October 2, 2015

Final part


Neil wrote:

”Some of us, at any rate, must hit what AA calls «an emotional bottom» wherein we realize we are powerless, that our lives have become unmanageable and we must reach out for help. It is in this «bottom» that I believe we take the first decisive step in beginning to draw our own map. It is a marvellous paradox that when we become vulnerable we also become able to grow from the inside.

In this sense, God does indeed write straight with crooked lines. Or as the Canadian therapist, Marian Woodman, puts it, «God comes through the wound. »

How do you know when you are living out of your own map? Let me suggest a few simple test, so simple you may think them jejune. Believe me they’re not consider the following:

1) A friend calls you on the telephone to invite you to a party. You tell the friend you’ll get back to her. The reason for your delay is not to consult your agenda. The reason is that you don’t really want to commit yourself until you’re sure another, more interesting invitation doesn’t turn up. You are not living out of your own map. The relevant advise is « Move in a straight line. » Only those who habitually live out of their own map are mature enough not to continually hedge their bets but to move in a straight line.

2) Another friend calls on you to take on a project of some kind. You hesitantly say yes, not because the project really interests you (and you already have too many projects on your plate) but because you don’t want to displease your friend.

You are not living out of your own map. Only those who do feel really comfortable saying «no» when «no» is the nature of the response. How and why a person says «no» is a fairly accurate test of whether that person is living out of his or her map.

3) You do something in public, e.g. a talk, a presentation, an article. There is very little or no reaction from others. You are inordinately discomfited by this lack of response. You are not living out of your own map. To change the image, you are still dancing to the music played by others.

There are many other examples of not living according to your own map and I expect you can come up with many of your own.

Drawing your own maps is not a decision, an act of will. It is a process which requires awareness, demands patience but is truly liberating, and blessings on your journey.”

Neil McKenty


October 1, 2015

Part 2 of 3

Neil wrote:

”This is a recipe for inner dis-ease. And disguising that dis-ease from others and even from ourselves becomes our objective. We desperately try to project an image that all is well, we can manage, we are a success (as we well may be), we have a great social life and scads of friends. And if these external accomplishments do not anaesthetize the inner pain for long (which they don’t) well some of us try a quicker method, chemicals of some sort. A double martini or a snort of coke will deaden our dis-ease a lot faster than making a successful speech or writing an acclaimed article. But whether its alcohol or drugs or success we are all, in a sense, addicts, trying to fill a spiritual hole with a material reality.

Which brings us back to maps. At the core of the problem is an instinctive sense that we are not being true to ourselves, that we are not living out of our own natural bent, not, in the words of Joseph Campbell, «following our bliss». Instead our lives are still governed by external expectations, by maps drawn by other people. To be specific, think of the tortuous journey of a man who really wants to be a writer but instead has become a priest. Or a woman who wants to be an artist and finds herself doing a doctorate in bioethics because that’s what she thought her father, an eminent doctor, wanted her to do. I think the word hypocrite is relevant here, not in a moral sense but in the root from the Greek, hypocrite meaning «actor». It’s a dreadful burden to go through life being an actor, following the wrong map.

How does one turn this situation around? How does a person develop his or her own map for the journey? Not easily. Not by any more external band-aids or success stories. The outer journey (with the wrong map) must be replaced by the inner journey using the map that enables us to become the person God intended us to be.
But how do we move from outer accomplishments (which like drugs require stronger doses) to an interior journey that deals with our dis-ease in a fundamental and permanent manner?

This is a movement from disliking ourselves to liking ourselves, in my opinion the most fundamental spiritual transformation imaginable. I think the first step is a total revulsion at the unreality of the way we have been living expressed perhaps in a cry from our inner depths, «I just want to be real». My own experience is that a crisis of some sort may be required to get us to this existential honesty, something along the lines described by the American Jungian therapist, James Hollis, as the «swamplands of the soul». These include loss, depression, grief, loneliness and betrayal.”

