Archive for ‘Quotations & Commentary’

April 1, 2017

Let your passion lead you

Inspiration to follow your passion from filmmaker and adventurer Frank Wolf, who made a six-week, 1,800-kilometre canoe journey from Saskatchewan to Nunavut and wrote about it in the Spring 2017 issue of Explore magazine:

I quit my job to do this trip — another necessary loss [along with loss of comfort, loss of routine and loss of connection with those left behind]. I had a choice between stability and passion. Passion won out and now a summer of possibility awaits, future be damned.

And three days into the trip, when Wolf snapped a tendon in his thumb and could no longer flex the digit:

When you put months of time and energy into a venture like this, the loss of partial hand function is a relatively small price to pay. A tendon can be repaired later, but these remote quests are once-in-a-lifetime.

Pursue your passion, people. Move through the obstacles as they appear and keep striding forward to where your heart wants to lead you.

March 17, 2017

Let go of the need to “control” your life

In today’s performance-driven, dog-eat-dog world, we all need a reminder to let go, trust our intuition and go with the flow of where our instincts lead us (even if our minds don’t always agree with that direction). Rower Sara Hall has this to say on the topic in her memoir Drawn to the Rhythm:

The necessity for letting go . . . is hard to grasp and harder to execute because we humans, so gloriously smart, are so afraid to trust our own instincts. We have to control everything — our bodies, our lives, our relationships, our physical environment — and we often try to do this by force, by exercising the strength of our muscles and ego to bend the world to our command. We think if we get a grip on whatever challenges us — a good, hard, take-no-prisoners grip — we’re golden. But we’re not. Sometimes . . . the best solution is . . . to . . . [l]et go. . . .

Our endless struggle with ego and control, both within ourselves and in reaction to others, is a diversion that serves us ill. . . .[W]e squander our energy and our precious time on earth, and all of us must find the source of courage that allows us to loosen our hold and follow the calling of a greater imperative. Trust me.

February 23, 2017

Everyday synchronicity

“Synchronicity is just something that I expect as part of my work day.”

Author Gail Anderson-Dargatz spoke these words at a literary festival I recently attended on Galiano Island, British Columbia. Gail had just given a reading from her new book The Spawning Grounds, and she, fellow author Ann Eriksson and the audience were engaged in discussion about those “meaningful coincidences” that pop up every so often in life.

Gail suggested that we should expect meaningful coincidences in our lives every single day — in tiny doses, at ordinary moments, for small things as well as big.

What a refreshingly joyous approach to daily life!

Let’s all welcome an abundance of everyday synchronicity into our own lives. Start today!

February 3, 2017

Love is what you find at the bottom of a toy trunk

This completely quirky but totally true description of love is courtesy of Montreal author Heather O’Neill in her novel The Girl Who Was Saturday Night. (Read Heather O’Neill if you can; her work is brilliantly engaging.)

Love is like this small room where a child brings you to show you all their treasures. First the child shows you all the new toys that are bright and shiny and top of the line. But then she shows you all the stuff that has ended up at the bottom of the trunk. There are dolls with eyes that wobble, hair that is falling out of their heads, and dirt behind the ears. Their fingertips have been chewed off by dogs and they have been drawn on with ballpoint pen. It has been so long since they have been held or anyone has told them that they are lovely. They lie at the bottom of the toy chest, hidden and ashamed. You are either going to be disgusted by them, or you are going to be so filled with love for them that your heart almost breaks.

At some point, any long-term relationship will expose you to the bad, the sad and the vulnerable in your partner, alongside the good, the happy and the strong. That is the point when you find out if your love is real.

January 3, 2017

Balm for a broken heart

These quotes are for my friend A.J. and everyone else who’s been there, felt that:

Love is spiritual training for a broken heart. Your heart will break if you love someone.
~ Polly Young-Eisendrath in The Present Heart

But then…

To lose balance sometimes for love is part of living a balanced life.
~ Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love

And …

I tell you this to break your heart, by which I mean only that it break open and never close again to the rest of the world.
~ Mary Oliver

A broken heart is a gift. It means you are human; it means you are capable of opening yourself to someone else, to letting them in, to loving them — then, now and in the future. Your heart will heal and you will love again — better and stronger next time for what you have learned this time. ♥

January 1, 2017

Leap into 2017

Happy New Year everyone!

I offer the following quote in honour of my brother, who is making a major career change in 2017. Thirty-something and newly married, my bro is leaving the world salaried work to strike out on his own. It’s a path that he’s been talking about for years, and in 2017 he’s finally going for it — obstacles and unknowns be damned. My brother says that the following words from American naturalist John Burroughs helped ease his anxieties as he made his decision:

Leap, and the net will appear.

