Deeply. Truly. Sincerely.

flames

May we LEARN from these people.

May we LOVE these people.

May we BE these people

Deeply, truly and sincerely,  Karen

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Boundaries are Sooooo Tricky …

 

In this very short but compelling  video clip, Brené Brown discusses the notion of living a B.I.G. Life.  Her research has revealed that the most compassionate people are the most “boundaried” people. She begs the question of what Boundaries we would need to erect in order to live in Integrity and be the most Generous in our assumptions of others (i.e. believing that everyone is doing the very best they can in each and every situation). Makes perfect sense … intellectually. And, I’d venture to say we’d inhabit a world filled with expressions of compassion/empathy/good will if it were easier to actually do this in our day to day existence!

But, boundaries are so darn tricky to execute.  It is so much easier to erect a boundary once you are PISSED OFF.  There is NO second-guessing about putting up a boundary once you’ve been hurt.  We may not even think twice at that point … and then … we erect it angrily and often self-righteously.  But the problem with putting up boundaries in ANGER is that the meatiest part of our message gets lost in the perception of ATTACK.  When you put up a boundary with someone because you are feeling violated … they feel your anger … and may not be able to hear your justification for erecting the boundary.

In fact, many people who have been chronically wounded in their prior lived experience struggle terribly in their attempt to set boundaries … because – they often approach the boundary WITHOUT the assumption that people are doing the best they can.  Their perceptions that people in the present and future will be out to get them just like the ones in their past shift the energy and intent behind the boundaries.  And when we are coming from that defended space, our boundaries are like fences erected out of barbed wire … rather than compassionate reminders of how we need and want to be treated.

And so, we must learn to set the boundaries before we could shoot daggers out of our eyes …to  set them proactively … not … reactively.  We must learn how to set them kindly and firmly.  And then … lovingly hold them in place for the benefit of all of those concerned.

And to do so, we might have to sit in the discomfort of guilt rather than the self-righteousness of resentment.  This is the trickiest part to navigate.  Many of us are more comfortable living with the resentment directed at others than inhabiting the guilt we might feel in our own hearts if/when we have our own backs …before we get mad at another. BIG lives do not just happen … they are consciously and courageously created.

May we all commit to living BIG … Karen

 

 

[GUEST POST]: Call Them While You Can (Grief and The Stuff We Need to Say)

I am not sure why this touched me so deeply. This concept is not new to me. I make every effort to live in this way … and yet … for some reason I have crocodile size tears streaming down my face in unstoppable torrents. Thank you John for your gift of speaking straight to our souls … about things that are richly needed to be acknowledged. With deepest appreciation, Karen

john pavlovitz

GuyOnPhone

Yesterday my daughter did something really funny during dinner—like spit take funny. (This is rather commonplace in our home these days).

Not long after finishing the dishes I grabbed for the phone to tell my dad about it. This is problematic for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that he died two and a half years ago. Suddenly as I started to dial, my brain kind of snapped to its senses and I put the phone down, feeling like I’d just been kicked in the gut.

Grief is a strange animal in this way, as anyone who has lost someone they love can testify. Whether it was ten days or ten years ago, you never quite fully adjust enough that you always remember that they’re dead. Yes, you understand on a cerebral level that they’re gone. Intellectually you know the finality of what’s happened, but somehow your heart’s muscle memory…

View original post 490 more words

The Magic of the Moment is in the Stories We Tell …

Source Unknown but deeply appreciated!

Source Unknown but deeply appreciated!

The magic in our lives is manifest by the stories we tell about the memories we have experienced, the people we have met, and the places that have stolen a piece of our hearts.  One of the best ways I know to create lasting memories is to savor the specifics with enthusiasm and curiosity … and … to dedicate some special space to honor the stories tucked into our souls.

And so, when our youngest daughter returned home after spending a few months in Australia, I created a list of questions to ask her on the long car ride home from the airport.  I hoped we might get a deeper felt sense of the magic tucked into all her experiences.  Her responses inspired lots of smiles and some rich conversation!

And now, where ever our journeys take us … I like to use a liberal smattering of these questions to help us enrich our experience by sparking the marvelous stories in our recollections!  It’s really interesting to notice where our reflections and perceptions are similar and/or different!

