What, Me Racist?

Yesterday I posted a video on YouTube in reaction to the question asked by 2016 Oscar host Chris Rock during his opening monologue: Is Hollywood racist? In the video I’m asking a deeper question, “Am I racist?” and making a point about coming to terms with our inner racism and healing the shame that stems from inheriting the crimes of our ancestors. My sense is that the inheritance of unhealed shame is a large part of our inherent racism and a core reason why full equality has not yet been attained between white people and all persons of colour in our “integrated” societies.

The dictionary on this computer defines shame as “a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong behavior.” When shame goes unaddressed, when I am unable to bear the humiliation and distress caused by my awareness of wrongdoing, when I do not know how to reconcile the inner pain, then the painful feelings turn outward. They become resentment, anger, judgment, and, in extreme cases, pure hatred. My shame has turned to blame. Instead of not liking myself I start not liking you.

To the best of my knowledge my own personal family heritage does not include any slave owners and yet it was my collective ancestors who participated in the slave trade. It was my collective ancestors who participated in the genocide of the First Nations people. It was my collective ancestors who participated in countless crimes against non-Caucasian people here in North America and all over the world. Their blood is in my veins.

As a white person today I have unwittingly inherited all of these sins, or crimes, or wrong actions of yesterday. I can deny that this causes me deep-rooted shame or I can accept it. If I deny it then the unhealed guilt and shame breeds inner racism: contempt and fear and, ultimately, a felt sense of separation. If I accept it then I must be prepared to participate fully in my own healing and the collective healing of our wounded culture.

Because are we not all wounded people? Do we not all have dis-integrated parts that have gone unhealed and remain broken and fragmented due to the trauma of wounds from our personal past? Collective wounding works the same way.

In order for true reconciliation to take place, the trauma of the wounded must be healed and the shame and guilt of the perpetrators of that trauma must also be healed. This healing work needs to be done both individually and together. Full integration happens for the individual when I admit I’m wounded, confront my shame and begin the inner journey to wholeness. Full integration will happen for our societies when injured parties and perpetrators come together as one to address and take responsibility for all sides of our shared global-historical-cultural trauma.

Inspiring Message of the Day: There is, in actual fact, only one race and if I am human then I belong to it.


Take Care

I recently posted about making a major life decision and how difficult it can be when perfectionism or the fear of making a mistake is a dominant, controlling factor. Another element that hinders my own healthy decision-making is the desire to protect other people from their hurt feelings.

The decision I made to return to Canada directly impacted a number of people, and one person in particular, whom I shall call Maura, was especially affected. She and I had been living together in community for 8 months and I knew that if I left she would be alone, hurt and even betrayed by my choosing to go. The thought of inflicting these feelings upon Maura was enough to make me stay. The voices of dissent were pretty loud: How could I do this to her? Leaving her was totally unconscionable; an unforgivable, selfish act.

These negative thoughts plagued me and I wavered, thinking it would be better to sacrifice my own well-being to save Maura from her pain.

Red-flag moment. Save Maura? When I get into saving someone else I know I am in big trouble. I have moved out of the relative safety of taking care of someone and into the dangerous territory of care-taking. There is a big difference between the two.

“Taking care” involves looking after someone’s needs, being of service, helping out. Care-taking is about looking after someone else’s needs at the cost of my own and serving the ego’s desire for approval and esteem. It is not helpful. To anyone.

If I had stayed to protect Maura from her grief not only would I have been compromising my own needs, making me emotionally sick (and possibly even physically), I would also have been depriving Maura of her own life process. Not my job.

Care-taking is controlling behaviour at its most subtle. I tell myself I am protecting Maura therefore I am doing a good thing. I am noble. I am a saint! In fact, I am simply trying to orchestrate an outcome over which I am entirely powerless. I cannot save Maura from herself.

The consequences of care-taking can be dire because in trying to protect the other person I eventually become angry and resentful. If I had stayed in community with Maura I would have begun to see her as the one now keeping me from living my fullest and best life. And even though she didn’t ask me to protect her, even though I took it upon myself to save her, she would have been the one to blame for my faulty thinking. See the insanity? I sacrifice myself and it’s her fault.

Leaving Maura was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I wrestled with the question of what was right and agonized over whether I was wrong. In the end, I chose to put my own well-being first. (Even writing that sentence feels uncomfortable.) Doing so required an enormous amount of trust that my own liberation would somehow mean Maura’s liberation, too. Even if it caused her pain.

Inspiring Message of the Day: Am I able to embrace the concept of self-care? Do I attend to what is life-giving for me? If I am putting myself last on the list and it is costing me too much I will begin to trust that my own deepest needs can come first.



