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Archive for the ‘World Changing’ Category

Used with Permission - Santa Pause Day 09 - Soften into what IS by Kristin Noelle

With many thanks to Kristin Noelle for allowing me to share her drawing for Santa Pause – Day 9.  I encourage to take a moment to check out her site.  She’s as awesome, warm and genuine in person as you imagine from her website!

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Without thinking, I rail against …
… injustice, real or perceived.
… slights, intentional or imagined.
… changes I don’t understand.
… leadership I don’t respect.
… unmet expectations.
… betrayal of friends.
… boxes that don’t fit.
… labels that try to define and stereotype.
… unfairness of family health issues.
… faith that suffocates.

My tendency is to harden …
… to protect.
… to avoid.
… to hide.
… to separate.

I rail. I harden.

I fight. I demand.

I argue. I wrestle.

Against.

But what if I chose differently?

What if I chose to soften into
… my life as it is, rather than how I wish it was or someone else thinks it should be?
… unexpected joy in each moment, rather than sleep-walking through the day?
… creative solutions to workplace stress, rather than sinking into the well of negativity?
… embracing new seasons of life, rather than wishing for things past?
… discovering a faith that fits who I am, rather than worrying about what people will think of the “former youth pastor”?
… releasing relationships that no longer function, rather than struggling to be someone I no longer am?
… listening deeply to understand, rather than judging on first impressions?
… letting go of past hurts and old stories, rather than holding them close out of fear?
… gratitude for new ways to connect and care for my mom, rather than being frustrated by changes we cannot control?
… compassion and kindness guided by wisdom, rather than needing to fix everything and everyone?
… the simplicity of breathing deeply, rather than holding everything inside?
… the wonder of light in the midst of darkness?

What if we all chose to soften into what is?

What kind of world could we create together?

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It all starts hereLittle did I know when it arrived in my mailbox but an email I received one year ago today was a tiny seed that would blossom in ways I never expected and change so many things in my world.

On May 16, 2011, an email from Susan Kennedy (aka SARK) arrived.

Dear Heartfull Karen-

Do you want to write and share what’s in your heart? I’ll be teaching you how to get the words out of your heart and onto paper in the World Changing Writing Workshop! …

If you want to share your words with the world, this is for you.Getting ready to bloom

I investigated.  I discovered the Connection Revolution with Pace and Kyeli. My heart sung and I signed up. Just before the workshop started, I wrote these words on my old blog.

I have a love-hate relationship with writing. I love the physical experience of putting pen to paper and watching words flow into life. But at the same time the vulnerability of that process can terrify me into silence, procrastination and self-sabotage so I don’t have to face the fear and take the risk.

Writing is like taking a little piece of your soul and leaving it out there for someone to stomp on or ridicule. I’ve been in that place and cried more tears than the person who did the stomping was worth but that experience leaves a mark and makes me want to avoid the possibility of it happening ever again.

I’m a glass half full kind of person and in most areas of my life that’s exactly how I choose to live my life. Very rarely have I made that same choice recently in regards to what I write. But I know that there are more words that I need to write and that at some point they need to move beyond just being words on a page for me.

Expanding bloomsThat workshop allowed so many beautiful things to begin to bloom in my life.  I began to remember things that were important to me.  Dreams I’d thought would never come to life.

I took another leap of faith and committed to a six month writing apprenticeship with Kyeli who helped grow as much in my life as in my writing. That love-hate relationship with writing? The hate and fear melted away as I discovered how much I adored the time I spend in front of my computer, bent over my notebook, thumb typing on my phone, letting words flow onto the page or screen. Free to be me.  Confident that my words had a place in this world.

Ready to bloomI made connections with people I would never have met.  Supported and encouraged by people I may never meet face-to-face.  They introduced me to others who would cause even more growth. More blossoms bursting open, fragrant, sweet, colourful.

New friendships growing.  Old friendships being renewed. New vistas opening up.  New adventures beginning.

Now, my heart does feel full, overflowing even.  Open to whatever life has to offer. It’s amazing what one seed can grow.

