unanswered questions can be laid to rest, where some answers can be discovered, i have to restlessly remain in a place between "back there and over there...."

sure, i'd love to know the secret timeline for "getting over it....."  does anyone know? 
what are the rules to this process?  OH!  It's an individual thing...... nice.   this isn't a good answer for a chronic perambulating thinker. 

I wish there were times when I could just stop the incessant thinking.  But, that's an impossibility, and absurd in my case.  prayer helps this.... will do more of that. 

just remember..........God provides minimum protection and maximum support.......

yes, yes.......... He's there in that field.... holding me as I face the elements. He's in the ground below where I sit, offering me a pretty fantastic view.....360 degrees, past, present and future.  He keeps reminding me to...

Sit, go slow, walk to clear your head, write to let the feelings and pent up words out, to connect with others,  to do things,  to push outside of the comfort zone often,  to talk it out........ to pray.  He keeps showing up in the most interesting places with a smile and a listening ear.  He lets me be.  He lets me be.  Unprotected but supported. 

I'm learning...... when I think of what I've learned in just a short month, I smile.  I'm smiling.

grief knows no boundaries.  sure there are certain rules of decorum.  i mean you can't prostrate yourself in the middle of a busy intersection without someone calling for the straight jacket.  people grow weary quickly if you carry on too openly with your vitriolic woe is me schtick.  on the other hand, they look at you with judgemental eyes if move too quickly too.  so, what are the rules?  what is the timeline? 

I can only be myself.  But, that didn't work did it?  I was who I am and was rejected. 
Still, I will be myself.
I am who I am.
I can change....... his perceptions of me seem so clearly wrong.  I can't change that.

i have few answers to the questions which bore deep inside me, and this isn't going to change. the answers are not forthcoming and will never be.   i can only twist myself into a pretzel trying to fill in the blanks, trying to face down my own part in the dance that ended.  the sorries have no depth, no meat to them.  things happen, i am told.  i didn't mean it to.  

no that was a choice i say.....a hurting one. a deeply sorrowful hurting one.

it makes me want to lash out.  sometimes i do.  most times i try my best to let it go.  it was not my choice. my choices have come after the dance ended.  the dance has ended. 

we danced so beautifully together..........lively and free......

yeah, we have choices and can choose bravery over weak-kneed escapes. 
the choices reverberate like a clanging gong...........inside me sometimes. 
other times, the gong settles..........
and i know the answers will not be forthcoming.
my apologies to myself and others do.
and soon forgiveness?
i tried.  not good enough it seems.  but i tried.

i'm in the iterim field of lonely still, but i do see that i've moved a speck to the left.  forgiveness is where i am.  forgiveness is where the lifting of the spirit resides.  breathing helps.  breathing is where i am. today.

did you know that the word spirit comes from the word breath?  did you know that the holy spirit is a feminine entity?  as a woman, I will breathe life back into my feminine soul........ like i did with my children.  they came from my breath. 

renewal begins in the a field of interim.  I am breathing, filling my lungs the best i can.  my wings are evolving.   eventually a new dance will arise......

Let's see what today brings......... :)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Is this the truth??

 Like a silent serpent weaving itself into the corners of comfort,  the very presence of it shocks your delicate balance and makes you feel trapped in a place so heartless.  Rabbi Abraham Heschel, who marched with Martin Luther King in Selma and described the experience of standing up for human rights as "praying with his feet" also wrote, "the opposite of good isn't evil.  The opposite of good is indifference."  I truly believe this.  Goodness inside out is indifference.

Listen to people's stories of their struggles trying to seek help within a system driven society........ think about the times when you were trying to seek direction or clarity only to be head butted by recorded messages and dead ends.  The resulting feeling is smothered by the choke hold judgement of indifference.  It's like your "be-ingness" is stripped from your flesh.

The message?
You don't matter.
You're insignificant.
You're not equal.  

You're an inconsequential unbeing.

We live within systems and layers of heartless bureaucracies, some of us in cities where everyone minds their own business and rarely sticks their neck out for a human being they don't know personally. Fed by a feast of unresolved emotions which have gathered internally,  indifference breeds all around us.   When one projects the passive aggressiveness of indifference to another, it sends shivers into places you never felt them before and leaves you with a sense of invisibility and rawness.  It is feeling unloved.  The detachment is so cold and final.  Even when you know cerebrally it is simply a misfired coping mechanism.

It will take me a while to let go of the incessant question that rolls around in my head......... "How does one turn off loving another person with such finality?   Then, I forcefully ask myself.........."Is this the truth?  Is what I'm thinking really the truth?"  It centres me again.... allows me to catch my breath ..... takes the bite out of the serpent feelings which had silently warped my level headedness with their anxious poison.  Again, I ask myself........... "Is what I'm thinking REALLY the truth?"

And then, I hear a teenie tiny voice whispering an answer through the hollow echo of my question........  "no. what you are thinking isn't the truth.  The truth is a slippery creation of your own making.  Love evolves.  changes colours. hides awhile.  takes on different meanings.  love never leaves, but gets lost in the hurt of others misconceptions and slippery truths.  love fights off indifference because it becomes overpowered by the strength of compassion.  some people are afraid of love, afraid of the intensity and he complications of its imperfection." 

"True love is God's love,  the teenie tiny voice continues.  there's no such thing except God's love.  the other love is the human kind and is hasn't been perfected and never will.  know that happiness is available seven days a week.  know that love alights when you share its blooms with others. don't wait for it to return as you once knew it........ right now, it is cocooning so that it can transform into something beautiful." 

