baby steps

Today’s affirmation:

Today I give with creativity.

I think I really need to stop being surprised by the Universe or be more open to the fact that each moment in everyday is an opportunity to choose to let Love in or not. Moment to moment either we Love or we don’t.

As I was leaving home for work this morning, I said very tongue in cheek and out loud, ok Universe, I need your help today. I really want to give creatively. You gotta help me out.

Just as I locked the gate and stepped into the street there was a taxi passing and the driver indicated that he was going my way. Getting in, took some manoeuvering, because I had my handbag, gym bag and travel mug. I hit snooze a few times this morning, which made me late so I had to have my morning smoothie to go.

The driver enquired about all the bags I had with me and if I went to a gym? I said yes and that was all the encouragement he needed. We talked the entire trip. He shared with me some of his history, that diabetes and hypertension runs in his family and he had major surgery a few years ago and because of that he had to leave his 8-4 job, change his lifestyle, start eating clean and exercising more. After getting in one mention about my own lifestyle change and green smoothie, I was content to listen with the murmured uh huhs here and there, learning and soaking up all he had to say.

As we approached the taxi stand, he said that he would drive down to my building since I had all those bags and the mug. I was so grateful, because I was late and getting dropped off at my building would shave off precious minutes. He then asked, why type of milk I used in my smoothie…just the opening I needed to expound about how I use yogurt instead of milk and it’s a very simple and customizable recipe that he should try.

He said to me, that “it’s good to share the good things with others”. I thought it was so poignant and true. Usually, I use my morning commute time to check email, reply to messages and read my daily inspirations, ignoring everyone and everything around me. Today, however, I never looked at my phone once. Instead, I thoroughly enjoyed this random yet insightful conversation about eating better and exercising a little more.

My one regret was that I didn’t get his name but that’s the way this morning was supposed to go. Of course I was happy to not have to walk the four blocks from the taxi stand to my building in high heels. I was extremely thrilled for the opportunity to share a bit about my green smoothie which I love so much. But it was only upon reflection about what happened this morning I understood that being present and open was the gift for today.

This 29-Gift journey is teaching me everyday, to stop and savour the moment. I have to be present to the present to recognize the opportunities to give and to be open to the gifts given to me. Of course all this wisdom came right after I snapped at friend who was only trying to compliment me last night. Sometimes, this journey can really feel like it’s a one step forward, two-steps back dance. But each baby step forward, gets me closer to the authentic me who is better equipped to deal with the eventual two steps back.

You are blocking Love when you don’t let people give to you. Open up and let it in. – Mastin Kipp, The Daily Love.

…and I will add to those words, the more Love you let in, the more Love you will have to give, especially when you enlist help from the Universe.

Today’s affirmation:

Today I give with joy.

My affirmation today, felt like a lie because joy was the last thing I was feeling. My lessons in forgiveness, are far from over. Since Saturday, I have had something weighing on my mind. I managed til now to convince myself that it wasnt that big of a deal. Boy was I wrong.

Have you ever had a phone call to make, but the more time passes, the easier it gets not to make it? You rationalise why you don’t have to make it, yet you feel guilty because the time that elapses only makes the situation worse? Damned if you do, damned if you don’t kind of business?

I had such a phone call to make. I had to call and apologize and ask for forgiveness. I was afraid to make the call and my inaction was frustrating me. If I am to live my truth and walk in light always, then I should be able to make this phone call. I should be able to feel the fear and do it anyway.

I truly felt ashamed that I wasnt able to deliver on a promise and I didn’t have the cojones to make amends. I was plagued by thoughts about what my friend must think of me now that I didn’t live up to expectations. How do I feel about myself? My integrity is now in question. What if my friend is so upset, she doesn’t even want to speak to me? And if she does hang-up on me, I deserved it didn’t I?

The more I tried not to think about it, the more I felt bad about it. I was beginning to feel like a fraud, here I am on this 29-Gift journey, trying to give of myself to others and I couldn’t even do this one thing. This thing that needed to be done. I finally picked up the phone tonight and dialed. No answer.

