For several weeks now we’ve been watching the movement of the American youth, as they take on the challenge of the gun law legislation in the USA. In the first 16 weeks of 2018 there have been 20 school shootings that have resulted in loss of life or serious injury. The worst of this year occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida where 17 unsuspecting students and adults were slaughtered.
In the aftermath of that shooting, there have been youth led protests and marches across the United States which have rippled over into all parts of the world. In the protests, youth as young as 11 have begun to demand that society take a deeper look at what is happening as a result of the current gun legislation and imploring adults to do something about it before any more young lives are lost to the senseless gun violence that is becoming all too common in the lives of today’s children.
One of the lines that stuck out for me in the midst of watching all of these things take place across the nation was one commentators remark that “not finding any leadership, they have created it.” What a powerful statement on the potential and the passion that these young people are exhibiting. What promising hope they give us for a better tomorrow, in spite of the damaged world that we are handing down to them. Given the tools, resources and support, I believe that they offer us hope of a world that is more compassionate, that is safer, that is greener and that is more inclusive that the one we see today. They are our future, so how to we help them to create the best one possible?
With my children’s books, I attempt to reach kids in the early years and ask them to think about diversity, inclusion, friendship and belonging. I believe that the earlier we can get kids thinking about those things, the stronger their belief in a world that includes those qualities will be. The more we are able to help children to know that we all need to feel that we belong is instrumental in having so many of today's challenges resolved. If we can look at one another through eyes that see our similarities rather than our individual differences, there is a chance some of these attacks could be stopped. If some of the outcast individuals that commit many of the crimes had a stronger sense of self worth, would they act the way they have? It’s not the answer to all of the worlds problems, but at my core I do believe that it’s the start of something better.
Then I think about the Youth Leadership Camps that we are working to create through Mark McGregor Leadership, I can only imagine how far these impassioned youth could take the world if they had the tools and inner strength our camps offer. What if these young people had the resources and skills offered to them when they are 18 years old, and still have the energy, enthusiasm and commitment to make their world all that they believe it can be? What if they were given the opportunity to better understand the power of coaching and were able to lead others to follow the dream they see of what is possible in the years ahead? What if at 20 years old they had the opportunity to really be supported to dedicate intense and intentional time towards understanding their own values, vision and to know what their mission in life was at the beginning of the journey, instead of learning those things closer to the end? What if?
It’s true that so many people have never had the opportunity to think about that until they reach their 40s or 50s and only begin to think about those things when a personal crisis occurs. They’ve burned both ends of the candle for so long that yes, they’ve accumulated the material things that our society conditions us to believe we need to have to be effective, contributing members of the economic based world we live in. But in the accumulation of ‘stuff’, how many of us have lost ourselves? As coaches, it’s very often those people that come to us in hopes of making sense of lives that no longer make sense. They followed the rules, got the job, the house, the wife, the car but in exchange they gave up many of their dreams, passions and have never accessed or used the innate gifts that they were born with. Although they have acquired all the material possessions that we are driven to 'need', the efforts to do so have sabotaged their marriages, relationships with children and in many cases their connections to their own selves. As their lives edge closer to the finish line than the starting point, they now seek to understand who they are. Why are they here? What is their true purpose and is there still time to live that purpose in a meaningful way?
The answer of course is yes! It’s never to late to start, to reflect, to hit the reset button and begin anew. But in that same vein, it’s never to early either? Our greatest hope for the Youth Vision Camps is that we can take our own decades of struggling, learning and finally truly understanding, and share what we’ve come to know with those that are beginning their unique journeys. Imagine one of these passionate, fiery young adults having the opportunity to truly know what their values are so that they can create a life that reflects those values at all times. What might happen if they know what they’re passionate about, and instead of following the herd and getting the Bachelor of Arts degree, because that what seems sensible, they were encouraged to dive into that passion with tools and support to see what might be possible? To follow their hearts?
Vision Camps are created in hopes that we can take our years of knowledge and ‘pay it forward’ to the youth that attend, so that they can be fast-tracked to where they want their lives to head. They've been designed to help them to begin the journey with the end in mind, by understanding the importance of vision. Help them to know it’s okay to question the status quo, that there is always more than one way to get to where you want to be in life, and to know that it’s okay to question the way it’s always been...because the way it’s always been isn’t necessarily the right way.
