Better Because of You … “C with a big bold heart”

It’s her birthday today.  Her name is Cynthia.  She is also known as Cyndy.  And Cookie (but only in privileged circles).  And she signs her name like this:C with a heartAnd, she puts that big, bold heart into everything … with fabulous, flamboyant flourish. With juicy, joy-filled jubilation.  With energetic exuberance and excitement. With lots of loud love.

Yes, she lives loud and she laughs loud and she loves loud.  She’s utterly reluctant to miss out on any of the magical moments that life invites her to embrace.  And even when she leaps before she looks she brings light and laughter to where-ever she lands. And, she inspires me to surrender parts of my highly edited and cautiously crafted existence and simply allow life to have it’s wondrous way with me more often too.

She is wildly creative and cheeky fun and she has the incredible capacity to take myriad forms of miscellaneous scraps, useless bits and pieces, left-over odds and ends and shape them into the most magnificent, meaningful collages. With her remarkable artistry, she fashions ‘something’ quite special out of ‘nothing’ particularly important and that rich, magical transformation invokes immeasurable awe, inspiration and appreciation in the eye of the bestowed beholder.

For example … she gifted me with this little gem on my last birthday.  See what I mean about how her zest for life breathes brilliance and beauty into her benevolently inspired creations!

happiness is by cyndy

And then there was this one.  She offered it to me when I got brave enough to venture out and start my own business … and it melted my heart because my company is  called Miracles! Your Center for Well-Being Inc.

expect miracles

And the gifts of her heart come so richly wrapped that one is tempted not to open them and disrupt the dazzling beauty …

Cs gift

And … her big, bold heart shines through her emotional expressions with such warm, wonderful wording.  One year, I arrived at work and was delighted to discover an email with these heartfelt birthday wishes:

Happy birthday from C!

And she loves books … and tea … and England … and her daughters Courtenay and Mary Elizabeth.  And she lives a large life because she genuinely invests her whole heart in all the things she loves!  And her life loves her right back … even through the bumpy parts of the path.

be youAnd so, when I saw this quotation I couldn’t help but think of you C !  And I decided to take this opportunity to thank you for all the ‘heart’ you have so generously breathed into the world. You have a magnificent way of speaking straight from your soul and connecting from that vulnerable space …  and in doing so … your vivacious vitality tenderly cracks our hearts  wide open. I applaud you for living your life with such rich, unpretentious expressions of spirit.  I admire you for daring to bare your raw, real and unscripted soul.  Thank you for simply being you … transparently, authentically and wholeheartedly YOU! 

And  … I thank you for inviting me to do the same!!  Thank you for inviting me to turn up the volume in my own life and live more moments as amplified and audaciously as you do. Thank you for the ways you light up the Universe with the gifts of your heart! My life has been so much better because of the ways in which you have enriched it.

Happy Birthday ‘C with a big bold heart’ ! This tribute to you, about you and for you comes with much love from me,   ❤ Karen ❤

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DRK – Better Because of our Twisted Connection

We never really know, when we are in a moment, how long it will last … or … how cherished it will become.  We never know, when we meet someone, how long they will be in our lives … or … how precious their presence will become.  I could never have anticipated the special and significant space in my heart that Debby Wall and Robin Tajiri would ultimately claim.

There was nothing particularly special about our meeting.  We were just three stay-at-home moms, married to farmers, with three children each …  living in a very small, rural town.  I met Deb first … through our husbands … and she was clearly so lovely.  You could simply feel the pure and gentle nature in her beingness.  She was deeply committed to being a genuinely ‘good’ human being. I loved her for that.  Of course, given my husband’s fondness for teasing, he savored every opportunity to color her cheeks … but … she has grown out of that now (mostly). 🙂

I also admired her in so many ways … not the least of which was how she got her preschool children to stay seated quietly beside her in the car … and even more impressively … at church.  It completely boggled my mind.  I could barely get my precious cherubs seated quietly in the car with the benefit of harness laden car seats (once they became mandatory).   As for church, well –  I ultimately quit going. It occurred to me that there was more LOVE in my world on Sunday mornings if I was sitting in my housecoat, with my heels on the coffee table, sipping coffee and watching cartoons with my adorable little angels …  instead of … yelling at them for dawdling, drawing tears in my harried haste to get their hair into elastics and scrambling to find the missing leotards so we could get to church on time. I instinctively sensed there had to be so much more to any woman who could pull all of that off with such grace – sans tears in the hearts and without fake smiles on the faces.  I just knew it.

