Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Being

Dearest Readers,

With millions of copies sold, I am probably one of the few people of late who hasn't jumped on The Power of Now bus and ridden its journey to enlightenment. Heck, I haven't even seen The Secret. But the other night, in a state of sleeplessness, I downloaded the audiobook version of TPON on my iPhone and joined the masses.

Whether it was curiosity that led me to do so or the need for a soft-spoken German man to lull me to sleep I cannot say. All I know is, I fell asleep in the Now. Then.

What I like best about Eckhart Tolle's message is his use of the word "Being". This statement is from Wikipedia: "Occasionally [Tolle] uses the term God, but he prefers Being as "an open concept," something "it is impossible to form a mental image of" and which "does not reduce the infinite invisible to a finite entity."

Those of you who read this blog regularly know I use a number of different words for this same entity: Higher Power, Higher Guidance, Love, Spirit of Unity Back of All Things etc.

I'm actually okay with the word God and I often use it myself. But it's so loaded, and so open to misinterpretation that I tend to be pretty careful about it.

I wish I didn't have to be. I wish I could just use the word God all the time (just three little letters! So easy! So little typing!) but then I'd have to reassure y'all that I'm not talking about a white man in the sky or a Father of the Church and that would take just as long as writing Life Force Energy of the Benevolent Universe.

Eckhart kinda nailed it with Being though, didn't he? "Being" not only conjures the image of a Power Greater than Ourselves but simultaneously describes exactly how we can dwell in the presence of that Power. By be-ing. Just by Being. Here. Now.

One of the criticisms of the book (again from Wikipedia) charges that "there is nothing new in the book, that it simply repackages concepts familiar from various spiritual traditions."

Well, duh. Until we get it, folks, we gotta keep on hearing it.

So no matter how many times we hear it, no matter how many times it's been re-packaged, no matter how many times it's been blogged about, we can still open ourselves to receiving the message anew.

And the message is so simple, so beautiful. And so flippin' challenging! Be. Be here. Be in the experience of Now.

Inspiring Message of the Day: I will land in my body, right now. I will land back in my life, right now. Every time I fly out and away I will practice coming back into the experience of Being. I'm alive!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Be a Child

Dearest Readers,

This morning, during meditation practice, I visualized the idea of living until I was 130 years old. For a gal who once thought she wouldn't make it past 17, this is rather amusing.

The image came to me as a way of seeing myself still in the early stages of my spiritual evolution. I needed to do this because yesterday I put my foot in my mouth and am feeling the painful effects of having done so. Imagining that I am only 30-something years into my actual human journey gave me great reassurance.

To put one's foot in one's mouth means (according WikiAnswers) "you said something you shouldn't have said in a certain situation." Yup. That pretty much sums it up.

Actually, I sort of think what I said was okay but how I said it was not. I could have been kinder. I could have been more compassionate. So I feel bad. I feel remorseful. I feel imperfect.

For a recovering perfectionist feeling imperfect is the perfect growth opportunity. It feels like crap but its exactly what we need to do. Not perfect yet, Celia. Never will be. Enjoy!

Transitioning from crap to enjoyment is a tricky business. This is really where the need was coming from to project almost 90 years into the future on the cushion. It was a way of accepting that I still have a great deal of work to do and that it's okay. I'm just at the beginning!

Inspiring Message of the Day: Sometimes it's tempting to think I've learned everything I need to know. But how arrogant is that? Today I will open myself up to the idea that I am still a teachable child with a long road of learning ahead of me.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Mystic Calling

Dearest Readers,

Yesterday I got a call from an acquaintance who had heard me speak on several occasions about the mystical path and my belief in the Power of Unconditional Love that is Back of All Things. He wasn't quite sure why he was calling but I have a feeling he knew after we hung up.

What is the mystical path?

The dictionary on this computer describes "mysticism" in this way: "belief that union with or absorption into the Deity or the absolute, or the spiritual apprehension of knowledge inaccessible to the intellect, may be attained through contemplation and self-surrender."

So the mystic uses prayer and meditation to align herself with Higher Guidance thereby achieving a spiritual understanding of the way things are that is beyond the intellect.

The mystical path is available to anyone who seeks it. One does not have to be special or chosen. One simply has to say, "I'm willing," and then begin to do the work.

And why would one choose to become willing to walk on the mystical path? Because it's fun! It's an adventure. And because without a spiritual understanding of the way things are, life can be a slog, it can be painful and it can be very dark.

I find that seeing things through a spiritual lens takes the slog right out of the experience of being. All of the horror, all of the injustice, all of the pain can be viewed from an entirely different perspective, which makes things not only easier to grasp (bear), but even exciting and, yes, fun.

People with faith in the Unseen have been accused of using their beliefs to explain away the bad things of this world. That faith is, in fact, a kind of denial. I couldn't disagree more strongly. I have been guided to faith. I said "I'm willing" and I began to receive Guidance. This tells me that the Path is not of my making.

Marianne Williamson says that a miracle is "a shift in perception". What that means is this: if I can shift my way of seeing, indeed, my way of being, from the intellectual to the spiritual, amazing things will happen.

Amazing things like phone calls from people who are working through that shift, which is not easy, BTW, and who need a little support along the way. And lemme tellya, my spiritual understanding of that phone call is that it was not just a phone call. It was nothing less than Higher Love calling me up on the phone to say hello.

Inspiring Message of the Day: What would things look like if I viewed them with a spiritual understanding? How would it change my life? Today I will look at what is happening in my life through a spiritual lens and ask for Higher Guidance to show me my True Path.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Dearest Readers,

It is a beautiful, sunny Saturday with spring-like temperatures outside. I am young, healthy, talented and prosperous. I have a lovely home and a full, abundant life. So why am I full of anxiety?

Because I am in the process of working on fulfilling one of my dreams, which is to make a feature film, and it's triggering fear. Because I'm about to go traveling for 10 days and it's triggering fear.

