My passion filled life
Thoughts and threads of passion and experience that have woven the fabric I call my life.
My passion filled life
Last week I made a return trip to Manitoba for ‘I love to read Month’. It wasn’t a particularly long planned for trip. I’d been intent on staying out of the cold Manitoba winter weather. That was, after all, a great part of the reason we chose to move to the West Coast two years ago! But I’d been enticed by a friend, who’d written to remind me that as it was ‘I love to Read Month’ and as I was an author, I should be there. After being steadfast on my decision not to go back in February, I went back to Manitoba in February. ‘I Love to read’ felt too important to miss.
I decided that this time I would focus on my “Shane’s Big Adventure” Books, because I had done ‘Tyson’s Orange Shirt’ last September and have hopes of doing it again this fall if the Universe permits. I know that Shane’s story has become old to some, and others may feel I should let it go and move on, but that’s not what my heart says. My heart says that I learned way too many important things during that journey through this world with that young man not to share it. As the anniversary of the 9th year since his passing approaches, I feel just as committed to sharing those lessons now as I did when he was with me. If one child who experiences life similarly is seen in a new light, or if one child who sees a child with a similar life path becomes a bit more compassionate towards that child, or a parent with a special needs child feels a little more empowered, then it is all worth it.
Over the course of the week that I was back in Manitoba, I read to 8 different schools. I can’t estimate how many children, because some schools had me read to each class separately, while others congregated the kids together. Each session started with sharing a little bit about Cerebral Palsy, and bit about Shane’s life, the reading of his first adventure, then his second, followed up with my singing his “When you Look at Me” song. There was always lots of time left for questions. The age groups ranged from kindergarten through to Grade 8. The questions varied just as much, with many veering off in unexpected directions discussing and sharing grief and loss. And that was okay, because I believe that conversations unfolded as they needed to for the children that were there with me in the room at that moment.
I know Cecil and I will question ourselves about the cost of some of my choices to return for things like ‘I love to Read’, presenting ‘Just my Friend’ or talking to kids about Orange Shirt Day. It is certainly making good use of our kid’s potential inheritance! But beyond that, doing these things always feeds my soul in totally unexpected ways, and I know in my heart of hearts that I’m doing the right thing.
One of the most cherished comments I received was that ‘Your Mom and Dad would be so proud of the work you continue to do.’ I walked away believing that they would be, were they still here. On that weekend, we had to go out to our house at the farm to do some work on our old home, now being used as a rental property until we make final decisions over the directions our lives are taking. We’d cleaned everything out of the house when we moved two years ago, but on a shelf in the very back of the basement I found a card that had been left behind. It was from Mom and Dad for a birthday sometime in the past. Now I’m a bit of a hoarder when it comes to cards and keepsakes, and I know I have no shortage of cards tucked away, but I don’t often pull them out. As well, they were on the far side of the country, but here was this single card, addressed to me and the verse inside was all I needed to be reminded my angels are always with me:
You’re a thoughtful daughter, who’s busy every day,
With people who depend on you and many roles to play,
But even so you find the time for friends and family
Giving them the best you can with warmth and honesty.
That’s why it brings more loving pride, than these few words can tell
To see you do so much in life, and do it all so well.
Lots of Love, Dad and Mom
It was a reminder that all is well. For whatever I give to keep living the roles I have, there is always more received in return. So here were a few of my biggest takeaways:
At the end I was full and depleted at the same time. Exhausted and exhilarated simultaneously. So glad I’d made the decision to go and do this, for whatever reasons I give myself to justify my choices.
And when one person commented that they were so happy that I continued to talk and share about that journey, I heard my self say…”It’s part of my life’s mission.” And it is. I wasn’t gifted with all this learning and wisdom not to pass it on in ways that work. I’m grateful I was encouraged to do so. I’m grateful I am physically and financially able to. I’m grateful to all that allowed me to share over those days. When it comes down to it, I’m just grateful.
Life is a beautiful circle of having the heartbreak turn into such incredible blessings. To live through the dark and to be able to see the brilliance of the light that is today.
Until next time,
It’s become my typical morning routine. Cecil prepares my Bullet-proof coffee, I relax in my living room chair, and go through my social media on my IPhone before starting my work day.
A couple of mornings ago, I happened to notice a new follower my Truly You Twitter page. It was Daniel Dolphin! Who wouldn’t be intrigued by that, so I had to look a little closer! I can’t ignore it when any dolphin speaks to me, and certainly not Daniel!
You see, dolphins hold a very special place deep in my heart. Maybe I didn’t even realize how deep until this connection happened and I began taking a more conscious look around me, here in our new home on Vancouver Island. It has been an eye-opening couple of days.