I met Robin through a mutual friend.  I was immediately drawn to her ready laughter, her playful energy and her incredibly kind and caring heart!  She seemed like the perfect mix of light-hearted spontaneity and conscientious responsibility.  I don’t know how she did it, but she always came up with the best ideas for ways to inject fun into it the days that were dreary with laundry and spills and endless self-sacrifice.  She always brought the rainbow … even on the darkest, coldest and most difficult days!

She had the most uncanny way of adding so much fun, frolic and and laughter to every moment!  I’ve always envied her rich and spunky spirit and was so delighted when she splashed it into my world.  She has always been such a great example of how life must be savored in the most magnificent ways.  And, of course, she reminded me that there was good clean fun to be had. It is safe to say that I never belly-laughed as much in my pre-Robin life. I often worried that my children would regret not having a ‘fun’ mom like her. There is no doubt about it …  some of my very best memories have been inspired by her extra-ordinary spirit! 🙂

I introduced Robin and Deb.  It was one of those moments that seemed like any other moment,   but … just as a rope is made much stronger by the twisting of each individual string, so have become our lives. The fibers of our being (‘D’, ‘R’ and ‘K’) have been strengthened by the twists, turns and even the tangles in our lives.  All have been lovingly woven together into a beautiful tapestry of fun, faith and friendship.

Our lives have intertwined in so many meaningful ways over the years … weaving another cherished moment, another precious thread into the texture of our treasured togetherness. There is no way we could have anticipated that the breaths we have breathed into each others journeys would be fortifying our capacity to meet the inevitable challenges  we would encounter as we wandered down the winding paths uniquely laid before us.

All in all, the tapestry remains so rich.:

  • sharing the very SPECIAL annual birthday card that has circulated between us for years (bottom left on the picture above).  Deb exercised such artistic flair the year she creatively penciled herself onto the card!  There were only two girls on that card originally …
  • and all the creative versions of “Roses are Red” … I’ve saved each and every one of them!
  • and the beautiful birthday celebrations … including a well executed kidnapping to an extra-ordinary location.
  • and all the good-natured competition that came from golfing with a large brimmed visor and placing ‘big’ bets for birdies … I’m sure I still owe someone 25 cents.
  • and the cherry pit spitting contest … no need to say who inspired that merriment … :-).  I think she won too.
  • and quilting Christmas tree skirts … still using mine …!
  • and in the hustle and bustle of life, we decided the best gift we could give to one another each Christmas was TIME.  So, annually, we planned a full day together … and … we savored every minute of it!
  • and, last but for sure not least, our four hour lunch dates continue to be one of my favorite things.

And … always, always, always lots of  laughing.  OK. Sometimes the odd tear.  But always lots of laughing.  Oh … and I’d be remiss not to mention that there was a time, way back in the day, that I had to finish their wine for them. This gives you a true sense of my level of commitment to these two!  Alas … I don’t have to have their backs like that anymore! 🙂

Yes … the tapestry is so very, very rich.  And strong.  So very, very strong.  Together … we are much richer and stronger … and … dare I say happier.  My heart smiles when I get to spend time with these two magical, magnificent miracles that I am fortunate to enough to call my friends.

R - D - K

R – D – K Selfie

We may not get to spend as many moments together as we used to … but our friendship lovingly defies the unintended neglect and continues to thrive despite the geographical distance that often comes between us. Nonetheless, Deb and Robin have been indelibly woven into my world.  I feel their presence even when we are apart because I carry them tenderly in my heart.  I had no way of knowing the bounty of blessings that were being bestowed upon me when I met them, but  I sure know it now.  And … I take not one minute of this for granted.  Not one minute.

So … anyway … the bottom line is this:  ‘K’ is so much better because of ‘R’ and ‘D’!  In fact, trying to express my appreciation for each of you can simply not be done with words alone.  I just wanted to use this space to say that I am so incredibly grateful that our lives got twisted together … and … I am so much better because of it!