All of a sudden, the angle of my gaze alters.  And the serpent?  Well, I killed that beast.  Again.  You can kill the beasties too you know?  And when you do??? 
The human being becomes a being again. 
Respect unfurls in smiles and recognition.
Love comes out from under the covers.
And you remember that happiness is available 7 days a week...... 
That's the honest to God truth.  

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Hey Toronto! You need a bath.

So, I spent the day wandering around a city I love and feel a sense of belonging to.  Toronto. I know much of it like the back of my hand.  The familiarity of the streets was a welcome respite, including the speed of the traffic, the ongoing construction, the pace and the eclectic demographics.  With little purposefulness in my travails, I allowed the muse to decide on my direction because quite frankly my intention was to get lost in the crowd. 

 During parts of the day, i succeeded but during other parts, the stark changes to a city I love rattled me.  The place is falling apart.  Dirty, dusty and in need of some attention, the streets seemed more mean than i ever remember.  There were even times when i felt a sense of fear I had never felt before. 
I don't know what's happened to Toronto the Good, but it is obvious that budgets have been cut, or funds have been diverted away from keeping up the reputation of a clean city.  It's been hit by the recession and multi-level government cuts. There's no hiding the fact that its one hurting place.  Through my eyes, there are more homeless folks, more litter, more nasty smells.  Peeling paint was the norm and the hazy air stung. I found less friendly people and more humans who had etches of stress on their faces and in their demeanor. 

Most people seemed plugged in and tuned out to their environment.  It used to be that anyone who you'd pass on the street who was talking out loud had some form of mental health issue.  Now it's the norm.  Everyone seemed to be talking out loud to people who weren't even in the neighbourhood.   And the noise!!!  The noise seemed to reverberate in a choir of jackhammers that penetrated souls.   The music decibel level in the stores was beyond irritating.  Not only did it hurt your ears, the music choice was offensive.  It was like being in a crowd of lost spirits whose only coping strategy was to deny their presence and turn up the volume!   Disturbing.

I know this is the case in most places.  People have no interest in connecting with strangers, or in interacting with the people around them with a sense of respect.  Faceless they are.  Faceless they will continue to be.  Sad.........

I saw  a sea of people cloistered in their own quiet desperation with no avenue to share their stories.  Is this the future?  Will it get worse than it is now?  It seems to me that with all the technology to tune in and OUT, we are doomed, particularly in our urban centres unless we stop this nonsense.  Unfortunately, i think i'm in the minority.  The majority seem to be embracing this life of disconnect and indifference.   If the recent survey on the nastiness of the transit workers is any indication, this city is in deep trouble.

But, what would happen if the city of Toronto was spruced up again?  What if the leadership took it upon themselves to clean, repaint, and bring brightness back to the ever evolving drab?   What would happen if the next Mayor took the lead to bring back a sense of pride and ownership in making the city a project everyone embraces?  Wouldn't that turn Hogtown into a place where the air is friendly again? 

No doubt past city planners and bureaucrats  have completely blown it by approving a multitude of high rises  and office buildings to be constructed along a the shores of Lake Ontario thereby blocking the view for most city dwellers and tourists.  That can't be altered now.  However, I truly believe if the present candidates who are still in the Mayoralty race campaigned on providing the basics to make sure that the infrastructure became a top priority, perhaps it would alter the attitudes and atmosphere of a city that was once known for its cleanliness and friendliness.   Neglect leads to disconnect.  Neglect leads to lack of pride and ownership.

Seriously, something has to happen, because right now, the place looks and smells like a urinal.  Toronto?  You need a bath.

Monday, April 19, 2010

life is a bowl of soup.

On the surface, living ethically is a brain stem driven exercise in learning what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is evil. We learn this as children. Crisp and clear cut, they lean heavily in favour of compassionate morality.  What could be simpler than knowing what is compassionate and what is moral?  A five year old can tell you what you're allowed to do and what you're not allowed to do.  Be kind to others.  Share your stuff.  Don't be a bully. You're no more special than anyone else.  Everybody is beautiful. You can't have your cake and eat it too, unless it's your birthday. 

Ethics are easy to live by.  The Ten Commandments lay it all out for us to follow.  There are policies and rules to guide us in our workplaces, and laws that structure our communities.  When we stumble a little in our early learning, trying to know just how to act, all we have to do is fall back on our inherent  conscience and bingo!  We know the direction we must go.  With all of what has been scribed and legislated combined with what we have been taught in church, in our homes, in our schools, we shouldn't have any problems whatsoever in knowing right from wrong. Right? What's so brain taxing about that? Duh! Hardly even a blip on our cerebral map.

Oh, if it could only be that easy......... would life be much easier if we could carry on as robotic entities living within this framework?  On the other hand..........................

The very presence of ethics creates an atmosphere of discomfort.  They tax our thinking and put a dent in our hearts.  They stretch us with their slippery fluidity and force us OUT of our little head huts into the fire.  What I believe and try to live by may be a completely different set of rules than what another holds onto.  When you really consider the whole essence of ethics, aren't they the fuel of all conflict?

Ethics can make you.....Debate, Investigate, Contemplate, Instigate, Hesitate, Formulate, Confiscate, Prostrate, Perambulate, Frustrate....
They can be, Inspiring, Tiring, Fortifying, Terrifying, Testifying, Conspiring.....

