Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Spirit of Community

This article first appeared in this newspaper.

The entire world has held the community of Humboldt, Saskatchewan in its heart for the last nine days since the tragedy that took 16 lives too soon.

Support has come through one of the highest Go Fund Me fundraisers in history (over $11 million to date and still accepting donations).

#JerseyDay and, #SticksOut for Humboldt uniting Canadians from as far as Iraq – our soldiers lining hockey sticks outside their barracks there and from the world - millions of prayers.

But what this tiny Saskatchewan community of Humboldt has unknowingly given the world is the intangible and priceless gift of community spirit.

In a world where the gap is getting wider: politically, economically, environmentally – and in big cities where we no longer know our neighbours, community spirit is the very thread that binds our hearts together.
A thread that is thin, weak and frayed.

In Canada, hockey is as much a part of our culture as maple syrup and the red-coat wearing Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Many a parent remembers years of driving their child to six am hockey practice, then shivering under a blanket on the cold bleachers sipping coffee from a paper-cup dispensed from the machine in the hall.

Rural families remember home-made back-yard hockey rinks using a garden hose on the first freezing morning of winter. It became an annual ritual.

And for the observers like me, it meant growing up watching Hockey Night in Canada on Channel Three every Saturday night to see what flashy suit Don Cherry would be wearing this week.

The spirit of hockey runs deep in our communities both big and small.
It is a source of pride for this Great Northern country.

The tragedy of last Friday cuts deep and we can't imagine what the families have lost. It is unthinkable.
So many unanswered questions, so many what-ifs, so many broken hearts.

I began to look at young people differently that day.
Maybe Friday was the first time I began to really see young people.

In the grocery store I searched their eyes for hope, dreams. I smiled and sent a silent cheer and wish that screamed, Go for It!
It being life.
It being dreams.
You have your whole life ahead of you.
Or maybe you don't.
Because tragic, horrible accidents happen.
Too soon.
Too young.
To the best ones.

The Tuesday before the accident I went door-to-door with my Sparks troop of bouncing five-year-old girls fundraising by selling Girl Guide cookies.
After an hour and 19 door knocks we sold seven boxes of cookies at $5 each. Not bad for an hour's work.
One man bought four boxes, ‘You’re a miracle!’ one glassy-eyed Spark shouted while taking the $20 bill from his hand.
When we reconvened with our other troop leaders, there were many full cases left.
One group sold none.
Others sold very few.
The Sparks began telling each other about their cookie selling experience.
‘People slammed the doors on us.’
‘They looked at us out the window but wouldn’t open the door and we had cookies!’
‘If they don’t have money we should still give them cookies anyway.’
‘We met a Miracle Man!’

It's not a bad thing.
Rejection is a good lesson to learn young.
But still, a heaviness hung in the air.

We stowed the extra cases at our church hall.

Saturday an email from a Mom, ‘Any more cookies? We sold out so fast.’

Yes. Lots.
I delivered a case to her and brought the rest home.

My five-year-old did not want to go door-to-door again.
‘It’s embarrassing!’ she shouted.

Too bad, I’m cookie treasurer this year and we need to make some dough for Girl Guides.

Together, with my three-year-old, we began knocking on doors.

My daughter stopped at the gate of that house.
You know the house that’s always dark and unkempt? (Untrue) rumours say the old man who lives there gives kids IOUs when they rake his lawn or shovel his snow. And never backs them up.

‘Let’s go to the next house,’ I said.
‘Why not this one?’
Rejection’s a good lesson to learn young.

We knocked on the dark door.
He answered at once.
$5? he said.
He disappeared and returned with $4 in coins.
‘I owe you $1.’

It was soon evident that this week was different than the last.
At every house people opened their doors. And hearts.
They bought cookies.
But they did so much more.
One by one they got down on their knee and asked my girls questions then listened to their sweet mumbles with genuine interest.

I could be wrong, but I felt as each grown-up looked in their eyes, they were searching for dreams, for hope and, perhaps and especially – silently cheering them on. 

