Saturday, January 30, 2010

For the Tool Kit

Dearest Readers,

From September 1995 to November 1996 I lived in Ireland. I've got lots of stories about that time, enough to fill a book (or five). I was in my early twenties and it was a great time of learning for me. (Never mind the Guinness.)

In the last 3 or 4 months of my time there I was living and working in Dublin. I managed to get hired at a Spanish restaurant in Temple Bar, which is now a tourist Mecca but in the mid-nineties was just becoming the new local hot spot. The restaurant was owned by a man who was as Irish as they come and yet all the staff, except me and the Kitchen Porter, were Spanish.

I was amazed to learn that there is a huge Spanish-speaking population in Dublin. Many young Spaniards move there to learn English. Many stay. At the time, many of them worked at La Paloma.

One of my co-workers was a man named Pedro. He was the only man among a bevy of big-breasted, small-hipped, full-lipped, gorgeous Spanish women. Pedro had a good sense of humour and I was always glad when we had a shift together. He used to make me laugh.

Pedro's English was pretty good, comparably (a lot of the gals only spoke a few words), and whenever Pedro would hear me say a word he didn't understand he would ask me to explain it and I would. He would then say, "Everyday a new word," and smile with gratitude.

Over the years, I've taken to adapting Pedro's mantra for myself. Whenever I learn something new, something I did not know before, I say, in a bad Spanish accent, "Every day a new word." I really mean "lesson", of course, but it just doesn't sound as good.

Yesterday, I had lunch with a friend and she shared two amazing new tools with me. They come at a perfect time in my life, when I am having to be extremely vigilant about time management.

The first tool is this: Do the hardest thing first.

My friend and I were talking about to-do lists and I shared how I will often do everything that doesn't really need doing first and then not have time for the thing that actually needs doing.

I'm familiar with "first things first" but "do the hardest thing first" gives it a whole new spin. And although doing the hardest thing first makes me feel slightly nauseous I know it's the key to time management.

The second thing my friend shared with me is this: Only Handle It Once. OHIO.

For example, if you click on an email, answer it right away; if you take your laundry out of the dryer, fold it and put it away; if you open a piece of mail, answer it now.

OHIO, too, brings up the nausea. But it's because I know I need it and I know it will work.

Despite my fear of change, I'm actually feeling very excited about being given these new tools. Both of them are not entirely new strategies in my world but to have them presented in such a succinct, new way feels revolutionary. I've already begun to practice both.

Every day a new word! (Or two.)

Inspiring Message of the Day: There is always something to learn. I can overcome my fear of change by practicing a new behaviour knowing it will build my confidence and improve my self-esteem.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Get Up Stand Up

Dearest Readers,

The other evening I went to see Night, a play by a theatre company called Human Cargo. It was created in Pond Inlet, Nunavut, and deals with the challenges facing the Inuit people in contemporary culture.

The star of the show, Abbie Ootova, was a great pleasure to watch. Not only is she a natural actor, she has that thing of which stars of made: pure charisma.

At the end of the play, Abbie's character, who has been through the ringer with the accidental death of her mother by her father's alcoholism and the suicide of her best friend, rises up with fists and shouts, with tremendous emotion, "Stand up Inuit people! Stand up Inuit youth! We have to be strong!"

Although I don't think the words are exactly right I think I've got the gist of what she said. The effect was deeply powerful. Though I enjoyed watching the play I had been unmoved up until this moment in the end when Abbie exploded with the power of her speech and spurt the tears came a-streamin'.

The call to stand up and be strong, though particularly important for those who have been downtrodden by dominant cultures, must be heeded by all of us in the face of our fear. We all must rise up and overcome that which holds us back. It is our Greatest Purpose.

There is great healing to be done in all of us. Together we can overcome the collective wounds of our past histories. Let us stand up and be strong!

Inspiring Message of the Day: I will rise up against my fear today. I will stand up and shout for my freedom from all that I am afraid of. I'm not alone!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Good Timing!

Dearest Readers,

In the middle of this past December, my parents sent me a gift package from their home in the US, which is about 2800 miles from where I live. A few days before the 25th, my mother asked if I'd received the parcel. I told her I hadn't. Christmas came and went. No package. We passed through mid-January, a month since the posting, and I still had not received their gift.

"Did you get a tracking number?" I asked my mother. She hadn't.

"Should I send you something else?" she asked me.

"It'll come," I assured her.

The day before yesterday I received a FINAL NOTICE slip for a parcel. (Don't you love it when you receive a FINAL NOTICE and you haven't ever received an initial one?) I sensed that this was the package from my parents.

Yesterday I went to the post office to pick up the parcel. Sure enough, it was from my folks. On the customs sticker in my mother's unique handwriting was written "one book".

When I got home I sliced open the box and unwrapped the silver Christmas paper. The book staring back at me? Wait for it: Decoding the Spiritual Messages of Everyday Life.

Now if you did not read yesterday's blog post, Eye See, please go and do so now. If you did, well, you might now be as amazed as I am.

Think of all the things that had to happen for me to get this particular book on the very same day of that particular post. It's absolutely fantastic!

Inspiring Message of the Day: Trust the Flow. Everything is happening exactly as it should. If we can remember this in times of great struggle we can actually relax and let go of trying to plan everything ourselves. The Higher Plan is always at work!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Eye See

Dearest Readers,

You know how clouds can sometimes take the shapes of earthly things? We've all seen the cloud that looks like an animal or an every day object. Yesterday I saw an eye.