It is just before 5 a.m. and there is a ghostly bird whistling somewhere outside in the dark. I am not able to identify a bird by its call. Some, like the chickadee, are obvious. I got to know the sound of a baby coot because there was one living on the nearby lake and it peeped incessantly. The bird I’m hearing now could be a wood pigeon or an owl. Its sound is almost a cry, somewhere between a hoot and a coo. A hoo.

I was awake at three, possibly because of jet lag, having arrived back in the UK after 3 weeks in Canada. But it’s been a few days now so it is more likely the mind unable to fall back to sleep after being woken to go and relieve the bladder. I was dreaming of giant crocodiles and Steve Irwin, bless his Crocodile Hunter heart.

The mind is also being kept awake by its desire to ruminate further on a major life decision. The decision has been made but how it loves to go over and over the details! I employed all meditation techniques to no avail. Finally I got up to write.

Making decisions at the best of times let alone major life ones is never easy for the recovering perfectionist. I once stood in the linen section of a giant store trying to decide which sheets to buy. I was probably there for an hour before I left empty-handed. If I struggle to decide whether the cotton-striped or the plain flannel are right for me you can imagine what happens when I have something really important to discern. Total mental chaos leading to eventual paralysis.

I have gotten better. There is hope. Change is possible. And yet I still seem to have to go through a certain amount of turmoil before I actually decide what to do. Sticking with the decision is also difficult. Depending on the level of impact on others I can experience all kinds of guilt and shame and remorse. Ridiculous but true.

So I’ve made a major life decision. I’ve decided to move back to Canada after 19 months abroad, leaving the community I’ve been living in and the job I’ve been working at. It is the right thing to do and yet the fear comes at me in myriad ways threatening to pull me back and keep me down. I need every resource at my disposal to remain steadfast in the peace that came with the final decision. Because believing the doubt does not bring peace. It just sets me back in indecision. And indecision is really just another form of control.

Control is the perfectionist’s drug of choice. Getting off it is a lifetime journey of letting go practiced one decision at a time. Luckily, or unluckily, depending on your view, Life itself is the rehab centre. We’re given countless opportunities each day to release the fear and trust in the Unknown. Like the bird singing in the dark trusting day will come.

Inspiring Message of the Day: Despite my fear of making a mistake I will stick to my decision. I will surrender perfectionism and let go of trying to get it right. I will practice trusting the Unknown.

Back in the Saddle

When I teach writing workshops and we engage in “automatic” exercises or free-flow writing I tell participants to write without thinking. Just put the pen on the paper and go. If nothing comes then write, “Nothing is coming.” And just keep going. Even if you end up writing, “I don’t like this it’s stupid I can’t write I can’t think of anything to write I don’t want to be here,” you will have written something.

The idea behind this exercise is that if you persevere then something deeper will eventually come. Your I-don’t-like-this writing will eventually produce decent fruit.

I am reminding myself of this now as I write this blog post, the first in a very long time. I have challenged myself to write something because I am a writer and I have essentially given up writing. I still keep a journal and that is something. I write the occasional poem and that, too, is something. I write emails to people and that is something else. But I am not writing plays, articles, blogs or chapters of the unfinished book.

This lack of writing has not really been an issue for me. I haven’t been beating myself up or wondering why I’m not doing it. I let the blog go, I retired from showbiz and the book simply has not been pulling me. My life has taken a different turn.

And yet the fact remains: I am writer who is not writing.

A friend recently wrote me an email saying, “I want to encourage you to continue writing. I love your writing, always have. You may not want to continue in the film biz and I completely respect any decision you make, but I really think you have a gift. I hope that you will let it take whatever form it may. Be that short stories, scripts or a novel! Let it out girl!”

Being able to write well is a gift. I didn’t give it to myself! And because this ability was given to me I wonder… is it wrong not to use such a gift?

Some might say so. When I think about what has really brought me pleasure in life “Writing” is near the top of the list. So am I not writing because I just don’t feel like it or am I squandering my talents?

I don’t know the answer. But here I am. Feeling rusty and wondering what to say. Writing until something comes.

Inspiring Message of the Day: What are my gifts? If I have been given a particular gift I will do my best to offer it to others however small the offering might be.


Dearest Readers,

Today is the one year anniversary of Inspiring Message of the Day. I just went back and read the very first post, which I wrote in response to hearing the Still Small Voice say, “Get up and write a blog.”

“Huh?” I remember thinking, “Are you completely serious?” But I listened. And if you look at the time of that post it says “5:47 a.m.” And that was an hour after getting up and figuring out Blogger and then writing the darn thing. Case in point: I obeyed the command despite its seemingly bizarre nature.