If there's anything I've learned on the healing path, it's that no matter how far I've come, no matter how much progress I've made, the fear will still get triggered when I take any kind of action that requires me to surrender control and take risks.

So what is the point, you ask? If you do all this work and the fear still comes up, what is the f'n point?

Well, the point is this: the fear may come up but it doesn't have to take charge. It doesn't have to control the situation. It doesn't have to make the decisions. It can quite simply come up.

Then the work begins. No one said fulfilling your dreams was going to be easy. Life is not a wishing well. I gotta do the footwork. I have to take the action steps necessary to manifest the vision. And when I do this all my Old BS will come to the surface to stop me.

That's when things get uncomfortable. And that is when we tend to give up, avoid, procrastinate, abandon ship and bail. But today, I refuse to bail and so I must learn to get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.

I heard that little gem this morning on an inspiring phone call. Boy, does that hit home! If I can stay with the discomfort, knowing that it's coming up because my Old Belief Systems are being challenged, then I can learn to observe, relax and let go.

So I'm feeling uncomfortable but I don't run for the hills. Instead, I do what needs to be done to move forward.

First, I name it. Check. Next, I share it with someone else. Check. Then I might say a prayer or do a positive affirmation to help me relax. Check. Finally, I do the next right action.

The next right action might be footwork around the vision or goal or it might be resting or it might be something else. I can find out by getting quiet and going within or calling a friend and talking it through. But no matter what, I do not have to let the fear win.

Those of you who are regular readers already know that one of my visions is to live fearlessly. Does this mean there will be a day when I never have to experience fear again? That would be good. Until then, when the fear comes up I do what's necessary to overcome it.

Inspiring Message of Day: Today I will take action toward fulfilling my dreams and when the fear arises I will practice getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Atonement

Dearest Readers,

Do you have a favourite movie? I have several but if I had to narrow it down to one right now I'd have to say Atonement. I've probably seen it 10 times and could easily see it ten more.

Yesterday, after a full day of doing the hardest thing first I was exhausted and in need of a break. So I watched my favourite movie.

As you may know, the film, based on a novel of the same name written by Ian McEwan, is about a young girl who separates her sister and her sister's lover forever when she names him for a crime he didn't commit. She atones for her "sin" by writing a novel that gives them a life of happiness together.

It's devastating. And devastatingly good.

The dictionary on this computer defines "atonement" as "reparation for a wrong or injury; reparation or expiation for sin (religion)." In Christian Theology the Atonement is "the reconciliation of God and humankind through Jesus Christ."

As a teenager, I was a thief. I stole merchandise from stores and money from employers, family and friends. It's not easy for me to admit this to you but I am able do so freely today because I am no longer ashamed.

I have found freedom from that shame by atoning for my wrongs. I have admitted my thievery to those that I robbed and I've paid each and every one of them back.

Making those amends was terrifying and sick-making but once done, I was free. One of the most amazing things about getting honest with people on this level is their reaction. One thinks they will chastise and judge, cast stones even. My experience has been just the opposite.

Here is an excerpt of a letter from the manager of a store where I stole a bunch of stuff in my youth. He wrote to me after receiving the money I owed him, included with my own letter of amends:

"I am glad that you are able to come to terms with some of the things in your past. I have posted your letter on my staff bulletin board and I believe that you will be an inspiration to my staff. It is never easy to admit and rectify any wrongdoings but I do firmly believe that it does cleanse the soul.

I have decided to make a donation to a charity on your behalf so your monies will be going to a great cause.

I wish you well in your journeys and if you are ever back in the city, please don't hesitate to drop by."

Does that not blow your mind?

Maybe Atonement is my favourite movie because I can relate to the character of the girl, who lives with her guilt until she can't anymore and then tries to make it right as best she can. Maybe it's because it's just a damn fine film. Either way, it cleanses my soul each time I see it.

Inspiring Message of the Day: We can find freedom from shame through atonement. It's a way out of the darkness of the past to the light of the present. To freedom and hope and joy.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hardest Thing First

Dearest Readers,

Thanks again to the friend who passed me the tool of "Do the Hardest Thing First" because it's helping friends and clients and has totally changed the way I operate.

In the past, I would always save the hardest thing until last and then be in a severely compromised position to get it done, which often meant I was needlessly orchestrating my own burn-out.

Each day, I now look at the to-do list and ask myself, "What is the hardest thing?" Once I know the answer I experience the feelings of dread and fear, probably say a prayer to help set them aside, and take action. It's a revelatory experience!

There are other benefits. Yesterday I completed 2 tasks, which I managed to do only because I'd already begun to do the work at an earlier date. I was able to achieve the goal(s) because I'd broken the hardest work down into stages.

By tackling some of the work when it was the hardest thing, leaving it for a few days and then going back to it, I lightened my work load and finished before the deadline.

There was a time when I would work all day and night before a deadline and then I'd spend the next couple of days crashing, cursing that I needed a day off and couldn't take one because there was more work on my plate!

So what's that all about?

Well, I think not wanting to do the hardest thing first is about fear of success. And fear of success is really about fear of the unknown and fear of failure.

Leaving things until the last minute and then crashing and burning is about low self-esteem. Somewhere deep inside I think I deserve this level of treatment, which is pretty poor if you think about it.

So real change comes from digging out these Old BS's (Old Belief Systems) and replacing them with new ones. I need to become willing to let go of the fear and start practicing the behaviour that scares the crap out of me.

The rewards are plenty. More time to play, to rest, to actually enjoy this life. What a concept.

Inspiring Message of the Day: What task am I avoiding, telling myself I'll get to it later? I will tackle it now, saving myself time and effort down the road and opening the door to feeling successful.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Coaching Success

Dearest Readers,

Yesterday, after a session with the Business Coach with whom I've been working for the last couple of years, I wrote the following "something" on Facebook:

"Celia McBride thinks everyone should have their own coach."

Grammatical violations aside (should be "her/his own coach" in case you didn't catch it), the statement is absolutely true. Coaches are a marvel.

