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One of my very best childhood friends, practically my brother, in a drunken rage, shot and killed two people. Two people we all knew in that small community of ours. The last act he would perform in this life…..was to then turn the rifle on himself.

Receiving that phone call was one of the greatest shocks of my life. I couldn’t register the reality of what happened. I made the 1000 km trek back to the town I grew up in, to be there for his family and the family’s of our two other fallen brothers, for the community, to grieve, to heal, to say goodbye. His mom asked if I would speak on their behalf at the funeral, speak for him. I didn’t think twice about it. It was my honour to. In retrospect however, what a task. To speak to the life, to the positive qualities, recalling the best, of the person who’s actions took the lives of two others. And to do so in front of their families and friends.

This is one of the most unique attributes of the Native (First Nations) culture. In light of such an event, to come together to say goodbye to the fallen members of the community. All together. At the same time. The caskets side by side. The families side by side. Therein lies a step in the process to healing that is leaps and bounds ahead of much of the rest of the world. I’m not saying it makes it any easier. But the effect is much deeper. And as a result, I felt I had said my goodbyes, done my healing and was able to let go of what had happened, because there was nothing else that could be done about it now.

The last few months, and especially since Ruhiyya was born, I’ve been doing some digging. A puzzle before me as I worked to uncover what key lay within it, that would allow me to move along to the next stage of the path I walk. It took some time and extra vigilance as I moved through, one layer to the next, each time thinking I had found the answer. A struggle with self-worth? Seeking approval from others? A few more thrown in there for good measure. While I don’t generally associate with these as being my particular challenges, I needed to look into all potential corners and be open to all possibilities. Because it is often where we don’t think to look (or we feel we are “above such ‘insignificant’ issues”) that we find the answer. While initially I thought I could see how “this could be it”,  none of them truly connected. And I was spurred on.

Then finally, I did. In a power session of peeling back the layers (with my love, my soulmate, my best friend…my wife, as my sounding board), we found the gem, lodged in tight. A gem because it was a gift, to release me from a lifetime of, while well intentioned, anchors threatening to take me down as I strived to give more through the development of my capacities.

It was not wanting to let others down. My parents, my sisters, my friends, my teammates, my fellow man, God. I did not realize just how deep this went. And it went unnoticed, under the guise of helping others, being of service, caring. And this is where the fine line is. Because we should care. We should be able to be of service to others. By assisting others (in whatever function that is meant to be) to reach there greater potential, we do the same for ourselves, all mutually supporting each other to a more meaningful life. BUT! There is a way that will in the end help most and a way that will drag you under, leaving you helpless and powerless to do anything at all.

I’d like to share a brief, summarized story from the Baha’i Faith. Ruhiyyih Khanum (my daughter’s namesake) had a dream. And in this dream a dam had broken, causing a great flood. She ran down to try and help people being swept up by the water. She could save a few, but many she could not. The current was too strong and there were too many of them. At one point she saw Abdu’l-Baha further up, his back turned to her and the flood. She called out to him to come help her. He didn’t respond, but rather kept attending to what he was doing. She ran up to him, pleading with him to come help save these people. With out missing a step, he smiled at her, telling her he was. He was fixing the dam.

This has always been a powerful image for me growing up. Yet here I am, realizing that all this time, I had been finding myself drawn in to attempting to pull out one person at a time. The feeling of having to leave anyone behind, to be unable to “save” them, was difficult for me to accept. Combine that with a strong sense of protecting others from harm (having faced immense abuse myself as a child), it was a mix that would prove overpoweringly challenging to not fall into that pattern. The irony is, yes you may  have “let down” a few along the way to fixing the dam. But you will let down far more trying to pull them out one at a time.

The thing is, anyone who is familiar with saving a drowning victim knows you NEVER get near them. You throw them a line or other apparatus and pull them in. Because in a state of panic, without meaning to or understanding what they are doing, they will take you down with them. Now you are both dead. For me, it’s not a matter of whether or not I care. I always care. But it is a matter of responsibility to the higher potential I am called to.

When it hit me that this was the current piece in the puzzle I needed to put in place, it all came in a rush. Like domino’s falling, I could see right back to my childhood, throughout my life, how I got caught in it. While I have been lucky enough not to find myself trapped indefinitely, I could see how at minor and major points along the way, it severely hampered any forward momentum, until finally a strong enough jolt from a screaming intuition would shove me onward.

Identifying this factor has ended up being the key to disrupting a recurring feedback loop I’ve found myself in the last couple years:

1. I don’t want to let anyone down. So I try to help everyone with every little thing (even when it is not mine to deal with).

