Posted in Live, Love

Loving Leaps. . . Of Belief!

“Take a leap of faith and begin this wondrous new year by believing. Believe in yourself. And believe that there is a loving Source – a sower of Dreams – just waiting to be asked to help you make your dreams come true.” (Sarah Ban Breathnach)

Happy New Year! Today is the first day of 2016 and I am thrilled to be with you here at my writing desk!

I have just finished writing my first extended session of journal writing – a robust and rousing round of purposeful prayers, giggling grats, awesome affirmations, and virtuous visualizations! :-) These mutterings and musings are written by hand in great, effusive strokes with one of my most precious gift pens first thing in the morning and then again, very briefly, at other times during the day when I need to pause, refresh, reset.

Although I may be astoundingly alliterative and passionately playful in my writing, this very early morning writing time is calm, quiet, serious, devout.

While not religious in the traditional sense, I am deeply reflective and spiritual. I begin each day by writing, reading, and reflecting upon my own beliefs and those I encounter all around me. I routinely and sleepily but then much more excitedly (as the caffeine kicks in!) ponder my own thoughts, feelings and experiences as well as the personal and professional offerings of so many others that come flooding in as memories from conversation, observation, books, articles, and email.

As someone who loves to think, feel, read, write, create, and connect,  I have an innate yearning to try the thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and understandings of others’ on for suitability and size. Although I will not be able to literally walk in another’s shoes during the day, I can do my utmost to empathize, connect, and care.

Later, at night or early the next morning in my writing chair, I can take up my pen to filter and fuse what I think I know about the universals of human life as the wisest and most wonder-filled have expressed them throughout the centuries along with more emergent and often fleeting empirical knowledge of the day. This has become a personal passion and professional imperative that dovetails with my loftiest hopes and dreams for myself and others. This, of course, is why I have said for many decades that while I may not have the answers, I am certainly well-versed in Life’s most pressing questions.

Despite the uncertainty and questions of life we all live each day, it is during this early morning writing time that I know best what it feels like to understand and be understood which I believe is one of the most fundamental human needs of all. As a family member, friend, colleague, teacher, librarian and therapist,  I have savoured the thoughts, feelings and experiences of others so generously shared with me in spoken and written word. Whether detailed or fragmentary, deliberate or circumstantial, concrete or abstract,  I relish the short, often overheard snippets of life-in-progress just as much as the more thoughtfully crafted personal stories that are the fabric of our everyday lives.

Each and every utterance may play a part in the weaving of individual and collective wisdom, wonder, and wellness. And that, of course, is the focus of my life’s work as a writer, educator, and therapist as well as my stumbling, bumbling, grumbling existence as a human bean.

As my most treasured black pen flies across the faint, blue-lined pages early each morning, I take great, bounding, mirth-filled leaps of faith. I give thanks for hopes, dreams, and visualizations that have yet to occur while knowing, as Einstein said, that  “the imagination is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” I dare to believe in myself and my most idealistic and audacious dreams while welcoming and supporting others who wish to do the same. To be aware of and challenge one’s own limiting beliefs and gradually replace them with the most loving and leaping, faith-filled kind can be difficult, but to grow, adapt, and thrive, it is essential.  This, of course, is my New Year’s wish for one and all. This year and every year. Today and every day. Now, and forever. As I include in the signature section of each email: “Believing is seeing.”

Or, in the enthusiastic, rhyming-chiming words of my beloved frizzy-fuzzy, green-nosed educational mascot, Kwil:

Just BE who YOU are
And DO what YOU do
Then all of life’s treasures
Will come to you
In fact, they’re INSIDE you!

With luv n’ laffs,


“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” (Proust)

As the sun descends on a lovely Thanksgiving weekend, I am alone in my reflections–but not really alone. My mind and heart are filled with warmth and love for all those I spent time with and wrote to this weekend, as well as the hundreds or thousands that my educational mascot Kwil and I have created and connected with throughout the decades. 

Whether near or far, dear or distant, I give thanks for all those who have so poignantly touched my life. Whether for a certain time, place, reason, or season–or for that infinite and enduring flash called eternity–I am filled with gratitude for the love, experience, and hard-learned lessons of life.

Early every morning as I sip coffee and write my ‘morning pages,’ I express my heartfelt gratitude for all the blessings to be found in the  ‘good, the bad, the sad, and the mad’ and I send well wishes to my family, friends, clients, colleagues, community members, and their respective families and friends around the world. 

I sense deep down in the place where only stillness and quiet may access that we are all connected and we are one. More than ever before, I am convinced that I have a vested interest in the blossoming of each and every soul. 

It is with this deeply intuitive and spirit-filled conviction that I write: Long may our souls blossom as we are so lovingly nurtured by our families, friends and neighbours–the most charming global gardeners  of all time. 

With luv n’ laffs,



Global Gardeners

Posted in Live, Love

Learning Silence

Learn to be silent.

Let your

quiet mind

listen and absorb.


Welcome to the first day of August! While the sun still shines as brightly as it did through all of June and most of July, I am looking back with wonder at how very ‘quiet’ and ‘silent’ last month was. It was a very mindful (rather than mind-full) time for me as I relished the many opportunities to ‘listen’ and ‘absorb.’

Although I worked through a hefty list of things to do, I had the luxury of doing them pretty much at my own pace and without a lot of juggling. I retreated from the daily press of life as I typically experience it and focused on creating a new foundation for the next chapter of life. Even those appointments and events that had to be ‘scheduled,’ were done smoothly and easily with the widest of margins. Summer was here and I’m so fortunate to say the living has been easy. 

As I sit here looking at the now mostly furnished space that will serve as my new private counselling practice when I officially open this month (what was just an empty shell of pristine potential three weeks ago), I am treasuring the silence as my quiet mind listens and absorbs. Doubling as my before- and after-hours reflective writing and reading space, I am awed and inspired by this purpose-filled place and this life of great privilege that I have been so blessed with. 

