June 17, 2013 § 1 Comment
At first, the words wouldn’t come. Blue eyes were staring back at me expectantly. A lump formed in my throat. My bottom lip began to tremble. My eyes welled with tears. I wanted to look away, but I didn’t. This was too important. The blue eyes still looking at me, also red and brimming with tears. So long as I was there, they weren’t going anywhere. Try again.
“I…” I faltered and broke down once more. But with renewed courage I tried again.
“I love you.” I stumbled on the words at the end, but at least this time it was out!
I did it again. And again. And again. Until the words were loud and clear and resounding from a place inside of me I do my best to ignore. If I could’ve hugged the figure in the mirror, what an embrace it would have been. As it was, we stared back at one another, each with a grateful smile curling on our lips. I picked up a hand towel and dried her tears.
“I love you. I see you.” She smiled back. We’ve made contact.
“If you don’t love yourself, you can’t love anybody else.”
– Jennifer Lopez
People around me are falling in love. And I’m paying attention. A colleague recently shared a scrapbook she made for her partner – full of words of love, affection and celebration. I flipped each page, looking at the photos, the mementos, the laughing eyes and faces brimmed with happiness.
“This is beautiful!” I said as I handed the scrapbook back to her.
Inside I thought, “Is this what people in love look like?” I’ve known this girl for a long time. I’ve never seen her eyes dance like this before. I think it must be.
My best friend and I have joined forces with another of our friends to complete a book study of Calling In The One by Katherine Woodward Thomas. 7 weeks of exercises and contemplation. At the centre of just about every exercise… you (me). The book is about learning to love yourself, because as J Lo pointed out, true love isn’t possible until we first love ourselves.
I met a man once in the midst of a messy marriage. As I listened to his story, all I could feel were the pain behind his words. A woman he shouldn’t have married, a house that wasn’t creating a space of love for either of them or their children. As we talked, I found myself relating to his pain. Not his situation, but the feeling behind the situation. As he told his story, I could see the parts in mine where I could take the initiative to turn all that around. Most of his story was about learning to stand up for himself and step into his light rather than skulking in his shadows.
I’ve done a great deal of work on my self-image and self-esteem, but I went deeper. I got right down next to the me that was still hurting and I watched what made her cower, made her hide, made her afraid to show her beautiful face. Anything I do that makes her feel like less of a person, I stop. Now we manage our eating habits, our spending habits, our relationships and our thoughts with much more awareness and intention. Because when I slip up, she hides.
I slip up when I’m not listening to her. She knows exactly what she wants, what she needs.
Last night as I lay in my bed, it dawned on me that I could give her what she wants.
“I love you, Wendy,” I whispered into the darkness.
This morning I woke up, all warm and snuggled in my blankets.
“I love you, Wendy.”
And then I had the brilliant idea that I should look myself in the eyes while I said it.
I trudged upstairs, hair a mess, bits of eyeliner still lining my eyes from what I didn’t wash off the night before. I looked myself in the mirror and I wouldn’t budge until I was able to say something to myself that I’ve been longing to hear.
Eyes brimming with tears, lips trembling, it took a few tries, but I did it.
“I love you, Wendy.”
February 27, 2012 § 4 Comments
Over the past few weeks, with St. Valentine’s Day being celebrated in February, people around the world have focused on love and how to express it.
For me, after being married for almost 26 years, I’ve come to know that love in a relationship is something that is nurtured by both people involved. It continues to evolve and you see it illustrated in different ways, physically, through gestures or words.
Does love extend beyond individuals to larger groups of people, to communities? Do people have a relationship with the place they live?
I think so. It gives me goose bumps every time I hear of someone performing a random act of kindness. It brings tears to my eyes when I see someone recognizing they can make a difference to those around them.
Jody Kettyle is someone who realized she could do her own part to make Grande Prairie a better place by focusing on the good news – which there is plenty of – that doesn’t make headlines.
She started the Kinder Gentle Side of Grande Prairie Facebook page:
It has 360 members as I write. I’ve included some of the entries below. But first, I thought I would share a bit of Jody’s story.
Like me, Jody has lived in Grande Prairie twice. My job as Manager of Marketing and Communications with the City involves promoting the municipality and the community. In her job as a delivery driver, she sees and hears of negative things that can and do happen anywhere. She wanted to create a forum for people to celebrate what’s good here.
“There are a lot of wonderful things that happen in this city, but unfortunately happy, good things don’t sell papers,” she told me. “I came home on my birthday and saw the wonderful greetings people had put on my Facebook wall, and I was feeling the love. I wanted to share that feeling with as many people as I could so I started the group on January 5th. Someone told me once to be the change I wanted to see. I have wanted to do something like this for a very long time. I am so happy to live in this city and even more so now that I feel the emphasis is definitely shifting to the more loving, caring side of humanity.”
Jody wishes there could be a good news channel staffed with reporters who circulate through the community looking for the wonderful things people are doing.
“I guess I am a bit of a dork and a dreamer but it won’t stop me from believing we should celebrate the good things,” she says.
Here are some recent posts I wanted to share:
Ruth Hamm (Post 1): I am amazed by the huge hearts of the people of Grande Prairie. Three of us from Grande Prairie leave for Uganda in 3 days to do some relief work in a village as well as work with street children in Kampala where 50% of the children live on the street.
Individuals that I do not even know have come through with huge hearts and generosity. Thank-you hardly seems adequate for how this project has been blessed by you. May you feel blessed in return.
