Friday, April 30, 2010

Web of Life

Dearest Readers,

It means so much to me that this blog is being read and that it is inspiring people. The more I embrace the world of social media the more I feel that Great Connection between us all.

It's amazing what the Internet has done to change our relationship to one another. As disconnected, disparate and distanced human beings all alone on our little islands we are now sharing instantly our common bond via the Web.

Each morning, before I post, I check out the blogs that are on my Reader's List. Each morning I check Leanne Coppen's blog Living with Breast Cancer. In yesterday's Inspiring Works post I told you that Leanne died. But today I still went to check her blog. I couldn't not. It's a ritual I'm not ready to let go of just yet.

What I found there amazes me. Comment after comment from Leanne's readers expressing sympathy, condolences, grief, joy, rage, gratitude and love. How many of us were brought together in this virtual community of compassion? Has there ever been anything in history that has connected people so immediately and with such depth as the World Wide Web?

Back in the late '90s there was a great pop song and music video by Jamiroquai called Virtual Insanity. It's a very catchy tune and really fun to dance to. The video was super innovative at the time. The lyrics are all about the total craziness that technology generates and how much of what we've invented is "not Nature's Way."

But for all the insanity that new technology breeds it also creates this unbelievable unity among us. We are truly a global community today because of blogs, Facebook, Twitter and the like. We may be taking it too far sometimes (I just read a great piece in The New Yorker about a guy who walks down the aisle, kisses his bride and later goes down on her in the honeymoon suite Tweeting all the while) we are also benefiting from its broad reach.

A couple of readers sent me messages yesterday thanking me for this blog, for sharing my life, letting me know my words "echo far and wide". This means more to me than I can say. Not because I'm being read by lots of people, though that does make me happy, but because I am a part of this marvelous web of strangers coming together as friends.

Inspiring Message of the Day: Despite the grief we feel, the losses we must bear, the seeming unfairness of certain circumstances, there is a Great Connection of which we are all a part. I can feel that Connection both here, in this virtual world, and here, in the centre of my heart.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Good-bye But Not Gone

Dearest Readers,

Yesterday I received a message announcing that my friend, Leanne Coppen, has died. She was living with cancer and fighting it with every cell in her body. Her blog, Living with Breast Cancer, often stood in for the Inspiring Message of the Day on this blog. She was full of hope and irreverent humour and inspired many, many people with her words.

Leanne and I went to high school together. At 16, Leanne could best be described as a hippie love chick. She had long hair, wore baggy sweaters and long pendants and her wrists and fingers were covered in bracelets and rings. She liked to smoke dope and talk about peace and love and so did I. We were good friends.

Leanne and I had many conversations about what we perceived as the f'd up state of the world and how Peace and Love were the only solutions possible. Once, we got into a deep discussion about currency. Why were there different currencies, we wondered? It's One Planet, One People. There should be One Global Currency, we decided. "A dollar is a dollar," we reasoned.

This became a mantra for all that we believed: A dollar is a dollar!

Leanne and I got our first tattoo together. She got a Sun on her lower abdomen and I just couldn't decide what to get. We sat in the tattoo parlour poring over pictures. She asked me questions, trying to help me figure out what I was looking for. I saw one of her pendants, hanging on a long chain from her neck. It was a Peace Dove. "That's it," I said. "This?" she asked, holding it up. We then held each others' hands through the pain of the tattoo needle.

Today, that Peace Dove, faded now, 22 years old, feels like Leanne on my shoulder.

One other memory stands out among many. I arrived at a party where Leanne was already waiting with a male friend of hers I had not met before. Upon my arrival, he looked at Leanne and said, "Yup." Later, when he was out of the room she said, "Before you got here I was telling him about you. He asked if you were pretty or beautiful. I said, "Beautiful." That's what his 'yup' was in response to."

Leanne, who was stunningly gorgeous and whose beauty both made me jealous and inspired me, thought I was beautiful! This was a defining moment in the Celia McBride self-esteem books, lemme tellya.

Once, my beloved friend Eden, who was and still is Leanne's best friend, said, in the typical stoner language of the day (well, we were stoned a lot of the time!), "Where did Celia man go?" Forever after I was Celia Mango to Leanne and Eden.

Last fall, Leanne and I re-connected. We had stayed in touch over the years and had seen each other probably every five years or so and it had been about that since the last time we'd got together. I emailed her to see if we could have a visit because I would be in Toronto. She emailed me back. "Celia Mango! How completely fantastic to hear from you!"

How I cherish those words now.

Leanne, you still feel really present. I've been talking with you since yesterday. Remembering, sharing, celebrating your life. Leanne, dearest, you introduced me to Goethe and you wrote as deeply as he did. Your words will be remembered, monuments will be erected in your name. Your legacy has only just begun. Believe it.

Inspiring Message of the Day: O Death. You take the body but not the Life. Sadness, grief, loss. All real, all necessary. But beyond those feelings is the Everlasting Spirit, the Indweller of all Beings, the Great Reality: Peace and Love. Therein lies our comfort.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Are You Okay?

Dearest Readers,

Be careful what you pray for. We've all heard this expression. Pray for wisdom you get your butt kicked. Uh-huh. Pray for compassion. Oh boy.

Compassion is not something I'm completely lacking but in certain areas and with certain kinds of people I am less tolerant than I would like to be. The Judge Judy aspect of my personality isn't something I'm proud of but she's there. The good news is that I'm willing to work with her. I'm willing to change.

Lately, I have been asking Higher Guidance to teach me how to respond with compassion and to remove my lack of tolerance. Just when you think no one is listening, nothing is happening, no traceable movement is taking place, the ground shifts and splits open, revealing the Path.

I've been asking for my judgmental thinking to be removed. What happens? I get a pain in the neck. What does the pain in the neck do? It slows me down. It's a pain in the neck! It forces me to listen. It sends me right to the Source.

What do I "hear"? The pain in the neck is inflexibility. It's judgment.

So this morning, I go to the weekly morning meeting of Toastmasters. I'm scheduled to give a speech. I walk in. It's crowded. There's a seat next to a man I don't know. When I ask him if I may squeeze in beside him I get a smart aleck remark. My back goes up.

I sit down, turning away from him. I realize he's new so I force myself to introduce myself. He says, looking into my eyes, "Are you okay?" My back goes up even higher. I say, "Yes, are you?" His eyes are bloodshot. I smell liquor on his breath. I turn away.

My head starts working overtime, "Who is this clown? Drunk in the morning. Arsehole. Arrogant. Am I okay? I'm okay, what about him? Judge, judge, judge." I hear him say, "You may have just BS'ed me but that's okay."

My anger starts to boil. Then... wait a minute. What is going on here? I'm about to give a motivational speech. I'm about to inspire people, shine my Light. How can I do that when Judge Judy has taken over my body?