I am here, sipping coffee, writing in my journal, joyfully aware of the limitless treasure to be found in the eleven words ‘mapped out’ by Pythagoras above. I feel a bit like a pirate when I say, “X marks the spot.” Or, more correctly, with the full power and “how of now,” X marks this spot. To be fully present in this particular time and place as well as all the other dimensions of experience is lovely in every way. 

With luv n’ laffs,



The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself. (Anna Quindlen)

It’s another hot, sunny day in July–the latest in a string of unusually warm days that make the cool confines of air-conditioned coffee shops so very delightful. I am here now, sipping coffee, just one week before turning the keys in the lock of my new live-work office space where I will continue to “keep my pencil moving” with my educational mascot Kwil,  and prepare to welcome individual counselling clients later this summer.

Without a doubt, I am peacefully and lovingly ecstatic for this very purpose-filled time and place in my life. I am so grateful for all who have supported and encouraged me through the decades and all that I have to share at this age and stage of life.

In addition to the honour of connecting and creating  with students, staff, and families in two delightful schools in neighbouring Burnaby, I will begin to counsel clients in the minimalist luxury of a brand new live-work office space in New Westminster. This increased capacity to continue creating and connecting with those who seek my particular brand of wisdom, wonder, and wellness services is quite literally a dream come true.

Although there is a part of me that has spent decades longing for things to come together in this now fortuitous and destined-seeming way, there is great solace and joy in going forward in a much more unabashedly human and humour-filled way. Although I will always be a serious, studious, striving, responsible, reflective, and perfectionist personality type who deliberately tempers this with mindfulness and mirth as situations allow, I am also more content and convinced than ever of the need to be myself.

Still perfectly imperfect after all these years, I know well the power and joy of choosing to be more authentic, genuine, and real.  As more fear-based pretense and artifice fall away, I know greater peace and contentment. I also contemplate a lofty logo and teasing tagline for my new private practice.

I am here to serve. As a therapist, educator, and human bean.

With love and laughs,


Becoming Yourself

‘The principal thing in this world is to keep one’s soul aloft.’ (Gustave Flaubert)

It has been a lovely, sun-baked summer with ample time to read and write, write, write but I must admit that too much extra time weighs heavily on me. As a counsellor and teacher, I am used to being much busier and helping to keep a few more ‘souls aloft’ than just my own. It is the grist for mill of my reflective life and an integral part of my need to both ‘pay it forward’ and ‘keep it real.’ As much as I love to write, integrating the deepest thoughts, feelings and experiences of my personal and professional past into present and future awareness, I know how much I rely on the present-moment interactions that are the heart and soul of my work. While I know better than to wish precious reflection time away, I do long for a return to the daily push and pull of too much to do with too little time. I am also buoyed by the prospect of future summers in part-time private practice when I can do just a little more of what I love with love. In the words of a dear mentor, “it’s our oxygen” and, in this regard, I’m always in search of the elusive balance. For me and all those called to help socialize, educate, nurture, and heal, there is nothing greater than helping others find ways to keep their souls aloft during a time of challenge or the doldrums that we all may encounter. It is a gift we give to them and to ourselves. Helpful, loving service is the most altruistic and joyfully ‘selfish’ things we can do. With love and laughs, Kayo xo

Keeping Souls Aloft

I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all. (Maya Angelou)

Having worked around the clock for the first four months of this year to complete the very rough first draft of my manuscript, Creative Connections: The Joy of Keeping Pencils Moving & Keyboards Tapping!, I have taken a break from the lengthy revision and editing process to rack my ‘middle-aged mush brain’ to remember and research the names of all those who have contributed to its making. It has been a joyful and moving process.

Although I worry about the inevitability of leaving someone out and the alphabetical list of acknowledgments may end up being as long as the manuscript itself, it has been heartwarming to remember all the dear people who have contributed to my life and the educational subject of the book in such poignant and touching ways. As my magnum Marquis opus–a digital archive of the best of the last two decades of grassroots creativity and connection–it is essential that I acknowledge and thank as many heroes as I can.

In keeping with the spirit of the Maya Angela quotation above, these people have all been dedicated to making the world a better place for all. Each has contributed in ways that I will forever admire and appreciate and in so many other ways that I and others will never know.

As sentimental or rose-coloured as it may seem, I continue to look around me in the hustle-bustle of everyday life and I see heroes who live the most awe-inspiring lives. Although most will never become the subject of a book or movie, they are all heroes. Like Maya Angelou, they are energized by making the world a better place for ALL. Long may they live and long may they love,

A Better Place for ALL

The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself. (Anna Quindlen)

It is a gloriously sunny morning as I write this. I am laughing gently at myself as I consider all my previous efforts to strive for perfection–an artificially high standard and abstract ideal that is out if step with the ‘reality’ of who we can ever be or the dynamic situations we find ourselves in.

I recognize the trait of perfectionism as an aspect of who I am that has helped me to focus and persist during some of the most challenging times. I also confess that this sometimes torturous trait can tangle itself up with a sense of responsibility, loyalty, and love that re-emerges when it is not tempered by grounded recognition that I can really only be who I already am–a ‘perfectly imperfect human bean.’

While I do not recommend perfectionism as a way of being or seeing in the world, I do recognize its potential for individual development and collective progress. Given the research on the importance of high expectations and equally high warmth and nurturing in the socialization and education of youth, as well as the longstanding historical and cultural triumphs that have resulted from striving for the seemingly impossible, I know the importance of playfully and lovingly challenging oneself and each other to be, do, and have more than we may be born into. It is important to learn, grow, and reach our full potential.

While pleasure can come from a multitude of sources and even fear-based perfectionism can help us accomplish amazing things, pride and joy come from a deeper and more integrated place–‘the work of becoming yourself.’

