Tell Someone that They Matter…

January 31st, 2011

One of my all-time favourite singer-songwriters was John Denver. His mix of environmental awareness, social action and spirituality inspired me and still speak to my soul. John died in the late 1990s, from the crash of an ultra-light aircraft he was piloting; though some, I’ve recently heard, think he may have committed suicide. Whatever the reason, he’s no longer here with us. And I miss his presence and his music.

Last night, I had the strangest dream. In it, I dreamt that JD (as he was sometimes called) was speaking to me through someone. His message was that he was disappointed not to have been able to make a ‘bigger difference’ on the planet. And he wasn’t sure that his life, his work and his music had really mattered…

I was dumbfounded. From the moment I first heard him on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1973, his music moved me. Passionate about the environment myself, I often found myself singing Rocky Mountain High, Sunshine on My Shoulders or the Eagle and the Hawk as I walked in nature. It felt like he was singing to my heart, and his words and music filled me up. His marital struggles seemed to reflect my own, so the music he wrote about those helped me cope. And when his life took a more spirituality bent, mine had also.

Beliefs in Action
John was deeply involved in putting his beliefs into action as well. His pioneering Windstar Foundation, which brought some of the world’s leading thinkers and activists together to explore and create change. His involvement in The Hunger Project, a global initiative that was one of the early ones to envision the possibility of a world without hunger and act on it. His work on the President’s Commission for Hunger. Raising awareness about the oceans, the Alaska wildnerness and the need for more national parks. And his multi-city environmental event called Higher Ground, in which he educated people about the power of personal action. I attended one of these in Toronto, where I met him, wrote up some ‘local eco-tips’ and presented him with a Blue Box recycling container which he talked about on stage.

John Denver’s life, work and music made a huge difference in my life – and, I believe, in the lives of millions of people around the globe. His spirit, joy and passion inspired me. His tears and pain touched me. And his journey, which he shared openly, helped me know that I was not alone.

No, he may not have been able to create all of the environmental and social change he dreamed of accomplishing. But his life mattered to mine. And for that, I will always be better off and truly grateful.

And What About Us?
There’s a tendency that I’ve noticed among those who dream of larger possibilities in life – whether it’s making a difference, creating a healthier, more sustainable life, a better world, or whatever the vision: We wait until our dreams are accomplished to be happy. It’s as though only by achieving our vision do we give ourselves permission to feel okay or enough.

Yet many of us have such large visions of what we want to accomplish – making our millions, healing the sick, saving the environment or turning around society’s woes – that our expectations almost always exceed our grasp. But we can often be un-accepting of who and where we are now. And that is a mistake. Because in so doing, we hurt ourselves and do a disservice to others.

Part of accomplishing what we want in life, I’m coming to realize, is accepting ourselves as we are. Being happy with myself, even if I haven’t done or achieved all that I “could or should.” It also includes accepting my imperfections just as much as the ‘more perfect world’ I aspire to. Such self acceptance is as much a healing force as any action I can take. In fact, it strengthens all of my actions, because it springs from self-love instead of criticism. Fullness instead of lack. And forgiveness instead of judgment.

Does Your Life Touch Another?
Whether the message I got from John Denver, last night in my dream, was true about him or a total fabrication of my own mind really doesn’t matter. The message to me was clear.

Having a wonderful life, as moviemaker Frank Capra once portrayed, isn’t just about the grand things we dream of or want to accomplish. It’s about how we’ve touched the lives of the people around us. How much we cared. How much they were touched by us. And whether we allowed ourselves to be loved by them.

What it seems to me is, if we live our lives honestly, sincerely, with simple love and caring for those around us, then our life automatically does touch others – almost without our realizing it. And then our life really does matter much more than we know.

If you want to test it out, tell someone today that their life matters to you. They may not have realized it. They may think they haven’t done enough or be anyone special. They may not be able to see the forest for the trees. So they need someone just like you to remind them.

And as you do, remember it – about yourself.


January 18th, 2011

“You feel fatigued. You doubt your strength. Put aside such anxieties. Count on me for your resilience. Come to me for your strength.

I am the one mind. All things are made from me… Do not rely on your own limited energy. Rely instead on my infinite fund of energy. Let me restore you. Allow me to bring you vital energy. I am your stamina. I am your strength.