Something shifts. Who am I to judge this man? I am a clown. I've been drunk in the morning. I've been an arsehole. I am arrogant. I'm NOT okay. I've got a friggin' kink in my neck! This man, drunk or not, saw through me.

I soften. This is the Path. This is Higher Guidance giving me an opportunity to practice compassion. I asked for it. I got it.

So I started again. I welcomed this man to our meeting. I smiled at him. When I gave my speech I included him. I changed my feelings toward him.

Near the end of the meeting he touched my shoulder. "May I leave for a few minutes?" "Of course," I told him. Moments later, I saw him walking by the glass door that leads out into the hallway. He was using support canes. He's handicapped.

My God. Compassion? What about humility? This man was my greatest teacher, the embodiment of Higher Guidance, the answer to my prayer.

After he returned and the meeting was over I shook his hand and encouraged him to come back. "I live 110 miles away," he said. Of course he does. In which direction? Up, perhaps?

I told him it was good to see him at our meeting. "Thank you," he said, "And I hope you're okay."

I am now.

Inspiring Message of the Day: When we are willing to be changed the Benevolent Life Force Energy of Universe will respond in kind. We will be given what we need in the most gentle and loving Way. Higher Guidance is ever-present.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Brain Waves

Dearest Readers,

After taking a listening day yesterday I am feeling very calm and quite grounded. Taking the time to connect with the Higher Self has paid off.

One of the things I "heard" while I was sitting quietly seeking Guidance was "do your homework". Last week I had been given a little assignment by the woman who is my beloved Spiritual Director and I had yet to complete the task.

We had been talking about two conflicting sides of myself and she had suggested I put pen to paper and write the conversation between them using my right hand to represent one side and my left hand the other. Am I ambidextrous? No. I am right-handed. Writing with my left hand is like trying to walk with one leg. But I have done this exercise before and the results have been fascinating and life-altering each time.

The right hand is governed by the left brain. The left brain is logical and the right side of body is "male". The left hand is governed by the right brain. The right brain is intuitive and the left side of the body is "female".

At one point in my walk on the healing path I was doing some work around accepting my male energy, embracing my masculine self. I wrote the conversation between male and female, left brain and right brain, alternating between using my right hand and left hand.

After some back and forth banter, my Masculine Self wrote, "But you hold me in contempt," after my Feminine Self had written, "I love you more than anything. I worship you."

That was a revelation! Was it possible that I could revere the Male while still holding men in contempt? Certainly it was. This discovery was a turning point for me and I began to actively practice loving and accepting my own maleness. Not long after this I chopped off all my hair.

So yesterday's conversation between Logic and Intuition also turned up some eye-opening instructions. I won't share them here as I'm still processing exactly what they mean and I'm not on the other side just yet. Needless to say, this is an exercise that I highly recommend to anyone who is seeking Guidance and feels stuck.

The left-brain/right-brain experience is most beautifully described by Jill Bolte Taylor, who had a stroke and was forced to experience Right Brain Living when the left side of her body shut down. If you haven't watched her TED talk, I leave it with you now. Set aside 20 minutes and watch this. It's phenomenal and seriously inspiring.

Inspiring Message of the Day: Jill Bolte Taylor's Stroke of Insight.

Monday, April 26, 2010


Dearest Readers,

The last blog I posted was about taking the time to look at the world around us. Looking is vital to our practice of Be-ing. What about listening?

Last week I got a kink in my neck. I breathed through the pain, did positive affirmations, refused to give it power and it went away. Two days later it came back.

Because I believe in and practice metaphysics, I adhere to the idea that there is something deeper going on with this pain in my neck. What is "a pain in the neck" in my life right now? That's the obvious question. No real obvious answer, though. Other than taxes.

Okay, take a break from doing the taxes. Thanks for the permission. Is there something more? I went to Louise Hay's book You Can Heal Your Life to find out her thoughts on the deeper meaning behind neck pain.

Please keep an open mind about this. I have to. I take some things Louise says with a grain of salt. For example she corresponds an ingrown toenail with "worry and guilt about your right to move forward." Yah.

Anyway, according to Louise's "List", the neck represents flexibility and neck pain correlates to inflexibility. So where am I being inflexible? I went through all the things in my life and couldn't really find a solid answer.

Perhaps I'm not seeing it, perhaps it's not there. Either way, I am not hearing a clear, definite response.

I once heard someone say that prayer is asking for Higher Guidance and meditation is listening for It. This morning, in prayer, I realized that is precisely what I need to do today.

So I've committed to doing a couple of things that cannot be put off until tomorrow but the rest of the to-do list is going to have to wait. I'm going to take the day to listen.

Inspiring Message of the Day: What am I not hearing? Today I will take the time to get quiet and listen. I trust that in the Silence I will be given what it is I need to hear.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Swan-ee, How I Love Ya

Dearest Readers,

When I got up this morning I happened to look out the window and way up high in the blue, blue sky I saw a "V" of swans flying in perfect formation. The rising sun was hitting their undersides turning their whiteness to shining gold. It was such a gift!

We never know what we'll see if we take the time to look. This idea reminded me of a man I once met who had been walking with his head down one day and found twenty bucks. This, he said, had taught him to always keep his head down. "If you keep your head down," he'd told me, "You never know what you'll see."

I remember thinking this was a little bit backward. "Keeping your head down" can mean "to do or say as little as possible in order to avoid problems or arguments" (Free Dictionary) but it can also indicate low self-esteem. I thought this guy was denying himself the feeling of personal power that can come from walking with head held high.

But perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps it doesn't matter where we are looking as long as we have our eyes open. We can have our heads down and find money or our heads up and see signs of summer approaching. Head down or up, it's our eyes that see the Light.

Seeing those swans this morning brought me back to the Reality of Being. I was about to head into the day, guns blazing, attack the "to do" lists with gusto but there they were, those graceful birds calling my attention, stopping me, landing me in the present moment, reminding me of what is truly important: Beauty, Presence, Joy.

Inspiring Message of the Day: We can never be reminded too often to stop, open our eyes and see the world around us. Today I will practice this process of continuing to land in my body, land in my life, land in the Power of Be-ing.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Sing the Song of Thy Self

Dearest Readers,

Yesterday was Earth Day and although I think everyday should be Earth Day it is still a good thing to dedicate a single day to the cause of honouring our fair planet. It was inspiring to see, hear and read about all of the activities going on in the name of caring for this great ball of miracles and mysteries we call home.

I went to join a community of folks taking part in a yoga class and a meditation and chanting circle. During the meditation portion we were asked to send out loving energy, if we wished, to a particular person or place. As we sat in silence, the leader read us some inspiring text which included words like, "May we be free of danger, may we have mental and physical happiness."

These words reminded me of a song I learned this past winter while on retreat at The Naramata Centre. I've been singing it over and over in my head since last night so I thought I'd share it with you.

