Because I believe that we are all interconnected.


“Each one of us is responsible for all of humankind, and for the environment in which we live. . . . We must seek to lessen the suffering of others. Rather than working solely to acquire wealth, we need to do something meaningful, something seriously directed toward the welfare of humanity as a whole. To do this, you need to recognize that the whole world is part of you.”

 —Dalai Lama, from How to Be Compassionate

Daniel Northcott – Circles


“We all have the same dreams, need the same things;

we are all more similar than we ever have been different.  

These wounds are deep, so equally deep must be the acceptance that frees us from this tolerance.  

I will not tolerate you – I will love you.  

I will accept you completely, whatever that means.”

– Daniel Northcott

Daniel Northcott

Be Brave – The Movie

I am posting this on behalf of my friend Erin Northcott. We are kindred spirits who actually don’t see one another often. We connect via email a couple times a year at most. But it was our initial meeting back in 2006 which cemented our friendship. I tend to make friendships like this. My friendship circle is not tight or closed. It is open and ripples out. Perhaps this is why I need to share this message with you. 

Quick backstory: 

In the fall of 2006 it was time for my two year old daughter to begin attending a parent participation pre-school class, for only two-hours on Friday mornings. I didn’t have anyone to mind my four year old son during that time, and his pre-school program only ran Monday to Thursday. Erin’s business was and still is in the service of placing nanniesShe came to our home to interview us, but because we only needed someone for two to three hours once per week, she was doubtful that she would be able to place anyone with us. She thought about it and decided that she would be our 3-hour nanny, for those eight months. My son and Erin clicked and they spent their time together creating incredible art projects. She often commented on how much my son reminded her of her little brother Daniel and how much her brother would love to meet him. We never met Dan.

Dan died from Leukemia in 2009 at age 29.

“A brother’s dying wish. A sister’s undying promise.

Be Brave is the true story of Daniel Northcott. Real footage captures this haunting and inspiring story of filmmaker Daniel Northcott’s dying wish to share his message of unity with the world.”

Daniel and Erin Northcott

Please view this two-minute film. What are friends for if we can’t stand up for, speak for and help each other out? At first you might wonder, what kind of friend just shows up at the eleventh hour? (There are only five days left for this campaign for crowd-funding this project). Believe me, I have thought about that too. Shouldn’t I have been more aware of this project earlier on? Watch the footage and you will see how busy Erin has been this past year fulfilling her promise. Well, there are reasons for everything. I had not been in touch with Erin for over a year and by chance I sent her an email on January 23, 2013. She followed up with what was going on and sent me the link to the preview of Dan’s film. You could say the film is haunting me. The next day I found out on Facebook, that January 23rd would have been Dan’s thirty-third birthday. Was it a coincidence that I contacted Erin on her brother’s birthday?  

I don’t think it was a random occurrence. 

Erin’s brother Dan had a message for the world:

That we are all interconnected.

We are all made of the same matter.

And we are all one beautiful organism. 

“Bursting with unquenchable curiosity and a boundless love for life, Daniel Northcott

was a one-of-a-kind filmmaker.  Barely 20, he set out on a decade-long quest to travel the world, spreading his infectious enthusiasm across four continents and dozens of cultures. Through ruins and cities, war zones and sacred sites, he captured each precious moment on camera with an eye for colourful characters of every age and description.

In April of 2007, Dan’s journey led him to a greater adventure than he had ever imagined.  Despite warnings of an ancient curse, he brought home a bone from a sacrificial Mayan burial cave in Yucatán, and just months later he was diagnosed with leukemia – cancer of the bone marrow.

When Daniel learned 8 years into his film project that he had only months to live he began a race to complete his unfinished film. Amazingly, he continued to document every detail of the roller-coaster ride that followed —from the doctor delivering the crushing news to every intense medical procedure, losing his hair, and intimate moments with friends and family.

With over a thousand hours of footage and no energy or time left he made a 40-minute sketch of the film he dreamed to make and left the footage in his will to his sister Erin Northcott. His last wish was to request she oversee the completion of his legacy, his film.”

Circles within Circles

Above photo: “Greece. Dan was all over this when he saw it amidst the ruins, to him the circles within circles he found around the world were reminders of humanity and natures interconnectedness; a fact humanity knew so well long ago, that Daniel wanted us to re-remember.” 