They can leave you in a pot of soup desperately trying to figure out which way is the way out of the pot.  So much of life is a simmery mixture of choices and values we initially learn as children as the clear broth of yes or no.  Reality is not like that.  Life is not like that.  Adulthood ain't like that. There are NO easy answers because the dilemmas formulated from the crossroad questions, we quickly learn that life is a complication.    We try to grapple with the issues which begin to boil over with storms of controversy, and realize quickly that we become stretched to the max as we figure out just how to stop stirring the pot.  

I can't believe how complicated relationships become.......... and it seems to me that instead of working towards a way of communicating with love and compassion, that we choose to add more spices to the pot and keep stirring and stirring and stirring.  Ethics and what we believe in fuel our lives, but they are never ever without controversy. 

As much as I would love to live a life of simplicity, where there is not clutter of emotional insanity, where I can live with a semblance of orderly ethical beliefs, life is simply not like that.  If I'm honest about it?  If things were laid out in colour coordinated folded linen like you see in a Martha Stewart magazine, I'd probably sneak into the photo shoot and mess it up.  Having said that........................ there are certain rules I will abide by...........

Be kind to others. Share your stuff. Don't be a bully. You're no more special than anyone else. Everybody is beautiful. You can't have your cake and eat it too, unless it's your birthday.  And, don't mess with a good thing.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


 most recent shot of Lisa 
who still allows me to photo stalk her legs, the dear woman!.  
she's gonna have a new baby!

Familiarity offers respite to a clenched soul.  It allows the easing of muscles, while reacquainting with solid ground.  Routine straightens the staggered walk, especially if it encourages a reunion with the groove you've chosen to enhance the more mundane tasks of life.   Early Saturday mornings offer this to me as a gift. My routine is familiar and I own it outright.  It is not tied to being responsible for anyone else.  It is not contingent on anyone but me.  Saturday mornings have always felt like a bouquet of fresh air after a long week of juggling roles and responsibilities. 

No matter what season, it always begins with quiet time sipping the first cup of tea in the morning, some writing, a little reading, and if I'm lucky, awakening along with the rising of the sun.  Awakening is more than just opening your eyes and rubbing the sleep from them.  It is a light toe tapping spring of spirit, that liberates thoughts from their dream state.   It is a process of reflection allowing the chance to seek out a balance.  Unclenching... releasing.... by taking time for myself before the day gets away from me.   Sometimes it works, sometimes there are just too many burdens to filter through.  No matter what, however, it certainly lightens the load somewhat and allows me a chance to catch my breath.  

As much as I'm a true extravert, or maybe because I'm one, I need quiet alone time to regroup.  Saturday mornings is the time I cherish it the most.... free to wander and shake out the restlessness and pent up work stuff.

Before anyone stirs, I'm out the door, camera in hand, on my way to the Fredericton market. Alone.  It's a destination that always puts a smile on my face.  A sense of liberation envelopes me, knowing everyone at home is safe and sound.  I don't have to worry.  If you aren't aware of this.....Mommas worry, even when they really don't have to.  There's always a inherent niggling feeling in the pit of the gut when the activity level is high and everyone is out of the house doing their own thing.  I don't have that on  Saturday mornings.   Just a smile....a light step, a head full of morning awakening stuff and my favourite tunes.   

Rarely do I miss attending.  My favourite time of day to be there is when some of the vendors are busy getting organized.... when there is room to mill about without the mid morning crowds.  My path crosses with friends who work there, and friends who I may not have seen in a while.  It's all about catching up, and sharing a light hearted smile or too.  

Sometimes I arrange to meet a friend for breakfast, but usually my time is free and the conversations I get caught up in are unpredictably interesting.  It's all familiar in a good, good way.............  and if you ever want to join me, you'll find me wandering around taking photos, and inhaling deeply the sights and sounds and wonderful aromas all found within the heart of the city.   I'll introduce you to some of my favourite people too.... they ALL have the best stories to share!!!

early morning light catchers.... just like me. :)

Friday, April 16, 2010

creature comforts and riding the coaster....

Its not just family and friends who stumble through the painful transition of a marriage meltdown, it also includes the whole atmosphere around you.  Our lenses alter dramatically,  foisting us into seeing things in such a different way.  Its like a multi-sensory seismic shift on top of a teutonic plate of moving perspectives, shaky perceptions, and growing alternatives.  Everything has a different meaning.  Some things become more powerfully symbolic.  You can do your best to predict what may trigger your sensibilities, but you can't  prepare yourself fully.  

I guess this is all a part of the roller coaster ride I am on at the Camp Destructo Theme Park.  Frig, I wish they would shut down the power and turn the lights off for a spell!  They keep playing our songs! They keep throwing me curveball items that are attached to meaningful moments in the 25 years I shared with this man I still refer to as my husband but shouldn't.  Even where I am writing this (my kitchen), all I have to do is lift my eyes and I'm surrounded by "things" that were wedding presents, birthday gifts, pieces I use when we've had fabulously fun parties.  It is a minefield of memory triggers that tend to hit the hardest when I am the most raw and tired. Sweet Jesus!  I'm staring at a Bugs Bunny cookie jar that seems to be smiling back at me!  A birthday presnt to a Looney Tunes fanatic who despite everything still makes me laugh.