Almost there

Kyeli and Pace recently updated the tagline for the Connection Revolution. It now says “where dreamers blossom into world-changers”. That’s how this last year feels.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not all sunshine and flowers. When I sat down to write earlier today, there weren’t any words ready to come out.  My brain was running too many different places.

I chose to be gentle with myself.

I read. I listened to things that inspire me.  I was quiet.

When I got home, I saw the pink rhodo in our front yard, with blossoms in every stage. Suddenly, there were the words, ready to bloom.  They just needed some space to find their way.

Blossoms in full bloom

Oh, that old blog?  I made my first post on it in June 2007 and it took until November 2011 to accumulate 18 posts.  This blog? I began on August 1, 2011 at the end of WCWW2 and this will be post number 33.

What seeds are taking root in your world? Are they starting to bloom or are they still tender sprouts that need much love and care?

Maybe, you’re like I was a year ago and you just waiting for a seed to plant.

If writing’s your thing, or even if it’s not yet, but you want it to be your thing, can I recommend you check out this year’s workshop?

You have stories that are worth telling. You can trust Pace and Kyeli.  They make a safe place to grow.

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What Does Your Umbrella Say?

Rain from SumcensuvittFriday, lunchtime, it poured rain. I’m not talking a light drizzle. I’m talking sheets of water pouring from the sky.  I’m talking “the drowned rat” feeling even with an umbrella. The bottoms of my pants got wet from the puddles and how high the rain was bouncing as it hit the sidewalk. If I’d been willing to risk my phone getting wet, I’m certain you would have been able to see the blur of the rain over the downtown streets.

I live in a city where it rains a lot, we don’t get much snow … at least not in a normal year…but we do get plenty of rain. People who live here seem to either have no umbrella — they just tough it out and pretend they’re not getting wet … truthfully it’s often more like drizzle or mist than the downpour of Friday. Or they have multiple umbrellas — the full size one for when they know it’s going to be raining when they leave the house, the small one that permanently lives tucked in purse or knapsack, the slightly broken one that still lives in the car just in case and maybe even the corporate logo’d one that never made it home from the office. I’ll admit to being a multiple umbrella sort. I don’t like getting wet while walking in the rain. I enjoy the rain, just not the wet part.  I prefer to keep my showering as an “at home” activity.

As I sat, eating my lunch, watching the people scurrying past in a futile attempt to stay at least somewhat dry, I began to notice the umbrellas they carried. The functional black ones, large, strong enough to deal with the wind. Built and carried purely for function. The small, flimsy, barely stopping the rain ones, grabbed quickly from their hiding place to try to keep even a small portion dry. The bright coloured ones adding life to the dreary sky. The broken ones, one side dangling, that should have been replaced several storms before.

Some of the umbrellas looked like they belonged to their owners. The business man in his suit and tie with his sleek, black umbrella. The flamboyantly dressed young woman with her equally brilliant umbrella demanding just as much attention. The adorably cute Asian couple with the equally adorably cute pink and white striped umbrella decorated with little black bows. The hipster with his jacket collar pulled up, still trying to look cool and unaffected by the rain pouring down his neck. He’s a no umbrella sort.

But some? Some seemed contradictions with the external costume of the person sheltered below. The professional business woman still looking perfectly coiffed while everyone else is bedraggled? You’d expect her to have either the functional black or perhaps some designer umbrella that perfectly complements her ensemble (I’m certain one of those must exist). Instead she carries an umbrella with a sense of humour in its design. It’s clear from how she carries umbrella, that it is truly hers and not some accident. Makes me think I’d like to work with her. Then there’s the slightly frazzled looking man, he wasn’t counting on this amount of rain. The only thing close at hand, well, I’m guessing the umbrella belongs to his daughter. He looks embarrassed, but determined to keep his files dry.

Then there’s the woman who looks completely closed off.  Her extra large umbrella provides an added barrier to contact with the world around her.  Is she having a bad day or is it a defence mechanism?  Maybe it all means nothing, and maybe it’s a silly question to ask, but I wonder what my umbrella choices say about me.