As an Inspiring Coach, I get to witness the growth and progress of clients that I work with, which is a major inspiration in itself. I get emails saying, "I did it!" or "I'm doing it!" and my heart fills with joy. As a client, I get to experience my own progress first hand.

One of the things I love about coaching sessions is that they often start with a review of what the client would like to celebrate. What are the victories or "wins" since the last session? It's a super way to build confidence and if you could measure self-esteem with a thermometer the mercury would shoot right to the top.

So as I described my wins with my coach yesterday I got to hear myself say how much progress I've made and how far I've come as a businesswoman since we started working together. Things I could never even have imagined a year and a half ago are now the reality of my existence. Pretty awesome.

To give you an example, one of the things I first started to work on with my coach was increasing my income. I vividly remember having heart palpitations as we talked about specific numbers. The fear of success and the Old BS that being poor meant I was more spiritual made the process of visioning more money incredibly nerve-wracking for me.

Since that session I have increased my income by 50%. This amazing fact has afforded me certain luxuries both practical and necessary for my business and also for my own self-care. It didn't come from wishing it came from work. But I sure didn't do it alone.

So here is to Coaches of all kinds! And if you don't have one, consider it. It will change your life for the better.

Inspiring Message of the Day: Change takes effort. But help is available. Today I will seek the help I need to achieve the goals I have.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Love is Law

Dearest Readers,

So Obama's health-care bill has become law and some people are not happy about it. CBC Radio played a clip of Rush Limbaugh, the Republican radio host, saying, "We have get those bastards. We have wipe them out."

Now, presumably he was speaking about the United States Senate elections, taking place in November of this year, but considering the fact that US President Kennedy was assassinated for his radical policy-making, Limbaugh's words are more than just a wee bit scary.

A fellow artist posted this statement on Facebook this morning: "I don't understand why anyone would NOT want their countrymen to have health-care." Well, I don't understand how people can talk about wiping other people out with such non-chalance. The hatred is so disturbing.

The next story on CBC News described the fatal stabbing of 8 elementary school children by a mentally-ill former doctor. At this point I turned off the radio.

Last week I blogged about the story I was going to tell for World Storytelling Day, which I ended up calling "God Lives in Edmonton." The piece describes the spiritual awakening I had while living in desperate circumstances in that fair city.

Through a series of very dark and painful episodes that led me to a radical experience of Higher Love, I came to believe that good comes from bad. Not wishful thinking, not Pollyanna-like white-washing of pain but direct experience of Love borne from hate.

When I listen to frightening men like Limbaugh who are so full of that hate or hear about a man so sick he slaughters 8 little children on their way to school, I admit that the temptation to crawl under the covers and never come out is mighty. The world is too crazy. It's out of control.

But then I remember Love. And I remember that Good comes from bad. And I remember that I know this not because of blind faith but from direct and personal experience of Love as the only Truth. And I can feel the grief and I can respond with compassion and I can offer that Love to every single person I meet, including the hateful and the sick.

We must fight the hatred with Love. It is the only Way.

Inspiring Message of the Day: "It makes no difference how deeply seated may be the trouble, how hopeless the outlook, how muddled the tangle, how great the mistake; a sufficient realization of Love will dissolve it all." ~ Emmet Fox

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mirror Mirror

Dearest Readers,

Well, I got through the weekend activities, which included pitching a feature film project to a number of industry big-wigs and telling a story for the Yukon International Storytelling Festival. Now comes the follow-up: giving myself a pat on the back.

This is something I am always encouraging others to do, both friends and clients alike, to actually reach up and physically pat our own back while saying, "You did a really good job. Good for you!"

I'm writing about this now because I haven't done it yet. As we all know, doing things for ourselves is much, much more difficult.

It's so much easier to look at what I didn't do rather than what I did. "I skipped a whole chunk of the story," or, "I was nervous and I didn't say what I wanted to say to the producer guy."

Thank goodness I have made progress in this area. Those thoughts do still come up but I now refuse to give them focus. I refuse to give them any power.

Years ago, I read about about something called mirror work, which involves looking at oneself in the mirror and saying loving, affirming things. It takes the pat on the back one step further.

This kind of work makes a lot of people uncomfortable. It sounds corny, it feels corny, and, frankly, it is corny.

But this kind of work is also extremely powerful. It cuts right to the core of that deep well of fear and self-loathing. It forces us to confront our own inner critic in the most direct way. It's uncomfortable, I'll admit it. And that's why I do it.

So, friends, here I go: "You did really well, Celia. Good for you! You did your best and your best is good enough!"

Okay, the back is officially patted. Mirror, here I come.

Inspiring Message of the Day: I will give myself a pat on the back for my accomplishments. I will go to the mirror and look myself in the eye and give myself a loving affirmation. We deserve it!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Power Full

Dearest Readers,

As I've written before, this URL is called Cultivate Your Courage for a reason. That reason is simple: I have had to learn how to cultivate my own courage day after day after day to overcome deep-seeded fears and insecurities.

To live fear-less is my greatest vision.

And Life, (thank-you, Life) continues to present me with opportunities to walk through my fear day after day after day.

Like today. I am privileged enough to be a part of a Film Forum here in Whitehorse that has brought together a handful of film producers and distributors from outside the Territory to meet those of us who are up-and-coming in the industry and hear our pitches.

Last evening, we had a chance to mingle with the delegates and chat with them in an informal and relaxed session. A friend of mine and I were speaking after it was all over and giving ourselves credit for showing up at all. Both of us had had the same thought, "I don't want to go."


This morning, we have the opportunity to pitch our projects to the panel and lemme tellya, if there is anything that can bring up the fear of failure and fear of success in a (wo)man, this is it.

But something has changed in me. I'm not saying the fear is not poking at me like a little pin here and there, jabbing to get my attention. It is. But I am not sick with it. I'm not paralyzed or desperate. I'm okay. In fact, I'm good.

This is because I am employing the tools I've picked up over the years to achieve my vision of being fear-less and they're working.