This list of these unpredictable triggers seems endless, even if I'm not so consciously aware of them because they make up my home.  The esthetics of comfort which display our personalites as individual family members, and as a whole family that we have carefully accumlated are like rings inside a mature tree.......... a giving tree.......... a tree we planted together with hope and dreams in our hearts.  

My home is shifting.  The pictures on the wall, the photos lovingly framed and displayed throughout the house, the furniture and colour scheme, the knicknacks and dinnerware, the bookshelves brimming with favourite stories, pottery given as gifts or chosen because it fit who we were,  shells picked up on beaches, candles which burned so brightly not so long ago..... all seem to have a layer of archeological dust on them now. They sit in inanimate silence, but hold stories that all seem to start with the same sentence..........."Once upon a time......"  Sometimes, their silence is deafening.

It used to be that this home felt like a haven, not just to me but to my family and to our friends who have joined us in many celebrations over the years.  It is an extension of us.  It is an extension of me, especially this kitchen.  I created this haven....... this place people felt so welcome to walk into.   It used to be that I was his home.  He told me so. Often. I was his home.  Like a broken platter, once used to carry cheer, I have been replaced.  His home is somewhere else.....restyled and fresh. It's where his heart is.  Comfort in a foreign land.

My heart is here.  The person I called home is gone.  I feel adrift. 

Its easy just to brush off the idea that stuff really has no meaning.  It does and not just for me. It holds meaning for all of us.  It holds meaning for my children......... much of it allows them a sense of security inside a place that is shifting. So, I can't just push it all away and start again from scratch.  I wouldn't want to do that anyways, because I know my sharp jolting feelings I get when the roller coaster takes a nasty curve will eventually slow down so I can readjust my senses and fix my windblown hair.  

Some of the things will be moved out to join his new home (or maybe not....his new home may not want that.) Some will be tossed onto a heap for a yard sale, refreshed by a new colour scheme, a new "look", a new feel.  And some, will eventually be used over the seasons when the time is less ripe and more right and will represent a softer look back on a different time and place, when this was a dwelling for a family of four and a dog who hasn't quite figured out the lay of the land yet.  We are all suffering from a bit of canine confusion.

What triggers me now, I will eventually come to terms with.  What may take a much longer time to settle is the way I define home and the way he has chosen to define his.  In the meantime, I think I will avoid a few cupboards and choose carefully the soundtrack of music which used to send me into a place of comfort and joy....... which used to ground me into a sense of love and belonging, until the dust settles a bit.  Its the best I can do.  That and sometimes gather the courage to press play on a song from our past and have a good long cry.   Unfortunately, Van Morrison will have to wait a long, long time before I can return to his melodies.  It just too painful.

You know, I used to LOVE the amusement park.  I guess I still do. Roller coasters are my favourite rides.  Water slides too!  Maybe its time to chose another form of amusement.............. calm.   NO!  That's just not who I am. It may be what his other home offer more of........ calm.  But, here?  The rides may be painful and long at times, but they also offer an exhilarating array of joy and a sense of LIFE living.  I'll take the Polar Express option any time over a bland merry go round.

ps.  I have started making changes............. I now live in an indigo blue bedroom thanks to the help of my sister who came to visit over the Easter weekend. More to be done in there before it feels like a sanctuary again, but just by changing the colour and some of the decor I see hope through this long transitional time in my life.

I'll work towards refreshing my soundtrack too...........slowly.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Radiant blooming

My Emerald friend Pip, often posts 5 feeling words to describe that moment of  personal reflection, and always asks the human beings who read his blog for their own reflective offerings.  Over the years, since our paths crossed in way I can only describe as cosmically destined, I have used this little exercise to "touch base" with my own feelings.  I've also incorporated it into workshops I've delivered on Emotional Literacy.  It's a quick hit meaningful "person check" that more often than not allows you to get real rather than remain in the dark side of denial.  It has the capacity to take you below the surface of your skin.

If you don't know what emotional  motions you're dealing with......if you don't know how you're feeling or even how to describe them, you can't let go of how it impacts your thinking and physiology.  All of a sudden, you're acting in ways driven by an imbalance of head and heart. 

This morning, as I read Pip's blog, I stopped to take stock.  This time the "actions" came through before the feelings, recognizing where I am standing, and how stretched I am beyond my comfort zone.   If learning happens in a place of discomfort, well....... I'm sitting in the front row!

5  stretching actions in discomfort

reaching for relief
sitting in honesty
fighting off failure
meditating inwardly, mediating outwardly
nurturing others, nurtured by others.

the 5 feelings?

stronger more often now
delicately imbalanced not so often anymore
determined but doubtful sometimes
loved but hurting

I'm so busy right now with many activities that truly take me out of my comfort zone but need my attention and focus when those two things seem quite depleted that I don't have much time to write.   But I  have many topics I want to explore.........half written and half thought out.   The political landscape at present in this province is heating up.  There are topics on a national and global level I would LOVE to have a chance to sink my editorial teeth into.  Issues generated from conversations, daily encounters, and simply living through this spring of change are piling up in my often feeling flooded brain of mine.   It sure would be nice if some big hearted soul (preferably handsome with a nice smile,  who knows how to fix things around a house) offered to be my guardian angel to grant me the freedom to write full time showed up on my front doorstep.  I'd like that.  :)

More than anything.........I  have stories, scripts, a few poems, and a novel all waiting in the wings, waiting to be shared.  I have many pieces sitting here waiting for my attention again.  Good stuff!  It will happen.  Yesssssirrrreeeee!