May I be filled with Loving Kindness
May I be well
May I be peaceful and at ease
May I be happy

The next verse is a wish for the Other:

May You be filled with Loving Kindness
May You be well
May You be peaceful and at ease
May You be happy

Then comes the version for all of Us:

May We be filled with Loving Kindness
May We be well
May We be peaceful and at ease
May We be happy

And the last verse brings it back to the individual in the form of an affirmation:

I am filled with Loving Kindness
I am well
I am peaceful and at ease
I am happy

The tune is very childlike and quite pretty. I wish I could sing it for you. Then you, too, could get it stuck in your head.

Inspiring Message of the Day: In the hustle and bustle of this day I will take a moment to recognize the amazing world around me. When I connect to the Reality of Being I am filled with Loving Kindness and I am happy.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thanks Be To Gladys

Dearest Readers,

Last fall, I blogged about a conversation with a friend who told me about a film called The Inn of the Sixth Happiness starring Ingrid Bergman as a missionary in China. My friend shared a courageous quote from the film with me and I've used it a lot ever since.

Last weekend I was poring over the DVD's at the local library and guess what I found? The Inn of the Sixth Happiness. Of course, I had to get it.

Well, if you've already gone back to read the earlier post, you'll see that I called the film a "B-movie that nobody saw". Not exactly true. It wasn't a B-movie at all. It was nominated for an Oscar and a number of other awards and was largely hailed at the time of its release.

Another interesting point to correct is the quote my friend had shared. She remembered it as, "Yes, open the door." In fact, when the guard asks the Bergman character if she is afraid she says, "Yes, I am afraid. Now open the gate." Same diff but worth mentioning anyway.

What is the sixth happiness? Bergman's character, Gladys Aylward, also wants to know. According to the woman who Gladys asks, another female missionary, the Chinese believe there are five happinesses: wealth, longevity, good health, virtue and a peaceful death in old age. Gladys' mentor then goes on to say that each person decides in her own heart what the sixth happiness is.

Gladys Aylward was a real person. She was devoted to serving her God and gave her life to the Chinese people in myriad ways, including helping nearly one hundred orphans of war trek through dangerous mountains to safety. But at the end of the film Gladys gives up her devotion to service as well as the loving children she's adopted to go back to a man with whom she's fallen in love. Her sixth happiness is romantic love.

Now, it's not impossible for a person called by Higher Love to change her mind and follow the path of Romantic Love. But it's a pretty radical shift so I did a little bit of research to find out if Gladys really did give up selfless service for marriage. Guess what? She did not.

I found this quote in an online biography:

"Please note that although Inn of the Sixth Happiness is a well-produced, heartwarming movie starring the great actress Ingrid Bergman it was a thorn in the side of Gladys Aylward. She was deeply embarrassed by the movie because it was so full of inaccuracies. Hollywood also took great liberties with her infatuation with the Chinese Colonel Linnan, even changing him into an Eurasian. But Gladys, the most chaste of women, was horrified to learn the movie had portrayed her in 'love scenes'. She suffered greatly over what she considered her soiled reputation."

Can you imagine seeing your life portrayed in a major Hollywood film and the life they portray is actually not your own? Talk about having to "let go and let God!"

All this to say that Gladys Aylward, the real Gladys Aylward, is now on my list of Inspiring Teachers. It might have been the writer of The Inn of the Sixth Happiness who gave us, "Yes, I am afraid. Now open the gate," but it was Gladys who inspired her to write it.

Inspiring Message of the Day: We can look for inspiration in those Great Teachers who have blazed the trail before us. When I am fearful I will remember their stories and use their courageous example to spur me on.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Halfway There

Dearest Readers,

Today marks the official halfway point of my commitment to blog six days a week for one full year. I don't know why but it feels like I should be celebrating. It's a milestone, to be sure.

For those of you who don't know, this blog was started for a couple of reasons. The first was that I had just seen "Julie and Julia", the film about the gal who blogs each day as she journeys through Julia Child's cookbook. The second reason was that the cat I live with woke me up at 5 a.m. and when I prayed for help not to kill him the Still Small Voice whispered, "Start a blog."

Posting six days a week has its challenges and I'll be honest, sometimes I resent the fact that I've made this commitment to myself. I've often considered reneging but somehow can't bring myself to give up. Besides that, I do like it. A lot. And it helps me. I can be in a foul mood when I start writing and by the time I'm done the irritability has dissipated and I'm truly inspired.

Knowing that I have faithful readers certainly helps. I noticed I lost a follower recently and that was a bit of a sad moment but I receive comments through email and in person and your positive feedback keeps me going.

Apologies for the road block on the comments. I put it there because I got a spam-like comment that linked to a porn site. I'm presently building a new website and am trying to figure out how to transfer the blog over to the site so that people will be able to freely leave their comments each day. I so enjoy getting them and hope to make this happen soon.

Overall, the purpose of this blog is inspire me and you to walk through our respective fears, cultivate courage to achieve our goals, and explore the adventure of our own lives. It is a little bit of experience shared and hope delivered. In the words of the great E.M. Forster, it is a way to "connect, only connect."

Inspiring Message of the Day: We are not alone. We are all in this together. Thank you to the Internet, that mad, exciting forum of the present and the future, for bringing us all together.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Angelic Intervention

Dearest Readers,

Do you believe in angels? That is to say, have you ever had an encounter with a person who appeared just when you needed him to and who told you just what you needed to hear?

A couple of weeks ago, on Easter Sunday, I went to the Anglican Church in Dawson City. I like to go to church on Easter. It feels like an appropriate thing to do. I like the singing and the children running around and I like the sense of community.

What I'm not crazy about is the Resurrection story being told as historical fact. I can dig the Bible stories as metaphors but I've done a lot of reading about the historical significance of these stories and they were never, ever meant to be taken literally.

So I'm sitting in church listening to the minister tell me that the story of the empty tomb is historically true and I'm getting madder and madder and I just want to leave or shout something like, "It's a metaphor, dude!" but I know I can't do that so I began to pray instead.

"Help me to have tolerance for these people. Help me to have compassion. Help me. Help me. Help me."

The time came for communion. I'm not baptized and so I stayed in my seat. A man who was sitting in front of me turned around to talk to me while the rest of the congregation filed up to the front. Apparently he was not going up either.

This man had looked back at me a couple of times at the beginning of the service and though I'd smiled at him I had judged him, too. He looked rough, bloodshot eyes, missing teeth, raggedy clothes. I thought, "He's a broken down alcoholic."

He asked me where I was from and I told him. He began to tell me a bit of his story. He spoke of his grandparents, both dead now, who'd lived into their 100's, whom he'd cared for in their final years. He told me about life in the bush and living on the land, the wisdom of his elders and the gifts they had given him. Moved by his kindness, my heart cracked open and eyes filled with tears.

He said, "If the Sun sent us a heating bill we'd all be in debt."

