You Are Not Completely Alone


I am sharing this post by Zen Gardner because it mirrors so much of my walk these past few weeks. The world seems awash with people struggling. Beyond the wars and epic tragedies of crime, politics and just our social defragmentation are the excruciating personal journeys as people everywhere are wondering what life is really about and what they are doing here. It is damn painful to start to look at oneself and realize that you are completely responsible for you.

My heart goes out to those who are caught in this process for two reasons. The first being that I understand the pain and the second being that ultimately it is the loneliest journey in the world. While we might understand, we cannot walk that journey for them. We can’t even walk with them. All we can do is to be loving, encouraging, and nurturing. We can be gentle. We can be kind.

And we can keep our heads down, focused on our own journey, knowing that the call is there for everyone and while some will never hear that call, let alone answer it . . . some will. Some are.

The Rough Road of Honest Discovery  by Zen Gardner

Anyone who thinks waking up is simply a spontaneous event or some kind of cake walk hasn’t woken up yet. It takes a lot to arrive at the door of discovery as well as courage to open the door. In fact, all of the doors, as life is a series of decisions on where to travel and what to do when faced with the myriad of options presented before us.

Ask anyone who’s in any sort of awakened state and despite their present calm brought on by strong conviction for truth, I dare say they’ve been through the mill in their life to get to where they are today.

It may seem like peaches and cream to an outsider looking in at some of the more ethereal spiritual conclusions many arrive at in the course their travels through life, but I guarantee you there was a lot of suffering, confusion, physical, spiritual and/or mental abuse and times of darkness and despair along the way. It’s part of the process. You don’t just walk out of the matrix when you’ve been programmed and enslaved to it your whole life, nor quickly shed your old warped belief systems like overalls as you step into some kind of sanitized room filled with baby lambs and laughing children.

There’s a price to pay. It’s all part of the process. And so very well worth it, and more.  (read more here)

Humans Are “Beings” Not “Doings.”

who you are


“Don’t tell me what you are going to do, tell me what you have done.” I read that on someone’s online profile. People put up their profiles like ads for the internet. Quotes that are meant to tell us about the person have replaced the old ads of, “I like long walks on the beach . . . “

I thought about the quote. It makes sense. Lots of people talk about what they are going to do, and what we are going to do is usually grand and impressive. Some people tell the story about what they are going to do right up until their last breath. It ends up being just a good story about what might have been.

What people have done gives you a much stronger measure of what the person is capable of. We draw certain conclusions from positive achievements about the character and the strengths of people. Unfortunately we also draw certain conclusions about the negative. Looking at what people have done is not an effective way of determining the value of a human being.

I don’t care about what you have done, or what you are going to do. I care about who you are right now.

We are not “human doings.” What we do, or do not do, are not the best measures of a soul. The events, the accomplishments, are events of circumstances. Some people are given the opportunity to travel the world. Some people never get beyond the street they grow up on. If someone has a grand experience we expect them to be grand. We are fascinated by it.

We lose perspective in many ways because we are focussed in the things we can measure. People praise Princess Diana for her charitable works and the monies that she donated. There is no doubt she did a lot. But she also had millions at her disposal. She had status and access to people and platforms. She had unlimited travel. She had people to tend to her every need and to arrange whatever she wanted. She did her work dressed in nice clothes, from a comfortable distance. In comparison to what she had, did she really give or do that much?

Then you look at Mother Theresa who had nothing, who gave everything, 24/7 to her work. She worked among the lepers. She bathed the sick and dying.

Yet when Diana died the world stopped.

Mother Theresa died about the same time. Very little was said or done.

I am not taking away from those events and the courage or talent of the people who accomplish these things. What I am suggesting is that when we consider the value of a person, the only impact the events have is as to the lasting impression they have had on who that person is. What did they learn from the experience? What did they gain? How has it made a difference to who they are today?