… To be continued


September 29, 2015


Part 1 of 3

Neil wrote:


Once I was hosting a radio phone-in program when the question was, « How do you get on with your mate driving in the car? » Calls were a riot. Most of the callers, especially the women, recalled incidents when their husband got lost. The reaction was invariably the same. First the husband denied he was lost; the he refused to stop the car and ask for directions; finally in a fit of pique, he angrily declined to look at the map.

That program got me thinking about maps. Of course, if you’re lost it’s stupid not to look at a map and figure out where you are. But suppose you didn’t have a map. Or something worse, you had the wrong map. Imagine, for instance, you live in Montreal and you are motoring to Boston. Everything’s fine until you arrive in Beantown. Then the whole trip begins to unravel. You can’t find your hotel; you can’t even find the name of the street your hotel is on. You pore over your map. You can’t find a single name or reference point that makes any sense. You continue to drive around aimlessly, bewildered, growing more anxious and angry by the minute, totally frustrated. Finally, you spot a policeman. You stop and show him your map.

He looks at you quizzically and says it’s no wonder you’re lost. You’ve been driving frantically around Boston. But you’re trying to follow a map of Detroit. You have the wrong map.

Isn’t that how many people go through life following the wrong map? And if that’s the case (and experience suggests it is) then is it any wonder that so many of us are anxious, bewildered, angry, frustrated and ultimately lost? Is it surprising that we experience a chronic inner dis-ease, that we are not comfortable in our skin and that we expend enormous energy trying to disguise this condition from the outside world?

Of course, we are now talking about an interior map, a map that relates to the landscape of our own psyche, the topography of our innermost soul. So where did we get this defective, inaccurate map that has led us down so many blind alleys, cul-de-sacs and roads that went nowhere? In my case the map I followed for many years goes back to my boyhood. What’s wrong with that? Nothing, except the map was drawn by other people. From as long as I can remember I was trying to live up to the expectations of other people: my parents, my priest, my teachers and, to some extent, the community in which I lived.

Trying to live up to the expectations of others never works because (in your own mind at least) whatever you do, however much you succeed, it is never enough. The bar is continually being raised. What this leads to is not a genuine sense of accomplishment but an oppressive sense of failure. We can never do enough. And it’s not far from feeling that we are failures to feeling that we are unlikeable. Not just that others don’t like us but, fundamentally, we don’t like ourselves.”

… To be continued


September 27, 2015

Who is Polly or Aunt Polly for some?

Since it was the author’s birthday not too long ago, I decided to encourage you to get to know Polly.

POLLY OF BRIDGEWATER FARM, AN UNKNOWN IRISH STORY”, is a wonderful true story about a bubbly little girl born in 1837 near Dromore, Northern Ireland. Ten years later, due to great famine and destruction, Polly and her family migrated to Canada.  Here is a glimpse of her early life in Ireland:

And now, to keep Polly from being lonesome away from home, in the big bed in the loft of their grandparents’ house, Eliza whispered another story to her from olden times of three Scottish princesses who fell in love with three Irish princes.  Eliza rose to her full height, waved her arms with the drama of it all, her golden hair shimmering in the moonlight as she described the tragedy, the death of the three princes in battle, and the heartbreak of the three princesses as they turned their faces into the ground to die on the spot of grief.  Polly wiped a tear from her eyes as the glorious story ended, then promptly fell asleep, curled up beside her sister in the old house with an owl hooting gently outside in the starlit night.”


Here is a link for the book: click here


September 15, 2015

With the smart phone more and more popular and the increase in sales and the competition more fierce than ever:

Do we know everything about them?

Are they really a necessity in today’s world?

Are we getting a fair deal in Canada?


Here is a post from Neil on the subject.

Posted on Exchange in May 2010


After studying the matter for 10 years in 13 countries including Canada, the experts have come up with a puzzling answer about mobile phones and cancer.

Here is the bad news.  Heavy cellphone use, defined as chatting on mobiles for more than half an hour a day over 10 years,  was associated with a 40 per cent increase in risk of a rare and deadly brain cancer known as glioma, the same kind of cancer that killed Senator Kennedy.

