When Synchronicity Shows Up Just In Time

When Synchronicity Shows Up Just In Time

images-3Choosing to live an unconventional life in order to follow your dreams is not all sunshine and rainbows.

There are days when you stare at a spreadsheet of budget figures until your eyes burn, when nothing is gelling and when you want to shut yourself in a dark room and seal the door. Because even amidst all of the joy and satisfaction that comes with living for a purpose greater than yourself, you’re depleted, overwhelmed, and frankly you could use a nap.

But, if you’re lucky, every time you question whether it’s possible to keep pushing through the mountains of uncertainty and the valleys of fear, synchronicity shows up in the perfect way.

Whether it’s a friend who reminds you to follow your heart when you are inches from a meltdown, an acquaintance who offers you their guest room at the same time you realize you can’t afford the astronomical Chicago hotel rates at an upcoming conference, or a survivor who makes an unexpected $5000 donation because she believes in your dreams and the potential this cause has to make a lasting impact on patients, survivors, and communities around the world. In a moment, you can be lifted out of exhaustion and filled with fresh determination and excitement.

These moments of synchronicity (defined as the simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection) are the guideposts to remind all of us to keep going. To keep believing in a purpose greater than ourselves. To keep trusting that everything is unfolding exactly as it should.

Over the last three years, I’ve been continually blessed by synchronistic moments. Today, I want to share a little about the two inspiring dreamers who showed up at perfect time in the last two weeks.

  • 10305040_801170786562226_1963838117548719958_nFriend and fellow blogger, Catherine Brunelle, just launched her first novel: The Adventures of Claire Never-Ending. At the book launch party, she organized a silent auction and raised over $800 for the Fresh Chapter Alliance Foundation. We are SO grateful to Catherine for using her dream to help make dreams come true for other patients and survivors. Her latest post is a must-read: Life Between The Scans
  • Survivor, Fresh Chapter Tribe member, repeat donor, and friend (let’s call her Angel as she prefers to remain anonymous) donated $5000 last year. She made it possible for us  to offer a trip to India for a participant who didn’t have the financial means to get there, then she helped me cover the cost of my flight from Tanzania to New Delhi during my recent #fcafAfrica scouting trip, and yesterday she called to tell me that she wants to match her $5000 donation from last year to help FCAF grow and impact the lives of more survivors and patients. She said that we are her “tax receipting charity of choice” and I couldn’t be more grateful. As a growing charity, the money is hugely helpful, but even more important is her faith in our cause. Her ability to remind me – at the perfect moment – that we’re building this dream together meant more to me than I could possibly articulate. For that – and for the many people who have supported me in big and small ways over the last three years – I am forever grateful.

Now, I’d love to hear from you. One of my favourite parts of blogging is reading your comments. How and where has synchronicity shown up in your life? 

If you are a cancer patient or survivor with big dreams of starting fresh with us, check out our new Fresh Chapter Alliance Foundation page with our target program dates for 2015. That’s right. We have THREE programs planned in 2015 including our first program in Africa. Stay tuned…the adventures are just getting started.

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The Taj Mahal – Why Travel Heals

The Taj Mahal – Why Travel Heals

Lorri.Bernie.Taj (1 of 1)Her eyes glossy with tears, she bit her lip and stared at the horizon.

“I can’t believe I’m here.” She spoke so softy I couldn’t tell if she was talking to me or simply speaking out loud to ground herself in the moment.

“I can’t believe I’m here.” She said it again as she looked over at me. “Three months ago, I couldn’t get off the couch and now I’m here. I’m in India and I just saw the Taj Mahal.” The tears dripped like a leaky faucet from her chin to her shirt. She swiped under her eyes and laughed.

“I don’t know why I’m crying,” she said.

I put my arm around her. I knew why she was crying. I had felt the same mix of sadness, disbelief, joy and awe when I stood under the spray of Victoria Falls in 2011.

This is the moment, I thought.

Lisa Vidya.1 (1 of 1)The moment when one sees more than the loss of her hair, her innocence, and herself. The moment she sees past cancer. The moment darkness lifts and she sees – if for only a fraction of a second – her life through fresh eyes.

As I stood in that moment with her, I exhaled in gratitude. For her, for me and for all of us who have the courage to take the next step.

Starting a fresh chapter doesn’t mean erasing the difficult parts of our stories. It doesn’t mean never facing adversity again. It simply means making a choice to live from a place of possibility even when we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. It means making peace with the struggle and trusting that even when life feels more dark than light, there will one day be a clearing.


Do you dream of meaningful travel as a way to Start Fresh? If you are a cancer patient or survivor, click here to subscribe to the Fresh Chapter Alliance Foundation and you’ll be the first to know about upcoming adventures. You can also join our community on Facebook or Twitter. We’d love to hear from you in the comments below and we look forward to the adventures ahead. 

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Stacy (1 of 1)-2

Lea (1 of 1)

Theresa (1 of 1)

Thank you to every single person who has become part of this tribe and has made it possible for life-changing moments to happen. It is because of every single donor, friend, and supportor that the opportunity has arisen for our participants to find community and healing.

