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Wrench Meaning From Chaos = Self-Sabotage

I just had a healing epiphany.

Knowing Meaning in Chaos

Its hard to remember all those passwords, right? 10 years ago when I was still a geneticist, I came up with a little saying, and used various combinations of the letters from it with numbers and symbols so that I would (be more likely to) remember all those passwords. The idea was the statement would be a meaningful to me, but not something anyone else would guess.

Here, for your eyes only, is my secret statement: Wrench Meaning From Chaos.

I admit I really did have that lofty goal at the time: “Damn, Life is Confusing! So part of my Life’s mission will be to find the Meaning in that Chaos.” Remember, I was a geneticist and all those mutagens, carcinogens, toxins, and radiation in the lab might have contributed to delusions of grandeur.

Fast forward to today. It started to rain in the afternoon. I got sleepy. I’d gotten solid work done on my Dissertation, so did as my body asked and went home for a nap before dinner.

The nap took over, I just couldn’t wake up, kept resetting my alarm. Then at 6pm, in that state between waking and sleep (theta brain waves?), “Wrench Meaning From Chaos” popped into my head. And it was like I really understood it for the first time. And literally smacked my forehead. Duh! Why hadn’t I thought of this before?!?

Finding meaning in Chaos could be a fine public service. Except that’s not how I wrote the statement. “Wrench Meaning from Chaos” implies struggle, implies trying to wrench secrets out of the Universe, out of Nature.  Its… kind of violent. Kind of arrogant. Kind of disrespectful.

And it certainly doesn’t serve the kind of Life I want to live now! But I hadn’t thought about it for years. And everyday, for the past 10 years, when I login to my email, withdraw money, check FB, those passwords always remind me of their root: Wrench Meaning From Chaos.

So a decade later, I admit my life has often been a Struggle, with a lot of illness, frustration, setbacks, just feeling stuck and “off”.  But there has been incredible joy, breathtaking experiences, fabulous opportunities, and a lot of love and friendship. And especially in the past two years when the illnesses wouldn’t let up, a LOT of learning and evolving.

I have indeed wrenched some Meaning from Chaos, and the price has been this underlying feeling of Struggle. That things are disproportionately difficult. Even though I am identifying and changing limiting beliefs, eating well, meditating (well, sort of), learning how energy works, going to bed earlier, etc.

What impact has that ever-repeated statement had on me? One of the reasons we enlist Healers to help us on our Journeys is because we often have blind spots, and its easier for others to notice them and give us the opportunity to overcome them. But this was my secret protected statement, and no one had found it.

Yesterday I was learning about NLP, and was playing around with the statement “I recognize profound healing is happening right now.” And so it is. I know what to do. My new secret statement is “Knowing Meaning in Chaos”. I’m changing all my passwords.

And if that doesn’t work, I’ll figure out what does. Because the only thing that is certain is change. And our answers truly come from within.

Keep Shining,


my b-day gift to you: Things Everyone Should Know.

It’s my b-day, and this has been quite a year of learning. as i marauded around in my rainbow tie-dye dress on my broken bike, enjoying a beautiful day with family and friends, i thought of all the time and money i’ve spent learning, and some things i just feel i need to share ASAP, because they could be so useful to you. so i decided to just fire off a short little post of Things Everyone Should Know.

1. the every day World is absolutely magical. many of us take that for granted.
2. for example, breathing is amazing. there are advanced techniques to learn, for sure, but even just noticing your breath is so grounding. Breathe deep!!!
3. Drink lots of water. but make sure its filtered or distilled or from a safe natural source! that chlorine kills off the bad bacteria that could be in City water… and kills off your microflora that you need for healthy digestion.

4. The Industrial Agri-Business has way too much power over our food. those nice “percentage of daily value” on vitamins and minerals? that is what the food contained BEFORE it was processed. For example, with canned fish they make great promise of the Omega-3s you’ll reap, but those values were measured in the fish BEFORE canning. canning at high heat destroys heat-labile Omega-3s. why do they get away with this misleading labelling? because they have a powerful slick effective Lobby.

5. live according to your values. humans are self-justification machines, and we can convince our rational mind, for example, that it is OK to eat factory farmed meat, or buy clothes made by child-labour, or drive a car when we could walk/bus/bike, but your heart & soul know that every dollar is a vote.  we shape our reality in many ways, and money is just one way to exchange energy. right now, in Western culture, your consumer choices largely determine what corporations do. so tell them to play nice, ‘K?