Every generation has rolled their eyes and shook their heads at the generations coming up behind them, wondering how they are ever going to survive in ‘our’ world as we’ve created it. It’s time for that to stop, because ‘our’ world is going to be handed over to tomorrows leaders, so instead lets help them to be as strong, equipped and supported as they can be, because it isn’t just our world that they hold in their hands....it’s our future.
I waited for several weeks, in anticipation of what Gord Downie's release of his graphic novel, multi-media project 'Secret Path', was going to be like to actually watch. I'd watched all the promo clips, and posted many on my personal social media pages, as well as the pages I'm connected to through my work with Artists Against Racism. I was not oblivious to the part of our history that was the Residential School system, I'd been granted opportunities to know and expand my understanding of it, and have delved into learning more about it for myself in recent years. I was always glad for that knowledge and those that had shared their stories with me, but also sad for the time it took me to really embrace the need to learn about it.
I barely remember a time in my life where Indigenous people were not a part of my own story, from the age of six on. In the years beginning in 1984, when I had the local country store, dozens of my customers from nearby Long Plain Reserve tried to share their stories of life in those schools. But being younger and more naive, I heard...but I didn't really listen. I don't know for sure, but I believe that part of that inability to truly listen was the little voice in my head that wondered what the complaining was about, rather than their being glad they had the opportunity to receive an education? I really never asked deeper questions. I didn't have the maturity. I heard what they were willing to share, but I didn't listen to the deeper meaning they were trying to share with me. For that, I will always be deeply sorry, and sadly most of those that tried to shed light on their path for me to better understand their experience are now gone. I will never have the chance to honor their truth the way I now wish I could.
October 23, the 'Secret Path' was released to the public through a CBC special, where the graphic novel was brought to life for hundreds of thousands of Canadians. Gord Downie had pointed his finger at all of us as he'd ended his last Tragically Hip concert in Kingston, and challenged all Canadians to take notice and to do better. Through sharing the Secret Path with us, he is giving us a door to walk through and open up communication that can start the road to our doing better. I was excited that the unveiling had come.
I watched a recording of the streamed event late that night, alone in my room at a friend's home in Redondo Beach, California. There was no surprises to the story, it's fifty years old and I have familiarized myself with it in recent years. What did surprise me was the impact of watching the animated book come to life through the songs that Gord had written to share Chanie Wenjack's experience as best he could...through his music. There was no doubt in my heart that a piece of Gord's soul is attached to this project with a direct link to Chanie's spirit. That became more and more clear as the experience unfolded before me.
When the animation was done, and the opportunity to watch a very ill Gord Downie sing one more rendition of the opening song was over, the pain in my own heart was measurable. I could feel the weight of Chanie's misery, a 12 year old boy, the same age as one of my own grandsons, struggling to escape the horror that was life at that institution in a hopeless attempt to find his way home. I could feel the weight of Gord's passion and purpose, as he'd shared what he refers to as his most important work ever. I could feel the weight of the gift and the responsibility to become part of the change that we are all challenged to be. Those weights resulted in a restless and dream filled night of Ravens, railroads and reconciliation.
In the light of day the real challenge still stares me in the face, as I try to put into action what my heart calls me to do. I was in Redondo Beach because I was attending the first International Grief Recovery Conference. It was a weekend of celebrating an accomplished model for mending broken hearts that has been around for over thirty years. We learned that we now have 5,000 Grief Recovery Specialists doing this deeply heart centered work in all but one continent, that one being Antarctic. We were given ideas on how to offer this tool more widely to children, to reach out to other businesses in our areas to reach a wider audience, how to better market our skills so that we can 'help the most amount of grievers in the least amount of time.' We learned that there are changes on the horizon that will help us to better keep up with the changing times, and that this will not be the final gathering of so many like minded people. Through it all, I was deeply reminded of the power of this tool and the need to be offering it more in the world.
When I returned to my room to watch the Secret Path, I was also reminded of how very, very badly our country needs healing. Healing between those of us that are considered the settlers, and those that were here before us, our Indigenous cousins. There is so much work to be done to make our country the truly great place that we were allowed to believe that it was...and that it can be...but it isn't yet.
