On Autumn, Gratitude and Listening to your Soul

2019022It’s been a crazy fall in terms of politics: provincially we have the ongoing legislature scandal and federally we have the election everyone is gobsmacked by.

I’d intended to blog about it all but Facebook memories reminded me ( as only the  pervasive creepiness of Facebook can do), that two years ago Wedensday, Rafe Mair moved onto raise Hell in another realm.

Well damn. Enough time has passed that I forgot, but not enough time to keep me from feeling saddened at his departure all over again.

I found myself thinking about him and some of the things he had written while walking through the forest shortcut home after a meeting. It was chilly still and I pulled my sweater more tightly around me against the cold of the shade when the sun suddenly hit my face. I stopped, squinting my eyes as I tried to focus looking at the light, savouring the feeling of the welcome sunbeam squeezing between stately trees in the early cold of an island autumn… and then just stood there for a moment and let the warmth wash over me.

20171017_122617_HDR~2I suddenly felt the urge to stop and write, that very instant…so there I sat,writing in the forest on a massive stump, embraced by trees whose crispy leaves flutter like paper in the wind. Where sunlight streams through tree trunks like guiding lights, where the only sound was my lungs inhaling and exhaling air so cool I leave condensation on my reading glasses.

I read a blog recently written by the sister of a valued friend,  in which she wrote:

” There are maybe a hundred unfinished pieces  hiding behind this one. I sometimes worry that my thoughts scramble before they hit the page. But that’s what blogs are for, I think. At least this is what they are for me. A place to download, often quickly,  the passing ruminations of a life well lived as I am able… I am often composing something as I move…”

I felt that,deeply. For each blog I rarely do post now, there are so many more I don’t. No matter where or what I do, I am composing in my mind, vignettes of life and thoughts and yet so little do I bother writing these bits down. Which is ironic because that kind of writing is what truly makes me happy.

Over years of blogging I inadvertently pigeonholed myself in terms of my writing. BC politics is what I love and what you wanted, but on the rare occasion I posted from my heart and soul, those posts attracted so many more readers.  Why? Rafe knew. And in revisiting those posts and his comments, I laughed and smiled.. was this serendipity at work? And I knew that moment his words were what many need to hear right now, in the heart of this wretched and crucial election:

Fast forward many years and to my families move to the island, a northern girl at heart leaving the suffocating cloak of city living behind… rediscovering just how inherent a connection to the land is when you grew up dependent on it.

Rafe was one of a very few who ‘got’ the evolution I was going through, as a writer who had spent years documenting corruption and misdeeds of the BC Liberals ..but also as a parent…and as a woman…but most importantly as a British Columbian… his remarks always struck home in a big way, in two posts I have written in particular…

The first is this one: https://lailayuile.com/2016/08/18/weve-hit-a-point-bc-where-each-of-us-needs-to-decide-what-kind-of-province-we-are-going-to-be/  


Written while living on a mountain, in between metro Van home and Comox Valley home, I bared my soul to readers, speaking to my re-connection with not just nature, but our reliance on it. And Rafe got it immediately:

“Laila, that was your soul speaking.

Until we all start listening to our souls and let it speak – and stop voting for those who live in our glorious province, who look around them and only see ways to convert what they see into cash will steadily ruin us and our heritage. They make it appear that upon every desecration proposed by Daddy Warbucks, depends our food, shelter and livelihood.

Until we understand that Industry controls our government and what little media is left, and that the oil industry controls industry, we will more and more be left to dream of what used to be.

We elect these cretins and then when we try to offset their evil by voting NDP or Green, but we find that they have no stomach for the fight assuming, it would seem, and perhaps correctly, that we prefer progress as defined by the oil industry because otherwise there may be sacrifices to make…
It’s one thing to be a peaceful people quite another to be supine…”


Rafe not only got what I was trying to say in that post, he got everything I was feeling that I did not write. He knew I was disillusioned with hateful, partisan politics…

It stuck with me profoundly because just a week earlier I had written this piece: https://lailayuile.com/2016/08/11/as-for-me-i-know-nothing-more-than-miracles-walt-whitman/

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,there is a field. I’ll meet you there.When the soul lies down in that grass,the world is too full to talk about.Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other” doesn’t make any sense.”~ mevlana jelaluddin rumi