I love you … both … immeasurably.  XO Karen

 

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Maria ‘B’eautiful … Better Because You Shine So Brightly!

For a time, we had three staff members named “Maria”.  In order to distinguish them, we started adding a last initial … Maria B, Maria W, Maria K … and … somewhere over the course of time, Maria “B” shifted effortlessly into Maria B”-you-teh-full  for me.  And it was such a perfect shift … but not for the reasons you might be thinking.  In fact, I’m not sure if Maria Beautiful is clear about why I refer to her in those terms.  Allow me to clear up any uncertainty.  🙂

Maria ‘B’eautiful …  I fondly and affectionately refer to you as ‘beautiful’ not because of the obvious loveliness in your external packaging, but rather because I am not sure I know anyone else who actually ‘lives LOVE’  as authentically, humbly and generously as you do!!  I say that because, from my humble perspective, you are so achingly beautiful in the deepest parts of your being.  There is an energy of love, pure and simple, that bursts forth with every breath you take …

It has been my experience that the beauty that so effortlessly emanates from your spirit and lands brightly and brilliantly upon our interactions is very rare, very unique and so very precious.  It divinely illuminates each moment into something sacred and spiritual … something beyond mere mortal description. I can’t deny that my heart has been forever shifted by the energy of unconditional acceptance and radiant love that emanates in you, around you, from you and through you.  Somehow, without even trying, you always add kindling to my own internal flame when I share time with you.

And I know it is not just me who feels that divine spark in your soul generously igniting the best parts of whomever you are with.  I could name names … but my intention here is not to speak for others. I just want to assure you that I know that my perception is not just mistakenly biased or errantly skewed in your favor.  I know others would agree that your light-filled presence has been able to brighten even the most dismal moments.  Which is not to discount or dismiss the depth of the dark moments that have descended on your own doorstep over the years.  Rather, it is to honor and acknowledge the fact that these moments have not hardened your heart nor stifled your spirit.   In fact, despite (or maybe because of)  the challenges you have encountered on your path, whenever I think of you, a cascade of adjectives to describe you wash over me including:

  • grateful
  • gracious
  • joyful
  • gentle
  • light-hearted
  • light-filled
  • enthusiastic
  • energetic
  • passionate
  • raw
  • real
  • radiant
  • compassionate
  • humble
  • vulnerable
  • kind … very kind
  • brilliant
  • brave
  • forgiving
  • loving and loveable

Simply stated … LOVE incarnate.

Thank you for brightening my circle with a glow of all glows … with a heart that yearns to bring blessings to every soul she sees … not just the ones she loves and knows … but to EVERY single being she encounters!

I am savoring my memories of our cherished times of connection … and … looking very forward to receiving my next hug.  You always know you’ve been hugged when you get a Maria Beautiful hug … the gift of her loving spirit lingers long after the embrace has been physically released.

So … beautiful, beautiful, beautiful Maria … my life, my heart and my world are so much better because of you!!

With deepest reverence for all the beauty you bring to the world … Karen xo

Beautiful eyes, beautiful heart, beautiful spirit, such a beautiful being ...

Beauty in her eyes, beauty in her heart, beauty in her spirit … such radiant beauty in her being!

 

Better Because of Your Heartfelt Humility … Trudy

John & Karen - August 13, 1977

John & Karen – August 13, 1977

So, almost 4 years ago … I wrote the following “Better Because of You”  tribute in a private note to my ‘maid of honor’.  My hubby and I will be celebrating our 37th anniversary in August 2014, so our friendship blossomed about 40 years ago … but … as it often goes with friendship, we lost touch for many, many years.  I got permission from Trudy to share some of my personal correspondence with her in this public blog because it unexpectedly sparked something special … 

November 17, 2010

Belated Happy Birthday Trudy! It just occurred to me that (if memory serves me right!) it was your birthday on Monday (November 15th) … and I hope it was a day that made your heart smile!
It’s hard to believe it has been almost 15 years since we have connected … the time flies by so fast as we spend our moments ‘doing’ all the things that seem important at any given time.  In fact, that is why I was inspired to reconnect with you after all these years. It seems that no matter where we go or what we are doing in life, our ‘being’ has been significantly impacted by those who have been part of our journey along the way.