A car stopped in the street, the woman at the wheel rolled down her window and shouted,
‘I'll buy some cookies!’

One neighbour came running down the street with a reusable shopping bag shouting,
‘I'll take them all!’

I opened the case but there was only one box left. We had been selling cookies for 10 minutes.

The next day a beautifully embossed old-fashioned envelope was waiting in our mailbox.
On the outside, written in calligraphy, just our address, 3018.
A note inside on beautifully crafted card-stock paper:
To the Girl Guides at 3018, Keep Going! And with it a crisp five-dollar bill from the kind and generous man in that house.

The community spirit had returned to my community in a large city where most of us don’t know our own neighbours anymore.

I don't believe it's a coincidence.

I believe the young people on that bus brought the spirit of community back to our faceless communities.
Their lives are too high a price to pay for this priceless gift.

God Bless the Humboldt Broncos and everyone who was in that tragic accident, their families and their loved ones. 

And God bless all the young souls of our world.
They are the innocent, the hopeful and the dreamers who hold our communities together with their eternal spirit.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Slaying Dragons

Resistance is writing this post.
Your resistance is reading this post.

Resistance is the dragon that stands before the thing you want to do.
You need to do.
For whatever f*cked up reason: soul contract, higher purpose, creative pursuit, life meaning - or maybe it's because someone once said you can't.

You just have to do it otherwise you feel like something's missing, or worse, you don't believe in yourself.

Steven Pressfield is the genius who gave the Dragon of Defeat the name Resistance.
He's written a whole series on how to overcome Resistance. 
A necessary weapon in your arsenal to defeat the beast.

If you're trying to lose weight, it's Resistance that tells you, you're tired today and can exercise tomorrow instead.
If you're trying to start a business, it's Resistance who says, you've got time to think this through, talk it over with your fear-mongering relatives and get their opinion.
If you're trying to write a book, it's Resistance that says, you have laundry to do, emails to write, blogs to read, or, when you refuse to do any of the above, just says, quit wasting your time - you're a fraud.

Excuses are the swan song of Resistance.

Resistance is the fire-breathing dragon who stands at the entrance to the cave that has that treasure that belongs to you and you alone.
The treasure you came here for.
There's only one way to get past it.
Pull out your sword and slay the S.O.B. standing in your way.

Stop reading this blog, let the laundry pile up, don't look for third-party confirmation, get your butt out of bed and into your sneakers even if it's raining/snowing/hailing/too hot.
As Nike says, Just Do It.

But know, tomorrow you'll have to do it again.
And the day after that.
And that.
And so on.

Every time you show up to battle the dragon, it's a victory.
Victory is not in the outcome.
Victory is in showing up for battle.
Again and again and again.
Go do it.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Experience or function?

Being human is a not a life sentence.
not functional - as much as our ego thinks we are 'what' we do.
But our egos are small minded like that.

We are here to experience it all: form, love, fear and everything in between.
You don't know who you are until you are pushed beyond your limits.
Only then do you witness the true potentiality of the human spirit.

Don't run from the limits.
Run towards them.
Sword waving, mouth wide in a roar of excitement,
As you slay the dragons standing in your way.
You. Warrior.
Only then will you see the limits were illusions.

Warriors who have come across the universe to experience this thing called 'life' together.
Right here, right now.
it is in these tiny, quantum moments of decision:
You create the experience of life that only you can have.
Unstoppable you.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Talking Lion's Testicles with Janice Tolmich on her Clever Podcast

From Janice:

In my latest podcast episode, speaker and author, Melissa Haynes put a fire under me to make some changes. I hope she has the same effect on you!

Melissa is a bright spark. From the way she tags herself as a Free-Spirited, Dream-Chasing Adventure Junkie and Published Scribbler, to how she titled her book, "Learning to Play with a Lion’s Testicles” she gives those of us who are communicators (all of us) and presenters, a lesson in how to make others curious and grab their attention.