In the meantime............?   What I learned this morning while taking stock?  I am not in any way "stuck in the moment and I can't get out of it........."  I was stuck for a very long time, trying to fix, trying to avoid the issues of fixing and recognizing there was NO WAY to fix.  This awareness is where I also fully recognize the feeling of relief dwells.   It's kind of like a seed that has been planted in a bed of burrs and thorns, but has the potential to grow into a massively beautiful flower.  

Radiant blooming is possible.  It just takes a while when the landscape needs tending to as well.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The truth leads to forgiveness

On most Sunday mornings, I am awake much earlier than my family and I usually find myself immersed in an internet search of something tied to Christianity.  Whether it is a prayer I can't quite remember the words to, or it is reading a blog that would be considered faith based, or it is a word or a term that has somehow floated up from my imagination, my searches end up taking me to places where new information sits waiting for me to delve into.  My curiosity feeds my fascination and unrelenting thirst to find a place in a church of its own making. On Sunday mornings,  I follow a Christian trail.  

Of course, this cerebral  trail of mine is never straight and narrow. It is a convoluted meandering path with many visual places to stop and ponder.  It also branches out in different directions, encouraging me to make choices on where to trod.   I may start with one speck of a question in mind, but then the more I explore various links, blogs, websites, my head fills up with a broad range of thoughts and feelings.  It's like I start almost brain empty early Sunday morning,  focused by the motivation "to know more..." and all of a sudden, I'm standing in a field that seems familiar but the angle I'm observing it from has altered.  New angle, new light.  New angle, new gaze.  My cerebral explorations almost always wakes up my heart. That is where the sacred light goes in and my own soul light comes from.  From there, I feel the words form...... and I become a vessel.

Its always been that way as a writer/blogger.  Under the umbrella theme of Awareness, I have attempted to allow my thirsty interests.... my curiosity to guide my musing fingertips on the keyboard.  It is a way of learning I never really understood until I started writing again.  Until then, I had always considered the act of finding words to harness the floating bits in my brain as the practise of sharing what I had ALREADY figured out.  Hardly.  

The most important component of integrating new learning with old learning in order to allow it to sink into a place of synthesized acceptance OR to dismiss it outrightly, is writing.  As I write, I challenge my thinking.  As I write, I stare at my feelings.  As I write, I ask myself................. is what I am thinking or feeling the truth?  Can I shift?  And if it isn't quite the truth, can I accept this "new angle" as an important part of  choosing the path that may lead to truth and bare naked honesty?  yes.  

Honest reflections form the basis of establishing the freedom of our imbedded conscience.   Truths may alter, may fall off to the wayside with new learning, may transform our lives in ways we don't understand or even want to accept.  They may be hard and extremely hurtful, or they may lift you up in a smile, but the truth is all we have to build on our faith.  Writing helps strengthen my vision of the truths that are attached to my wavering thoughts and fleeting feelings by anchoring it to what I already have learned.   Writing allows me to challenge what I thought was true, and offers me a much needed venue to pull together a mess of seemingly unattached ideas so I can find linearity in the threads.  There is truth and honesty in those jeezly threads!!!  I just know it. :)

This morning, I learned that the Sunday after Easter is considered the Sunday of Divine Mercy, as practised in the Catholic church.  My morning journey to seek out the genesis and meaning behind this day of mercy, allowed me to quench a thirst while reading the story of Saint Faustina, a Polish Sister canonized by Pope John Paul II whose visions and writings brought forward Jesus' message of forgiveness.   As I read more about her life, about her mystical gifts, about the health issues she suffered, about her devotion to her faith,  my thoughts were peppered by dozens of questions, from whether or not I really believe in the whole Sainthood process, to how comforting her message may be today to the people in her home country who are mourning the tragic losses of their leaders in the plane crash on Saturday.  

Saint Faustina's unwavering beliefs may even be severely challenged by the faithful today, the day of Divine Mercy, as they process their shock and grief, but the message of mercy and forgiveness will eventually prevail. 

The whole idea of unconditional forgiveness, of a Divine Mercy resonates with me and it always has.  Though I didn't know there was a Saint who represented this, I'm not surprised.  For someone like me, who lives in a place somewhere beside formalized religious indoctrinations (like next door on a wooded lot .....) I usually take what I've learned and try to apply it to my own life and to the ones I love.  In actuality, that is what happens to people who attend services regularly and believe in Christianity.  Our places of worship may look very different..... the altars are designed in many forms.   

What I have gleaned this morning as I contemplate the lessons of God's unconditional love and forgiveness is that the only way it can happen fully is to strive for honesty.   Living secrets and avoiding confessions of our sins is never going to lead to mercy.  It is what Desmond Tutu lives by.  Truth and reconciliation.  He led a whole country to healing and wholeness because he believe in this heart and soul.  He took his beliefs and turned it into action.  He encouraged his country to face up to their sins,  and by so doing, helped them shift their truths and offered them a way to look deeply into their consciences.  Divine Mercy.  He didn't do this without anger and resentment in his heart.  He did this in order to alleviate those damaging instruments of the soul.  Because he believed in the heart of truth, justice, fairness and peace, and because he believed in forgiveness, this gracious man led through his faith.

As an extension of God, Bishop Desmont Tutu wrote, "I am human because you are human. My humanity is caught up in yours and if you are dehumanized, I am dehumanized, and anger and resentment and retribution are corrosive of this great good, the harmony that has got to exist between people."    I love that!!!!