YOU are one of those people … and … I wanted to take a moment to “thank you”.

Do you remember the first time we met? I sure do. Bart and John played poker together and somehow we were introduced. I was intimidated by how physically beautiful you were … and then I became even more impressed when I noticed that your outward beauty was actually quite pale in comparison to your inner beauty. I’ll never forget driving down Scenic Drive in Greenie (your trusty Toyota) and I’m not sure where we were going, but we had just met and I asked you what you did.

You casually responded by saying “I go to school”. I naively assumed you meant high school and I don’t even know how long it took before I realized that you were an undergraduate art major at university.  You were already doing what I naively believed was going to finally give my life some significance – make it more meaningful … but you had no need to validate your sense of self by broadcasting your association with higher education.

I can’t begin to tell you the impact that your grace and humility made upon me. You could have tried to impress me with what you were ‘doing’, but you didn’t. Your lack of pretentiousness was so refreshing and so inspiring to me … that I still recall it (39ish years later!). In fact, as I look back on it now, I am more and more inclined to respect those who are more concerned about how they are ‘being’ in the world, rather than what they are ‘doing’. I really want to thank you for ‘being’ such a great example of humble, gracious and unpretentious ‘beingness’. It is a quality that I am finally coming to embrace … more than a quarter of a century later … 🙂

Anyway, although our paths have not crossed much over the past 15(ish) years, it is my hope that one day we can get together and ‘catch up’. I would love the opportunity to re-connect, but in the meantime I just wanted to reach out and let you know that you have been a huge inspiration to me.

I am better because of you … !

With fond memories, warmest hugs and much love, Karen

P.S. Since sending this note  …  we arranged a chance to spend some very meaningful moments reminiscing and reconnecting at Bart and Trudy’s home in Phoenix!  I am so grateful for the chance we created to do some more great memory making … and … our joys were all the better with their warm and wonderful hospitality! 🙂

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Better and Brighter … Because of You Kim

Love your light
Were it not for you Kim, my favorite book of all time (and the catalyst for providing the bridge between who I was and who I desperately wanted to be)The Dark Side of the Light Chasers …. would have been just another really good book written by Debbie Ford. It would have been another great conversation, another meaningful exchange about deeply spiritual things … about dreams and goals …about kindling our internal flames … about living life with  no regrets … about how to make the very most of this journey.  We had those conversations all the time.  It is one of the things I have always cherished about our friendship.

But, here is the thing.  Without you, I might have understood the concepts of my very favorite book cognitively, but never really lived them experientially!  But you were not content with merely reading the book and philosophizing about the content. You figured there needed to be a workshop… so we could translate what we understood into our lived experiences. And you searched it out!

And you discovered a life-altering event called The Shadow Process. And we wanted to go!!  But we feared we had absolutely no way of making THAT big, bold dream come true. There were far too many responsibilities and realities in our world to keep us from getting to San Diego to attend. But, we had done enough spiritual homework that we dared ourselves to TRUST the possibility that:Until one is committedAnd so we did.  We decided to ‘put it out there’.  We opted to live ‘as if’ we would be attending that workshop!  And we laughed as we told family and colleagues that we had to schedule around our trip … because we would be “out of town”.  And … we literally did experience several of those acts of providence that Murray spoke of.  It felt like such a miracle. Somehow … despite all the things that should have stopped us, we DID get on an aircraft (just weeks after the horrific events of 9/11) …and … we made that dream a reality.

And little did I know at that time, but because of your passionate desire to get more out of that book, the most spectacular part of my life’s journey was about to unfold …and take me to places and possibilities that I had only ever dreamed about.  Little did I realize … but I was on the cusp of making many more dreams become realities!!  And, of course, so were you …

And we stretched ourselves. We spent countless hours excavating our inner worlds. We didn’t always like what we found … but … we brought it all to light and turned our wounds into wisdom. And we laughed … and we learned …and … we laughed as we learned.  And we cried some too.

