In Stillness

By Toni O’Keeffe

For most of my life there has been a steady flow of thoughts, ideas and words that trickle through my mind and pour into a well of inspiration that fuels me.
These past several weeks, the well has run dry.
Like the rest of the world my mind has become still.
I’m learning to embrace the stillness.
It’s in stillness beneath the earth and below calm waters that beautiful things are planted and take root.
It’s in stillness that our bodies, minds and souls are renewed.
It’s in stillness that the planet will heal.
Welcome the stillness, the solitary confinement, the peacefulness and calm.
Enjoy it knowing when we emerge beautiful things will bloom in us and in the world.
Until then, I will be still ~

Toni O’K~🌹❤️

Pandemic Laughter

March 30, 2020

By Toni O’Keeffe

I am amazed at how immature I have become during this global pandemic.
I’ve been spending my days eating snacks, playing dress up with my dog, laughing at a litany of silly dog videos, lounging in the same clothes for days, watching way too much TV, FaceTiming girlfriends and laughing about the most ridiculous things.
I’ve become the sloppy 12 year old kid I used to yell at to go clean “his” room on a Saturday afternoon.
Does this mean that I think this pandemic is a joke? Absolutely not.
On the inside, I have never been so scared for humanity.
On the days I have to go out without a mask, without gloves, without hand sanitizer to pick up medications and supplies for my mom, I’ve been scared. As I stand in ridiculously long (but very quiet) lineups, I’m worried someone is going to cough or sneeze on me, it’s all a bit surreal.

I’m grateful to those that go into the world to work every day putting themselves at risk so we can get groceries, medications and supplies. I’m equally thankful to the ones taking care of our most vulnerable citizens, including those taking care of my my Mom. And, my niece Shannon who’s taking care the children at her childcare centre and my neice Moira who is taking care of the employees on her construction site as their safety officer.

As I watch the news, my thoughts and heart are always with my colleagues, family and friends in the healthcare system that are working hard and diligently to get us through this. I’m scared for them and their families. I have silently prayed for their well being and wept for the fear I know they face every day.
For many of us, being silly and seeking out humour, even craving it, is a coping mechanism. It’s what we have to do.
A study done at Stanford university shows that humour is a more effective coping strategy than being solemn or sad. Projecting humor is healthier than cynicism, as cynicism can lead to depression and weakness or entire immune system.

To those that get offended by the silliness and nonsense showing up on your news feed, now is a good time to get over it and try to understand it.

To those craving humour right now, know that your desire to seek out the silly, the nonsensical or the hilarious during such a difficult time is normal and healthy for your mind, body and soul.

Laughter is like a lantern, it doesn’t eliminate the darkness, it gets us through it.
If we can find the light, the laughter, the love and the patience, during difficult times, we are heading in the right direction.

Big love ( and lots of laughter) to you all❤️🤪

Sorry we’re closed!

March 17, 2020

By Toni O’Keeffe

So here we are, living in times that resemble the script for a Hollywood blockbuster movie that no one ever dreamt could come to life. Tom Hanks even had a supporting role.

Mother Nature wants her planet back and perhaps Covid19 is a call-to-action from her to us.

As Covid19 slaps the “Sorry we’re closed” sign across the globe, and we lock down, shut down, self isolate and socially distance ourselves from one another, families are gathering around the kitchen table (some for the first time in awhile) to sort out, what’s next?

We’re being forced to rethinking how and where we live, learn, work, play and, how we take care of one another and the planet (which BTW is our only home).

Before Covid19 stormed onto the scene, humanity couldn’t get our environmental act together. Despite a huge global outcry to address climate change and poor environmental performance, very little has changed. So mother nature has stepped in to take over. World leaders could never have mobilized to bring the world together and clean up the way this virus has.

As factories, industry and businesses shut down and people stay off the roads, out of the sky, off the rails(no pun intended), off the seas, and toxins are removed from the air, we see blue skies emerging over parts of the world that haven’t seen blue sky for decades.

As people stay home, out of stadiums, arenas, bars, restaurants and retail outlets, we are consuming less, buying less and discarding less. While the pandemic is making human beings sick, it is giving the planet a chance to heal.

Although early behaviours of hoarding and price gouging surfaced, global citizens quickly reacted with outrage and pushed back. We are starting to take care of one another in ways that perhaps we don’t always do. We are checking in on our vulnerable family members, friends and neighbours. Families are reconnecting. Parents are off their work phones and playing with their children, and as we saw in Italy, Spain and Amsterdam, people are making beautiful music together.

During this crisis people are figuring out how to work and learn from home. Employers are becoming more flexible and retailers are rethinking their supply chains, especially international supply chains. Imagine how we could reduced our environmental footprint if we kept some of these practices in place after Covid19 moves on?

A post I read earlier this week talked about this being a time to pause and reset. I agree. This is a time for business, industry, governments, families and citizens to do things differently.