On Sunday mornings, I sometimes follow a path that begins with a fired up curiosity.  Today, I want to strive a little closer to  forgiveness in my own situation.  It will eventually bring peace and harmony.  Not overnight.  Not next week.  One day.   It will look and feel very different than it once did, but that's what I want for myself and for my children.   Today, I relearned that in order to accomplish this state of being............. in order to feel a sense of Divine Mercy, honesty and truth, not lies and secrets is the only path to take.   

Thank you Saint Faustina..... you just helped a wayward little one who doesn't attend the Catholic church find the strength to walk the talk..... to act upon the thoughts and feelings.  This is living our faith.  One step at a time. One confession at a time.  The truth does set you free...........

Saturday, April 10, 2010


 Avon river, Bath UK,
August, 2009

When distress calls from low cloud skies, the troubadour's music somehow filters through in beams of light, which turns sadness upside down.  He assumes his role through the caring kindness of others, through their concern for my well being.   I hear his songs of love resting in the lyrics of their encouragement, in the words of their own stories, in the hugs I have fallen into,  in the smiles they freely share, in their own moist eyes which seem to appear when their own memories are plucked  and in their brilliant laughter when I offer up an absurdist perspective.  This healing minstrel plays through the feelings and actions of others. 

He comes from an ancient past and travels with the apparitions of ancestors who provide reflective moments and gifts to explore.  Remember this, he sings.  Listen to this he suggests.  Fill your senses with these, he encourages.  Come lets share a cup of tea.  He takes me back into the past,  but seems to carry me as I try to remain in the present moment.  Shards of memories which easily can pierce my soulflesh seem to be easier to explore when it is accompanied by his strumming.   Grateful to be awash with inspiration rather than always grief, I come to the end of this day tired but safe...... alone but loved.  His comfort allows me to step into discomfort because he helps me pace my growth with his grace notes.

Today, I was given a gift from a friend..... when I unwrapped it and saw that it was a beautiful ornate gold cross, I was so taken aback that I sat speechless, until my tears sprang up in the silence and I heard the music of the troubadour.  Then, when my friend told me the story behind how he had been given it and why,  and how far it has travelled only to find a place in my own hands, I was touched beyond words. thank you Charles. It is lovely, lovely..... and it will accompany me wherever I go.  Just like my troubadour of love.  

how sweet it is....

Friday, April 09, 2010

emotion motion........

I  have vowed not to use this venue as a dumping ground of vindictive thoughts and feelings as I plough through the reality that is my life at the moment.   It's too public, and it's just not right.  There's enough nasty mean mind pollution out there on blogs and websites.  It's also too permanent, and as we all know, feelings are fleeting.  

Know that I'm feeling deeply, pouring through the fear and sadness the best I can, and trying to learn from them.  I am doing this through much guidance of family and friends and through my own time alone.  I have sought out counselling for myself and serendipitously have connected with someone whom I will be meeting with in time to learn how to harness the gifts I have in new ways.  I am writing on the side, getting the BIG MONSTERS out of me so I can see them with my own eyes.   And I'm doing this knowing that I may not be protected as much as I would like to be from God, but I am fully supported.  My faith grows.  My understanding of myself and others grows.  And believe me, it's bloody draining!!!

Though some feelings wear out their welcome and stay around like a houseguest whose turned into an unwanted roommate, we must process them them, reflect on them.........look underneath them.  If we don't, they EAT us up inside and cause untold physical and spiritual damage.  

See them as helpful!! They are flags waving inside us.  Their purpose is to communicate messages we need to  listen to.  They help us move towards solutions, and teach us more about ourselves than we even want to know!  Emotional Literacy is all about recognizing the ticks and the tocks all the while giving them a name.    Emotional Literacy is all about allowing the feelings to stretch us into a place of discomfort so that we can soak in their motion and function.  So we can learn and grow.  They change us even if we fight the change.  

Yesterday, I sunk to a new low.  It was dreadful.  It didn't scare me, though I'm sure it frightened others.  I knew I had to sit right in the middle of it and FEEL or I would not move forward in the grieving that my heart and soul is experiencing.  I lashed out too.  In anger. I sounded like a sailor on a bender.  It's a strange feeling to be so deeply sad and angry at the same time.  The pain hurts.  It leaves scars.  It leaves new learning.  It leaves you vulnerable in the knowledge that no matter what, no one can take them away.  If you don't feel them, they turn inward and form a calcified crust of bitterness around your heart.  Then, you can't fully love or trust again.  I don't want that.  I want the opposite of that!!!!   

My counsellor told me................. tears are strength.  Its the first time I have heard that before, and it's the opposite message we have all been told.  The more I consider it, the more I agree with her.  As much as crying and tears are so tiring and messy, once you blow your nose, wash your face, throw away the snotty kleenexes, and have a nap all rolled up in a fetal position, you do feel stronger afterwards.  Pretty traumatic way to gain strength, but there you go.  Let the tears flow!!