This eye was so big, it took up so much room in the sky and it was so real-looking, with the pupil and the upper lid clearly defined, the first thought that came to me was, "That's the Eye of God."

It was about 8:45 a.m. and I was driving out of town to work at a colleague's studio. The sun was just beginning to rise above the mountains. The nearest clouds were lit from behind with yellow light and a strip of hot gold ran across the length of the distant peaks, illumining their snow-covered edges. It was a staggering sight to behold.

Then I noticed The Eye. It was dead straight ahead of me, the new morning light shining through its centre. I obviously had to watch the road but I couldn't take my own eyes off it. I felt it looking at me.

Have you seen Avatar? One of the lines that has stayed with me from the movie (paint-by-numbers story, stunning cinematic execution) is something the Na'vi, the big blue creatures who live as One with Nature, say to one another: "I see you."

This Eye in the Sky seemed to be saying just that. "I see you."

For me, believing in a benevolent, loving Force of the Universe is one thing. Believing that this Force knows me and supports me unconditionally is another. It's the difference between faith and trust.

The more I have practiced trusting the more I have been shown that I have reason to trust. It's that simple.

You might say, "It's just a cloud," but when one's prayer is, "Show me your Presence," it's fun to believe that a big giant eye shining in the sky is the answer.

Inspiring Message of the Day: When we keep our eyes and our ears open to the spiritual messages, an everyday object can become a Power symbol, which can then serve as a reminder of Higher Guidance.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Brevity is the Soul of Wit

Someday, when this blog becomes a book called Inspiring Works: 365 Days a Year, you, Dearest Readers, will get to this page and say, "They let her get away with that??"

Inspiring Message of the Day: Sometimes, when we are so busy that it seems like there are not enough hours in the day to get things done, we need to create little shortcuts to get through it!

Monday, January 25, 2010

You Just Might Get It

Dearest Readers,

"Be careful what you pray for."

Surely you've heard this expression. It means you might just get what you ask for and, in some cases, that can mean you will be challenged.

A few years ago, I read a great article about Jim Carrey in the New Yorker. He is a pretty spiritual guy, which some people may find surprising, and he was talking about prayer and meditation. He said, "When you pray for wisdom you get your butt kicked."

Why is that? Because the only way we become wise is by learning from our mistakes. Experience is the greatest teacher of all.

As many of you know, I pray for courage. A lot. And do you know what I get? Opportunities to practice walking through my fear. AKA some pretty serious butt-kicking.

How else can I become fearless? I always say the healing path does not work by magic. It works by work.

We have to do the work if we desire the reward. I have to walk through my fear if I desire courage. It's that simple.

One of my fears is the fear of disappointing people. Believe me, the last thing I want to do is create a situation whereby I have to conquer this fear. But guess what, folks? I am currently living out the aforementioned situation. Did I create it? Certainly not on purpose.

Be careful what you pray for.

The good news is that I am riding it out. This is where the tool of spiritual perception comes in. If I see it from a spiritual angle, namely that because I am committed to fearlessness my fears will manifest in order to be conquered, then I can handle anything that comes down the pipe. It's all for a Higher Purpose.

Not easy. Scary. Uncomfortable. But worth it. So worth it!

Inspiring Message of the Day: I am willing to see the challenges in my life from a spiritual angle. Challenges arise to teach me exactly what it is I've set out to learn. When I recognize this Truth, I can overcome anything.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

How it Works

Dearest Readers,

This is how the Higher Power [or Cosmic Consciousness or the Life Force Energy or the Universe or God or whatever word(s) you're comfortable with] works:

The sh&% hits the fan and terror strikes.

I pray: Help me, show me, guide me.

I go to the Grace Cards. I shuffle and cut the deck.

The card on the top of the cut pile reads, "Patience: Trust in Divine timing. Your future holds something far greater than your past."

I look at the card on the top of the pile proper and it reads, "Affection: Love yourself. You are the ultimate act of creation, fashioned by the hands of a Divine Artist."

The card now on top of the cut pile reads, "Relax: Breathe. Everything is happening exactly as it should be."

I go out. I meet some friends. One of them reads from a book of daily meditations to start a discussion.

The reading says, "As always, we have a choice in how we will approach life's challenges. We can dread and avoid them as threats to our serenity, or we can gratefully accept them as opportunities for growth."

I come home. I bawl my eyes out, shedding the fear, getting it out of my body. I rise up, willing to move forward, ready to walk fearlessly into the unknown.

After a good night's sleep I awaken, alive and well, with the gift of another day ahead of me.

This life, friends, this journey, is a process of learning. We don't do it perfectly and some days are better than others. So glad you are there! Thank you.

Inspiring Message of the Day: I trust that there is a Higher Purpose to my life and if I ask, I will receive the Guidance I need to continue moving forward in its fulfillment. I will practice gratitude no matter what happens.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Say it Today

Dearest Readers,

Someone I'm working with on the Big O Project told me he loved me yesterday. This is not a person I know very well, we've only had he opportunity to work together a few times but as he and his group was leaving he shouted, "I love you, Celia!"

Though surprised to hear him say it, I shouted back without hesitation, "I love you, too!"