If I climb Mount Everest it is going to make a huge impact on my life, just as it would to anyone who climbed it. I find myself fascinated with people who have ordinary and mundane experiences and somehow pull something from them that makes them incredible people. I am fascinated with people who have horrible things happen to them, things that would destroy most of us, who turn it into a catalyst for some great outreach or understanding.

I am impressed by the parents who raise a handicapped child to believe that anything is possible. I am impressed by the man who makes time for his kids and who teaches them that men can be gentle as well as strong. I am impressed by the person who despite being poor themselves, gives to others what they can, not minding if they suffer in doing so. I am impressed with the person who tells the truth at great personal cost. I am impressed with people willing to say “no,” all alone, in a huge crowd of people shouting, “yes.”

Events in our lives are simply opportunities. This is true regardless of whether they are good or bad.

The value of a human being will never be found in what they have done, how much money they have, or what they look like. The value of a human being can only be found in the quality of their heart and how they manifest it every day. It is found in their response to what life throws at them, at how they learn to use life to be better people, or use it to hurt and destroy others.

Ultimately, the value of a human being is demonstrated greatly in our ability to value each other. Valuing money, looks, accomplishments in other people, tells the world what matters to us. What is sad about that is that none of these things are real or lasting. They are empty comfort in our lives.

Before we can see who people are we have to first learn to love ourselves, for who we are. We are not more loveable when we become a doctor, or lose 10 lbs, or make a million dollars. We are valuable now. If we cannot see that in ourselves, we will never see it in others.

Ask Auntie Soshel

Auntie Soshel



This week’s questions come from two young women, caught up in the life and death struggle of their romantic relationships and what to do with their significant other.  I am sure many of you can relate to their heart wrenching dilemmas.


Dear Auntie Soshel; 

I have been going out with this guy for about 3 years and I am so over it.   He is such a loser and so needy and clingy.   I need to dump him but I don’t know if it is easier to just leave without saying anything or whether I should invite him to dinner and break it to him nicely?  I don’t want a big scene or anything because I know I am sure about this.  What is your advice? 

Desperate for Freedom


Dear Desperate;

Put him in a cardboard box, drive out into the country until you see a nice farm and drop the box off along the side of a road.

Farmers always pick up boxes of stray animals from the roadside and take them home.  Sometimes they nurture and care for them and everyone’s life is better for it.  Who doesn’t love a box full of kittens or puppies?  Where do you think all those lovely pictures on the internet come from?  Think of it like helping mother nature to equally distribute the wildlife amongst the farmers who are really struggling right now.  I realize your boyfriend is not a kitty or a puppy but he is housetrained right?   And farmers can always use an extra pair of hands around the farm.

Even if the farmer doesn’t need any extra help, and is in a grumpy mood . . .  he will just take your boyfriend to the creek and drown him, which may be more comforting to you anyway.



Dear Auntie Soshel; 

My boyfriend is such a douchesicle. He is so self-centered because he is always looking at himself in the mirror and thinking he is hot. He thinks I am lucky to have him for a boyfriend but all his friends try to hit on me all the time and I get lots of offers from other guys.  I just want him to stop looking in the mirror for 5 minutes and pay more attention to me?  I don’t even think he is that hot really. What should I do? 

Heated Up


Dear Hot Stuff;

You really cannot presume to tell someone else that they are not hot when they say they are.  Every one is entitled to their own feelings and temperature.  Have you even taken his temperature?  It could be male menopause or something because you know,  some men do suffer hot flashes.

I recommend a rectal thermometer.  A really big one.  If he does not seem keen on the idea, get dressed up in a nurse’s uniform.  Men are so predictable.  Once you have established his temperature/or lack of one either you can get off your high horse or he can have a special sticker for completing the first step towards recovery – accepting that he has a problem, that being he thinks he is hot when he is clearly normal or maybe even below average.  But you may also be able to locate his head while you are inserting the thermometer and arrange to have it dislodged.  This could be a meaningful intervention that bonds you for life.