We talk about Melissa's TEDx Talk, "The Secret of Achievers, Conquerors & Living Life to the Fullest", which is based on her book. She shares how she prepared for her talk and how it felt to stand on the red circle of the TEDx stage.

Through her book and speaking, Melissa encourages you to "have the courage to have the courage". If you've experienced fear and put your dreams aside, Melissa says that ninety-two percent of people give up on their dreams before they even try. Whether your dream is to write a book, travel to an exotic destination, or share your story on stage, Melissa will light you up to chase your dreams (and not be one of the ninety-two percent).

In this podcast episode, Melissa encourages you to take risks, to try, and to chase your dreams.

Listen in, won't you?

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Power of Possibility

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change – Wayne Dyer.

Update: The article discussed below has just been published at Tiny Buddha.

A friend recently told me the highly acclaimed Tiny Buddha blog was accepting submissions.
At first I was excited at the idea but before I could even complete the thought, I decided it would be a waste of time as they would never accept an article from me.

While it’s true that may happen, there are infinite other possibilities too.

How many times have you given up on something before you even tried because you were certain of the (negative) outcome?

Most of us do this several hundred, if not thousands of times a day.
Whispers of inspiration muted before they can be spoken aloud because we quickly decide it isn’t possible.

But what if there was more than that one (negative) outcome we already decided on?
What if there was even an infinite number of outcomes, some even positive?

No need to question it. There are in fact infinite possibilities to any situation, just ask any quantum physicist. At any one time for any situation, there are an infinite number of possibilities; we just need to change the way we look at things, so the things we look at can change.

Like this hillside (above) I’ve been walking every day. At first glance it looks like it’s covered in what can best be described as desert ‘scrub’. That was the conclusion I made about it and never looked at it again, instead I tried to look past it, to the lake in the distance or the hills above – the things I knew for certain were there and worth looking at.

Until one day I stopped and began to really look at the hillside and right before my eyes beauty emerged.
The ‘scrub’ wasn’t really scrub. It was one infinitely beautiful flowering plant after another.

How had I missed the bright yellow black-eyed Susans? Or the intoxicating scent of the fuchsia wild roses? 
The scrub was alive with the buzz of honey bees, the flit of butterflies and dragon flies: some turquoise, purple, orange even zebra-striped.
I no longer noticed the lake or hills above. I was completely immersed in the aliveness of the hillside formerly known as ‘scrub’.
I decided to write and submit an article for Tiny Buddha.
There was the possibility it could be rejected but there were other possibilities too.
And maybe just being willing to see another possibility was enough. Maybe that was a victory in itself because it would make me write and submit instead of give up before I even stepped into the ring with resistance aka self-doubt.
I wrote. I submitted. I was rejected. But given suggestions.
This was a possibility I hadn’t anticipated.
An opportunity to take the suggestions and run with them. Collaborate with someone I highly respected and admired.

I wrote again. Submitted again. And this time was accepted.
When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change. We just have to be open to the possibility of something beautiful in the scrub.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Chasing Dreams with Grey Jabesi in Cape Town, South Africa

I recently Skyped into Cape Town, South Africa to talk 'lions testicles' with Grey Jabesi on his wonderful podcast, the Grey Ave. 
In this conversation we get really specific about how to play with a lion's testicles (take a risk and chase a dream) and Grey even shares what's been holding him back from grabbing his dream to write a book by the knackers. 
Hint: it's the same thing that holds us all back: resistance.

The Grey Ave Podcast is a multi platform concept aimed at bringing together like-minded 'Type A' players from various fields to learn from each other’s experiences. By chatting and listening to their stories, I try to find patterns in what makes them successful.

The podcast is a reflection of the things that I’m interested in like entrepreneurship, technology, art, travel and randomness:), so you can expect more of that.
The guests are global, and the topics are broad. Surely you can learn something from each conversations regardless.

Grey Jabesi, Cape Town

Tune in here or on itunes to listen in.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

F*ck this is good!