As I was pondering what to write on this momentous occasion I thought about all the things I could say. The most obvious one is that I achieved a goal. This is huge. I committed to posting six days a week for one year and I actually did that without fail. Granted, some posts are better than others but nevertheless I did it. So “clink” and congratulations, Celia.

There were other goals that came out of the blog that I achieved as well. I made a commitment in Run For Your Life to do one form of cardiovascular exercise a week in addition to my daily yoga practice. And guess what? I’ve kept that up, too. As I was running up those Black St. stairs two at a time yesterday I thought, “My body has changed.” A year ago I was huffing and puffing like the big bad wolf.

But here is the question that is really begging to be answered. Have I changed the thing that prompted the blog in the first place? That rage that powered the prayer to help me not strangle the cat?

Yes. And no.

The rage can still come up. So that’s not gone. Maybe it never will be. But the force at which it arrives has lessened considerably. The cat hasn’t jumped on my stomach for a long time. Coincidence? Probably not. Now when he cries at 5 a.m. I pat him, scratch his ears, talk to him quietly and lift up the covers so he can snuggle underneath them with me. And then we both go back to sleep. Some kind of Surrender had to take place in me and I had to let It in.

Yesterday I had a major deadline to meet. I was at Staples making copies and things were not going my way. The copier printed 170 pages of my work with a big black line through each one. The 3-hole punch was on the wrong setting and the holes in 120 pages were skewed. I could feel that old rage starting to boil.

I took a deep breath and said, “Please help me. I can’t handle this.”

Moments later a woman who might be called the town loonie came stomping into the store. She was having some kind of psychotic episode. She was ranting unintelligibly and everyone just kind of stopped and stared. She did a tour around the cash registers and then she left.

This woman just happens to be one of my Symbols. There she was. Appearing almost immediately after I’d asked for Higher Guidance. I relaxed. Look at your life, Celia. Look at what you have. Your problems are not really problems. Things fell into their proper perspective.

Thinking back to a year ago and that morning of the first blog I can see the difference between who I was then and who I am now. Yes, I have changed. And I will continue to change if I continue to ask for that Help. I can’t do it by myself. I need something Greater, something More Powerful than my little old self. That part, thank goodness, hasn’t changed.

This is by no means the last blog, Dearest Readers, but I am going to take a bit of a break. I have a play to write and this precious time I take to post each day must now be used for that.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, a million times thank you for reading. Thank you for being there, for being You, for Be-ing. You are amazing!

Inspiring Message of the Day: When I am in need of Great Strength I will continue to ask for It. I will ask no matter where I am and no matter what I am doing. Today I will trust that when I ask for help It will come. It will come.


Dearest Readers,

Yesterday was my birthday and I got the best birthday present ever. I got to go for a canoe paddle on the river.

Paddling rivers is one of my favourite things to do in the world and each summer my father and 2 of our good friends (another father-daughter team) do a trip. This year, however, we didn’t get to go on our annual expedition and I really felt the loss. I would walk by the Yukon River, which is about a 3-minute walk from where I live, look at the moving water and feel a sense of longing so deep it can hardly be described.

So when my friend said, “How about we take you out for a paddle on your BD?” I was more than game.

Since it was my birthday I had spoken to my parents earlier in the day. When I told my father about the stretch of water we’d be doing he suddenly got cautious. “That’s fast moving water,” he said, “It can be really tricky.” He warned me to be careful.

I’m a pretty good paddler. I’ve paddled lots of flat water and done some pretty big white water but I’ve always been in the bow of the canoe on the river trips. I still don’t feel like I know exactly what I’m doing when the water gets big and my dad and I have had some scary moments. I started to feel nervous about what was supposed to be a leisurely afternoon paddle.

My friend’s partner reassured me. “The water isn’t that fast,” he said. “I wouldn’t send you out there if I didn’t think you could do it.” Okay then! Let’s do it.

We set off in mid-afternoon with the sun shining and the wind at our backs. What a stunning day. How thankful I was feeling! Here I was, nearly four decades later in the place of my birth, celebrating Life in the most peaceful and enjoyable way.

Then we hit the canyon.

My heart started pumping hard and I concentrated on steering the boat. Above us was a bridge with people on it. I knew one of them. I looked up and smiled and hooted took my paddle out of the water. My friend in the bow did the same. The boat lurched forward. I remembered I was supposed to be steering. “I need you to paddle,” I said to my friend (as calmly as I could). The boat swayed. We righted ourselves and dug in. In minutes we were through the trickiest part. I relaxed. We’d made it!