So now the real work begins of finding ways to bring my ability to help people heal their broken hearts to people that badly need that opportunity to heal. People who need to have their own personal truth heard, honored and valued. Who need to have the opportunity to find completion to some of the grief and losses that have been holding them in a place of pain for much too long.
I will not be leaving this world a lineage through my bloodline, but I can leave a legacy through my actions. I need to do this for my 'children', and my children's children. I need to do this for my ancestors and those that went before me, instilling the value of all people deep into my being, and doing what they were able to from where they were at the time to make the world better. I need to do it for my friends past and present, who entrusted me with their stories and their experience, a trust I believe I have finally grown into. I won't forget what they experienced and shared, and I promise to find a way to help others understand the depth of the wounds that our history has left. I need to do this for my own heart, which has reminded me time and time again that I too have a deep purpose to fulfill in this life, and as the speed of the pounding in my own heart increases, I know that this work...this healing...this path...is part of the Secret Path that I have been working my way towards for so much of my life. It is slowly, and steadily being revealed to me, and I look forward to traveling down it with all those others that choose to mend this divide.
I don’t even know where to start…because there is no beginning, and no ending to the story that is unfolding ….the story that is my life right now, right here…so how do I explain things.
As I shared with you in earlier posts, decisions were made. BIG decisions, that resulted in my beloved and I moving from our comfort zone in Manitoba, living life as semi-retired farmers…to our new life here in Qualicum Beach, British Columbia.
None of it came easily. In the course of six months we made six trips across the prairies to move what was most important to our hearts here to the Island that promised us we’d find a sense of home and belonging. Six trips!!! At times, I cannot even believe we have traveled that much in an effort to be stable…it becomes an oxymoron of sorts…jumbo shrimp..running to be still. It’s been just a little bit crazy, but crazy we are, so here we are, finally taking a moment to catch our breath now. But in the stillness, the questions continue to abound.
Our Qualicum Beach home is now all but established. Yes, there are nooks, crannies and corners that need just a little ‘something more’ to be right…something that our Kijiji shopping and chasing has not yet provided, but all the essentials of that which we’re content to call ‘home’ has been established. The ‘little things’ that are missing will come with time. Example…a lamp in the living room. Until tonight…4 months post-possession, I have not really found it a problem that we don’t have any lamp/ lights in our home…besides those which are hard wired into the walls and ceilings. But tonight…as my beloved wanted to watch an action movie…my heart’s choice was to just take out my ‘Stress Relieving Coloring Book” and well…Color…but because we hadn’t made that little inconsequential purchase of a lamp I couldn’t. Another reminder of the little things that have a big impact. We will get there.
Four months into our transition, there are still as many questions as there are answers. With that, I have found that I need to live in the questions…because I know the answer will come eventually…and if I strain myself to know it, I may push myself beyond what I’m able to appreciate and understand at this point…so I live in the questions.
Here are a sampling of them….
So…tonight, as I sit here on a lazy Sunday evening , my desire to reflect is as strong as ever. I think about the quote I read about "the comfort zone being a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there." Maybe it was just time to grow again.
This last couple of days have been the first that we’ve been able to just sit back and be without the need to travel east to clean up old business, or explore things here with company and friends. I’ve spent time out on the deck off the dining room that now has the beautiful ‘roof’ that our son Bill built when he came to visit with his family. As I listen to the sounds of the crickets in the distance, I love that I can sit and do that without the challenge of Manitoba Mosquitoes or West Coast rain…because that’s the way we’ve set things up. Intentional Paradise. I can sit for hours listing to the cricket in the distance…and just do that, without having to defend myself from the elements that would dictate …and ruin…my evening hours back on the prairies.
I am learning the benefits of just embracing a ‘Pooh’ day…spending time in the hammock that my beloved has anchored for me out in the trees beyond the yard…listening to the birds…and the insects…and the world go by…recognizing that yes, it’s a very good day…just because it is a very good day.
