Acts of empowerment

by lulujane on September 21, 2012

Untitled-31Sometimes my acts of kindness are an immediate, almost unconscious reaction to a situation that presents itself.  Other times I choose to ignore what appears to be an obvious request for help, and I question and judge myself about this.

As an example, at the bottom of an exit ramp to the major thoroughfare in our city, a man in blue jeans often plants himself at the bottom of the decline.  He carries a sign that says he is out of work and needs help to feed his children.    As I stop, a prisoner in his space, caught at a red light, he runs his fingers along each line as if he were a primary grade teacher coaching an early reader along to make sure they understand. Somehow I feel offended by this.

There is also a slender woman I have observed over the past few years who has chosen to alternate between two high traffic stop light areas.  I can`t even remember if she carries a sign.  I see her sporadically but have never felt charitable enough in those moments to make a donation to her cause.  And like with the man carrying the sign, I question why I feel no need to respond to their request.  I find that I don`t even want to make eye contact with them.  Do I doubt the legitimacy of their situation?  What is it in me that makes me feel so uncomfortable when I see them, but not so uneasy that I open my wallet to them?

Yesterday after a bit of shopping for a few hours in a hurried and harried state  I was feeling the need to have something to eat.  I went to the McDonald`s drive-thru and ordered a Junior Chicken Sandwich at a cost of $1.39.  Since I discovered the Junior Chicken Sandwich early this summer it has frequently been a quick way to quell my hunger and satisfy the responsibility I have to myself to eat when I am hungry, even if I am racing around.

Again, on a busy street and in a left turning lane I encountered a red light.  I was in rush mode and felt anxious while I was doing my best to be patient waiting for the light to change. With at least one eye on the light I reached across to my passenger seat to free my sandwich from the paper bag, and fiddled with the paper wrapping.  Just as I was about to take my first bite I noticed something, or should I say someone?

On the median beside me, beneath the street light and leaning against the pole I noticed a thin young man whose sign told me that he was hungry.  I looked at the sandwich and looked back at him.  I knocked on my window to get his attention, then rolled it down, re-wrapped the sandwich, placed it back into the bag and handed it to him.

He responded in an unexpected way. He took the bag and quickly scooted off the median, following the crosswalk to the safety of the sidewalk, excitedly fumbling in the bag for something to eat.

Tonight I was reading excerpts from a book by Carolyn Myss called Invisible Acts of Power.   Through simple things we can empower others.  It can simply be the offering of the right words at the right time, a hug that will keep someone going, taking time to listen to someone talk or quietly holding space to allow someone to cry.  I am thinking that this past week, for this young man, it was me giving him this inexpensive little chicken sandwich when his need was great.

I have no doubt that if I had tossed a financial gift to the man or the woman stationed at red traffic lights in hopes of a handout, the recipients wouldn`t have appreciated it nearly as much as the recipient of my sandwich, nor would I have  such a feeling of gratitude and joy about following my instincts in making this choice.


Opening up

by lulujane on September 9, 2012

DSC_0118aI’m thinking it’s odd that I wrote this piece a few years ago, and revised it in March 9, 2006.  I’m still here, still uneasy about times when things stay the same.


Some people are afraid
of change.
of staying the same.

Life is fleeting
an adventure
in constant flow.

When things are stagnant
for long periods
Ho hum, hum drum.

Feeling uneasy
in armchair of familarity.
Should be doing something.
Drudgery of sluggish routine
suffocates motivation and
spontaneous creativity.

Filling time
with pleasurable pursuits
that speak and are heard
intuitive whispers
that alert and guide.

Focus elusive.
Easily distracted
by eager eye taking in,
Magnetic energy attracting
Whirling sights and sounds

On precipice of risk
testing self
Urged to explore
each new place
where freedom allows
Detaching from outcome

Sampling and savouring
sweet morsels
manifesting feasts
creating rich reality
in delectable smorgasbord
called `Life`.

Stepping out
daring and fearless
saying “why not?”
keeping energy fluid
merging into rivers
inspired to navigate.

Feeling brave.
Opening up
excavating hidden talents
discoveries matching desires.

Meeting people
unknown before
in new ventures.
Heart sees.
Beauty and vulnerability
strength and courage

to stay
with one thing
as principal focus.

