Not All Anniversaries

Jolted awake, I grasped my husband’s chest with a hug that cried, “I’m scared!” Frozen in fear I had difficulty interpreting the sudden alarm. My body was reacting to past trauma, but this time stress wasn’t the trigger (my life is much better now compared to a year ago). It had to be something else: it was memory. 

A year ago my body had reached its boiling point and collapsed. Relentless to release culminated stress, I found myself in a panic. Uncontrollable tears, depraved appetite, and what food I could swallow was quickly rejected. Sleep was only a dream. My body renounced life’s essentials. Of course, I hid this torment as best as I could behind the perfect disguise, a smile. But behind closed doors my body revolted & shook like an overworked machine – sparks, smoke and rattling parts grinding against each other. “Listen! Enough is enough!” I lost all control to ‘hold it together.’ For someone with a strong sense of pride, feeling completely out of control was frightening. I was going down and crashing was the only option.

An anniversary is an occasion for celebration. This anniversary is a different one. It marks my surrender. Although today looks very different than a year ago, my mind and body occasionally respond to the past. But I am more frequently met with support and health, and within time I’m replacing fear with trust. I’ll toast this anniversary knowing that like everything of value in this life, it’s a journey branded with both struggle and joy. 


“What is good in any painful experience is, for the sufferer, his submission to the will of God, and, for the spectators, the compassion aroused and the acts of mercy to which it leads.” C.S. Lewis



Revived Curiosity

Unbeknownst to me, I found myself searching for all that makes me Me. I realized this interest came to me after spending time at my childhood home. Unlike my current city, my childhood neighbourhood bears a rich catalogue of memories that are uniquely mine. Each block of pavement a playground: directly to the left of my home we sat on the pavement collecting and trading stickers. The scratch and sniff were the most sought after ones (my favourite the buttery popcorn one). Just a few houses away, my best friend’s house – a place of adventure where science and math were put to the test. Sliding down the staircase at record speeds in a cardboard box and crashing into a barricade of couch cushions. 

A five minute walk away was the community pool. A place of endless hours of summer fun. I’ll never forget the day the whistle blew, “Everyone out of the pool!” A summer rain shower was on its way. Gathering our things we began our walk home. Half-naked in our swimsuits and sandals with our towels draped over one shoulder we found ourselves caught in one of the most magical storms. Nature opened its window with an invitation to experience its splendour through and through. The pavement was steaming hot and gave off a smell of earthworms. Our walk home turned into a dance. Joining the rush of pitter patter, our bodies moved to and fro. Our feet moved in unison with the bursting droplets. Opening our mouths and stretching out our tongues we tasted its wet drink one drop at a time. We lifted our heads in surrender to its artistry. With shuttering lashes we watched the droplets descend upon us. A vision of heaven. A symphony of senses. A magical moment. Washing, cooling and massaging our summer skin. 

A childhood memory so vivid and consuming. A memory that revived my adult curiosity. In a search for ‘Me’ I discovered that nature has not stopped handing out invites to experience childlike magic. The next time nature catches your attention, let the glance become a gaze. Let the background become the backdrop. Take a seat. Prepare your senses. The play is for you. 


“God’s glory is on tour in the skies, God-craft on exhibit across the horizon. Madame Day holds classes every morning, Professor Night lectures each evening.
Their words aren’t heard, their voices aren’t recorded, But their silence fills the earth: unspoken truth is spoken everywhere.” Psalm 19:1-4 MSG



Love Came To Me

I may have been seventeen years old when I held an under-nourished baby. Seated by a large glass window in a rocking chair in the corner of the room, a very small baby boy was placed in my arms. My heart instantly invited him in. I peered down at his tiny hands, thin arms and gaunt but lively face. Joy overwhelmed me. Life was placed in my arms. We locked eyes and immediately it felt like we were the only ones in the room. As I cradled this tiny baby boy, I whispered prayers to God. “Thank you for this precious little boy. Protect him from harm and watch over him. Amen.”

We rocked back and forth, and time stood still. I became love, care and protection for him – a gift given to his parents yet placed in my arms for a short time. What may have come natural for me at seventeen years old was not as natural for his parents. Poverty and a deficit in parenting skill is what led this baby boy to my arms. While I cared for him, Mom and Dad attended a required parenting skill class. 