For anyone who doesn’t know, Shane was my dolphin-boy. There was never any doubt that he loved dolphins, because even though he wasn’t able to communicate verbally, his eyes always told us what was on his mind and in his heart. We’d known dolphins were his thing for a long time, all you had to do was follow the eye-gaze with tv, shopping, toys, magazines and stories. Then listen for the hoot that would follow.
In 2004 it was explained to us, by a very insightful little 10-year-old in a swimming pool in Winnipeg. Shane had been chosen by the Cerebral Palsy Association of Manitoba to participate in Air Canada’s Dreams Take Flight that year. Because we lived so far out of town and the flight for the one day trip to Disney World for a plane load of children with various life challenges, we were put up at the then Greenwood Inn in Winnipeg for the night before the trip. Shane loved the water, he always had, and so the night before the flight we headed down to the pool for a few hours of swimming before bed.
While in the pool, another ‘dream’ recipient named William attached himself to Cecil, Shane and I. We actually don’t know what Williams last name was or where he was from, but he just connected to us and swam and played and chattered away. He had a very big scar that ran the length of his chest and stomach, so we suspected that he may have had heart surgery, but we didn’t ask. We just spent our time having fun together.
After a while, William explained to Cecil, “You know why Shane likes to swim so much don’t you?” We had to admit to William that we really didn’t know the answer to that, only that he did love to swim. So, William clarified for us, “Well just listen to him. When he laughs, he sounds just like a dolphin!”
That was the first time we actually heard it for ourselves. The unique combination of laughter and delighted squeal that was Shane’s way of telling all of us he was in his glory with whatever he was doing. From that day on, we referred to him as our dolphin-boy, even though he’d given us lots of clues about his interest in them before. Sometimes our teachers come in the form of little, health-challenged boys that pick up on things quicker than we as the distracted, over stretched adults ever do.
Shane passed away in 2009, but I’ve come to know that his love of all things dolphin was passed along to me before he died. I’m just beginning to see how deeply, and as I look around my house, I am having an awakening myself, because I am seeing dolphins everywhere! They are both reminders of Shane and sparks of inspiration and joy for me. Through different spiritual belief systems and cultural philosophies, dolphins can represent many different things. People who identify with the dolphin totem are usually peaceful and gentle, but with a deep inner strength. They trust their instincts and intuition. Dolphins live in harmony with their environment and practice love for each other, and have been witnessed helping the young and sick, even those of other species. They have a well-earned reputation as protectors as they balance their animal nature with a higher intelligence. They could teach our own human species a lot.
When we moved from Manitoba to Qualicum Beach this year, hours were spent sorting and choosing what items were coming with us, and which ones were not. Whether I realized it at the time or not, except for a few of Shane’s personal ‘dolphin’ items that I gave to some of his friends and family, everything dolphin followed me here. In fact, everything ocean is here surrounding me, and the lightbulb in my head is finally going on.
So back to Daniel Dolphin. With the twitter follow, I had to look further, and realized that Daniel Dolphin is going to be “a 3D-animated adventure film for the whole family inspired by the bestselling novels of Sergio Bambaren. Our goal is to push entertainment to a new level of audience participation and environmental awareness. Daniel Dolphin will share the larger message that we have to protect what we love: our oceans and each other.” I felt the call to become involved, and through a donation to their fundraising page to support the next steps of the film’s development, I have done so. I’m excited about it, and it just feels so right to me.
A couple of posts ago I shared that I have come to terms with accepting the fact that I will not be leaving my lineage in this world when I pass beyond it. Shane was my only hope for that. I am, however, committed to leaving a legacy with and for my chosen ‘kids’ and grandkids, the work I am able to do, the music that I write and the causes I choose to support. This cause calls to me, just like my return to the coast after all the years in the prairies did. Maybe there is a deeper connection even with that. Maybe part of this move was to position me to be more actively involved in what is happening to our oceans, by seeing for myself what is going on around us. Maybe Daniels’s voice will be the one that speaks to the children of today, who themselves are going to be the protectors of tomorrow, so that they will do a better job of taking care of Mother Earth and her oceans than we’ve managed to do so far. I hope so, and I hope my discovery of Daniel will help me to be part of the change in the world that I wish to see.
Maybe his story will spark an interest in you as well. If it does, consider supporting this Canadian project and the possibilities that it holds. If you were thinking of sending me a Christmas card or a gift this year, consider making a contribution to get this project off the ground instead by simply clicking here. That would be a gift that would keep on giving if we could inspire the Guardians of tomorrow through our actions today.
“Follow your dreams. Listen to the voice of your heart. Whatever others might tell you, never forget that you only live once, and that your dreams, big or small, are the biggest treasure that will guide your life to a wonderful destiny. Don’t let your fears stand in the way of your dreams.”