. . . orrrrr, it might be grounds for an assault charge and land you in jail.  Either way your problem is solved.


Auntie Soshel would also like to announce that I have had to cancel the sock puppet play for the St. Mary’s School for Girl raised under a rock, blindfolded and dressed in bubble wrap, featuring Binky and Winky .. the anatomically correct sock puppets in a pseudo shakespearian, Anne Rician, James Bondian. Mr Beanian thriller about how babies are made.  Binky’s penis fell off and has been irrepairably damaged.   Now accepting donations of anatomically correct sock puppets. . . and money … always accepting money …

Keep those questions coming!


Why Some Boo Boos Never Heal.

not for you to judge

As a human being you are guaranteed to make mistakes. I told my teens that it was their job to make mistakes because no-one gets it right the first time, every time. What mattered, was not the mistakes, so much as the lessons learned. When they were babies they learned to walk and they fell…often. They also walked funny, they only walked a few steps, they clung to chairs and walls … and eventually they used all that information from all their efforts, including the falls … to learn to walk.

As teens, the mistakes they were going to make would involve relationships and choices. Not quite as tangible and immediate cause and effect as learning to walk but just like when they fell as toddlers, they were meant to get up and have another go at it.  I told them THIS was how we were going to deal with the mistakes. We would learn from them. We would embrace them for their learnings. Nothing to fear here, no need to panic, no condemnation on them as human beings because they made mistakes, and no need to hang their heads in shame and hide the truth from us. It took a whole lot of angst out of being a teenager and being the parent of one.

The kids mattered first and foremost, the situations were secondary.  Apart from death, everything else is pretty fixable and everything else had value, as a lesson.  Success and Failure were just outcomes to living life and both have value.

In relationships, we make mistakes. In business, we make mistakes. There is no problem in evaluating our circumstances.  If we see where we are and realize it is not going to end how we wanted it, we can begin again.  It is not starting over because we are always smarter and wiser, armed with information on what NOT to do, after any failure. We are choosing to control the ending and to correct our direction to achieve the final outcome. That should be admirable.

We should support our children to see their mistakes as important tools and not some statement of their personal value.  We should support one another as we make these tough decisions. All around us are people, just like us, who are trying to make the best of their lives.  We are all on the same journey but we are at different places and stages, with varying tools and understanding.  We don’t have to support the decision per se, but we can support the PROCESS. Empowering people to trust their instincts and to do what they feel they need to do, and clearing the way of the debris of judgment, is probably one of the most caring things we can do for people. We may see they are going to completely fail, we may know much better what they should do but THEY need to learn for themselves.  That very process of building up one another and not getting caught up in how and when, is the key to all of our success.  We don’t want our children to grow up doing the right thing only because they are imitating us, we want them to make good choices because they understand why they should choose them and more importantly they understand HOW to choose them.  We want people to own their lives.

It is not always easy to do the right thing.  Sometimes we simply do not know what the right thing is, sometimes we simply end up in the wrong place at the wrong time, and yes, sometimes we choose something that turns out very different than we ever thought it would.  But people grow and change, if we let them.  I am not the same person I was even last year, let alone 10 years ago.  The only people who do not know that are those who continue to see me and judge me within that past context.  How can someone get out of jail and start to live an honest life if we forever tar them with the feathers of their crime?

People become defeated when their every effort to prove they are different is met with the same evaluation from 10 years ago.  We do it all the time, particularly to people in our own family.  The out of control, trouble causing teenager, is still discounted and dismissed in the family discussion, even though he is now 40, married with children, and getting by just fine.  And we always seem to hold onto those labels from the past that are negative.  We don’t take single events of success and use those to label someone as perfect.