Time to re-think the f*ck budget:
Step One: Make a list of things that annoy you.
Step Two: Stop giving your time, energy and money to those things.

You don't have to do things out of shame, guilt and obligation.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Lay Down Your Sword. Interview on CKNW 98 with Host, Maureen McGrath

Last night I sat down with Host, Maureen McGrath of the Sunday Night Sex and Relationship show to talk about Playing with a Lion’s Testicles.

First, I should explain the meaning of playing with a lion’s testicles as some of your listeners may think your show has taken an awkward turn.

Playing with a lion’s testicles is a South African expression that means, have the courage to have the courage.

Your show is a relationship show, why don’t we talk about having the courage to repair the most important but ignored (human) relationship most of us will ever have? 
The relationship with self.

The most challenging and neglected relationship most of us have is the relationship with ourselves.

And perhaps the most toxic poison we carry with us is that of guilt.

We are the only creature on earth who will beat ourselves up over and over and over again for a mistake we made. How many times do we have to pay?

When in reality, our universe is evolving, our planet is evolving, everything in nature is evolving – the acorn that evolves into a seedling into an oak tree – and we, too are evolving and learning. We are here to learn the lessons we signed up for, even if we have to repeat the lesson, over and over and over and over again.

Some of us have high expectations that we’re not allowed to make mistakes, that we should already be perfect, that we should have all the answers.
We are human – yes it’s a temporary condition, but we are human. We’re supposed to evolve and have room for improvement.

How do we do that?
1)    Have the courage to lay down your sword. To go without and go within. Everything that comes up that isn’t loving needs healing. It’s coming up to be healed. And you can’t heal by swinging a sword at those things. You heal through love, kindness, compassion and forgiveness for yourself.
2)    Lay down the sword of self-recrimination, the sword of judgement and guilt you hold against your own throat. Louise Hay wrote a book 30 years ago called, You can Heal Your Life and she says, look in your own eyes and say, I love you and accept you for who you are right now and I forgive you. Healing and Forgiveness are two branches on the same tree of relationships.

When you lay down your sword you release yourself from the tyranny of guilt and self-attack.

It takes more courage to love than to hate, to forgive than to fight. Most of our thoughts about ourselves are fearful, negative ones.

The exit door to fear is courage. Courage to improve the most important and neglected (earthly) relationship you will ever have. Everything worth living for is on the other side of that door.

A Course in Miracles says, it is in your defenselessness that you will find your strength.
Lay down your sword.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Guest Post by Spiritual Badass, Jill Prescott: Stop Keeping Secrets

I am honored to present to you Jill Prescott, she has an empowering message to share that will help you find your courage.
Jill Prescott is a Spiritual BadAss, committed to guiding people through trauma to freedom, with Love. She is an intuitive healer, international speaker and facilitator. Jill is leading a movement of open and vulnerable dialogue aimed at helping people leave trauma in the past so they can take full ownership of this human experience. 

F*CK teaching our children to keep secrets. There is nothing but destruction created when we are told “don’t tell” “keep it in the family” “if you tell, someone’s gonna get hurt”
F*CK THAT! No more secrets. NO MORE SECRETS!
F*ck the damage it does and the suppression it creates. And the guilt and the shame. It leaves the person holding the secret bound to guilt and shame. Bound to suffering. Bound to staying small. Bound to feeling broken. Staying silent keeps you in pain. The secrets become blocks in our bodies. Walls are created, keeping us separate from each other. Alone in our pain. As adults we don’t know what to do with our secrets and so we bury them deep in our hearts and bodies but they don’t stay there. Eventually, they come up to haunt us, creating illness, dis-ease and mental illness. They rob us of our joy and peace. And all the time we are passing on this legacy to our children. We teach them how to hold secrets, how to suffer in silence, generation after generation after generation. And the shame continues. And the guilt continues.  F*ck keeping secrets! No more secrets. They are robbing you of who you truly are and what you are meant to do in this life.

