Transforming Fear Into Growth

Synchronicity or what?! I rediscovered this link in an old bookmark file this morning. Fear of Transformation – it was 2006 when I heard it: the professor read it aloud to our class; fifty fearful freaking out leadership school students. It begins with “Sometimes I feel my life is a series of trapeze bars.” I was hooked. By the end it stopped me in my tracks with this new thought:

transformation of fear may have nothing to do

with making fear go away”

I was researching how to manage violence and aggression at the time. Now I’m focusing on the opposites: the benefits that gratitude and self-understanding create for us. I only just “got it” after re-reading the Fear of Transformation this morning. I’ve transformed from running away from fear to allowing it to guide me when needed.

Here’s the synchronicity: just a few days ago I was on a radio show talking about this very thing. The big AHA this morning? I’ve been in a decades long learning loop and have finally broken free! I’m now sharing the benefits of understanding fear in the hopes of guiding and empowering others to whatever transformation they desire. Listen to the interview here:

Why am I sharing these things? I believe that understanding our fears gives us the courage to face them. We can learn to hear them out, thank them and ultimately embrace them.

Yes it is SCARY! At first. Funny thing about fear – if you give it a voice and a “thanks for the heads up – I got this” – then fear has done it’s job and goes off-duty. Even better, over time, fear learns it doesn’t have to knock so hard to be heard.

What’s good about that? It gets quiet enough to hear your passions urging you to come out and play. It’s safe!

So what lights you up? What makes your heart sing? What makes you giggle in child-like wonder and joy? These are not childish questions. It is NOT selfish to want to be happy; it is doing yourself a service. How? When you engage with the positive emotions and feelings that bubble up as you remember what makes you jump for joy; your body chemistry changes. You can rewire your brain. Literally! This is ultimately a service to humanity.

Eh what?? Me serve humanity? Isn’t that a bit much to bite off and chew? How? Why?

I believe that feelings can be infectious and we need to be more responsible for what we are putting “out there.” Knowing what makes you tick creates self-understanding and thus compassion for others. We all flip out on occasion – it’s normal. When we emanate calm understanding in the face of fear, we can inoculate others – they “catch” our calmness – no injection needed! It’s empathy – feeling with a person.

Imagine all that empathy rippling out into the world to create the circumstances needed to move forward as one people for the good of all – because we understand each other and acknowledge our shared humanity? Just by owning up to our feelings and being gentle with ourselves and each other – how simple is that? And then imagine BILLIONS OF DOLLARS worldwide being rerouted into education, healthcare, science and exploration?!?!

And so BE it!

So come on out and play already! Wanna learn how? Don’t take years to figure it out like I did; I can guide you to rewrite your story. Check out our Facebook page for more info – site launch coming in January!

Let’s look to the good together. Imagine the party we’re having as we celebrate!!!






The Science of Depression – YouTube

WOW – this short clip captures decades of research about depression and frames it in an easily understandable way. This is perfect for sharing with anyone who might believe that you just need to “pull up your socks” because it’s all in your head. I love the ASAP Science Channel on YouTube!  Check it out – via The Science of Depression – YouTube.

Money Magic; how examining beliefs creates true wealth

This question could change EVERYTHING. What is wealth to you?

Is it money in the bank? Gold in a coffee can in the backyard? As Al Diaz says “it’s probably different than what you’ve been told.” What is Wealth to You? by Al Diaz.

Thankfully I was asked this question several years ago and took the time to answer it for myself; which created more questions, so I answered those, and thus began a deep dive into my values, ethics, morals, and belief systems. Why do I believe what I believe? Where did that belief come from? How can I have beliefs that I don’t know about? How do they “make me” do things that I don’t want to do?  How can believing change anything? And if beliefs can change, then who am I really?What shaped me? What shaped my parents that I turned out the way that I did? What shaped them? What shapes anybody?