2. By attempting to do that for everyone, I get bogged down. I get drained. I’m not attending to what I need to focus on, thus not following through on tasks that will have a fulfilling sense of purpose (because our purpose is unique to each of us).

3. As I feel myself getting dragged down, accomplishing less and less, I re-commit. I steel myself to work harder. To get the results I’m striving for (in my feeble attempts to assist everyone, whether on a personal or professional level).

4. That causes me to work more, sleep less and have less time with my family. Feeling like I’m doing this to make headway to have more quality time, and more quality services offered. Yet, I’m letting everyone down. Because I can’t do it all.

5. I don’t want to let anyone down….

You get the picture. So while on the surface it may seem like a positive course of action, in reality, it is the very act that will snuff out our light, leaving unfulfilled, the contribution of our unique gifts and strengths for those whom it will have the greatest impact. And what right do we have to do that? Pretty selfish really. Feeding our ego a nice meal of “I’m the one who will save them. If I don’t save them, than they are lost.” We have no idea what role we will play in the lives of others. That’s not for us to determine. All we can do is pour forth the best of what we have within, out. If done with sincerity, it will hit it’s mark in the way it’s supposed to.

I was waist deep in the flood, hanging on tight with one hand. The pebbles beneath my feet slipping. Wet and cold, getting drawn further from the shore, having to look into the eyes of those who I was helpless to do anything for. Pulling, struggling. I couldn’t see why all of this felt like it was imploding in on me, as I felt my efforts futile to change the situation.

It took the intensity of my best friends actions to see the sorrow I felt still, a decade later. To recognized that I somehow, on an unconcious level, felt responsible. That I had somehow let him down, and because I couldn’t pull through for him, he was boxed into a corner that forced his hand. What a way to belittle his life even further. To take what dignity he had left, that he wasn’t responsible for his choices.

Losing my breath, dizzy, unable to stand, convulsions unlike anything I’d ever felt, screaming into that pillow a gut wrenching rage filled sorrow, I entered the hurricane…..and let go.

Thank you my brother. I love you. God speed.

Dare to Evolve.
Shane.

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Recently we were blessed with the birth of our 3rd child. A beautiful daughter to throw into the mix with my two sons; bright, joyful and full of adventure. It is absolutely sweet to see the love they shower over the wee one. I think she is very lucky to have these two as her older brothers. Not to be coddled and kept from facing what challenges lay ahead for her. But to protect via their love, encouragement, support and unrelenting faith in her capabilities, of who she is and what gifts she brings to the world. They will undoubtedly drag her along on every adventure to be had, idea to be realized and story to be told. Or have to hang on to her coattails. Time will tell ;D.

When Ruhiyya was born, my sister-in-law Erika said to me “It’s interesting how with the birth of each child, there is a unique test that comes to us. I’ve thought about what it is those tests are meant to teach us. What is it we are meant to learn and develop, so we can give that to our child.” And then she asked me,  “What are you getting from her?”

I had to take a minute to think about it. Because I’m a very avid….. test chaser. Meaning, whenever tests come or I see a limitation in myself that needs some shaking up, I dive in head on to figure it out and discover what it is I’m meant to learn. Doing so requires a rather, abrasive process. Because we are going up against very uncomfortable, weak, dark, scared parts of ourselves, which our ego will do all it can to keep us from disturbing.

But I had never really thought about it in this way. I’ve always been a big believer that we learn so much from our children, from being parents. We grow in different ways that we otherwise wouldn’t have available to us. But I had never attributed a specific quality that I needed to develop, so I could then help my child develop it (you can’t give what you don’t already have) because that was what they were going to need as they carry on in this world. So I thought about it, starting first with my eldest.

Olaf

  Stand For What You Believe In

A couple days before he was due, Olee turnedbreach (head up). We tried to get him turned. Wouldn’t budge. In the end my wife had to have an emergency C-section. When he came out at almost 10 lbs and a very large head, everyone was shocked and then understand why he wouldn’t turn.

If you try to force him to do something, he will root down and not budge. If he is given the opportunity to come to it himself, having been able to work it out for himself, he is more than willing. He is extremely observant and bright. No small detail escapes his attention, or memory. And if your answer to his question does not meet a level of depth and reasoning to his liking, he will ask “Why?” until he is satisfied. Makes you question everything you do and why.

At the time of his birth, I was a first time father, pursuing a career that was not at all stable or secure, seen not as a serious undertaking, but standing by my strong sense that this was the path I was to follow, while at the same time committed to being an active part of my family’s life.