The one that is really bringing me a sense of calm is the "expect nothing" tool. Maybe these people can help me make my movie and maybe they can't. Who knows? We'll see. One thing I know is that if someone on that panel really wants to help me, it's gonna happen.

So how do I get that person to want to?

I don't.

More tools I'm sharpening and polishing this morning: I can't make anybody do anything and I can't force outcomes.

"I am already enough."

If I go in there determined to somehow make someone want to work with me, I'm doomed. If I go in there feeling like I need these people to make the movie, I'm doomed. None of them have the power to validate me or my work and if I give them that power, that's right, all together now, "I'm doomed."

With or without them, the project I have is of value. With or without them, I have value.

Might seem like a no-brainer to some of you who are perhaps more evolved than I am but for the gal who has sought validation from others for most of her natural born life and for a gal who has believed that someone else is going to discover her talents and make her successful, it's a friggin' miracle.

Newsflash: that someone is me.

Inspiring Message of the Day: The Power I have comes from a Higher Source. It doesn't come from another human being. No one has the power to make me or break me unless I give away my power to that person. Today I will not give away my power. I will own my power by aligning my thoughts and actions with Higher Guidance.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Gratitude and Gosh Almighty

Dearest Readers,

Thanks for being my virtual coach yesterday. Because of the commitment I made on the blog I managed to write the story I'm going to tell tomorrow night for World Storytelling Day. It took me all day but I did it!

Now I just have to "learn" it.



Today's Inspiring Message of the Day is totally unrelated to the above post but it is completely marvelous nonetheless and has filled my morning with wonder and awe, which are truly inspiring states of being:

Did you know that a blue whale's tongue is the size of an elephant?!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Commit To It

Dearest Readers,

After posting yesterday that I had found a new story to tell this weekend I sat down and started to learn it. Halfway through I thought, "I do not want to tell this story."

Going over the grim details of how and why I moved to Edmonton literally sucked the energy right out of me. So I abandoned it.

Later, as I was walking along the street, I realized the part of the story that I do wish to tell comes later. The inspiring part involves me becoming aware of the Spirit of the Universe working as an active Guide in my life. That's why "God lives in Edmonton."

As the client of a Business Coach and as an Inspiring Coach myself, I am more than familiar with the idea of making a commitment to an action plan. What helps us follow through with that commitment is the verbal statement.

We gotta tell someone and we gotta say it out loud.

When we're procrastinating, when we don't want to do the thing we must do (learn a new story, for example), we can overcome the fear by making the verbal commitment to another person. "I commit to doing XYZ by the end of today."

So, if you don't mind, in the spirit of Self-Coaching and knowing I have a captive audience (AKA Support Team) out there reading this, here goes:

I commit to learning a new story today.

Thanks for receiving it!

Inspiring Message of the Day: It helps to state our goal(s) aloud and to another person. Doing this takes it out of thought and into action. Today, I will tell someone my goal and commit to completing the first action step.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Story Time

Dearest Readers,

The other day I posted on Facebook that I needed a "new story". I did so because I'm telling this weekend for the Yukon International Storytelling Festival in celebration of World Storytelling Day. The theme is "Light and Shadow".

The stories that I have in my bag certainly fit with the theme but none of them are really calling me. A story sometimes asks to be told. None of the usual suspects in my repertoire have been asking.

This morning, at Toastmasters, I told a story about the death of James Dean. I'm working my way through an Advanced Manual called "Storytelling" and the current project I had to tackle was "Bringing History to Life" with a story about a historical character.

It's a great story and I enjoyed telling it but I'm sorry, Jimmy. It's just not going to fly for the YISF.

As a writer/performer/producer, what I do, essentially, is tell stories. But storytelling as a form is very specific. That said, there are diverse styles within the form, which vary from the loose recounting of an event to the stylized performance of a memory or dream. Any form is alright by me for who does not like to tell or listen to a great story?

So, as I am inclined to do when at a loss, I prayed for a story to tell this Saturday night. Not begged, just "put it out there". And this morning, after TM, while I was breathing deeply in a spinal roll during yoga practice, the story came.

It's the story of why I moved to Alberta and why I left Alberta and the four months in between and, believe me, Light and Shadow fits the bill. I think I'm gonna call it "God Lives in Edmonton".

If you live in Whitehorse, come!

Inspiring Message of the Day: Our lives are full of stories! Today, tell a story, listen to a story, learn from a story. "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." ~ Maya Angelou

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Lessons Learned

Dearest Readers,

It's been exactly two weeks since I got back from the Olympics and I finally feel like I've returned to the land of the living. Note to self: it takes a 4-day spiritual retreat plus 2 weeks to recover from creative projects that take 7 months.

That's not bad. Hey, maybe I'm pushing it. Maybe I'm still recovering. Maybe I should give it five more weeks. Like jet lag hours. You know, it takes as many days to recover from jet lag as number of hours in the time change? Maybe it takes as many weeks to recover from the Big O as number of months on the project.

But I am feeling better. My energy is flowing freely again and I've got that excitement and joie de vivre back, which has definitely been missing from the ol' attitude and outlook in recent days.

People keep asking me, "What's next?" and my answer is a whopper: "Produce a feature film."


"Okay, I just conquered the Olympics now what can I do to top that?" The truth is, the feature film has been in the works for a very long time. Looking at it now, I see that the Big O Project was the perfect training ground for the movie.

Yesterday, I was finishing off the Final Report for the Big O, which required that I include "lessons learned". I'd like to share some of them with you.

Here we go:

Take deadlines seriously.

Don’t panic or bow to pressure.

It’s okay to make a mistake.

Communication is not an Olympic sport. (That little gem came from our Stage Manager.)

One cannot really trust the Press.

Animals are a wild card.

Taking risks is good but be prepared for mishaps. That's why they're called risks.

Always have a Plan B.

Trust yourself, even when no one else does.

Don’t take criticism personally.

