Tag Archives: family

H I S T O R Y

This paragraph is taken from a page of my great-grandmother’s autobiography, referring to Montreal and Canada approximately one hundred years ago. Read it. We are still a country that embraces newcomers seeking safety, security and opportunity. 

I am P R O U D to be Canadian. And just in case there was any ambiguity on the issue, I think that the wave of intolerance that we are seeing, in the US and all over the world where economic hardship has been especially rough in recent years, is shameful and ignorant. That kind of small-mindedness and exclusion is, quite frankly, a feeble attempt at resisting change. The only thing we can count on in this life is that everything is in a constant state of transformation and evolution, and so to try to fight that is to fight a battle that can’t be won.

Things may change in our country in the years to come, but this excerpt from my grandmother’s mother’s life is proof that, even after 100 years, and some obvious blemishes on its record, Canada is still the true land of opportunity. 

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Re-Repairing My Cabin


Let me set the scene for you: I’m lying back on a zero-gravity garden lounger on the stone terrace that separates the Old Rectory from the sprawling green lawn that rolls away from the house for some fifty meters. The lawn sprawls away into the overhang of the wall of trees that softly shades the spearmint green of the grass into a dwindling palette of shaded greys and muted blacks. The irony of the vibrant morphing into the gloomy isn’t lost on me knowing that on the other side of the fence that borders the immense lawn and gardens is the Litcham church cemetery.

I’m back in England. It’s been a year and a half since I’ve been here, the place and people I have been coming back to annually for the last twenty years. It’s rare to have people in one’s life who have consistently and uninterruptedly been present, in all respects of the word, for almost thirty years. I am beyond grateful to be privy to that rare blessing, and have been coming back to England to spend time with her, her husband and their two boys (one of whom is my godson), all of whom I consider to be my extended family. 


I’m here in July, which is somewhat of an anomaly considering I usually make my jaunts over in the dead of the January winter. That period of the year is usually down-time for me career-wise, but after five years of exposing myself to the cold damp that introduced me to the James Herbert-esque weather condition known as freezing fog, I decided to explore the warmer clime of early July.

I’m surrounded by wild lavender shrubs, serenaded by cooing doves and pigeons and, in the distance, the low-rumbling swishing of passing cars. The sun is out, warming the legs of my jeans as bumblebees, drunk from the pollen of the lavender, dive bomb past my head. I’m relaxing, which might sound typical given the nature of my work, but the last 7 months have been anything but relaxing. Since January 2016 I have succeeded in promoting my latest book, A Year In The Light, and have done more teaching in classes, workshops, teacher trainings and conferences than ever before. I have also over-scheduled myself, running myself relatively ragged until two months of antibiotics were required to help me regain the balance in my health and life that I had lost in the pursuit of helping others. You know that expression, “The carpenter’s cabin is the one most crooked?” I’m repairing my cabin. Again.

And so I am here, with no intention of working or committing to anything other than relaxing for the next two weeks. And yet, with the seemingly easiest of tasks before me, I find myself once again applying everything I have learned and taught. A daunting task now that it is just me and my thoughts, no distractions or commitments. 


My mind is entrepreneurial by nature. I am my own boss, and am passionately dedicated to my career of guiding others down their paths, helping to facilitate their journey. I am constantly thinking. About the next project, students and clients, scheduling, the administrative side to my business, and countless other facets of my career. And that’s just the stuff related to my work that keeps my mind whirling. Add to that courses and continuing education, my relationship, friendships, family, my dog, life, etc… It’s a lot for one brain to process, and I know that I’m not alone, that we all download and store copious amounts of data that either stays stored, gets extrapolated for some purpose or another or pops up in the randomest of moments to remind us of the connectivity and non-randomness of life. And I’m having trouble unplugging my thoughts from the “doing” outlet they are normally plugged into so I can replug them into the “being” outlet where there’s no need to plan the next project or consider how to keep my marketing fresh and compelling.

I woke up last night at 3am, still on Montreal time, but slowly acclimating to the UK time zone. After a few minutes of realizing my thoughts were wandering into aspects of my life that would keep me awake, I did what I always do and refocused on body sensing, the art of noticing sensations in different parts of my body. This exercise of focusing the mind usually lulls me into sleep within minutes. It took longer last night, and I was aware of the extra effort it took to drift back off into sleep.