Driving home I felt so darn happy I can't even tell you. I'd had a day of overwhelm and at one point during the afternoon I was feeling so numb you could have poked me with a stick and I wouldn't have felt it.

After making an outreach call for life support I felt better and headed into the evening session with the group to which this person belongs. We had a challenging but fruitful session and I was in pretty good shape. But this person's "I love you" filled me with profound joy and opened my heart back up.

When a person says, "I love you," it's like water in the desert.

Inspiring Message of the Day: I love you!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Day in the Life

Dearest Readers,

Last night I went to see a piece of theatre called Clarke and I Somewhere in Connecticut by Theatre Replacement. The show, which I've been hearing about for a couple of years through various channels is now on tour and came to our fair city for a short run.

In the play, a multi-media meditation on identity, copyright and ownership, a man finds a suitcase full of photo albums and travelogue-style writings and decides to create a theatre piece.

During the show's development, he seeks out the family in the photographs to get permission to use the memorabilia and he runs into all kinds of legal issues and roadblocks. These trials and tribulations are woven into the storytelling of the piece.

What struck me most about the work was that the creator of the piece cared enough in the first place about the contents of the suitcase to want to use them in some way to create art. To him, they were something so special, so beautiful, and so deeply weird, that he was compelled to go on a massive quest to be able to use them.

This got me thinking about the art of a life. If I pass someone on the street that person means nothing to me. If I were to examine his/her individual life through photographs and journal entries I would see that same individual in a deeper way.

When I am super-busy and wrapped up in my own life I often do a little exercise to help me get out of my self-centredness. I look at the Big Picture.

I remember that there are 6 billion+ people out there and every single one of them has a life as full as my own. Every single person is dealing with the details of his/her existence in the best way he/she knows how and probably feels that whatever is going on for him/her is monumental in some way. Every single person's life has meaning and depth.

What this kind of thinking does is remind me that nothing in my life is actually that monumental. My details are no more or less important than your details. My life in photographs would be as rich as your life in photographs. The actual content of the photographs, what is happening, where it's happening, is irrelevant. The scope of a life is not.

This is what last night's show embodied for me. The appreciation for the scope and art of a life.

Inspiring Message of the Day: Take a picture of yourself in a seemingly boring or mundane situation. Imagine someone looking at that photograph in the future. Imagine that person recognizing the scope and depth of your life from that image. Now embrace the scope of your own life today and do the same for others.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

In Progress...

Dearest Readers,

When I was 18 years old I worked at Mountain Equipment Co-op in Toronto. It was a really fun place to work because the staff were all outdoor-loving people who really lived the life they were selling.

One of our products for sale at the time was a t-shirt that said, "I don't care what you think." There were more than a few of us who bought one and wore it to work. That t-shirt made me feel cool. However, I always felt like a liar when I wore it because in fact, deep down, I did care what you thought of me.

About ten years ago, when I first got on the healing path, a woman said to me, "What other people think of me is none of my business." She was giving me a tool to counter the self-centered mind, the fear of other people's judgment, the people-pleasing perfectionist.

For years I have worked on letting go of what other people think of me. I've made great progress but I find it hugely challenging. It's especially difficult when critics say what they think of me in newspapers. Not only do I have to let go of what the critic thinks about me but what all the readers are going to think of me after they read the piece!

I've recently heard some criticism around the fact that I've hired a composer from outside the Yukon to co-write a Yukon Anthem for the Big O Project. It doesn't matter that I am the co-writer and I was born here, it doesn't matter that this person loves the Yukon with all his heart, it doesn't matter that the majority of Yukoners are not "from" here anyway.

It doesn't even matter that the song is called "Live in Peace"!

None of this matters to the critic. To the critic the song is crap because the composer is from Toronto.

"What other people think is none of my business." Folks, I'm a work-in-progress on this one today.

Inspiring Message of the Day: I'm doing the best I can with what I've got. We can't please everybody! If someone doesn't like who I am or what I do I will remember that it's none of my business and I will do my best not to take it on.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What's Wrong is Right

Dearest Readers,

This morning, the cat started meowing at 4 a.m. and didn't stop for 3 hours. Why didn't I just get up and feed him you ask? I thought about it in my half-asleep state but I simply couldn't move my body. Bone tired.

Finally, at 7:30, he staged a barfing session. I sat up with a jolt, as I usually do when he starts heaving up the hairball, ready to dash out of bed and set him on the fake hardwood so I don't have to clean the carpet. But when I turned on the light there was nothing to be seen. It was a false alarm.

Or was it? I got up, he got fed and I got to work.

Yesterday, a similar alarm-clock-alternative occurred when the phone rang at 7:19 a.m. It was a friend calling from Back East, forgetting the time change. At first I was miffed but then I was glad. If I hadn't received that call I might not have wakened at all and I had a ton of work to do.

It occurred to me both yesterday and today that Higher Guidance was in on these shenanigans. Both times, I needed Big Help to get out of bed. Both times, I got it.

When I see the world this way, it helps me. It can even turn my anger into laughter. Instead of being pissed off that I got woken up I can see it as funny. A barfing cat as an instrument of Divine Intervention. Hilarious!

Last night, I started to go into a panic about scheduling a video shoot for the Big O Project. Organizing a shoot time for 15 different people was not happening. I began to trying to think of a solution. How could I make it work? I could force it to work somehow, if I only tried harder.