This was the BEST line of inquiry I have ever pursued. Why? Because I discovered that I can change; I am not a prisoner to my past. I can choose beliefs that move me forward to where I WANT to go, instead of reacting and pushing things away – it’s magical. And so are you! I now believe that shifting our individual understanding of “wealth” (a do it yourself project) will collectively begin to shift our global understanding of “wealth” and we will start sharing instead of hoarding.

This is why I am sharing my stories. Maybe they will nudge something in you, a remembering or a flash of insight. Why stories? Because storytelling is “a potent way to convey nuanced information” as Leonard & Swap (2005) said in Deep Smarts, an article in the Harvard Business Review. It’s not just me who thinks so 🙂


Here’s part of my story, the  part that was shaping how I saw wealth and money.

I was born in Scotland; picture the “thrifty Scot” stereotype, add in a double whammy of having parents who both lost their mother’s early in life; albeit in very different ways, stir in immigrating to Canada, add a vivid imagination and genetic predisposition to depression, and you get me; Ailie N. (for Neilson) Kerr. I got mail once; for Ailien … when I found out what it meant, it fit EXACTLY with how I felt. Foreign, out of this world, strange … like I would never fit in. So where did that come from? My parent’s stories begin to cast some light into the darkness.

Mom’s mother died when she was 10. It was 1949, they didn’t talk about “those things;” they just got on with it. That left three pre-teen children with my mom in the middle – oldest girl so did the “mommy stuff.” Their father was a bank messenger and they lived in the apartment above the bank in the centre of Edinburgh. He died 10 years later. The siblings became really tight and helped each other through it. They’ve remained close, even when living on three different continents.

My dad’s story is much different. His family lived in Peebles, a small village south of Edinburgh. His grandfather was owner and editor of the local newspaper and well respected. When he died, his brother inherited it, spent all the money and then died in a horseback riding accident in Hawaii – which was quite the village story for early 1900 Scotland. The paper was sold and the family struggled. My dad’s father was hired to run the paper as editor … quite the smack down for the family pride. He worked hard and often. Maybe that had something to do with his wife becoming an alcoholic … or as dad says “the town drunk” … out “screeching in the street” … in my mind, my dad “lost” his mom as a very young boy – except she didn’t die which was probably worse. Dad was the youngest of three boys … by the sounds of things he was a bright and sensitive child; not good traits for a boy in a rough household in the 1930’s. He. Couldn’t. Wait. To. GET. OUT.

By sheer force of will, he got out. He managed to get a scholarship and did four years of art college; he nearly got another scholarship to go to Italy to study painting – his life’s wish – but there were “so many” excellent artists that year, way more than usual, his “shoo-in” was aborted. So he became a teacher, an art teacher. Another plummet in his mind. He made the most of it though, eventually moving to Canada with his young family.

It took me years to find this all out; remember we “didn’t talk about those things.” I had to ask questions and dig a bit. But what a relief to get an understanding of what shaped my parents, so I can see how they shaped me. I understand now, in a deeper way, that everyone is just doing the best they can in their circumstances. Sometimes life hurts so bad you shut down, or you’re so used to feeling hurt that you don’t realize that you’re not really living.

Money was also something we did not talk about. I honestly did not know that there were utility bills until I sublet an apartment when I was 18. Bills were paid privately, it was all hush hush. Dad worked as a high school art teacher and couldn’t stand the kids behaviours – you were allowed to strap kids in Scotland. He still insists that giving one kid a strapping in the first week of class would solve all the discipline problems today. He worked because he had to, leaving a job you didn’t like wasn’t an option. Period. Mom stayed at home; she would put us on an “austerity budget” … meaning she’d stretch the grocery money by making soup to save enough to go back to Scotland to see her sister.  Then she became involved in municipal politics as a school trustee and then alderman and got an allowance, her own money – she bought us a colour television AND cable vision!!

Life changed after that, a lot; they divorced when I was 17, right before I graduated from high school. Mom took my younger sister with her, my brother and I stayed at the house with Dad.  I got a job in admitting at the local hospital – a neighbour offered the job to my mom to help her out as a newly single mother, but she couldn’t type, and I could. It was a union job and $7.69/hr – BIG money in 1980!  I took my friends out for dinner and a movie, it was thrilling!