The coward in me rejoiced. Oh sweet relief! Now I can say, hey, I tried to call, but there was no answer. See, I made an effort, albeit a half-hearted one.

I managed to convince myself that this was ok…until I got home from work. As soon as I was alone with my thoughts, I decided I couldn’t come here and talk about light and love and there was this “love thing” I was avoiding doing. I simply had to Spartan-up and call again, whatever the consequences. Feeling bad about it and not doing anything, was not going to help me or my friend. So I called.

We spoke. Though she felt disappointed, she accepted my apology. I still feel terrible about the whole situation but I am very glad that I faced my ego and made the call. An apology is like a mirror. When it’s sincere, it is an admission to self that you are human, that you are flawed, you make mistakes, sometimes you disappoint people and yourself. Give yourself and the people in your life the permission to be human.

Today’s affirmation:

Today I simply give.

I got up today, filled with doubt. Doubts about this path and where I’m headed consumed me. I couldn’t even get creative about my affirmation. I didn’t mention before but there is one caveat for the 29 Days of giving which is, if you miss a day, you should start again from Day 1. By 4 p.m. I was feeling like I may have to start Day 1 again tomorrow. I had absolutely no clue about what the day’s gift was going to be. Starting over felt like a defeat somehow.

As I was wrapping up to leave the office, my friend Lucy invited my sister and I to join her for dinner. On the way to her spot, I thought to myself, how can I give a gift in this situation? But by the time I got there, I vowed to myself that today’s gift will happen naturally and that I should just enjoy the girl-time for what it was.

Lucy loves avocados as much as I do and so our dinner was going to be an avocado salad. Yes, my love affair with avocados continues. Below is a list of the ingredients we used for what turned out to be one of the yummiest salads I’ve ever had. It is light, easy to make and absolutely “customisable”

Avocado & Feta Salad

You will need:
2 ripe avocados
4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
3 tomatoes, chopped
2 green sweet peppers, diced into bite-sized pieces
2 apples, chopped
2 cilantro leaves, chopped
¼ cup chives, chopped
½ cup of crumbled feta
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 lime

For dressing:
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons olive oil


Directions:

Cut avocados in half and remove pits, dice and add to salad bowl.
Add lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro, sweet peppers and chives.
Toss and chill.

Combine all ingredients for dressing, whisk briskly.

When you’re ready to serve: top with apples, feta and walnuts.

Drizzle with dressing.

This made about 5 servings.

Salad Tip: Put some lime juice on the chopped apples, this will keep it from getting brown.

Today’s gift? I did the dishes and cleaned up after our dinner!

It’s amazing what sleep does for the body. After my visit to the home for the aged, I came home and slept for almost 6 hours straight. Got up for about an hour and then went right back to sleep. I woke up this morning refreshed and feeling much better than I have in ages. My body really needed some rest.

Today’s affirmation:

Today I give and forgive.

This theme has been recurring all around me for last few days or so. Forgiveness. Grief. Letting Go. Moving on.

Now, when I started this 29-day journey, I had hoped each day, the opportunity to give a gift would present itself naturally, that I’d just know in my heart and spirit what felt right as that day’s gift. Today, however, I am home, the TV is on. I have no idea what or how the opportunity for a gift will present itself. But today is a special day.

One of my god-son’s (I have 3) is celebrating his birthday. My friends all know how much I love birthdays. I think that our presence here on this earth is indeed a present and another year of life should be celebrated. God chose this time in our history to bless this earth with your story…it is a very big deal. So to not be able to celebrate this milestone with him (he’s now a whole hand) hurts on a level I cannot explain. You see his mother and I are no longer friends.

