Friday, September 27, 2013

Standing at the crossroad…

… but I don’t believe I’m sinkin’ down. Au contraire. While faced with a lot of imminent decisions – mostly based on “what am I going to do, or who am I going to be when I grow up?” – I’m actually quite exhilarated, rather than stressed.

For a while now, I’ve been mulling over making a significant change in how I spend each day.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my store, I love being in Horseshoe Bay (and will likely be here for a while yet), but I’m restless. Some inner compass is pointing at a need to recalibrate and check in using my sextant… am I on a trajectory that is truly mine to travel? It speaks to an alignment with my true calling and I know that I could do some fine tuning in that department.

This isn’t the first time I have felt this way.  It usually starts with a subtle ennui, followed by an incredible urge to throw all caution to the wind and start over.  But in the past, I have either carefully put safety nets in place before I’ve changed course or I have jumped into the next “big thing” without checking my navigational charts.  This time feels different.  It feels like I need to heed this impulse and let my next step be revealed more naturally than my setting out to purposefully create it.  Kind of a “ready, fire, aim” approach, but grounded. I think I just need to get out of my own way.  (That’s code for stop being such a control freak!)

I’m not talking about being careless and ignoring possible consequences.  I’m talking about making changes that move me towards rather than away from something.  Love-based vs. fear-based decisions, really.

And already there have been signs that tell me I’m onto something here.  I began to cast my vision wider than my local village.  What would it be like if I were to move? Where would I go? Who would I be hanging around with? What opportunities would present themselves that I wouldn’t have thought of before? I had barely started down this line of thinking when I was contacted by an old friend that I hadn’t connected with for months. She asked me if I would be interested in helping her set up a store that was just like mine only in a different neighbourhood.  I mean, I’m talking about hearing from her within a day of my beginning to widen my scope. What was really interesting for me was that while I am probably going to do that with her, I could really feel that this was a temporary focus for me. It is an opportunity to have some income while I explore other ways of earning a living that really make me feel alive and of service. Her call represented to me a knowing that when I make choices that are truly mine to do, I won’t be standing on shaky ground, or at least not for long.  I will find my way. Or it will find me.

While I don’t know what this all is going to look like, I do know that it will involve music, helping others through their own creative processes, and there will be more space and time for me to slow down and make room for oh, say, a relationship? (At this point, if someone were to ask me out on a date, I’d be booking about 3 weeks out.  This is not good.)

I really feel that I am at the most exciting crossroad I’ve ever faced.  Unafraid, unknowing, fully willing to accept whatever happens, and I’m open. That little girl in the picture up above couldn’t be illustrating my current state more perfectly.  It's as though I’m listening to my favourite song and it’s called “Me”.

Branded by B#,

Lovingly and authentically yours,


P.S.  What would I do with all this new-found time on my hands?  Why I’d do what Sheryl is doing… sing Crossroads with Eric!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Remembering Daniel

The first thing everyone noticed is that smile of his. Not only did it light up a room but you somehow felt blessed in the moment that it landed on you. He was calm and patient and had grown into a man of amazing depth especially considering he was only eighteen. When I think of him at fourteen, so quiet and shy, his evolution to this open, kind young man with bright flashes of daring was simply delightful.

His parents always told him to follow his heart…so he did. He had just returned from Burning Man where he celebrated freedom by living clothing free for a whole week in the desert.  He had a cheeky streak when you least expected it and a twinkle that called for mischief.

His dad Andrew and I co host a weekly radio show and Daniel would be at the controls most Wednesdays as our engineer. Once it was just the two of us, his dad was away and the phone lines were not co operating. We had two guests calling in and without this technical connection there would be no interview. Worse yet there were moments of dead air as Daniel tried repeatedly to get the phone line functioning. I was panicking inside, the dreaded nightmare of being live and only broadcasting silence was getting to me as I  tossed CD’s to him begging for a track just to fill the airwaves. He calmly put on the music and figured out the problem and then that look...   There was that half side smile that said…oh well…what can you expect from life…curve balls are part of the adventure. That smile of his could make sense of anything. It was as much his trademark as his friendly nonjudgmental nature.

These past years were big for Daniel. He had trekked in Peru, met with the Dali Lama in India and had just stated at Quest University in Squamish a few weeks ago.
 He was so happy, so full of joy and loving everything about Quest and its alternative approach to education. He was cliff jumping at Mamguam Falls with friends and the boys got into trouble. The current was strong and Daniel was pushed into a rock wall by the pressure of the water. Search and rescue helped the other two boys out. Daniel treaded that glacier water for 45 minutes. The rescue team tried to lift him out but he fell back into the river and did not resurface.