“In early 2012, I got a call from musician and filmmaker Chris Brickler.  He had stumbled upon some footage that he felt I should see immediately.  Chris has never been one to exaggerate, but when he pitched the story to me it sounded too fantastic to be true.  He sent me 40 minutes, which I watched with some of my team. 

When it was over, there was 10 minutes of silence. Only a few deep breaths, sniffles and one barely audible “whoa.”  It wasn’t until I felt a cold streak down my cheek that I realized I was crying. “What just happened?” It was hard to understand, let alone explain. 

 The footage was shot by and featured a young man named Daniel Northcott. Dan was gifted with the ability to perceive realities deeper than what meets the eye.  In the words of his own mother, “the kid was a star child.”

Director Mikki Willis and Elevate Studios are honored and grateful that Erin and the Northcott family have entrusted them to produce Be Brave.

WATCH THIS link: Be Brave filming Update from Mikki Willis

I haven’t come across a film that has such potential to make a positive impact in the heart of humanity.
Check out their trailer and campaign at http://www.indiegogo.com/Be-Brave


Their Indiegogo campaign is ending in 10 hours at midnight Wednesday, January 30, 2013 (unless they get an extension) and they need our help to reach their goal.

UPDATE #2: They were granted a one time only extension which means that their campaign ends at midnight Saturday, February 2, 2013.

$1 – $10 can make a difference if you feel moved to make a donation. 
Even if you can’t contribute, just sharing this message with 10 specific friends will be enormously helpful.
Please join me in bringing this profound story to the world.
Thank you so much!
FINAL UPDATE: WOW! What an incredible campaign. BE BRAVE exceeded their goal with an amazing outpouring of support! Keep your eyes out for this feature film when it comes out. Already, Daniel’s message is gathering momentum. It took a global community to get Be Brave to this point and that was the point! Well done. Let’s each of us do our part for Humanity.



Image via Wikipedia

How Hydrated Are You, Really?

This past Monday, July 11, 2011 –  I donated 550 cc of blood (which is the same as 550 mL, which is equivalent to approximately:  2  1/4 Cups) at Canadian Blood Services.  It was my fastest donation to date.  It took a total of 4 Minutes and 20 seconds. Sounds like one of my workout Tabatas. Not that it’s a race and it shouldn’t be, but it was quite comical. I joke that these 4 Minutes are following me everywhere!

The first time I gave blood was in high school at age seventeen –and it didn’t end well.  The nurse suggested I leave it for a few years before I try to make another donation.  I realize now, that the cause was dehydration.  At seventeen drinking enough water was not on my radar. After that experience I was determined to give blood regularly. The idea of giving blood was one of the reasons behind building up my muscle mass; I was falsely under the impression that greater muscle mass equated greater blood flow.  Unfortunately, I never got back around to making a donation until March of this year.

About four years ago when I was at the height of my unwell phase: recurring colds, depleted immune system and chronic cough (I wrote about it here: http://youasamachine.com/inspiration/motivation/)

I got a phone call from a friend telling me that her three-year-old daughter had just been diagnosed with Leukemia.  (Our daughters are the same age). I asked if there was anything I could do?

“Please,” she asked, “if you are able, donate blood.”

I was all geared up to do my part, but I couldn’t -I wasn’t well enough.  I had this chronic cough and just wasn’t well.  This really bothered me for two reasons: 1) I couldn’t help my friends’ daughter and 2) Not being well enough to help out was a testament to my own health.

This was a bit of an eye opener for me, which made me question my health on a larger scale.  If I was not even well enough to donate blood, what did that say about my health in general?  I was now on a mission to change my course.  It was a long road, but I finally made it.

Only to hear news of my hair stylist who was diagnosed with Leukemia this past November.  The same message was sent out: Please, if you are able: donate blood.

So by March of this year I was finally well enough to make my first donation. After two years of building on my ferritin levels, they were finally high enough (one must have a ferritin level of 125 or higher to make a donation). So now that I was healthy, I had to pass the screening questionnaire, which isn’t easy. I have made a donation every 56 days since.  My goal is to be a regular donor every 56 days, which is the most frequent one can.