Difficult to figure…
or fear
that following it further
might bring elevation
to level of skill
where more
is demanded.

Gentle with innocent
Accomplishment pleases
Not shackled
by traps of youth
when perfection
determined value.

Favour of others
It does not
self perception.

if there is
doubt of not measuring
high enough
on yardstick
of self determined
ruler of success.

Likely closer
to hunger of what urges
is grace of insatiable appetite
to learn anew,
to bathe in the freshness
of each new day
to peek nose into space
where shaft of light
reveals itself at doorway`s edge
Nudging it open
To take rightful place.

As a child
judged as nosy
“You just don`t want to miss out on anything do you?”
Statement right
Judgment wrong.
Truth is
blessed with awareness
and curiosity
of a puzzled child
wanting to know more,
longing to understand.

from the banquet
where inner promptings
direct to new menus
unfamiliar, tempting main courses
and desserts
delighting in surprises,
gliding gracefully along
the buffet line.

Wafting like a breeze
on zephyrs of change
Big toe in water
feeling, testing
engaging to level
where thermostat
of comfort zones
registers interest and pleasure

Relishing excitement and lightness
Engaging loops and levels
on landscapes of life,
acknowledging presence of butterflies
spreading translucent wings
and moving
ever forward.

the coziness of familiarity,
rubbing against it
like a child
feeling warm and safe
snuggled close to mother
in church pew,
nuzzling face
into warmth and smoothness
of texture and smells
of old, worn muskrat fur coat.

Passion vibrates
heart sings
expressing photographic gift
by eye
and heart enveloping beauty
seen and sensed,
Unceasingly seduced
to look beyond
surface seen.

in a shining light
of beauty pool
where sacred subjects
reveal reflections
of souls
….And time stops.

and student
in game of life
observing ….. shifting…… like seasons
jumping in…. surrendering.

merged with the stream
and growing into awareness
of the glory

Linda Iler
March 2006


There is a reason

by lulujane on August 17, 2011

Noah July 2010 (27)My friend Kathy has been a foster parent to many children.  She continues to this day with the more recent addition to her home of a fourteen year old boy.  Let’s say his name is David.

David has been in many foster homes.  Kathy talks about what a nice boy he is, a very dear child.  Due to unendurable circumstances with his birth family he has been in the foster care system for a long time.

Kathy is loving and generous. She empowers others.  I met David a couple of times. He seems sweet and it is evident he is happy with Kathy and her family.   In the process of preparing for a recent move to another city, much paperwork and documentation had to be completed. And even although Kathy has successfully fostered for a long time, the ‘system’ dictates that she undergo twenty-six hours of additional training which is only available locally on weekdays. This is when most people earn their living and week days are not possible doe to the loss of income it would create.   She independently made repeated efforts to find accommodation in a Saturday program in another area and after many phone calls and emails she finally found an agency who was willing to include her in their Saturday training program.  Even though it will mean a lengthy drive each time she attends a class, it is worth it to her.  She will do whatever it takes to make this happen for David.

My friend is  responsible, efficient, diligent and timely with the completion and submission of documents. She has been frustrated with paperwork being lost, with the ‘system’ claiming they never received it, etc.  David is going to high school in a couple of weeks and Kathy wants to register him in the new commnunity now so that he blends in with the other grade nine students starting at the same time.  Because of the upheavel during much of his life, it is important for him to blend in.

David is aware of the roadblocks and frustrations as Kathy does everything in her power to make this happen. She says “when are they going to stop the baloney and think of what the child needs?”.

I listened as she spoke, compassionate with her disappointment, frustration and anger.

As if a lightbulb illuminated my thoughts, I realized, and reported to her that maybe the difficulties are there, with David being aware of the hurdles she was jumping over, hoops she was jumping through – because it is important for him finally to see, hear and know that someone wanted him and was fighting tooth and nail to get him.

Later that day I received an email from my friend.  She believes that she is through most of the paperwork and other protocol, lost documents and emails located.  Her email also thanked me by saying “you always have a way of making things better”.

So many times in life I have discovered that it isn’t what happens to me, but how I choose to perceive it that is important.   I try to see all sides of a situation and ask ‘what’s the blessing in this’? As in Kathy’s situation, it would be difficult to resent the anxiety of dealing with red tape over and over again, if she had known that there was a meaningful and powerful reason for it all, particularly when it will have positive, affirming, long-reaching and long-term benefits for her beloved David.