And then there was Chapter 7. Remember sitting in the airport, flying back to San Diego for one of our coaches trainings, and co-incidentally (or not) , we both happened to be reading Chapter 7 of The Secret of the Shadow .  I’ll never forget the sheer terror sparked in our hearts as we loaded the plane, anxiously anticipating what it would be like to clean up our pasts and make amends for any choices, regrets, mistakes, grudges, heartaches, secrets … or anything that compromised our capacity to stand in clear conscience and complete integrity.  And we knew we had to do it if we wanted to become Certified Integrative Coaches ourselves … because Debbie Ford required that level of impeccability from her coaches. And so we got really brave. Oh how it challenged us … but we cleaned it all up.

For me, that even included redeeming my integrity around the case of disposable diapers that I didn’t get charged for about 25 years earlier … and … the Juicy Fruit gum that I stole when I was about 10 years old after I opted to run for my bus rather than continue waiting for the store clerk who was chatting incessantly with someone else and simply ignoring my presence and effort to pay.  In order to make amends for such ancient regrets,  I bought a case of Pampers and delivered them to the Food Bank … along with …  a carton of Juicy Fruit.  I was shocked at the lightness I felt in righting those seemingly innocuous wrongs.  I honestly had no idea I had been carrying so much guilt (just for a quarter of a century!)  for those choices that I could have continued to justify and excuse by blaming them on another person’s error.

And because we were doing these hard things together … I had the strength to continue, even when I thought I’d rather quit than face my own shame. And we shared these beautiful but often brutal moments with each other … and … we were such great stewards of each others souls during those hard climbs. And you taught me that the power of 1+1 is not equal to 2 but is equal to 11. And I needed that shift in perspective to foster my resolve to continue to challenge myself …

And we grew so much ourselves. And we laughed. And we got really real. And we got triggered. And we owned our projections. And we embraced our light. And we learned to welcome the dark … trusting in the gifts of the shadow. And we grew some more. And people noticed the changes in us.  And people began asking how they could get some of ‘whatever it was that we had’ …so we facilitated study groups and, once we were certified, we coached people.   But, most importantly for me personally, we encouraged each other to become the next best expression of who we could be in the world. And we helped each other when we stumbled. And we believed in Miracles … because we had seen how our own shifts in perception helped us better resist our patterns of fear-based living in favor of dwelling in an energy of love.

And, despite all the shifts we were experiencing, we kept going to our day jobs. And the days we spent at the office were always better because of you.  And meetings were so much better because of you … with your undeniable verve, vigor and vitality!  And, of course …your spectacular sense of humor!  You brightened the moments for so many of us with your knack for telling a story and your capacity to find the blessing in the darkest moments.  Your light could not to be denied … only treasured.  And it was …

And we built our vision boards. And we pursued more of our dreams. And then, so many of our passionate pursuits actually came true that they took us in different directions. And we no longer got to see each other every day.  But I want you to know, I carried all those memories in my heart.  And I still do.  I have always loved your light.

So … I want you to know, Kim, that I will never be the same …  because of you. I am forever altered because of your brilliant, bold and bright presence in my world.  I owe so much of my spiritual growth to the times we have shared as we dared ourselves to stretch into the next best expression of who we could be in the world.

And we are still growing.  And we still laugh when we see each other. Thank you for lighting up the path and sharing that most remarkable part of my journey with me. I am deeply, truly, and most very gratefully so much better because of you …

Love ya, K

 

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Because of You Marie … My Life is So Much Better!

friend therapy

Source unknown but deeply appreciated!

Only because of the hair color, I’m guessing that I must be the one on the right!   Although, there is no doubting that you can still rock a bikini!  You’d fill out the top better too! Not that you’ve ever worn a two piece on New Year’s Eve, in the hot tub under the dark, star filled skies while we sipped snow chilled Champagne from ice laden stemware at midnight … BUT … you certainly could if you ever wanted to.  It’s just that you’d risk more frostbite … when making snow angels … with more skin exposed.  See … you are smart that way.  By the time wise women (such as ourselves) have sensibly landed in their 50’s, they get clever enough not to expose too much bare flesh in Canadian winters on New Years Eve.  Just in case …

hot tub angels

Left to right: Marie’s Angel … Karen’s Angel

There is absolutely no doubt about it … New Years Eve has become so much better because of you!  As an introvert, there is nothing less appealing to me that being in a crowded room of tipsy people (that you may or may not know), tediously making small talk until the dreaded countdown to the celebratory smooching.  For me, it is infinitely more desirable to ring in the New Year snacking on scrumptious appetizers, laughing with close friends and reflecting thoughtfully, honestly, and philosophically upon the past year whilst revisiting your Five Annual Questions:

  1. Best buy … ?
  2. Best read … ?
  3. Greatest lesson learned … ?
  4. Greatest accomplishment … ?
  5. Hope for the New Year … ?