Today I keep noticing the pull towards doing; filming something for my YouTube channel, starting the new online course I’m enrolled in, working to put together next year’s yoga retreats. With the intention of not working, I instead pulled out a novel from my friends’ bookshelves and started reading, only to observe my thoughts wandering away on a path of their own. 

It will take a few days for me to successfully unplug and replug. The process is, quite simply, fascinating, regardless of how much time I’ve spent in my life practicing the art of concentration. It’s an art that demands one always remain a beginner, and I, once again, find myself at the starting line.

This is the closest to work I’ll be doing for the next couple of weeks, and an essential step in my detaching, as writing usually allows me to process and then let go. If your email goes unanswered, trust I’ll get to it once I’m back home. My absence is intentional, and sorely needed for my sanity and the sustainability of my work. 

Your work? Notice your thoughts, in any and all moments. Notice how you unplug and replug, from one outlet to another. For myself, I’ll refocus my gaze onto the bee-populated lavender and the music of Turin Brakes drifting out from the front door of the house.

Peace to us all.

Tales From Out West

I’m in Calgary this week and thought I’d get down some of my thoughts…I came here to not only visit my brother and his wife and kids (one of which I’m meeting for the first time since his birth on Christmas Day), but to bring my Introduction to Hindu & Yogic Mythology workshop to a beautiful yoga studio here, Bodhi Tree Yoga. I was initially also planning on flying from here to Saskatoon to give the workshop there, but the studio there was having trouble getting people to sign up, so we’ve postponed it for the time being. What I would have considered to be a failure a few years ago by not having the workshop happen I immediately recognized as an indication that I am where I’m supposed to be, here in Calgary.

I haven’t seen my brother and his family for almost a year. They used to live 2 blocks from my place in Montreal, but then moved out here as my brother got a job offer he couldn’t refuse. Seeing them leave was a very emotional moment for me, and being away from them for this long simply became unacceptable. I decided to investigate and see if I could incorporate a visit to their adopted city with an opportunity to meet a local yoga community and bring my teachings to them. After being referred to them, I started corresponding with the studio management and I was given the opportunity to come here to teach. I remember when I knew it was all going to work out – I took a moment to thank whatever higher power was working through me for allowing this all to unfold so naturally, and the preparation stage was (obviously) only the beginning.

I got here Monday evening and was met by my brother, who is one of the people who knows me the best. As kids we were inseparable, and I remember taking on somewhat of a parental role with him, assuming responsibility for him and watching over him for years and years. To arrive here and see the life he’s built for himself has resulted in bursts of incredible pride and admiration for him, as he’s one of the greatest guys I know, one with a head for business and a heart for meditation. He drove me back to his house from the airport, and I have since spent as much time as possible with him, his wife, and their three gorgeous kids. These children are absolutely everything. Hyper-intelligent, intuitive, emotive, affectionate, obstinate, beautiful…but most of all, humbling. I see my own childhood in the actions, reactions, and thought processes of these kids. More importantly, I see my relationship as children with my own two brothers in the dynamic between these three beings of light. Suffice it to say that this time is sacred.

As if all that weren’t enough to make me feel grateful and connected to this life, I decided to go pay a visit to the yoga studio where I’d be giving the workshop, so yesterday I went to take the 4pm Nidra Flow class with Anita Athavale. The class was comprised of a soft warm-up and vinyasa, followed by some stretches. The class ended with a session of Yoga Nidra, which I have been practicing on and off for the last 14 years, and which always feels like a return to the source for me. Like the asana practice, it doesn’t matter where I do it, it always feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be. I have no idea how long the guided meditation was, but when I came out of it, I felt like I had rested for a full night. It amazes me every single time how effective the practice is, and Anita was incredible – obviously knowledgable and incredibly personable. I floated out of the class and back to my brother’s house, and continued on with my week of rediscovering my family.

The workshop itself was everything I hoped it would be: a coming together of like-minded people sharing the common goal of aspiring to new heights of spirituality. We not only delved into the myths and all their colourful characters, but we applied the essence of the myths to our own lives and then to the asana practice itself. I found myself doing what I do in my daily life, but this time immersed in a different yoga community, one that welcomed me into its fold with warmth and generosity. I got to meet wonderful people, and am so grateful to have found myself having connected with an entirely new group in a different environment. I really am grateful for being able to travel the globe and meet people who reflect back to me everything I believe the world and its inhabitants to be.