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In lieu of donations, in the spirit of Raymond

by lulujane on July 26, 2011

Raymond HebertWhen scanning this morning’s obituaries in our local newspaper, I was drawn to a photograph of a kindly looking bearded man, whose personal information followed.  Although I do not own professional credentials, I am an enthusiastic, passionate photographer.  I was familiar with his name. For 40 years this man, Raymond Hebert, ran a successful photography business in our city and held a Master of Photography degree, among other professional credentials.

The thing in Raymond’s obituary that spoke to me the most about his legacy, that told me about who this man was, that told me he was well loved by his family, was the request of his family “in lieu of donations, in the spirit of Raymond, please spend time with the ones you love”.

Truer words were never spoken.

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Singing in the rain

by lulujane on July 23, 2011

As I entered Costco, I glanced upward at dark clouds looming, entered the store and never gave them another thought.  Until it was time to exit that is.

Passing through the gauntlet of the posted clerk who reviewed my cash register receipt against the cart contents I observed many other cart pushers, groceries and products piled high and deep, waiting, as if for a parade to pass. In this instance it was a heavy downpour tumbling, splashing, spraying outside the protective canopy.

I stopped for a couple of minutes observing the scattered queue of people afraid to get wet – or nervous about having their new purchases sodden by the storm.  Checking the contents of my cart I stuffed some items into my sparkly pink and green carryon.  With a carefree motion even my extra large 18 pack of eggs was wedged in.  Eyeing the scatter mat I purchased for my kitchen floor I silently wondered if it would cover the cart contents.  Action responded to thought and with rubber backing exposed to the sky I fearlessly wound my way through stationery carts and waiting cart pushers to expose myself to the elements.

We enjoy swimming pools, hot tubs, showers and baths yet some people seem to have a fear of getting wet with their clothes on.  My initial concern was remembering exactly where I had parked my car – in the aisle to my left, or the one to my right. Once I knew  where I was going I was on task. A big surprise came as I approached my car and found myself wading ankle deep in puddled water.  Because it was a steamy, close to 100 degree Fahrenheit day I left my windows down a tad to allow the air to circulate.  Some rain had splashed its way onto some items left on the seat so I hurriedly unloaded my goods and responsibly strolled to return the cart to where it belonged.

With business taken care of I lifted my waterlogged sandals followed by my wet bottom into the front seat and started the car. Hot outside temperature and cool wet me caused the windows to fog.

The adult and the child in me were happy, smiling, ‘in the flow’  of things and on our way home happy for the opportunity and the experience of being in the rain.


Plant seeds and have faith

by lulujane on April 24, 2011

Not everyone appreciates the feeling of their hand brushing along a piece of good fabric, inhaling the pleasure of scented dark, damp soil in spring – or, like a carpenter breathing in the smell of wood, luxuriating in the texture of fingertips gliding along a smoothly cut board.

Not everyone takes the time to appreciate the nuances of their relationships and the links of shared experience and understanding that join them to their friends and family.  My many relationships are individual things.  I appreciate the fabric and colour and texture and durability of the wonderful personalities and innate goodness in each of those who are dear to me… at all times, loving them for exactly who they are.

I have gratitude for my friendships and for the acceptance and respect we allow each other as we move through various stages of our lives.  Although it isn’t always easy, I strive to observe from a place of  love, compassion and acceptance.  We all make mistakes and can learn from them, tweaking and improving to keep ourselves on track. As painful as seeing our reflection mirrored to us can be, when we approach it with a willingness to see ourselves as others do, we will continually grow in our strengths, leaving more unacceptable behaviours in the dust.

I have watched some relationships that appear destined to flounder, and yet through time, patience, acceptance, determination, hard work and most of all love and cooperation, each partner helps the other to bloom.  The depth of their love and belief that there is something in the other worth saving and holding onto keeps them invested. There is a phrase that reminds me that sharing sorrows halves our pain, and sharing our joy doubles it.  In relationship, if we’re willing to hang in there, endure the discomfort, put ego and self serving agenda aside, letting go of unhealthy power struggles, being open to speak our truth, and very importantly, to listen, not only can the relationship become stronger and more enduring, but each person has a chance to become their best self.  There is a big ‘but’ here…. both people have to be willing to work at it.