Even people who have hurt us, who we cannot allow to continue in our life, deserve a chance to change their lives.  We assist that by refusing to tell the story anymore – the one that ends with , “so ya . . . that is why this person is a complete asshole.”  Let it go.  Let them go.  Let them find their way to healing.  When you can do that, you put the responsibility for their lives solely on their shoulders.  If you cannot let go, then you are taking that responsibility.  You are letting your words define that person, above their actions, perhaps even contrary to their actions.  None of us need the responsibility for other people’s lives on our shoulders.  I certainly never want to find out that the blockage to someone becoming the person they were meant to be, and to accomplishing what they were meant to do, was the hate that I carried for them and that I spewed to anyone who would listen.

Why not just start the day by backing off a bit and giving people the room to own their mistakes? We will all be better off because of it …. AND I can promise you , when you put your own foot in it next time, and you will because we all will… you will appreciate that because you first extended that room … someone may very well afford you the same.

The Posion Pen Letter of Death I Just Received.

Posion Pen


I got a poison pen letter the other day.  Yes, an adult I barely know, took the time to write out a nasty letter full of what he thinks I was implying when I was speaking in front of my own family in my own home.  He was sure it was all about him.

He was not in attendance of the event.  I am not even sure how or why he secured a copy of an email not sent to him, outlining for others who had been unable to attend, the events of a very special day, that everyone in attendance enjoyed with love and compassion.  He had to type the letter he sent, print it, put it in an envelope, stamp it, take it to the mailbox  . . .all of those things took time.  Nothing in him suggested he was about to make a complete ass of himself and that perhaps he might reconsider.

It never ceases to amaze me that, at my age, there are so many people who clearly had all their growth stunted in Jr. High.  But there are still people who are so insecure in themselves, so miserable in their own lives, that they work at being assholes like it is a gift.

I actually feel embarrassed for him.

Sometimes when people attack us, it is so evident that the accusations they hurl are those they themselves are guilty of.  I read the letter and felt sad for him, that this is what seemed like a good idea to him.  It reminds me of what is important in life and how easy it is to take those little steps that lead us away from enjoying life to the fullest.  It does not take many of those steps to suddenly find ourselves miserable and alone.

Please, before you ever send out a letter like this to someone, no matter how justified you feel, please consider:

1. Always be willing to consider that you might be wrong. Did you misinterpret something? Are you reading into words that were never said because of your own insecurities? Do you even know this person well enough to speak to what they might have been implying?

2. Does this incident even concern you? Should you be expressing anything about the event to this person?

3. Implying is an interesting word. Implication is not the same thing as stating the facts. It is an assumption about what we think is not being said, but meant. Think about that. There is a whole lot of you in there that can get it wrong and be miles away from what was actually “not said.”

4. What is your intended outcome? Do you want to resolve things or fight? If you want to fight then you should write letters, and do everything else you have seen on any of those movies about nasty teenage girls. If you want to resolve things, sit down and ASK the person about the incident and make sure you have not misinterpreted something.

5. Listen to what they have to say. Hear the intention in what they did. You will be surprised to find that very few people get up every day intending to do things to hurt us. It is even possible that they perceive something you had done first to have been a slight to them.

6. Remember your connection to people. See that and not just an incident or words that hurt. Undiluted, situations can seem huge. Diluted into the sea of our entire relationship, it is often another thing.

7. Don’t involve everyone or even anyone else. Put your big girl pants on and stand on your own two feet to deal with life. If you have to pull in a crowd to give you courage that can be a strong clue that what you are about to do/or what you have done, is probably the wrong thing.

Instead, you might consider:

1.  Talk to the person, ask questions, listen to the answers.  Putting things in writing allows for all kinds of misinterpretations.  Words are not as multi dimensional as is communication face to face where we can see body language, hear tone of voice and immediately address what we don’t understand.

2. Allow the person to apologize if that is required. Accept it.

3. If you need to apologize, do it.

4. Accept that you might never agree and allow people their differing opinions with respect. The conversation can still have a positive outcome. Everything in life is not a competition, it is not a fight to the death match. If “being right” is more important to you than anything else, that is probably your biggest clue that you still have issues to work on. You will not always be the winner … or the loser. Handle both with dignity. Better yet, learn to live your life with a grace that allows others their own identities that may not be anything remotely like you.