Unfortunately there has been loss of life resulting from Covid19 and my heart aches for those families. I know the anguish of that loss and its horrible. Others have lost income, work, time in the classroom, surgeries have been cancelled. It’s been hard.

There has also been beautiful acts of grace and a commitment to one another. The efforts of our healthcare system have been extraordinary.
Those involved in transporting goods and services, and those involved in our food chain supply are hero’s. There are teachers doing online tutorials for students while schools are closed. Arts, cultural and entertainment venues are streaming plays, performances and concerts for free to keep people occupied during this crisis.

These acts are positive signs that as a human race we have it in us to be kind, compassionate and loving to each other. At our core this is who we are. Somewhere along the path of human evolution in the busyness of being human, we lost our way, this is an opportunity to find ourselves again.

There is now a generation of children that are bearing witnessed to and will remember what happened during Covid19. As they grow into our worlds leaders, CEOs of large corporations, healthcare professionals, teachers and others, they will remember these days. They will develop practices and learning to mitigate events like this in the future. They will remember how problems were solved and solved quickly.

Maybe a pandemic was what the world needed, to slow us down, to bring us to our knee, to allow us to look at ourselves differently and evaluate how and where we live, learn, work, play and protect our planet.

Out of the darkness comes light.
And I believe there will be an explosion of light at the end of this pandemic. We’re already beginning to see it shine.
Toni O’K ~🌹❤️

Set yourself free~

By Toni O’Keeffe

March 8, 2020

I hope you can arrive at a place one day where you will forgive everyone that has ever caused you pain. That you stop plotting revenge and stop asking why things and people hurt you.
How people treat us is never about us, it’s almost always about them and their own pain.
It doesn’t matter what people have done to you in the past, it’s how you choose to embed the lessons they brought you in the present.
~ xo
Toni O’K~ 🌹❤️

Don’t wish your hard times away.

By Toni O’Keeffe

March 4, 2020

Don’t ever wish your hard times away.
All those wrong turns, bad choices,
failures and falls from grace, these things
weren’t wrong, bad or failures at all.
They were the stepping stones along a path that was meant just for you. A path that helped you grow stronger, wiser and led you closer to your purpose.
Celebrate and be grateful that you survived these things, forgive yourself, love yourself and move on.

Toni O’K~🌹❤️

When is it time!

How long do you wait before you stop the madness and chaos that surrounds you, and start to live and enjoy your life on your terms?

Do you wait until;

~ you have enough money?

~ you retire?

~ your kids are out of the house?

~ you find somebody to share your life with?

~ you leave the person you currently share your life with?

~ you have a bigger house?

~ you have a smaller house?

~ you lose the weight?

~ you’re no longer afraid?

Maybe the time is now.

Maybe it’s time to stop waiting, planning, organizing, saving, hustling, talking and start doing.

Most often life does not go according to the plans we make. Tomorrow is not promised to any of us.

There are so many roads to travel, paths to explore, adventures to be had, places to discover and so many interesting, amazing, beautiful people to spend time with and love.

It’s crazy, that we wait until we’re sometimes 60, 65, 70 or 75 before we unchain ourselves and start living the way we’ve always dreamt of living.

Maybe its time to set yourself free, start doing and going and BEING now.

Yes, maybe it’s Time.

What if it was a blessing?

What if, that horrible thing you went through

was a blessing, a lesson designed to give you,

strength and an awareness of that type of pain?

So you’re prepared to hold up others when they meet this pain on their path. Just as others met you.

🌹❤️

Spend time ALONE and love the ONE you’re with.

by Toni O’Keeffe

The past five years of my life has been a period of reflection. I’m grateful for the gift of this reflection and for the blessing of the alone time that came with it.

Growing up in a large Irish/French-Canadian family full of happy noise and our own brand of chaos, which included; 14 hands rummaging through the sock box looking for a match, one bathroom where it was not uncommon to have three in the tub, one on the pot, Dad shaving over the sink while one of us brushed our teeth as mom hollered “you’re going to be late.” (I sometimes felt those words were her default cry, as chances were, “someone was always going to be late.” I became use to the familiar buzz of family noise and it was comforting. It was what I knew and it was a constant companion for most of my life.

When I left home I moved exactly half-a-block away into my aunt Jeanne’s house. My 6 year old brother Chris pulled most of my belongings in his wagon as I dragged my dresser up the street and my two little sisters Jacquie and Jeanette lugged the rest of my stuff up the road to where I would now reside.

My new residence was always buzzing with the movement of aunts, uncles, cousins, people, pets, my younger siblings and friends constantly coming and going.

From there I moved into an apartment with the man who became my husband and the father of my two sons. Life continued to be a chaotic swirl as I grew my own family, worked full time, went back to school, moved several times and still stayed closely anchored to the roots and busyness of my immediate family.

