August 27, 2008


It is greatly amusing, in a perverse sort of way, to sit on the deck overlooking the 7th tee box at 8 in the morning and watch beer-bellied, middle-aged, white guys in shorts and mismatched shirts wearing two-colored shoes attempt to bend over and place their golf ball on a tee, then straighten up, look down the fairway, ask "how far is it?" like they had a chance of driving it 374 yards, hitch up their belt, take a half a swing and then step up and plunge at the over-priced white sphere. This is followed by a certain glazing over of the eyes and reddening of the face from exertion and then a combination of the following phrases :"Ah shit! Oh for chrisakes! Agggggh! Hit something! Turn, turn! Get going!" or the always famous, "Damn club!" followed by, "I'll look for that up there."

It would be a lot funnier if I didn't hear the same words an hour later from my own cart!

August 22, 2008


Five years ago today started an adventure that may be the most profound event of my life to date. My friend Gord and I, after many months of preparation, started hiking the West Coast Trail, a seven day backpacking trip that is always on the top ten list of world class hikes. It's not so much that the five years since have gone so fast but rather, that so much has happened in the interval; new houses, travel, grandchildren, careers, births, deaths, marriages and miracles, health, friends, projects, cars, finding out my birth father is still alive and then the discovery of a passion for writing. This week also marks the launch of my first book, The West Coast Trail: One Step at a Time, the story of that amazing week, on I also leave today for my second visit to Myrtle Beach and return to my sixtieth birthday party followed by a glider flight over the Rocky Mountains!

I can only say that I am absolutely blessed and truly grateful that I followed that hair-brained idea that was suggested in a coffee shop about attempting a backpacking trip that was far beyond my ability. Life really can change with nothing more than a thought.

August 21, 2008


I was reminded again this week of the number of people that walk through my life who give of their time and fortune without expectation and often without thanks. The following poem was sent to me this morning by a faithful follower and it is attributed to Mother Theresa who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for practicing what this poem preaches.

"People are often
Unreasonable and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind,
People may accuse you of ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.

If you are honest,
People may cheat you.
Be honest anyway.

If you find happiness,
People may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today
May be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have,
And it may never be enough,
Give your best anyway.

For you see, in the end,
It is between you and God.
It never was between you and them anyway."

August 14, 2008


I Believe...

A Birth Certificate shows that we were born,
A Death Certificate shows that we died,
Pictures show that we lived!
Have a seat . . . Relax . . . And read this slowly.
I Believe...
That just because two people argue,
it doesn't mean they don't love each other.
And just because they don't argue,
it doesn't mean they do love each other.

I Believe...That we don't have to change friends
if we understand that friends change.
I Believe...That no matter how good a friend is,
they're going to hurt you every once in a while
and you must forgive them for that.
I Believe...That true friendship continues to grow,
even over the longest distance.
Same goes for true love.
I Believe... That you can do something in an instant that will give you heartache for life.
I Believe...That it's taking me a long time to become the person I want to be.
I Believe...That you should always leave loved ones with loving words.
It may be the last time you see them.
I Believe... That you can keep going
long after you think you can't.

I Believe...That we are responsible for what we do,
no matter how we feel.
I Believe...That either you control your attitude
or it controls you.
I Believe...That heroes are the people
who do what has to be done when it needs to be done,
regardless of the consequences.

I Believe...That my best friend and I,
can do anything,
or nothing
and have the best time.
I Believe...That sometimes the people
you expect to kick you when you're down,
will be the ones to help you get back up.

I Believe...That sometimes when I'm angry
I have the right to be angry, but that doesn't give me
the right to be cruel.
I Believe...That maturity has more to do
with what types of experiences you've had and what you've learned from them
and less to do with how many birthdays you've celebrated.

I Believe...That it isn't always enough,
to be forgiven by others.
sometimes, you have to learn to forgive yourself.
I Believe...That no matter how bad your heart is broken
the world doesn't stop for your grief.
I Believe...That our background and circumstances
may have influenced who we are, but, we are responsible for who we become.

I Believe...That you shouldn't be so eager to find out a secret.
It could change your life Forever.
I Believe...Two people can look at the exact same thing
and see something totally different.
I Believe...That your life can be changed in a matter of hours
by people who don't even know you.