There are times when, in the Winter of relationship, for one reason or another, a person is unwilling to look at himself/herself and see what to hold onto and where to give ground.  After all, some things are just not negotiable.  On both sides of the coin, it is necessary to retain those things essential to the wellbeing of our authentic selves. There are some things we must be unwilling to change because they go against the grain of who we are. We can’t sacrifice Self  to make someone else feel better.

Some people dig their heels in, selfishly taking for granted that they are married and their partner will always be there.  Some people stay in relationships for years, working their guts out in trying to make it work (or just settling), with the other staying rutted and comfortable kicking back on the threadbare sofa. The worker bee keeps trying, sometimes for years, because it seems easier than having to be the one to say ‘it’s over’. My question becomes “If your partner said the relationship is finished before you do, how would you feel?”  I once asked this question of someone in the throes of confusion and distress about what to do, and the answer was “relieved”.  Interesting that the only thing holding the relationship together at that point was a waiting for who would say it first. When one person yearns to grow and become better and the other is content to stand in hip waders in a deep pool of mud, making no effort to move, the best solution can be cutting bait…..

Where the love is strong, and the other person in your life becomes more important to you than your personal agenda, keep working at it and have faith.  Like the caretaker in a well tended garden keep planting seeds of love, trust and hope in the fertile soil of willingness. The potential exists for something magical to root, grow and blossom in the Spring.


Passion – you can’t fake it

by lulujane on April 22, 2011

Since September last year I have been a volunteer usher at Windsor Spitfire hockey games.  Windsor has a very strong and supportive fan base, and while everyone is cheering for the same team, they react in different ways to what is happening on the ice.  Some lift themselves out of their seats as they cheer.  Some fans are perpetually optimistic while others choose to boo, or sit looking moresely gloomy, negatively assuming that the worst is bound to happen at any moment.   Last night, when talking with a fan I met during regular season, I realized that some people ‘watch’ the game while others actively participate in it.

Last night I spoke with Mike shortly after the game finished – a very high energy, hard hitting, passion filled duel.  Excitement bounced off him as he described coaching philosophy and the action in the game. He felt proud of our local team.  This is a very positive fellow who I could take lessons from.  Without looking through the filter through which he sees his world, I sense that his first natural inclination is to see the good in things.  This resonates within me, like fine music moves me.

Mike’s passion for the game of hockey is so intense that I can imagine him feeling every hit,  skating hard in a breakaway, heart beating fast and catching his breath later, high-fiving to celebrate with his teammates; even though he is a fan sitting in Row I in a plastic seat midway up in the end zone.  His participation, giving it his all, has such commitment that he should be put on the payroll. Energetically, I imagine that fans like this have the potential to lift a team to higher realms of performance. As he spoke about the game his eyes sparkled with a fiery brilliance.  As an eager participant and player totally focused inside each game, it must take hours to relax.  When he does reach this plateau, he must sleep like a well-fed, contented baby, released from the state of emotional and physical exhaustion of a game hard and well played.

This brings me to passion.  A couple of weeks ago I saw his genuine excitement when we caught up between the third and an overtime period in a critical game.  Very energized, excited, shining from the inside and openly declaring that hockey is his passion.  When I saw it I could feel it; it tickled me and made me laugh.

I have always liked sport, but mine is a passive interest in the game. Observing Mike’s passion and in the presence of his high energy glow after this play-off game where our local team played with such heart, I could feel it too. I have a friend whose gardening and basket weaving do the same thing for her.  When reading a Freeman Patterson book on photography, his writing about photography revealed as much and possibly more to me about his passion, than did his famous photographs. It reminded me of the bliss I feel when, camera in hand and the potential for ideal subject matter presents itself, I am able to taste the exquisite beauty of things. There is no adequate way to explain the inner joy that lights me from inside.

I know how it feels to be passive and I know how it feels to be passionate.

Passion ignites and fires.  Passion – you can’t fake it.