That is: Only when you take that first step off solid ground and launch yourself in the direction of your dreams will the ideas, solutions and options that you need — but could never see from the comfort and safety of your old position — reveal themselves. Plan you leap as much as you can, then go for it. The answers will appear over the course of your journey.

This year, I encourage you to take some leaps of your own. Do something that scares you but has been calling to you for a long time. Listen to your heart and act on it, even if you don’t know what the end result will be. Trust — trust yourself and your abilities enough to simply go for it.

Your net is out there, but it can’t catch you unless you leap.

Happy 2017!

December 27, 2016

Follow that trail of crumbs to live more fully

Ever had an exceptionally appealing idea pop into your mind without warning, then dominate your thoughts for weeks or months afterwards?

In her travel memoir A Year in the World, author Frances Mayes suggests that these kinds of spontaneous, powerful ideas may be our subconscious mind’s way of ultimately getting us to where we need to be in our lives. She writes:

Should you not listen well to the questions you ask out of nowhere? Only in looking back do you find those crumbs you dropped that marked your way forward.

So when those seemingly random but totally tantalizing crumbs enter your conscious mind, gobble them up. They are fuel for your fabulous future. ♥

October 14, 2016

Just a dash, yet so much more

At a recent performance by the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in my town, orchestra conductor and artistic director Dr. Wes Janzen spoke these words:

On your grave marker, there will be a birth date and a death date. Then there is a dash. That dash is your life.

Wow. Those words drove home for me how short life really is — as short as the dash that sits between the birth and death dates on a gravestone.

Dr. Janzen’s words made me realize how little of “your life” others will see of you when you’re gone: that dash doesn’t communicate any of your joys, achievements or successes. It ignores the obstacles you overcame. It disregards how your smile lit up a room; how you taught kids to play the piano, baked drool-worthy goodies for friends, or fixed people’s cars for free. That dash doesn’t convey any of the depth of your experience. It doesn’t recognize your contribution to the world, to your family and friends, to your community.

This might all sound a bit depressing, but in another sense, it’s empowering. My life truly is my own to make of it what I want. No one cares about the outcome — the substance of that dash — except for me, and possibly some of the people around me. So the best thing to do is live my life according to my own principles and passions, and to share the results of that process with my friends, family and community.

True, my life might be a mere blip on the radar of the larger world, but it can leave a lasting and meaningful mark on the lives of the people around me. I can be a teacher, an inspiration, a confidante, a buddy to laugh with, a shoulder to lean on, a superstar volunteer, a person who always picks up the phone and says, “yes, that’s great, let’s do it!” The people on the receiving or collaborating ends of all this will share the depths of their experiences with the depth of mine, and maybe that is enough.

September 11, 2016

Where is the space for originality?

Food for thought, courtesy of Carolyn Roberts in A House of Straw, a book that chronicles her experience building her own straw-bale house in Arizona:

Why is it so hard to do something original in our society? . . . We shop in at the same stores, in the same strip malls and shopping plazas, which carry the same products. We all use the same credit cards and run up the same debts, which we pay to the same banks. We watch the same shows on TV, the same movies, drive cars that vary slightly in their colour and interior but are essentially the same. We eat the same food from the same chain restaurants, or bought from the same national line of grocery stores, manufactured by the same huge companies with different labels.

In the carbon-copy society that surrounds most North Americans, what do you do to stick out a bit? Do you embrace difference or judge it? Are you comfortable going out on a limb and walking a path that no one else is walking, a path that other people might find strange, even threatening?

Carolyn Roberts built her own straw-bale house to fit her own lifestyle and financial situation. What are you doing?

July 7, 2016

Celebrate being single!

To all you single people out there, check out these inspiring words from actress Drew Barrymore in her book Wildflower:

It’s ironic that we rush through being “single” as if it’s some disease or malady to get rid of or overcome. The truth is, most likely, one day you will meet someone and it will be gone. And once it’s gone, it’s really gone! Why does no one tell us how important it is to enjoy being single and being by yourself? That time is defining and amazing and nothing to “cure.” It is being alone that will actually set you up the best for being with someone else.

Ms. Barrymore is right: we need to celebrate and treasure our single days. Being single is a life experience that, in most cases, is a time-limited opportunity. It’s a time to learn more about who you really are as your own person — about what makes you happy and content, what drives you, what your goals and priorities are — all on your own terms.

Flying solo is an exciting, rewarding, nurturing and adventurous time in your life. So is coupledom, to be sure, but in a very different way.

So be proud of your solo status, and never hang your head or make excuses about it. Own it, and enjoy every moment of it. Being single is a special gift that you get to treasure for only so long!