It is time to stop the secrets. It is time to be afraid and tell anyway. It is time to tell your stories. Share your grief and your pain. Bring that darkness to the light. Bring it to the light so the guilt and shame can be released so that you can let the light in. Tell your secrets. Stop carrying them. They’re breaking you. They’re breaking you! Don’t let them break you anymore! Offer your secrets to the world as a gift so that others know they are not alone. Offer them so that we can break the cycle of silence so that are children do not have to carry our burden. So that are babies are born into innocence and so that innocence comes back to us. Tell your secrets and take away their power so you may heal. Forgive and let love back in. Let love shine from you. Let love be what guides you. No more f*cking secrets!
Are you ready to let go of your secrets? Find someone safe to tell them to. Go to the people that love you and share. Call me if you don’t have anyone you feel safe enough to tell your secrets to. I will listen. When you do this, when you open the door these secrets have been locked behind you will begin to heal. Light of truth is like salve for the wounds. You no longer need to carry this load. 

If you have a secret that’s draining you, you can reach Jill here.
Jill also recently delivered an empowering TEDx talk titled, ‘Being Vulnerable Gave Me Freedom From Sexual Abuse and Bullying’ 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Who's more Enlightened?

Goes without saying: our fur buddies.
We are all Spiritual beings having a temporary human (or canine) experience.

Ferocious Man-Eater or Beautiful Creation to be Protected?

Max Planck was a 20th century Quantum Physicist.
In 1918 he won the noble peace prize for his discovery of quantum physics.
But the road to this discovery was a bumpy one.
He had to throw away all the beliefs, all the empirical evidence he had collected over his lifetime as a scientist and admit that what he (and the rest of the world) thought was absolute physical law was in fact, wrong.
Imagine the courage, it took to say, everything we think we know is wrong – and that was before he had evidence to prove it so.

With one hypothesis after another proven wrong, with frustration keeping him awake day after day after day, Max Planck had to be willing to see things differently, he had to open his mind to new frontiers never before explored let alone discovered.
It turned his left-brained, scientific genius world upside down.

What he discovered, would change reality forever. With every quantum second that we perceive it, we change reality according to our beliefs, however subliminal or intentional they may be.

Max Planck discovered quantum physics. In a nutshell, he discovered that when we change the way we look at things – whether that be through a highly precise scientific microscope or just through your own eyes at the person sitting across from you at the dinner table, THE THINGS WE LOOK AT CHANGE based on our thought about them.

I know, groovy, spooky and so fluffing cool.

“As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clearheaded science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about the atoms this much: There is no matter as such! All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particles of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. . . We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter.” Max Planck.

It’s true. It’s life changing. It’s awesome.

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
The possibilities are infinite.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

1 in 400,000,000,000,000

You are a WORTHY, magnificent and adventurous soul.
Your chances of being here, on earth, at this time in history are 1 in 400 Trillion.
1 in 400 trillion.
You were chosen to experience this gift called life. 
By who or what doesn't matter, just that you're here now and you agreed to this adventure, you who thought you weren't adventurous!
What could be more adventurous than being 1 in 400 trillion who took the plunge into this thing called life on this rock called Earth.
Keep that number front of mind next time you question your worth, your abilities or the small stuff starts weighing you down. 

1 in 400,000,000,000,000. That's YOU!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

How to be more Creative by 29-Time Emmy Award Winner Bill Stainton

The sources for creativity, compassion, solutions and meaning from this crazy thing called life, are, well, right beside you.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Lucky is an Understatement

When you hit an obstacle, or a bad chapter in your life, here's someone who has found the resilience to keep turning the pages and reminds us all that 'lucky' is the strength to turn the chapters on life's tough chapters.

I've met Mary-Jo Dionne and she's about the most selfless person there is. 
She encourages and applauds everyone she encounters and her internal light is so bright it can be seen from galaxies far away.
And, she's a gifted writer and story-teller.

If you need a dose of positivity, or some encouragement to turn a difficult page, head over here to read her most recent article on Huffington Post.