As my boys grew, and my first marriage ended, life continued to be a beautiful hectic blend of community service, career responsibilities, cubs and scouts, baseball, soccer games, swimming lessons, ski trips, camping adventures, birthday parties, sleep overs, trips to the emergency room for stitches, ear infections, broken bones, things stuck up little noses, strains and enlarged tonsils. Never a quiet or lonely moment. And, I loved it.

When the boys left home my new partner and I still led a busy life with our jobs, trips, entertaining, my sons coming and going and attending events related to the various community organizations I was involved in.

Then it all changed. The happy noise of my life became quiet. My son Ryan passed away at the age of 30. My partner of 16 years decided he was “done” and we parted ways. My youngest son was settling into his adult life and I retired from a long and successful career, leaving behind the social structure, community service and workplace friendships that were tied to my identity and a big part of my life.

A deafening silence settled over my world.

What the hell had just happened. 55 years had just zipped by.

Now alone in my new home with my grief, two little dogs as my primary companions, and no outside commitments, I began to assess, question and ponder my life. What was the purpose of any of it? I looked in the mirror and saw an older version of a person I thought I knew. Yet I didn’t know her at all.

A loneliness I had never experienced began to creep in. I had always been an upbeat positive optimistic person despite the painful parts of my journey. So, how did I land here, feeling lonely, lost and pushed off my perch?

I knew I had to fill the void. I considered part time work, joining clubs or volunteering as I had lots of experience and talent to offer. However, something held me back.

I missed the noise, my children, being a mom, a wife, a leader, I missed the busyness, the commitments, the responsibilities and the community service, or, did I?

I was lost.

After years of being many things and wearing many hats, here I sat not knowing who I was at all.

I started taking long walks to figure myself out. I thought about the son I had lost and played “what if” scenarios over and over in my head.

I found myself wandering into the forest or along the ocean. Retreating into the lap of nature brought me great comfort. I analyzed my relationships, all of them, to try and figure out what was wrong “with me” and understand how I had arrived at this place.

I also began to journal which was something I had done off and on over the years. I wrote down everything and began to pose questions to myself. And to my surprise, the answers came.

I began to realize that this aloneness was a gift of time, time to take a break, take a breath and pause before I stepped into the next phase of my life. This alone time was my chance to forgive and heal myself, to course correct, to reflect on and own my past behaviour, challenge my beliefs and chart a new path forward. A time to walk in nature and listen to my inner voice, the gentle voice I had not listened to for years. I had shut her out, listening instead to external voices, opinions, beliefs and the noise of others.

I recall hearing this inner voice when I was a child. “She” had provided me with inspiration, encouragement and wisdom. She had always been with me when I was playing or creating. Then, somewhere in my teenage years I stopped listening to her comforting, wise and loving words. “She” is my spirit, my soul, always childlike, ready to play, kind, compassionate and true to herself and always there to guide me.

It was in silence and in my aloneness that I met her again and I started to remember who I was and what this life journey is about.

This kind and loving voice kept me from jumping back into busy, noisy things because she knew exactly where she was guiding me. And, her timing was perfect.

She reminded me to be thoughtful in how I engage with the rest of the world, to make time to exercise my gifts. She helped me understand that we have to forgive, heal and love ourselves before we can forgive, heal and love others. In this alone time I committed to being careful with who I give my heart to and to embrace the magic, the starlight, the forest, the rainy days and each moment of the life I have been given.

I will continue to listen to the voice of that sweet spirit that continues to whisper in my ear. I don’t know exactly where she will guide me next. But I am going to trust that whatever comes, is meant for me and is meant to be.

Listen to the voice that calls you from within. It will guide you. No matter where your road leads, take time to listen, to forgive, to heal and to spend time alone and love the one you’re with❤️

(c) January 30, 2020

Toni O’Keeffe 🌹❤️

PAUSE

Pause.

Close your eyes.

Take in three slow, deep breaths.

As you breath in, inhale the belief that you are worthy of love, happiness, healing and all good things.

Accept that your hopes and dreams will come true.

Allow the essence of this belief to seep into every fibre, every thought and every corner of your mind, body and soul.

As you release your breath, exhale all doubt, regret, shame or judgement that has found its way into your psyche.

Let go of the words, opinions and lack of confidence others might have planted in you.

You are a beautiful masterpiece under construction. You have barely begun to tap into your potential.

Every once and awhile, PAUSE and remember what an absolute miracle you are.

Now, go out and have exactly the kind of day, week, month, year, life you want to live.

Toni O’K~🌹❤️

You will rise

Not everything or everyone, that comes into our lives is meant to stay.

Some things, some people, come to challenge us, others to inspire us and some to teach us.

When they leave, let them go.

Trust that this experience was only meant

to last a little while.

Something better is on the way.

Whatever or whoever it was,

was not meant for you.

This was only a lesson,

and you survived.

Your heart will heal

and you will rise.

Toni O’K~🌹❤️