As the service resumed he turned around and faced the front. The light from the giving Sun shone through the stained glass and lit the room anew. The music swelled, filling the whole place up with life. I stood up to sing with the people I'd previously judged. We sang as one.

When I told this story to a friend recently she said, "You met an angel." Angel or man, he opened my heart. I was moved from anger and judgment to love and compassion. I has asked for help and immediately received it.

The real point of the Resurrection story and this story, too, is that there is something Greater at work. There are things that happen that we cannot explain. There is a Power that responds to our needs. This Power is Love.

Inspiring Message of the Day: Yes, I'm actually going to quote ABBA for the IMD: "I believe in angels. Something good in everything I see. I believe in angels. When I know the time is right for me."

Monday, April 19, 2010

Not so Dull

Dearest Readers,

Over the weekend I was speaking with a friend who has a lot going on in her life right now. After telling me about a particularly intense experience I said to her, "Never a dull moment."

Her response to my statement was, "It would be good to have a dull moment or two around here," to which I said, "Yup, we have to welcome the dull moments."

Not everyone may have a the kind of life which necessitates inviting dull moments to come in but for those of us that are overachievers, perfectionists, workaholics, busy bees, or stimulant junkies it's a pretty sound piece of advice.

It took shingles for me to learn how to welcome the dull moments. For those of you who aren't familiar with shingles, it's a viral disease, the same one as chickenpox, and it travels through the nervous system, bursting through the skin in a painful rash of blisters.

When I was diagnosed, I was told there are three causes: age, compromised immune system and stress. Since I was in my early thirties and my immune system was healthy I had to accept that stress was the reason I now had what felt like small knives stabbing repeatedly into my back.

Because shingles can recur, my body now has a built-in stress-reducer. If I don't ever want to experience the pain of those blisters again, and believe me I don't, then I need to be careful about how much stress I invite into my life.

The key word in that last sentence is "invite". What I learned from the shingles experience was that I was actually creating the experience of chaos in my life. It wasn't happening to me. I was making it happen.

This was a big wake-up call. Not easy to accept at first, certainly, but once I did I could then begin to make the necessary changes.

The biggest change was learning how to welcome the dull moments. Learning how stop, to rest, to say no to things that caused stress or burn-out or exhaustion. I learned about self-care in a whole new way. Today, my well being comes first, period.

Admittedly, I do not do this perfectly. I can still tend toward workaholism and over-stimulation but I am light years away from where I was when those blisters burst on my back and said, "Celia, we need a break."

Thank goodness they did and thank goodness I listened.

Inspiring Message of the Day: Today I will welcome the dull moments. In the dull moments the Silence awaits us. In the Silence there is Peace. I deserve this Peace.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Free and Easy

Dearest Readers,

How spontaneous are you? Can you change your plans in a heartbeat? Do something wild and daring at the drop of a hat? Make a decision on the fly without knowing whether it's really the right thing to do? If so, I admire your spontaneity.

The dictionary on this computer describes "spontaneous" as "having an open, natural, and uninhibited manner." It also says that spontaneity "occurs as a result of a sudden inner impulse without premeditation."

Although I like to think I have an open, natural and uninhibited manner the reality is I have a pretty regimented schedule, which contrary to the way it sounds, brings me maximum wellness. I need to be vigilant with my time in order for my spiritual and emotional health to remain in alignment.

What this means is that I'm not the most spontaneous gal on the block. When I run into someone on the street and they say, "How about going for a coffee?" my answer is usually, "Can't right now. Email me and we'll set something up." Scheduling ahead of time is the best I can do. And it works.

Most of the time. Because vigilance has its downside. When vigilance becomes rigidity we're in control-issue territory and its probably best to mix it up a little. Throw caution to the wind and break free. Let go and let spontaneity in. Take a walk on the wild side.

Yesterday a friend asked me to go for coffee with her. She had just given me a lift to the bank and suggested we go to the cafe across the street and catch up. It had been a while since we'd spent any time together, the sun was shining and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to hang out.

Internally, my first response was, "Oh no, I can't." But then I realized that, in fact, I could. There was nothing I had to do that couldn't wait. The only thing stopping me was... fear.

Fear of what? Oh, I don't know. Changing my schedule. Fear of socializing or being seen. Fear of lattes. Whatever! Fear is illogical and ridiculous. It doesn't make any sense. But it keeps us from living a full life and it will make our decisions for us if we let it.

So I said "yes". Pretty wild, I know. But I could think of no good reason to say "no" other than it felt more comfortable than saying yes. So I did the uncomfortable thing. I changed my plans in the moment. I acted spontaneously!

My friend and I ended up having a really good conversation. I think we were both able to process a number of things going on in our respective lives. And it was fun! I know, fun, what a concept.

At the end of our time together I thanked my friend for asking me to join her. She thanked me for being spontaneous. Open, natural, uninhibited. That's me. On a good day.

Inspiring Message of the Day: I will practice doing the thing that takes me out of my comfort zone. Today I will respond with spontaneity to something new that comes my way.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Define Fearless

Dearest Readers,

You may recall reading in a past blog that one of the visions I have for my life is to become fearless. I have only really ever heard of one person described as having achieved this seemingly ideal state of being, and that was Swami Vishnu-devananda. It is he that has always inspired this vision in me.

Swami Vishnu, or Swamiji as he is affectionately known to his followers, came to the West from India at the urging of his guru, Swami Sivananda, and started the Sivananda Yoga Vendanta Centres, which now have ashrams and yoga studios all over the world. A robust and smiling man, Swamiji created the Yoga Teachers Training Course, which I took in 2003, with the vision to develop messengers of peace.

Whenever I think or hear or read about fearlessness, I think of Swamiji. I don't know if he really was fearless because I never met him. I just remember one of his students describing him as "absolutely fearless" and I have never forgotten it. The concept awes me.

Yesterday I picked up a book I borrowed from the lending library at Hospice Yukon Society called Facing Fear, Finding Courage -- Your Path to Peace of Mind by Sarah Quigley with Marilyn Shroyer, PH.D. I had just signed the book out the day before, when I'd stopped in to return another book that had been passed on to me back in February.

When I went into Hospice Yukon I had no intention of getting another book but the woman there was so kind and so helpful that when she encouraged me to look in their library I took it as Higher Guidance. When I saw the Quigley/Shroyer book I thought it would be a good reference for the upcoming Cultivate Your Courage workshops I'll be leading on May 29 in Whitehorse and in June at the Sivananda Yoga Retreat in Paradise Island, Bahamas.

When I got home and began to flip through the book these were the very first words I read: "Stop striving to become fearless."

Stop? Striving to be fearless? Really?

Here's why they think so: "No book, workshop, or pep talk will make all our fears vanish. Sometimes we have to go on living with fear because it's based on realistic concerns."

The authors then go on to describe things that would naturally make a person afraid like your daughter going missing or being alone for the first time. Makes sense, right? These are realistic concerns.