What was …

1. Your most inspiring moment?
2. Your most hours awake in a row?
3. Your best buy?
4. Your most overpriced purchase?
5. Your best accommodation?
6. Your worst accommodation?
7. Your favorite entertainment?
8. Your most breathtaking view?
9.  Your scariest moment?
10.  Your best taste experience?
11.  Your worst taste experience?
12.  Your best moment in general?
13. Your worst moment in general?
14. Something that exceeded expectations?
15. Your biggest laugh?
16. Your worst sleep?
17. Something you would do again in a heartbeat?
18. Something that was most over-rated?
19. Your favorite time of day?
20. The nicest person you met?
21. The nastiest person you encountered?
22. Your laziest moment?
23. Your biggest regret for doing?
24. Your biggest regret for not doing?
25. Your best choice?
26. Your worst choice?
27. Your greatest hardship?
28. Your favorite place?
29. Your most relaxing moment?
30. Your most stressful memory?
31. Your biggest disappointment?
32. Your grumpiest day?
33. Your best weather?
34. Your worst weather?
35. The most beautiful wildlife?
36. The best sunset?
37. The best sunrise?
38. The most tear worthy moment?
39. The most heart stretching moment?
40. The place you most hated to leave?
41. The place that is worth another trip?
42. Your biggest aggravation?
43. Your biggest “duh” moment?
44. Your biggest “aha” moment?
45. Your greatest Lesson?
46. Your bravest moment?
47. Your best surprise?
48. The moment/experience that will stay in your heart forever?
49. The moment/experience that you wish you could have shared?
50. Something that really nourished your internal flame?

May your journeys take you to miraculous places … in both your life and your heart!!

With deepest reverence for all the stories stirring within us, Karen

“A Blessing for Your Future” by Debbie Ford

A blessing for your future - 2

My mentor, Debbie Ford, created some of the most beautiful prayers!  I would like to share this exquisite and exceptional blessing with you, as we prepare to embark upon a whole New Year.

In 2016, may we become more consciously present to the gifts that we can offer to those around us …  as well as  … being open and receptive to all the gifts that are available to us!

With a warm welcome to the blessings of 2016, Karen

Well, I Had a Dream …

Source Unknown

Somewhere, very early on in my life, I decided that inspirational quotes like this one were the answer.  I have been collecting them for as long as I can remember. I have viewed them as the exquisite blueprints for creating the life of my dreams and, not surprisingly, I have deeply internalized the notion that I should be pursuing a big, juicy, delicious life.  And I really have been … BUT …

As inspiring as it sounds and although many of my dreams have actually become realities … I have learned something that those inspirational quotes don’t tell you.  Pursuing any one of those dreams can be exhilarating … pursuing all those dreams can be exhausting.  Unless you are not a dreamer. But, the problem for me, is that I have so darn many Dreams, Desires and Delights on my 3D List as my bestie Marie renamed the infamous ‘bucket list’.  (If you would like to view my 3D List, please request the password.)

And yes, I am eager to live out my days in high-def ‘3D’ but here is the thing: I often feel like my mouth is completely stuffed …  so jam packed with delicious, delectable morsels that it’s difficult to sufficiently savor of any one of them in particular.  And, because I am so passionate about it all, I can’t fathom the idea of spitting anything out.  So I keep chewing and chewing and chewing and chewing and chewing.  And, although I am nourished in some very wonderful ways … there is also a part of me that longs to simply stop all the jets, come screeching to a halt, and just settle into a more mediocre but manageable ‘one bite at a time’ existence.  These competing desires have created a conundrum for me … as well as some health issues.  Argh.

BUT …  I had a dream.  Not to be confused with Martin Luther King, who also had a dream.  My dream was not a dream of that magnitude, but rather … it was the kind of dream you have in your sleep.  I could have chalked it up to some silly nocturnal nonsense, but upon deeper reflection, I’m thinking that this dream might be the dream that I most need to follow in order to actually create my biggest, juiciest and most delicious life EVER!   Let me explain …

In my dream, my husband and I were teamed up in a foot race around the world (kind of like The Amazing Race). We started off in some remote location in the woods with a winding dirt path that led up to a rustic old log cabin that was to be our first pit stop of the race.  As we started racing up the road, I fell into a faster than usual pace for the ‘runner’ within me only to be advised by my husband to “run slower”.