Dad was away the first summer; after mom and my sister left. He was working on a Master’s of Education – focused on philosophy and comparative religion. Then he had such an epiphany about life and living; his whole belief system shifted in a moment … and it did not match his reality. He ended up involuntarily committed in a psychiatric hospital in the US. He ended up back in Kamloops – on the psych ward of the hospital where I worked. I once had to announce a “code white” over the PA system … where security rushes in to subdue the person. It was my father; refusing the medication. He eventually recovered and got back home, but he was off work for a long time; money money money … He is still a bit resentful at having to remortgage the house to give my mom money as part of the divorce.

Mom ended up marrying a lawyer who is 14 years younger than her. I remember her saying two things over and over as a girl; the first: il faut souffrir d’etre belle … why it was in French I’ll never know, but it means “one must suffer to be beautiful.” The second: It is just as easy to love a rich man as it is to love a poor man.

So suffice it to say that I turned out to be a bit screwed up about money; I wanted to have more of it, while despising those “rich bastards” who had it all. Now I see it as a conflict in beliefs, at the time though, I lived it and BITTERLY. Two divorces worth of bitter.

I was taught – i.e. conditioned to believe things like these: “money is the root of all evil” and “there isn’t enough to go around” and “that’s not fair! Your half is bigger than mine!”

Worse, I picked up the message that I needed “stuff” or else I wasn’t valuable. Stuff like the right kind of jeans in high school, or Adidas runners when they first came out. Things that would give me a sense of belonging, of fitting in. I was only as good as the stuff that I had. Or the haircut I had – dad did “pixie cuts” for us – I went to a salon at 12 for the first time … I had it “so bad!”

I put “so bad” in quotes because I’m actually grateful for EVERYTHING that has ever happened to me. It took me a long time to get “here,” I didn’t become grateful until my 40’s, after I searched and pondered and began to understand who I am and what I believe in. If it wasn’t for my family and their families, I would not be the person that I am. The person that reaches out to share the stuff that IS working, one who shares hope for humanity, who knows we are going to get through this together. There is an easier way!

And the core of discovering that easier way rests within you. It cannot be found in things, or in a bar of gold. Money is just a piece of paper, it is a symbol for the worth or value of whatever you are exchanging. By itself, it is meaningless; the real wealth lies in the exchange – sharing value with one another, reaching out to pull people up, hugging, smiling, BEing … these are all gifts to the world.

“Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Discovering who you really are, diving down that rabbit hole of self-awareness, self-understanding and self-compassion is the best gift you will ever give yourself. Use the question “What does wealth mean to me?” as a jumping off point on your journey of self-discovery.

You are the wealth you have been seeking. Let it flow!

Healing shift in understanding …

Today I got sudden flash of insight that moved me to a flood of tears; the good kind of crying. Thankfully I was alone; sudden sobbing isn’t well accepted in “normal” society.

I’m shaking my head in disbelief at the source of this inspired moment; it’s almost funny … actually I’m about to giggle (tee hee *grin*) … the universe works in mysterious ways! Bear with me, I shall explain.

I wasn’t actually alone when IT happened, I was on the phone with my sister. This might not sound very inspiring, but considering how things have evolved between us during our Dad’s journey of recovery from cancer (he moved home he’s doing so well) it’s freaking amazing!

You can read my previous post for gory details. I cut contact with my sister – in self-defence. Basically I ended up angry about my interpretation of my sister’s behaviour and the impact it had on my life. Paying bills with very little income put me in a bad mood; and it was all her fault. I tried convincing my family that I was right – she was deliberately manipulating the situation to her benefit – it was ALL about the money. I didn’t feel heard at all; so I shut down and stuffed it down – just like I was taught to do as a child. Anyone ever hear the phrase “stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about?” … ummm yea, emotional self-regulation wasn’t really talked about in Scotland in the early 60’s!