Although such statements may be superficially judged as selfish or narcissistic, I believe that the work of becoming oneself is fueled by a sense of passion and purpose that keeps looking inward and moving merrily forward. It benefits the one and it greatly benefits all. As one joyful ‘work in progress’ to another, I wish you love, love, love on your journey,

Becoming Yourself

Posted in Live, Love

Inferiority Striving

I would rather have an inferiority complex and be pleasantly surprised, than have a superiority complex and be rudely awakened. (Vanna Bonta)

It is not often that I go looking for quotations to write about, but today I did. While there were many that I could have chosen, this one gets to the heart and mind of today’s post in a concise, humorous, and expansive way. It allows me to process a long past experience of increasing frustration that I have detached and learned from.

Although it is tempting to go into too much detail, I will refrain by stating that I had been been witnessing the unfortunate effects of an individual with an over-the-top communication style. Exceedingly loud, comedic, witty, phony, and intrusive in a way best-suited to a stand-up comedy show, this person was driving a few people mad.

While the style and content of the communication could be characterized as excessively charming and amusing (in themselves and for the effect they have on others who try to conceal their laughter and confusion), this could only be true in the smallest possible doses. The volume and repetition of the material, ill-suited to the role of the individual and environment, made this interpretation impossible.

While the reflective writer and counsellor in me want desperately to know and understand his story, what made him tick, I chose to remove myself from the situation entirely, feeling uncharitably disappointed and even angry that the situation persisted. With my communication to the only person with authority to make change going unheeded and the realization that “life is too short” and it is really none of my business, I exercised my personal power to walk away. I know from experience and instinct that it is only a matter of time until personalities collide and required change will come.

Putting on the reflective writer and counsellor hat, I admit that I am curious to know what led him to such desperate “inferiority striving” and an over-the-top need to be recognized by everyone at every possible second. I wonder about the very loud intellectualizing, verbose self-talk, and the nonsensical singing. I wonder about the very odd greetings and unwelcome replies to simple human exchanges that seemed to turn everyday people into stage props. I wonder about the lack of self- and other-awareness as people looked on in silence, stupefied, or winced as they personally experienced or witnessed the annoying repartee.

Not only do I want to understand the individual and, perhaps, if appropriate or timely, help him or someone like him in the future, I also want to understand myself. I want to acknowledge and understand my own intense reaction to this behaviour. I want to accept, empathize, and express loving care for him and for the scared, judged, and over-the-top and irritating “inferiority ‘striver’” in myself.

I want to make peace with all the times that I have worked harder or faster or acted bigger, louder, or funnier than was expected or appropriate. I want to release myself from unnecessarily Herculean efforts to “fit in” or be “discovered” by endeavouring to shine (garishly!) brighter than those around me or the setting I’m in.

As a perfectly imperfect “human bean” who is “stumbling along between the immensities of birth and death,” (a powerful quotation on a postcard I once saw hanging on a fridge), I am here to both lovingly detach and learn from my experience and that of others. Interacting with those “others” not only provides an opportunity to “walk my talk” as a counsellor,they reflect attributes of myself and my experience in loud, vibrant living colour.

While I know that this situation will resolve itself over time and I will be able to return to quieter and much more authentic times in this particular environment, I am grateful for this reflective, constructive, and emotional release. I am also thankful for the freedom and awareness to choose healthy detachment as well as the speculative insight it has provided as I continue to make my way in the world.

With love and laughs,

Posted in Live, Love

Baring Scars As Medals

I don’t regret the painful times; I bare my scars as if they were medals. (Paulo Coelho)

Life is seldom simple and I have often had to make difficult choices. As much as I have always loved to write and done my best to carve out the time to do so, the daily obligations I have to myself and others have taken priority over regular posts.

This time away has its drawbacks. Every day away from my writer’s notebook or the keyboard feels like a day that I have recklessly squandered. Not only that but, in the words of Michelangelo, “It is only well with me when I have a chisel in my hands.”

Like so many in the people professions (including and especially parents who devote themselves tirelessly to raising children), I have an over-developed responsibility gland. I must honor my commitments to those who depend upon me. No matter how much I need to write for much more than my early morning half-hour minimum (squeezed between buses on my morning commute), I must ensure that I am following my conscience which dictates people and professionalism first.

As a self-supporting family of one, I have many rights and freedoms that those who are partnered or parents may not have, but it is equally true that I do not enjoy any “divisions of labour” in my household. I don’t have anyone officially designated to pick up the slack or back me up when the chips are down. If it wasn’t for my incredible “family of friends,” (family who are friends and friends who are family), life would seem pretty precarious at times.

Taking care of my responsibilities to me (an accomplishment for a reforming people pleaser!) and still looking after significant others is paramount. It is equally true that, when it comes to my writing projects, I must confess that I am often daunted by perfectionism.

Not only do I want my writing to be its best–reaching the highest levels of awareness and greatest depths of understanding–but I also struggle with how and when to reveal “painful times” as mentioned in the quotation above. As much as I write for myself and idealized readers with the wise minds, tender hearts, and balanced temperaments, I am not naïve about the challenges of human nature and nurture. What I say or write can be taken out of context and used against me.

It is for this reason that I also want to ensure that I am walking my talk–holding myself to high, discerning standards while still giving myself and others permission to be fully human. We are all, to some degree, “people of paradox” and murky, quirky ironies abound.

In every day and in every life, there are those painful times that are at the heart, mind, and soul of what makes us human. As much or more than our victories and triumphs, they are what bibliotherapy is all about. While I have gone a long way towards ceremonially smashing my idyllic “perfection pictures” of the life I once thought I was supposed to live, it takes continuing courage to “bare my scars as medals” as I live the most authentic and genuine writing and reading life I possibly can.

While there is great strength and possible evolution in living and writing one’s truth (whether privately in a journal or on the worldwide web for all to see), I acknowledge that it is the pointy and piercing shards of those deliberately smashed perfection pictures as much as the daily distractions and drudgery that keep me posting here in fits and starts. As a perfectly imperfect human being, I resolve to keep putting pen to paper and fingers to keyboard with the same spirit (if not the same skill!) that Michelangelo put chisel to precious stone.

