I found a sacred place to share with you where dreams really do come true and I can prove it! This is a long story, but not as long as the time I’ve waited to share it. It’s an invitation to act on making your dreams come true.
April 2005 – The Dream Awakens
The invitation that would change the course of my life happened one April weekend in 2005. I had just wrapped up training with youth service agencies in Belfast, Northern Ireland when my colleague and friend, Tim Chapman, invited me to spend the weekend at his cottage on the North Coast. He grinned with fond memories as he spoke of spending carefree summers as a child in a little seaside village of Castlerock. As an adult he and his wife Alice built a cottage with a spectacular view of the magnificent North Sea.
I arrived on Saturday and strolled around the quaint little community and walked the dogs along the expansive white sand beach the stretches as far as the eye can see. Before supper, Tim and I watched the Grand National horse race, a famous and notoriously dangerous annual steeplechase with a massive $1 million plus prize to the horse and rider who survive first.
Sunday morning was a mild day with partially overcast sky as we walked the path down through a glen and up past sheep grazing in the field surrounding what remained of a once glorious estate castle that was the namesake of the village.
At the edge of the sea was an intact round building, a silent sentinel of days gone by. The Mussenden Temple sat on the precipice of a 200 foot cliff where earth meets sky and ocean. The only manmade objects that separated this view from a thousand years ago in time was a ribbon of rails far below us that support the train from Belfast to Londonderry-Derry that rumbles, quite literally, below us through a tunnel carved through the cliffs.
The surf met the beach far below us like a scimitar of thousands of tiny white stallions, manes flowing wildly, as they charged with pounding hooves into the sand closely followed by the next wave as they to, valiantly took up the charge only to be also lost in the unforgiving sands of time. There are many magical and majestic places on earth and this is surely among the most awesome.
The wind was whispering steadily off the North Sea. As I approached the round building perched on the precipice of the cliff, I recognize that it was out of place for the typical architecture of this land. I was unaware of the rich history of this place at the time of my first visit. All I knew was that it was carefully constructed and placed in the edge of the ocean with a deliberate intent.
The Mussenden Temple was built in 1785 and formed part of the estate of Frederick Augustus Hervey, a wealthy man who was the benevolent Bishop of Derry. It was built as a library and modelled on the Temple of Vesta in Italy. He dedicated the library to the woman loved, Lady Mussenden. I am sure they enjoyed many hours together “reading.” At the time of my visit I didn’t know the temple as inspired by love, nor did I know that it was a popular spot to rent from the National Trust for marriage ceremonies. But I felt it.
We walked up the 14 steps and crossed the threshold and the first thing I saw was an empty round room with brick walls supporting a brick dome ceiling high above us. The first thing I heard was the relentless wind off the North Sea that caresses the building and makes the windows tremble. The first thing I felt was not exactly a feeling but rather an intuitive flash. Do you ever get a notion that you can’t explain, an intuitive flash from out of nowhere? When my eye caught one of the cracked floor tiles, I bent over, picked it up and with out thinking, heard myself utter a dream that would unfold in my life in ways I never imagined.
“What have you got there?” Tim inquired.
“Tim,” I announced, “I have a crazy idea. I am going to place marriage proposal under this stone and bring the woman I love back here to propose.”
Tim replied without skipping a beat, “Great Peter, but you don’t even have a girlfriend!”
“I’ll work on that,” was my best reply.
I have yet to read the best selling book “The Secret” or indeed any of those popular books promoting the “law of attraction.” or those books on manifesting abundance. Quite frankly I was sceptical that the power of intention, simply asking, believing and receiving, was any thing more than a good turn of fortune. Boy was I wrong.
We took a picture of the floor stone and made our way back to the cottage. To be honest, I thought nothing more about it. I never put sticky notes on my bathroom mirror to affirm “I am loveable.” I didn’t watch any more Oprah shows than usual. But in a few short months I did give my romantic intention a booster shot.
July 2005 – Booster Shot
Every first weekend in July I attend the Stan Rogers Music Festival in the far eastern tip of mainland Nova Scotia in a little town called Canso. Eastern most point in the Nova Scotia is surrounded on three sides by ocean so not surprisingly the weather can be wet. It’s an annual sojourn that I take with my long-time friend Oliver. We were sitting on our portable chairs in the front row enjoying the Friday night mainstage concert when, about halfway through the evening, the heavens opened and the rain came tumbling down.
We pulled out our little tarp that was just barely large enough to cover us both and cuddled to stay dry. This situation prompted me to have another intuitive flash.
I said to Oliver, “You know I love ya bud but we really ought to do something about our bachelor situation. And I have an idea. Let’s make a bet that next year we each bring a girlfriend back here with us to share the music and cuddles under the rain tarp.”
Oliver replied, “Yer on! and let’s up the ante by booking separate campsites for next year!”