That temptation to show off, I tellya. It’s gotten me into trouble in the past. “Look at me! I’m something!” Wham! Reminds me of that Paul Simon song “Gumboots” from his Graceland album: “Believing I had supernatural powers/I slammed into a brick wall.” Yup. Been there. Done that.

Gotta be careful. Got to focus on the action not how the action will be perceived. Got to let go of trying to impress people. Sigh.

But despite that little moment of ego-tripping I managed to steer the canyon successfully and that feels like a victory for me. At first I was kind of mad that my dad had put the fear into me. But after we made it through safely I was glad. If he hadn’t given me that warning, which put my guard way up, I might be writing about a river swim I took yesterday. In my actual birthday suit.

Inspiring Message of the Day: Today I will celebrate my victories and rein in my shortcomings. I don’t need to impress anybody but myself.


Dearest Readers,

Let us turn now to the subject of speaking up when it is unpopular to do so. For example, you are in a group situation and perhaps someone has brought a child. The child is a lovely creature and on her best behaviour but is nonetheless disrupting the meeting and making it difficult for people to listen and stay focused. No one wants to say anything for fear of offending the parents and yet the situation is calling for something to be said.

What do you do?

The choices are simple: 1. Let it go. 2. Say something.

Letting go is always a good thing. But what if the discussion is extremely important? What if there is someone there who needs the information so badly that her sanity actually depends upon it? Is letting go really the best option?

Saying something will cause friction. It may even cause resentment. People won’t like it. They may even start to dislike you. But the group is being disrupted and people are getting annoyed. Many people would like to speak up but are fearful of the repercussions. Someone does, in fact, need to step up to the plate.

Would you be that person?

I’ve been both the “let it go” person and the “step up” person. The letting go works but provides no real solution. The stepping up opens the door for communication and problem-solving but causes some angry feelings to arise and enter the mix. Neither option is easy. Especially the latter.

Why? Because someone, inevitably, will decide you are a jerk. You will then have to live with the reality that someone out there doesn’t like you. If you are a person that says, “Who cares?” to this statement I applaud you and celebrate your insouciance. I’m not there yet.

But I am getting there! Slowly. It’s been a long and winding road so far. Here are some of the more pleasant pit stops:

  • Don’t take things personally.
  • Validate yourself. Don’t wait for someone else to do it.
  • Give yourself a pat on the back (literally — reach up and pat yourself on the shoulder).
  • Look in the mirror. Meet your eyes. Say, “You’re doing great. I love you. I really love you.”
  • Remember to hold your own heart tenderly.
  • Respond to your actions with compassion.

Whew! Lots of great tools. All beneficial. Some more challenging than others. Especially for the recovering perfectionist.

In a similar situation to the one above I recently stepped up and said, “This is not working and we need to discuss it.” Afterward, I came home feeling anxious because I knew I’d offended someone. The voices of dissent charged in and started their attack. I bought in for a while and started to beat myself up but then I took charge and used those tools of self-validation to calm myself down and celebrate the courage it took to speak up.

Not everybody is going to like me. And that’s okay.

Inspiring Message of the Day: Today I will give myself the validation I seek from others. Today I am good enough and I am loved enough because I give myself the love and compassion I need. I believe that I am worth it!


Dearest Readers,

Nearby on my desk is a piece of paper that says, “Checklist of Required Materials”. It’s for an application to the Canadian Film Centre and I’ve been staring at it for weeks as I prepare my submission to one of their programs. After pondering the words for so long I started to wonder, “What if we had one of those for Life?”

A Checklist of Required Materials for Living:

  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Sleep
  • Higher Guidance

Yup, that’s it. Of course, there are a gazillion more things I could add but how many of them do I really need? The above list names the essentials, the required materials in my life. Vital. Necessary. Can’t do without. When regarded as such it really is a very short list.

When life gets challenging I find it helpful to drop into this place of Knowing. I have everything I need. I am fed, I have a roof over my head, I am rested and there is a Powerful Source of Energy making it all happen. It keeps things very simple and it makes it easier to be thankful for everything else I do have on top of these basic essentials.

So today’s Checklist for Required Living? Check, check, check and check.

Inspiring Message of the Day: What do I really need to live peacefully? Today I will strip my needs down to the absolute essentials. The rest then becomes luxury and so I will practice thankfulness for the Abundance in my life.


Dearest Readers,

Lately I’ve been encountering this idea of “the authentic self” in a number of situations and it’s got me thinking. What is it exactly? What does it really mean?