He was sitting across from me when it hit me like a flood rushing over me. He’s needed me to learn to stand for what I believe in, because that’s what he will most need to learn from me as he discovers his gifts and makes his way in this world, fulfilling whatever purpose he finds himself drawn to. And to stand by it, believing what intuition has guided him to it.

Will

 Pure Joyfulness

When Will came, he came in a rush. My wife definitely felt like this baby just needed to get out of the womb. When it was time, it was like “Let’s get this show on the road!” There was alot of uncertainty around whether he would come naturally, because Olee was a C-section. And our experience in the hospital after Olee was born was not the most Joyful experience (the dark cave we were put in, butting of heads with overbearing nurses, Juliet immobile, etc.). But Will was birthed successfully and if he could talk, I swear I would have heard him say “HELLO WORLD!!”. We both remember our time at the hospital after that as though we were staying at a Luxury resort.

And joyful he is. If people are feeling upset, he’s the first to smile. If people are feeling sad, he’s the first to try and get them to laugh. He is the first to wake in the morning, smile from ear to ear. He’s always giggling and laughing. He runs from one end of the house to the other constantly, as though on a wild romp. He loves to tackle and wrestle you. That kid’s fuel is joy. And he can run on it all day long.

At the time of his birth, I was feeling overworked, for little recompense, in a position I was finding uninspiring and suffocating. It was also in

the midst of my transition, as I prepared to launch my own business. Before I could do so, I needed to get out of the mindset I was finding myself struggling to stay out of.

I needed to connect with the joy of what I was pursuing. Funny enough, I later took a peek at the old blog and found the theme I had been writing about at the time (something had been ringing a bell). Turns out, it was Joy. ; )

He’s needed me to learn to find joy in all I do and to connect to it regularly, because that is what he will most need to learn from me as he discovers his gifts and makes his way in this world, fulfilling whatever purpose he finds himself drawn to. To stay connected to his fuel, that joy, as he does so.

Ruhiyya

 Serenity in the Hurricane

Ruhiyya’s birth was amazing. Juliet felt like she was in no rush whatsoever. She would come when she was ready. And when she did, from time the contractions started to the time she was born, 4 hrs. Yet the whole process was so calm, no rush, very smooth. The essence of serenity through one of the most intense experiences life has to offer. Family came to visit, everything as great. And then at the 6 hr mark, everything changed. Ruhiyya was having difficulty breathing. She was whisked away to emergency. She wasn’t absorbing oxygen. Could be a heart problem. Could be massive lung infection. Could any number of other major issues. And just like that, she had to get transferred to another hospital, to the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Lucky for us, we have access to one of the best Children’s Hospitals in the world. We couldn’t have asked for a more amazing staff of doctors and nurses.

When we were able to get over to the other hospital and finally see her, she was on breathing support, with tubes coming out of every which direction. And yet she was just so calm. Now mind you she was on some drugs to knock her out. But within a day, she was off them and still, so calm. She was getting stuck with needles left right and center. Nothing. Not a squeak. It blew me away. After 5 days she was home with us. She is so amazing. So calm, so content. Such a blessing to have with us.

There was a strength about her. An ability to take everything that went on around her in stride. When Erika had asked me what I got from the whole thing, what I was supposed to learn, for Ruhiyya, it hit me immediately, very visually in my mind, with the words: Serenity in the Hurricane.

Because I have a real affinity for storms. As a kid, when it was a white-out and was hitting -50 C, that’s when I was heading out to play. When the rain is coming down heaviest, that’s when I feel drawn to go for a hike. I am drawn to the “hurricane”. Not in the “I need to be in a constant state of crisis” kind of way. That’s not my schtick. But I am drawn to the challenge. I am drawn to always living on the edge of the storm, to step in whenever the opportunity presents itself, and discover a new facet of myself. But admittedly, while most close to me would say I’m very calm, patient and level headed through times of personal challenge, that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m serene.

And what she needs me to learn is that serenity. True serenity in the face if the storm. Something closer to the way I feel when I’m actually out in one in nature. Because that is what she will most need to learn from me as she discovers her gifts and makes her way in this world, fulfilling whatever purpose she finds herself drawn to. Not running away or stuffing her anxiety as far down as she can. But actually feeling serene as she stares straight into the maelstrom, ready to face what the storms may bring.

To my 3 dearest gems, among the greatest blessings in my life, I strive with whatever strength I have, however humble an effort it may be, to develop these qualities.

For you…for me…..for you.

Daring to Evolve,
Dad.

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