I Believe...That even when you think you have no more to give,
when a friend cries out to you
- you will find the strength to help.
I Believe...That credentials on the wall
do not make you a decent human being.
I Believe...That the people you care about most in life
are taken from you too soon.

I Believe...That you should send this
to all of the people that you believe in,
I just did.
'The happiest of people
don't necessarily have the best of everything;
they just make the most of everything.'
Life is short, Break the rules, Forgive quickly, Kiss slowly, Love truly, Laugh uncontrollably, And never regret anything that made you smile.

sent by a faithful reader

August 12, 2008


" always, a sense of peace and calm overtakes me"
from THE WEST COAST TRAIL: One Step at a Time

"So, Mr. Smarty-Pants hiker boy, I read your comments about finding some quiet time and about silence and darkness and early mornings, but how do you keep from falling asleep?"

Excellent question my young apprentice. This is a practiced technique and falling asleep is a very real possibility but it is also part of the process and part of the discipline. First is to decide to keep the time brief - really only five minutes to start - and then gradually allow your mind to go into a neutral place where you will need to gently set aside thoughts as they come up. No berating yourself here, we have been programmed to fill the empty spaces in our minds with thoughts and the challenge is to resist it. It will happen anyway and you will catch yourself "thinking about not thinking" and then something else will arrive and you won't even realize it but you've gone off on a trip to your "to do" list or the grocery list or someplace. This is all part of the process and part of the learning but the constant vigilance against unwanted thoughts should keep you awake for five minutes and then stop the process. Keep at it every day until you have mastered your five minutes and you will find that your mind has calmed, you feel more peaceful and more in control of your life - I promise (money back guarantee printed on reverse side of this page.)

A couple of more comments on feelings, instinct and intuition: we all have experience with this gift and can point to various times when we just "had a feeling." We know of people who have expressed this verbally and have heard stories about how someone didn't get on a plane or drive a certain roadway, etc. only to learn later about an accident. I can tell you that there are numerous times when I have slowed down for no apparent reason only to discover a radar trap a little ways ahead. By the way, that "feeling" doesn't happen all the time unfortunately, but often enough to have gotten my attention. Now I know there are a few neanderthals out there who think that this particular gift is the specific purview of women (don't worry, they don't know what that word means) and still insist that it is "women's intuition" and simply dismiss its importance. Too bad, but each of us has this ability and each of us can tap into its power. This is a physical feeling but we need to be listening for it. It's just below the surface of our thoughts and you might just discover it in the early morning, if you can stay awake.

The truth is that this gift works full time, all the time, daytime and night time whether we want it to or not and whether we recognize it or not. Once we are aware of it, we can't put the genie back in the bottle. It may be the closest connection many of us find to truth, infinite intelligence, the universe, spirit or that other character that people insist on calling God.

August 11, 2008


"The magic in the moments of silence..."
from THE WEST COAST TRAIL: One Step at a Time

We left off yesterday with the idea that we need to carve out some quiet time from our hectic days. We noted that most of us are surrounded by distractions that keep interrupting our ability to get in touch with that part of our inner selves that needs to be heard. Driving with the car radio turned off doesn't do it and neither does the mute button on the channel changer although a few moments in the bathroom without a magazine article to read, holds promise. Personally, it works best for me to create a daily ritual, time and place in which I am virtually guaranteed no interruptions. About 5 AM, sitting in my reading chair, lights and all household appliances turned off and then I spend about 5 - 10 minutes trying to turn off my thinking appliance - my thought processor. This is a time of gentleness as thoughts continue to creep in but when we notice it, we make a conscious effort to let those same thoughts go. This is an excellent way to practice the process of getting in touch with ourselves and the truth that resides inside.