While still striving to do my best for the people I’m honoured to know, love, and serve, I will also aspire to write with the kind of honesty and authenticity that bares scars like medals.

With crazy-courageous kind o’ love,

Posted in Live, Love

Spirit-Filled Affirmation of Life

“Affirmation of life is the spiritual act by which man ceases to live unreflectively and begins to devote himself to his life with reverence in order to raise it to its true value. To affirm life is to deepen, to make more inward, and to exalt the will.” (Albert  Schweitzer)

I am (for better and worse) one of the most obsessivley reflective people I know. I have lived a minimalist lifestyle and worked part-time so that I could dedicate many hours each week to the deeply introspective and reflective journal writing that is the foundation for all my other educational and creative endeavors. For me, it has always been quality before quantity and meaning before motion.

Immersed in the demands of personal and professional life, I sometimes neglect this opportunity for wider awareness, deeper understanding, and purpose-filled bliss. This distraction from my my spirit-filled writing practice is not wise or wonder-filled.

Although 2014 has treated me wonderfully so far and many of the tasks that have kept me busy have (suitably but oh so irononically)  included research and writing on the topic of reflective thinking, writing and reading, I have actually  shortchanged myself of my most value-filled activity.

My daily “morning pages”–a practice adopted some fifteen or twenty years ago thanks to Julia Cameron’s inspirational The Artist’s Way–have been essential but perfunctory. While they have definitely warmed me up for each wonder-filled day ahead, they have not been the deepest source of affirmation, mantra-enfused meditation,  prayer, and visualization that they usually are. This is just part of the ebb and flow of life and underscores the importance of daily discipline.

Like a hockey player set to score, a skier swishing down a mountain, a quilter relishing every rhythmic stitch, or a chef in the full flow of culinary creativity, I am content to break free by moving my pen across the page in the most liberating and life-affirming ways. Creative writing, reflective thinking, and sentimental  feeling call. . . and I could not be more content!

This, as always, is my wish for you all of you!

With love,

Posted in Live, Love

Becoming What We Desire

“Most of us are living with a narrow vision of what it is to be human. When we allow our humanity to embrace our universality, we can easily become whatever it is we desire.”(Debbie Ford)

This quotation reminds how easy it is for all of us to succumb to life-limiting beliefs which may be passed on through the most well-meaning adults and society in general. As parents and teachers doing the very best we can to prepare children and adolescents for the future, it is very easy to limit unknown possibilities and project our own past and present into their future. This, in addition, to a child’s own ability to learn, rebuff, and rebound from the knocks of life, determines so much.

I am excited for the future as I consider how important and liberating it is to help ourselves and our youth to become, as they say, a more integrated spiritual being in human form. Whatever one’s understanding or beliefs about life beyond the five senses, a conception of humanity that incorporates loving acceptance of human foibles and imperfections as well as the triumph and glory of a more inspired and well-lived life jazzes me greatly. We can become what we desire and we are probably closer to realizing potential than we might ever imagine.

With a much more wide open schedule this particular summer, I am going inward through my most deeply meditative and affirming writing process each morning. As always, it is a welcome opportunity to listen very carefully for what it is that I am meant to do and who I am meant to be with the rest of each day. To become even more attuned to the whisperings of my mind, heart, and soul while allowing opportunities to unfold in ways that no amount of struggle and sacrifice has yet achieved is one of life’s many paradoxes. In this, like all human experience, I am sure that I am not alone.

With love, as always,

Posted in Live, Love

The First Step of Faith

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

It’s been a quiet and lovely summer following a very busy spring of change renewal, and growth. Although all of life is dynamic and we are always “in transition” whether we acknowledge it or not, the last two seasons of change have been particularly affirming and good.

Although I once found myelf in the throes of defeat—a setback that cast darker shadows upon what I have worked hard for and some of the relationships I thought I’d cultivated—I found a place of calmness, confidence, and faith. I made the very best of a difficult situation and smoothly detached from the difficult positions I found myself in. Doors slammed shut and while windows were pried open or created, there was not enough room for me to pass through or enter in. Although it took years for a sizable door to open widely and warmly again, I am okay with that. The wait was worth it!

Looking back, I took stock and consulted the dearest people in my personal and professional life, quietly juggled the resources I had, and simplified my life so as not to compromise my values or waste the precious time I have in life. I did my best to honour the four basic human needs of personal power, freedom, fun, and belonging in a way that I think will allow me to look back with pride. After almost five decades of life, I am learning the faith that Martin Luther King refers to.

Although conscientious and disciplined when it comes to my spiritual and intellectual cultivation–the very things that will help me to create any opening doors or windows–I have chosen to “hold the space” and “slow down to go fast.” I am letting my life settle down to its own place for now as I let ever-expanding awareness and deeper understanding gently guide me on my path.

On this cool, cloudy day in mid July, fear, socialization, and obligation are not the motivators or guideposts they once were. I choose deep inner calmness, confidence, and faith whenever I can. This, of course, is my wish for all of you.

With love,

Posted in Live, Love

The Fear Beyond Every Other

“How can you frighten a man whose hunger is not only in his own cramped stomach but in the wretched bellies of his children? You can’t scare him–he has known a fear beyond every other.” (Steinbeck)

As I ponder this quotation, the flip side of all that my daily affirmations about prosperity and abundance are meant to quell, there are so many images and experiences, so many human faces that come to mind.

I have lived on the outskirts of a trendy, up-scale part of a city in a resource-rich first-world country surrounded by those who make their life on the street. Homeless, poor, mentally ill, dependent on handouts and charitable offerings, they know all too well the tight rumblings of a cramped stomach. Approached several times each day for money, coffee or food, I have insulated myself from fully experiencing this overwhelming human need.

While I made my charitable contributions and gave apologies with as much eye contact and humanity as I could spare, this response became more repetitive and rehearsed than I would like; more frequent than should ever be necessary.