Then I remembered this other way of thinking. What if everything was perfect already? What if that person couldn't make it because this other thing needed to happen? What if I were to move forward with things just as they were?

I shifted my perception. "The Universe is conspiring to make everything work exactly as it's supposed to." Trust and let go.

Total relief. Total surrender. Total freedom.

Who needs an alarm clock when you've got the Creator of the Universe on wake-up call duty?

Inspiring Message of the Day: When things appear to be going "wrong" I can turn them around by asking, "What if they are going right?" I can accept what is, and see it as perfect.

Monday, January 18, 2010

You Know You Gotta Have Them

Dearest Readers,

Have you heard the expression "ear worm"? I only recently learned it from Randy Bachman while listening to his Vinyl Tap program on CBC. It's a term that is used to describe a song that is stuck in your head.

Today I have an ear worm. It's from a 1993 song called "Dreams" by Gabrielle and the lyrics that are going round and round in my head are "Dreams can come true".

Over the weekend I had a little dream come true. I got to sing on a track being recorded in a studio. Headphones, in the booth, behind the glass, the whole nine yards. Remember that '80s Canadian show Thrill of a Lifetime? This was my Thrill of a Lifetime!

The best part about it was that I didn't plan it. The song, as I've posted earlier, is for the Big O project I'm working on and it involves numerous singers and musicians, all of whom have heaps of experience and talent. When the suggestion was made that I take a shot at one section of the song I was terrified by the idea but I didn't say no.

Despite the pounding of my heart and the jittering of my nerves, I gave it my best shot. I went into that booth and sang my heart out. Guess what? We ended up using it in the final recording of song.

This blog is just one piece of my overall vision to live a fearless life. So much of the work I've done in the last couple of years has been about clearing away the stuff that keeps me fearful, Old BS (Belief Systems) that tell me I'm not worthy of love, abundance or success. I do not do this alone. Mentors, sponsors, coaches, spiritual directors, you name it, I've got one.

By nurturing self-love, by doing the emotional and spiritual cleansing that the healing journey requires, I have found myself in greater and greater positions of abundance and success. As I've walked through my fear, my fear has walked away.

A few short years ago I would not have been able to sing in a recording studio. My Old BS would have sabotaged the situation. Fear of failure, fear of success. I would not have been able to hit the notes and I would have cracked under pressure.

But I didn't crack. I sang with confidence and ease despite the fact that I was nervous and scared. My new way of thinking, brought on by a rigorous adherence to taking care of my spiritual well-being, carried me through. And the Great Spirit. Let's not forget That.

Inspiring Message of the Day: Dreams can come true. But not by wishing. We need to do the footwork. I will continue to clear away the self-defeating behaviours that keep me in fear. I trust that if I am vigilant about this kind of healing work, my dreams will come true.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Crash the Pity Party

Dearest Readers,

My world has become very small in the last week because I've been in a recording studio every day co-producing an anthem for the Big O project. I've heard clips of news from the outside world but have not been really engaged in what's happening.

I knew there'd been an earthquake in Haiti but it took reading my friend Leanne Coppen's Living with Breast Cancer blog to actually Google and follow the story.

So I just learned that 3 million out of Haiti's 10 million people are right now without access to basic amenities like food, water, shelter and electricity. Three million. That's about the size of Toronto proper. Can you imagine that entire city's core in such a state?

How can I, on the other side of the world, living my tiny little life, doing my great big art project, respond to this in any kind of meaningful way?

Ignoring it is one reaction. "Oh, I can't do anything about it so, oh well."

Guilt is another. "Well, I can feel bad for what I have, at least."

I can send money. "It's the least I can do."

Or I can practice gratitude and rejoice in my life today. I'm alive. I get to live another day. I can take that in, deeply, and not take it for granted like I do most days. I can turn today into the fullest possible celebration of living by being thankful.

If you read Leanne's post you'll see that she has found a way to be grateful in the face of devastating circumstances. She crashes her own pity party by looking at what she has, not what she has not. This is the most inspiring message of all, anytime, anywhere.

Leanne's post reminded me that I have to count my blessings. When my life becomes so insular that all I'm thinking about is my stuff, I can't see the forest for the trees. I've become self-centred. I am blind to all that I have been given and I often focus on what's wrong rather that what is right.

I need to be reminded pretty much constantly to remove myself from the centre of the Universe, to step back and look at the whole picture, and remember that I am a part of the whole but not the whole part.

It's pretty easy to practice gratitude when I've got my basic amenities covered and I don't have stage four breast cancer. What about when the quake/cancer hits, when the rubble/chemo buries everything? When we are stripped of all that we hold dear? For what then can we be thankful? Leanne reminds us that it's still possible to find something and rejoice in it.

Rough count of blessings? About 3 million.

Inspiring Message of the Day: My way of giving back is to be grateful. To enjoy this day and live it, fully, as thought it were my last.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Bank of Love

Dearest Readers,

The other day I heard a man talking about making mistakes. He had just read a recovery-oriented book and was greatly helped by what it had to say. One particularly meaningful passage for him described how to "capitalize" mistakes by overcoming them.

I like this. In this context, capitalize means "realize" or "convert into capital". What is capital? Assets. Wealth.