Since I read my first book of rumi’s writings and read this passage, I find myself reminded every time I find a luscious field in summer…. high with timothy or wild grass, rife with daisies bobbing their heads as they reach, reach for the sun… the wind blows lightly that rustling dry sound not unlike a million tiny wind chimes, delights the ear and cools the skin…I can’t help but walk, hands dragging lightly through the grass, the scent of summer in the air until a feeling of complete and utter peace overcomes me.This is the field I imagine rumi speaks of… one where we are free of judgment, free from conflict…where we are free from labels of left and right, gender or race, your way or my way and things get done because it’s the right thing to do, not because it serves any other purpose.Maybe one day, I’ll meet you there…”

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And while some objected privately to my writing about things meaningful beyond politics, Rafe got why I wrote about it… and made me understand why and how it mattered when fighting for things that mattered, or trying to save things from destruction:

“Laila – if you live to 90, never stop writing pieces like this. If you do, you will have lost that little guiding light of faith which tells us all, but even more tells you, that you still care. I may have told you – after all at my age I’m entitled to forget things – when I was a little boy my mother and I would lie on the lawn and create figures from the clouds. If Mom saw, say, a rabbit and I couldn’t make it out, she would laugh and say “Rafe, you have no soul”. I’ve never forgotten and when trying to save something from destruction, I always ask, “man, have you no soul?”

You have a beautiful soul, your most important possession. Keep showing it whenever you feel like it for its a message we all need to hear.”

These wise words of Rafe, written two years ago but still so relevent now, are so important as we begin to elect our next prime minister…

The light is fading early now, as it does at in October. I’ve written off and on all day in the moments between my work. The sky is peach and will morph into pink, mauve and then the luminescent indigo that only happens right before the black of night . A thousand starlings are chirping in a crescendo that signals the imminent moment they are going take off to dance over the fields in an amazing display of murmuration. If there is one time that any person who was not raised to appreciate  nature, would be able to reconnect with the land, it would be now, at dusk. The air is cool, but my cheeks are flushed with awe of all around me.To feel this experience I’m trying to put words to, is to understand how nature is intrinsic to our soul…and critical to changing the course of our path on this planet.

There is so much talk now of climate change. Of saving the world. Of zero waste, reusable bags and “sustainable” development. Which is all good and fine and I am right there always practicing and advocating for truly renewable and sustainable ways of moving this world forward….

But I think its no accident that Rafes words came back to me this week, which is why I am writing this. It’s perhaps as much for me, as for you and for his legacy. Do you love this world around us? I think you do. I just saw hundreds of thousands of people who listened to their souls and marched in the streets because they were finally moved to action and wanted those in power to listen.

Sometimes we don’t know what to do, or how to start, and fear of change can be paralyzing. But so many are taking a deep breath and moving through and beyond that fear,whether it’s in their own habits or whether its marching in the street. When we do this, we make it easier for others to grab their courage and do the same. Remember the power individual drops of water have together in a river…

I’m not going to tell you who to vote for. (Rafe would have, with some choice words 😉) That vote is yours, and yours only. Do not let people bully or harass you out of it.

I will however, ask you to do this: for once, listen to your soul before you vote. Yes, please do your research, and be wary of exaggerated promises, but consider Rafes words again :

Until we understand that Industry controls our government and what little media is left, and that the oil industry controls industry, we will more and more be left to dream of what used to be.

We elect these cretins and then when we try to offset their evil by voting NDP or Green, but we find that they have no stomach for the fight assuming, it would seem, and perhaps correctly, that we prefer progress as defined by the oil industry because otherwise there may be sacrifices to make…
It’s one thing to be a peaceful people quite another to be supine…”

This system isn’t working. And some of these politicians have no soul, they only have agendas.

If we stop voting for those beholden to industry, and for those who greenwash industry to try and make you feel better about what they know is wrong, we might get back on track.  Both the NDP and Greens are both showing they do have the fight now, and in a perfect world I’d love to see a government between the two, leaving Trudeaus crew and Scheers to sit in a long, much needed time out. Because those people are a helluva bigger reason why we are in the state we are in, than anything else.( remember Harper? Let’s not do that again!)


Happy Thanksgiving my friends. I’m feeling so much gratitude for the things that really matter this year, my family, my mobility and our health.

I am grateful for those of  you who appreciate my rare blogs still. 🙏🏼 And I am grateful for this beautiful valley and island I call home. Hug your loved ones…and then hug them a bit longer. ❤ And try to find a quiet moment outside somewhere..just for a moment…and listen to your soul.


11 thoughts on “On Autumn, Gratitude and Listening to your Soul

  1. Lovely blog, lovely pictures. Thank you for writing this.

    I have actually voted. Not that I was all that impressed with our local Green candidate – but the least worst choice I could make. Not voting isn’t an option.