"Keep reminding yourself how courageous you are to keep facing your fears" is the sentence that ends the paragraph. I like that. Courage isn't the absence of fear it's the willingness to go through it.

Okay, so I get that fear is a natural part of being human and that if I run into a rattlesnake I'm going to be afraid, but what about striving to be fearless around unrealistic concerns? The fear of failure/fear of success concerns or the fear of being disliked concern?

Those kinds of fears are the ones that I'm seeking to be free of on this life's journey. Those fears are not based on realistic concerns at all. They're based on Old Belief Systems (Old BS) that are no longer working. Can't I still strive to become fearless in that way?

As a coach I'd say, "Of course you can. You can do whatever you want." But what this book is talking about is accepting fear as a natural part of being human. Accepting fear and learning to live with it is the real freedom we're seeking because that acceptance is what will finally free us from being controlled by our fear.

Perhaps Swamiji would agree. Perhaps he still had fears that his disciples didn't see. Perhaps he wasn't as fearless as people thought. He was still human, after all.

Maybe being rid of fear is not the goal. What if we were to define fearlessness as "facing your fears head on"? If that were the case then the vision of fearlessness does not seem so far off. In fact, it feels downright happening now.

Inspiring Message of the Day: I am willing to accept that I will never be rid of certain fears. However, I will continue to strive for freedom from the fears that bind me to suffering and keep me from experiencing the fullest life possible.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Help is on the Way

Dearest Readers,

Recently I was a part of a sharing circle for women who are struggling with trauma and addiction issues. One of the tools we discussed was "asking for help". Most of us agreed that asking for help is anathema. Too hard, feels gross, forget it I'm not doing it.

It's not easy for a person who has been hurt to ask for help because the fear of rejection is huge. Our trust issues can keep us from doing the one thing that will bring us relief. Saying "I need help" is probably the fastest way to change the situation but also the most terrifying.

When I was in high school I was directing a play and needed to move a set piece onto the stage. It was way bigger than I could handle but did I need help? Help no! I hauled it and pushed it and nearly broke my back moving it to where I needed it to go. Success! But wait. Oh no! In the process I had scraped the heck out of the stage floor.

Our drama teacher came before the class and asked the person responsible for the damage to step forward. No one did. I wrestled with the guilt. Finally, I went to him and confessed. He was very forgiving, probably because I'd stepped forward to tell the truth. He'd wanted to know why I hadn't just asked someone to help me move the damn thing?

Good question. If the thought occurred to me at the time I don't remember. Likely I didn't want to bother anyone (people-pleaser), or I was afraid of appearing weak (ego-driven) or I simply thought I could do it alone (false pride). Regardless, I ruined the floor and learned a good (hard) lesson.

One of the gals in the sharing circle who had been through extreme trauma in the form of sexual abuse volunteered to share her feelings with the group. She opened up, probably for the first time, and told us what she was going through. Lots of fear, anger and shame came up but lots of hurt, too, and great sadness. Although she didn't actually say, "I need help," she was, in a way, asking for it just by telling us what was in her heart.

That's where it begins. Telling the truth about ourselves from our hearts. This is how I'm really doing. This is how I really am. Will you help me? From there asking for help to move the furniture becomes second nature.

Inspiring Message of the Day: I will practice telling the truth about myself from my heart. I will practice asking for help when I need it.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Walk Through This

Dearest Readers,

As some of you know, my friend Leanne is fighting for her life right now, battling Stage 4 breast cancer that has moved into her lungs and is not responding to traditional treatments.

Her blog, Living with Breast Cancer, is worth following not only for its inspiring message but for Leanne's irreverent humour and acerbic wit.

Below is a link to an orientation video from the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation about the “Weekend To End Women’s Cancers”, which Leanne participated in last year. She comes in around the 6-minute mark looking gorgeous in a black floppy hat.

Inspiring Message of the Day: Watch this:

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Sixth Sense

Dearest Readers,

What is your opinion of ESP?

Here's a little background info from Wikipedia:

Extrasensory perception (ESP), also commonly referred to as the sixth sense, involves reception of information not gained through the recognized physical senses but sensed with the mind. The term was coined by German psychical researcher, Rudolf Tischner, and adopted by Duke University psychologist J. B. Rhine to denote psychic abilities such as telepathy and clairvoyance. ESP implies acquisition of information by means external to the basic limiting assumptions of science.

Yesterday I had what can only be described as an ESP experience. It's not the first time in my life something like this has happened but it was so extreme that I just have to share it with you.

On my way to a friend's birthday party I passed a little house nestled in the commercial part of the downtown core. Twenty years ago I knew the woman who lived there. We weren't really well acquainted but we did hang out a few times and I remember liking her very much.

I have passed that house many times and think of her every time I go by it but yesterday it looked as though someone had cleaned up the yard and so the property caught my particular attention. It was almost... glowing.

This is what I thought as I went by: "There is where Lorna used to live. I wonder where Lorna is today. I wonder if she still lives in Whitehorse. I wonder if I'll ever see her."

From there I remembered one of the wild nights Lorna and I had spent together partying in a bar and picking up a cowboy who walked us both home, first her and then me. (I also remembered that cowboy trying to convince me to let him come inside but that's another story.)

Not long after this trip down memory lane I arrived at my friend's birthday celebration. There were quite a few people there and I didn't know everyone. I had another meeting that afternoon so I had to duck out early. On my way out I ran into a woman at the door. As I excused myself I looked at her face.

It was Lorna.

Reception of information not gained through the recognized physical senses but sensed by means external...

Means external. Far... out.

Inspiring Message of the Day: The mystical path involves having experiences that go way beyond the intellect. When I am bogged down by reason and logic I will remember that there is a deeper place of understanding available to me and I will open to receive its messages.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Queen For(ever) a Day

Dearest Readers,

Home sweet home after an 11-day journey. The house-sitter filled the apartment with flowers and ironed my pillowcases. Never in my five-year history of using house-sitters have I ever come home to such graciousness. I feel like a Queen.

That must be why I dreamt about the Queen last night. Yes, the Queen. Elizabeth II of England, the current monarch whose face appears on our Canadian money.

In the dream, she and I became pals, riding to the grocery store together in her royal coach, talking about the house she stayed in the last time she was in Whitehorse (in the late '50s) and why the Royals are so popular in the NWT (when I was in that great Territory last year Royal fever was everywhere).

It wasn't exactly easy making small talk with Her Majesty. I was trying to be myself as well as respectful, which made for an uncertain sense of being, but in the end we managed to cobble together a decent conversation as we headed for the Extra Foods store down the road.

I'm thinking the dream has to do with self-worth. Some of the wind was knocked out of my sails last week and it's been a steady helm back to full speed ahead ever since. Arriving home last night to find the apartment looking and feeling like a 5-star hotel brought up the question, "Do I deserve this?"