During the course of the Big O Project (my new name for the project I'm working on for the 2010 Olympics), I have made many mistakes. Like, a lot. A big lot. At one point in my life these mistakes would have devastated me. I probably would have given up. Or, at the very least, brooded for days. Mistakes, for the perfectionist, are acutely painful.

Today, as a recovering perfectionist, I have a different attitude. The old pinch can still be felt so it's not quite water-off-a-duck's-back but I am aware now. I am aware of my Old BS (Old Belief System) that tells me if I can't do it perfectly it shouldn't be done, or that I'm bad or worthless or stupid.

I'm also aware of a New Approach, similar to the one described above. I can react differently. I can choose a different path. I can say to myself, "I made a mistake. It's okay," and I can move on.

We are allowed to make mistakes! What a concept. How important, how vital to our collective well-being, is this statement! Perfectionist culture perpetuates nothing but shame and self-loathing. It says, "You're not good enough," and we buy in.

Apparently, next weekend in this town where I live there is a protest against our current Prime Minister and his decision to prorogue Parliament. Just between you and me, I'd rather march against perfectionism.

So how do we turn mistakes into assets? How do we capitalize upon them? How do we use them for personal wealth? By learning from them. By doing things differently the next time and not beating ourselves up in the first place. By sharing our experience with others so that they might avoid the same situation. By having compassion with our less-than-perfect friends, colleagues, and fellow beings.

These tools are capital for the bank of our individual and collective well-being. It's the best kind of investment we can make and the interest rate is sky high.

Inspiring Message of the Day: I'm allowed to make mistakes. If I make a mistake, I will acknowledge it, tell myself it's okay, and move on. From this I gain personal wealth in the form of self-love.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Yoga of Change

Dearest Readers,

A couple of years ago I was having dinner with a fellow yoga instructor and after telling her about a recent transformation I'd experienced through doing some heavy-duty emotional/spiritual work I said, "I want to write a book called the Yoga of Change."

She thought it was a great title and whenever I would go through yet another big change in my life I would remember the vision of the book. Yesterday, I heard a story that could constitute another chapter. Call it "From Terror to Talking Proud."

The story was actually a speech and I heard it in a Toastmasters meeting. In earlier blogs I've mentioned that I'm a member of this organization, which helps people "to practice and hone communication and leadership skills."

I joined because I'm building my business as a professional speaker but Toastmasters is a kind of fellowship and I've gained so much more than I bargained for. It's fun, I've made business connections as well as friends, and my self-esteem keeps growing with every meeting.

The speech that triggered the idea for the aforementioned chapter was given by a man who went from having a debilitating fear of public speaking to landing a job where it was the number one required skill. Confidentiality is important at Toastmasters so I won't tell you exact details but I was absolutely astonished by the story of his transformation.

The Yoga of Change.

Yoga means "union" and specifically the union between the Divine Self and the Individual Self. The Yoga of Change, as I would have it, refers to the kind of change that either comes from actively seeking this union or the kind that unwittingly solidifies it.

I don't think this man was actively seeking to unify his connection with the Divine as he practiced getting up in front of people to speak but by doing so he made the journey from fear to courage. To my mind, he unknowingly unified his connection with the Divine by becoming fearless.

Change is not easy. I'm going through the biggest change of my life right now working on this Olympic project. Every day the fear rears its head and threatens to pull me back. But I do not succumb. I do not let it win.

Thank you to the man who gave his story of courage and hope. Inspiring works!

Inspiring Message of the Day: Today I will use the Yoga of Change to keep moving forward, fearlessly, with the Divine as my steadfast guide.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Dearest Readers,

As part of the project I'm currently working on, I have spent the last 3 days in a recording studio overseeing the artistic direction of a Yukon Anthem, which I co-wrote with a brilliant young musician named Bryce Kulak. We've been having a ball.

I'm a closeted songwriter. People often say to me, "It's so amazing that you're actually living your dream!" But the truth is, my dream is to be a rock star. I love singing and I love writing songs but my attempts to play guitar made it clear that I was better off staying in the closet, singing my little ditties to my sweater collection.

All that to say, having the opportunity to sit in a recording studio and observe the bevy of hugely talented Yukon musicians we've brought in to sing on the anthem is the absolute bees knees.

The song we've written is called "Live in Peace". Listening to all of these singers bring the words to life, over and over, hour after hour, is not only inspiring, it's sounding the call. Live in Peace. This is a call to all of us.

And it's a high call. Perhaps the highest call of all. Because in order to live in Peace we must practice Unconditional Love. Unconditional Love means no judgment. This is a tall order. Okay, it's bigger than a tall order. It's an XXX-Large-Super-Size-Venti order. Which is why I call it a practice. Because we can't do it perfectly.

When I was sixteen I did an Outward Bound course. Outward Bound is an outdoor "school" that teaches leadership and team-building skills. I did the course (a 21-day adventure north of Thunder Bay, ON) over twenty years ago but I have never forgotten their motto: "To Serve, to Strive, and not to Yield."

I love this. When I think of the call to Live in Peace, the call to live free of judgment and intolerance toward ourselves and others, I think of the second part of the Outward Bound motto. To Strive.

The dictionary on this computer describes striving this way: "Make great efforts to achieve or obtain something." Great efforts. Effort means "a vigorous or determined attempt." Attempt.

There is nothing about perfection in these definitions. Just make a go of it. Give it a shot. Do the best you can. Practice.