Indicating that I don’t carry cash or change, I was never fully satisfied with these awkward lose-lose human exchanges. While I have offered the coffee I am drinking (asking if it would offend) or the lunch I’ve packed, these are the exceptions that bring all kinds of sensations to heart, mind, and soul. To give in a way that offers dignity and discretion is important but this, my conscience reminds me, is the exception.

Intuitive by nature and nurture, an idealistic INFJ on the Myers-Briggs perosnality type indicator, I am very much a student of human life. I know that there are no simple answers and that few things in life are black and white. Even as I write this, I am well aware of the very proud and well put together homeless person who has asked for an early morning cup of water and used the washroom at the coffee shop where I now write. Friendly, affable, colour-coordinated, he is literally ripe with the smell of human need, seeking only to freshen up in the coffee shop washroom as he only gets a free shower ever couple of days at the neighbourhood outreach centre just a block from my home.

Leading a fairly simple and cost-efficient life and giving what I can when I can, I wrestle with the notion that no amount of my suffering or going without will quell the seemingly endless need around me. So many of us, from billionaires to university professors to coffee shop baristas who study and work an extra job or two, all wrestle internally or externally with poverty consciousness—our ability to find deep inner trust in the abundance of life in its myriad of forms. Whether looking at myself in the mirror or into the eyes of those I truly and deeply see each day, I am motivated more than ever to shine my light–not hold back with a well-intentioned fear of having or getting that will negatively impact those with the greatest need.

Whether the light of daily eye contact, words of love, empathy, and encouragement, charitable donations, or an informed vote for wise and compassionate political leaders, I can always give from abundance, trusting that this (and so much more) will come back to me. With good-hearted awareness, I must release all notions of holding onto a fear-based “mini-me”–the formerly struggling, striving, and inferior-feeling “inner child” who is reluctant to take his full and generous place in the world.

Instead, I sign off for today with great, abundant, luxurious dollops of love, empathy, and encouragement,

Posted in Live, Love

Small Things with Great Love

“We cannot all do great things but we can do small things with great love.” (Mother Teresa)

This lovely quotation that was on my late mother’s email signature makes me think of her and all the ways that family, friends, colleagues, clients, students, and readers touch my life every day–each one offering their own talents, gifts, and blessings to enrich this wacky, wonder-filled world. I think of my sister’s email and phone calls, the home-cooked dinners with my friends, the cards, letters, stories, and pictures crafted by my niece and nephew, and the emails of friendship and gratitude from pen friends everywhere. I think of the smiles (and smirks) on the elevator and the many simple, anonymous and random acts of kindness that bring love and light .

This live-filled and grounding quotation makes me feel a tremendous sense of unity and peace as I remember fondly the joy and hope that washes over me when I am kind and loving towards others and realize that others feel the same way when they are kind and loving towards me. Being kind and loving is as much a gift for the giver as it is for the recipient. This quotation also helps me feel relief, the sweet release of letting go. Even in the most trying or adversarial situations, we can choose to be kind and loving over being right and this, most often, allows even greater and more universal truths to emerge.

Now, as ever and always, I am inspired to continue finding as many small and wonder-filled ways as possible to “pay it forward” with both random and planned acts of kindness and love. As tired, cliché, or idealistic as this concept may seem in a time when there are so many great causes and charities that people often feel donation fatigue, there is great truth and beauty in doing what we can when we can–small things with great love.

Wishing you wisdom, wonder, wellness, and love,

Posted in Live, Love

Seeking Treasure in Dark Caves

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”(Joseph Campbell)

It is a risky but rewarding feeling. I awake early each morning to spend time on the pages of my journal. I write my wishes, dreams, and desires. I write my affirmations. Most importantly, I write my gratitudes. Every line begins with two simple words: Thank you.

Thank you for all the blessings in my life. Thank you for my family, friends, colleagues and students. Thank you for strangers. Thank you for people of the past, present, and future. Thank you for left-overs from last night’s dinner with friends. Thank you for the inspiration to do my spring cleaning. Thank you for my simple life here in the siburbs and my opportunity to read, write, and create to my heart’s content. Thank you for compassion, patience, and simplicity. Thank you for synchronicity and life’s little miracles.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! These two words in my journal serve as my sentence starter and they are my constant refrain but everything in my journal is not rosy. It is not all sweetness and light. I also give thanks for the most disturbing and frustrating aspects of life. We all have them and yet I use these same two words: Thank you!

Thank you for my fear, anger, and sadness. Thank you for my loneliness. Thank you for the incessant interruptions during those times when I long to write. Thank you for my insecurity and doubt. Thank you for my rush-hour commute to work. Thank you for all the times when even the simplest things turn out to be so complicated. Thank you for the inequities of life that seem unfair. Thank you for everything no matter how unbearably awful it feels at the time. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thanks, for everything.

I know this may sound absurd but these are the things that I write. I don’t do it all the time but if I’m feeling it, I write it. I get it out. I acknowledge it. After forty-seven years of life, I know that no amount of positive thinking, suppression, or denial will work. I must be honest and true and if I can’t be honest with myself in the privacy of my journal, then I’ve really got problems. But why give thanks for the seemingly negative? Seriously?

Expressing thanks for my darkest thoughts and frustrations is not about projecting or creating more negatives. It is about acknowledging and being aware of my thoughts and feelings without judgment, shame, repression or denial. It is about knowing deep down that it is a passing state of human thoughts and feelings that, if given safe, written voice and freedom, will eventually subside or dissipate. It is all about a gradual release that will bring me fresh, new insights and feelings.

To be human is to acknowledge the dark shadow elements and to let this energy pass through with enhanced awareness and always, always, always, gratitude. Resistance and resentment, however tempting, will never take me where I want to go.

Wishing you wisdom, wonder, wellness, and love, and gratitude for the good, bad, mad and sad,

Posted in Live, Love

Working with Deep Gladness

“Vocation is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s hunger meet.” (Frederick Buechner)

As the cursor on this digital screen flashes on and off, it patiently but proddingly awaits each word I type. I am here on this screen after a week of “deep gladness,” delighted to have this wide open space to write.

