Sound like a bit of an oxymoron?  Mmm… I could have called it a sabbatical or a professional development week and a bit I guess.  Don’t you worry: it’ll all make way more sense on…

Source: My SUPERHERO Retreat


Tried on a new way of BEING recently, have we?

Once we get over ourselves and our story and all the stuff that life throws our way to distract us from our ‘chosen path’ we are left in a clearing: a great big open space full of everything and nothing at all.  It’s easier than you’d think to get here… andthough you might not realize it in the present tense: we block our path with fear and hesitation and difficulty without even ever realizing it.


Worry gets in our way and we become consumed with ‘what if I fail’ or ‘what if it hurts.’

So what if you fail?

Relax: It’s just a feeling and it’s only temporary.  (A gut reaction that rears its ugly head when life doesn’t go the way you intended it to go.)  Superheroes have difficulties all the time… we just don’t notice it.  Take Bruce Wayne, for example, the difficulties he had started when he was only a boy.  Did that stop him from striving to be a better person in the face of tragedy?  No. I never said it was going to be easy… It’s life.  And life is only ever easy when it’s finished– You’re not finished yet!!

Come on, buck up: what’s got you feeling so confused or beaten or dejected?  Is it bigger than you?  Your dreams?  You’d be surprised how amazing you can be when you just let it it shine.  Without effort, you are a brilliant, radiant being who was born to make the world a better place.  I am honoured to be having this rather one-sided conversation with you.  Truly I am.  (Pause) Look, I just gave you a space to react or reflect or do whatever it is you do when someone compliments you.  Go ahead.  Show me again…. There, now doesn’t that feel better?


We don’t have very much control of what happens to us out in this big bad world.  I’m sure that most of us would like to think that we are in control… bust life has developed a nasty habit of reminding us that it will always have the last say.  The only thing that we are in total control of?  (I’m glad you asked.)  We are only ever in total control of how we deal with whatever is happening or has just happened or is about to happen.

Take, for instance, a catastrophic event.  For months now, online, there’s been a movement to prepare ourselves for the end of the world.  Someone, somewhere or other said something about an asteroid impacting earth.  Whoever her was, mentioned September 29th as being our final day and it snowballed into a bunch of press-conferences and news reports about nasa or some other scientific community being ready to us missiles to blow this supposed asteroid into a bizillion pieces before it ever comes into contact with earth proper.

(Click on the picture if you’re curious about this story a.k.a. the end that never happened.)

I’m not one to focus on the end of the world coming any time soon but last time I checked: I’m only human.  I hoped that it wasn’t going to happen in spite of myself.  I mean, if it were really happening I wouldn’t be able to do anything about it anyway so worrying about it was really just a waste of brain cells. Then September 30th happened and we were all still here… So what now?  Can you imagine what it must feel like for someone who really truly believed in all that hype?  Maybe you can. Maybe you can’t.  The only thing that I can compare it to in my life was when I woke up from having a big piece of cancer taken out of me.  I went into the operating room not knowing for sure if I was going to wake up again (mostly my fear talking) and then I opened my eyes again and I was still alive.  Good news.

For the latest edition of ‘Good News’ a.k.a. September 30th, I was pretty much hanging around in the ‘thank goodness it didn’t happen to me’ camp.  Come on, I know that you’ve visited the neighbourhood at least once in your life.  It’s not bad: the state of being can even be interpreted as ‘I’m happy to be alive.’  It’s actually super easy to get here.  If you plug ‘waking up to yourself’ into the worry and fear machine: it all amounts to nothing.  Nothing really happened.  So what was I so worried about?


Bad things happen to good people every day.  Without warning, someone is shot or hit by a car and try as we might, we can never be fully prepared when it happens to us or someone we care of about.  The badness belongs to an event.  Plain and simple.  Feelings and reactions and realization and upset can blow things way out of proportion is you let them.  I’m not telling you that you can’t feel any of it… It’s a natural reaction and that’s a valid place to be in the short term.  When all the dust clears, you are left with a better understanding of life and yourself and how you can and will react next time.

No… I’m not wishing anything bad on you.  I am speaking from experience.  I know things about dealing with the fact that we are mortal beings.  Death doesn’t scare me like it used to.  I’m at peace with this.  When I was eighteen, I woke from what felt like a dream to a life that fit differently enough to notice.  I had been recovering in the hospital for six weeks before I could remember anything at all.  All I knew was that I almost died in a car crash and that was only because I had people explaining this to me repeatedly.  I thought: “hey, I’m still alive for a reason… I wasn’t meant to die.” This kept me feeling accomplished and lucky for almost a decade.