When we present the show next month our song will be launched into the world for your listening pleasure. I hope you sing it with us.

Inspiring Message of the Day: I can strive to practice Unconditional Love. When I make that effort, which is great, I get to experience what it truly means to Live in Peace.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Let Go and Trust

Dearest Readers,

Have you ever been in a situation where you worked on something for a long time on your own and when other people came on board as collaborators you found yourself getting irritable, anxious and impatient when the project went differently than you expected?

As an artist heavily involved in collaborative forms such as theatre and film I've experienced this scenario many times. I have an idea and I become attached to it. When other artists change (or do not adhere to) said idea, fear rises to the surface.

What is the fear about? Depending on the situation, it might be about being wrong, or about having to let go of something I've worked so hard on. It could also be the fear of what other people will think of the end result, or fear of failure.

I've learned that if I'm getting irritable then one of these fears is very likely being triggered. It is also highly probable that my expectations are not being met. Things are not going the way I had designed them in my head.

All these fears are ego-related and when my ego is at stake, I'm spinning the planet. And when I'm spinning the planet I'm in trouble. Don't have the power, not my job.

The best tools I know of to use in situations like this are having faith and letting go of expectations. One is about trust and the other is about surrender. Neither is easy to do. Both bring peace.

Inspiring Message of the Day: When I get irritable I will ask myself which fear is being triggered. I will then practice trusting that everything is unfolding exactly as it should. I will let myself be carried by the Flow.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Taking Direction

Dearest Readers,

The last two mornings I have woken up super early with great plans to start knocking off the tasks ahead one-by-one. And on both mornings I ended up going back to bed and sleeping for another couple of hours.

What is important to note is that both yesterday and today I took a moment to check in with myself before I climbed back under the covers. I stopped (literally stood still) and asked myself what I really needed. Was it more important to get things done or to get some more shut-eye?

After going "within" and listening for the intuitive feedback, I followed Direction and got back into bed.

Though I tend more and more toward believing that rest should always trump activity it's not necessarily the case. I could very easily have done the same check-in and intuitively known that I needed to work. But there was a time when I wouldn't even have bothered to ask myself about my needs. Charge ahead! Well-being be damned!

As an Inspiring Coach and as the client of a Business Coach I have become familiar with a tool that asks clients to name his/her "victories" or "wins". If you would have told me that one day I would list "going back to bed when I'm tired" as a victory I would not have believed you.

Today, I call it a victory.

Inspiring Message of the Day: I may think I know what is best for me but I'm willing to be wrong. I will take the time to check in with my physical, emotional, and spiritual needs before making a decision and I will listen for (and take) Direction.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Thanks To You

Dearest Readers,

It's been a full week beginning with a circus-like video shoot, ramping up with the arrival of the guest choreographer on our Olympic show team and peaking with a 60-kid audition process.

Cut to the arrival of the guest composer for the project and a 2-hour studio session to plan the upcoming week. Forecast: record our Yukon Anthem with a myriad of singers and shoot the music video in an historic location.

Needless to say, I'm a little tired. But tired rhymes with inspired and that I am, too.

I'm inspired by the number of talented people we have in this little corner of the world; by the guest artists who actually want to come here in the dark, cold month of January; by the willingness of others to wholeheartedly commit their time and creative energy; and by the heaps of gratitude people have been sharing with me along the way.

When I get tired it can become difficult to see all of these wonderful things. Fatigue can cloud the brightest picture. It's important for me to take the time to recognize the good, the positive, the joy. And it's important to take naps!

Inspiring Message of the Day: Once again, this blog and you readers come to my rescue. Today's post has given me yet another opportunity to see clearly all that I have to celebrate. Thank you for being there!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Healing Hands

Dearest Readers,

As some of you may know, I'm presently working on a big project for the 2010 Olympics and this morning I put one of our guest artists on a plane home and this afternoon I'll pick another one up. In between these runs to the airport I have two meetings and what feels like 4,234 emails to read/answer.

Oh yeah, and I'm going for a massage.

Admittedly, I'm wondering if this is the best idea. Do I really have the time? I could be attacking my "to-do" list! I could be making calls and sending messages! I could be... lying on a table with someone's hands rubbing my naked body.

No-brainer? You'd think so. But a surprisingly tough choice for the recovering workaholic.

It's taken me a long time to learn how to put self-care at the top of my list. But I need a break, I need some healing touch and you know what? I deserve these things. We all do.

So despite the fact that time is precious right now and there are many details to be taken care of, at 12:45 I am going to get my physical, emotional and spiritual needs taken care of. Massage table, here I come.

Inspiring Message of the Day: Even in the busiest of times there is time to take care of ourselves. No matter how much I have on my plate I can still devote time to self-care. I'm worth it!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Another Day in Paradise

Dearest Readers,

The dictionary on this computer defines the word synchronicity this way:

"The simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection."

The parts of this explanation that tickle me are appear and discernible. They are words that suggest ambiguity. In other words, we think that a simultaneous occurrence of events is probably meaningless but we don't really know for sure.

For me, synchronicity is the proof I need that there is Higher Guidance at work. Take this example:

I am working in a studio with 3 other people. We are listening to a song. I hear a particular lyric and mention that it reminds me of an '80s song. Some others agree. I say that I like the '80s song it triggers memories of some of significant events in my life.