I shot him the ‘what the hell would you know’ glance that unequivocally questioned how he (the non-runner) could presume to know the right pace for me?  Without accepting my invitation to spat about it, he reasoned that it would be downright impossible to sustain that pace for the whole distance.  He humbly suggested that we could maximize our time and optimize our physical resources by slowing down.  Hmmm … maybe he was right. I hate it when he’s right, but I knew I had no time for self-righteous bantering.  I reluctantly conceded that maybe this was one of those Tortoise and the Hare times when slow and steady wins the race …

And, we were “The first team to arrive!”at the quaint, old-fashioned store constructed out of ginormous logs … that sold all kinds of hand-made eats, crafts and memorabilia specific to that area of the world. Now, in my wide-awake life, whenever we travel anywhere, I always buy a Christmas tree ornament because nothing pleases me more than fondly reminiscing about my 3D experiences while dressing the tree each year.  So there I was … in my ‘racy’ dream (sorry – couldn’t resist the pun) torn between finding a meaningful memento to mark this memory or dashing out the door to maintain our first place lead (not that I am competitive).  🙂

I headed out the door, but as soon as the gravel crunched beneath my first foot step,  I could vaguely hear that small inner voice pleading with my sensibilities: “Just how much are you willing to lose in order to win?”

Huh?? That provocative question sparked me to pause in mid stride. As I considered going back for my ornament … I gazed back over my right shoulder and caught a glimpse of the most idyllic purple, orange and pink sunset. It’s spectacular splendor stopped me right then and there. I instinctively gasped as I paused to inhale the magic in that miraculous moment.  Just then … the awareness struck me … if I had just kept on running in order to ‘win’ the race, I would have ‘lost’ that precious but unexpected prize.

Absorbed in awe of the colors, I found myself questioning how many other unpredicted, un-pursued but munificent moments like this I had missed as I sped through my days doggedly determined to claim my biggest dreams, desires and delights.  It became exceptionally clear that if I wanted to win something big, juicy and truly magnanimous by participating in this race …  I would need to do three things:

1. Run … more slowly.

2. Pause … embrace moments and collect memories.

3. Notice …  the unexpected magic along the way.

I’m sensing that my dream was a humbling metaphor for my very full, busy ‘follow your dreams’ life.  It strikes me that it is far too easy to confuse a ‘big, juicy and delicious life’ with a ‘busy, demanding and overwhelming life’In order for something to stir the soul … one needs time and space.  And when I get real with myself, I can see many places in my life where I have unwittingly traded depth for breadth.  And, when I get really real, I can see that I am weary.  I have been racing through my life at a ridiculous pace … claiming many dreams at the expense of missing other blessings that weren’t/aren’t on my radar.

And with this awareness, I have been seriously flirting with scaling back to a “one bite at a time” paceI remain entirely befuddled about how to actually operationalize that desire.  I have no clue how to prioritize my bites … and the fears of not being able to ‘do it all’ makes me edgy and uneasy in the most prickly ways.  My anxious mind warns me that, at my age, I am over the hill and on the home stretch.  If I don’t keep moving quickly, I am going to run out of time and miss out on the miracles. 

But … I am also open to the possibility that many ‘unexpected’ dreams, desires and delights will be surreptitiously tucked into a more slow and steady presence.  And, I want to leave enough space to savor them.  I really do.

Wish me luck and sweet dreams to all of you … Karen

 

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“THE WORLD NEEDS MORE LOVE LETTERS” …

http://rumimasnavi.blogspot.ca/2014/08/love-is-souls-light.html

Source Unknown

Oh my … every once in a while you get stopped in your tracks.  Stopped right in the middle of your ordinary day … with an opportunity to switch it all up.  To launch out of the usual  drone of our day to day existence and to really step into a reality that will nourish the hungry hearts that abide all over this planet … including your own.

It happened to me … just yesterday … as  I was paying bills and doing laundry and tackling my ‘to-do’ list for the day.  I wasn’t even aware that The Meredith Viera Show was on … but as I walked mindlessly past the TV, her answer to Meredith’s question sparked something tangible in my spirit.  Like the way our heart softens when we hear a baby laugh.  It was like that.  My heart heard something that stopped my body – right in it’s tracks.  There was something especially significant about this timid and humble girl named Hannah Brencher.  I learned that she has inspired a global movement intent on adding more light and love to the world … one letter at a time. And she is doing it!!  My heart was so tickled by the whole notion, I googled her website … and then I understood my reaction.  Here is a little bit about how it all started for her – in her own words:

So there’s a crazy backstory to all of this.