5. Everything we do in our lives is our legacy. Every person we interact with carries the imprint for love or fear/hate with them. Who are you? There is really so little time in this world. Think about it.

6. If you have done everything you can and the other person is still fighting … walk away. Let it go. They are entitled to their miserable life. You don’t have to be part of it in any way. Just let it go.

The biggest thing we need to remember is that the world is full of people. We get to choose who or what we want in our life. If someone irritates you, you do not have to write poison pen letters and act like an ass. You can simply get on with your own life – minus that person. You are entitled to your opinions and your choices for YOUR life. You have actual rights concerning YOU  but you do not have any rights over another adult. NONE. Criticism is something most people struggle with. They struggle with it when it comes from the people they love. They certainly do not want to hear it from someone who knows nothing about them. People can recognize the difference between criticism given in love, meant to be helpful, and that given with some sense of superior attitude with the intent to destroy.

Of course we feel things, we get upset. We are allowed our feelings but it is important to gain an understanding that those feelings have everything to do with who we are, and little to do with the other person. When you find yourself getting angry, that is the time you need to address those problem areas in yourelf  because your reaction to anything is a choice YOU make. You could just as easily decide to laugh or ignore something, as be angry at it. What makes you angry, is your demon to work on.

When someone comes at you, out of control angry, and there is no hope of resolution, you have to realize we cannot fight one another’s demons. It can be tempting to retaliate in kind, who doesn’t have that gut emotional response?  But there are so many more important issues to consider, and most importantly, ALWAYS err on the side of being kind and true to yourself, rather than give in to the wounded animal instincts.  So, in this case, I have to simply love the writer, bless him in my heart – wishing him well, and get on with the things in my life that matter.

I Will Lie Down with Bears, But NEVER Spiders.

Spider Bears


I whine about the spiders in Australia, because we Canadians are good at it, and then the Australians complain about the bears in Canada. Let’s compare:

1. I have never woken up from a dead sleep to a tickling sensation on my arm, only to find a bear sharing my bed and racing across the arm towards my left boob. Not EVER. Spiders .. . all the time. (OK I exaggerated a little, sometimes they are racing towards the right boob)

2. “You unknowingly swallow 4 -5 bears a year in your sleep,” said no “creepy but interesting facts” website EVER. Spiders . . . all the time.

3. Bears deposits from their bums go on the ground, under brush, to be incorporated into that motherly nature circle of life stuff. Spiders deposits from their bums create large webs to capture you when you are just trying to walk through your yard. Bears do not use invisible weapons that they hang in the trees EVER. Spiders . . . all the time.

4. Spiders clearly have bigger eyes than their stomachs. They have no concept of size ratio. No Bear tries to eat a dinosaur, EVER. Spiders always kill big things, like humans, and they don’t even eat them.

5.  You can see a bear coming, giving you time to run, hide, play dead, etc.  When you put your foot in your shoe, not knowing the spider is hiding in there, it is too late to run.  You can only play dead, for real.  Bears NEVER hide in your shoes.

6.  Rangers can spot bears and give warnings.  By the time anyone spots a spider, they are probably off their muffet and dead.

7. Bears don’t put their feet on people and creep them out, EVER. Spiders put ALL their feet on people all the time.

8. You know when a bear bites you. There is blood. You don’t accidentally get bit by a bear hiding in your sleeping bag and not know it, EVER. Spiders do it all the time. They bite you and sometimes you don’t find out until you are dead.

9. It is called a “Teddy Bear,” not a “Teddy Spider.” Fuzzy, cuddly bears that comfort sick and sad children are understandable. Spiders are never fuzzy, cuddly, comforting OR understandable.

10. You never have to worry about WHERE the bear went. They can’t fit under the couch, in between the cushions, or even into a crack. The bear in the room is like the elephant in the room, only with sirens and fireworks and your name written on its teeth. There is comfort in staring death down eye to eye and knowing how many seconds you have to live. Spiders play mind games and have teeny shifty eyes.