When one is fragmented inside because of accumulated pain, or of chronic denial of the hurts, the truth eventually spits out in various ways.  Anxiety, depression, addictions, sexual outlets..... these are all examples of how the fragments pierce through the skin.   We seek out unhealthy avenues as temporary salve rather than mercy and salvation.  Sometimes our personal issues and history seems just so magnified and monumental.  Where do you start??  The point is NOT to figure out WHERE you start.  The point is just STARTING.  Anywhere.  With the first feeling that you claim.  Start there!!
In counselling, we never begin at the beginning...... rarely do I hear a "Once upon a time..." start in a session. Rather, the individual sitting across from me jumps into a story right in the middle of life.  It's like a tip of the iceberg and the more we converse, the more the story expands into the past and out beyond hopes and dreams.  More often than not, the "issue" does not even resemble the original starting point.  It takes a while to get to the raw truth.  You have to be ready for it, and find comfort that you are being heard before you share it.  Plus, you have to dig into the heart mine yourself before you may even KNOW what the issue is.  Rarely are the real reason for feeling the BIG MONSTER feelings float up to the surface on their own.  We are masters of cloaking them in coping mechanisms.

I want to be whole again and I will.  The only way I know how to do this is to be honest with myself. I will continue to find the strength through my blessed friends and family, through my writing, talking, walking, reading, through expressing myself as broadly as I can, through my tears as well as laughter.  If I do all of that with as much courage as I can, and with the truth to guide me, I know I will find a new place that will be as enchanted as this place used to be.  Maybe more so.  Along the way, I will stop and count my blessings because there are many!  I am grateful.

If I empty myself of those debilitating feelings and let them topple onto the ground to mix with the clay of all souls, my cup of life will be ready to be filled .  I want room in that cup for possibilities.  I just have to be patient and not move so quickly.  If I move to quickly, I topple to the ground myself. 

Perhaps that's where I need to be from time to time, on the ground mixing with the clay of all souls.  It's the best I can do...   Just like you. Just like you.  We are no different you and I. Feelings are universal.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

a touch of serenity

He quietly slips under her skin with a soft sigh and holds her soul on a pillow of down. He rocks her as gently as unseen waves on a calm summer day and surrounds her in a honeysuckle breeze, an aroma that lightly touches her skin, quenching that inner aching thirst to be loved. He leaves her in his haven where desires melt into contentment, where sleep comes like a baby's, safely and soundly. Not a peep of discomfort can be heard as he pours himself into the nooks where worry dwells. As fleeting as he can be, serenity is a welcome surrendering respite like the first sip of a perfect cup of tea. 
Both make her smile.  Both allow her to acknowledge the blessings all around her.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

your presence

I awoke this morning
to a wooing dawn song of the birds.
Renewal all around me. 
Standing in the dark, alone
i looked out my window
to the other side of the river.
Mesmerized by the luminous streetlights
radiant amber reflections stretched out
like flickering candle flames 
on the surface of the water,
it felt like silent mercy in the sleeping calm.
It felt like light tapers you could walk on

Walk on........... 

I thought i saw your face rising from my memory,
your blue eyed serenity looking right into my soul.
I looked into your familiar smile.
I swear I heard you whisper serenity,
quietly beckoning me
across the rippling light
to the safety on the other side

You're almost within reach, my anam cara
my somebody closer.....
my reliable soul friend........
Rather than restrained by silent distance
I feel your presence all around me.
feeding me calm.

Are you quietly beckoning me
across the ladders of tapers
to the safety on the other side?
Or am I beguiled by a mirage of nostalgia
nestled in a long lost dream?

Reality is gifted in the light that carries us.  Even if it wavers in the currents of a river unfolding, we surrender so we can sail into the mystic, lost in the wonder of where it will lead.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Easter morning

"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you, 
Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid......." 

So often it slips by unnoticed.  Those who know its medicinal magic seek it out. Cradled in the lonely remnants of the dark night where sorrow hovers like an ancient dream too complicated to comprehend, a blushing thinness appears over the sleeping hills. 

Just when you thought hope had been smothered by the lingering heaviness of standstill time, when your soul is clenched to ward off despair, it winks a deep pink so enticing you can't help but be pulled into its promise. A feast for your eyes. Salve for the spirit. At the very same moment when the pink blush smiles into a broader swath of tangerine and touches the darkness all around turning it into a tangled blue, a choir of birds sing out..... a welcoming invitation to sit in the rising passion of a new dawn. 

If only it could last forever, this moment of peace and hope.  I am held captive by a living snapshot.  Would  I grow tired of its beauty?  Would the hope I feel lessen in strength?  Perhaps, because like life, hope never remains still.   Its very nature carries us forward in its inspiration as it eases us into transitional changes.

We are kissed by the joy of a sunrise and rejoice in its loveliness. Its softening warmth is sweeter when we have waited on the wings where lonely echos gather. Let it's refreshing promise lift you up into its arms and carry you to a place where your gaze becomes beautiful again.  There is strength in the air we breathe.

The sun RISES on this inspiring morning while I sit in the quiet of my home with You holding my hand and give thanks. Thank you for the blessings all around me.  Thank you for the blessings I feel inside me on this beautiful, beautiful morning.

Happy Easter.
Let the miracle of the day bathe you in comfort.  I will allow it to do the same for me.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

cloudy clarity.

One of the most difficult daily tasks I must do right now as I push through this home mess is go to work. But, I must and I do, and I have. Actually, I kind of see the imperative structure of my daily routine and the kind of work that I do as both a blessing and a curse. Counselling is a tiring job on a good day. Counselling when you are in dire need of resolving your own shit is whole other kettle of fish.