Perfect timing

by lulujane on January 23, 2011

Two days ago I came across a zip lock plastic bag containing some old toiletry items.  After looking through the items, one of them being a small bottle of an earache remedy, I tossed it all away.  The earache remedy had to have been 20 – 25 years old, tucked away and lost for a time inside the storage bag.

Today I was out visiting some family members and when I returned home there was a telephone message from Kay, a woman whom I last worked with in 1979.  She said that it wasn’t anything really important, and asked if I would call her back.

She had a question for me.  She remembered that when my children were small, they got frequent ear infections from swimming in our backyard pool. She asked if I remembered the name of the drug store product that I used to give them relief and help clear up the infection.  I mentioned my recent tossing out of some items and recalled that one of them was an earache remedy.  When I was going through those items I actually held this little bottle in my hand, silently wondering how it had stayed around in my cupboard for so long.  When doing so, I casually glanced at the brand name on the eardrop bottle.  When talking with Kay I couldn’t immediately bring its name to mind, but after a quick run up the stairs to see if it was still in my waste basket (it wasn’t), it came to me.

We both laughed when I mentioned the name Auralgan and with my friend on hold I Googled the name and found that it was indeed the name Kay was searching for.

I mentioned to Kay that I had been visiting my sister Brenda in Burlington this past week, and she asked if this was who I used to talk to on my lunch hour; the person who worked at Ford Motor Company.

These two things were among items of discussion this evening – I mentioned about what a great memory. Her response was that ” it’s too bad my memory isn’t that good when I’m talking with my doctor”.  These were memories of a friend who has been disagnosed with a form of dimentia, weaving her time between periods of  incredible  alertness with clear memory, and sometimes having difficulty finding the way back to her room at an assisted living residence.

If I hadn’t seen the name of this earache remedy within the last couple of days, I don’t believe I would have had a clue about it. Maybe this far outdated little bottle of Auralgan has hung around all these years, just waiting for Kay to ask the question.  Way cool!


I see you

by lulujane on January 12, 2011

When I saw the movie ‘Avatar’ and the female character Neytiri, said to the male character Jake, “I see you”, I felt an emotional charge.   I may have mentioned this in another post a while back, but I have a friend who likes to break down words, which in some instances, end up having an even greater meaning.  Her phrasing for ‘intimacy’ is “into-me-see” .  When Neytiri said “I see you”, I knew what she was saying. Jake had revealed enough of himself to show her who he really was.

This brings me to a pet peeve about people who stay behind the shield of dark tinted sunglasses while talking to a non-sunglass wearer.  Maybe when both are wearing the sunglasses it is a different story. However, when I am in conversation with someone whose eyes I can’t see, it feels like they are shielding themselves from me, putting up a barrier.  I feel cheated, isolated from more meaningful connection. They have the benefit of seeing me naked, sort of, eyes wide open – eye to eye, but they are depriving me of being able to see them (on more than one level).

At a small music festival this summer I encountered a young man I knew and inquired about his work, the day job and the music.  I was interested.  He was wearing a pair of very cool, very dark shades. While he enthusiastially shared the mechanics of how he saw his future I have to admit I felt distracted and frustrated by my inability to feel the connection I enjoy when making the effort; when I take the time to get to know someone on a more personal level. The kind of connection that comes from eye to eye contact.

Maybe new sunglasses should be packaged with an etiquette instruction booklet, as should cellphones, iPhones and other handheld social media.

Wearing sunglasses when engaging in face to face dialogue can make the other person feel  you have decided not to show up for the party after giving a positive RSVP to an invitation.

It leaves me wondering, where is the hostess gift?  For me, the gift is the showing up and being present eye to eye because if I am willing to take the time, I want to see you.


That’s my story…

by lulujane on January 10, 2011

I walked into our local Chapters/Indigo book store and paused for a moment. In doing so, I was aware of stillness.  It felt sacred, like I was in a church.  I observed the stillness and took time to enjoy this silent moment. I realized that a large bookstore or library  is a  space where the greatest assembly of artistic expression exists in one place.  Bearing their spines on multi-tiered display spaces or centre aisle showcases, thousands and thousands of books call to us. I think of the hours of preparation, research, hard work, sometimes years that can go into writing a single book.  Try multiplying that by the number of books on shelves or available on-line. Nowhere on this planet can anyone, regardless of financial wealth or social standing, stand in the centre of such a creative collection.