I am embracing the fact that I moved to this place because of its proximity to Spider Lake and all that that offered…and as I drove myself here on our initial move…Bob Seger was definitely singing ‘Let’s all Go to Spider Lake’…even though musical intellect says he was singing ‘Fire Lake’…that is not what my heart heard. So with that, I have finally given myself permission to just spend time at Spider Lake…with my man…with my camera…with my dog...in a kayak…and most important…with Spirit…make cruising those waters a priority. For no other reason than that the water is there…and so am I. What an incredible concept. What a gift, what a treasure of being.
So I will end things there for now…. living in the questions, and knowing there are no definite answers…. embracing the reality that that is okay. What I know for sure is that the answer will unfold when the time comes. For now, I know in my heart I have made the decisions to be here because this is where I am meant to be. The bigger reason for that is not for me to understand right now… but that’s okay. I know I am where I need to be, with who I need to be, loving all I am meant to be for now…..and that makes all of this perfect.
What questions do you find yourself living in at this time? What changes have you made that are leaving you a little afraid...a little nervous as to whether you're moving in the right direction in your life? What tools would help you to sort through those questions? Maybe I can help!
The #Future starts today, not tomorrow. How often do we forget that?
How many times to we put off doing the things that we most love, spending time with the people we most love, pursuing the passions that we most love believing that we don't have time today. Thinking that tomorrow the time needed will magically appear and we'll get at things then.
But the old saying goes, tomorrow never comes, and it's true isn't it. Tomorrow turns into another busy today, where the same reasons and excuses hold us back from doing what calls to our spirits.
With that in mind then, what are you going to do today, that will take you a step closer to the dream that lights the fire in your heart? What will move you in the direction of living a more full and passionate life? What you've always imagined your best self to be? You owe it to yourself to do something today...don't put it off until tomorrow.
It can be hard. It can be really hard to figure out who you are in this life. Especially after years, and years of being the 'roles' that you've lived. We become so lost in those roles. Whether its the work we do, the gifts we have, our station in a family or a community, we become so much of what we do, that we forget just who it is that we are. It happens to almost all of us.
I get that. I live it just like you do, but I am intent on continuing my growth towards who I am and how I want to be spending my time. That can be difficult and it can be scary.
I have recently taken a big step back from the work that I have been doing for the last twelve years. It was time, and I knew that, because the joy that filled my heart in doing that work was no longer present. And if we don't have joy in our lives, what else is there?
It is frightening when you step away from the security of knowing what your income will be, what the expectations of the role you play are, what is familiar. But there is a there is a comfortable peace that comes with those big decisions if your heart knows that they are right for you. And my heart seems to know.
Cancer was definitely the catalyst to make the decision, but only a catalyst. So now at 54 the real work begins, the work of ensuring that I remain authentic to what fires me up, brings me to joy and breaths life into my spirit. I know that I cannot support others to do that, if I am not living those values myself.
Initially there was a certain amount of guilt in that I am spending so much of my days doing the things that I love to do! Playing more deeply with my photography, learning more about social media and website development, writing...writing, writing, writing. And expanding my coaching business and what it can offer others. But the funny thing about doing what it is you are meant to be doing is that things begin to flow, and they begin to fall into place in some most unexpected ways. They days go by and if someone asks what you did, it's hard to explain because on one level it could be seen as nothing really, but on a level that really matters you did everything! It's a wonderful place to be.
The one thing I am very intentional about is that whatever I am doing, it is aligned with my passions. My list is always close at hand, and if I question something as to whether it is moving me closer to my vision and my passion I pull that list out and read it through one more time. If the answer is no, then I put the request or the activity aside, and return to what fuels my spirit. That can be challenging in it's own right, because so many of us live our lives as people pleasers that have spent decades saying yes to what matters least, sacrificing what matters most, in an effort to please others in our lives. To not let others down. To not be considered selfish or self-centered by those we love.
But the truth is, that those that love us are going to keep loving us. They will begin to see those actions not as an insult, but as you making self-care a priority in your life, and respecting that. And in an ideal world, they will see the value of doing that for themselves as well when they see you lead by example.
So here's to always growing and to growing all ways. Here's to taking the leap of faith that this is what is meant to happen at this stage of life, and trusting that the net will be there to catch you. Here's to knowing that the universe will provide for you when you are aligned and living the life that you were intended to live. Sharing the gifts that only you have to share, doing the 'work' that your gifts and passions were intended to do. And spreading the light that is YOU into this world. Here's to each of us being who we truly are...being Truly You!