Now here’s what I have learned along the way.


You must be very well hydrated to donate blood.  But that doesn’t mean just guzzle a liter of water the day of your appointment. For me it means being very conscious about hydrating myself daily, on a regular basis.  Being an Aerobic instructor from the nineties I had been convinced of the benefits of being well hydrated.  In the nineties it was rare not to bee seen walking around with a litre of water and drinking from it non-stop (which was a little excessive). However, now as a mom always running around with endless errands and chores (like everyone else), it is easy to forget to drink enough water.

My first donation in March went smoothly enough, it took the entire fifteen minutes. (On average a donation takes between five and fifteen minutes). My second donation, in May, took about ten minutes or so just to fill the bag half way!  My blood was moving at a very sluggish pace.  And the nurse stopped the collection. I was disappointed.  What happened?  Did I do something wrong?  Could I have been dehydrated – ME? I always made a point of eating generously leading up to my appointments but maybe I hadn’t focused enough on hydration?

So began my next experiment.  More water every day for 56 days until my next blood donation appointment.

It worked. What a difference. My blood filled up the bag within four minutes and twenty seconds.  This is not great either, however.  There is a concern for our body when a large quantity of blood leaves the body at a rapid pace.  As a result I was kept on observation.  I felt fine though, drank my juice, filled up on water and more food and was cleared to leave. Now that I’ve got my hydration figured out I will monitor the speed of the blood collection and meditate if needed, to slow it down and maybe not squeeze the little hand ball (at such a feverish pace) which they give you to facilitate blood flow. What fun!

In all, I put aside an hour every 56 days to visit Canadian Blood Services.  If you are healthy and can pass the screening, please consider making this a regular habit. It can make such a difference to those around you.

If you are unable to donate blood for one of the numerous reasons that prevent many from doing so, at least you can focus on your own health, which helps everyone:

  • Staying well hydrated. Find the balance and be careful not to over-hydrate.
  • Eating fresh, whole, unrefined and unprocessed foods.
  • Getting eight hours of sleep each night.
  • Maintaining your physical body with daily exercise.
  • Flossing and brushing your teeth consistently.
Update: My friends’ daughter is now a healthy seven year old and my hair stylist has made an unbelievably quick recovery and is back to work.

For further reading about the importance of maintaining balanced hydration the following is a great, short article by Brendan Brazier – World Class Ironman Tri-Athlete.


By Brendan Brazier – World Class Ironman Tri-Athlete

Brendan Brazier - World Class Ironman Athlete

“Most athletes, whether professional or those of the weekend variety, understand that drinking sufficient water is an important element of health and performance, but few understand how to properly achieve true hydration.

Today’s the day, you’ve entered your very first race. To prepare, you got a good nights sleep, munched a power bar for breakfast, and now you’re slugging back a sports drink for hydration.

As the race begins, you feel great, your hitting your stride. But what happens next is unexpected: your cadence begins to slow while your heart rate quickens. Your movements are no longer fluid, but angular and mechanical. Breathing becomes labored, and the twitching in your calves spreads to the hamstrings and quadriceps. Dehydration has set in, and no amount of fluid at this point can save your race. The damage is done. What can be done here?

Balance your water intake:
Dehydration occurs when the body sweats out more fluid than it takes in, and one of the first physiological responses is the thickening of the blood, which creates more work for the heart. The added stress on the heart from dehydration significantly decreases endurance. Over-hydration, on the other hand, occurs when more water is consumed than the body can process.

Hyponatremia is the point at which the body becomes over-hydrated. Too much water flushes minerals, known as electrolytes from the body. These minerals help regulate the smooth and efficient contraction of muscles, and when the body’s electrolyte levels become too low, cramping, muscle spasms and other signs comparable to dehydration occur.

Don’t make the mistake many athletes have made by drinking copious amounts of water in the days prior to your running competition day. Instead, consume only a moderate amount of water, sipping it throughout the day, and avoid all caffeinated drinks, since caffeine is a diuretic. Limit high-protein foods prior to any endurance event, since water is “sucked up” during the digestive process. Fresh fruit is the best option!”

Photo: Brendan Brazier – World Class Ironman Triathlete                                                      I found this article from the Official Springbak® Website at www.springbak.net