Now, to feelings. We have all noticed that when many thoughts come into our consciousness, they also bring an emotional response and each of us has felt that during our lives. For example, if you sit quietly and slowly cycle through the following list, perhaps you will notice, someplace in your body, a flutter or a lightness, or in some cases a heavier feeling or darkness. Go ahead and try this with the following list of words, one at a time and slowly let anything that pops up, come into your consciousness: first love, Santa Claus, theme from JAWS, smell of baby oil, sound of a siren, your mother's hug. There is a distinction here between the thought and the response and it takes most of us some time to identify this. In other words, we almost need to stop thinking immediately following the initial thought rather than continuing to let our mind create an appropriate response. It is not the desired response we are after but the automatic, in the gut, immediate feeling that we are trying to tune into. It is often nothing more than a feeling of lightness (kind of a butterfly in my stomach) response, or a heavier and darker moment and the key here is the physical reaction, NOT the one in our minds. This is the crux of using feelings as a signpost. Getting in touch with our intuitive or instinctual selves is a physical process. Keep in mind (interesting choice of words) that birds do not THINK about flying south, plants do not THINK about producing blossoms and bears do not THINK about eating more berries. They simply respond to a God given instinct that points them in the direction of their highest and best good. We have the same gift!

August 9, 2008


"...feelings seem to be a lifelong pursuit..."
from THE WEST COAST TRAIL: One Step at a time

A real life conversation recently overheard in a coffee shop from a table of four men in their mid-twenties who were otherwise apparently intelligent and career oriented young professionals: "We were having this argument about something or other and in the middle of it, she asked me how I was feeling and I said, Fine. And then she got even madder. Maybe I should have said something different, like used a different word or something. Do you have any idea what I should have said?" His helpful and concerned colleague offers, "Well, I'm not sure, maybe you should have said, Good."
This is a true story, as related by a friend at a dinner party last night, whose counselling niche is teaching variously challenged young students social survival skills and was related in the context of how people communicate through text messaging and have lost the ability to interact verbally. The lesson here is our inability to actually express a feeling because we don't know what they are, let alone, how to access them. If you read my blog from yesterday (and if not, why not???) then we began a discussion of how to locate and recognize something called feelings and how they might be useful as we attempt to discern a course of action that is in our best interests. We are constantly being met with the need to make choices amid a sea of conflicting ideas, thoughts, desires and emotions and through a studied refusal to accept the existence of a power within each of us, we have evolved into self destructive beings who seek answers to inner turmoil from an outside world with a totally different agenda.
We have surrounded ourselves with noise, distractions, busyness and a visual cacophony of promises all competing for our time and attention and taking us away from looking inside ourselves and from hearing the inner voice of intuition, instinct and truth. Those are the difficulties we face in coming face to face with ourselves and where do we start, in order to access what is freely available to each of us? Where do we begin to know who we are, what we are and why we are here? What is the first step on the road to finding meaning and purpose?
Step 1: BE QUIET!
Without question, the first gift we need to give ourselves is the space to experience quiet. How in heaven's name can we hear the inner voice of wisdom amid radios, TV's, cars, kids, pets and the million and one distractions that we surround ourselves with? We can start by insisting on 5 minutes of silence every day, even if it means getting up before everyone else or going to bed later than everyone else, or finding a place in the midst of our day to pursue the pleasure and experience of solitary QUIET. In my world, this may be the single best use of those buildings we call churches and most especially if there is no one else there including a priest or minister. An oasis of quiet for us to spend a few minutes in contemplation - step 1 on the road to peace and joy. Go ahead, try it.

August 8, 2008


"All ideas create some kind of ... feeling inside us..."
from THE WEST COAST TRAIL: One Step at a Time