We gathered at the bridge over the falls to be with family, with friends, with Daniel. At times when words hold so little meaning, when loss is unbearable, what is there that keeps the human spirit anchored to this plane?  I believe it is the coming together of community, of people who love the family, who love Daniel. And then there is nothing more to do than feel what arises and hold each other.

The university was also waiting for the family to leave the bridge and drive the brief distance to campus. Silently they stood, hundreds of students many of whom had not even met Daniel but joined in a common intent…to share their hearts. Candle after candle glowed bright in the darkness as the student created vigil flowed out and offered compassion and tears of love. The students rose one by one to share their stories of Daniel, from brief encounters to life changing moments. Coming together in tragedy is how we are meant to grieve, openly, with human touch and warmth. We hold onto each other to remember our connection and that it goes far beyond the earthly plane.  

It is when we ask why, or how could this have happened that the universe fails us in answering. There is no answer that could suffice. And yet where we place our attention is important. To focus on Daniel’s impact on the world in the short time he was here and hear about the many lives he touched and continues to touch is the path of making meaning from something so tragic.

 I once heard a definition of a warrior as one who hunts his own heart. That was Daniel to the core and in letting his light inspire us we are invited to do the same. He is in his pure essence now and can illuminate the path of the loving heart for those who hear the call.
 Free in spirit, he flies high on eagle wings and reaches out to remind us how fragile this world really is. We can honor him by living in gratitude with grace.

Fly free Daniel….fly free.

Branded By Love,

Authentically Yours,

Monday, September 9, 2013

Between a rock and a soft place.

Where to start? These last two weeks have been epic. Talk about boot camp for my body, mind, and spirit!

We begin with my annual retreat at Rivendell on Bowen Island, where I happily settle in for a few days of peace and quiet. Gently guided by my teacher, we are encouraged to silently expand our appreciation of Self, dig deep, and come out feeling refreshed, deeply cleansed and committed. It is a ritual that nourishes me physically as well as spiritually.  We bring along a fantastic cook and her meals are one of the highlights of our retreat. It’s a great way to recharge and gear up for the coming months.

Then it’s back to work for one day, immediately immersed in my “to do” list (vs. my “to be” list!).  It’s an abrupt re-entry into the world of noise and busyness, and I quickly realize there’s a lot of extraneous clutter that I could well do without. I resolve to do something about that by year end.  Starting with my garage.

Next it’s to the airport to take the red-eye to Toronto (via Montreal)… a tad grueling but worth it as I am cottage bound (yes, that spot I often write about as being my favourite place on the planet).  I haven’t been there for a couple of years so I eagerly await the opportunity to dive in to that crystal-clear water.  And I don’t care how cold it might be.

I land in Toronto finally.  I am picked up and whisked away to a rehearsal where I must learn three new songs quickly as we are to perform Saturday night. This, after sleeping for only two hours on the plane. Rehearsal is done, jump in the car, and head to Mom’s, another two-hour drive. We arrive – she has stayed up late to see her daughters.  She is so cute.  It’s good to see her again and she is in good form. We spend the next day (after an awesome sleep) running errands and getting ready to head to the island early the next morning… a pilgrimage of sorts.

We arrive amidst threats of rain and possibly a thunderstorm, tenderly carrying my Dad’s ashes and Duncan’s.  They are to be placed at the highest spot on the island, under a huge rock with twenty-four family members in attendance – Mom, all her kids, partners, children, and some of their partners.  It is truly amazing that all but one brother-in-law is able to be there (although we know he is with us in spirit).  We hike to the big rock, spread their ashes, say a few words about Dad and how he was our rock, and how much Duncan loved the island as well.  It is a very fitting place for this and we are all moved.  Minutes later, the five kids break into song, bringing out all the golden oldies that we used to sing on the way home from the cottage every Sunday night. Mom loves it and sings along with us at the top of her lungs.  Our kids think we are nuts but it ends in gales of laughter, and I’m pretty sure I can hear Dad and Dunc in the choruses.

We then go back to the cabin where we join in celebrating my son Sean’s engagement to Kristina and there is much joy in welcoming her to our crazy family.  (She may need a few weeks to recover from our boisterous ways but she’s a trooper and I am very happy to have her as my future daughter-in-law.)

Next a quick water-ski around the lake – and yes I am quite chuffed for still being able to slalom – even though suffering a couple of monumental wipeouts – and then it’s time to dry off, pack up and hit the road.