    And I must say that Jagmeet Singh has shown himself to be a cut above the other leaders. Not that we get to vote for a PM, and I think Joyce Murray will get re-elected here again.

    I will come back to my WordPress reader more often now to see if you have posted again!


    1. Hello Stephen and so nice to have you stop in..thank you for the kind words. It’s so beautiful this fall,gorgeous weather for the most part and such vivid colours!

      I’m so glad you voted already! And I should have reminded readers this weekend is advance voting, but I think most would already know 🙂

      We have a really great Green candidate here, and the incumbent is a nice person but sometimes it takes being more than being a nice person to get a vote.😉
      Jagmeets done very well, although I remind people to look past the charm and one liners because those are really what Trudeau relied on to get elected…and we know where that ended up..🤣

      Scheer today announced Falcon as his 100 day assistant slice and dicer. How alarming is that?

      Have a relaxing holiday weekend!


  2. A heartfelt post; it seems the “Island” is good too you and god and finances willing I too shall venture across the water to where my families “bones” lie.

    Vancouver Island holds a great deal of family history as uncles, great uncles, grandfathers and great grand fathers all lived and worked in the forestry industry, either at Victoria, Chemainus or Genoa Bay.

    The E&N is in my blood as a great uncle was the lawyer for the CPR and got 10% of the value of the deal. He drank his fortune away but his wife, who was given half, bought land in Victoria’s China Town. His wife,, known as “Aunt Belle” drove an electric car to Victoria daily to shop until her death in the m id 1940’s.

    My dad grew up on Dallas road with his grandmother and great grandfather/grandmother, due to a family scandal with my grandmother running away with an Irishman to Alaska!

    My mother’s father worked on the Victoria & Sidney Railway before leaving for war only to come back badly wounded and later married his childhood sweetheart, who was a nurse at Ladysmith hospital, where my grandad convalesced after being blown up and phosgened, chlorined and mustard gassed.

    My grandmother’s father owned Victoria’s largest hotel, the new England Hotel; the largest hotel in Victoria until the Empress was built.

    My dad’s father served in the first world war as well only to survive when his brother who was in front of him took the blast of an aerial bomb, in July 1918. I have the shrapnel riddled cigarette case and match holder that was given to my grandfather by the orderlies. My grandfather suffered form shell shock for the rest of his life.

    My ancestors were loggers, railwaymen, lawyers, hoteliers, who worked hard and honestly and it grieves me no end that the history of this island and province is treated so wantonly by Orwellian types who wish to remake history in their own image.

    Sadly, my time on the mortal coil is nearer to the end than to the beginning, but I “will not let the bastard’s win”. That too, is a quote from Rafe Mair, who quoted Churchill, where I was guest on his radio show many times.

    This election is like the “Phony War” where the allied and NAZI armies faced one and another from 1939 to spring 1940. Our politicians are unprepared for the onslaught that is to follow, including climate change and I hope someone with a shred of honour and duty will rise from the vile swamp of political corruption and graft and steer this country away from the plague of corruption and deceit that not only has engulfed our civic governments, but provincial and federal governments as well.

    As Mr. Rees stated; “I must say that Jagmeet Singh has shown himself to be a cut above the other leaders.”, sadly the NDP federally is weak and the NDP may steal enough votes from the Liberals to ensure a Trumpian half Canadian is elected as PM!

    Sadly my crystal ball is very bleak, as shadows of the future are becoming very scary.

    Do not let your pen rest as it is up to the lonely blogger to tell the true story.


    1. Your family history is so compelling and I hope someone’s put that all to paper for posterity! I’ve always thought the stories that make up our personal families history are part of our communal history if settlers in Canada.

      Yes Rafe used Churchill quotes often. He once wrote me in response to finding out I had a chocolate lab, and was trying to bolster my lagging spirits in the site c fight…

      ” Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

      This is how, with all the power of the state against us, we beat Site C and Kinder Morgan.”

      Except we know how that turned out…🙄

      Where it becomes difficult provincially is when we find ourselves fighting those who we thought were allies if not friends. The NDP provincially ( federally too perhaps) have an omerta like code of silence that often includes ostracization as punishment for critics and ‘mouthy members’ ( as shown in Sean Holmans Whipped). It is now as difficult to be heard in this government on many issues as it was the last.

      I agree the federal ndp is weak despite Singhs strong performance this campaign. Although their bailout here on the island may backfire on them, considering the attack style misinformation pamphlets came on the heels of Singh stating no one who uses fear deserves your vote.