When an author shares words with another author, there must be an understanding between them, even if they don’t know each other, because of their shared experience.  Listening to some authors it sounds like it is a real effort to sit at their writing space and allow the flow of the words that hopefully, fill the page.  Some must twist themselves in knots or stand on their heads (I’m picturing visuals for these expressions) in painful yearning awaiting the burst of a few words nudging them forward on their page, while others admit that the words ‘just come through them’, as if they are receiving it from a source outside of themselves.


I write on a very small, amateur scale and have no real concept of what it takes for someone to craft the writing of a book based on their knowledge, experience, education, imagination, humour, passion, research, frustration, commitment, creativity, etc.  I took a creative writing class a while back nudging me out of familiar comfort zones. I took our compassionate, well qualified and dedicated teacher’s instructions seriously.  Each week we had an assignment. In addition we were emailed copies of the writing assignments of every other student. We were to review the other students’ work with a view to offering only positive critique at our next class.

I took painstaking care with my writing, and the class helped me to explore deep emotional parts of myself to create results I was happy with.  The hard part was reviewing the other papers.  I read with enjoyment and sensitivity to the feelings of the writers when giving thought about how to positively critique some aspects of their papers.  They did the same with mine.  Doing this with such care took a lot of time.  I did not sign up for the next term because it was just too much work.  I worked a full time job and the one evening a week writing class turned into a full week of concentrated focus and stress for me.


What I am trying to say is that when someone bares their soul to create a volume of work for public consumption,  a lot goes into it.  A sentence or a paragraph can be written, rewritten or moved many times before it flows with the rest of the narrative. Creating even a good short story would be a herculean task so I’m thinking that writers have guts, grit, determination, tenacity, courage, etc. to keep themselves on track, pushing through to the heart of the next paragraph, the next chapter – and then maybe onto the next book.

If one writes from memory or personal experience my sense is that the story can flow naturally, without having to resort to research except when memory needs refreshing. Mmmmm … better to write when young than when older… lots less to remember, and a shorter period of time to remember it for.

What is it about books?  Whenever I go to Costco I am drawn into the magnetic field of the book aisle where many titles of the same name are stacked deep and wide. I scan titles, run my hand over dust jackets as if by feeling the book I will be imbued with the flavour of what is inside. Oddly enough I hardly ever glance at cookbooks, salivate over cover photos, or touch their covers or pages.  Although great food prepared with love offer the diner a luscious experience, the language of recipes doesn’t evoke the feeling that I get from a good story or biography.  When I touch them I know there are lots of feeling characters, tumbling emotions, mystery, adventure tied up inside. I am told that this big box book department takes in a lot of dollars from those of us whose pulses race as we hurriedly push our shopping carts there, where lots of us just can’t resist the impulse shopping that the display demands.

And when I get my book home I don`t always read it, but I just had to have it. What is it about needing to have a book?  I have a lot of books on tables, in baskets, and shelves, in pretty well every room in my home. This includes a deep shelf  book unit in my cluttered  laundry room space. My favourite reading is a page turning story which can be a novel, biography or autobiography.  My attention span being what it is, the page turner quality helps me focus and stay with it.  And when I am into it, I devour it like a starving man would inhale his first next meal.  And then, hungry again, I start looking for the next good book.

If a book is hard to get into I leave my bookmark in place and search for another.  It is not uncommon to have five or six books on the go at the same time, none of which I am invested in fully.  And when it gets to be just too much and I feel scattered beyond description I close the covers on all of them and put them away, hoping to start back at square one, with just one book that calls my name.  And once I respond, it owns me.

I honour talented writers and their commitment to their work – for they give us much.  They entertain us, teach us, help us to find our way. For those who make it to the big time, whose work,  faces and names are recognized and applauded,  good for you.  And for those who have put their heart and soul into your work without reaping the glory of fame and financial reward, my wish is that you know that there is a public you have served well through the sharing of your gift.

In my home many exquisitely beautiful floral images seem always in my periphery, and even if I am not looking directly at them, giving them no immediate attention, I know that they have a positive effect on me.  Perhaps even if I don’t read all of the wonderful books I bring into my home, the creative energy expressed in, or that it took to create them, also has a positive effect on me.

That is my story, and I am sticking to it!