The rain holds off until we make a dash for the mainland as some of us need to go back for our performance.  It’s a three-hour drive and we spell each other off as the past couple of days have taken their toll in the fatigue department.

We pull off a pretty decent show and then come back to catch our breath. We are exhausted.  But it’s not over yet! Next day, we wake up to a gorgeous, warm late summer day, so of course we need to go kayaking.  Never a dull moment. Today we bicycle around Oakville, and then will be going for a final kayak trip up the creek (with a paddle…).

Tomorrow I blast home, and I know that between that rock on the island and the soft place of my retreat, my life is rich and full of loving family and friends. I am a lucky woman indeed.

Branded by the best family I know,

Love Buns

P.S. Here’s one of the songs we used to sing with Dad.  I’m sure I’ve said it before, but we would all laugh so hard, he’d have to pull over until we recovered. It was his falsetto that would set us off...

And just one final note... when I was in labour with Sean many moons ago, my doctor encouraged me to “go to my happy place” so I could deliver him naturally. The place that I conjured up in my mind happened to be exactly where Sean proposed to Kristina. He didn’t know that was my spot and I didn’t know where he had popped the question until I got there on Saturday.  Definitely a special place.  Simply lovely. And I think it bodes well for their future together...

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Transaction: Sight Unseen

How come change is something that we don’t consciously focus on?  It’s as if we think it happens to us, without our consent and so it’s best to not think about it until it’s staring you in the face. Then you have no choice but to deal with it!  It seems to me that this approach generates stress and calls on coping skills, all based on a desire to control the situation and regain stasis.

 It’s funny right? Change is inevitable and a constant as long as we are alive. It’s the only thing to count on actually. You can count on nothing ever staying the same. And yet rather than choose to invite and open to the experience as part of our personal evolution we contract and steel ourselves to maneuver the unpredictable waters of change. Instead we wait for change to befall us and then we strategize.

If I am being honest, even when I open and embrace change there is always an element of fear.  Is it fear of the unknown or more a fear that I will lose what I DO know or have, in the process?

 It’s an important question to ask since it explains holding on, sometimes long after we know that change is called for. I have chosen in the past to live in the known, even accepting crumbs and justifying my situation by believing that I could live this way and simply be grateful for what I do have. And yet this choice takes a toll. We are meant to be fully fulfilled and accepting anything less impacts our emotional well being, our health and ultimately our ability to dream and go after our heart’s desire. Holding on for the sake of security or safety only brings one thing in the end. Exhaustion!  

So how do we create a healthy relationship with a force that is truly beyond our control? Well I don’t know about you but considering change will occur regardless I would rather work with it than against it.  Controlling anything is always a massive energy drainer so why not start with the premise that there is another way, a more fluid and flowing way.

You would certainly have to wake up and notice day to day choices you are making and determine whether they are in alignment with your values and with living authentically.

 Are you being truly honest and expressing in a real way…both with yourself and to others?  If you are pretending, smiling and wearing a mask then change has a predictable habit of kicking you in the butt when you least expect it. That’s your part of the dynamic. When you are sleeping your way through your life on autopilot, change occurs in order to wake you up. So getting on board with change would mean waking up all by yourself and not waiting for an external event to jar you from your placid slumber. You cannot change what you are unwilling to confront. Start with the commitment to live with eyes wide open. That is the demonstration that says. I am willing to embrace change with ease.

And now we circle back to fear. We close our eyes and avoid the truth when we are afraid. It’s a reflex action to take flight, numb out, ignore or deny. The fight directive too kicks in when anxiety and fear rears its head inside of us. Choosing a different way means standing still long enough to feel what is going on in every moment. Take in all the details that are occurring inside and outside of ourselves and then make a conscious choice based on the direction that you are in alignment with.  Setting your course in advance based on the kind of person you wish to be, allows you to relax and stay anchored to yourself no matter what is occurring.  Believing that change has your back and it is a good thing is essential.

Step one: awaken. Step two: determine direction based on values like being honest or joyful or free. Step three: hold on with a light touch and make space. You are not the only one here. The universe wants to play with you…in a good way.

 Change, which is a conduit of the universe has some ideas in mind that you may not have even thought of. Surrender control long enough to create an opening for something brand new to appear. How you navigate change will make the difference between surviving and thriving. I think this mindset is crucial from the start and then faith, trust that a process is occurring that has your best interests at heart is what allows you to perceive the wonders that want to come your way.

And remember the only difference between the experience of fear in the body and that of excitement is in what you are make it mean!

Branded by transition,

Authentically Yours