Archive for October, 2012

Furry Toe Washing

Ever had your toes licked by a furry friend?

A year ago I spent time with a dear friend back in Ontario and her dog Colin took a shine to licking my toes anytime they weren’t in shoes or socks.  I nearly squirmed out of my skin the first time his cute little tongue took a swipe.

The more he licked, the more I got used to it.  To my surprise, I discovered that there was something kind of soothing about his attention.  As squirmy as it made me, when we came home from a walk or shopping at Ikea, letting his little warm tongue quietly slurp away felt … good.

When I was looking for a picture to go with this post, I realized that even saying the word vulnerability makes me feel the same was as that first damp contact of Colin’s tongue.

But the practice of vulnerability … that’s a different thing all together.

I admire people who choose to be vulnerable, but I completely admit that the idea of choosing to be vulnerable scares the crap out of me.

The thing is, the more I discover about myself, the more I seek to live authentically, whole-heartedly, the more I realize that being vulnerable really is the key piece to living my life to the fullest.

Contrary to how I tend to feel about it, being vulnerable doesn’t have to mean being a doormat for others to walk on.  It doesn’t have to mean allowing people to take advantage of me. It doesn’t have to mean opening myself up to be hurt again and again by the same person.

But it does mean allowing my heart to be seen. Opening up to share the things that are closest and dearest to my heart. Risking not being good enough. Trying even when I might fail. Knowing that the choice to be vulnerable may lead to hurt and disappointment and choosing to live that way anyhow.

I picked boldness as my word for 2012.  Little did I know that choosing to be bold would also mean choosing to be vulnerable.  As squirmy as the idea of vulnerability makes me, learning to choose vulnerability in the little moments of day-to-day life feels … better than good.

There are so many people who have been inspiring me with the power and grace of their vulnerability.  I thought I’d share a few.

  1. The View from the Vortex of Suck – When your website is called Blessing Manifesting, people might be inclined to think that you only write what one friend used to call “bunnies & light”. But sometimes life just isn’t like that and Dominee can be counted on to be real.
  2. The Permission Slip – Sometimes I need someone else to remind me that I have permission.
  3. Feeling Empty on the Inside and Ugly on the Outside – Showing Up Anyway – The title of this blog says it all “Simply Woz”.  The courage of this post brought me to tears.
  4. I’m not liking myself and I’m not doing anything about it – I value this kind of honesty and self-knowledge that sometimes you just need to be where you are without trying to change things.
  5. Have I told you how much I adore Ellie Di?  From here (Scattered Thoughts from a broken and healing marriage) to here (Becoming myself: new site, new direction, new story).  I love her never-ending quest to be more fully herself and her willingness to share that journey.
  6. Art in Motion: Sunshine Piece – I love Kelly Rae Roberts’ artwork.  It was her calendar that hung on the wall of my work cubicle throughout 2011.  Quietly and subtly, her art snuck behind the walls I’d built and reminded me that there was a different way to live.  Sharing her creative process behind such a personal piece made me want to dig the paints out.
  7. There are so many posts from Marianne Elliott that I could include here, but Chickens really hit home for me.  When I think of some of the free writing things I’ve done as part of writing workshops, I find it hard to imagine posting them … without a lot of editing!
  8. I am beauty by Kyeli – So simple and powerful.  In case you haven’t been following Kyeli’s 30 day no-necklace trial during September, watch here, here and here to fully know why this poem of all that Kyeli writes and blogs had to be included in this list.
  9. Can’t forget the book that challenging me more with each chapter … Daring Greatly by Brene Brown.  I’m thoroughly enjoying the read-along she’s hosting on her blog.  It really isn’t just me who struggles with that “vulnerability” word.
  10. Trust Changes Everything – When I need a gentle reminder, Kristin’s illustrations and words are a great antidote to fear.
  11. This list wouldn’t be complete without posts from my Monday night writing buddies. In so many ways, we’re so different, but in so many ways, we’re just the right fit together. They challenge me to keep stretching my comfort zone with gratitude and wonder. So here’s A Time for Celebration by Tara, and …
  12. A story about a ring from Joanna.

May their offerings inspire you as much as they have inspired me.

Hugs, Karen

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I’m running late.  It’s my own fault.  I thought I could make one quick stop at the art supply store on my way to my favourite writing spot (also known as one of the many local Starbucks) in order to meet up with my online writing group. Who was I kidding?  I’m never quick in an art supply store.  There are too many awesome, shiny things that I want to touch and take home to try.  Even though I was going in with a specific plan, the chance of me getting distracted is almost 100%.

As I stand in the check-out line, I message my writing group so they’re not wondering where I am.  There are literally only two stoplights between where I was and where I needed to be.  How many red lights did I wait for?  Yup, both of them.

Wishing everything would happen faster, I order, find a table, get my netbook open and logged on while I wait for my chai latte.

I breathe a quiet sigh as I settle in and let my friends know I’ve arrived. The messages go like this …

Me: Made it! =)

Joanna: Wohoo!! Just got off my call seconds before you got here, too 🙂

Me: Nice! makes me think the traffic lights I kept hitting were good, not annoying as I thought.

Joanna: The Universe was conspiring for us!

I did a double take.  Nope she didn’t type “conspiring against us”.  The screen clearly says “conspiring for us”.

The universe was conspiring for us.


The delays at the traffic lights that seemed particularly irksome to me.

What seemed like an unwise choice in thinking I’d be quick stopping at the art supply store to buy supplies for an art project that I was already wondering if I was “good enough” to do.

The universe used those things to make the timing work perfectly?

I breathed it in.

The universe conspired for our benefit.

I felt the subtle tension slip from my shoulders.

My brain started pondering.  I like to think of myself as a glass-half full kind of person.  When did I become the person who thinks the universe is conspiring against us?


Unbidden a scripture passage pops into my head.  The words are as clear as the day I memorized it more than 20 years ago.

‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’

Jeremiah 29:11

For almost all of those years, that was my favourite passage of scripture.  I can’t even begin to count how many times I have held those words close to my heart, whispering them silently as a reminder that even when life seemed most difficult that God had plans for me.  I might not understand them.  The map might be hidden in darkness, but there was a plan and the creator of everything wanted what was ultimately best for me.  I trusted that to be true.

Somewhere along the way I stopped trusting.  Anger and hurt eroded trust. Without realizing it was happening, at some level, I stopped believing that the universe was good.  I started responding like the universe was conspiring against us.  I stopped believing that God … Spirit, the Divine, Source, whatever name you call it … is loving and compassionate. I started living like God is capricious and uncaring.

It was easier to pretend like God did not exist. Safer to choose not to believe. Anger and bitterness at God, at the church, have been slowly blanketing how I see the universe.

That’s not the person I want to be.  That’s not the belief I want undergirding my life.

Evening Peace

I believe that the universe is conspiring for us.

I believe that God, by whatever name you call, is compassionate and tender.

I believe that each of us are the Beloved of our creator.

I believe that the Divine wants us to be in relationship, with ourselves, with each other, with Spirit.

Now, I want to remember and rediscover how to live that each day.

What about you?  What do you want to believe and live?

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