— Sergio Bambarén, Author of The Dolphin: Story of a Dreamer
For the whole of my life I have been a learner. A learner and a reader, and I'm glad that as time has gone on, that has not changed. What bothers me is that as a 'learner', there is so much that I am only now beginning to understand and begin to try and make sense of. So many things that I, like the rest of society, should have been learning much earlier in our lives. If we had maybe today our world would be less of a mess. I often worry that our learning is coming too late and too little, with so many people locked into their skewed ideas and belief systems. Even so, I write this with the hope that maybe one person's heart may be challenged to take a different view of things, and nudge our world one more step forward and closer to the place where we can all have more open minds and open hearts to the journey of another.
To be clear, I have no knowledge of any First Nations geneology in my family lines and my perspective and views do not come with the life experience that many of my friends have lived. My ancestry is as Irish and as Scottish as you can get. But that does not keep me for having a love for other people and a thirst for information that will help me to better understand my world, so that I can pass that understanding along to others. I do believe that our society is past the point where it is okay to turn a blind eye to what has been created. We can believe there might have been good intentions, but we can't ignore that whatever the intention was, the outcome is bad. One way or another we need to lean into that and start growing forward. For me that means to listen, talk, read and learn and work towards having a better understanding so that I might become a better advocate and a better person as a result.
Last night, I finished my reading of the book 'Black Elk Speaks'. It took my a long time to get to the book in it's entirety, but for a long time I have been fascinated and drawn to his words and his wisdom. Nicholas Black Elk (1863-1950) has been working to get my attention for a long time it seems, through so many coincidences and experiences in life. But when we're ready, the teacher does arrive. This teacher died in 1950, but fortunately for our world, he opened his heart and shared his wisdom.
The book was originally published in the early 1930s, after Black Elk met with John G. Neihardt, the author, on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. His intent was to share his powerful and inspirational experiences and message to all that would be open to them. During their time together, he relayed the stories from his earliest memories as a boy in th 1860s through to the Massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890, and the final efforts of his people to maintain their freedom and their way of life. He was a warrior, a hunter, a medicine man and a healer who lived his life in an effort to move ever closer to the vision he had experienced as a young boy of 9. He shared his visions in the book, trusting that John would pass them along to a world that needed to know and understand what he had seen. He did this at a time when it was not common for a man of his stature to talk about those things with a stranger, but Black Elk felt the deep need for that message to be shared and so he did.
Through his story, we are given an opportunity to see that horrific time period through the eyes of those who lived on the receiving end of the decisions being made to secure the United States as a nation. A story that is very much the same as our own story in Canada, with it's brutality, battles and manipulation. Black Elk shares his memories of what the First People were experiencing throughout those years of Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, Custard and the army's continued movement west. It is a much different perspective from what we are taught by history books.
He tells the reader about many of the horrible battles that took place between the Indigenous people and the soldiers. One of the paragraphs that haunted me really made me think about the things we see happening today, in 2016, at Standing Rock. "Wherever we went, the soldiers came to kill us, and it was all our own country. It was ours already when the Wasichus (white man) made the treaty with Red Cloud that said it would be ours as long as the grass should grow and the water flow. That was only eight winters before, and they were chasing us now because we remembered and they forgot." (pg 83)
The book is full of the broken promises and broken dreams of a people who were forced to bend to the ways of the invading world, and reading it, I couldn't help but see the role that is still playing in what is happening around our continent today, but most noticibly with with what is happening at Standing Rock. As he talks about the treaty agreements that were made by a few on behalf of the many, treaties and agreements that pushed them further and further from the land and the life they had known he relays "only crazy or very foolish men would sell their Mother Earth. Sometimes I think it might have been better if we had stayed together and made them kill us all." The people lived through heartbreak after heartbreak as he shares stories of the battles, the hunger, the massacres, the Ghost Dances and the broken promises.
After the Massacre at Wounded Knee, when the people gave up their fight he was quoted as saying "I did not know then how much was ended. When I look back now from this high hill of my old age, I can still see the butchered women and children lying heaped and scattered all along the crooked gulch as plain as when I saw them with eyes still young. And i can see that something else died there in the bloody mud, and was burried in the blizzard. A people's dream died there. It was a beautiful dream. " pg 169
Black Elk died believing that he had not accomplished what the Grandfathers had set out for him to do. He never saw his people regain the footing lost or their old way of life, traditions and spiritual belief systems reestablished. What he had visioned for his people was not possible in the world that had been created and with the restrictions that were placed on our Indigenous people, throughout North America.