Little did I realize how I had just gave a booster shot to my dream of an Irish proposal.
July 2006 – Angel in the Mist
When the Stan Rogers Music Festival rolled around again the next year Oliver had actually met Karen and they were going steady but she was unable to attend the festival because of previous commitments. I joke that he technically did not win the bet because she needed to be here in person to “tarp cuddle” and it looks like he was stuck with me again because I had no luck at all. Oh well, at least the weather forecast was predicting clear skys even though the fog was rolling in.
We were sitting on our portable chairs in the front row enjoying the Friday night mainstage concert when, about halfway through the evening, I went for a walk to stretch my legs. As I came to the back of the crowd I noticed an Angel walking towards me. Her blond hair peeked out from under her hood as she strode eagerly towards me, emerging from the fog and mist as if from a Wuthering Heights novel, and gave me a big hug.
Her name was Andrea and we had dated 18 years ago. We first met at church sponsored Friday night young adults group. We meet every Friday night to socialize with the group of like-minded young adults. We had some great times, I was very fond of her but I was also working for Greenpeace at the time and I was a self-righteous vegetarian activist. She recalls one date when I criticized her for wearing leather. I’m sure that had something to do with us going our separate ways. The time was just not right.
But this moment her hug was warm and welcoming and I invited her and her friend Lynnette to join us in the front row to listen to music. We enjoyed the music and conversation that eve and the next day. She shared that she had separating from her husband after 14 years. By the end of the weekend it felt like we were rekindling the fire.
I had two thoughts pop into my mind that weekend. The first was, “Yes! ” and the second thought was, “Does this mean that I won the bet with Oliver?”
We started dating and as the old expression goes, “going steady.” We were growing closer in heart and commitment so we planned for a trip to Costa Rica together in January of 2007.
January 2007 – Near Proposal
We planned half of the two weeks in Costa Rica to be a guided eco-adventure. The first half we were on our own. Noting my love of trekking up mountains, Andrea researched that there was a trail to the top of Costa Rica’s highest mountain, Mount Chirripo at 12,500 feet.
The trail was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, including my trek base camp of Mount Everest. The route was only 14 kilometres long but the trail has a heart pounding vertical ascent of 5000 feet over that 14 kilometres distance. We started at sunrise, paced well and 11 hours later, well after the sun had set and I was wearing socks on my hands for the cold, we made it to the base camp lodge.
The next morning we set off up the last 5 km to the summit peak. The trail was gradual and forgiving except for the last 300 metres of which was “all hands on” climbing. Challenging to go up and terrifying to descend as we tried to plant our lead foot below us seeking a toe hold where we couldn’t see below. We did it !
At the top on a clear day you can see both the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean. The clouds rolled in below us and enveloped the protruding summit leaving us above it all and with the sensation that we were in fact on cloud nine.
It was with this magnificent backdrop that I realized Andrea was the woman I would spend the rest of my life with. After all is said and done, the person to spend your life with is the one that walks best beside you every step of the way through the joy and sorrow, the doubt and discouragement, the peaks and valleys on the trail of life as was so wonderfully miniaturized by our adventure to this place.
I had two thoughts in this order 1. What a romantic place to ask for her hand in marriage. That notion was trumped by another, “Doh! What about Ireland and the Mussenden Temple proposal?”
I bumbled my way through a conversation balancing these two heartfelt but contradictory possibilities. I fumbled with my intent to have both and actually said, “This would be a beautiful place ask for your hand in marriage, but I’m not going to.”
Before she kicked me off the mountain I partially recovered and blurted, “But I love you. Would be enough for you to know I want to spend the rest of my life with you?”
I told her I had something else in mind for a romantic proposal, if she could just trust that and be patient. This was a promise that I currently had no opportunity to deliver on.
We made up songs as we hiked back down the mountain in half the time and returned to the capital city of San Jose to join the eco adventure tour folks. When I checked my email at the hotel and found an invitation to speak at the Irish Travellers Association! The event was this coming April. With a cosmic grin I promptly invited Andrea to join me on this trip to make it a vacation. I said it casually but inside I was bursting with delight. I now had the means to hatch my romantic plot.
Footnote: For some reason every room we stayed in for two weeks had the number 7 in it. We started to think that July 7, 2007 might be a good wedding day with or with out formal proposal.
April 2007 – The Proposal
We flew all night to arrive at 6am London’s Heathrow Airport and then skipped across the Irish Sea to land at the delightful Belfast City Airport. I drove the rental car on the “wrong side” to take us up the North Coast and arrived at noon in Tim’s cottage in Castlerock, I noted that the cottage was number 7 Shore Road.
We were exhausted from the all night flight so Andrea took an afternoon nap while Tim and I watched the Grand National horse race. I stayed awake because I wanted to confirm with Tim that every thing was ready. I had mailed him a photo of Andrea and I taken at sunset in Costa Rica and asked him to slip it under the floor tile as was the plan from two years earlier. As it turned out it was exactly two years ago this very weekend.