6. i listened in on Bec Robbins recent telesummit with 30+ health & wellness, spiritual, and financial experts. as per a lot of previous learning, a key to happiness that kept coming up: express gratitude. whatever you express sincere gratitude for, you’ll get more of it.

7. another key to happiness: have your own meaningful Daily Practice.

more on all that soon!

Keep Shining,

The Universe’s Sledgehammer (Or, The Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad… Limiting Belief?)

I felt Jinxed.

Before heading to my Office, I somehow don’t quite put a bottle of rose water back on the cupboard shelf. It falls to the ground, and the glass bottom very neatly snaps off. All the rosewater, not so neatly, makes an aromatic puddle on my kitchen floor. But I’m grateful there are no shards of glass, I clean up barefoot.

Since my IBS is back, so I’m in frequent pain or discomfort, I bring my trusty “bean bag” for the first time with me to the Office. We grad students have access to a microwave and fridge (and couch) in the room off from the main computer room, so theoretically we could work in the windowless, airless room 24/7. Note: the windowlessness will be important later.

Before a the bathroom break down the hall, I toss the beloved bean bag into the microwave to re-heat it a bit. I set it for 47 seconds, well under the recommended 2 minute max. Or so I thought.

While washing my hands, I remember my new shell earring is causing some trouble, the earlobe is hot and slightly swollen. Instead of hightailing back to my Office, I pause to check the piercing. Then stroll back.

Even before I reach the first door, into the computer room, I smell smoke. I punch in the code, open the door… and hear the microwave running! Which got me running. I open the microwave door, and thick black smoke billows out, filling the room. Choking, I manage to shut the microwave door, shut the small room’s door, shut the main room, so I’m in the hall. Even with three shut doors between the immolated bean bag and the hall, the smoke smell is strong.

OK, OK. The microwave fire was nowhere near as bad as this, but a Sledgehammer all the same. “Fire Wizard”, Kanata May 2010. Photo Credit: Curtis Chaffey

For someone who strives to step lightly on our Earth and have a positive impact on others, it was not a stellar day.

I had single-handedly caused our building’s staff, security, and the local fire department to have to deal with my mess, and caused part of the building to be evacuated, including disrupting a conference on mental health and social justice. Even the lobby smelled of smoke hours later. And apparently the microwave was unsalvageable. Now we grad students do not have a microwave.

And all because of two little mistakes… punching the wrong time in on the microwave (unless it malfunctioned… guess I’ll never know). And leaving it unattended for longer than planned. Circumstances didn’t help: I brought the beanbag because I was sick. Had there been windows, I could have opened a window, and hoped no one would notice my mistake. But instead, I had no way to clean up my own smoke-mess in a windowless room.

The day before, I watched Bec Robbins’ interview with Gay Hendricks, and he talked about his own life-transformation. If you don’t listen to the Universe tickling you with a Feather, the Universe will get your attention with a Sledgehammer. (Martha Beck calls particularly large and life-changing sledgehammers “Your Rhinoceros”.  They can hit real hard.)

What if all this silly time and energy wasting drama was the Universe’s (smoking-gun) Sledgehammer? What if that combination of little mistakes leading to a big nuisance was symbolic of some little mistakes in my subconscious programming, some limiting beliefs that were fueling a painful time and energy wasting fire in my own body and life? As Martha put it in Finding Your Way in a Wild New World, imagine your mind is like a Word document. And it has a typo. You can keep running around brandishing Liquid Paper, trying to fix the print-outs of that file. But its way better to call up that file on your computer and fix the typo at the source.

I need to find my mind’s typos.

So my task is to identify and release those beliefs once and for all, which will likely take a daily practice. I’m all for sudden insight and transformation, but also more than willing to put in the time it might take to rewire my brain.

Whatever it takes, Universe, I’ll do it.

Have you succeeded in ditching your limiting beliefs? Let me know, dear Guru!

Keep Shining,
Update – the Universe apparently was not satisfied with the impact of the microwave fire Sledgehammer, so for good measure, I locked myself out of my (smokey-smelling) Office a few hours later, then dealt with some heartbreak, and then got even more violently ill than before. Universe, didn’t you read this Blog post?!?