The dictionary on this computer defines “authentic” as something “of undisputed origin; genuine.” Well, our origin is not undisputed that’s for sure. Whether you’re a creationist or a big bang theorist the subject can be argued ad infinitum. So what about “genuine”? How do we know if we are such a thing?

Most of my life was spent trying to fit in. I desperately wanted you to like me and so I became a master chameleon. I was equally at ease at a cocktail party or a biker bash. Well, maybe at ease is pushing it. Let’s say I was performing a character as best as I could in order to feel accepted.

When I hit my late-twenties I realized I didn’t really have any idea who I was. I had become a sort of invented persona, one of my own making, and I felt very, very lost. The last decade-plus has been about finding out who I am. Learning how to be genuine. Discovering the authenticity of my True Self.

One of the most difficult parts of becoming who we really are is letting go of how we want other people to see us. That desire to be liked creates the People Pleaser and though the title might sound harmless, even noble, it really is anything but. The PP strips us of dignity. As we perform tasks to make other people love us we erode our own self-confidence. We become ghosts of who we really are.

So after 10+ years on the Healing Path am I any closer to knowing my “authentic self”? What do I really know about who I am today? Well, I know I believe in a Loving Power that exists Back of All Things. I also know that that belief can falter. I know I feel of maximum use when I am helping others negotiate their way through their own healing journeys. And I know that sometimes I don’t feel equipped to do this kind of work.

Some days I am certain. Others I am confused. Most often I am faithful. More often I am fearful.

Conclusion: I am human. So human. So very, very human.

The other day I blogged about seeing the Earth from far above and connecting to the idea that we are One Single Organism. And I so believe that this Oneness is truly the Essence of all that Is. So my authentic self is not only human, it is Divine as well.

The human experience, the path toward truly understanding the Authentic Self, is the journey of walking in balance with these two parts of ourselves. Some days the balance is very good, other days not so much. But always, always, the Essence is there, simply there, awaiting our return.

Inspiring Message of the Day: Today I will find my way back to Authenticity. I will seek the Divine Essence of who I am and land there, settle in and make a home.


Dearest Readers,

What was the happiest moment of your life?

An easy question to answer? Not for me. The question was put to me this morning and I found myself thinking back to one of my favourite comic strips in which Charlie Brown asks Lucy to to name one thing she likes about him and she says something along the lines of, “Wow. Gee. That’s a stumper. That’s a real poser all right. That’s a puzzle. That’s a real tough one…”

She uses just about every synonym for “difficult question” that there is. I could find lots of things I like about poor good old, wishy washy Charlie Brown but I happen to feel the same way Lucy does about the question “What was the happiest moment of your life?” I can certainly think of lots of happy moments but the happiest? The pinnacle moment, the moment that surpasses all other things? That one really is a stumper.

When I got accepted into the National Theatre School of Canada I was pretty happy. I’d been rejected twice before and I’ll never forget the phone call that came saying, “You’re in.” I was ecstatic. But could I call it the happiest moment of my life? I don’t know.

Then there was the phone call asking me to write a play for the Stratford Festival of Canada. Again, I was over the moon. But I’m not sure the moment deserves the title of “happiest”.

I’ve heard a number of women describe the birth of their first child as the happiest moment. I could certainly see that being true but I don’t happen to have a kid. I got to witness the birth of my older sister’s first baby this year and no doubt it will top her happiest list. I was extremely happy for her but it wasn’t the happiest moment of my life.

If I took the time I could probably create a list of the happiest moments. There have been lots of them. Falling in love, receiving certain kinds of recognition, getting off the booze and the dope, climbing mountains, performing on stage, helping other people on the Healing Path. All moments, all happy. But the happiest? Like I said, this one is a true puzzler.

Maybe my resistance is coming from a place of cynicism. What followed all of these happy moments was not necessarily all happiness. It was life. Challenges ensued. Lessons were learned. Growth took place. All of these elements didn’t take away from the happy moment itself but nevertheless preclude the “happiest” definition taking root.

Perhaps I haven’t had my happiest moment yet. I like that idea. It’s kind of exciting to think that the happiest moment of my life hasn’t actually happened. Something to look forward to, yes?

That Charlie Brown strip ended with Lucy walking off in the last panel with the synonyms for “impossible question to answer” trailing behind her. Picture me in the same way, still thinking, still wondering, still searching…

Inspiring Message of the Day: To be happy means to be Present. When I am here, now, in my body, grounded in my life as it happens, there is no other happiness. What if the happiest moment of my life could occur over and over again throughout the day, each and every day because I am practicing True Presence? I will do my best to stay here today, in the happiness of Now.