But for the Love

“Unless you know how to love your neighbor, you cannot love God. Before placing an offering on the altar of God, you have to reconcile with your neighbor, because reconciling with your neighbor is to reconcile with God. You can only touch God through his creatures; you will not understand what is true love, the love of God, unless you practice the love of humanity.” ~Thich Nhat Hahn, Zen master, poet and peace activist, Taming the Tiger Within

Recently, I had the honor of becoming friends with Chase Gagnon through a poetry group we’re apart of on Facebook. To say it simply, his words move my soul. Today, I have the privilege to share the power of his poetry, photography and storytelling! Enjoy.

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“I was walking into Zeff’s on the corner of Russell and Winder for lunch when I saw him sitting against the wall. The same tattered old man who’s always roaming around Eastern Market through the snow and freezing rain asking strangers for money, the guy who you can see digging through dumpsters and trash cans looking for scraps of food.

I never have anything to give him, and he knows this by now. But it’s the day after Christmas, and I just hit it big off a dollar scratcher. Won thirty five bucks. He puts his head down as I approach, shielding his face from the wind. “Hey man, you want some lunch?” His eyes lit up “you serious fam? I’m hungry as a motherfucker!

I said “hell yeah!” motioning him with my head to get up off the cold ground. We walked into the filthy dive and sat at the bar, each ordered a couple coney dogs and some chilly fries with a hot cup of coffee.”

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“We sat and talked about basketball, how insane Andre Drummond played last night as highlights from the game flashed across the fuzzy TV screen above the counter. Laughed at how stupid our fellow Americans were for electing Donald Trump, and then talked a little bit about how goddamn cold it’s been this past week.

I saw his eyes ice over when he thought about the weather outside, gazing back out into the filthy streets where he sleeps while he sipped his piping hot coffee, both bare hands gripping the mug for warmth. “You know, I can’t remember the last time someone treated me like a human.”

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how bitter
its silence —
gently falling snow

~Chase Gagnon

*photos, poetry, and storytelling by Chase Gagnon

Unearthing Bones

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Unearthing bones 

That were buried

In silence

By the ignorance

Of cold, distant minds

Through darkness

The wind rattles

Between  gaps

Of light

Where the heart

Begins to beat

Flesh to life

The sacred dance

Of true love.

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2016

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Embers to Ash

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Embers to ash

Fragrance

Of a mindful life

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2016

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Meaning
Being Your Own Voice of Reason

by Madisyn Taylor

How we attach meaning to events in our lives has a large influence on the quality of our life.

The meaning we assign to our experiences–whether pleasant or distressing, is a very powerful factor in determining the quality of our lives. What we imagine events to mean will color the way we feel about ourselves, about the people in our lives, and about the world at large. If we want to encourage a positive outlook, well-being, and a sense of self-confidence and even trust in the universe, we can begin by assigning more peaceful, loving meanings to what we experience.

Imagine, for example, that a friend fails to show up to a lunch date. You have choices as to what you will make this experience mean for you. You could allow being “stood up” to reinforce your feelings of unworthiness, you could begin to mentally attack your friend’s character, or you could assume that something big must have happened to cause them to miss the date–then, you might open yourself up to enjoying some relaxing time alone.

If you were recently laid off and are having difficulty finding a new job, consider that you might have hidden gifts or passions that were untapped in your regular career that you are now available to explore. The universe might simply be moving you in a more fulfilling direction. If you have recently lost a loved one, gained weight, lost money, or gotten in a fight with your partner, see if you can infuse the experience with meaning that feels loving and empowering and opens a door for you to embrace life and the world a bit more.

When we begin to bring consciousness to what we are making things mean, we may be shocked at the messages we have been feeding ourselves all these years. Try taking the reigns and begin assigning a kinder meaning to the events in your life and you will likely find yourself on a much more pleasant ride.

an excerpt taken from DailyOM  Meaning

a song by Akira Kosemura, Embers

For the Sake of True Love

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But for the sake

Of true love

I let go…

Of pride

Of fear

Of illusion

Misunderstandings

Like a wind

Blowing through 

The forest

In a sacred dance

Of leaves

I let go…

For the sake

Of true love

I let go…

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2016*

“Everyday we say or do things that might leave behind ‘internal formations’ in the person we love. Following that, then the suffering and pain grow, and the person we love turns into something like a bomb that might explode at any moment. A few words are all it takes to trigger anger in this person, who you are afraid to approach and who you are afraid to talk to because he or she has become a bomb loaded with too much suffering. When you try to get away from him or her, this person thinks you do so out of contempt and their suffering increases. You also have become a bomb, because you have lost the ability to speak the language of peace, of understanding. You have lost the ability to listen, and so all communication has become impossible.”  ~Thich Nhat Hahn, True Love

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Cultivating the energy of loving speech and deep listening is a daily practice that begins with ourselves. When we reach that point where we are no longer able to speak and listen with compassion either to ourselves or to another being then its time to pause and look deeply and to trust our heart to guide us. The practice of mindfulness can help us. Mindful breathing and walking. It can help us to come back to ourselves. Bringing our mind and body together in alignment. That happens because we take the time to be present with ourselves by connecting with our breath. Or if we are walking our concentration is on the step connecting with the Earth. This brings a sense of grounding to our being. A space of calm can open our hearts so that we can see ourselves again. Mindful breathing helps us to take care of our body, our painful emotions, and to become aware of our mind.  Sometimes we lose perspective and see ourselves as something apart…something separate. We become overloaded because we aren’t taking care of ourself. But, we don’t have to get caught up in the stories we tell ourselves. Instead, we can retrain ourselves to focus our attention. When looking at our views and perceptions we can find a way to let go of our conditioning, illusions and misunderstandings. We don’t have to do anything…we don’t have to try hard. Breathing happens naturally because we are alive. We just need to notice our breath. Coming back to our breath and reconnecting with our bodies and mind opens up a space for our heart to guide us back to safety…the island of mindfulness. Where we can reconnect to Life. To True Love.