Keep your expectations in check. If they are too high, you will inevitably be disappointed.

Read the fine print. And the big print.

Do your best. Then tell yourself it’s good enough.

Ask for help.

Surrender when the battle is not worth fighting.

Wear a padded bra.

That last one has a really good story behind it. Maybe I'll tell it someday!

Inspiring Message of the Day: Taking the time to write out what lessons I've learned gives me a very clear picture of the experience and wisdom I've gained and provides me with an insurance policy I can refer to in the future. I might end up learning certain lessons again but it's not mandatory!

Monday, March 15, 2010


Dearest Readers,

Yesterday I saw a young girl I know, an addict, climbing out of a dumpster. She was with her mother, also an addict, and they were collecting cans and bottles for refund. She saw me and I smiled and said hello but her obvious embarrassment kept me from lingering.

At one point in time I was helping this girl, mentoring her, providing guidance and support for her to stay clean. She was doing really well for a while but then she slipped away, spiraling back and down, giving up on herself, relapsing and refusing help.

It was painful to see her leaping out of that big bin of garbage in the alley. But I imagine the pain she is in is much worse. Knowing how far down she's gone to end up inside a dumpster picking through trash to find a five-cent bottle.

I've been reading about reincarnation lately and meditating on the idea that we come back to this earthly plane over and over again until we learn what it is we are supposed to learn. It's an endlessly fascinating concept.

Here is a quote from the book:

"An understanding of Reincarnation not only solves most of life's riddles but serves as a sign-post for all sorts of questions... It is the sovereign remedy for depression and discouragement and regret. It is the gospel of freedom and hope."

I can apply this to the situation of my young friend to help me understand it but you know what? It still hurts.

Inspiring Message of the Day: "Love the suffering." A person might be living out her karma but I can still feel the pain and do my best to respond with compassion.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Russian Soldier

Dearest Readers,

As I've mentioned a number of times before, I have a subscription to the New Yorker magazine (thanks, Dad) and though the speed at which it arrives in my mailbox and the volume of its contents can be overwhelming I have come to thoroughly enjoy the inspiration it provides.

At the moment I'm reading a wonderful piece by Ian Frazier about his travels through Siberian Russia. His writing is simple and yet elegant and his style is rich with sensitivity and sensuality. I've kind of fallen in love with him because of it.

Reading the article has brought back memories of my own trip to Russia in the earliest part of 1991. In fact, I and my fellow McGill students rang in the New Year in Tallinn, Estonia, having arrived by train the day before all the way from the blackened streets of dreary and fascinating Moscow.

I was 19 years old and studying Russian because I had a 40 year-old boyfriend who was doing entrepreneurial business in Russia at the time. I loved learning the language and though I can only speak a few scant phrases today and remember little of what I was taught I can still pronounce the alphabet and read Russian words off a page.

After our New Year's celebration we took train from Tallinn to Leningrad (the collapse of the Soviet Union took place later that year so the country we visited was still hanging on to Communism, albeit by the skin of their teeth -- only a few months later would the city become St. Petersburg once more) and I recall the dirty, mud-caked windows, which made seeing out impossible, and the sense that none of us knew where we were or where we were going.

Upon arrival in Leningrad, I checked my pockets to make sure I had everything before getting off the train. Something was missing. I had stuffed a wad of tightly rolled American dollars into a film canister for safe-keeping. It was gone.

I searched madly throughout the train's car, crawling on the floor to look for it. After 15 minutes our chaperone told me to let it go. I was keeping everyone waiting.

I refused.

It had to be here, I reasoned. I boarded the train with it. It could not have disappeared.

Soon a handful of Russian soldiers entered the car. They had no English to understand me but they saw my panic and they saw my determination. They hovered around nervously.

On hands and knees, searching one more time beneath my seat, I heard a faint sound, like the sound of a small, plastic item hitting the floor and rolling down the aisle toward me.

"Found it!" someone cried (in Russian, of course). I stood up. One of the soldiers held out the canister. Was this what I'd been looking for? Relief flooded through my entire body. I thanked him profusely. Where had he found it? Just there, on the ground. I was so grateful that I gave him some of that money as a reward.

As the Chaperone hurried me away, we looked back at the soldiers standing in the light of the doorway. The black train was invisible in the black night. "You're lucky you got it back," she said.

What did she mean?

"Don't you realize? One of them had your little treasure. He pretended to find it only because you were refusing to give up. He must have been scared we would call in the higher authorities."

As I was reading Mr. Frazier's article this story, and its mystery, came back to me, detail by detail, nearly two decades later. How did the soldier get the canister of money in the first place? Did he decide to drop it by virtue of his own merit or was he ordered to do so by the others?

There was probably US$200 in that container. How lucky was I to get it back?

The memory of this incident has inspired me. I am struck by the vastness of my life experience, the scope of over 14,000 days on this planet, and the myriad stories embedded within this time frame.

How vast and rich with images are our lives. Just like Siberia.

Inspiring Message of the Day: How many days have I been on the planet? How many stories are contained in this number? Today I will allow the stories of my past to enrich my present experience.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Movin' On Up

Dearest Readers,

A snippet of a conversation from yesterday with a fellow yogi:

(hugging hello)

Her: How are you?

Me: Today is rough.

(she hugs me more tightly)

Her: Is it post-Olympic blues?

Me: Must be.

Her: Could be seasonal. I was talking to X and she's off her game. I'm feeling sadness, too.

Me: I don't buy into the seasonal thing at all. It's FEAR and it's my responsibility to figure out what it's about and right now it's manifesting as WRATH.

Her: Excellent.

(she smiles)

Me: Yeah, it is excellent.

(we laugh heartily)

Well, the first thing I notice as I look back on this moment is my own lack of compassion. The second is how hard I am on myself (see responsibility part in conversation as well as sentence immediately preceding this one) and the third is how humour can defuse any bomb.

So let me now offer compassion to those who do suffer from SAD or whose emotions are particularly susceptible to seasonal changes. For me, when I am off my game, what I find most helpful is an investigation into the fear.