I love it that you write it all down so we can revisit the previous years as well.  So, yes, because of you Marie … January has become a far, far better month!  Well, April is better too.  And June through September.  So are October, November and December.  March and May have been brighter and lighter as well … but … February is for surely, absolutely and especially better.  Because of you, I have learned how to create and celebrate my Best Birthdays Ever!  With your loving nudges, my birthday has morphed into an annual ‘birthday week’ that includes a multitude of delights sprinkled liberally over those 168 beautiful hours.   Because of you, I’ve learned that it is not self-indulgent to plan your own magical, marvelous moments because:

“Loving yourself … does not mean being self-absorbed, it means welcoming yourself as the most honored guest in your own heart.”  (Margo Anand)

Thank you, my friend, for encouraging me to add some delicious kindling to my own internal flame on my birthday.  Because of you Marie … my birthdays are so much better.

And so is happy hour.  When shared with you, a splash of  Malbec, Chianti or Merlot tastes so much richer.  And, so are Sunday dinners.  Not that you cook them.  No … your hubby gets the ‘better because of you’ shout-out on that count!  Thank you Hutch for painstakingly preparing such scrumptious morsels while Marie and I are leisurely sipping something dry, full-bodied, and ruby-colored (with a nice nose and good legs) while waiting for the feast to unfold. Or, if it’s a scorching hot summer day, we’ll amuse ourselves with an icy margarita.  We’re flexible like that. But only if the tequila is top shelf.  Yes, dinners are definitely so much better because of you …

And, because of you and your card shark hubby … I have become a better loser. Not that I am competitive.  But, it truly is an important lesson in life … learning to lose graciously.  And … I do pretty well, except maybe for the rare and very uncharacteristic ‘f- bomb’ that has been dropped on odd occasion while playing Hearts. I don’t think that makes me a sore loser, does it??   It’s just that I truly think a ‘W’  suits the shape of my face better than an ‘L’.  The ‘L’ has a tendency to pull my smile down lower at the corners.  Not that I am competitive …

I am also so much healthier because of you Marie!  With all of our walking, running and hiking … we’ve logged many a kilometer together and have reached some magnificent vistas as a result. Our time in the outdoors soaking in the gifts of nature has definitely nourished my body, spirit and mind!  And … it would never have happened without you.  Never. Ever.  So thank you for taking me to places I never would have ventured on my own …

Hiking

And it’s not all just about geography.   We’ve covered all kinds of emotional ground too  while we soak up the sunshine, or trudge through the snow, or cast our gaze over the glorious rocky ledges on a mountain trail –  all the while, chatting deeply, honestly and authentically!  We’ve charted the highs and lows of our hearts … and … because I feel safe enough to be vulnerable with you, I’ve been able to sort through and re-write so many of the chapters in my own story that have left me feeling defeated and alone.

Somehow, you are able to see the pain in my eyes when most believe the smile on my face.  Your compassionate sensitivity and loyal support make me feel so much less alone in the world.  I treasure our time together. Thank you for letting me lean in when I’m feeling stuck and helping me find a chuckle when I’m feeling blue.  Because of your loving spirit … my heart beats stronger and it’s easier to be the heroine in my story rather than a victim of it.

There we are again … that’s you on the left. Even if the hair color didn’t give it away, I can always count on you to be there when I’m down.

Because of you Marie …  my joys are juicier, my days are brighter, my laughter more frequent and my sadness is less weighty because it is shared.  I love, cherish and treasure the depth of our friendship.  I just can’t imagine my life without you.  I truly am am so much better because of you …

With pure love and deepest heart hugs … K 🙂

P.S. Thanks for picking me up for yoga this morning … yoga is better because of you too!