As always, I have collected thought-provoking and life-affirming quotations from a variety of sources that have touched me deeply, urging me to think, feel, and dream. There is nothing I love more than having my mind stretched by new ideas, my heart cracked open by new expressions, and my ability to create and connect with others exercised with meaning and purpose. It is my intensely reflective and all-consuming “work” that can be so very synchronistic and sweet.

“Musing and muttering” is my vocation and I love it.

In the words of Joshua Rosenthal, “We don’t realize the extent to which our lives would improve if we were doing work we loved.” Oh, yes, yes, I do. Although my past “portfolio career” had been cobbled together from past positions and skill sets that did not fit neatly into a single workplace or succinctly on a business card, I am fortunate to have created a sense of passion, purpose, and possibility that trumps all.

Despite occasional uncertainty and doubt, and times when I feel vulnerable, distracted, or depleted from leaving no metacognitive stone unturned, this introspective soul finds deep joy in new awareness and understanding that may, in time, be of value to myself and service to others. This is what keeps me going even when the proverbial chips are down.

To ponder, assess, integrate, and finally weave my own “words of wisdom, wonder and wellness” is what I relish most. True to the Socratic ideal of living a life that nurture’s one soul and the adage “an unexamined life is not worth living,” it is my greatest aspiration to “know thyself.” It is only by knowing and loving myself that I may aspire to know and love others.

I remain committed to the Platonic educational ideal of helping myself and others to reclaim the knowledge and deep inner knowing of the human soul through respect-filled questioning, listening, and being. However unfashionable they may seem in a fast-moving and outcome-driven world, they are vital. To glibly or opportunistically pursue other trendy, superficial avenues would make me feel, (in the words of a frustrated friend many years ago) like a “poser, pretender and candy bar vendor.”

Although it has sometimes been difficult to reconcile my own inner calling with finding a place and making my way in the external world, I know deeply that there is no other alternative but to follow my bliss. The most cautious and conservative work-a-day answers from previous generations do not apply for me (or many others I believe). Although I start every day copiously writing my “gratitudes” for all the good and seemingly not so good aspects of life (trusting that they, too, have a purpose and are part of my growth), I am fortunate to experience brief but recurring moments when my own”deep gladness and the world’s hunger meet.”

Although seemingly few and far between (but, in reality, just my own distraction and disconnect at the time), I savour them because I know what it is like NOT to feel this deep gladness. In the words of Jiddu Krishnamurti,”Not knowing what you really want to do, your mind falls into a routine in which there is only boredom, decay and death. That is why it is very important to find out while you are young what it is you really love to do….”

To follow one’s deep gladness regardless of external circumstances and despite the always changing tastes and appetites of the “world’s hunger” is to embrace uncertainty with increasing calmness, confidence, faith and trust. As cliché as it seems, it is often about detaching, and letting go. As Debbie Ford so solidly suggests, “We must hand the reins back to the universe so that we can be used for exactly the purpose we have been put here for.”

Experiencing “deep gladness” is also about transcendence, purpose, and connection. As Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi suggests, “When adversity threatens to paralyze us, we need to reassert control by finding a new direction in which to invest psychic energy, a direction that lies outside the reach of external forces. When every aspiration is frustrated, a person must seek a meaningful goal around which to organize the self.”

As I prepare to hit the “Publish” button on this post, I am energized by these words by Osho: “It does not matter what you do. What matters is how you do it–of your own accord, with your own vision,with your own love. Then whatever you touch becomes gold.”

With a deep, abiding sense of the power of unity and oneness, this is my golden wish for myself and everyone–including and especially all of you who are my most cherished family of friends on this journey.

With love,

Posted in Live, Love

Setting Our Course by the Stars

Set your course by the stars, not by the lights of every passing ship. (Omar Bradley)

Having spent Saturday afternoon and evening out on the Pacific Ocean with family and having overheard two old-timers in a fast food restaurant speak so favourably about General Omar Bradley the day before, I could not resist starting with his quotation above. These words, coupled now with a favourable review of the man, will continue to captivate and inspire me.

To “set one’s course by the stars” is what I believe we are called upon to do. To look up, out, and beyond ourselves while still being mindful of the routines, habits, and expectations of daily life is what is required to be an authentic, fulfilled, integrated, and fully actualized individual. To strive happily and heartily and, most importantly, follow the path of one’s dreams, does take courage, persistence, awareness, and faith. But it’s important.

To be aware of “the lights of every passing ship”—others on their own individual or collective voyages—is essential but one need not always follow the flotilla. While it often makes sense to go with the flow rather than going against the tide and it can be immensely pleasurable to travel together for comfort, safety, or fun, it is wise not to lose touch with one’s inner barometer and destination in life.

While it is often unwise to go against the tide or create a choppy wake that impedes others’ travel and creates unnecessary resistance, awareness of one’s inner barometer of thought, beliefs, and resulting feelings can create the outer ability to chart one’s course with words and actions. In this way, one can literally set one’s trajectory by the stars. Preparation, patience, and steadfast belief can and do create the most celestial opportunities.

In overtly spiritual or religious terms, it is much like the age-old challenge of being “in this world but not of this world.” This suggests the kind of detachment and lightness of being and seeing that is not encumbered by socialized limits that restrict, entrap, and numb—making even the most scenic and delightfully stormy journeys seem mundane, dull, and lack-lustre. It implies a demeanour of calmness and confidence that signal trust and faith in the unified sea of life that takes us where we dream to go.

To remain open and aware while navigating the most challenging internal and external obstacles is to increase the capacity to make the still point inside accessible in any storm and, like Omar Bradley, live a life that even the most astute old-time history buffs could respect–unlike “the historical fiction” of “those other Generals.”

With love and faith,

Posted in Live, Love

A Life of Depth

Life is not measured by its length but by its depth.

