Sunday, November 8, 2015

FLIPPY - a tribute

FLIPPY - a recent photo
It is with deep sadness that I announce the death of our beloved kitty, Flippy (? 2002 - Nov 7/15). After a brief, incurable illness, Flippy passed at home in sacred space with the compassionate assistance and guidance of Dr Lee of Capital Cat Hospital. Rod, Nance and kitty buddy Maya were all present to honour her passing.

Flip, our BBG (big beautiful girl), a rescue kitty from Burlington Animal Aid (now the Burlington Humane Society) retired in 2013 from her job as official greeter/ therapy assistant for my clients at my home practice in Burlington, ON. These responsibilities she herself elected to take on shortly after coming to live with us in Sept of 2003.

in "flippy" mode
The lovely, sedate, "Vatican" (the name they gave her due to the little streak of a few grey hairs on her forehead) that we met at the shelter immediately revealed herself to be a wild and crazy girl, defying gravity with her aerodynamic skills and sudden bursts of leaping (aka leaprosy). We renamed her Flippy and somewhere along the line the grey streak vanished and she grew into being a big beautiful pure white cat. She possessed a very expressive face and would smile often. Flip was the smartest cat we've ever known who loved to play fetch down the hallway, scale the kitty tree, cuddle with Maya and watch birds, squirrels. She was amazed at the sight of a deer in our backyard in Victoria.

Her buddy, Maya, was adopted on the same day as Flip and Flippy took her under her wing, teaching her cat skills which Maya lacked; most notably climbing. Maya, was a few weeks old when she came to the Oakville Humane Society with her litter mates but due to bias against black kitties, remained there for over a year, long after the others had been adopted. She was a "hider", a frightened and shy little smooshball who, we were told, would probably never take to people and probably spend her life hiding away from us. So, of course, we had to take her.

We were thrilled when Maya and Flip took an immediate liking to each other. Flip became Maya's kitty therapist of sorts and was instrumental in bringing Maya out of her shell and getting her trust. Maya returned the favour, comforting a very distressed Flippy when they arrived at our new home in Victoria, BC in 2013 after spending over a week in a kitty kennel and enduring airplane travel.
Flippy sleeps restfully when Maya joins her after their long journey.
Our buddy was always a loving presence from the most challenging times in our lives to the most joyous and for this I am deeply grateful.
Flippy will always be deeply loved and remembered. I'm sure we'll be seeing each other in the dream space. I send her off with this Kundalini yoga, farewell blessing…

May the long time sun.
Shine upon you.
All love surround you.
And the pure light within you.
Guide your way on.

Thank you, thank you, thank you dearest Flippy for blessing us with your presence.

Monday, October 12, 2015


…I hit the wall last week on social media thanks to a wonderful family gathering with the in-laws.

It's Thanksgiving weekend in Canada and I'm filled with warm, childhood memories of simpler times and Thanksgivings gone by at Mom and Dad's. Mom was not one known for her culinary skills. Her remark, "I'd rather we could take a pill," pretty much summed up her love affair with cooking. But she always rose to the occasion when it came to family celebrations, especially Thanksgiving, after all we had much to be thankful for.

Mom was always the last to come to the table, taking off her apron along the way. Despite her pleadings for us to start without her, we'd wait for her arrival with our plates piled high.

My Dad would ask the obligatory, "Does anyone want to say grace?"…

Giggles. "Grace" said the more irreverent family members.

Without missing a beat he would continue on, "For this, our daily bread, may we truly be thankful."

We'd linger at the table over our dessert of pumpkin pie and whipped cream not wanting to break the spell of calm, contented, satiation and Dad, the old "philosopher" would share what he was thankful for. "We have our health," he would say this even when his own health was failing, "and we have each other. No matter where you are, or what life presents you with, I hope you will always remember these times and be grateful."

I do and I am.

Thank you turkey; thank you "Dad's" dressing
So what does this have to do with my social media "fast"?

During my visit I observed how we, I include myself here, have become obsessed with our devices. In the last post, I wrote that they help me connect with family members and friends who are geographically far away. There is no doubt that, used within reason, they provide the desired link. But, they also take me out of the present moment and away from my own creative devices.

Anxiety ridden, dissatisfaction-fuelled, advertising worms its way insidiously into my life filling me with impossible desires. Petitions, all for very good causes, leave me feeling powerless despite the actions I take in real life to defend the ocean and its inhabitants. Requests for donations at every turn arouse a sense of hopelessness for the earth. If only money talks and has power then we truly are doomed.

Where does the time go while I'm swiping through FB, answering e-mails, texting while "taking time out" to chill and "watch" a program on TV? Spreading myself so thin divides me up into little pieces. I'm scattered, ramped up; wanting.…What?…Anything but what I already have, it seems.

Add that to the chaos that accompanies every family gathering: the unspoken expectations, good intentions, subconscious agendas, spontaneous change-ups, miscommunication, emotional triggers; a cold in incubation, and you get someone "undone" by life. Time to unplug.

A week later, more grounded, calm and creative I ask myself, "Do I want to jump back into the throng?"

May this time with your family find you unplugged, feeling grateful, and filled with memories to warm your heart.


Thursday, August 27, 2015


One of the first batches of cards which I mailed out
So much time has passed since my last post here. I've been very active on my other blog AWAKENING CHOICE DREAMS and social media: my personal FB page, my other FB page AWAKENING CHOICE DREAMS, my new FB page AM I DREAMING?, and most lately INSTAGRAM.

You'd think that I'm a computer nerd but you'd be wrong…sort of. Distance from family and friends coupled with a strange desire to connect with people in some way draws me to these more interactive venues. Face Time and Skype, FB messenger, What's Ap, phone text messaging and even the good old phone keep me in touch with my buddies.

To balance this all out, physical restlessness and a need for real life often beckons me - you know, that sphere of physical reality that exists beyond all this technology. So, I'm not sitting at the computer 24/7.

My writing has become less about "me" and more about stories and connectedness. I love to hear other people's stories about synchronicity and following the synchronicity "strings" between stories, people, events and daily happenings. I don't know why exactly. Maybe it just amuses and comforts me to see the connectedness of all things when I feel so disconnected from family and friends living so far away. Maybe I'm just curious about people in general.

Anyway, I came up with this game that I call AM I DREAMING? It all started simply enough on the invitation of a friend to join her at a workshop Bootstrap Marketing with Marc Stoiber at the Greater Victoria Public Library. I reluctantly went, more for the coffee and pastry reward we were going to indulge in afterwards than for the event itself. I felt more reluctance when we were asked to pair up and brainstorm on ways to promote/market our products. I blatantly confessed to my partner, "I don't have a product.", before the handshake and name exchange so that she could find someone else and get me off the hook.

"Neither do I."

Well this is promising.

We rebelliously stuck together and chatted while the others mingled and brainstormed as directed.

Then Marc showed us his business card; just a card with his website URL on it. That got my attention. And then he said, "Have fun with it. Be creative."

As I walked home I thought about what a frustrating pain in the ass my experience with marketing has been. All my elaborate efforts at promo, blogging, e-mailing, talking up what I do, presenting free classes and demos, posting of flyers that get torn down or, more rudely, posted over and for what?

I'm not reaching the dreamers though I know they're out there; but where? How can I reach that quirky bunch?

What the hell, make it simple, be creative and have fun.

The cards were supposed to be just about business but this has become something far more enjoyable and open ended. Will more students come to my workshops and classes? I don't know and at this point I don't care. But, I am curious as to where it will lead me, who will connect with me and what branches will grow as people participate. And, it's helping me to appreciate life on a daily basis as I've committed to making daily entries on my FB AM I DREAMING? page - my streak started on Aug 17th.

The card designs began simply as well but have morphed into more creative expressions leading me back into artwork of sorts. As I draw and embellish the cards it's freed me up to explore mediums and designs without the judgment or the harsh self-criticism that has limited my previous attempts. After all it's not really about producing "art"; I'm making cards, just playing with line, design and colour.

I have to pinch myself sometimes when I realize how lucky I am to live here
Drawing up more cards on the patio. They're getting more elaborate.
I'm having a lot of fun with them, it's very satisfying to be doing artwork again.
So, I'm out there, really I am, not here…that much…for the time being.
You will find posts at:

Awakening Choice Dreams Website:
Am I Dreaming? explained here
- blog here where I write about dreams

Awakening Choice Dreams FB page where I share interesting posts and articles I've found.
AM I DREAMING? FB page where I post photos and stories about my daily Am I Dreaming? experiences (some are shares of my Instagram photos with further elaboration) and where you can send your AM I DREAMING? experiences for me to share

 AM I DREAMING?  I post photos and brief paragraphs about my daily Am I Dreaming? experiences and where you can post a picture and short explanation using the hashtags #amIdreaminggame #amIdreaming #amIdreamingcard #card(followed by the number of the card that you have)

If you want to play AM I DREAMING? using one of my cards, let me know and I'll send you one free complimentary card (I just need your mailing address). Send your request to me at
For $20 you can get a minimum order of 20 numbered, one-of-a-kind cards (10/sheet)

I had a funny realization a few days back. My Dad was in constant search of peoples' stories. After he retired he even passed out a card that said NORM THACKER A FRIEND. Yikes, it dawned on me that what I'm doing isn't really that different - meeting people from a point of friendliness and shared connections. Maybe my "Norm" genes are acting up proving the old adage that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Combing the Coast - French Beach

SURF RIDER- COMBING THE COAST French Beach 2015 from Jen Steele on Vimeo.

This beach clean up was in March and Jen got the video out shortly afterwards.

Jen spent a lot of time interviewing a whack of people. She asked permission to follow us around for a bit and after a while I kind of forgot that she was filming.

At the monthly meeting in April a few people came up to me and said that I was a pretty good spokesperson, but I had no idea that the video had come out nor that Rod and I appeared in so much footage. I have to admit that it felt pretty cool to have a record of myself in this wonderful place doing something that I'm passionate about with others who respect and are grateful for this "super beautiful" place that we have the privilege to inhabit.

Anyway, I thought you might like to see this beautiful place that I call home and the amazing people who are making a difference here on Vancouver Island. Jen did such a beautiful job filming and editing the piece; inspiring. It really just makes you want to go out and clean up a beach doesn't it?

The next big event is INTERNATIONAL SURFING DAY June 20th Paddle Out for Clean Water at Cadboro Bay Beach 10 - 4 p.m. I've got my SUP board reserved - woo hoo! Info on the event HERE
Hopefully there'll be another video to share with you all. Lots of events going on through the day - should be a lot of fun.

I'm so grateful to have gotten a second chance to do all the things that I never got a chance to do the first time around. I dreamed of being a surfer girl when I was a teenager living in southern Ontario. Well, the reality is that my surfing consists, for the most part, of falling off the board into the surf. But, I discovered SUPing (stand up paddle boarding) and the dream lives…a board, the water and a paddle; works for me! Just call me Gidget.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Blog Hop - Reality Creation

I entered a blog on AWAKENING CHOICE DREAMS but it is one of those that would be suitable here so here it goes…
Go on over to REALITY CREATION to read about a personal dream coming true.

I'm adding this pic as a follow up to the post.

There's a bit of synchronicity here, as I'd said to a group on Saturday, "When I was a girl it was not "normal" for plastic bags to be blowing in the wind from the branches of trees and bushes…" and the very next day there it was. This was in a park not in a parking lot of a mall. Sadly, this isn't an abnormal sight for generations that have come after the boomers.

So, I untangled it and gathered some small bags that were nearby and I'll use it for other litter that I find on my outings cus if I find a bag I have made a pact with myself to do so. Maybe one day bags in trees and bushes will be an abnormal sight - that's a reality I hope to see in my lifetime.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Confessions of a yoga slut

I'm a yoga slut. Ahh. There, I've said it. 

I recently purchased a first-timer's one month's trial membership to a yoga studio. In order to make the most of it, I'm holding on to it while I work on another intro membership deal from a different place. I drop in to yoga classes taught by old friends. Recently I invested in a 12 day punch card special offer at an athletic club gaining full use of facilities + yoga class. And…I'll be seeking out more intro deals, so that I can check out more studios and see what local teachers have to offer.
In the spare room at the  folks place 2010

Such promiscuity! 

I would have never done this in the past. 

For the first 7 years of my practice I was self-taught, drawing from books and TV programs. Gymnastics, or rather the lack of support for the gymnastics program at my high school, brought me to yoga. It was kind of like gymnastics. As I explored all the many different  possibilities that the asanas offered I created my own flow and sessions. The physical, mental, emotional and spiritual benefits of regular practice saved my life * 

I began to teach others now and then. In those days, if you knew more than the person you were teaching and had a certain amount of confidence pretty much anyone could teach.

I attended my first yoga class with a bunch of middle-aged female yoga teachers in 1975; we were part of the inaugural Sheridan College's Yoga Teachers' Training Program. They welcomed me with open arms and encouraged my aspirations to become a real teacher. I felt a camaraderie with these women.

Over the ensuing years I became part of, and was exclusively loyal (each in their own turn) to 3 different yoga studios.

On a deck at a cabin in the woods
a few summers back, Vermont
My first loyalty was to my fellow Victoria YMWCA yogis (aka Yoga Centre of Victoria), the group that I "grew up" with in yoga, that nurtured me through my early years from 1976 as a novice teacher. Yoga was yoga when I first began but different forms of yoga were becoming standardized through the '80's. Growing pains developed within the yoga community and along with them came politics and power struggles. Our group began to divide into Iyengar and non-Iyengar yogis. Eventually we were expected to declare our loyalty. Though I'd immersed myself in the Iyengar approach, I was quite happy doing other forms as well. It felt very un-yogic to choose one over the other but, reluctantly, I choose. I aligned with the Iyengar group and lost touch with many teachers of other methods.

That was the first and only time that I denied my love for all forms of yoga/asana practice.

When I moved back to Ontario I retreated to the sanctuary of my own practice. The voices of my mentors and peers gradually slipped into the background and the freedom and creativity that initially drew me to yoga re-emerged. It was, surprisingly a lovely time. 

My first foray back into public yoga class took place in a Church gymnasium; so old-school. I welcomed diving into a new form - Ashtanga yoga with its breath based movement. It was a big contrast to the linear and alignment emphasis of the Iyengar method. Iyengar: Ashtanga = ballet: jazz, in my experience. Both are wonderful, very different, complementary forms. 

Soon afterwards, Sue, my inspiring teacher, and her business partner opened up a studio incorporating both Iyengar and Ashtanga under the same roof; unbelievable! I found my second community. And, for a time they thrived alongside each other… and then… they didn't. Split was inevitable.

Meanwhile I resumed teaching but my style, influenced by life experience, some physical set backs and Shiatsu studies, evolved. I had classes in Iyengar influenced yoga, ashtanga yoga and my own fusion - combining Iyengar, ashtanga, tai chi, do-in and meridian stretches. All these approaches fed my body, mind and spirit and I knew some, or all of them, would be a fit for fellow seekers too.

Spare hall at a construction site this year
Campbell River 
I witnessed the torch of yoga being passed down to the next generation when Sue's gifted daughter, Katie, opened up a yoga studio of her own. Once more I found a studio and teacher to love. I enjoyed doing advanced practices alongside her. Her yoga classes "took off", her following grew and the studio moved out of my neighbourhood in order to fulfill the increased demand fuelled by the yoga explosion that was taking place. 

Around this time my body was going through the changes of menopause and a debilitating neck issue flared up. My practice needed to change. No books, nor teachers could guide me. I retreated to my mat once more and drew from the wealth contained in the many approaches I'd practiced as I allowed my body's wisdom to guide me through the adaptations and explorations that it needed.

Over the course of 46 years of practice, I've become more open to embracing the many studios, many teachers and many approaches that thrive nowadays, perhaps because I know from experience that impermanence exists, even in yoga, and that there is wisdom contained in all schools.

Everything changes. 

I've done yoga everywhere. Of course, images promoting yoga show beautiful, long, lean, lithe yoga bodies doing impossibly intricate, challenging and perfect postures on mountaintops, in exotic locations, on deserted beaches; yoga as "lifestyle" has become big business. For most of us yoga is done in the "trenches" of daily life, the non-glam places that you don't see in the glossy mags: hospital and hotel rooms, in airplane and car seats (I'm small), construction sites (during breaks - no saws, drills or dust please), cottage decks and campsites (bugs and bees drop by now and again - some leave their marks), hallways, airports, nooks and crannies in our homes - anywhere a yoga mat will fit. Yes, and in yoga studios and classes too. 

With the kitties Christmas 2012
Burlington, Ontario
But my favourite practice and location goes something like this…It's late morning, mid-day or evening. I'm in my living room, on my mat, in my PJ's (Some of you thought I was going to say in the buff didn't you? Ha, surprise!). My kitties are bathing themselves or sleeping on their "princess" blanket or pillow or crinkly paper beside me or perched on a chair overseeing my practice. Music is playing, or it's not. I embrace the sound of my breath that breaks through: silence, the sound of birds singing, kids yelling or crying crocodile tears as their grand dramas unfold in play outside my door. Light streams in through the glass sliding doors; it's overcast and/or raining; it's dark. It's cold; it's warm. I'm breaking a sweat through vigorous movements and/or I'm chilln' and hanging out in long held asanas. A candle burns, or it doesn't.

From the moment I began my own practice I knew that I'd always have yoga in my life. My practice is a joyful expression of gratitude for those teachers who have come before me. It provides sanctuary, guidance, inspiration and solace during difficult times. 

It is a physical celebration of movement and stillness which transcends the physical. As I practice I give thanks.

When it's really cooking… yoga spills off the mat and into daily existence.

* You can read about this in STORIES FROM THE YOGIC HEART
And…you can get the Kindle version - here at Note: Mine is but one of 27 inspiring stories about how yoga has influenced the lives of famous people and regular types like myself.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Bag it and Rise Above Plastics

So, I just came from a film screening of BAG IT * hosted by Surfrider Foundation Vancouver Island as part of a Rise Above Plastics event.

I've been concerned about the amount of plastic that shows up, well pretty much everywhere, so it's really heartwarming to know that others feel the same as I do and that they are making efforts to make a difference. It's mind-blowing to realize that plastic bags only came into popular usage in the mid '70's and in that short time they've had a disastrous impact on the planet. 

Now here's the fantastic part. The event was originally scheduled to take place at a small venue and go from 6 - 8 p.m. but, about a week ago we got word that it had gotten moved to THE VICTORIA EVENT CENTRE with extended hours - 6 - 10 p.m.; it was that popular - yea!

For a suggested donation of $10 to support Surfrider Vancouver Island for producing the event I could partake of an amazing spread provided by SITKA. Had I known I wouldn't have had that early dinner :-( but there was dessert :-) and it too was amazing.

Surfrider's FB site gave this info
HOST: Bianca Bodley (BIOPHILIA Design Collective)
- Andrew Woodford (MEC)
- Jennifer McKimmie (Niagara Grocery)Ingredients Cafe + Public Market)
- Rene Gauthier (Sitka)
- Jill Doucette (Synergy a Victoria-based organization with a mission to catalyze the green economy joined the panel at the last minute. Her work with local businesses to reach zero waste and carbon neutrality has won numerous awards for innovation and commitment to environmental practice.
Moderated by plastic-free enthusiast Carol-Lynne Michaels.


Take a walk around your neighbourhood today and look around, you will see plastic bottle caps, water bottles and bags somewhere in nature. In the film someone mentions that a particular U.S. state's flower should be the plastic bag as they're found hanging from, or tucked in and amongst, trees and bushes in such great profusion. Sadly, for a whole generation of children this is a common sight; this was not the case for those of us lucky enough to have been born in the '50's. Shamefully our generation is responsible for this sorry state of affairs.

Warning, geezer reflection coming up…
I worked for a natural food store in '80 which started out all natural and organic with items in bins. You brought your own bags and containers - no biggie, and it was wonderful. Then the large grocery chains started to hone in on the action bringing in bins and bulk items and supplying plastic bags and containers in which to put the stuff. In order to compete for the "middle of the roaders" who would be drawn to the full service of the chains and away from the Mom and Pop store, our little natural food store (and the natural food industry in general) found themselves on a slippery slope, bringing in packaged items until the bins got shifted to a smaller and smaller section of the store. Somehow "cross contamination" became a buzz word and plastic containers were stocked for our bulk items; you could no longer supply your own. A mere 35 years later we are trying to dig ourselves out of the mess we've created as careless consumers.

But the event wasn't a downer. I was buoyed up by the enthusiasm of the panel,the audience and the discussion that followed. These are people who cherish the delicate balance of nature, who are doing their best in small ways to make a difference - to be the change that they want to see.

Small ideas can have a great impact - Niagara Grocery's bag exchange program.
The market for reusable bags got flooded pretty quickly - most of us have more than our share of 'em. Now you can bring in your excess reusable cloth and durable plastic reinforced bags. Niagara will use them for those who have forgotten to bring their own bags (we know we've all done this). No single use plastic bags, paper bags or juggling acts needed to carry your groceries unbagged - brilliant!

80% OF THE PLASTIC BAGS THAT END UP IN THE OCEAN COMES FROM A LAND BASED SOURCE   which means that it's made it's way from where it was discarded on land to the ocean. So, in order to keep our shorelines clean we need to address the litter that shows up on our streets, in our parks, on our playgrounds, athletic fields and parking lots.
BIODEGRADABLE, WHEN IT COMES TO PLASTIC BAGS, IS A VERY LOOSE TERM   it may only be photodegradable, which means that it really doesn't bio degrade but instead breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces, just a little quicker than other bags but still it lasts forever and contaminates the soil. Only compostable is truly biodegradable. 
- Most recyclable symbols (the arrows) have a number in them. You think they are all recyclable? Think again. Only those numbers 1 or 2 are most likely candidates for recycling. DON'T BE FOOLED BY THE RECYCLABLE SYMBOL - it lulls you into a false sense of satisfaction that you've done your bit for the environment.
- You don't use styrofoam cups anymore - yea! You use paper ones instead - boo! Why? THE INSIDE OF PAPER CUPS IS COATED WITH PLASTIC, SO ISN'T COMPOSTABLE  - duh! Somehow, I didn't really realize that. I had been concerned with the plastic lid that goes with them. One more reason to bring your own mug.


Make a point to say, "no straw" when ordering a drink in a restaurant because the server will automatically bring you one. They may still bring one despite your request, out of habit. If you don't refuse it when it's brought to your table many servers, brainwashed with the fear of "cross contamination" won't take it back even if you assure them you haven't used it. If you must use a straw bring your own - like these in bamboo. You can get them from places such as GOOD PLANET here in Victoria. 

Host a screening of BAG IT at your community or school…
and do a clean-up afterwards.
Check out the details on the BAG IT The Movie 
Here's a personal example of how bad the plastic bag situation is…A WALK IN THE PARK

TODAY IS EARTH DAY - SAY THANK YOU AND SHOW HER YOU LOVE HER… GO FOR A WALK, PICK UP ANY LITTER YOU FIND AND DISPOSE OF IT RESPONSIBLY and remember how amazing and precious this place and the creatures that live on her are!