Do not feel fatigued. Rest in me. Allow me to work through you. Allow me to perform whatever task feels difficult for you. I am boundless energy…”

by Julia Cameron
Answered Prayers: Love Letters from the Divine

Purpose… and Forgiveness

January 6th, 2011

For me, the purpose of the world is the deep ‘working out’ of the belief in guilt in human consciousness, so that we may once again find true peace and our ‘original innocence.’

Put another way, if there is a God of Love — a Source of infinite grace and peace from which we come — I believe it is calling us, guiding us, to heal, remember and awaken to the truth of what we are. That we are that Love…

This is why forgiveness is so important, both our own, and that which we cannot give to ourselves. Because we need a wisdom, power or awareness greater than our own — to help us remember and experience that which we have forgotten and denied.

Just Begin…

December 30th, 2010

A week before Christmas, I heard Canadian singer/songwriter Jann Arden perform her song, Insensitive, on television. For some reason, the song’s haunting melody stayed with me after I finished watching. Not really knowing the words, I decided to look them up on the ‘Net – and here is what I found. Perhaps you know this verse…

 How do you numb your skin
       after the warmest touch?
 How do you slow your blood
       after the body rush?
 How do you free your soul
      after you’ve found a friend?
 How do you teach your heart
      it’s a crime to fall in love again….

Oh, you probably won’t remember me,
      it’s probably ancient history
 I’m one of the chosen few
     who went ahead and fell for you
 I’m out of hope, I’m out of touch
     I fell too fast, I feel too much
 I thought that you might have
     some advice to give on how to be

The song is about a lover whose partner suddenly turns cold; whose now casual manner and embrace tell her (or him) that there’s no longer love between them. And the singer asks how to cool her own feelings, and become “insensitive”…

Something about the song kept calling me. But as I read and re-read the words, I didn’t understand; they didn’t seem to apply to me. I haven’t had that experience, I thought. I must be mistaken. It must be something else… And then I realized: I have done that to myself. Read the rest of this entry »

Freedom as a Spiritual Longing…

August 8th, 2010

The spiritual longing of freedom is a journey from darkness into the light, from ignorance to awareness, from hopelessness to courage, from fear to love.
– Glora McArter, PhD
From “Freedom as a Spiritual Longing” blog post at:

Gloria McArter is a Registered Clinical Counsellor and Marriage, Couple and Family therapist.

What Everybody Wants to Know….

August 6th, 2010

“One of the biggest things I’ve learned over the years is that people want to be heard.
Every human being, no matter what age… is looking for the same thing.
What everybody wants to know is:
         Do you see me?
         Did you hear me?
        And did what I say mean anything to you?
That is what everybody is looking for.”
– Oprah Winfrey

Oprah begins the farewell season of her TV show on September 13th, 2010.
More at:

Celebrating the Creative…

August 5th, 2010

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now,
from up and down, and still somehow,
it’s clouds illusions I recall.
I really don’t know clouds… at all.
— from “Both Sides Now,” song by Joni Mitchell


“The Clouds 365 Project represents my commitment to do something creative every day.” So says multimedia artist Kelly DeLay, who has been shooting an image or video of clouds every day since July 1, 2009. “There are no rules,” he says, “I just want to react and see where this project takes me.”

To see more of Kelly’s (and nature’s) creativity, visit the Clouds 365 Project:

Photos by Kelly DeLay

Unconditional Influence… and Inspiration

August 3rd, 2010

Photo by David G. Tran. For more photos, see

Unconditional Influence… and Inspiration

This morning I awoke to the usual blare of the local news channel on my clock radio. But amidst the continuing news of the Gulf oil spill and the stock market’s rise or fall, the announcer reported something strangely different:  Some unusual rock statues had “appeared” in the Humber River, near the Old Mill subway. And the creator of them was unknown.

Living nearby, I decided to cycle up to that section of the River later in the day to see for myself. And sure enough, 20+ “inukshuk-like” rock statues had been created in a circle in the middle of the shallow river. People were there with their cameras, some on the shore, some in the water. A local cable TV station truck and reporter were on the bank, waiting to interview the now-discovered creator of the statues. And by the time I left the valley, another TV station had shown up to report on the event too.

So why the all hubbub?  Why did this simple incident get close to top billing on the morning’s news? Why were people taking time off work to see it, and TV news reporters scrambling to cover it?

As I cycled away from the site, the words “unconditional influence” came to mind. And it reminded me of my first experience with a similar “rock builder” on the edge of English Bay and Stanley Park in Vancouver, over a dozen years ago. Read the rest of this entry »