The sun is glinting off the many glass windows that surround my studio apartment. Scanning the towering buildings that stand out against a sky of hazy luminescent blue, many windows rebuke with the sun’s silver glare. Others, knowingly or not, invite me in past squinting blinds or fabric folds.

Windows are for looking through. Whether in or out, one way or two, they are a tool of enhanced awareness and understanding. They may reveal more than one may want to know but they are (almost always) where I would choose to go.

This reminds me of the quotation above, paraphrased from Emerson, etched in an antique marble coaster beneath my coffee cup. It resonates with me. Not only does it remind me of the dear and empathetic friend who gave it to me, it affirms and perhaps excuses the life I have lived.

Swinging back and forth between poverty consciousness and much more idyllic visions, staying on the surface has not been possible. I have always felt the need to live with more depth than breadth or length.

As a product of human nature and nurture, there seemed no other way. It is who I am and what I still aspire to be. As one who relishes all the nuances and complexities of thought, feeling, circumstance, and experience, there is not a day when I don’t live this conception of life–seeking greater awareness, creativity, intelligence, understanding and abundance of every sort.

It is what brings me here today, fingers curled upon keyboard, writing this entry.It is also what will keep me coming back–seeking the universal in the personal and, as importantly, the personal in the universal. That is what bibliotherapy or, more plainly, a reading and writing life is all about.

With love,

Posted in Live, Love

Knowing and Seeing

“What one knows, one sees.” (Goethe)

Human understanding (and its corollary, communication) is an art, a science, and so much more. It’s imperfect and it’s messy.

No matter how selectively we may choose our words and no matter how thoughtfully and tenderly we may express them, there is no way to know how they may be received, interpreted, understood, utilized, or remembered by others. Even the most skilled writer or articulate speaker recognizes that the possibility of miscommunication or misunderstanding is high at the very best of times.

As with Goethe’s short quotation above, I remember being dumbfounded by the startlingly obvious expression of a profound truth shared by a fellow grad student after I wrote at great lengths about the frustrating complexity of once trying to reach consensus on questions that would affect the quality of life for thousands of people and their descendants.

You could have knocked me over with a proverbial feather when she wrote so matter-of-factly: “You’re right. People can’t know what they don’t know.” As sobering and frustrating as this was in its simplicity and seeming futility, I could not argue with it as profound truth.

As someone who had practiced teaching as a profession and who, as a reader and writer, relishes woven words of wisdom, wonder, and wellness, I was flummoxed. Despite having always been infinitely fascinated by the wide range of perspectives shaped by diverse human perceptions of experience, I felt a sense of defeat and troubling disconnect. This truth, as expressed and experienced that day, had eluded me.

Despite longstanding assumptions about universal human values regarding the desirability of meaning-filled and long-lasting change for the well-being of humanity, this statement of the facts made my vision of what was possible and desirable more daunting than ever. A similar understanding of the situation I found myself in had already been conveyed poignantly by Martin Luther King, Jr. who said, “Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.” I couldn’t agree more.

Although I am always curious about many domains of human intelligence, inter- and intra-personal intelligence are the ones that never fail to captivate. What we know and believe when it comes to our relationships with others and, even more importantly, ourselves, is infinitely fascinating. We are all, methinks, “people of paradox” and the ironies and juxtapositions of human life are infinite.

Although still daunted by the bigger picture beyond that which I am living in each moment of each day with those in my immediate circle of influence, I do find solace in the words of Niels Bohr who asserts, “The opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth” as well as sage guidance in the words of Michael Gelb: “Embrace ambiguity and trust your gut.”

With love as we live the questions of life,

Posted in Live, Love

Discovering Your Work

“Your work is to discover your work and then, with all your heart, to give yourself to it.” (Victor Frankl)

I am here on the digital screen once again, the flashing cursor prompting me to write. I am pleased to be here with my fingers tapping quickly on the keyboard as I challenge myself to write, write, write.

I do have one eye on the timer that I’ve set beside me but I’m trying not to be too conscious of the seconds ticking away. This, for me, is just another writing exercise–a somewhat playful one as I am dedicated to hitting the “Publish” button when the alarm goes (something I have never done before except in my journal).

Today has been a day of reclaiming. I have been working up to this day for a while but now I’ve done it. I’ve reclaimed my desk at home and I’ve settled in to write for what I feel now could be the second half of my life. As I look fondly at the bright blue and red Canadian Oxford Dictionary and Strunk & White’s Elements of Style to my right as well as the carefully chosen family pictures, quotations, and mementos that surround me, I realize that this is where I belong. This, for better or worse, is my life’s work.

I spent much of yesterday cleaning and moving the furniture in my studio apartment to create a warmer, cozier writing nook with a wider view of the city and a much more dedicated feel. It’s clean, bright, spacious but purposeful. I am happy to be here. Although I have never stopped reading, writing, teaching, and learning, I have allowed myself to become distracted too often by the heart-troubling and brain-numbing demands of daily life.

Although I am sure to spend time in all the neighbouring coffee shops, my pen moving joyously across the pages of my notebook, I am ready and willing to be more productive at home. It has taken awhile. I have had to move through all kinds of fear. Fear of success. Fear of failure. Fear of devoting myself to a life’s work that may not meet my needs.

There is, however, great solace in the words of Victor Frankl above and, the following words from Don Miguel Ruiz, “Your word is the power that you have to create: it is a gift that comes directly from God.” As much as I have always known this, it takes tenacity and courage to follow one’s own path, the less-travelled route that can be so scenic yet scary.

Although very much alone here in my writing studio–the distraction-free space I’ve re-created to dedicate myself even more fully to my work–I must trust that I’m not really alone; my renewed dedication to my work will bring me closer to myself and others in ways too heady and heartfelt to describe.

As the timer winds down my allotted time, my fingers are slowing down to impress these final words on the digital screen:

I wish you all love and laughs in your life’s work and play. . .