Pansy UmbrellaI have two umbrellas. The full-size one lives in the rack by the front door.  It’s covered with vibrantly coloured pansies and it’s beautiful. It was a gift from family who knew that pansies are my favourite flowers.  I love it on grey, rainy, winter days.  I love that it makes me smile and clearly I’m not the only one whose day has been brightened on a “Rainy Days and Mondays get me down” kind of day. I can’t count the number of times complete strangers have paused with a great big smile on their face and the head down scurry of avoiding the rain has been broken by the words "I love your umbrella!"

My other umbrella, the small one that lived in my bag in case of the unexpected, was a rather ordinary burgundy.  It was still reasonably functional.  Purchased in the midst of a rain storm while travelling, burgundy was better than black from my perspective, but it’s not like I ever liked that umbrella.  It did it’s job, but it didn’t make my heart sing. 

That might seem an odd thing to say about an umbrella, but it’s true about my other umbrella.  Carrying my pansy umbrella makes me happy.  It makes my world a better place. On days when I’d rather hide under the covers, or tend to grumpiness because I can’t stay indoors, that umbrella it reminds me that beauty exists even when the sky is grey and it seems like the sun might be hidden forever.

The Umbrella ShopThe burgundy umbrella was nearing the end of its useful life.  The wind from the ocean can be hard on a cheap umbrella.  When I saw The Umbrella Shop on Saturday, I decided it was time. 

My new pocket size umbrella?  It’s a perfect pale blue with blue and white butterflies winging their way across its expanse.  It was the first one that caught my attention, and though I looked at others, I knew this was the one.  It made my heart smile … and that’s a very short step to singing! 

Blue Butterfly Umbrella

 

Today, when everyone else at work was grumping about the sudden rain, I grinned quietly to myself.  I couldn’t wait to set the butterflies free.  Good thing it was still raining when I left work =)

What about you?  Does your umbrella help change your world on a rainy day?

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Two dollars and fifty cents

Two dollars and fifty cents.

It’s not much when it’s in my wallet. It doesn’t quite buy a muffin from my favourite morning stop. It definitely doesn’t cover my preferred chai latte.

But sometimes, two dollars and fifty cents can be worth a whole lot more.

Here’s me, sitting on the bus wishing that I was still in bed on a grey, rainy, fall morning. Then, a young woman boards the bus. I don’t hear her story, quietly relayed to the bus driver, but I do hear the bus driver’s rather loud, indignant, gruff response.

“I can’t give you a transfer. That’s a receipt for money paid. I can give you a ride but you’ll have to take your chances with the next bus driver.”

The reality is, he’s doing his job. Do I think he could have been gentler and quieter in his response so that the front half of the bus wasn’t informed that she didn’t have bus fare? Most definitely, but I can’t actually be upset with him. He has a responsibility to his employer and he felt he couldn’t go farther than allowing her on his bus. I get that and I think he should be commended for bending the rules that far.

But I watched her face as she walked to a seat. Embarrassed. Deflated. Part of her sense of self-worth chipped away. A little more grey added to her day. She slumped into her seat and avoided making eye contact with the people around her. I watched as she rooted around in her bag trying to find change or her bus pass or … whatever she was searching for, her hands remained empty.

People piled on the bus. She sat closed off, in the corner of her seat. Along the way, I caught her eye and smiled. The tiny beginnings of a very tentative, half-smile emerged. I quietly dug in my bag, certain that there was more than enough change to cover her bus fare, but I also wanted to protect her dignity that already seemed like it was on fragile footing.

As I stood to get off at the next stop, I looked her in the eyes, smiled and put two loonies and two quarters into her hand. In that moment, I saw her face transform. There was an unspoken question in her eyes.

I answered, “No one should get stuck walking on a day like today.”

Then, the biggest smile. It was like watching a flower unfurl in the warmth of the sunshine. This time, the smile reached her eyes and sparkled with confidence.

I don’t know her story. There wasn’t an opportunity to talk with each other further as my bus stop arrived. I don’t know why or how she found herself in the place she was in.

I do know this. Even small acts of kindness and connection transform us. Sometimes two dollars and fifty cents is insignificant, but sometimes …

… Sometimes, the same two loonies and two quarters are world-changing.

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