Friday, September 30, 2011


photo by revival art studio
gotta go through it

there is a childhood song that has this refrain:
Can't go over it
Can't go under it
Can't go around it
Gotta go through it

means allowing the moments of heartache to rise to the surface
and not run
to allow sadness to be
to cry 
to weep with being human
and knowing pain
to be weak and 
while remaining with hands open
no clenched fists
open to what is beyond the tears
beyond explaining
hope that comes from under 
the tears
emerging from a deep, deep source
of Life
this hope emerged
yesterday in the form
Gerber daisies
Going through is not easy
it requires
and breathing in and out over and over again
going through-
we realize we are
We are surrounded
I am surrounded
with the
Presence of Love
We are called to
and to say YES
And so with arms now fully open
I say YES
YES to a love that is deeper than any sadness
YES to a hope the is beyond any despair
YES to a promise
of fullness - of shalom - which not only means 'peace' but also means.....completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord. 

Numbers 6:24-26

New International Version (NIV)

 24 “‘“The LORD bless you
   and keep you;
25 the LORD make his face shine on you
   and be gracious to you;
26 the LORD turn his face toward you
   and give you SHALOM.”’

Thursday, September 22, 2011

the gift that someone gave to me.....

13 years ago was a time when I hit rock bottom.
I was really quite desperate for help and someone encouraged me to find a spiritual director.
I didn't even know what that meant at the time, but I started asking around and one day someone actually knew what that term was and handed me a business card of a woman named Joy.
Joy agreed to meet with me and my life was forever changed.
Joy had an incredible gift of listening.  There was nothing too shocking or overwhelming for her to absorb. She just was incredibly attentive and showed deep respect for my humanity and the story that I found myself in.
One of the most profound gifts Joy gave me was that she never once felt sorry for me.
Even though I was a mess and crying at almost every session, she never pitied me or coddled me.
Because she never allowed herself to feel sorry for me, there came an invitation for me to also not feel sorry for myself and to see the choices that were in front of me to make.
she allowed me to have dignity and self-respect and personal value.
She never rushed with answers or problem solving, but would linger in silence to listen for the story underneath the story.
She'd often respond with a question rather than an answer after a period of utter stillness.
I learned so much wisdom from Joy.  She became a mentor to me in my soul journey.
13 years later I still correspond with Joy and she is as dear to me as ever.
One of the practical gifts she gave me was to pay my way for a 3 day Silent Retreat.  I would never have chosen to do this on my own, but as it was fully paid for and I needed to get away, I went.
That silent retreat changed my life.  It became an anchor, an oasis, the beginning of an inner root system that has shaped this past decade of my life.
Now I lead retreats like this because of what Joy did for me.  There is one coming up in November for women.  If you are interested in coming or would like to sponsor someone else to go - a life could be changed, as mine was.
In our fast paced lives it is a great challenge to value stillness and silence.  But this is where our souls sing.  This is where we find ourselves again and out of the fullness of this silence, we can jump back into our lives with a deeper energy and sense of purpose than we ever had before.
Here is the link to the Mark Centre if you want more info:
November Retreat - Mark Centre

Sunday, September 18, 2011

another dream of mine.....

well......I've had a long time have a grand piano.... I've been looking for a long time, but never really believing that I could have one to call my own.  In the middle of life turning upside down for me and finding myself on my own for the first time since I was 19, there came a strong desire to finally let that dream be realized.  It is a bigger story than I can fully write here, but the fact is that I found an old grand that fit me perfectly.  It is scratched and beautiful!  It has curvy legs and ivory keys.  It is responsive to how I play and is powerful in its sound.  It fits perfectly into the place I started imagining it to be - and it is truly there.  I've never had a piano just for my pleasure.  I've taught for over 20 years and somehow it is hard to be really creative on the piano that you work on all day long.  To have a piano that is for creativity, for community, for concerts, for composition, for singing.....this makes my heart so big with happiness.  Just walking by it and touching it - makes me glad.  it is so beautiful and speaks to me of memories yet to be created.  I have dreams for this piano - of people gathered around and singing with me, of writing songs at 3am and much more.  Two people have crawled underneath it just to lay under the strings and feel the amazing vibration of sound coming through the air.  having the piano brought into the house was quite an event.  So, here are the pictures of my good friend Darren Lambert and his two young men helpers who helped make another dream come true.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