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*this poem is dedicated to the monks and nuns, Wake Up staff from Plum Village and laypersons who guided us through the retreat “Happy Teachers Change the World” at EIAB during October 14th-23rd

A Flow of Wealth and Abundance

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The way sunlight leans

Through oak shadows in summer

Trust in the moment

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2016

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Have you ever wondered what life would be like if you allowed the fullness that you are flow into the areas that feel restricted? Plugging into your power to receive. Well, everyone of us has access to that possibility. It’s about what you believe in regards to wealth and abundance.

It’s easy to get stuck in beliefs that life will never get better, that people never change,or that history always repeats itself.  The thought, “It will always end up the same no matter what I do,” repeating like a broken record. When you hold onto beliefs like that, you might start to wonder, ‘Why try anything at all?’ A belief pattern of apathy begins becoming a life habit that is extremely hard to break through. It becomes something familiar. A safe place. A snail shell way of being…living.

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Half a lifetime

Lost in thought

Unhappiness

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2016

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The truth is when you focus your attention on the here and now, you give yourself permission to trust the moment. You begin to connect with your heart. You give yourself the gift of presence. You get back in touch with your true beauty. You begin to realize that there is always more available to you. Because you become one with your natural state. You begin to realize that you are enough, you have always been enough, and you will always be enough. You get in touch with your own inner sense of wealth and abundance. You can allow yourself to explore the relationship you have to lack and plenty through the acceptance of your own inner beauty. You will find the courage to let go what no longer serves you. What is no longer relevant or appropriate. You will find the power of awareness to gently and lovingly release what is ready to go in the present moment.

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Give yourself the gift of faith. Faith in yourself. Faith that is more powerful than fear. Give yourself the freedom to believe. Find that space in your heart that allows you to be vulnerable to shine the light of your soul. To be your true self. Your authentic self. Cultivate a relationship with your true beauty and find your inner voice. When you allow yourself to receive the wealth and abundance of who you are then it becomes something you give back to the universe. A river of love flowing into the ocean.

 

I Celebrate Myself

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I rejoice in the light of my own soul! I rejoice in remembering who I am! I rejoice in the essence of my being! I love being me! I celebrate who I am! I breathe it in and out like life itself! I am happy to be in my own skin! I wouldn’t ever want to be anyone else than who I am! I thank myself! I am kind to myself! I love who I am! I relax into myself! I allow myself freedom to be me! I am thankful to be me! I celebrate myself! I love myself so much! I enjoy being me, myself and I! I celebrate myself! I AM that I AM! I am glad that there is a ME in this world! I celebrate myself!

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”
― Dr. Seuss―

*photo from  http://www.pinterest.com/source/madlyglowing.tumblr.com/

Comforting Arm

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I started to learn about true love when I walked “El Camino de Santiago” in 2011. I didn’t understand then what the universe was showing me…though I felt it…and now it is a little clearer…thanks to what it means to be a mother, but at the same time a woman who is trying to be true to herself. I still have to soooo much to learn about love.

Lately, I have been reading a book by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, called Life Lessons. Maybe some of you can tell based on some of my latest posts. 🙂 Today I’d like to share a story she wrote that deeply affected me.

“Being there is everything in love, in life and in dying. Many years ago, I noticed an interesting phenomenon in a hospital. Many of the dying patients began to feel wonderful; not so much physically , but mentally. This wasn’t because of me, but because of the cleaning woman. Every time she walked into the room of one of my dying patients, something would happen. I would have given a million dollars to learn that woman’s secret.

One day I saw her in the hallway and said to her rather curtly, “What are you doing with my dying patients?”

“I’m only cleaning the rooms,” she replied defensively.

Determined to know how she was making people feel good, I followed her around. But I couldn’t figure out what special thing she was doing. After a few weeks of snooping around like this, she grabbed me and dragged me into a room behind the nurses’ station. She told me how, some time ago, one of her six children had become very ill one winter. In the middle of the night she took her three-year-old son to the emergency room, where she sat with him on her lap, desperately waiting hours for the physician to come But no one came, and she watched her little boy die of pneumonia, in her arms. She shared all this pain and agony without hate, without resentment, without anger, without negativity.

“Why are you telling me this?” I asked. “What has this to do with my dying patients?”

“Death is not a stranger to me anymore,” she replied. “He is like an old acquaintance. Sometimes when I walk into the rooms of your dying patients, they look so scared. I can’t help but walk over to them and touch them. I tell them I’ve seen death, and when it happens, they will be okay. And I just stay there with them. I may want to run, but I don’t. I try to be there for the other person. That is love.”

Unschooled in the ways of psychology and medicine, this woman knew one of the greatest secrets in life: love is being there, and caring.

Sometimes, due to circumstances beyond our control, we can’t be there physically. But that doesn’t mean we’re not connected in love.”

-Elisabeth Kubler-Ross-

*photo by David Peat,

http://birdsong217.tumblr.com/post/31627838428

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAtWleBjM2k