Cancer is an ugly thing indeed.  I got my diagnosis for Christmas just before my thirtieth birthday and that really did a number on everything I thought I knew and believed about life.  How can somebody be this unlucky?  This time, my conversation with death came in instalments.  “I have Cancer,” walks hand in hand with the realization that “I can die” and that’s a pretty lonely place to be.  Fear takes over and your survival skills turn everything you encounter into fighting for your life.

At least I had developed the skills to understand that I was not my cancer.  It was just something that they were going to take out of me forever.  I wanted it gone.  I wanted it to go so far away from me that it would never touch me or my body every again.  Even when we feel like our weakest meekest selves: we can still rise to the challenge.  Recovering from something so huge takes time, energy, patience, and a willingness to explore parts of who you are that you probably never even knew about.  Spending hours by myself, I never felt lonely… Because I had work to do.  I knew that if I was going to make it through all this yucky treatment stuff: I needed to work on all the parts of healing my insides that I could manage.


Imagination and visualization are very powerful tools indeed.  Ber Siegel  and Deepak Chopra wrote about paths that I could take to guide me on my way to healing.  Their books… my journal… drawings… poems came from feelings… Dreams meandered in and out of my rememberings.  Like a child, my body was learning a whole new set of rules about repairing itself after every thirty minute treatment peppered my inside with radiation.  My power of healing saved my life.  Thyroid Cancer?  It wasn’t so lucky.

Seven years have come and gone.  Through thirty two seasons of change, I have wandered down streets I thought belonged to me but wound up lost.  Being is believing.  It is truer to you than all the ways you’ve been before.  Be amazing,  Be free if that feeds your desire.  Being anything and everything you ever even wanted to be is a choice that you were born to make.



FeaturedMy Favorite SUPERHERO

Superhero is a universal language.  At face value, it occurs to most people as a fixture of pop culture that has been with us since most of us knew what to do with super powers at all.   I’m sure that most of us have read a comic book or watched a feature film that depicts the aforementioned phenomenon… but you probably don’t know where I’m going with this.  That’s okay… Just come along for the ride and we’ll see exactly why superhero is such a healthy way to be.

Back in 2006, I was up to my eyeballs in the Landmark Education curriculum.  I’d taken the Landmark Forum and the Advanced Course because they offered me an exciting way of shifting my perspective on life from doomed/powerless to powerful/manageable.  I had this funny new idea for a feature film– it turned out to be a high concept comedy that is turning heads!  For the self-expression leadership program, the third part of my program, I tapped into something bigger than my funny story and the funny characters I’d built… Could I really learn how to make superheroes from scratch?  With my bare hands?

When you look at the superhero model– brought about by Marvel and DC Comics– their heroes’ traits and qualities are very human indeed.  Think about Bruce Wayne: he was a smart young boy who lost his parents at an early age.  His transformation into Batman was furthered by his own commitment to protecting fellow man.  Superman and Wonder Woman both came from other planets, but their generosity governed them to acquire an alternate personality that would help them blend in with their surroundings better.  The first three superheroes ever to excite our imaginations present clearly chosen roles to be played by their ordinary everyday appearance juxtaposed with the exciting, stronger heroes they become for emergencies.  If they are inherently human qualities, then they can be had by one and all.

I’ve know lots of strong people, over my relatively short time on this planet.  Strength, itself, takes many forms.  When life seemingly falls apart around you: you’re left with who you really are, deep inside.  When I was eighteen, my family and I were involved in a really bad car accident.  Everything that I knew about myself and the world around me changed from the first moments I can recall.  I have no memory of a month and a half following the horrific crash that left me with a fractured, dislocated spine, a traumatic brain injury and internal bleeding.  From all that I’ve been told, I’ve pieced together the details of what must have happened.  I was left with a body that will never work ‘properly’ and a brain that had to work really hard to relearn how to do its job.

I have carried on along the path that I always thought was meant just for me: spending an extra year in university to complete my Honours B.A. in theatre, drama and english has given me a crash course in the art that writes and expresses human nature itself.  As  proud as I am to say that I’ve been there and done that, my career in the entertainment industry took another abrupt detour in my thirtieth year– throwing this body right off the tracks for a second time!!

I’ve woken up to the after-effects of a life gone topsy-turvy,  When I turned thirty, I’d spent half of the previous year trying to figure out what was wrong with me.

My 30th birthday party– tumor included

Papillary Carcinoma– code name Thyroid Cancer– was what stopped me in my tracks this time.  All these doctors warned me about possible complications and what could happen while they were taking stuff out.  But to be honest, I was really only half-listening; I was terrified by the idea that I had cancer growing inside me.  Whatever they had to do to take it out: it had to be done.