I moved to New York City after graduating from college. I thought I was going to walk straight into my dream life. I practically thought a red carpet would be rolled out for me. That didn’t happen though. In fact, it was basically the opposite. I found myself grappling with depression, unable to tell my family and friends because I was so ashamed. Depression is a scary thing. Depression, when you make yourself journey through it alone, is terrifying.

So I started to get really honest in the pages of my notebook. And eventually those thoughts morphed into letters and I found myself myself ripping the letters out and leaving them all over New York City for people to find. I left them everywhere: Coffee shops. Libraries. Coat pockets in department stores. I liked to imagine who might find those letters. 

Somehow that idea took on a life of its own after I blogged about it. My inbox was filled with the most heartbreaking stories I’ve ever encountered after I published a simple question on my blog: Do you need someone to write you a love letter today? Just ask. 

That one question changed my life forever as I spent the next year writing hundreds of love letters to strangers in all parts of the world. More than just the letters– that question is the reason you and I are here in this space right now. I started More Love Letters three years ago and we’ve become the only global organization out there that blesses individuals–young and old– with bundles of love letters during a time in need. We basically want to create the most miraculous experience for people when they need it most: hundreds of letters of support and encouragement showing up at someone’s door all because someone in their own life loved them enough to just ask for those love letters. 

We really want you here.

In fact, we need you here to help us make this whole “life” thing better for others. Life is hard. And yes, it breaks your heart. But you don’t have to go it alone. We’re right with you. It matters that you’re here. 

It’s my hope that you’ll get involved in the writing & the mailing. I mean, we’re already counting on you. And we’d really like it if you decided to stay. 

hannah b. & MLL

And so … I decided to check out the Letter Requests.  And, although I had planned on preparing my taxes this morning, I’ve decided to share this instead … it seemed like a much more meaningful investment of my energy for this Saturday morning.  And, I’m going to put a few lines of encouragement and support into a couple of notes. I’ve already picked out the two recipients for my messages from the ones whose stories are currently highlighted on the website.  And I am committed to sending more. This altruistic notion has fueled me beyond description.  And I wanted to share it with you because I expect that it will stir something within you too.  There is a small space in each of our souls that craves to dwell in the pure essence of love …

Yes, the world needs more love. And definitely … THE WORLD NEEDS MORE LOVE LETTERS.  Because … there will always be trials and tribulations along our paths.  And maybe … just maybe, as you are reading this, you are thinking of someone you know whose heart could be swelled into that divine and sacred sense of being seen and soothed with a bundle of love letters.  I already have someone in mind. You can  nominate someone here.  And you can nominate as many people as your heart desires.  We can work together to ensure that people don’t feel alone in their darkest moments.

I sincerely hope you will check out this amazing initiative … and … if/when you do, just pause for a wee moment and notice how you feel as you flirt with the possibilities of being a catalyst for love between the bed-making and trips to the office and the carpools.  You + Me = WE … and we can co-conspire with others in raising the energy and awareness of this sublime movement.  We (you and me) can help bring immeasurable light into the dark spaces that many people are struggling to see their way through …with just a few written words.

Gotta go … I want to write some love letters, Karen ❤

P.S. I also want to take this opportunity to honor and applaud Hannah Brencher for blessing our humanity with her bold and brilliant and beautiful heart!!! You might also add a little more kindling to your internal flame by picking up her book If You Find This Letter: My Journey to Find Purpose Through Hundreds of Letters to Strangers. It’s just such a remarkable story. Or, if you prefer, you can sample her captivating writing style first by checking out her blog.

 

 

 

 

[Guest Post]: i loved this. and then it got even better.

This extraordinary post stirred up a huge smile in my heart!  With deep thanks to KSBeth for this lovely invitation to savor our moments by seeing them through a new set of eyes!   For some reason, though, the clipping is blurry in my re-post.  So, be sure to click onto the original post at “I didn’t have my glasses on…”  in order to read the newspaper clip! And … while you are there, take a little time to enjoy some of the other beautiful posts KSBeth has shared there!  ❤

Simply magical … Karen

I didn't have my glasses on....

IMG_2076

this was sent to me

by

my sister

and

i could

identify

with

every word

for it’s

an

approach

to life

that i share

with the small boy

in the words above

IMG_2077

and then

there was

the orange sticky note

that

she attached

to it

and i

saw

this

as

a

wonderful

compliment

and

a

precious

gift

for

it shows

that

she truly

knows

who i am.