But I digress. I deliberately chose to avoid my sister; I wouldn’t pick up the phone and the thought of the being in the same room with her gave me such angst I could imagine shoving her so I could get away. She avoided me too, for the first while, and it was the best thing ever! I know I’m “not supposed to say things like that” – another childhood mantra – but it’s the absolute truth. The relief was physical, palpable and highly pleasurable – like a phewwwwww with an ahhhhhh at the end 😉 …

Darn my sister anyways (laughing now) – she stopped avoiding me. Even had “the nerve” to pick up the phone when I called my Dad’s house, she could see it was my number “how dare she????” My thoughts ran along childhood lines again (see a theme here?) … she “always was poking me” … she “always knew exactly how to set me off” … I was “always getting in trouble because of her” … and worse “dammit anyways she’s making me act like a child!”

Then she had even MORE nerve by calling me and asking me to help her. “Arghghghghgh,” said I (on the inside) … as I listened to the message; there was no way I was going to pick up and actually TALK to her.

The helper in me couldn’t resist though; she wanted to know how to reset Dad’s answering machine which still said to call my number. It would help my Dad … and I wouldn’t have to field calls and be reminded that he didn’t live with me anymore. So, I called back to leave a message, planning to hang up if she answered; but I couldn’t do it – I tried to, but tense silence drew out the terse answer, then I hung up.

And that was pretty much the last time we talked until this morning. She was sharing information and I was saying as little as possible. Then she began telling me about my Dad and what they do together – she ended with “and just hanging out” … that’s when it hit me and I stopped listening; she kept talking quite happily in the background. Eventually I had to stop her and get off the phone, but in a thankful, open way – so I could process what had smacked me between the eyeballs.

What was it? A sudden recollection of a moment; a full colour video replay of my father talking to Galileo, one our cats, outside in the sunshine. They were so connected and attuned to each other, Dad was so tender, his voice was so loving, his touch so well received and returned … and I was so moved to see him like that; my heart got so full that tears overflowed out through my eyes … it was beautiful.

Not a tot!
Not a tot!

And with that moment, I realized how precious the time I had with my Dad was; six months of him living with my family allowed me to know him in a new way. I’ve been so mixed up with the noise in my head and wrestling with what is going on; struggling, seeing “poor me” and “evil sister” … I spiralled down into deep depression. Again; argh!! I’ve been there, done that, I’m a work in progress … thankfully my “recovery muscles” are getting stronger with practice (*grin*)

Today, I realized how much I miss those magical moments and what a gift they were. I saw my Dad in a new way, under a new light; a tender loving light that came from him … I’m welling up again in gratitude, just remembering. Now, instead of lamenting my loss, I can cherish those precious moments; like this one:

Dad napping with Duke and Daisy - first camping trip with our new trailer!
Dad snuggling with Duke and Daisy – first camping trip with our new trailer!

And much more recently; this moment – growing together and glowing together – or put another way 136 years of life experience between the two of us! I am grateful for aging; perhaps now I’ll be more graceful about it? Ha ha!

Enjoying the experience of streaming Awesomeness Fest with my Dad!
Enjoying the experience of streaming Awesomeness Fest with my Dad!

Here’s the thing; I didn’t know I was stuck until I let go – so now I can say thanks to my sister for smacking me between the eyeballs by describing her good times with Dad – as bizarre as that sounds – it’s my truth – so there (sticking my tongue out!) Who knew I was the jealous type?

So now, by choice, I hereby declare: I continue to look to the good, while acknowledging the lessons brought on by “bad” stuff. I can’t stop fear, I can’t stop flashes of anger or anxiety; I can acknowledge them and allow them to pass on by, all part of the joy of BEing human.

In summary; the big laugh about all of this? In the beginning “sister + talk of money” equalled disaster for me. Today; “sister + talk of money” equalled breakthrough.

Isn’t the universe hilarious that way?

A change in perspective can cause confusion!
A change in perspective can cause confusion!