The bird, insect and animal kingdoms were given instinct, without the intellect to question it. Lucky them! We too were given instinct, sometimes called "intuition" and because He has a bit of a dark sense of humour, or perhaps we are an experiment gone awry, He added the power to think. Thinking is supposed to place us at the top of the food chain and it has, but we have "thought" ourselves way down the food chain in terms of our ability to do what is in our own best interests. Let's look at this on a very personal level and leave the environmental, technical, political, scientific, medical stuff to another day.
Somehow, in our lack of wisdom (intelligence does not equal wisdom), humanity stopped reacting to its feelings and began to suppress them to the point where we don't even know what they are and if we do, someone is there to tell us to stop. We have successfully ignored the truth that exists inside us for so long that this unwillingness to follow our own truth has literally evolved to the point of ignorance. I use the word "ignorance" here in the sense that we "ignore" what we already know is the truth and we refuse to give voice to the most important gift that God gave us. Instinct/intuition is the most powerful force on earth as it moves millions, probably billions, of animals and birds from drought to a banquet of everything they require to survive and multiply and more. It is constant, consistent and unfailing in its power to create and recreate not just the necessities of life, but so much more abundance than its adherents will ever require to find fulfillment and happiness.
Let me drastically oversimplify how we can tap back into this gift that offers the one true road map to joy, success and happiness (or do some of us have different goals?). When we have an idea or thought, we automatically generate a "feeling" deep down inside us (some would say that this is where God dwells but you don't need to agree for this to work) and this feeling is the sign that guides our action. We need to be a little discerning here because when we were given the power to think, we started adding layers of "thought" over top of these feelings and thus, finding the truth has become much more challenging. We need to probe deeper than the thought level and find the kernel of truth hidden in the feeling that always makes itself felt physically and usually around the pit of our stomach. It may take a lot of practice to find this guidepost but each of us experiences it, each of us has it and each of us knows where to go to find it. If it's been awhile since you felt it, try looking at the things that change your emotional response and trigger a need to react. Pictures of babies, kittens and puppies, starlit night skies, smells of baking apple pies and roses in a vase, music that moves your soul or the sound of waves crashing to shore, an unanticipated hug or a cool breeze on a hot day - capture the essence of your response to these and so many more triggers, go a little deeper than the surface to discover the response in your core and we can reconnect with the gift that shows us the truth, the route and the joy of heaven on earth.

August 7, 2008


"...running the 800 stairs everyday
...I hadn't felt that good in years."
from THE WEST COAST TRAIL: One Step at a Time

Years ago, I attended a course in which the facilitator talked about building new habits and how we do that. According to her, we need to do something every day for 21 days in order to lock something in as a habit. So here I am, day two of getting up at 4:45 AM and at my computer by 5 in order to start the day with a little creative writing. In order to make this a lifetime habit, I need to get up every morning ( I suppose that means weekends, too) and start the day like this. Only 19 to go. The course leader used this technique when she talked about breaking old habits as well. We need to go 21 straight days without a cigarette, or sugar, or TV, or whatever our addiction of choice is, in order to break the harmful, habitual effects of our "bad habit."
I wonder why creating good habits is so much more challenging than creating bad ones, or is that just me? Does it have something to do with attitude because on the one hand, we assume that changing or stopping an activity that we label as negative, has to be hard. Haven't we been told that all of our lives and haven't the forces of marketing supported that viewpoint. Just watch a commercial for any ot the weight loss programs and we are conditioned to assume that achieving our ideal weight is impossible on our own without the help of one of the fitness gurus or fading TV stars on display. Perhaps we set ourselves up for failure (which is in the best interests of those weight loss companies) by beginning with the idea that we can't do it. A little like going to Vegas with our anticipated losses already figured into the budget.
I'm kind of all over the place here this morning when the point I simply wanted to make is that our minds and bodies probably don't know the difference between good and bad habits but rather respond to the disciplined daily routine that we establish. So how does getting up at 4:45 AM become a "good" habit and stopping at the DQ around 2 this afternoon become a "bad" one? I don't know the answer to that, so let's tune in tomorrow for more revelations - I can't wait!

August 6, 2008


Writing = Creativity + Discipline

The easy part is coming up with the ideas, the tough part for me, is putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward a little every day, in the direction of my dreams. That's why I named my first book "The West Coast Trail:One Step at a Time" since the key as I see it, is taking one step at a time on a regular basis. Back when I was preparing to hike the WCT, I had to work everyday on conditioning and strength and even then, I barely made it. Writing book number one was the same; a little every day in order to support the creative process and keep the whole project going forward. Ditto for book number two, which is now in edit.
Discipline has always been my biggest challenge. In grade school I would prefer to gaze out the window at the passing clouds and dream of riding my bike or playing baseball - almost anything but the droning voice of a teacher explaining dangling participles. In high school my mind wandered to the two-legged variety of distraction complete with plaid skirts and knee high socks that belonged to the all girls school down the street. I could go on here, but I'm sure you get the point. Now I have a new book idea and in order to get back into the process of "One Step at a Time," I'm hoping that getting up earlier and spending an hour in front of the computer before leaving for work will be the elixir I need to start putting it together. Or, winning the lottery might work too.....