Note to my readers: I need you to know that if you do decide to click on any of the advertisements on my site, I may receive compensation as an affiliate of these businesses that I support...but I hope you know that in doing so you are supporting my own vision of living life on my own passionate terms and being truly me!
I remember when I turned 40. I was talking to a friend and shared that I was really glad to have reached this stage, as I was finally beginning to know and value myself, in ways that we don't seem to be able to when we are younger.
I remember at the time her saying "40...wait till you hit 50! That's the best...you become who you want to be, and don't give a hoot for what the rest of the world thinks! You discover freedom!"
I have thought of her often over the last few years, now that I am in my 50s, and realize how right she was. That as you mature into the true authenticity of who you are, you work to please no one before your spirit is contented first. It is freedom. And she was also right that really what others think means so much less than it did.
So it was in that spirit of what do I want to do to express myself, that the tattoo came to be. For years I couldn't have imagined even considering one..with my mother's words of 'oh no, don't do something like that to your body'...or my father's claim that 'only people who have been in the Navy have earned the right to get a tattoo' (he also claimed you shouldn't pierce your ears unless you've been south of the equator as well.) But over the past few years, I've been toying with the idea a lot.
So it finally came to be! I needed the support and 'push' from my daughter in law Robbin to actually do it, as she's very comfortable with body art. But it took time to decide...we wanted similar ones, as it was a joint 'bonding' event, but I didn't want something that wasn't going to be meaningful for me forever. This is what I finally came up with.
The Dandelion represents my 'kids' and their partners... a symbol of resilience and tenacity...as stick-to-it as a spirit can be. Anyone who has tried to get rid of one will know that they have heart and spirit that is almost impossible to crush. Then there are 8 dandelion seeds...representing my 8 grandsons..the seeds of our future and all the possibilities they each hold...may they all plant goodness in the world. The 5 dragonflies are for my granddaughters...symbols of transition and light..coming from the world of water, but soaring through the air, reflecting their beauty to the world around...Finally the little blue butterfly in the corner is for Shane...my angel on the side...a symbol of the beauty of transformation...from who we were to who we are, in whatever form we inhabit.
Cec and I are the stalk of the dandelion, entwined as one, with our hope to be a grounding foundation for all the beautiful beings that are our family, providing roots for them to know where they come from and can come home to...but giving them wings to be who they will be. Thanks to Candice at Living Canvas in Winnipeg, I'm very happy with the outcome!
They say that you should do something everyday that scares you a little...that helps you grow. This scared me more than I can say! But in the end, my imagination was way worse than the actual event.
What have you been thinking about doing that will scares you a little, but that you know in your heart will help you grow into being Truly You?
It was an interesting evening last night. So much is changing around us right now, as we await further information on where our journey is headed...and, knowing that the only constant we have in our lives is in fact change. So in going with that flow of thought, I decided it was time to change up my website a little. And so it began...
Not everyone you know likely has three blogs flowing from one website. I am not everyone. And choose to document and share different aspects of my life's journey in different ways. It's a very long story, and I won't bore you with the details of it all at this point.
Anyhow, in working to make those changes, put my blog areas together, and update a few things, I ended up hitting a wrong button that completely erased my ongoing 3 years Truly You 'Sharing Blog' journal. I was devastated ...and in fact this morning, was still angry with myself for the mishap. But as I've tried to with every event, good or bad, over the past several years, I calmed down and asked my self "Why is this happening for me?"
It's that constant re-framing of events that has made such a difference in my life. Instead of asking 'Why is this happening to me?" when things don't go according to our well orchestrated plans...I instead choose to ask, "Why is this happening for me?". So as I have for so many, many events...I asked myself this same question this morning.
As the day progressed, wonderful things happened and came to light. So what are the possibilities of why this happened for me?
It takes time and energy to become who we truly are! In life, so many things can get in the way of our figuring that out..but the time comes in each of our lives where we need to be able to do that if we're going to live happy fulfilling lives that are authentic reflections of our best selves. These are just things I've learned along the way. I hope that they might help you in your own journey into being Truly You!