Many years have past since holding the tiny baby boy. Although his name has left my memory, the deep love and desire for him to live a safe and happy life has not. 

Love came to me that day wrapped in a blanket. 

Curious as to why this memory surfaced after so many years, I allowed time and space to reveal its meaning.  

Days later it came to me: Cradling a tiny baby boy at a volunteer program was possibly the first time in my life where I felt a deep connection to my life’s calling. It was a seed inside me that started to bloom, framing my core beliefs about humanity – to understand that life is difficult and complex, so suspend judgment and give comfort and care to anyone in need. For this is the love all of us desire – the one that is free from judgment, attentive to all needs and requests nothing in return but simply finds sheer joy in us. It’s a love found in God and experienced through the kindness and generosity of others who truly see us as we are.


“Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the LORD; “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.” Psalm 12:5 ESV

The Great Cover Up

A flash of light breaks through the clouds of clamour, followed by faint sound – sparking a subtle interest in me.

Dull to most noise, I decide to lend an ear.

Wordless in nature and often ignored, I’m urged to lean in and let go.

A rumble runs its course from stomach, to head, to heart, turning noise into emotion.

Wanting to silence the uproar, I cannot.

I decide I must be-friend the emotion.

Uncertain, even fearful, feelings I’ve held hostage rise like fizzy bubbles, popping as they climb to the surface.

Lament, anger and unresolve simultaneously race to the surface, making it difficult to bear.

Innocent longings are drench in disappointment: What is now grieves what was not. 

Former desires brave heartbreak with hopeful tears that not all is lost.

Healing is having the courage to wade in the muddy waters of the uncomfortable until the waters run clear.


Whatever You Want

My life is far from perfect but it’s pretty good. I’ve felt shame and the feeling of being trapped before, but nothing prepared me for what I was about to hear from a stranger.

It was late evening on a Saturday night. We were dressed to impress and ready to party. Birthday celebrations were in order: upscale Indian food, a crowded bar filled with other party-goers, and a small dance floor in front of a live band. We reminisced over dinner and later took our kitchen dance moves to a whole new level on an actual dance floor. With busy adult lives, we made sure to soak in every moment. 

As the evening came to a close, our bellies were full and sore from laughter, and we took to the streets of the “big city” for our final walk to our cars. The moon was bright and just shy of being full – perfect conditions for impromptu side-walk conversations along the way. 

As we approached our parked car we were stopped at one of the many busy intersections. A man sitting on the ground slouched against a concrete block, un-showered and holding a beverage of sorts, started up a conversation with my friends: “Do you have money for a smoke? Any spare change? Can I do something for you so you’ll have more time for you’re lady? Anything?” They bantered back and forth for a bit, but what came out of this man’s mouth next hit the deepest cord in my consciousness. 

“I’ll be your slave. I’ll do whatever you want for 5 dollars.” 

Unable to express my shock and sorrow, I swallowed my sadness in that moment.

In a free country where we have the privilege to an education, health care, social services and work opportunities, this man identified himself as a slave, willing to do ‘whatever’ for 5 bucks. Even if it was addiction talking, no human being should feel that he or she is worthless – a slave to another. 

This man did not see himself as an equal to my friend. He viewed himself as less than human. Worthless. To be used. Overcome with the need to numb his pain, addiction was traded for any sense of his self-worth. His worthlessness, I’m sure, wasn’t something that just happened overnight. One negative thought, one broken moral promise and one more line he swore he would never cross, until he’d do ‘anything’ for 5 dollars. 

My belly was full and my heart was happy, but the world isn’t all about my satisfaction. God directed my attention to a man who felt worthless. A man that I shared my humanity with. A man that I did nothing to help, other than empathize with and pray for. A man that reminded me that I am his equal and I too have felt the way he has felt (to some degree)…

My experience was not unlike what a wise man who spent his last years walking the same streets I walked that night, “…that only by entering into communion with human suffering can relief be found.” – Henri Nouwen 


“The rich and the poor shake hands as equals – God made them both!” Proverbs 22:2 MSG

“You’re Fine.”

“You’re fine!”

As red spots appeared all over my skin I replied with, “No, I’m  not! This happens every night.”

“Look, it’s going to get better!”