Apart from the sheer exhaustion coupled by the surging electricity that seems to wrestle inside my body, my mind is not as reliable a tool these days, nor is my emotional heart.  I'm doing my best.  And when I'm doing my best its usually in the mornings.  By late afternoon, I tend to bottom out. I must remind myself that this time of day was never great to begin with.  Now though, its like the fatigue and the reality of things finally merge somewhere in the pit of my stomach and win. The wind is gone. Kicked right out of me.  The fuel tank is on empty and all I want to do is turn off my brain (not possible) and find a really really comfortable cave to crawl into.   Then, I go make myself a cup of tea, have a good cry, phone someone, talk it out, blow my nose and suck it up.  Most of the time.   
Counselling as a profession is tough.  I love it, but I am aware of the ramifications of it.  As much as I have learned to leave the spillage in my office, when one isn't up to full speed, it can seep into your pores.  Also, the concentration level required to be fully present for someone else when your own heart is broken is next to impossible.  Given that I was in full flight crisis and anxiety most of the time since Christmas trying to figure out what was going on, and trying to remedy it as best as I could (and not succeeding at all), this has been a long long winter of struggling. 
Ok, this is one downer of a post. I am getting to the upbeat part.  Really I am.
As I look back on some of the situations presented to me, the level of crisis, the stories, the suffering and confusions shared with me, especially over the past three weeks, I can honestly say that I have probably provided some of the best counselling support I have ever provided.  Its also safe to say as well that a few of the posing issues have been the most challenging too.  

As well, I have been confronted by similar stories and complications that I am personally dealing with over and over again that it seems like I'm living in the theatre of the Absurd.  I can't tell you how many times I've been left dumbfounded sitting listening to the stories, wondering if God is just a big jokester in the sky, sending these folks to me at a time like this.  Then, I recognize the opportunity for learning.  Big learning, big reflections........ and opportunities to receive perspective.  I am now coming from a very different place when I'm counselling someone else.  
To be fully present like I need to be AND want to be, I must dig much deeper from within my pooled up strength, commonly known as resilience.  To clear the heavy fog that pulls me into despair if I want it to, I must scramble and kick at the same time while breathing.  Shift my thinking, and the fog lifts.  The fogs lifts and my feelings are in a place of openness.  As I have stated before, the secret to counselling is knowing that the counsellor learns just as much and often more so than they ever disperse.  That's the key and that's what inspires me to trudge along to work everyday.  Insight is a masterful gift, and I've learned that it comes best when you are open to interacting with someone much deeper than surface dwelling can ever offer. 
In the past three weeks, I have had the honour and the good fortune to have met human beings who have shown resiliency, vulnerability, feistiness, sadness, anger, confusion.  I have met with lost souls, Prodigal sons, resentful individuals, amazing survivors and the broken ones who were on the verge of giving up.  People who have met with me simply to gather information about some of the courses offered at the College have comfortably (and surprisingly for them and for me) shared their histories and more times than not, their tears.  Fifteen minute meetings have turned into full hour sharing.  WHOA!    Blessings.  No curses here. 
What is different than before is that after I am fully present in a counselling session?  Not only do I need more time to regroup and catch my breath in between sessions,  I almost completely forget most of the details and the wide ranging sharing immediately.  Including names.  This is not like me.  I have an elephant memory.  Usually.  So, I'm trying to learn to jot down key points because I've been caught a couple of times when a person emails me or drops in to talk again and I look at them like they are a new face.  But, when I'm present and in the heat of the counselling session, count on me to be RIGHT THERE sitting in that pool of feelings.  

Ok, I remember some of the details............... here's one.
Yesterday, a  young guy showed up all frazzled and wanting to sign up for a course right away.  I started asking him a few questions just to see if he was ready to take this step, but also to see if the course he's interested is the right fit for him and if he had the qualifications etc. In no time, a list of very complicated life situations, all linked to the basics like finances, housing issues, chaos at home floated up to the top.  I have met many just like him, especially when I was working the front lines at the income assistance office.  So, I cut to the chase with him............ not in a mean way, but in a direct way,  pointing out that as much as he WANTS to take a course to make better money etc, he would fail at it if he didn't take the time now to get other parts of his life in order.  What a MESS!  From there, I suggested a few steps, while reassuring him that the people he needed to connect with to help him were once colleagues.  
Tears came quickly to his eyes as he told me that in the year that he's been truly scrambling looking for guidance, I had given him more in the five minutes we had met than anyone else.  What an amazing thing to be told.   We began to look at his needs one at a time, while he figured out what his priorities are.  What needs attention.  The hour we spent together was intense.  It shifted him into action, and it sent shivers through me. 
The messages I shared with him, I heard myself.  I was learning too.  Insight stuff.  Reminders.  Me in a mess, he in a mess.  Different messes, but similar gameplans.  Slow down!! Recognize your needs, prioritize, dig out of the chaos one day at a time.  Remind yourself that you do have good goals.......... that your dreams are reachable...... in time. He left with homework and a couple of doable first steps.   I concluded our meeting jotting down my homework on his behalf so I would not forget it.  Then, I wrote in my own journal....  :)

A blessing more than a curse this job of mine is.  I just have to continue to write it down so I don't forget why I get up every morning and make my way there.   For now, it's time for bed.  Tomorrow is another day, fresh with no mistakes.  Guaranteed there will be many of those. Why?  Because I've learned from a wonderful friend (whose a wee bit gouty right now.....get well Pip!  xx)  .... WE are all beautiful in our imperfections.  

Another scar please?  Make it pretty for me God? thanks.