We leave the studio. We decide to go and eat. We deliberate on where to go. Finally we decide. We arrive at the restaurant. We sit down and open our menus. Can you guess which song is playing on the sound system? You better believe it: the 80's fave.

Just think for a minute of all the things that had to happen for us to get to that particular restaurant at that very moment to hear that song. Appear significantly related? No discernible connection? I think not.

How about miraculous timing that can only be orchestrated by a Power beyond my intellectual understanding? A Power Greater than Dictionaries and Our Ability to Interpret Stuff. I think so.

These moments remind me that there is Something Else at work and that I am a part of it. This Something knows me and, in fact, will remind me of its Presence through something as seemingly insignificant as a Phil Collins song.

Inspiring Message of the Day: The Universe is constantly working to help us on our journey. When we experience the phenomenon of synchronicity or coincidence we can begin to trust that we are in the Flow, being guided by the Higher Plan of Existence.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Second Agreement

Dearest Readers,

I've been thinking a lot about rejection lately because I'm in this position of having to choose people to work on a creative project of which I am Artistic Director. It continues to be a challenge for me because of my own issues in this area.

Yesterday I blogged about deciding not to become a dancer because I believed I couldn't "make it". But I still went into a creative field that has brought me no shortage of rejection. It's not like I took the safe route and became an accountant.

There are many tools to employ when we've been rejected and believe me I use them all. "It wasn't meant to be" works really well. "There's something better in store" is another good one.

A few years ago I was introduced to The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, one of which is "Don't take anything personally." To use an expression by my friend and great storyteller Jim Green, "It's a gooder!"

Here it is, pulled from Ruiz's website:

2. Don't Take Anything Personally

Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

For me, this is an excellent tool to employ when we feel as though we've been wronged, slighted, injured or hurt. Mind you, we are human, and we need to feel our feelings first. Once we have felt the feeling and identified it, however, it behooves us to practice the above creed. In my experience, it will save us from a lot of grief.

Inspiring Message of the Day: If I am rejected, I will first let myself feel hurt and then I will identify and name my feelings in order to give them expression. From there I can become willing to practice not taking the rejection personally. I deserve this kind of self-care!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

What a Feeling

Dearest Readers,

Yesterday I got to sit in on auditions for a youth dance piece that is a part of an upcoming project I'm working on. About 20 kids showed up and gave it everything they had. It was a fantastic thing to watch.

I've written before about my dream of being a dancer. When I was a kid that was wanted I wanted to be when I grew up. I was obsessed with the movies Fame and Flashdance and I would spend hours practicing dance routines.

Somewhere along the way I developed the dis-ease of perfectionism, which told me, "If you can't be the best, don't play the game." I wasn't the best. I gave up dancing and I gave up the dream.

When I watched those kids yesterday, picking up really challenging choreography taught to them by a pro from NYC with big credits behind her, following her moves, one after the other, listening and learning from body memory, focusing 100%, I knew why I'd become a writer.

Granted, I am a performer. I do play on the stage and screen but I am convinced I made the right decision because I simply cannot pick up choreography. At least not that darn fast.

A few years back I took a jazz class and I was the best in the class because I was 20 years younger than everyone else. It was a class for older ladies. I was able to pick up the choreography because the teacher had to go over it 462 times.

It was super impressive to see these talented youth pick up each sequence after seeing it only one or two times. I'm sure for a dancer this is a no-brainer but for me it's a feat of incredible proportions.

Not every one of those kids is going to make the cut. At one point I saw a girl crying because she wanted it so badly and she was trying so hard and the pressure was so high. Her emotional state was as fragile as could be and she was biting her lip to fight the tears back. That's the kind of pressure I backed away from. The possibility for rejection was too great.

Since I am heading the project I gave a little speech before and after. I asked everyone to be his/herself. I encouraged them all not to take it personally if they didn't get a call back. I said, "Have fun!" It was my greatest desire for each of them to have a great time and to let go of the outcome as best they could.

Letting go of the outcome. It's one of the most challenging things to do. It is something I have to continually practice, every day. As I heard myself saying it yesterday I thought, "These words are as much for me as they are for all of you."

I don't regret not pursuing my dream of being a dancer and I'm grateful to be recovering from the merciless taskmastering of perfectionism. I got to see my dream alive in the faces of those kids yesterday. And I pray each one of them follows their own.

Inspiring Message of the Day: If I can't be the best I will still play the game. I will put myself out there and give it all I've got, surrendering the outcome and enjoying the process to the best of my ability.

Monday, January 4, 2010

100% Human

Dearest Readers,

Continuing on the theme of "I'm shocked to discover I'm human" I'd like to share with you my latest episode of being humbled by my humanness.

A couple of days ago I was tasked with a huge job of coordinating a video shoot, which involved several tricky elements. The shoot took place outdoors and the weather was clear and calm but the temperature was in the -20 range so it was c-c-cold.

The first few shots went fairly smoothly with a few hurdles that we managed to jump over. The next shot involved moving to another location. I was taken to the spot and left there. No one followed me. My walkie-talkie was not working in the cold so I couldn't reach anyone. I could see everyone about a mile away but they were not coming to me. I'd been completely abandoned.