I stood there, unable to convince my audience that it’s not a matter of attitude but a medical reality. As the red spots rapidly raised my skin into amass of hives, I felt defeated on two accounts: first, the hives are taking over. Second, being misunderstood and muted.

“You’re fine!” is a response I’ve heard far too many times in my life. To my uneasiness, I always reply with, “I’m fine! It’s okay!” all the while knowing that it is not what I genuinely feel or think. I get it, “You’re fine!” is supposed to snap you out of negative thinking and, in a weird way, encourage you. Heck, I’m just as guilty of using “You’re fine!” as a dose of medicine to the worried. What else can you say?

It’s only recent that I realized how ignorant, “You’re fine!” can feel. Through personal reflection I’ve discovered that when I hear, “You’re fine!” what I really hear is, “Ignore your gut-response, stuff your emotions in a tickle-trunk and don’t speak of it anymore.” I’m cautiously navigating through the years of socially-appropriate agreement, “Yes, I’m fine!” by asking myself, “Am I truly fine?” 

I’m doing this by learning to trust the gut-response. It’s the “Wait! Something isn’t right here!” kind of sensation. I have the right to feel angry, upset, sad, disappointed, and so on. The gut-response initializes action in one of three ways: ignore, react or plan. Ignore is the ‘I’m fine!’ pill you swallow. React is impulsive and seeks immediate gratification, usually in the form of vengeance or wallowing. Plan is I will feel and I will decide.

The next time I hear, “You’re fine!” I won’t be quick to glaze over my feelings or the feelings of others. I will get better at listening and simply ‘being-present.’ I will ask, “What is needed?” and “What is the best way to move forward?” 

There’s no pretending “I’m fine!” when I’m covered head-to-toe with amass of ever-spreading hives. No matter how much positive self-talk or hearing the words, “You’re fine! It will get better!” A good cry and silent comfort from loved ones is the best medicine. I know someday I will be fine but pretending it’s fine right now is a lie and a revolt to what I’m genuinely feeling. I will feel and I will decide.


“let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;” James 1:19b



After a soupy late-August heatwave, the peaceful morning brought promise of a perfectly sunny day with a much desired breeze. Half-way through my morning walk with Winston (my furry friend), he paused to give a specific patch of grass a thorough sniff. My tendency most days is to tell him, “Come on! You’ve already sniffed every blade of grass in the neighbourhood. Let’s get on with it!” 

Learning to slow down is a constant discipline. This was one of those moments I was practicing pace and welcoming reflection. Paused by my friend with paws I detected something quite out of place. In a ripened sea of green grass I spotted a thin fleck of soft cream colour. At first I thought to myself, “Could this be a sign of fall?” Perplexed by the possibility that a lone cream-coloured leaf drifted so far from its mother tree was troubling. While my dog was busy sniffing around, I had to get a closer look. As I bent down, the ‘leaf’ twittered as if wind was blowing, though there was no other evidence of wind. Gripping to a blade of grass making subtle but very elegant movement, I discovered a beautifully delicate butterfly camouflaged as a leaf. 

I grinned with gratitude as I welcomed the hidden treasure. Hidden treasures are nature’s gift to us, and within them can be revealing truth. I have found more often that God uses these moments to teach me. 

As the pup and I continued on our walk, leaving behind the petite butterfly in a deep sea of green grass, I thought to myself, “Why would such an elegant insect disguise itself as a common leaf?” To this I quickly answered, “to avoid harm of course.” Sadly, hidden for fear of harm the petite butterfly also hides its beauty. 

At the end of our walk, I continued on with my day all the while pondering the significance of this early morning exchange with nature. Days later, it came to me: When out of my element, to the passer-by I am disguised to avoid harm. But to those who are willing to lean in and look closer, I reveal my true vulnerable self. They see me not as what I try to avoid but as who I truly am.


“If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.”  – Proverbs 29:18 MSG



Treasures Traded

I woke up sleepy but rested. It’s a fresh start. Although my day-to-day has seen only minor changes, I have a new perspective on life. The classic, perfectly-painted life now looks more like multidimensional abstract art.

Today, I’ve embraced my life as a perfectly messy art-form. It’s beautiful because it’s my journey. I’ve re-discovered the simple treasures I lost while trying to paint the perfect life. What a lie that is! And what an ongoing battle to fight! These treasures, hidden by my own blind eyes were always there. They beckoned me, but I ignored their voice. My body was too weathered with stress and those treasures were luxuries – not necessities. One more thing my burdened soul couldn’t balance. 