exploring new territory

the didge
The first time I saw someone play the didgeridoo I was mesmerized by the ability to keep the sound going through the process of circular breathing.  It seemed like a magical experience to breathe in and breathe out at the same time.
It was one of those skills that seemed 'impossible' for me to ever learn but amazing to admire in someone else.
I must admit when my friend Boris told me to begin to learn circular breathing and that I could actually acquire this skill - I just laughed.  I had the feeling of 'why try?'.  It is impossible and I could never do it - so why even begin?
One day I realized the limitation I had set on my own possibilities.  Why did I think that I can't learn this?  Why did I deem it impossible?  If other human beings could learn this skill - would it not be possible that I could as well?
Once I opened my mind to the possibility of trying and exploring, I became a learner.  I read about circular breathing, watched videos about circular breathing and started exploring how to do it myself.
There was a lot of spitting involved.  It wasn't pretty!
Boris lent me a 'practice didge'...a pipe from Rona!  My dog freaked out when she first heard the noise.  I took it in the car and went and practiced where no animal or human could see or hear me.
It was terrible and sounded like a sick pig!
But.....once I got the idea in my head that I could learn, I became determined to keep trying.
I gave myself til Christmas and most days tried to work on it.
The sound became a read didge sound.
But the circular breathing was challenging.
And then 2 days ago - it happened.  it worked.
It all came together and I did it - the sound, the breathing - it sounded good and was continuous.
I played the didge!
I may never play this thing in public - I may take a few months to be able to be consistent in the circular breathing department - but the wonder of learning something new and pushing myself beyond what I thought was possible is life-giving.
It makes me wonder - what else is possible for me to learn?
Where do I set limits on myself that are self-imposed and not true reflections of reality?
How can I think 'possibility' instead of 'not me'?
What am I capable of learning and becoming and being as I journey into the 40's of my life?
I think I know what I would like for Christmas - a real didge from Australia -
a step up from my beautiful black Rona pipe!

Saturday, September 10, 2011


about 2 or 3 years ago I ran into a tall dark- haired man in the dog park of Mission named David.  He was walking his dog Charlie, and I was walking my dog, Indie.
The night before there had been a big storm and so there were branches all over the paths and loose in the trees above us.  I found out that David used to be an arborist and that he knew a lot about trees.  He made sure that I remembered to look up as we walked under big oaks and maples, to see if any loose branches were in a position to suddenly drop down on my head.  I appreciated his knowledge and his concern towards my safety!
over time I have met David on many occasions while we are walking our dogs and we have become good friends.  I found out that David is very sick with diabetes and his body is slowly shutting down.  He may live for a long while yet, or he may die in his sleep at any time.  He is having to face death every day.
From meeting David, as I did today again, you would not know this.  You would see a beautiful man who is walking with a slight limp but with a smile on his face.  David has become so aware of Love waiting for him that whether he is here or he is gone - he is completely happy.  David radiates a joy in being alive because he is knowing more deeply than many people I know how that day is a gift.  He is full of awe at the beauty of life around him. He loves studying science and learning more facts about what he can see and touch in this life, and what remains yet a mystery to him.
No matter what is happening for me, when I am with David, he inspires me.  He inspires me to be present, to live fully, to always be grateful, to aware of Love waiting for me - there is truly nothing to be afraid of.
David is not afraid.
This is what is always so powerful about our conversations.
David is not afraid.
David is secure in the knowing of Love holding him, carrying him, surrounding him and waiting for him.
In David - I see Love Shining
and it deeply inspires my heart
to keep trusting
to keep hoping
to not be afraid.

Sunday, September 04, 2011


I have a 'Sam' in my life
and I want to tell you about this person....who is an inspiration to me
because I am grateful
and it is important to say thanks
and to celebrate what is beautiful and good in life
If you know the story of 'the Lord of the Rings', you will know about 'Sam'
Even though Frodo is the main character of the story, I feel that 'Sam' is the true hero of the story.
Sam embodies true friendship.  Sam is faithful, present through darkness and light.
Sam celebrates victories and suffers alongside in the moments of great darkness.
Sam believes in Frodo and does not allow Frodo to give up in the journey.
Sam believes in the value of Frodo's journey and speaks life to Frodo as in the following dialogue:

Frodo: I can't do this, Sam.

Sam:  I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.

Frodo:  What are we holding onto, Sam?

Sam:  That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo... and it's worth fighting for.

My 'Sam' has taught me a lot about being a true friend.  I hope that one day I can be all that she has been to me.