Now some may say this should not affect the child. And I agree. It does not affect the love I have for him. However, I do know that I can love him from afar. It was a difficult decision, one that was in the making over the course of two years. There comes a time though, when we have to take stock of our friendships and take back our power in love. Some friendships drag you down and drain your energy. We hold on anyway because of loyalty, I refuse to say love, because caring about someone is not about martyrdom. Let go we must, for our own growth. This is not an easy thing to do especially with friendships that span years and bonds that are sometimes stronger than family.

I knew how I chose to deal with today, would determine if I’m truly done with this friendship. I chose not to call or message. Instead I chose to light a candle, say a prayer and wish my god-son all the light and love I could. Forgiveness can only happen through grieving and letting go. I have forgiven my friend for not valuing our friendship. I had a lot of grief about how things went down. But I know today started the letting go process. I’m not going to judge her process. I’m going to let the past be the past. We both have some growing to do and I will only do what I can with what I can control. How I react to things.

One day I hope I will have the chance to explain to my godson why I chose to deal with this the way I did. I pray that he understands and forgives me.

Today’s affirmation:

Today I give with love

As a child, I would visit local nursing homes with my church choir around Christmas time. We’d go sing carols and bring gifts and while I was happy being a part of the choir. I never really understood why and how people could make the decision to leave a loved one in the care of strangers. Back then, it was something to do. I havent visited an old aged home in at least 20 years. My office, sent out a request this week, for volunteers to visit one in San Fernando. I immediately said yes.

Somehow, visiting as an adult was different. During the intervening years between singing Christmas carols with the church group and now, I’ve had personal experiences with death and of course my own aging, but today felt so different. There was a compassion, I never felt before.

The St Vincent De Paul Home for the Aged San Fernando was founded in 1930, the foundation stone was laid by the Archbishop of Port of Spain on lands donated by Ste. Madeline Sugar Company Ltd. situated at the Corner of Ruth and Independence Avenues, San Fernando. The home currently has about fifty residents.

When we got there, I felt a little uncertain about what to expect. My experience with children’s homes has taught me that 1 visit can make me feel guilty. Guilt, because I know that the children crave love and attention and 1 visit is just that…So I wasnt sure that this experience wouldn’t cause the same feelings to arise. The residents of old aged homes, yearn for the same love and attention, more so at this time in their journey but unfortunately, at this age some people think they need it less.

We got there around 3:00 p.m. so that gave us about an hour since they have dinner at 4. I sat and I looked at a cricket match on the TV with 3 of the male residents for a while. West Indies are playing New Zealand. New Zealand is batting. I didn’t think words were necessary. Men and sports, no matter the age, they are loud and they know everything about what’s going on.

Then it seemed the residents were all moving towards the dining room for dinner. So I sat at a table with the owner of the hand in my photo. Ms Rampersad is such a sweetheart. We got to talking, when I asked how old she was, she said it’s been so long she couldn’t remember. The matron told me she is 97.

The oldest resident will be 100 in December. Margaret Mitchell was born on 21st December, 1912. Her only complaint is that she couldn’t hear very well. She doesn’t have any kids. Her advice, “work hard and don’t depend on no man for anything.”

The daughter of one resident was visiting her mother while we were there and her mother insisted she wanted to go home. That had me a little emotional. I miss my own mother so much. It will be 2 yrs on August 7 that she has moved on and I miss her everyday.

There were some truly funny moments and some awe-inspiring ones. I feel guilt, because I’m not sure when I’ll be back and even when I do return…who will still be there? I feel compassion for the residents who are there and for the loved ones who had to make the decision to leave them there. Good care at this delicate time in the lives of these residents is paramount and caregivers are often take for granted. Yes they are paid staff, but how many people remember them in their prayers? I feel happy that despite the rain today, I made the journey. I feel relieved that my mother never had to go through that experience. Down to the end, a cousin of mine tried to convince me that maybe we should consider a hospice. I would have died before that happened. My sister and I took care of her instead.

Today’s gift is time. 45 mins spent with the residents of the St Vincent De Paul Home for the Aged. The residents and I have that in common, the gift that is time. I chose to share mine with them today. For me, it is priceless.