I moved everything in my life up to my family home, near Ottawa, and then I spent a week in my sister’s Toronto apartment trying desperately to feel sort of normal while waiting for a surgery date to come my way. For my birthday?  I got a call from a medical secretary and a date with a pre-op CT scan. This time, I wasn’t riding the ‘what a surprise’ train.  I was awake and terrified and trying to be strong while feeling like a bit of a basket-case most of the time.

My family and I stayed at a respite the evening before surgery and I don’t know if I slept much at all.  So much was happening for me.  Most of the clinicians I talked to about my medical history were taken aback by all the stuff that had already happened to me.  This time, I would have to take it in stride.  I remember getting up while it was still dark outside.  I had a shower.  Without any breakfast, my parents escorted me to Mt. Sinai; where I promptly registered, changed into a gown, and waited on a gurney for all the fun to begin.

I woke in so much pain I couldn’t make any real sense of what had happened.  I knew that I’d been in the operating room.  Bright lights.  Stainless steel cabinets.  Hospital blue curtains and gowns.  What had they done to my body?  It doesn’t feel like my body at all.  My mouth was so dry.

File 2015-09-25, 16 11 44

Not quite sure when it hit me, or how, but I think I figured it out somewhere between writing my screenplay and waking up to my neck being four sizes too big,,, I knew that I needed to find the strength that I’d always to pull me through the great big mess that cancer was making of me.

This is me before the surgery… a kind of dramatic moment before that I sketched in my hospital bed.

I had a whole bunch of tubes coming out of my neck and chest; draining the fluids that the surgery had brought. Lymph nodes in my neck and upper chest had gotten involved with the cancer… so they had left the building too.

I spent another week in hospital, dealing with plumbing problems in my thoracic duct (a handy passage way that processes fats before it dumps them into processing.  My neck wasn’t able to hold my head up properly anymore and my throat felt like sandpaper.  The swelling in my mouth made it feel like the mines of moriar (Tolkein) were on my insides and I had trouble swallowing.  Aside from that, I probably felt as good as you might expect me to feel.

One month (recovering from surgery and eliminating iodine from my food) + 1 dose of radioactive iodine (five days as radioactive woman) + 2 weeks recovery + 30 (6 weeks) external beam radiation treatments = no more cancer

I’m sure that I’ve been bitten by a spider at least once in my life and I’ve tangoed with radiation (the cause and cure of my cancer) and I am still here to tell you that my imagination is my super power and science gave my body all the tools it needed to save my life.  That’s right, boys and girls… need a favorite superhero of your very own?  Go look in a mirror.  Let’s make one together.

You: Because I AM A SUPER HERO.UWay

Me: A superhero? Why?

You: Because my favorite supehero is me.

The superhero movement is upon us. >> 

Stand up and be counted among the ones who see it as their possibility to give.  Changing live in the process?  Get started with yours!

N’ That’s how I survived — MDB


A Life in Writing

‘Interesting’ doesn’t even begin to describe the journey that I’ve suddenly found myself on. For years now , I’ve been struggling with the notion of becoming a writer. When will I get there? Do I need to be published to call myself a writer? Will it pay the bills? Etc. At this point, I can honestly say that I am not in it for the money… I am super excited about exploring the art of making sense of my thoughts and feelings and visions: translating them into a visual narrative that can take my readers where they need to go to understand the magical healing properties of creativity and imagination.
I have been writing stuff down for as long as I can remember being able to read … The silly thing about it is that I have taken my creativity for granted. My game isn’t about becoming a writer– that’d be a short trip indeed considering the fact that I am a writer and I’ve been doing this kind of thing for more than two decades. I know… I know… I don’t look that old to you. I’m not. I’ve just realized that I’ve been quick to dismiss most of the writing I did in school (everything under grade 13.) I wrote some pretty interesting stuff way back when…. One thing that I am learning us that there is no one set way to create a book/novel/play/ piece of writing. I think it would be pretty boring if we discovered every story in the exact same way. The process of creating a structure and characters and a plot is all about figuring it out as you go. Planning is good; it’s where you come up with a structure where you can organize all your thoughts and build them into something new.

Sometimes, I come up with a completely different idea– something that will either work with the project that I am currently developing or maybe it will become something else– in any case: I don’t want to lose it so I write it down and put it on my bulletin board and I make a note in my writing journal (aka a treadmill journal where I keep track of everything that I working on.)

Proof that I am doing what I say I'm going to do and planning for my next writing session.
Proof that I am doing what I say I’m going to do and planning for my next writing session.

This can be a total confidence booster and affirmation that I am actually doing something called ‘living the life of a writer.’

PLUS ++++ I just started reading WRITING YOUR WAY by Don Fry… Perfect timing… One of those books that I picked up and always meant to read but kept putting it off and putting it off until I opened it up today and had a huge AHA moment

Book I've just cracked open and I'm loving it!
Book I’ve just cracked open and I’m loving it!