Extend Love From a Tender, Openhearted Space

slide1In this time of growing fear and anxiety about the future, about the unknown, about strangers, tap into that tender openhearted space within and extend love. First to yourself – a warm loving embrace to acknowledge the fear and then tap into gentleness, kindness and generosity.

Then to the people you know and love. Because we need to hold our loved ones close and turn to each other in times of chaos and uncertainty.

And then, the most generous act of all – extend kindness and love to people you do not yet know, remembering our common core of humanity, that the shortest distance between two people is a story and that most of us in our hearts want peace, a safe place to live and a future to live into.

Learn the story of a neighbour, a co-worker or someone you bump into in the coffee shop, someone you have met and are curious about but have not yet chatted with. Go to places you would not ordinarily go – to a place of worship of a different religion, to community centers, to peace gatherings. Become educated and aware of different people’s experiences that are different from your own.

Doing this we grow our circles of support, our trust and our faith in humanity.

Advertisements

Shaping Our Experiences Through the Stories We Tell

 

slide1

We are shaped by our experiences and, more importantly, by the stories we tell that help us make sense of our experiences. We can tell the story about how worn down we are and how awful it is or we can focus on the grand adventure of where and how life sprouts and how it sustains itself no matter what. The circumstances we encounter shape us. How they will shape us is up to us.

In these days when there often seems more bad news than good (at least in my worldview), remembering there is a positive story too – that things are awakening as well dying – can help us remember that nothing ever stays the same, everything changes, all the time – imperceptibly or dramatically and everything in between.

Where do you want to focus your attention so that you have an intentional hand in shaping your experiences?

Embrace Illusion as Reality

Our deepest fear

We all have stresses, strains and fears that are alive in our day-to-day journey. Some days these are more fuelled than others. Some days it is easier to shift back to peace, calm, joy, contentment than others. Some days it is easier to remember that all we have right now is now, the present moment, and that this is where we find peace, serendipity, motivation.

Where do I focus my attention? Does focusing my attention on what’s “not real” – the dreams for the future, the visions I am creating for myself – does this mean I am ignoring the condition of my life, the “reality” of my circumstances? If what we focus on is what we get, then focusing on a current reality that is full of fear, worry and stress about the future ~ because rarely is stress about this actual day ~ only means we will generate more fear, worry and stress. Which often leads to physical illness as well as the incapacity to move forward with little and big steps. Is this the future you want to live into?

Einstein quote - reality - illusionAs I live in this place almost daily of discerning which is “illusion” and which is “reality”, I realize that, as human beings, most of us imagine the stress and strain of our physical condition to be “reality” and the dream of abundance, flow, financial security to be the “illusion”. It is a trick of the mind and when we fall for the trick of the mind, we lose touch with ourselves as powerful beyond measure and as an infinite being living a human experience – which is why this post starts with Marianne Williamson’s quote – to remind us it is our light we fear but that letting that light shine frees us and liberates others.

My visioning these days (even as my passive-aggressive relationship with the Law of Attraction continues) has been around remembering I am an infinite being and, as Abraham says, it is just as easy to manifest a castle as a button, just as easy to manifest $100,000 as $10,000 as $1,000.

We get caught in thinking we need to know the how – which is where stress and fear manifest. As Mike Dooley of The Universe Talks (TUT) says, we do not need to know the how – we just need to keep fuelling the vision and taking steps in that direction – even small steps – to help the Universe know we are serious and committed to the vision and allow the Universe to move mountains for us.

All of this can be hard to remember when you wake up in the middle of the night wondering where the next dollar, the next client, the next whatever is coming from. When you worry about your health or the health of someone dear to you. When you wonder about your relationships. When your insecurities loom larger than your hopes.

It is not irresponsible to dream. It is irresponsible not to dream. It is responsible to aspire to be your best self, to keep moving in the direction of your dreams, to remember you are an infinite being and you are powerful beyond measure. Do not be lured into believing current circumstance is reality. This too will change. Believe in your dreams. Acknowledge the twists and turns along the way, but don’t get stuck in them, and embrace illusion as reality.

The Passing of an Era

It was the end of January 2008. I was driving down the highway on my way from Halifax to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia on a beautiful sunny winter’s day. I wasn’t just on a road trip for the day, I was on a journey to another era – a past I knew very little about, to visit a man I knew very little about. I was on my way to meet Fred Hanson. A few brief weeks before this I had found out he existed, that he was my birth father, that I had a birth family of which I had had no conscious awareness. Yet he – and the whole family – knew about me for all of my life.

On Wednesday, October 21, 2015, Fred died with his wife Doris, her son Corey and my sister Debbie van Soest present, bringing to a close another chapter of my own life, the passing of an era.

Kathy (2 years old) and Deb (5 years old) visiting in 1964 at Nanny and Grampy Hanson's house in Digby

Kathy (2 years old) and Deb (5 years old) visiting in 1964 at Nanny and Grampy Hanson’s house in Digby

I did not know Fred well. Most of his life had been lived by the time I met him. There are three things that stand out. When he, at the age of twenty-three, and his little family – me as an infant and my sister as a three year old – were abandoned by my birth mother, he did what he could to make sure we were looked after. This meant uprooting us from Halifax to Digby NS where he had grown up and where his parents still lived. Because my grandmother was already ill with brain cancer and my grandfather was already well on his way to alcoholism, they searched for help. Help arrived in the form of my parents, Mary and Hector Jourdain, married a few years, living in Digby at the time and still childless. An agreement was reached for my parents to adopt me and for me to know my birth family. Which I did until my grandmother died when I was still very young. Fred knew where I was and for all the years my adoption was a secret (from me and my brother at any rate), he kept his word and he did not seek me out.