For Our Sisters in Spirit Lyrics

This song was written in January 2012 in honour of missing & murdered Indigenous women. The song was sung  at the Families of Sisters in Spirit 2nd Annual Day of Justice Rally (14 Feb 2012, noon, Parliament Hill). This is a demo recording. Please show your support of Families of Sisters in Spirit‘s inspiring work!

For Our Sisters in Spirit
By Julie Comber, Jan 2012

she is your mother, she is your daughter,
your sister, wife, cousin, granddaughter,
she is your aunt, niece, partner, your friend
what if she never came home again?

if she disappeared
imagine all your fears

and if she were found
wouldn’t you move the whole damn world,
just to go get her
and if she died,
wouldn’t you be tempted to get revenge,
even if you know better (x2)

if she cried
wouldn’t you notice?
needed help
wouldn’t you care?
wouldn’t you be there?

how to understand
cruelty by our fellow man
Our society is to blame
why do we allow this shame?

how many Indigenous women
will go missing before you listen?
how many Indigenous women
will be lost before you listen?

First Nations, Metis, Innu
Aboriginal, Inuit, me, you,
every human being
is a miracle, has a dream
no one should ever take a life away
and how are we each complicit every day?

we need change right now
stop asking when or how
The change begins when you dare to care
for women here, there, everywhere

she is your mother, she is your daughter,
your sister, wife, cousin, granddaughter,
she is your aunt, niece, partner, your friend
what if she never came home again?

if she disappeared
imagine all your fears

and if she were found
wouldn’t you move the whole damn world,
just to go get her
and if she died,
wouldn’t you be tempted to get revenge,
even if you know better (x2)

the change begins when you dare to care. (x2)

Saving Sister Highlands

I watch the Hiawa resin become a boiling liquid uniting tobacco and sage, nourishing a lovely orange flame. Nestled within the shell given to me on the South March Highlands by Charles. The local and Rupununi Medicines meld into an aromatic honouring of the Full Snow Moon and of the Land. It is now midnight. A year ago at this time, I was hoping to steal a few hours sleep before meeting with over 20 people, pre-dawn, to surround the cutting machine at the Beaver Pond Forest.

I have just attended a meeting about the South March Highlands (SMH). I like that the meeting is on the full moon. Those working to protect SMH noticed good things often happened for the Forest on the full moon. Good seeds were planted at the meeting, seeds that will grow up strong and help to save this beautiful Land.  The loss of the Beaver Pond Forest part of SMH was a heartbreaking defeat.  But there is much to Celebrate, too.

After the meeting, Martin kindly takes Kurtis and I to the work-site where we took Action a year ago.  Over the summer, the Forest was recovering.  But just over a month ago, the site was stumped.  I go deeper onto the Land than my friends, searching for something. All is still, brightly lit by the moon, and strange.  I follow the icy machine path through tall snow-topped piles of shredded wood that had once been stumps.  I realize I’m hoping, irrationally, to find the Five Trunked Tree.  I turn back to rejoin the others.  Such a beautiful, clear, full moon night, and our Sacred ground freshly wounded.  Again.

Kurtis is interested in trying a tree-sit, and I suggest he do it in solidarity with the proposed Occupation of the Land threatened by the Expansion of Highway A5, near Wakefield.  Which reminds me of Albert Dumont‘s Ceremony a few days before, in honour of the Tree “who’s seen 300 Winters”.  I bounced ideas off Albert that the Gatineau Hills and the South March Highlands were two high points, back 10,000 years ago when the Champlain Sea covered the Ottawa Valley. So I feel protecting one benefits both. And that we should build solidarity between these Movements.  My first visit to the 300 and 200 year old trees, I was delighted by the Tree Art – and all the ribbons. Reminded me of going out under the Dec 2010 full moon to tie the first wave of Prayer Ribbons on the Trees at the Beaver Pond Forest.

Resistance is Beautiful.

Each of us has unique gifts to give this world, and in these particular struggles, a unique and important role to play. Together, we form a wondrous web of light, a web of light that shines in defeat and in victory. A web that stretches from the Highlands to the Gatineau Hills to the Hiawa Trees on Surama Mountain, and beyond.  Let’s help each other shine bright!