Today, I’ve humbly traded my classic art piece for time. It came at the cost of my pride and position, but essential for survival. Frantic mornings have turned into a soothing routine of gratitude. Tiny kisses on my nose coupled with a rapidly wagging tail, “Good morning! I must charge the morning by announcing this yard is mine and I’m awake!” A pressed and poured Americano in a hand-picked mug, each sip a memory from where the mug was purchased. A rooster mug from Portugal. A turtle mug from Aruba. A turquoise and white-striped mug – a gift from a special family. Time has allowed for reflection, and with it, knowledge. When life speeds up, my route must be reset. I pull off the speedway and make my way down a scenic road. The natural life – the green, gold and blues – seep into me, revitalizing my soul. 

Time is a choice of focus. Shifting focus, shifts time. 

Today, I woke up sleepy but rested. I gaze beyond the picture perfect life to fully appreciate the perfectly messy art-form – the place where time is stilled and treasures dwell.



Connecting Roots

The storm clouds have dissipated,

Cooled by the steady downpour of tears.

The thundering crashes and jolting bolts have refrained,

Hushed by vigilant discernment and practice.


A calm so bold and boisterous has settled in,

Stabilizing unassuming weather patterns.

With my feet securely planted in the soil,

I am in-touch with my roots.


My toes, arches and heels extend deep into the dirt, 

Connecting me to memory after memory after memory.


My toes wiggle playfully in the soil,

Jogging my memory of joyful times.

I smile. 


My heels dig deep into the dirt,

Uncovering the rocky hard-to-handle memories.

I tense up.


As my arches press firmly into the soil,

I watch the dirt spill over the tops of my feet.

The joyful and hard-to-handle are harmoniously bridged.


My feet: toes, arches and heels are grounded in the soil,

Connecting me to all that is me.

My roots: past, both fond and “rather forgotten” 

are the life-sustaining lessons needed for growth.


The storm clouds have dissipated.

My feet have sunk steadily into the warm wet earth, 

Fastening me with my roots, 

Preparing me for new growth.




Copyright: thesoulwhispersblog



I spoke in a calm tone. My face made its natural gestures. Like a stern teacher, her eyes squinted glaring right at me. She shook her head in disappointment as she spoke. “You’re smiling!” she said in disapproval. Confused, I asked her to clarify. I didn’t think I was smiling. This was my natural appearance. “I think you’re afraid to feel anger.”


I sat there shocked into very deep reflection and later walked away feeling frustrated for smiling. 

Was I afraid of anger? 

Chaos, yelling, screaming, closed-ears, tears, slamming doors and walking away from loved ones is how I see anger. To me, anger is the most unproductive way of handling a problem. This type of anger generates more problems and creates more of a disconnect between people. It is someone viciously trying to get his/her voice heard by someone not willing to hear them. Afraid of anger? I placed anger in the unproductive category long ago. 

Sure, I’ve felt anger. We all feel anger when we think we’ve been mistreated, over-looked or stressed out. My ‘kind’ of anger happens while I’m removed from what made me angry in the first place. It’s, “I can’t believe this happened. Why would anyone do that?” My ‘kind’ of anger is a civil conversation trying to re-iterate my reasoning in hopes to get the person to see something from my perspective. My ‘kind’ of anger is, ”Is this really worth getting angry over?”

Am I afraid of anger? Maybe. No one likes an angry person. Angry people are mean and hurtful and down right grumps. In my experience, angry people seem to be the ones with the most hurt. Anger is their fortress that keeps others from seeing their hurts. 

So how do I view anger as a normal emotion when my idea of anger is not so pretty? I like smiles and pretty things-not the ugly angry grumps. 

To me, anger is not a gentle feather emotion. It is a raging bear emotion. Anger is the ‘red flag’ emotion warning you that something is not right. Anger sounds its alarm when your dignity is trampled on, when you’ve been mistreated and when someone crosses a line. Anger is a motivator. It reminds me that I have rights, needs and worth. It’s a boarding call to move on. This ‘kind’ of anger I am not afraid of.

Anger is a warning sign for justice-not the seed you plant in your soul.