Posted in Live, Love

Forever Friends

A friend is one that knows who you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still gently allows you to grow. (Shakespeare)

Although days, weeks, and months may go by without contact with the kind of friends Shakespeare describes above, I know that these precious people are with me. No matter where we may happen to be in the world or how long since we’ve corresponded, they are with me just as surely and lovingly as I am with them.

Although time, distance, and circumstances constantly change and acquaintances come and go playing various valuable roles in life, it is my experience that the truest and dearest friends do not. They are timeless and eternal.

Although it is natural to reach out at times to make enjoyable contact or express care and concern as circumstances dictate, friends already know and trust that you care. On the deepest levels, they know that all is “good” between them just as it always has been and always will be. Why? Because friends know deeply who you are.

Deeply connected in soul and spirit, these friends know that whatever is most appropriate, timely, and mutually agreeable will emerge. There is no tug-o-war, no one-upmanship, and no power differential to worry about or contend with. It is a flexible but enduring bond of spirit-filled equals.

Whether a carefully cultivated friendship or, more likely, an instantaneous connection in which two souls see the beauty in one another and vibrate at the same exhilarating frequency, there is an abiding trust and faith that transcends any challenges imposed by time, space, or circumstance. Miscommunication and misunderstanding are impossible and there is never a ticking on the scoreboard of petty neglects or offences.  True friends know, trust, and believe in one another regardless of (often because of!) what others might consider mistakes, shortcomings, or human imperfection.

Ironically, but commonsensically, these are the cherished friendships in which both parties may confidently take each other for granted, knowing that they can take up exactly where they left off after the briefest update.

How is this possible? Why are some friendships like this when others take  constant upkeep, deliberation, and effort?  I believe that it is simply (and magically!) a matter of deep knowing and trusting what is in one another’s heart. A true friendship does not take “work.” It is not based on fear, insecurity, or control, but the deepest, most faith-filled love and trust.

I am so fortunate to have friends who know my heart and allow me to know theirs with this warm and comforting kind of love and trust. I am very blessed to have friends who are family and family who are friends. This is my small but precious Shakespearean circle of loved ones. Together, as Shakespeare  so aptly describes,  we know who we are, understand where we have been, accept what we have become, and still gently allow each other to grow.

May we forever enjoy and be deserving of one another’s love and take for granted that sacred, spontaneous, and interdependent trust.

With love,

Posted in Live, Love

Letting Go of Good Opinions

They have become strong enough to be independent of the good opinion of other people, or even of their affection. The honors, the status, the rewards, the popularity, the prestige, and the love they can bestow must have become less important than self-development and inner growth. (Abraham Maslow)

Letting go of the “good opinion of others” isn’t always easy or practical–but it is essential. Teaching children (and “inner children”) how to sort, filter, and evaluate the feedback they receive from the world and how to rely upon and trust their deep inner knowing is one of the most liberating, powerful, and altruistic gifts we can ever give.

While it is important to become one’s own person and find one’s way in the world–relying more upon our own thoughts and feelings about the situations we find ourselves in–it can be very difficult to let go of what others think, feel, or want. This is especially true if these people are in positions of power, influence, affection or esteem. Real and perceived dependence and other vested interests abound. Reliability, predictability, expectations, and other patterns of relationship emerge and even the wisest, most “centered” and “detached” of souls  may fall into the interpersonal dynamics of power and control. It is virtually inescapable.

While the adage that your name–your reputation–will always go further than you do in this world, it is also true, as the Tao Te Ching so wisely states, that if you try to please others you become their prisoner. This type of learned helplessness is one of the most painful, debilitating and life-limiting conditions ever. Our name or reputation should be based on an authenticity and truth that extends far beyond political correctness and people-pleasing–the shallow frozen artifice of press releases and photo-ops that obfuscate a deeper, richer, and more satisfying living reality.

Like all things, there is a happy and reasonable balance. While it is essential to look outward with enhanced and enlightened awareness and take in all the positive and negative feedback the world so glibly offers, it is especially necessary to look deeply inward for full understanding and more evolutionary guidance.

Given the wisdom of the adage that “life is not meant to be a struggle,” it is usually wise to “go with the flow” and work with the energy around us, absorbing, utilizing and redirecting as necessary. However, it is as wise to practice acceptance (not stubbing one’s toes by kicking against reality) as it is to stand in strong, serene, or even hostile, life-preserving opposition. Each circumstance is different and a myriad of choices are available. While many are labelled “expected,” “probable,” or “traditional,” few are ever clearly marked “right.”

We are each on our own journey, our own path in life. No matter how well intended our family, friends, teachers, and sages are, they are not there with us in every moment of every day throughout our lives. Despite the best intentions and the warmest of hearts, they have no crystal ball to read our future or really know what is best. The biggest gift we can give ourselves and our children is the ability to grow in self-awareness, understanding, courage, flexibility, and resilience–to know that “reality” is so much more than what we perceive with five (or six) senses and that the richest learning usually occurs while taking risks and makings “mistakes.”

Although I often reminisce fondly and miss some amazing people who I will always love as members of my life-long “family of friends,” I have often had to let go of their “good opinion” when it has limited who I am as an independent thinking, feeling, and ever-changing human being. Given the dynamics of human nature and the age-old interplay of self-interest and control issues that may define human relationships, it is difficult to let go with the trust and well wishes that only true love affords.

It is important to pick one’s inspirational mentors, role models, and heroes carefully. While my childhood heroes will always have a special place in my heart and in my life, it is essential that I stay open to those who I meet in life and literature who continue to inspire and teach. Young or old, rich or poor, formally educated or not, they are usually the most unassuming everyday heroes who seem mostly unaware of the good opinion of others. They are too busy living their truth with a purity of passion and purpose that touches me and others so very deeply.

As cliché as it its many tired expressions have become, ( the greatest testament of truth!) there is great wisdom and wonder in the following sentiment expressed so vividly by ee cummings: “To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”

Battling on, with love,