When I ask myself "What is fear behind this feeling?" I often find that I am able to release the emotional pain, which may be manifesting as fatigue, anger, sadness, or depression.

So what is the fear behind my current emotional state? The fear of moving forward. If I put my life on hold by remaining in "depression" I won't have to experience failure, criticism, rejection, disappointment and all the other good things that come with success.

Okay, so now I have awareness. Next comes the more challenging part: being willing to change.

Being aware of the truth about the fear makes it somewhat easier to change but becoming willing to change is a whole other matter. Because If I'm willing to change it means I gotta. It means I have to let go of trying to control the situation. It means I have to fall into the unknown.


But, as one of our heroes, Eleanor Roosevelt, says, we must do the thing we think we cannot do. And once we do that, and come out the other side, we see that it's possible. And once we know that it's possible we can do it again. And again. Soon we have a track record of courage behind us.

My own track record is about ten miles long already. So I do know, in my heart of hearts, that by walking through my fear, by moving forward, by heading into the unknown I am going to be okay.

Not only am I going to be okay I'm going to be amazed. Good things are waiting. Courage merits Grace.

Inspiring Message of the Day: One more time I will become willing to walk through the fear that is holding me back, keeping me from my Highest Good, blocking the Spirit of Love that is available to me at all times should I choose to accept it.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Remember What You Know

Dearest Readers,

Although I have now been back home for over a week after traveling I am continuing to negotiate the murky waters of re-entry mode. This means I move back and forth between feeling totally inspired and excited about my life and total exhaustion and dread.

It was very good for me to go back and re-read that earlier post, linked above. To hear myself say, "Everything can wait. I'm at my best when I'm rested" is a healing balm on the fried wires of my brain.

Indeed, I have been resting. But I've also been very busy working away at all kinds of things, too. Perhaps I've been driving a little too fast, thinking I have to get to the next destination, forgetting that the destination is now.

"What works best is finding a balance between work and rest."

Yes, I really said that. Quoting myself might seem a little bit like megalomania but the wisdom I offer on this blog doesn't really come from me in the first place. It comes from all kinds of wise men and women who have offered it to me and to them it came from Higher Guidance.

So, in fact, I'm taking advice today from the Source of Wisdom itself, the Nap God.

Inspiring Message of the Day: Though I am wise, I forget sometimes what is best for me. I need to be reminded of what my real needs are and today I'm willing to check in with myself to discover what they might be.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Top Ten Morning

Dearest Readers,

I've only been awake for two hours but here are ten things that have already inspired my day:

1. Watching someone walk through her fear by getting up in front of a group of strangers to give a speech for the first time.

2. Hearing a man say he has never in his life known what it means to be obsessed with something.

3. Feeling the cold, fresh air of a -10C morning.

4. Realizing that it is now light out at 8 a.m.

5. Feeling the deep stretch of my spine in Sarvangasana -- Shoulder Stand.

6. Reading my friend Leanne's blog: Living with Breast Cancer.

7. Watching the sun peek over the mountains and head into the sky.

8. Petting the soft and silky fur of the little monkey cat I live with.

9. Having a brief conversation about the unity and community created by Canada's Olympics and being reminded of what a thrill it was to be a part of it.

10. Breakfast.

Inspiring Message of the Day: I will name ten things that have already inspired me so far today. I will do this to remind myself how amazing life is and how rich it is to be awake and alive.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Dearest Readers,

Recently I was having a conversation with a friend who had decided to say "yes" to everything that came her way. "I'm thinking that if it's put in my path it's Divine Will so I'm just saying yes to it." As a result she was experiencing all kinds of miracles in her life.

There was a Jim Carrey movie, Yes Man, that came out last year about a man who took a similar approach to life after being forced into it by a "Yes" guru. It turns his whole life around. Where he was once fearful, he becomes fearless. Where closed, open. You get the idea. He is transformed.

I'm in a situation right now where I've decided to "just say yes" to something that scares me. It's something very banal, something that people do everyday by the millions but I've never done it before and it brings up the terror big-time.

I'm buying a vehicle.

There are all kinds of reasons why I could say no to this prospect and they run the gamut from environmental to financial but I've weighed them all carefully and what my "no" really comes down to is fear. I'm afraid. It may sound silly but it's the truth.

What if I buy the wrong one? What if I can't afford it 6 months down the road? What if I'm struck by lightning because I'm contributing to the accumulation of more junk on the planet? What if the environmental fascists find out and hunt me down?


Seeking Higher Guidance, I consulted the Grace Cards. I was sure I was going to pull one that said "Prudence: don't be an arse you can live without a vehicle you've been doing it for years" but instead I picked "Surprise: Keep an open mind. Grace can often be found in unexpected places."

Even trucks?

So after this conversation with my yes-friend I've made the final decision to go ahead and take the plunge, take the risk and walk through my fear. I'm looking forward to the surprise!

Inspiring Message of the Day: I will practice saying "yes" to whatever comes my way today. I will keep an open mind about where saying "yes" can lead me.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Collective Grief

Dearest Readers,

Lately I've been blogging a lot about how we can reconcile the difficult, terrifying and atrocious things that happen in the world. As you've probably gathered, acceptance is one of the tools that I advocate. Using what I call The Spiritual Solution, or seeing the world from a Higher Perspective, is another.

Yesterday, after reading a short story about a young Irish girl who goes to live with her aunt and uncle for the summer, I remembered one more: balling your eyes out.

I'm not sure if the story moved me so deeply because it was about fathers and daughters or because it took place in Ireland, where I used to live, or because it was about running, which I used to do avidly as a young girl, or whether it was all of these things combined, but I got to the end and friggin' lost it.

It occurred to me as I wept into the cloth napkin I was holding and tried to finish the bite of salad I'd just taken (I happened to be eating my lunch while reading the story) that I was also crying for the Haitians, the Chileans, my friend with metastasic cancer, and for all the suffering that goes on in the world every single day.