“Tim,” I inquired, “Is everything ready?”
“Yes,” he assured, “I put the photo in a wee plastic bag to protect it and slipped it under the floor tile as planned.”
“Tim,” I pondered, “How am I going to get her to pick up that stone?”
“I have no idea,” was his first reaction, but tried to offer a solution, “Maybe you can make a game of it by talking about leprechauns and looking for treasures under the floor. We’re in Ireland after all.”
“Not high on the romance scale but it might have to do,” I conceded.
At dinner that evening Andrea suggested that we take an early morning hike the next day up to, “that castle you’re always talking about.” Yes!
Sunday morning was a mild day with partially overcast sky as we walked the path down through a glen and up past sheep grazing in the field. I was a bit distracted by some the visitors who were already checking out the building so I stalled going up the 14 steps by suggesting that we take in the view. When we crossed the threshold I had the thought of taking a picture of us using the timer. I bent down and placed the camera on the window sill but it sloped down to what would be a photo of our feet. Without thinking, I asked Andrea to grab something to prop up the camera. Of all the things she could have used she bent down and picked up that floor tile.
There is a quaint British term for what Andrea experienced, it’s called “gobsmacked.” After all, we had just walked through the door and there she was holding a photo of us she had just found under a floor tile she had just lifted. On the back was I had written the proposal. Good thing too because when she turned around I was on my knee and I squeaked out (my voice cracks when I get emotional) the proposal as written on the back of the photo. It was good to have a backup.
“Will you be my partner in life, will you watch the last sunset with me. Will you marry me?”
Fortunately she said yes.
Back to the cottage for some Ulster fry breakfast as the phone continued to ring from villagers who were curious as to what happened.
The next day, Monday, we bought our wedding rings from Steenson’s jewellers on Bedford Street in Belfast. We appreciated the synchronicity that my cousin’s boy is named Steen and live in Bedford, NS.
Once we selected our rings, the salesperson noted the number of diamonds embedded in Andrea’s ring before resizing. We hadn’t noticed the exact number. He counted seven.
We were married at the waterfront park near our home in Bedford on July 7, 2007 at 7 o’clock in the evening with seven attendants standing with us.
May 2008 – Bolder Dreams
I returned to Northern Ireland to offer a series of leadership development and good relations building programs in the communities of Derry and Newry. And, as tradition has it, I spent another weekend at Tim and Alice’s cottage in Castlerock.
Tim and I had fun as usual including some boyish adventure walking back from Mussenden Temple through the train tunnel, and getting caught half way through by an oncoming train! We pressed our backs to the tunnel wall and lived to tell the tale. Good thing because I had just committed 4 new dreams for a bigger life to a paper under the stone.
During this visit to the Mussenden Temple I felt encouraged by past success to write up a bolder, bigger dream list. This intention setting session also called on me to be more creative than I expected because the building was locked. I slipped my dream sheet under a foundation stone in the outside casement of the basement window. Close enough, I mused. And was it ever.
I wrote four intentions and forgot the actual wording but remember the spirit of them all. They were:
1. I Dream of a baby to love.
By May of 2008 Andrea and I had lived many months on an emotional roller coaster of anticipation and disappointment since we miscarried in September of 2007. When I returned from this trip we were scheduled to start in vitro fertilization. As it came to pass we didn’t succeed through step one of this invasive biological process.
As a couple, we took on the perspective that we would be “child free.” As coincidence would have it, several weeks later we both called the Bichon dog breeder within hours of each other on the same day to inquire about the availability of new puppies. So much for surprises. We took 6 week old Millicent home on the Labour Day holiday weekend 2008.
That same weekend we received the phone call that changed it all. Andrea’s twin sister Angela called and asked us a simple question, “If a baby dropped in you lap would you keep it?”
We sat stunned and hung on every word as Angela explained the story that had been unfolding behind our back as orchestrated by her and her husband’s sister Nancy. Through a work connection, they had found out about a pregnant 16 year old who had decided to make an adoption plan for her baby due to be born at the end of November.
Over the summer, Angela and Nancy had written and sent the birth mother a glowing profile of Andrea and I. The birth mother must have been impressed because she approved us to be the adoptive parents! We had never considered adoption because it takes many years of waiting to succeed through, “The System.” And here we were invited to adopt baby through a specified private adoption to be born in less than three months! Did we ever hustle to get ready!
I was working in the South of Ireland and flew back November 27, 2008. Andrea met me at the airport and we went directly to the maternity hospital. Hannah was born at 3:42am Friday morning November 28. We held her 15 minutes after she was born and took her home with an over whelming sense of gratitude.