The good news is that the study also found that low and moderate amounts of cellphone use seemed to offer a modest protection against developing the disease.

This means that the debate over cell[phone use is unlikely to go away soon.

The fact is that using a cellphone amounts to placing a small radio transmitter next to your head, exposing the brain and ears to microwave radiation.

Do you use cellphones?

Are you concerned about a risk of brain cancer?

Would you stop using cellphones for that reason.?

Catharine asks:

September 13, 2015

I can’t believe I watched a Blue Jays game with their magnificent win in the historic Yankee Stadium. ”

What is it about baseball that keeps us all fascinated? Even though it’s slower than football and hockey.

Here’s what Neil had to say about baseball his favorite sports in general.



Well they sure are for me.  Both passive and active.

The only active sport that I am still involved in is golf.  And I  must admit it’s idiosyncratic golf,  I only play nine holes and I don’t count.  At one stroke you remove all the stress.  Used to play goal for my high school hockey team but those days are long gone.

But I will sure be watching the rubber game of the Stanley Cup series between Detroit and Pittsburgh. Go Crosby.

I have also started watching baseball early this year.  My favourite teams are the Blue Jays,  the Red Sox and the Yankees in that order.   I find watching baseball enormously relaxing.  I know some people find it slow, about as exciting as watching paint dry.  But I find it a graceful ballet between the bases, filled with strategy.

Do you find sports relaxing, a good stress reliever?

Do you still play any active sports?

Will you be watching the Stanley Cup Final tonight?

Oh, I  almost forgot to mention golf and Tiger Woods.  Never miss him.


September 9, 2015

The other night three of us where spellbound listening to the song ” Harperman ” that is going viral on the internet.

In June of this year, Tony Turner, an Ottawa folksinger recorded a song out of protest against the Conservative government of S. Harper. Along with Ann Downey on bass and the Crowd of Well Wishers choir.


Have you heard it yet?

Have you ever in your life heard of a political song like it?

What’s your opinion?



View the video here:click here


September 6, 2015

A new course on sex education is about to be introduced in Quebec’s high schools.

Not long ago, Ontario parents withdrew their kids from the sex education class; apparently Quebec will not allow that.  No exceptions is the word.

Is this democratic?

Is this kind of education necessary in today’s world?

At what age should this course be given to children?

What right should parents have?

Where your parents helpful in this matter for you?

Will the Quebec officials change there position?

Read full article here: click here

What’s your opinion?


September 6, 2015

” Catharine don’t panic ”


In the end, no matter what, Neil could always make me laugh.  I remember one particular December evening in our beloved farmhouse home in the heart of Victoria Village.  On dark nights such as this one I always made sure to place candles of all sizes on an ancient dinning room table which we bought for 35$ from neighbours who were moving out as we were moving in.  On this winter evening I had set a scrumptious shepherd’s pie in front of Neil so he could serve us both.  As he reached across the table to hand me my plateful the fuzzy sleeve of his bright red dressing gown caught fire.

To my horror the flames began to run up his arm.  Neil quietly stood up, stepped out from the table, and moved steadily towards the kitchen saying calmly to me ” Catharine don’t panic. ”  I followed him out to the kitchen, picked up a big green canister of flour from the counter and threw the content over him.  The fire went out.  Neil returned to the meal as though nothing had happened, sitting there in his black tinged dressing gown while I dissolved in near hysterical laughter.

Many times since, in moments of crisis, I hear those words, ” Catharine don’t panic! ”  They have often returned to stand me in good stead.





September 2, 2015


He liked to argue just for the fun of it. In the 70’s & 80’s he was one of Montreal’s highest rated radio talk show host, with more than 75000 people tuning in for his show.

In 1985 he leaves the radio scene at the top of his career to pursue other interests, then comes back into the spotlight but in an other media, television, to host McKenty Live!  With guests ranging from Dr. Ruth to René Lévesque you would be sure to be entertained the whole hour.

The book is available here: click here


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