The good news is I think I do. The even better news is I think you do, too.

I don't think I deserve abundance because I'm special or different or working so much harder than anyone else. I believe we deserve abundance because we are Queens and Kings, all of us.

The Queen of England is no better or worse than any of us. She doesn't deserve her riches any more than we do. She doesn't NOT deserve them either. Every single one of us, no matter who we are, no matter what we look like, no matter what we do or don't do, say or don't say, deserves the kind of riches afforded to royalty.

Now, you might think I'm talking about castles and jewels and great wealth. I'm not. Well, I am. But metaphorically speaking. The riches we deserve are Unconditional Love and Abundance. Unconditional Love and Abundance are the birthright of every single person that enters this little planet we call Earth.

How do I know this? By what authority can I make this statement? By Divine Authority. That's right. Celia McBride, D.A.

Try something. Set yourself on a rigorous path of healing to free yourself of the shame that keeps you bound to fear. Embark on a spiritual journey that involves prayer and meditation. Each day, make it your practice to seek the Highest Wisdom that is within you. Listen for the Truth. You, too, will come to know It.

Divine Authority is not for the "chosen" few. You know that expression "Many are called, few are chosen"? There's a better version: "All are called. Few choose to follow."

Choosing to follow the Divine leads to a deeper understanding of who we really are. We are Royal, in every sense of the word.

Inspiring Message of the Day: I am a Queen. I am a King. The riches of Unconditional Love and Abundance are my birthright. Today I will accept them knowing this is the Highest Truth of All.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Road Work Ahead

Dearest Readers,

It's amazing what can happen in an instant. All of a sudden you're going along, moving forward, doing the footwork to manifest your vision and WHAM! something blocks your way.

Yesterday I was in a meeting with a funding organization who has been supporting the making of a feature film I have in development. During the meeting, one of my biggest advocates admitted that she doesn't like the new version of the script. She liked the old version. She wants me to go back to the old version. The version I just spent five months re-working with a story editor.

I have to say, I handled the situation very well. Not too long ago I think I would have shrunk like a violet, backpedaled, and said whatever I could to please her. But I didn't. I was calm, I maintained a sense of authority as the author, and I made valid points to contradict her arguments.

But I left the office in shock. I got on the bus, which took me over the Burrard Bridge and got off on the other side in a daze. It had been a long week that had begun with five days of the Dawson Film Fest followed by three days of meetings in Vancouver. I was worn out.

So I began to cry. I've blogged before about crying as a healing tool, as a necessary part of the process of change, growth and self-empowerment. Knowing I was just releasing energy that had been building in the form of tension and expectation enabled me to let the tears come. I leaned against a big ol' tree for support and felt my feelings.

When the flow of emotion stopped, I moved on, heading back to the place where I was staying to pack and depart on the next leg of the journey, which has brought me to Summerland for a conference. In addition to the cry, I sent an email about the experience to a couple of people who are supporting the project and looked ahead to determine my next steps.

In short, I allowed myself to feel, I shared with others and then I let it go.

So today, though I am focused on other things and that helps, I feel quite surrendered about what might or might not happen next. Having faith means trusting that whatever comes down the pipe can be interpreted as Higher Guidance. Prayer and meditation will now assist in bringing further clarity and help determine my next steps.

I'll keep you posted.

Inspiring Message of the Day: I will continue to interpret "road blocks" as part of the puzzle of the journey ahead. I will practice interpreting everything that happens to me as sign posts on the road map to my Highest Good.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Look Around

Dearest Readers,

Today I leave Vancouver and head to a conference in Summerland. Don't you just love the name of that place? A land where it is always summer. That is probably not the case but the image is sure nice.

I've been inspired by so many things these last few days. There was a great line in a movie made in the eighties called Wall Street that went something like, "There are eight million stories out there." The guy who said it was referring to the people of New York.

Here in Vancouver, there may only be 2 million people but that is still a lot of stories and a lot of things going on.

For instance, the woman I'm staying with went to an event hosted by the Feminist Historical Society last night. This is a group of woman who are committed to writing the history of feminism in Canada because guess what? It hasn't been written yet.

I myself attended a film industry mixer and met all kinds of different people. One of them was a man who is one of the top gaffers in the city but has a dream of directing his own screenplay one day.

Everyone has a story. Everyone has a dream. Sometimes, when I'm in the Big City, I stop, look around and observe people one by one, taking them in as I say, "That person has a full life, that person has a full life..." and so on. It reminds me that I am not the centre of the universe.

Inspiring Message of the Day: Inspiration is all around us all the time. Every moment we are awake there is something to notice, something to see, something to remind us of the profundity of being alive. Look around!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Love vs Zombies

Dearest Readers,

Whenever I come to Vancouver (or any other Big City) I like to take in some kind of artistic experience, be it a play, a tour through an art gallery or an excellent film. This particular trip has coincided with TREMORS: a new generation of contemporary theatre, by Rumble Productions and the last couple of nights I've been to two of the plays.

The first one, I'm So Close created by Why Not Theatre, dealt with love and the end of the world. The second one, Cozy Catastrophe by Theatre Melee, dealt with the end of the world and... fear. Interesting mix.

Where does our obsession with the end of the world come from? Why do films like The Day after Tomorrow and 2012 rake in millions of dollars? What is it all about?

In the case of the first play I saw it was more about our need to ask deep philosophical questions. The Universe is expanding. One day it will expand so much that it will cease to be. What's the point? The story explored the idea that Love makes the meaningless of it all somehow meaningful.

The second play I saw was about aliens and zombies taking over the world. Scared, selfish and, frankly, stupid people try to figure out how to survive. They don't do a very good job. It was a disaster play. Funny but ridiculous. It was about entertainment, pure and simple.

Because we don't have the answer to the Big Question, which is "What are we doing here?", we will naturally try to figure it out. This is the nature of the human mind. Some of us will ponder the human condition and find hope in the answer (Love) and others will make fun of our situation and find no hope (Zombies Rule).

There was a time in my life when I was afraid to have hope. If I have hope, I reasoned, I will be disappointed, I will be hurt, I will be vulnerable. It's easier to not believe in anything, to say, "Who cares?" and live accordingly. But it wasn't easier. It was harder. It was more painful, more disappointing, more scary.

Today the hope that I have comes from faith. Faith in Love. Faith that despite the Universe's expansion and inevitable demise (according to the play it will happen in 150 billion years, which is the approximate age of our current Universe -- we're halfway there -- goes by quick, no?) there is a Higher Power and this Power knows us because It is Us and We Are It.

Not everyone has to agree with me. We're all on our own individual journey. All I know is that I was guided to this faith. I didn't create it. It was given to me, shown to me through events and circumstances that were beyond my human control. And that is what continues to feed my own Hope for humanity.

Like the song says, "It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine."