Fred and Kathy

Me and Fred – March 2008

The second thing that stands out is how nervous he was to meet and how welcoming when I walked in the door. He’d been pacing from the front window to the kitchen window to the door in anticipation of my arrival. The door was opened before I even had a chance to get out of the car. He hugged me and we found our way through the awkwardness of first meeting. He gave me pictures from when I was baby.

The third thing that stands out was his agreeing to let me interview him for my memoir: Embracing the Stranger in Me: A Journey to Openheartedness. As I asked him questions and took him back through memories he had not thought of for decades, he forgot for a moment that I was interviewing him. He reflected on the moment my birth mother left and his incomprehension, still all these years later, that she could leave two babies behind.

Doris and Fred 2006

Doris and Fred Hanson, 2006

Fred had a sociable side that enabled him to fit in many places – like the Red Knight in Yarmouth where he and Doris often when for a beer and to hang out with friends. And he had a sarcastic wit that made him a great sparring partner. I didn’t know his second wife who raised my sister Debbie and brought my half sister Robyn into the world. I did however have a chance to meet Doris and experience the warmth and hospitality of their beautiful home. They were together for 28 years.

I am blessed to have known him, filling in some blanks of life story for both him and me. There are many stories that will not be known and many that will not be written now. I do know his brother Bill, his parents and others greeted him as he passed over. My mother and my birth mother had a pact together with Fred and my dad that has gifted me with multiple lineages that are important and relevant to my own life journey and in many ways I am only at the beginning of that exploration. And for now, it is grieving and celebrating the passing of an era.

For Who’s Benefit Are You Telling Your Story?

When I first came back from Gold Lake, Colorado, after spending a day and a half on the land, in a mystical experience that took place outside of my normal understanding of time, I had to integrate this spiritual experience with the regular, ongoing experiences of my physical existence, of my life journey.

Gold Lake 004

My sanctuary site at Gold Lake, 2009

One of the ways of doing this was through sharing the story of my experience with others. There were a few people who knew I was embarking on that sojourn. Some, not all, also knew that prior to going I already had experiences with non-physical guardians and guides. I had been learning to connect with my guides in healing work. And I could, when asked, help other people connect with their own guides, learn to access them and to work with them in their own journeys. I was not, am not, the messenger as much as the connector.

Story at workWhen I arrived home, I began to share the story of what happened at Gold Lake with people, tuning into what they wanted to hear. For some, to hear I went to Gold Lake and came home again was enough. For others, to hear the high level overview was enough. And for some, they wanted full details of as many moments as I could offer. And it was surprising at times who wanted what. It was discernible by the questions they asked and the attentiveness of their listening.

Slide1It was important for me to discern why I might be telling the story to any given individual. Was I telling the story because of my own need to share it, to understand it, to integrate it? Or was I telling the story because for some reason, the other person needed to hear it? If it was just about me, I would have babbled on to anyone in hearing distance all the time. But I had enough people willing to hear and witness my story, I did not need to visit it on people unwilling or unable to hear. And it is a sacred story to be shared in the right moments. Stories hold “medicine” and healing for others when they are ready to hear them so it is a gift to also share experiences, which is what I am relearning now as I have hesitated to share more of the mystical/spiritual stories in my blog. One friend, who wanted to hear the whole story, at the end shook his head and said, “Well, whatever happened, it is clear it was real to you.” It was real to me, although I cannot tell you how many times I have asked myself the question, “Is this real or am I making it up?”

This realization was part of why I wrote my memoir: Embracing the Stranger in Me: A Journey to Openheartedness – not just to share the spiritual journey but to share my own ambivalence with my spiritual journey and the on again off again nature of my relationship with it. And it is also the story of grief, resilience, perseverance and joy – of embracing all the strangeness of who I thought I was (or think I am) and the vulnerability that comes from openheartedness. The stories of being fired from a job, marrying and divorcing, not once but twice, finding out later in life I was adopted, becoming the health care advocate for both my parents and my mother’s journey with dementia, in long term care and her eventual death in 2012.

Life is full of the bitter-sweetness of discovery – sometimes bitter, sometimes sweet and more often both at the same time. We are not in bliss the whole time, neither are we in grief or sorrow the whole time, if we choose. When we meet life with the expansiveness of the soul journey lens, our stories become healing for us and others who are inspired by how we meet the path that rises up to greet us.

Compelling Journey: Responding to the Call of Life

Gold Lake, Colorado

Gold Lake, Colorado

Sometimes, things are so compelling we have no choice but to respond, for not responding is akin to crazy making. In 2009, I had my most convincing experience of acting on my intuitive knowing when I decided to go to Gold Lake, Colorado, ostensibly for an Art of Hosting training, hosted by beloved colleagues, but really to deepen into my journey to openheartedness in ways I couldn’t possibly have comprehended.

In this interview clip I connect the dots between several points in my journey, including a period of intense conflict that was also a time of healing, a compelling urge to travel to Gold Lake, Colorado for reasons beyond rational sense and a growing awareness of the power of storytelling to make sense of our lives.

The clip is about seven minutes. Enjoy.

The Revelation of a Family Secret

In 2008, at the age of 46, I found out I had been adopted. Other than when I was a teenager and wished from time to time that I had been adopted (didn’t most of us have fantasies about that?), I had no idea. It was one of the most incomprehensible moments in my life and a glimpse into the stranger in me. In this 5 minute interview clip with Terry Paul Choyce, I share what it was like to have this family secret revealed to me.

Gratitudes to Spencer Dwyer who created the musical intro especially for the interview clips and who also edited the original interview to produce bite size chunks. Gratitude also to Terry Paul Choyce for the interview itself on her Interconnections radio show ast CKDU.

Story at work