But I wondered, as I read through it, if Black Elk wasn't also fortelling of some of what is happening today? His vision fortold of the days ahead, the disappearance of the buffalo herds, of the 'black road' that his people would be forced to walk. But it also fortold of a day when "I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one Mother and one Father. And I saw that it was holy." (pg 26)
As I look at the gatherings that are happening in Standing Rock to support the people who are fighting for their water, I begin to wonder if that gathering may be part of what Black Elk envisioned? People from all tribes, faiths and races coming to stand for the common goal of preserving and fighting for what is here, before everything is gone. People starting to take notice and realize the wisdom that was embedded in the beliefs that lived here long before my ancestors arrived.
My heart aches for the old man who returned to the place of his vision one last time. "Hear me, not for myself, but for my people; I am old. Hear me that they may once more go back into the sacred hoop and find the good red road, the shielding tree." (pg 172)
It has been a slow resurgence, but I believe it is beginning to happen. Idle no More, people saying no to the big corporations, our commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation work. Change is in the works, and the winds have shifted direction. And from the Voice of Black Elk's vision, "Behold this day, for it is yours to make." So I ask, what are you going to do?
Next morning we managed to catch the alarm and headed to the beach to try and capture the sunrise. I read on a quote that you should try to catch at least one sunrise a year, so I guess we tried, but it really wasn't much of one. There were very big clouds to the east, and they blocked what would likely have been a magnificent show. It was very cool out along the water, I was very glad that Cecil thought to bring a towel. We joked about 'City of Angels' as we sat there waiting for the day to begin, realizing neither of us can remember if the angels went to the water for sunrise or sunset, so I guess we'll have to take the time to watch i once again.
We headed back to the apartment after about an hour, had our coffee and decided it really was too early to get going, so went back for a nap for an hour or so prior heading back to the beach.
On the beach there were a lot less people, but the lifeguard on duty was very determined that we sit in assigned seating. The wind was much stronger and although I didn't attempt to tackle the waves at all, Cec strode out into them after a while. However even he found they were too strong for him!
We enjoyed an hour or two of just soaking up the sun, rare for either of us. While sitting there I did a bit of a meditation, enjoying how the rhythm of the waves moves along with my own breath. What kept surfacing for me was my need to continue clarifying my own passions, and building my life around those. I'd recorded them on my iphone, and made a commitment to myself to revisit where I'd left off and expand with my markers, building upon the passionate life I already get to enjoy. I promised myself that I'd walk the talk more fully with each new day. They were clearer for me and I knew we are well on our way moving in the right direction.
After an hour of reading Mitch Albom's 'Time Keeper', we headed for a long walk down the beach in search of a vendor that might be still open to serve lunch. It was a long walk to find one, as most of this area was closing down after the summer season. It was amazing to us that so much of what we'd enjoyed is a season that only lasts from May until the end of September, yet the weather was still so gorgeous here, and the sea so warm. The question kept rising, what do people do for the other 7 or 8 months of the year when all of these resorts are closed down?
The one we found had a limited menu, but we were able enjoy a Corona, a white wine, some freshly made Bruschetta and Cecil had a salmon panini that he said was one of the tastiest meals yet. It was a lovely view from the deck and we enjoyed the moment, closely watched over by a server who looked all the world like my friend Keith did when I first met him. Very uncanny!
After a while, we made our way back to our own resort,and decided it was a good time to get out of the sun for a while. We remain two of the whitest species on the beach, but I know that spending more time there would only take me from white to red, not to the beautiful bronze that is displayed by so many others on the beach. It's a funny place here. Anything and everything goes as far as who wears what. I am beyond a doubt the most overdressed person along the stretch of sand, and though I look at so many around me knowing that if they can wear those small two piece outfits, I should be able to as well now, I have no desire to even try. My mother obviously raised me to be much too modest. I often do wish I were braver.
Over the holidays, I've found a little time to focus on things that I am passionate about...because isn't that what life is all about?
Our passions are clues to what our purpose is all about, and they are whispers from our souls that give us gentle reminders of what we came here to do.
Like all of us, I too get lost in the busyness of everyday. In the hustle and bustle of the expectations that we allow others to place on us, or even worse, that which we place upon ourselves. This is my place to continually come back to myself...reminding me what it is in my life that inspires me to keep moving forward towards my own true destination...towards that which I was sent here to accomplish when the universe granted me this one, precious life. What a world we live in where we have these venues and opportunities to reveal our truth to the world. What a blessing, what amazing magic!!!
Please enjoy my latest venture into ensuring that my passions are put out into the world to hopefully reach the people that need to hear the message and be healed by it in some small way.
Welcome to My Passionate Life!
The Passion Test supports you to live your life more passionately, creating the life you dream of, doing the things you love!