The birth mother and birth father and their families visit from time to time because we chose to have an open adoption. We were honoured to be we invited to the birth mother’s high school graduation party in June of 2010. She wanted everyone who helped her graduate to be there. Our gift of Hannah was also a gift to her in knowing her baby had a safe and loving home so she could to follow her career dreams and get a higher education.
The birth mother asked me when she was pregnant about what our girl’s name choice Hannah meant. I told her that I didn’t know but I’d just loved that name for as long as I could remember and dreamed that if I ever had a daughter I’d give her that name. I later looked up the origin of the name Hannah in one of those baby name books. Hannah: “Gift of grace from God” We have our baby to love.
2. I Dream of financial freedom
I was surprised at the form this took but the short version is that I received an unexpected windfall that hit me in late 2009. I have emerged with no debt and very few financial worries and have the freedom to dedicate more of my speaking to charities and particularly offering free talks to Parkinson’s chapters across Canada.
3. I Dream of a bestselling book
I realised later that I hit the 5000 bestseller mark for copies sold with my first co-authored book published in 1994, The Healthy Relationships Curriculum. But what I really had in mind was a new book that was yet to be conceived.
My creative muse inspired me in 2010 to start two book ideas. The one that has the most passion and gets people most excited is, “The 10/90 Principle.” It’s about how life experiences can be seen as 10% events – stuff that happens to us on the outside and 90% how we think about and perceive what happens. Our two choices within the 90% that we control are “gratitude attitude” and “stinking thinking.”
It’s designed like a reverse book that looks at numerous life events from each of the two perspectives. For example, the event in Chapter 7 is the hit of my Parkinson’s disease diagnosis. The gratitude attitude side of the book explores the amazing gift this disease has been in my life. Flip the book over in your hands to the stinking thinking cover and the same event, also Chapter 7 is told from the perspective the recounts shock, shame and sadness. Choose your perspective because we don’t get to choose the events of life that are going to happen anyway.
If everyone I told about the book that got excited by the concept were to order then I may well have a best seller. We’ll see how this dream gets fulfilled in it’s entirety in 2011!
4. I Dream of better health discipline
Since my Parkinson disease diagnoses in 2005, the one consistently proven factor for thriving with the disease is exercise! In the scheme of things, this dream was really more of a goal because it involves 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. To date I have ramped up my Yoga routine, take regular dog walks and have more Hannah in the backpack adventures. Fixing the elliptical exercise machine before winter sets in is next.
Perhaps not all dreams drop into our lives as a gift from an abundant universe. Sometimes to get what we desire requires hard work. But one thing remains the same whether we seek the manifested intention of a dream or the results of dedicated work in the direction of a goal. It’s a truth that underpins the entire success formula of Conceive, Believe and Receive. That truth that runs through is the degree to which we allow ourselves to celebrate life and it’s infinite capacity for love.
October 2010 – Share the Joy
I was blessed to receive a participant’s bursary to attend the World Parkinson’s Congress in Glasgow, Scotland. To add to my good fortune, the wonderful women at Women’s Aid Northern Ireland said yes to an Energizing Unsung Heroes workshop which enabled me to pop across the Irish Sea to support them and revisit Northern Ireland and my favourite cottage.
It was typical cloudy day when Tim and I once again hiked up to Mussenden temple. I had three goals in my heart. The first goal was to retrieve the dream list I had placed some two and a half years earlier. When I retrieved the paper it was soggy and a bit mouldy from 2 winters of storms that blew under the sill even though the window was on the leeward side of the building. I had actually forgotten the exact wording of the dream list and was astonished at how accurate it had become.
The second reason was to offer another dream sheet to slip under the manifesting magic stones. The dream was simply. I want to bring a group of 12 people to the Mussenden Temple in the Fall of 2011 as a way of helping them make their dreams come true.
The third reason was to create an invitation video for folks curious about the Dreamweaver’s Tour 2011. We hope you enjoy as you consider this invitation.
This is my dream come true story so far. There is more to come, as always…and it may include you. I humbly share this big life journey with the sincere hope that it inspires you to release even greater passion towards what which you desire for your life, your career and your family. Thank you for reading this far, that is meant to be. What happens next is for you to discern…
Perhaps your soul will be satisfied by reading this as an inspirational blessing story that wells up a heartfelt sense of gratitude for your own life. You can never be too grateful.
Perhaps you are thinking of a friend, colleague or family member who might benefit from this story and the Dreamweaver Tour opportunity. If so, feel free to forward the link to this story with a personal “thinking of you” note.
Perhaps now is the time for you to enrol in this adventure yourself. Perhaps you are thinking of reasons why you can’t, barriers, real or imagined, that are all too familiar. Perhaps it’s time to grow anyway.
Trust that you know what is next. I Iook forward to the possibility of supporting and challenging you on the Dreamweaver’s Tour 2011 journey.