My week here is almost over, and as much as I don’t want to tear myself away from my family, I’m blessed to be looking forward to getting back to my weekly classes and mentoring students. I’d say that things are going exactly how they’re meant to, and in keeping with what I’ve learned so far this year, I’m staying focused on what is…what’s directly in front of me in any given moment, while keeping my heart, mind, and energy open to whatever comes next (can we all say “Istanbul” together?).

Peace to you all…

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On Our Love

I haven’t seen my mum in a month…and it’s been an intense one. She’s completed her second round of preventative chemotherapy for a cancerous gene, and as one would imagine, it hasn’t been easy. With only two more rounds to go, she is physically and mentally doing amazingly. She is barreling through this like a woman on a mission…and what a mission it is. This is really the first time our family has ever been through something that could potentially shake us to the core of our being. And I have to say that I am so proud of her…proud of her strength and her certainty in how she has to deal with what she’s going through. And I feel horrible because I’ve been dealing with a cold for a month now…the one that comes and goes and comes back and goes and comes back again…so I can’t expose her to this super-irritating-won’t-go-away-nuisance-of-a-cold. But I know that she’s got all the support she needs, because my father is with her.

My father is the strong, silent type. In fact, he’s the poster boy for it. But boy is probably the wrong word to describe him. If “manning up” has any validity as a real term in our vernacular, then my father is re-defining it. He is doing everything in his power to make sure my mother has everything she needs…and every thing she wants. Running her errands, sitting by her side during her treatments, being her pillar of strength. My mother has already lost her hair, and that alone is a lesson in re-assessing how we identify ourselves, especially for a woman who admittedly has never swam with her head below the water line for fear of ruining the coiffe that she has proudly displayed throughout the decades, full peacock-style 🙂 Throughout everything that is currently unfolding, my dad is fully present. He wants to take care of her. And every time my mum mentions him her voice breaks and I hear the emotion as she fights back the sobs of love and gratitude. It happened again last night when we spoke on the phone. And for the hours after I got off the phone with her, before I went to sleep, I found myself in tears, marvelling at my parents’ love affair in total awe and reverence.

Throughout my life, and still to this day, my parents have used an expression to convey the magnitude and intention behind whatever it was they were talking to each other about. They would either start or end a phrase by saying, “On our love.” And they’ve never once been irresponsible in the usage of it. My parents love each other. They’ve even had an article in the Montreal Gazette written about their relationship. After over 45 years of being married, after raising three boys, and after everything that happens to and around a couple living full, demanding lives, they are more madly in love with each other now than ever. This has been my example for 38 years. And I fully understand the blessing that has been bestowed upon me.  My parents love each other for who each of them is, and they love each other despite who each of them is. They love fearlessly and fully. Unconditionally and completely. They have a real, modern-day love affair that just gets stronger the longer they go on. And it makes me proud to have them as role models, and it makes me well up with admiration…and I feel the depth of my mother’s love for my father as she tells me how he’s helping her along this path she’s found herself on. And being privy to this real-life romance serves absolutely no one if I can’t pass it on and share it with everyone.

When my mother found out that she was going to have to go through this treatment, I told my mother that the journey she was facing would result in the most blinding of beautiful things…and I was right. I love you Mama & Papa. Thank you.

UK Musings

I’m alone. Approaching the end of my latest 2-week voyage over to see my England-based extended family, I find myself in the rarest of situations: Helene has taken the kids out, Kerry is off at a football game…and I’m alone in the house…the always kinetic center of it all, the flurry of activity that starts around 7am and doesn’t stop until the children go to sleep slightly more than 12 hours later. Reuniting with complete stillness after 11 days (obviously excluding those sweet hours of repose I take full advantage of), tapping back into that serenity and groundedness, literally feels like coming home…in a place I consider my home away from home. All of which reinforces my belief that home is wherever you want it to be, at any given moment. Right now, I’m home.

I’ve been practicing yoga here steadily, locking myself in the big lounge, laying down my travel mat amidst the antique-style furniture and directly facing the massive fireplace. Taking a full hour as often as I can to disconnect from everything around me, and re-connect my mind to my breath and my body. I took a couple of days to trek down to London, where I met up with Tara, who joined us on our Mexico retreat in March of this year and who has since become a close friend. Together we caught up, ate in great restaurants, basked for 2 hours in the lovely energy that resides at the Jivamukti Center, and generally just had a laugh. After a couple of days with her, I made the journey back up to lovely Norfolk, and I fell right back into the frantic state of play surrounding the kids, all set amidst the relaxed rhythm of the gorgeous countryside.