It felt good. To grieve. To feel. It's tempting to numb out in the face of such deep pain because we're essentially powerless to change what has happened in any given situation. Our only power lies in our response.

If our response is to take action to make changes in our own lives or support the changes in the lives of others it can sure help to have a good ol' cry before we begin.

Inspiring Message of the Day: When was the last time I really felt the grief that is created in me through the world's suffering? I will find a way to feel my feelings deeply so that I can move forward. I will shed a layer of sorrow to make room for hope.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Healing Words of a Mystic

Dearest Readers,

An article in The New Yorker magazine about the aftermath of the January 12th earthquake in Haiti stopped me in my tracks yesterday. Rather it was this sentence that did it: "One day, I saw a man tied to a pole, hacked up by machetes and beaten to death with rocks."

The reporter who wrote it was driving through the city helping a woman find food for her community. He saw this and worse.

I couldn't read anymore and I put the article away. Only that morning had I blogged about the inspiration and hope instilled in me by the story of Nelson Mandela's act of unifying his country through forgiveness.

How do we reconcile ourselves with such horror in the world as is taking place in Haiti even now as I write this?

The only way I am able to do so is by shifting my perception to the spiritual. Atrocities cannot be understood with the human mind. We must seek to understand these things through a Higher Lens.

The following quote from Hadewijch of Antwerp helps me to do this:

"We must be continually aware that noble service and suffering are proper to man's condition... [T]he true justice of Love [means that] where Love is, there are always great labors and difficult pains.

Love, nevertheless, finds all pains sweet... With the Humanity of God you must live here on earth, in labors and sorrow, while within your soul you love and rejoice with the omnipotent and eternal Divinity in sweet abandonment.

For the truth of both is one single fruition... [Y]ou must here with Love surrender yourself to both in unity. Serve humbly under their sole power, stand always before them prepared to follow their will in its entirety, and let them bring about in you whatever they wish."

Inspiring Message of the Day: I will practice accepting this world as it is, a world where both Love and Sorrow are True. I will do my best to serve humbly under their sole power, which is the Spirit of Unity Back of All Things.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Visionary Leadership

Dearest Readers,

Today I am inspired by a man who spent almost 30 years in prison and then became a peaceful world leader. A man who embraced the country that once despised him and set about healing the wrongs of the past with love and understanding. A man who believed in forgiveness instead of revenge.

This is Nelson Mandela.

Last night I went to see Invictus, the film by Clint Eastwood about Mandela's vision to unite his country using rugby. It's an incredibly uplifting story, all the more so because it's true.

"Invictus" means inconquerable (I had to look it up) and it is the title of the poem that inspired Mandela to move forward, to never give up, to see the positive in the negative and to overcome his situation while in prison.

Here it is:


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley (1849-1902)

Inspiring Message of the Day: I believe in the power of forgiveness. It can change a man, his country and it can change the world. I will practice forgiveness in my own life knowing it is the most radical and most effective approach to healing myself and our planet.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

X Factor

Dearest Readers,

Years ago, before I got on the healing path, I was in a deeply dysfunctional relationship that could only truly be described as totally self-destructive. I probably shouldn't even call it a relationship because we never did have a commitment to one another. We would just get loaded and then end up in bed.

For a time, this person and I lived together, trying to make our non-committed, non-relationship work. It was a disaster. We ended up parting ways under extremely uncomfortable circumstances and for years afterward I held this person in contempt, full of anger and resentment at the way things turned out.

Last night, a friend and I were talking about past relationships and I was relating some of the above story to help her through her own situation. We were talking about what it takes to forgive the person we feel has wronged us.

We both agreed that it takes a lot!

Part of the difficulty comes from the fear of letting go. If I forgive him then he gets away with it! If I let her off the hook that means what she did is okay! If I let go it means... what does it mean?

It means I get to be free.

But... but... it means he/she gets to be free, too. And that's not fair. He hurt me! She wronged me! She deserves to be punished. He should pay!

The irony is, because the fear of letting go is keeping me holding on, I am the one who is, in fact, paying. He's just living his life. She's just doing her thing. I'm in bondage to the desire to see him/her suffer. I'm not free.

The idea that I'd be letting my former lover off the hook kept me holding on to my anger/hurt for a very long time. In order to begin the process of letting go I needed to become willing to see that this person's punishment was not my responsibility. By making it mine I was giving away my power to the past and thereby eroding my own sense of self-worth.

It's taken years but as I told my friend last night, I have managed to let go of the hurt and the anger. I've worked my butt off to allow forgiveness into my heart. Forgive the person, forgive myself. Challenging. But worth it. Because I'm no longer in bondage to the past or to the person.

So then wouldn't you know it, this very person appeared in my dream last night. As my lover.

In the dream, we were getting back together but not in the past, in the present. This person was healed, I was healed. Our love was new and exciting. We were mutually supportive and respectful. Our intimacy was deeply sensual and a heck of a lot of fun.

What does this mean?

For me, the relationship in the dream represents total reconciliation with the wounded/hurt/angry part of myself. She is (I am) over it. She is healed and so I am healed. Together we are whole. We are Self-Love, embodied. New and exciting, mutually supportive and respectful, sensual and fun.


Inspiring Message of the Day: Am I afraid that if I forgive someone I will be letting him/her off the hook? Can I accept that it's not my job to make sure he/she is punished? Today I will become willing to let go of the wound in exchange for my freedom.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Dearest Readers,

All y'all may get tired of me posting how the Creative Power of the Universe will specifically respond to our questions but I will never get tired of blogging about it.

Here's the latest:

As we de-planed yesterday at the Whitehorse Airport I saw a woman holding that book by Sarah Palin called "Going Rogue."

"What exactly does rogue mean, anyway?" I thought to myself.

As I've mentioned before, I am a member of Toastmasters International and one of the standard practices at all TM meetings is the Word of the Day.