Welcome Home Kurtis – RALLY & RIDE for SMH

(Une version française suit le texte anglais)

Kurtis Benedetti set out from Cape Breton on 4 July, determined to bike the 2100km back home to the South March Highlands (SMH) to raise awareness about the Forest. He’s on track to reach Ottawa on Thursday. Please join us to welcome him home!!! Thurs 28 July 12:oo (noon) at the Human Rights Monument (City Hall). There will be:
– Updates on the current status of Ottawa’s Great Forest
– Kurtis will tell us about his journey
– Songs
– Information on Next Steps
– After the rally, approx 1pm: Option to bike with Kurtis for the last leg of his journey, to SMH! Approx. 20km ride.

What a great way to spend your lunch hour! And…maybe knock off work early for a bike ride to Ottawa’s Great Forest!

Detailed schedule to follow here. Please bring a sign if you can, about why this Green Gem should be protected.

See you there!

Invite your friends on Facebook:
More about Kurtis’ journey:​110714/news/Kanata+man+emb​arks+on+2,100-kilometre+cy​cling+journey,+Hopes+to+ra​ise+awareness+about+concer​n+for+South+March+Highland​s


Kurtis Benedetti est parti de Cap Breton le 4 juillet, fermement décidé à pédaler les 2100km qui le séparent de chez lui, dans les Hautes terres de South March (South March Highlands), afin de sensibiliser la population au sujet de la forêt. Il arrivera à Ottawa jeudi. SVP joignez-vous à nous pour l’accueillir!!

Jeudi 28 juillet à midi au Monument des droits de la personne (Hôtel de ville, coin Elgin et Lisgar). Il y aura :

-Des mises à jour sur le statut de la Grande Forêt d’Ottawa
-Kurtis nous racontera son voyage
-Des chansons
-Des informations sur les prochaines étapes
-Après le rassemblement, vers 13h (1pm) environ : il sera possible d’accompagner Kurtis, à vélo, jusqu’aux Hautes terres de South March (environ 20km)

C’est une super manière de passer votre heure de lunch! Et peut-être de quitter le travail tôt pour faire un tour en vélo aux Hautes terres de South March!

SVP, apporter une pancarte si vous pouvez, afin de souligner l’importance de protéger ce joyau vert.

Partagez cet évènement avec un grand nombre de personnes! À jeudi!

Personne contact pour les média (bilingue) : Daniel “Amikwabe” Bernard 416-876-3051,

Informations supplémentaires sur les Hautes terres de South March:

raspberry jam, love, & continuity within change

two years ago on this day, my brother, his now wife, and i brought our beloved Edna to the airport.  she was going to Guyana for her elder sister’s funeral.  after many hugs – those warm, soft, enveloping hugs we’d been so lucky to have all our lives, she went through security.  we watched through glass as she walked confidently towards her gate, and out of sight.  it was the last time we saw her alive.

every summer, Edna would make raspberry jam, and give it to all of us, and friends.  Secretly, we were all hoarding our last jars of jam.  when i missed her i’d find that jar, and maybe taste a tiny bit.  So in honour of her, her generosity and kind spirit, we got the idea to get together and make raspberry jam on the bitter-sweet anniversary of those last hugs.  the first year, we put portions of Edna’s last batch in our new batch.  and every year we put a little bit of last year’s jam in the new year’s jam, and like that there is always a connection to Edna’s lovingly made jam.

of course if something went horribly wrong and all the new jam was lost, as long as there are raspberries, a lovingly made batch of raspberry jam IS a beautiful connection to Edna.  but i do like that there is the physical connection, too.  its like Kombu tea or the soup that keeps boiling on the fire or a friendship cake.   it is continuity within change.  it is the beauty of grief and the taste of healing.

Save Beaver Pond Forest Rally at City Hall 13 January @Noon

This is a rally to demand that the City of Ottawa, National Capital Commission (NCC), or Province of Ontario step up and do their job: order Urbandale/KNL to prevent all cutting and blasting of the Beaver Pond Forest at least until spring. This is for ecological, archaeological, cultural and humane reasons. All levels of government could halt development based on new evidence that the archaeological assessment needs to be redone. But the City isn’t taking responsibility. The province isn’t taking responsibility. The NCC isn’t taking responsibility. So we are going directly to City Hall and the NCC to remind them that the greed of one company should not trump the long-term Public Good.  It is their job to make the City of Ottawa a better place to live.  For us now, and for future generations. 