As I walked back toward the crew trying to figure out why no one was coming to get me, I was consumed by rage. We'd lost time, the schedule had been buggered, our carefully laid plans were ruined (or so I thought) and I lost it. Completely. I was so angry I cannot even tell you.

So there I was, in the middle of a vast frozen wilderness, yelling at the top of my lungs. I'm cursing and praying and begging all at the same time. It was quite the display.

By the time I arrived back at the first location I was calm(er). I asked what was happening and the SNAFU was explained. I expressed my frustration and re-jigged the next steps. I laughed it off and we moved on.

Later that evening as I reviewed the day I felt ashamed that I'd reacted in so childish a manner. Where was my faith that everything unfolds as it should? Where was my trust in the Higher Plan? Why couldn't I see that all would be well no matter what? (Because it was. We made our day on time.)

So that was my first reaction. The reaction of the perfectionist. She looks at everything I didn't do.

The good news: I've done enough healing work to have compassion kick in pretty quickly. I remembered that I'm human (shocking) and that I did my best. So I lost my sh&%. It's okay. What did I do well?

I went over all the things that went right, all the things that were successful about the day. I realized that my conniption fit had taken place in isolation; I hadn't screamed at anyone, I hadn't lost my temper in front of the crew or taken anybody out and I was even able to laugh about it in the immediate aftermath.

The depth of the anger was surprising and I saw that the pressure of the job had been building up to such an extent that it needed to be released somehow. And release it I did! Holy moly, try yelling and screaming your heart out in the Great Wilderness. It's a tension tamer no doubt about it.

Next, I looked at what I could take from this experience. I asked myself what I had learned. How could I apply it to future situations? This is the gift of any situation gone awry. Finding the lesson and being willing to apply it down the road.

The key for me here is to let go of that shame. To allow myself to be less-than-perfect. It's an ongoing journey and I'm committed to it 100%.

Inspiring Message of the Day: When I behave in a less-than-spectacular manner I do not have to be ashamed. I can have mercy on myself, see the good, and let it go.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

I Got a Horse Right Here...

Dearest Readers,

Despite the fact that I am a yoga teacher and practitioner, I still have tension and aches and pains in my body. It's been humbling to admit this truth and challenging to accept it. Once again, I'm shocked to discover I'm human.

I work with the physical issues to the best of my ability through all kinds of healing practices and as my spiritual well-being has improved so has the tension eased and the pain lifted.

A few years ago I went to a "Light-Touch" healer. I didn't really know what I was in for but the woman practitioner had been recommended to me by a friend. I was expecting a massage that would ease the tension in my shoulder. What I got was a emotional cleansing and a horse.

As I lay on the woman's table, fully-clothed, she moved her hands over my body without touching me. I couldn't see what she was doing but I could feel her hands moving just above the surface of my clothing. I began to cry.

She would speak to me as she worked, reassuring me and saying the most loving, encouraging things. I continued to weep.

At one point she gasped and said, "Ohhhhh," as if she'd just seen the most adorable doggie in the window and then she said, "You have a horse."

"I have a horse?"

She went on to explain that I have a Spirit Horse with me at all times. It is my constant companion and looks after me, runs with me, walks with me, never leaves my side. I was skeptical but I also had snot running down my face so I went with it.

When I arrived home later that day, one of my sisters who happened to be visiting asked me how it went and I told her about the horse. She sort of laughed and made a comment akin to, "Yeah, right." But for a time after that appointment I was keenly aware of the idea that I had a Spirit Horse. It made me feel good. Safe. Loved.

Many days, months and years have passed since that appointment and I have only thought of the Horse Spirit once or twice, if that.

Yesterday, I was out in a cabin in the bush having a planning-meeting for a big video shoot I'm coordinating today. The shoot is a big job and I've been praying like a mother-lover for help, courage, fearlessness etc.

The meeting itself was a little stressful and I was doing my best to stay calm, follow my intuition and show leadership. At one point I looked out the window and saw a big, caramel-coloured horse in the yard. In my state, (call it "busy-mind") this beautiful vision barely registered.

We got through the meeting and it ended up turning out very well. As we drove along the backcountry road we rounded a corner and bang! There in front of us was a whole herd of horses, their winter coats thick and shaggy and covered with frozen sweat. They were completely blocking the road.

We had to stop the car and I finally came out of my head-spinning state to see what was in front of me. I took in these gorgeous creatures one by one, returning to the present moment, landing back in my body, back in my life.

Last night as I reviewed the day before sleep I remembered the herd of horses and thanked the Creator for sending them. Then I remembered the single horse in the yard, which I'd pretty much ignored. I suddenly knew. It was my Spirit Horse.

Inspiring Message of the Day: When we ask for help we receive it. It comes in many different ways. If we keep our eyes and our ears open we will be amazed by the attention that is paid to our individual lives by the Omniscient One.

Friday, January 1, 2010

To This Day

Happy New Year, Dearest Readers.

Today's Inspiring Message of the Day is a Sanskrit proverb by Kalidasa, an Indian poet and playwright who lived in Fourth century A.D. May it become a tool that you use in your life in the year ahead.

Look to this day,
For it is life.
The very life of life.
In its brief course lie all
The realities and verities of existence,
The bliss of growth,
The splendour of action,
The glory of power --

For yesterday is but a dream,
And tomorrow is only a vision,
But today, well lived,
Makes every yesterday a dream
of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.

Look well, therefore, to this day.