Inspiring Message of the Day: Do I have hope? Do I believe in the Power of Love to overcome all obstacles? If not, why not? What is holding me back from having faith in Higher Guidance? Today I will ponder these questions in search of the deepest answers.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Riding the Bus of Life

Dearest Readers,

The city of Vancouver feels a lot quieter now that the Olympics have left town. There are signs everywhere indicating that the mammoth event did, in fact, take place here, but the incredible buzz that existed during that time is gone.

What has remained, however, beyond the advertisements and the architecture and the infrastructure, is the connection between the people, the conviviality, and the sense of familiarity that comes when folks have shared something special and so cease to be strangers.

When I was here in February in the very midst of the Olympic frenzy, I blogged about this connectivity because the experience was so heartening. I remember posting on Facebook something like, "The Olympics is making people talk to each other on the bus! No one talks on the bus!"

Well, that's how I know that the city has undergone a true transformation. The global party has changed Vancouverites in an enduring and lasting way because yesterday, on the bus, a woman not only spoke to me but practically became my new best friend.

Although I've become more and more familiar with this city I'm still not totally sure of how to get from A to Z. I got on the bus last night heading to my destination without a really clear idea of what route I should take. When I asked the bus driver, who it turned out didn't know, a woman sitting near the front piped up with the directions.

After depositing the fare, I moved up to where the woman sat with her young son and she explained to me how best I could get to where I was going. I thanked her and then her son showed me his Easter rabbit, a small bunny made from plastic crystal snowballs with pink felt ears and black wire whiskers.

The boy and I began to have a conversation and his mother would join in occasionally, the three of us engaging with one another as though we'd known each other for years. The woman told me I should get off the bus with them at the next stop and then they'd walk a block with me to the transfer point. She was happy to show me the way.

We got off the bus and continued yakking the way people who are not strangers do. Just then, the woman saw my bus and said I should run for it. I did, waving and thanking her, the boy still talking to me as I ran, shouting after me about his love for dragons, waving back with his little bunny clasped in his hand.

Now, would this story have happened just has easily if the Olympics had not taken place here? Of course it is possible. Friendly people are everywhere. But it is this familiarity that I feel here now, this sensation of true camaraderie that comes when a group of people have been through something BIG together, that makes this encounter more than just your average everyday friendliness.

After I got on the second bus and reflected on what had just happened I thought to myself that I should have given that woman my business card or at least asked her if she was on Facebook. It seemed a shame to lose touch so soon after we'd become friends.

Inspiring Message of the Day: We are all strangers to each other until we are not. It doesn't take much for us to connect to one another, to remember that we are, in fact, all here on this planet together. Familiar, connected, friends.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

20/20 Vision

Dearest Readers,

They say hindsight is 20/20 and that perfect understanding of an event occurs only after it has happened. I experienced this form of awareness-after-the-fact last night after posting yesterday's blog.

There I was, writing about beauty, mystery and Spirit and what a magnificent world we live in and I was in a total fit of temper. I was completely exhausted, the cat was crying incessantly, it was getting later and later and I had to get up super-early to catch a plane. All of this was making my blood boil as I composed an Inspiring Blog!

It wasn't until after I fell into bed that the irony of the situation smacked me right between the eyes. How could I have expected to inspire others when I was feeling so uninspired myself? Am I a fraud for even attempting to do so?

Perhaps. But perhaps not.

Apparently Mother Teresa experienced profound doubt and depression during her long life of service. Did that lessen the effect she had on the people she was caring for? I don't think it did.

Believe me, I'm not comparing myself to Mother Teresa but I am interested in the idea that we can still help people when we are feeling helpless ourselves.

I once heard a story that Bill Wilson, one of the co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, was in a very deep state of depression when he wrote one of the organization's most helpful books. Has this stopped the book from helping millions of suffering drunks? No.

But can we really be effective in service to others regardless of our own personal grief? I think Mother Teresa and Bill W. proved that we can. There was a time in my life when I believed that this wasn't possible, that only the purest of healers could heal. Today, I'm letting go of that rigid way of thinking.

Last night, while I was writing that blog, I was genuinely trying to create something inspiring. I was making an authentic attempt. The fact that I was not feeling completely inspired while writing it is then rather beside the point. Isn't it?

The amazing thing about all of this is that the blog ended up changing how I felt. As I lay in bed reflecting on all of the above, I remembered the Inspiring Message of the Day that I'd just composed. It helped me to connect to the Big Picture, let go of my irritability and relax into a place of peace.

Maybe that's why hindsight is 20/20. If the thing has to happen for perfect understanding to occur then I needed this experience to figure it all out.

Inspiring Message of the Day: I will continue to stay open to the idea that we can be of service to others no matter how we are doing ourselves. I don't have to be perfectly healed to take part in the healing of others.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Dance of the Spirits

Dearest Readers,

Today's post is being written at the end of the day instead of the beginning due to the fact that I was on the road this morning, traveling back to Whitehorse from Dawson city post-filmfest. I thought about not posting because it is getting late and I am tired but I have committed to posting six days a week for one year come hell or high water, so here I am.

Last night, after the festival wrapped, I was lying in bed on the top floor of the inn where I was staying listening to the last few stragglers leave the festival building. I'd cracked open the window beside the bed to breathe in the fresh night air and sounds of laughter and footsteps crunching on gravel traveled up and into my room.

I heard someone yell, "Look up!" and then an immediate cheer from a number of voices. I pulled up the blind and hauled open the window to see what had caused the shouting. I sucked in my breath. The whole sky was alive and dancing with ribbons of pink and green and white.

The Aurora Borealis.

I looked down to the street below to see the small crowd of friends gazing up in wonder at the light show. As everyone oohed and aahed, one of them began to play an accordion.

Was I in a dream? Maybe a film.


A woman leans out a third-floor window, her chin resting in her hand. Below on the street, a man plays the accordion, softly singing a French lullaby. Above, the black night plays host to technicolour shards of swirling light.

Maybe a short film.

This is what Wikipedia tells me I saw: "Auroras are associated with the solar wind, a flow of ions continuously flowing outward from the sun. The Earth's magnetic field traps these particles, many of which travel toward the poles where they are accelerated toward earth. Collisions between these ions and atmospheric atoms and molecules causes energy releases in the form of auroras appearing in large circles around the poles."

Yawn. I just call it magic.

Inspiring Message of the Day: Beauty! Mystery! Spirits! What a world, my friends. What a world!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

And the Oscar Goes To...

Dearest Readers,

If you had the opportunity to meet someone who had won an Academy Award, wouldn't you be tempted to ask him about it? Isn't it something you'd be curious about despite the frivolity of it all? Come on, admit it. You'd wanna know. Wouldn't you?

Yesterday I attended a workshop here at the Dawson City International Short Film Festival with Chris Landreth, who won the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film in 2004. Mr. Landreth is a good speaker and an even better teacher and it was a super-informative session on psychorealism in animation and creative inspiration.