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A Little Inspiration …

Thinking Out Loud / I’m Not The Only One MASHUP
Sam Tsui & Casey Breves singing Ed Sheeran And Sam Smith At The Same Time.  

From where I am looking, exceptional music is one of life’s little miracles …

May this extraordinary and highly creative collaboration delight your senses and stir your soul … Karen

 

 

Video

And so … I ordered the onions.

treat yourself

I just got back from a wonderous, shirt-sleeved, sun drenched mid-day walk listening to Anne Lamott narrate her book “Help-Thanks-Wow.: The Three Essential Prayers(using the Audible app on my android phone). Being able to read and walk at the same time is sheer ecstasy, but that is beside the point. It was only for an hour, but this moment was noteworthy because, if you knew me and/or the climate here in Southern Alberta, Canada in February you would know the relative implausibility of such an indulgence. My perpetual patterns of ‘work before play’ and merciless martyrdom would typically prohibit such carefree meandering.  And, the often harsh weather patterns of wind, snow and freezing temperatures usually forbid such outdoor activity without copious layering of long underwear, toques, mitts and scarves. But, there I was … bare-armed and bold-faced ignoring the responsibilities that would usually consume me and I was wandering about the Universe with a smile in my heart instead. Clearly, this is no ordinary February.

But the story I want to share didn’t start with my walk. It all began, in earnest, as I turned the 2015 calendar to February and noticed that the first thing on my agenda was a Reike appointment.  We drew some cards to gain some insight into the next six months, and my February card was “What do you desire?”  It was suggested by my very intuitive Reike practitioner that I put that question at the top of my Daytimer and let my dreams, desires and delights guide my thoughts, words and deeds for February.  Well … I skeptically pondered how on earth I could manage to honor this directive given that my best efforts and intentions over the last 20 years to disrupt my default self-denial have been nothing short of epic fails. Not being one to ignore divine guidance … I wrote it on my calendar anyway.

As you know, Valentine’s Day is tomorrow and we’re honoring cupid’s big day at work by resurrecting the old school age ritual of tucking little cards with cute sayings into envelopes for others. I was filling mine out on Wednesday and one of the brightly colored “Be Mine” cartoony ones popped into my lap! As I pondered which of my colleagues might be best suited for this heart-felt bequest … a crazy thought caught my awareness. Maybe that card was meant for me!  What if February 2015 marked the start of me showing as much love to myself as I typically offer to others??

It seemed crazy, but so began my awkward, uncomfortable and tentative commitment to such radical self-love. And then Thursday at lunch with my dear friends Robin and Deb after yoga class … there was this burger. Although I had clients in the afternoon with whom I would be in very close proximity … it was February 2015 and I had just made this commitment to honor my desires and show myself some love. And so … I ordered the onions. It was an act of self-love. Really it was. I opted to offer my client’s an apology and myself a breath mint. And it tickled my heart.

And … today, Friday, only three days into this craziness, I added fuel to my own internal flame when I abandoned my responsibilities and went for that walk with Anne Lamott that I just described. And now, I am going to pour myself a lovely glass of Malbec … and … give myself permission to reflect really deeply around how I can smother my newest Valentine with love tomorrow.  As Anne Sexton once suggested, I am going to put my ear down really close to my soul and listen hard to what she really wants to do for the day. You never know … maybe there are a whole schwack of beautiful moments that can “be mine” if I allow myself to listen to what I truly need, want and desire.

And “Happy Valentines Day” to all of you too! May you find yourself smothered in love … and … onions.  Yes, I highly recommend you order the onions whenever you get the chance!
Hugs, Karen

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My Tributes: Better Because of You ...

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[GUEST POST]: Township Environment

Originally posted on Iizidima:
Knysna township There are few days when we are not reminded that there is plenty to be thankful for in life. Given what we do in South Africa, we would need to be blind, in a physical and emotional sense, to not experience this sentiment. The living conditions and depth of poverty…

A Precious Penny …

You know the old saying … ‘a penny for your thoughts’?  Well, I’d like to switch it up  and offer my ‘thoughts about a penny’.  A very precious Penny.  I’m not even sure how many years we’ve been doing it, but it’s become a very important tradition for us to sit and sip a little coffee together before the hustle and bustle of our […]

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