After having been in this country countless times, I find myself surprised at how I never tire of it. The panoramic, rolling hills, the foliage in full bloom, the intermittent, dismally chilled and rainy days, the seemingly endless selection of country pubs offering some of the best food I could be treated to, and, most of all, the company of my family out here…Regardless of what I end up doing while I’m here, I can be certain from the outset that I will have the time of my life, that my roots will sink a little deeper into this UK soil, and that I will be able to bring a smattering of all the energies I encountered during my stay back to my life in Montreal to share with those with whom I share my Canadian existence, students and family members alike.

I always come back from these visits feeling a massive sense of gratitude, and incredibly inspired to continue on my yogic path, digging into my soul a little deeper, and hopefully inspiring others in their journeys by sharing my observations and findings. I have a few more days left to bask in the light that I find here among all the people I meet and spend time with…rest assured that I’m aware of every moment, taking mental snapshots (as well as digital ones) that will be filed away in the annals of my mind that will eventually be referred back to so I can tap back into this energy whenever I fancy. The greatest thing about life is that those annals are great enough to accomodate the ever-growing inventory of snapshots, the moments that life does not stop offering up, the pieces of muchness that we all are exposed to, but that which some of us pass by unaware of the significance that often exists in that periphery. So as I wind down my time here, let me offer this up to you: keep your head up, your heart open, and look around you for those moments that are being offered up to you. Let them imprint themselves, and hold onto them as you continue on your journey. File them away, and take note of how they start to grow in numbers, those numbers signifying the richness in your lives. You don’t have to travel overseas to find them, but you have to be open to notice them…Sending you all much love (and even more light) from England 🙂

UK Musings

IMG_9351The church bells, clanging through the viscous blackness of the chilled night, their peals travelling through the mossy graveyard and over the rolling back lawn of the Walpole’s house, have just announced the start of a new 24-hour cycle, and, coincidentally, the end of my 36th birthday. I’ve been here in Norfolk visiting my extended family for over a week now, with another few days ahead of me before I return home to the plummeting sub-zero temperatures of another prematurely frosty Montreal autumn. As I get ready to go to sleep at the end of this latest birthday, I find myself more than ever aware of the irrationality and fleetingness of time, and how intently I find myself holding onto the moments and events that are taking place around me. Doing so also serves to offer up a different slant on the life that exists for me here in England, one that lies waiting patiently, yet anxiously for my inevitable return, year after year. I come to England to reconnect with my oldest friend Helene, her husband Kerry, and their two sons Freddie and Wills, the latter of whom is my godson. It seems like whenever I come over to visit, I end up getting sick, whether it be from missing a night of sleep on the plane over, or from being immersed in a household containing two young boys building up their immune systems with bacteria and germs solely on offer on the floors and doorknobs of the local daycare. Regardless, my inevitable decline into feeling less than robust succeeds in setting the tone for my stay in this breathtaking country, one whose history of gothic and medieval tales can easily be forgotten in the light of the blazing mid-day sun, but which takes microseconds to regain its position and influence with the return of a single charcoal-edged cloud. Spending months of my life in this history-drenched corner of the country has allowed me to understand what it must feel like to live among spirits, as every turn of the ultra-narrow roads that wind their way through the English countryside reveals another centuries-old church, cathedral, or cemetery, usually complete with a detailed history retold on a tablet nearby for passers-by. As fortunate as I am to be able to have this magical land as part of my make-up, I’m even luckier to have people here who I feel close enough to to refer to as extended family, and, in turn, whose respective families have become part of that extended network of mine. I’ve been treated, this birthday of mine, to a visit from more UK friends who drove from the other side of the country to spend my 36th with me, to a gorgeous meal in a Thai-themed country pub as well as a pub birthday lunch, all topped off with a full, home-made Indian feast that Hel painstakingly prepared over two days. The food, the company, and, ultimately, the network of lovely people and the mutual affection we hold for each other has left me feeling like the luckiest guy in the world, and I feel the need to acknowledge that…to appreciate how blessed I am in this life knowing how much light I’m surrounded with, and to understand the responsibility I have to reflect and pass on that light to everyone else around me in the knowledge that it will travel the globe through the actions and words of like-minded individuals. Thank you to my UK family for leaving me speechless, for making me laugh until I can no longer catch my breath, and for loving me so generously…I am more grateful than these words can ever express.