      Speaking of fear, I would no more wish to see a Scheer government than I wanted a Harper govt. This is something perhaps the vacuous & very entitled Trudeau should have thought more about when he was defending his actions in Lavscam, even after he was found in conflict. And now he will plant a billion trees to hide the pipeline and we are expected to swallow the bile in out throats and vote for him again? Not me.

      It will be another ‘Anyone but Conservative’ election for many I suspect. Because of my experience growing up in the north I have always written that Canada is more conservative (cautious) than people think. Look at BC. People call us lefties but so much of BC votes right.Half of Canada votes right. So people like Trudeau and the LPC really dont have the luxury to be arrogant and defend the indefensible.

      Now we have climate change front and centre and that worries me. Literally not figuratively since we have yet to have our first big storm on island and last years was a doozy.

      I have sadly been right about too many things, since I dont have partisan blinders on of any kind.

      I warned before the election that Horgan wouldnt stop the dam and was attacked for it. Well here we are. He was cutting deals on it before the BCUC review even came in.

      I also said I dont believe Horgan will do a thing to stop Kindermorgan and I believe he played supporters there too. He has yet to use every tool in the toolbox.He said only he will stand up for our coast.

      Even the money laundering inquiry is half asses.When you see the depth of corruption in this province,you know it goes far beyond money laundering and involves some big government players and law enforcement to make it happen.

      Argh. That turned into a rant..🤣

      Have hope. I try to make good change in my circle and maybe one day on a larger scale. 🙂

      And hopefully you dont wait too long to listen to your soul and come to the island too…

      We have better cookies here. 😉


  3. Hmm, sounds very much like where I used to live on Midden Road. Used to walk through the McDonald Park woods to Comox for bread and a newspaper. A little corner of Paradise for sure.


    1. You lived on Midden road? Lucky guy! Those properties are very pricey now,even though most are so humble. I wish I were so lucky to live so close to the bay! How long ago did you live there?

      Yes some of these pics are from McDonald park woods.🙂 I love the grove of poplars by the boardwalk. We are so lucky that residents continue to value these green spaces,as development continues.


      1. I lived at 1329 Midden from 1991 to about 1995 and built the addition on the corner of the house. On a clear day you could see Mt. Arrowsmith and, of course, Denman and Hornby islands at any time. At the time, the residents organized the McDonald Park Wood society to fight the plans to develop the property. Another life with my first wife. Your photos and prose sparked a twinge of nostalgia. Thank you.


        1. Darn, was going to drive by on my way to watch the wind surfers at goose spit, and take a look today…and forgot 😂
          Our first fall storms have moved in,several lined up back to back,the wind and waves are amazing I’m glad to evoke some memories, hoping they were all good.


  4. Very good writing. enjoyed the pictures as well

    Funny about Midden Road, Lived there in the early 2000s when I first moved to Comox. The views are great because you can walk to the end of the road and just walk the beach. You can walk through MacDonald Wood. The Newson family generously permits people to pass on their property, via a trail, over to Mac Lang Park. Then up the street and you’re at the next park and then onto Comox Ave.

    For an unplanned move, lived in Comox for 15 years. Then moved to Nanaimo. Still go to Comox though regularly.

    You can take a trail the other way and get to Goose Spit.

    it would be fun if Rafe could drop by for a 15 minutes and give us some of his views on things right now.


    1. Haha….this valley does that to you! Was just reading of a local who came here to visit many years ago, broke down on Mount Washington and ended up moving here. 🤣

      That area of Comox is lovely, but ny favourite spot is elsewhere and I’m not posting where or then everyone will know and my quiet spot will disappear.

      I too wonder what Rafe would say now. I think he’d be livid over the fracking and LNG expanding.


  5. EAF and Laila,

    Before he embarked on that cross-BC fight to demolish the dreaded Harmonized Sales Tax we exchanged emails.

    Asked why he felt obliged to tackle such a task he responded that at his age it was time to “make amends”.

    Remember that HST battle? BC media pundits were unanimous. No matter how much the public opposed it, no matter how much harm was done by the HST imperative, opposition deserved no more rebuttal than the Borg`s, “Resistance Is Futile ” or, dating further back to Dante, “All Hope Abandon”.

    Until Rafe, the HST was a done deal. Unstoppable. After Rafe? No further mention. And Gordon Campbell was toast.

    Who would Rafe Mair think a marvel these days?

    Greta Thunberg.


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