When the time came for Q&A some of us asked questions about Landreth's process and personal history and this created all kinds of further fascinating discussion. But not one person asked about the Oscar. So I put up my hand.

"What's it like to be the only person in a room who's won an Academy Award?"


"To be honest, that all feels like a really f%&$ing long time ago."

Oh. Okay. Was this a sensitive issue? Maybe not. Maybe he just gets tired of being asked about it. After all, who cares? Really. It's just a gold friggin' statue. Most winners keep it in the bathroom. Or on the top shelf of the walk-in closet. It's totally meaningless in the Big Picture.

But I pressed on.

"You have to admit it's a huge thing, though, and people want to hear about it, because the Oscars play such a big role in this industry."

At that point someone in the audience, a friend of Landreth's called out, "What were you wearing, Chris?"

After making a joke about his friend being a shill (a person deliberately planted in the audience to play along -- I had to ask him later what he'd meant by that) Landreth admitted the Oscar had been a good thing, he'd had fun, he'd enjoyed it.

Boy, was I glad. I had begun to feel like an arsehole for even asking about it. I'm a showbiz junkie, I admit it. I've got a whole mental filing cabinet of Oscar speeches ready to go. If it's featherbrained to want to know how winning the biggest award in the entertainment industry has changed a person's life then, yuppers, I've got feathers for brains.

But come on, man. You won an Oscar. As a storyteller I'm like, hello! Great story opportunity, ya know? Tell us about it why dontcha!

Sure, it gets tiring answering the same question all the time. I can't tell you how many times I've been asked, "So what was your inspiration for the idea behind XYZ?"

It's tempting to say, "Oh, God. That is such a boring question. Next!" But I have to remember that I'm in a different place each time the question is asked and the people in this particular audience haven't heard the same answer I've given a thousand times. I consider it my job to be responsive and engaging.

Don't get me wrong. Landreth was all of that and more. I was just a little taken aback by the F-Bomb. But I put myself out there to ask the question he's probably been asked a million times and that's what I got. It was interesting.

And he wore a black tux.

Inspiring Message of the Day: Nothing ventured, nothing gained, folks. And if I ever get a chance to use one of my Oscar speeches and you ask me about it later, I will do my best to give you the full story, even if it's the 489th time I've been asked.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Willing to Risk

Dearest Readers,

I'm in Dawson City, AKA Dodge, and the sky is clear, the air is fresh and the water tastes a little bit like sweet nectar. It's a great place to be for the long weekend.

Recently someone was asking me if I'm still leading the Cultivate Your Courage workshops and generally, when someone asks, it's because he is hoping to take the workshop himself. This person in particular was struggling with the fear of expanding his business practice to new heights. We had a good chat.

One of the things he asked me was, "How do you cultivate the willingness to take risks?" What a great question!

The only thing I have to offer is my own experience. As I always say, "I'm an expert on that." So how have I cultivated the willingness to take risks? As is most often the case, I've taken a deeper look at the underlying fear.

Why am I afraid to take risks in the first place? Is it fear of failure? Fear of success? Both? Fear of making a mistake? Fear of exposure/being discovered (I'm really a fraud)?

Once I understand which fear happens to be driving the bus I can then begin to work on walking through it, which will eventually lead to its decommissioning and my freedom.

For example, if I am afraid that people will find out that I am, in fact, less than they think I am (which, in itself is a LIE, so best to fire positive affirmations at that one ASAP, i.e., I AM GOOD ENOUGH etc.), then what is perpetuating that Old Belief System (Old BS) in the first place?

Perhaps I am carrying around some shame from my past. Something that I did, something that was done to me. So we gotta exorcise the demon! Get rid of it. Let it go for F&%$ sake! It is time.

I've had a few crying/letting go sessions that have led to my finally releasing the shame burden(s) and what followed, not surprisingly, was a greater willingness to be seen.

By "seen" I simply mean known. I'm not talking about exposure in the sense of going on a reality TV show to air dirty laundry. I'm talking about expanding my personal playing field, in business or socially, to encompass a wider spectrum.

Today, I am able to "put myself out there" in a bigger way because I am no longer ashamed of myself and I am no longer afraid of being "found out".

If shame is not the issue and just-plain-and-simple-fear-of-making-a-mistake is, then I can look at that, too. Taking risks means making mistakes. I know mistakes will happen if I take a risk. It's a given.

So can I become willing to live with the feeling that comes when I make a mistake?

Can I allow myself to be imperfect?

Can I allow myself to feel uncomfortable/vulnerable/powerless?

Can I do these things knowing the excruciating turmoil that comes from change will not last, it will not kill me and I will not die?

Can I trust that I will come through the other side of this change with a greater sense of confidence in my abilities and a whole new (radical) level of self-esteem?

Say "yes" and then stand back and prepare to be amazed.

None of this stuff is easy, BTW, but all of it leads to greater and greater freedom. The freedom from fear is worth the pain of change.

Inspiring Message of the Day: I don't have to change the Old BS in one day. I just have to become willing to be changed. The rest will come through opportunities that arise as a result of my willingness.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Just Did It

Dearest Readers,

It's a holiday weekend and I'm heading to Dawson City for the Dawson City International Short Film Festival. I've got a few things to pack, some folks to pick up and then we're on the road, heading into Dodge.

The DCISFF is a great fest altogether, as we'd say in Ireland. Great town, great people, marathon films of all calibres. I'm looking forward to it, not least because I have a film in the program this year, a 2-minute animation.

There were ten filmmakers commissioned to create 2-minute films for the DCISFF's 10th anniversary last year and I was lucky enough to be one of them. I'm a rookie filmmaker but the shorts I'd made were pretty big productions with full crew and mad locations (back roads of the Yukon, Paris, FRANCE). For the 10North Project I decided to go small.

The challenge I gave myself was to make a film without a cast or a crew. So I did that. I used a digital camera to take photographs and then I downloaded them into iMovie on this laptop and edited them with sound I created on the iPhone. It's a pretty rough piece but I'm extremely proud of it despite its jagged edges.

Some of you may know that I lead an Inspiring Workshop called Cultivate Your Courage, which is all about learning new tools to do the thing we think we cannot do. Last year, at the end of one of these workshops, one of the participants, an Adult Educator, shared with the group a little song-and-dance number she likes to perform for her students when they've accomplished something new.

This woman, a tiny, compact little fireball, held up her fists, wiggled her hips, sashayed from side to side and sang, "You did it! You did it! You did it!" It was as endearing as it was powerful. Whenever I accomplish something now I cannot help but hear that song.

So, today, for the wee film I managed to put together all by myself I'd like to sing it. Join me, please:

"You did it! You did it! You did it!"

Inspiring Message of the Day: When I accomplish something, no matter how small it is, I will sing the YOU DID IT song for myself. I will also offer it to others when the opportunity arises!