The TM meeting I attend is for early birds as it takes place at 7 a.m. on Wednesday mornings. This morning I had to drag myself out of bed to get there. I didn't have to go but I've missed a number of meetings over the course of the last couple of months and I knew if I didn't go today I might never get there again.

When I arrived, a fellow member was writing the Word of the Day on a white board. By now, no doubt, you've guessed what it was. Rogue.

What this tells me is that I am in the Flow, bruthas and sistahs. I am in tune with the Cosmic Consciousness. Not because I'm special but because I have been vigilant about creating and sustaining my relationship with Higher Guidance. I work at it. Everyday. And it pays off.

BTW, "rogue" means "a person whose behavior one disapproves of but who is nonetheless likable or attractive". In case you didn't know.

Inspiring Message of the Day: I will continue to pray and meditate, to seek a connection with the Spirit of Unity Back of All Things. When I make this connection a priority I am shown in both small and great ways that I am truly supported.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Morning After

Dearest Readers,

Now back in Vancouver (and heading home today) I have been experiencing the energy of this city in all its post-Olympics glory. The people are abuzz with happiness and joy. It's thrilling to witness and to have been a part of it feels very special.

Coming here yesterday I was expecting to experience a city with a big, fat hangover but it seems that nobody got drunk! Everyone must have engaged in that most perplexing of activities called social drinking because from what I can tell, no one is sick and tired and full of remorse and regret. I have seen only gracious pride and unity. Too cool!

Reading through one of the Vancouver papers yesterday, I was struck by how positive all the reporting was. There were a few altercations mentioned, protesters going too far and things like that but all in all, thousands and thousands of people behaved themselves and got along.

Some might say, "Duh." No-brainer. We are Canadian, after all. But we are also human beings who can be wild beasts when given the opportunity. And this was a global crowd.

Something about this particular Olympic party encouraged the vast majority of its guests to be peaceful. We were almost entirely unified in our restrained approach to celebrating the bigness of the event.

I find this incredibly hopeful. If you are one of those people who thinks we're all going to hell in a hand basket (I'm not) then surely you are encouraged by such a mass demonstration of togetherness. People can certainly be boors but we can also be real gems, too.

Let's celebrate the hope for humanity for once, shall we? None of this "we're doomed because we're destroying the planet" thinking allowed here. We're doing well, folks. Instead, let's give ourselves a collective pat on the back for sharing the spirit of the times in such an inspiring way.

Inspiring Message of the Day: I will look for opportunities today to connect with my fellow gems knowing we are all in this together and together we can make the world a more hopeful and unified place.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Dogged Determination

Dearest Readers,

About three years ago I decided I needed a vacation. I’m not very good at lying on a beach and having a cabana boy bring me drinks so I started to research alternatives. I was interested in doing something that would enrich my inner life so I Googled “spiritual vacation british columbia.”

What I ended up finding was a little piece of paradise in Naramata, BC, where the Naramata Centre sits on the edge of Lake Okanagan surrounded by lush vineyards and rugged hills. As I leave here today, after my third retreat in three years in this giving place, I am truly grateful for Google and its astonishing wisdom.

What a spiritual vacation gives me that a regular vacation does not is discernment. This computer’s dictionary describes discernment as “perception in the absence of judgment with a view to obtaining spiritual direction and understanding.”

I go on spiritual vacation in order to perceive what I cannot yet see so that I may follow the next course of action in my life.

Last week, after the presentation of the Big O Project in front of 10,000+ people I reported that except for one glitch the show went off without a hitch. I also noted that participating artists and presenters were all ecstatic with the final results.

A few friends responded to my concerns about the glitch with tremendous support. “No one notices these things,” they said.

But I noticed. And the glitch was, in fact, a team of live dogs that got so scared by the noise, the lights and the crowd, that they cowered on stage and had to be pulled off by their handler.

At the time, I was on stage myself, in the role of happy crowd-pleaser, encouraging the masses to clap and dance to the rockin’ music being played to accompany the dogs.

Talk about acting! I was mortified to see the dogs so disturbed and if I had been being truthful to what I was really feeling I would have gone immediately to comfort them instead of clapping and dancing and smiling with joy.

After it was over I was back stage, in this enormous stadium, standing beside the giant torch that was the eye-popping centrepiece for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2010 Olympics, breathing deeply and trying to digest the remorse in my gut. I felt full of shame over what had happened. It was not my greatest moment.

Coming here, to Naramata, seeking discernment, seeking rest, I have been given “perception in the absence of judgment” with regard to this incident, which I’ve been trying to process since it happened. I am glad to say that I have been given the spiritual understanding of the situation that I was seeking. I am now at peace with it.

Without going into everything that happened to get me here, I will tell you the story of the very last piece of the puzzle:

Last evening, as the sun set and the birds danced and sang all around me, I stood on the threshold of the Centre’s Labyrinth, a mystical path used for meditation, with a question.

“What can I offer? What can I give?”

I entered the single path that leads by twists and turns and curving lines, by one way in and one way out, and I walked, step-by-step toward the centre, listening for the answer to my questions.

Just two steps away from the flower-shaped centre two dogs came bounding up to me, seemingly from nowhere. As I greeted them with great love and affection I realized that the answer to my question had just arrived, manifest in the very real figures of these two shaggy beasts.

As they bounded away and I stepped into the heart of the Labyrinth the words washed over me.

“The dogs. I can offer the dogs.”

I had been blaming myself for the terrible fear I saw in the stage dogs’ faces, for putting them through that ordeal. The Labyrinth dogs represented the permission I needed to finally let go of my shame over the stadium incident, AKA the “glitch”.

What can we do with a situation that plagues us in order to move forward? How can we let it go? How can we accept and learn from it?

We can offer it to the same Loving Power that sends us the answers to our deepest questions.

Beats the beach and a cabana boy any day, no?

Inspiring Message of the Day: When I am carrying a heavy burden I can offer it up. I do not have to hang on to that which weighs me down. I can give it to the Source of All Things and be free.