Ruth Hamm (Post 2): Today as I was busy trying to settle my clients prior to leaving for Uganda for a few weeks, one of them called and asked me to come by his home for a bit. As I was preparing to leave after our chat he handed me 2 balls with the Canadian flag on them. He had gone to the Dollar Store to purchase them for the street kids I am going to work with in Kampala!! I just wanted to cry as I accepted them…this from a man who himself was homeless up until a few weeks ago.
Michelle Wurtz Dana Wall: A wonderful story. I went to the Co-op with my daughter and grabbed a few things. When I was standing in line, I realized I’d left my purse in the car. I asked the lady if I could leave my stuff there and she could ring in the next guy… no prob…When I got back with my purse the lady in front of me paid for my groceries for me!!! Wow!! All she said was “pay it forward”.
Jen Simons: I would just like to thank everyone who stepped up over the last couple of days to help out those affected by the cold snap. So many people have given up their own time to be out in the cold rescuing others with boosts and rides, not because they were obligated to, but out of the goodness of their hearts; I hope they know how appreciated they are.
Tracey Matchett Silliker: I go to Sun Capsule fitness and I went for a tan and left my gold necklace hanging in the tanning bed. I did not realize I had left it there until the next morning. The necklace means a lot to me as my hubby bought it for me for our 12th anniversary. I called them first thing and the lady said she didn’t see anything. So after dropping my son at school I went to the gym…. And after looking, it was in the desk taped to a paper with my name on it. Someone could have easily taken it but thankfully someone kind found it and did the right thing. I was almost in tears when they found it 🙂
Darlene M. Astle: I just want to shout out a big ‘Thank You’ to a fellow GP resident who came to my house yesterday to drop off a chopping block for firewood. My husband was out at the bank to get some cash to pay the guy but wasn’t back in time, so the nice guy gave it to me free of charge! It’s refreshing to know that there are still kind people around to help when you need it! :).
Patricia Colosimo-Andreeff: I have had a very rough 2011. Out of the blue, a yoga-instructor friend of mine invited me to her classes for free. Her friend offered me the same gift. OMG! Totally unexpected and right what I needed.
Janice Kretzer-Prysunka: Two nights ago my crazy golden retriever found an open gate and took off … The coldest night and he’s off by himself. We looked and looked, posted on Facebook and called the radio stations. Very kind people in my neighborhood recognized him and noticed he was loose. They watched as he found a dryer vent across from their house to warm up under and then they called him over (he came of course, he’s a retriever!) I was so relieved to get their call and thankful that someone noticed a serious situation and took action!
Vicki Vienneau: I would like to give props to DeAnne Conway-Podolchyk!! DeAnne offered to purchase a bed for a lady with cancer who is sleeping on an air mattress!!! We definitely need many more people like her in the world 🙂 She totally made someone’s day and is going to make a huge difference in that person’s life :).
Angie Kipke: A huge THANK YOU to my neighbour for snow plowing my driveway yesterday. I so appreciate it!
Meanwhile, this past Sunday evening, a gathering of 40 residents assembled for the first gpsoup event, an initiative that emanated from the City of Grande Prairie’s Love for Cities workshop. After a meal of soup and bread, participants voted on ideas for projects that were brought forward at the meeting.
The $10 collected from attendees at the inaugural event will go toward a bird house building project with kindergarten students (A total of $402.60).
The gpsoup (check out www.gpsoup.com, #gpsoup on twitter or http://www.facebook.com/groups/334373066581266/#!/gpsoup) concept is intended to be an ongoing initiative.
Congratulations to Heather Renner and Lloyd Piehl for taking the leadership to spearhead its development.
Perhaps they have adapted the famous John F. Kennedy quote for local purposes – they are doing for their community without asking what will be done for them.
January 18, 2010 § 8 Comments
Last fall, David asked me for my opinion and some ideas on a piece about pets. The library in Grande Prairie does a writing competition every year, and this year pets were the topics. I’ve always felt that pets are an important part of a person’s life for those of us that have them. They can bring us great joy, they can disarm even the most protected person, and we can learn so much from them.
It was my last at home (home being my mom’s place) over the holidays before heading back to Calgary. I had just returned home from Edmonton and there was a cute waggily tail waiting to greet me at the back door. I let Tetris into the back porch so we could properly greet one another without the discomforts of the cold outdoors. That waggily tail continued to wag, and as usual, Tetris was beside herself with joy to see me. She eventually calmed down and became the sweetest dog in the world (and no I’m not biased at all).
As I sat in the doorway petting her and scratching her belly, I noticed just how relaxed and at peace I was with her. It’s taken me a long time to become that way with other human beings, but with a pet it’s just so natural. I remembered a friend in Calgary mentioning once that she wished she could be as at home with herself with the rest of the world as she is when she’s hanging out with her four legged friend. What is it about a pet that can only bring out the best in us?
A dog operates from only one place. They don’t know how to lie or deceive, they are easily hurt, but trust again just as readily. They will always be home to greet you, even on the days you may have parted on a harsh word because they left a spot on your tie… or chewed up one of your favourite shoes. And yet, they remain a source of love and affection. That’s what being on the receiving end of unconditional love is like. Imagine if most people operated from the same plane. Where those you interact with are not a source of distrust or stress, but such an unfathomably endless well of joyful emotion, that you know no matter what you do, they love you anyway.
This is the lesson I learn and relearn from Tetris every time I’m back home. The ability to open myself up and accept her the way she is… holes in the backyard, mud on my jeans and everything… and allow her to accept me the way I am… messy apartment, laundry that’s never done… and everything. It is easier done with a dog, they don’t have the capacity to judge. But what if we refrained from judging one another as well? How much easier would it be? How much farther ahead would the world be because we trusted one another and weren’t scared to be who we are?