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The Person Who Re-Kindled My Flame…

The Person Who Re-Kindled My Flame…

photo-19At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us. ~ Albert Schweitzer

Beads of sweat gather in the fold behind each knee as my fingers vibrate on the black plastic of the suitcase handle. The wheels hum against the asphalt – an auditory reminder of my nomadic life. When I reach the shade of a sprawling oak tree, I wipe my palm against the cotton of my fuchsia dress and hope the sweat won’t leave a mark. The display on my phone reads 3:58pm and even as I contemplate folding myself down into a ball on the patch of grass between the sidewalk and the street, I turn towards the door and heave myself and my possessions up each of the building’s narrow stairs.

As the door opens, I blink to give my eyes time to adjust and within seconds, I feel an almost imperceptible loosening in the muscles between my shoulder blades. It’s as if I’ve slipped out of a cumbersome wool coat on a cold winter’s day.

Janie Brown, Founder & Executive Director of The Callanish Society offers me a cup of tea as she leads me through the kitchen to one of the overstuffed couches. As I look up at the vaulted ceiling, I’m tempted to leave my laptop in my purse and sink back into the cushions with a blanket under my chin. Instead, I tell her about our pilot program in India, and the highs and lows since I returned. I tell her about the people who have told me how we need to expand our services in order to capture the “right” funders and confess how difficult the learning curve has been. The more I talk, the heavier my voice becomes. My throat tightens and I am almost back to feeling like I did during my meltdown in LA - (The Dark Side of Big Dreams & How To Cope With Crying At Starbucks).

She must sense the storm clouds of emotion gathering because she says, “Terri, can I stop you for a minute to ask a question?”

Relieved for the diversion, I reach for my still steaming mug of tea and wait for her to continue.

“What is your deepest intention for this program?” she asks.

Her question both catches me off guard and brings me a sense of comfort. The knots in my stomach begin to unravel.

photo-47“For me, it’s about igniting a spark of possibility in people while making a positive impact on communities at home and around the world. I want our participants to feel like new dreams are possible and to have the chance to build lasting friendships with other survivors.”

I glance over at her and the silence feels endless. It’s like that pregnant pause when you say “I love you” for the first time and then hold your breath while you wait to see if the other person will say it back. Yet, in this silence I am reminded of how in love I am with this work; this cause; this dream.

Finally she replies, ”That’s what I thought your intention was and Terri – it is more than enough.”

It is more than enough.

Her words and the intensity behind them take a moment to sink in. For the first time in a long time, it feels like someone understands exactly what inspired this dream and sees my vision at a deep and profound level.

“I think what you’re doing is incredible. At the core, it’s about igniting something in people.” She places her tea on the table and then looks at me with concern in her eyes before she continues, “Don’t lose that by trying to become everything to everybody.”

Don’t lose that by trying to become everything to everybody. I had to repeat it over in my head to give it a moment to sink in. Talk about the perfect thing to say at the perfect time. I only started to feel depleted when I lost sight of what had lit me up in the first place.

It’s been 3 weeks since I met with Janie Brown in Vancouver and I could not be more grateful for her inspiration and guidance. Since our 1 hour meeting, I have gone from feeling burned out to completely re-ignited about the vision for the Fresh Chapter Alliance Foundation and why our work matters.

Today’s #StartFresh post is about reflecting on what truly lights you up inside. If you have gotten away from it, can you find your way back? Or can you be the Janie in someone else’s life? Perhaps there is someone close to you who is struggling to remember why they are working so hard to make a dream come true. As this beautiful quote suggests – A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle – Unknown – maybe if you find yourself in the right place at the right time, you will know the perfect thing to say.

If you want to receive updates from A Fresh Chapter and learn more about the #StartFresh series, you can join our tribe on TwitterFacebook, or get posts delivered directly to your inbox. A huge shout-out to all of the recent additions to our community. Thanks for spreading the word and helping our tribe grow. Every day we’re chasing dreams and changing lives and we wouldn’t want to do it without you.

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India – Forget What You’ve Heard…

India – Forget What You’ve Heard…

As the clouds shift from pink to grey and the evening breeze rolls in, the high pitched sound of a child’s giggle rises above the symphony of rush-hour horns. Fighting the heaviness in my jet legged eyes, I squint and bring Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s words into focus.

“If you wish to know something about India, you must empty your mind of all preconceived notions, of what you have heard or read. Why be imprisoned by the limiting vision of the prejudiced? Also, don’t try to compare. India is different and exasperating as it must seem, would like to remain so. You will not find any of your familiar labels useful. India is many and it is one.” – Mrs. Indira Gandhi.

You must empty your mind of all preconceived notions.

India has already shown us why she is the perfect host for our 12 cancer survivors. Isn’t this what picking up the pieces after cancer (or any big loss in your life) is all about? Emptying your mind of any preconceived notions of who you are supposed to be or how you are supposed to feel so you can start by accepting what is. Right here. Right now.

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Celebrating #Delhi2013 – We Have Our 12

Celebrating #Delhi2013 – We Have Our 12

No one would have crossed the ocean if he could have gotten off the ship in the storm.
Charles Kettering

If you saw the title of last week’s post, Sobbing on a Speeding Train, you probably didn’t even need to read it to imagine me boo-hooing all over myself and the window of an Ottawa bound VIA Rail train.

Thank you for all of the emails and comments of support that instantly lifted me out of the fog and reminded me why the past 388 days of homelessness is worth every moment.

On Sunday afternoon, as I walked through the sunny streets of Toronto, I wasn’t crying. Instead, I was shaking my head in Holy Sh!t Happiness.

Our group of 12 is complete and each participant has signed up, paid the deposit, and is now probably asking themselves, what the hell have I done?

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