11. Climbing on a chair and screaming when you see a bear in house is pointless unless you want to irritate the bear. This may seem unimportant except when you consider men in Canada not only live longer than Australian men, their hearing is better.

12.  Nothing kills a spider, not even a flood from rain, they just live to climb the water spout another day.  You can kill a bear.  You see the proof in bear heads in hunting lodges and bear rugs on floors.  Name one spider anything you have?  WHERE ARE THE FREAKING BODIES IF THEY CAN DIE??

13.  NO bear has ever come into my house and got stuck in a wine carafe.  EWWWWWWWW.





I put a towel and a heavy book on top of the carafe and locked myself in my office on the other side of the house until my husband came home.  I heard him comforting the poor little “baby” huntsman as he carried him to his shed and let him go.  He hoped I had not scared him too badly.

Hash tags not used but completely appropriate #therealreasonforunexpectedweightgaininyoursleep, #australianmanluckytobealive.

When You’re Down and Lonely.


Bruce Appleford shared this with me on my Facebook Timeline this morning and I liked it so much I had to share it here. It matters what we focus on.  It matters what we surround ourselves with.

It took a life shaking experience for me to really look at the wall of my life and realize how many of the bricks in it were there for the wrong reasons.  Our lives should be about the things we love, the things we are, the things we choose.  Instead the wall of our lives is made up of bricks given to us by others – their beliefs, their rules, their hate.  We absorb what our parents tell us.  As children we lack the ability to logically question or to look at things and decide if they are right for us.  We absorb the feelings, emotions and beliefs of the people we hang around with, even when we are not aware we are doing it.  All groups require some agreed to “beliefs” to operate and then, within the group dynamic, the other “beliefs” from the dominant members begin to arise and be practiced.  Quietly but firmly, they soon govern the lives of all the members.  Even among friends, if someone dislikes another person, it is often expected that the friend do likewise.

There is so much that sucks life out of us, requiring us to surrender bits and pieces of who we really are, and therefore . . . our happiness.  It is hard to equate finding happiness with being willing to spend time alone and with less friends.  But for many of us, that long list of names on our social media pages, are just names of people we used to know, or more likely, those who were busy collecting names one day and they added ours.  We, like sheep, clicked yes without any real thought.

I have a few “friends.”  I have accepted that good friends come and go with the circumstances of our lives, meaning we really connected, had something great, and when someone moved or got a new job, we no longer were able to have the same kind of contact.  There is no tragedy in that.  It does not mean we are no longer friends, or that what we had meant nothing, it is simply life and the feelings are still there but there is no active, current, meaningful exchange.  I refuse to buy into the drama of gaining and “losing” friends.  I don’t have a lot of friends because I know I do not have the time to put into a lot of friends.  I have some lovely acquaintances that I see once in awhile at certain events and we thoroughly enjoy our time together.  We don’t play at being friends.  We could be, but we are not.  So, when a need arises, and I need help, I don’t have a huge list to go through, I have my friends that I know will be there.

I used to have long lists of people who I counted on as friends.  I was there for them in many ways and knew they would be there for me when and if the time came.  It came and they weren’t.  The fault was not theirs in letting me down.  The fault was mine in assigning them roles they were never prepared to play.  I needed something in my life, and I cast them in the roles.  I wasted a lot of time and caused myself way more pain than was necessary by carrying on the charade.  I felt safe with that huge net around me, except it was just an illusion and it kept me from finding my own strengths and maybe from even identifying the one or two people who would have actually been there for me.

Now I often recognize the need to step back from the chatter of the crowd when my life starts to become dark and negative.  Again, the blame is not on them . . . or even on me in this instance.  I just know, that if I don’t remove myself, I start to think and act in the same dark way.  I know my limits.  I protect me because, I learned, before I can be a friend to anyone else, I have to be a friend to myself.