We need to convince them it is better for everyone that they spare the most ecologically sensitive part of Ottawa.  They must respect the requests of the local community and Algonquin communities to do a full archeological assessment of possible medicine wheels and artifacts.

– 12pm (noon): Assemble at Human Rights Monument at City Hall
– statements will be read, hard copies of letters and petitions delivered, songs shared.  Exact schedule TBA.

– Bring your own signs, we also have some made which will be used in a subsequent Activist Art show (first come, first serve ;-)

– Bring hardcopies of your letters to City Council and NCC.  We will ask the Mayor to come out to receive them!

– Be musical (bring instruments & noisemakers!)
– Main Message to City Hall, NCC, & Province: Take Responsibility! Do the Right Thing: Stop Urbandale from Cutting or Blasting Beaver Pond Forest

Location: google maps
On the Forest:

Details on inadequate environmental assessment & storm water management plans: specific page

Community voices:


Rough Cut: Song for the Beaver Pond Forest

This song was inspired by the South March Highlands and those fighting courageously and creatively to stop it from being clear-cut & blown-up next week.  There is something beautiful and powerful about the Forest we can’t quite explain, but it fuels our ability to work tirelessly (or despite being tired!) to save it.   And people keep coming forward to help us, as my friends Stefan, Ogui, Jessica, Michael, and Ed did to get a rough version of this song recorded before the Jan 8 rally.

Rough Cut: Beaver Pond Forest Song

So much noise out there

It can be hard to hear your own voice

So much power used against us

make ya feel you have no choice

We may each feel small

But together we stand tall

So wake up and raise your voice

Go on and make your choice

Who’s gonna fix this

If we back down

Who’s  gonna save

Our sacred ground

Its an old story

We don’t have much time

To stop the chainsaws

To stop this crime

A beautiful forest

Home to many species

Bit by bit

Cut into tiny pieces

No one paid

To take the long view

Except developers

Makin’ profits for the few

The rich play golf

While the forest crashes down

Basements get flooded

Can we turn this around?

Where is Ottawa City Hall?

Where’s the NCC?

Where is the province?

Why is it just you & me?

Why do humans use our power against life

Against life

Against life

And that is our fight

for life

that is our fight

for life

that is our fight

for life

Beaver Pond Forest

took centuries to grow

A week to destroy

This is our chance to show

That we’ve become wiser

That we fix mistakes

That we value life

That we’ve got what it takes

Will we listen to our Elders?

Which path will we choose

This is a key time

Not a moment to lose

So get up and raise your voice

Go on and make your choice

Who’s gonna fix this

If we back down

Who’s  gonna save

Our sacred ground

Vote with your dollar

picket Urbandale

prove this is the wrong way

to make a sale

Cut through the busy

You know its right

Save Beaver Pond Forest

Please join our fight!

So get up and raise your voice

Go on and make your choice

Who’s gonna fix this

If we back down

Who’s gonna save

Our sacred ground

Light  your candle for hope

Don’t give in

The truth will rise,

we can all still win

Light that candle

Don’t give in

Truth will rise,

we can all still win.

Save Beaver Pond Forest Rally 8 Jan 2011 @1pm

This is a rally to invite Urbandale/KNL to halt all cutting and blasting of the Beaver Pond Forest at least until spring. This is for ecological, archaeological, cultural and humane reasons. The City could halt development based on new evidence that the archaeological assessment needs to be redone. But the City refuses to put its foot down. The City isn’t taking responsibility. The province isn’t taking responsibility. The NCC isn’t taking responsibility. So we are going directly to the company that owns the land. We need to convince them it is better for everyone that they spare the most ecologically sensitive part of Ottawa. We need to prove it is more profitable to do the right thing.

– Assemble in public parking lot next to All Saints High School at 1pm (5115 Kanata Avenue)
– Bring your own signs, we also have dozens made, including some which will be used in a subsequent Activist Art show
– March to Urbandale Sales Office (503 Remnor Avenue, half block away)
– Be loud, but musically (bring instruments & noisemakers!)
– Main Message to Urbandale: Do the Right Thing or Lose our Business



Google map link:


on the Forest:
Details on inadequate environmental assessment & storm waster management plans:
community voices: