Friday, February 27, 2015

The Heroine's Quest at Mid-Life

I am relishing this latest Creative Circle class, as we near the end of exploring our Heroine's quest or Journey. We have been journaling and making SoulCollage(R) cards each week, for seven weeks now.  Below is a card I made about meeting the Beast, and my brave-hearted little girl (lion-heart or Coeur de lion) who is leaping into the fray, small but mighty.

The mid-life journey (anywhere from mid-40's to mid-60's) has lead me on many inner adventures, and a few life changes too. Why do I look at it as a Heroic Quest? 

A woman's cyclical journey through life involves many transformations. She leaves behind one self to become another - from pre-puberty to teen, from maiden to mother, and at menopause, her body and hormones are changing once again. The Heroic Quest involves a separation from the old life, a descent into the abyss, a revelation or transformation, and a return. Most women go through this more than once! Even Joseph Campbell calls mothering a heroic task.

It takes courage to be a woman, but it also calls on the power of the Feminine. We can stride into the forest and wrestle the Beast or bears, but more often the strength that is needed is slower, more patient, as in labour and childbirth. 

A woman's strength comes from her center, from the wholeness of her being, and it demands her Presence, her intuitive knowing and response to what is needed. At menstruation, we learned to tune in and listen better to our own hormonal rhythms, our mood swings and emotional needs. At childbirth, we learn to surrender to the body and a baby coming out, and then to its needs for food and rest. 

At Menopause, we transform once more, and learn the big lesson of Descent and Return. We are on our way to becoming Elders. And the need for self-care becomes paramount, so we can better serve the young children, men and women coming up behind us. 

We can fight these rhythms of change, the seasons and cycles, and suffer being out of whack, out of tune with ourselves. Or we can listen to the inner rhythm, connect to body, mind and soul, giving ourselves that tender, gentle care we so lovingly lavish on others. 

That self-compassion and kindness, that gentle self-love goes a long way to healing the heroine's angsts and fears. Follow your intuition, and a pathway will open up in the dark woods. Follow your bliss, and don't let the dragons of fear paralyze you. 

This is your Quest, your Journey. And you will emerge brighter, better, stronger than before. The second half of life awaits you. Enter and Enjoy!


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Angry at Winter? Here's my plan

I went to bed yesterday shivering and cold, the area where my desk is, right by the lovely picture window, lets in a lot of cold air. New house, new windows, not so great at -25 Celsius. Depressing piles of snow out my window and grey skies. It made me wonder why we put up with this climate in Canada.

This morning, the depression was replaced with anger - I've had it with winter. Every morning we check the thermometer, hoping for an improvement. It's only mid-February. It's been below -15 for weeks. Weather channel says another month of this....arrgh. 

How I decided to vanquish winter

This particular winter feels like a long famine of colour and comfort, so I decided I needed a feast. I popped into the grocery store after getting my car washed (all the salt on the roads had turned it light gray and my red coat is covered in this grime). A balmy -8 this morning, at least the doors won't freeze shut. Then the sun came out,  bonus! 

Filled the shopping cart with bright  greens, kale, lettuce, asparagus! cauliflower, pears and grapefruits, then papaya and strawberries (I normally only buy fruit in season, but the colours screamed out at me - pick me!). Next I picked up some lovely yellow and coral coloured tulips - I'll beat these blahs with flowers. Rack of lamb, pulled pork, (normally I only order organic meat online from a regional farm, but I am really pissed off at winter today). To top it off, dark chocolate with sea salt for dessert.

We will feast our way through the rest of this week. I'm making soups and stews: cabbage soup, onion soup, lentil soup, the slow cooker working double time. Crisping Kale in the oven with garlic salt, cayenne and Herbamare (to make chips) - I am not going to take this winter lying down in starvation, that's for sure. 

While I was out and about today, buying gifts for my niece's new baby, I saw a coffee depot in the mall and did something I NEVER do, bought a caffe latte and chocolate almonds (I haven't drank coffee in the afternoon since menopause 9 years ago). I am so mad at winter I'm throwing my old cautious lifestyle out the window. Take that sluggish moods and blah depressing feelings.

Kicking the frozen slush of the tire walls of my car made me feel better, but not stepping into deep icy puddles in the parking lot, watching my UGG boots get white tipped with salt. Back home, let the pooch run on the frozen lake, for a whole 15 minutes, which is the longest we've been outside in weeks! These are the only excursions out of doors, besides driving to the grocery store or out to Hudson Music Club rehearsals.

Know this Winter: I will not be defeated by you nor by seasonal affective disorder. I am going to make comfort food, roasts, stews, bake cakes and bread (gluten free chocolate of course), and keep my self bundled up in cashmere, wool scarves, and double layers of quilting. I may even get the cross country skis out if it goes above -10 this weekend.

Stay Warm and Eat lots of Fattening Foods! see poem below on February.


Winter. Time to eat fat
and watch hockey. In the pewter mornings, the cat,   
a black fur sausage with yellow
Houdini eyes, jumps up on the bed and tries   
to get onto my head. It’s his
way of telling whether or not I’m dead.
If I’m not, he wants to be scratched; if I am   
He’ll think of something. He settles
on my chest, breathing his breath
of burped-up meat and musty sofas,
purring like a washboard. Some other tomcat,   
not yet a capon, has been spraying our front door,   
declaring war. It’s all about sex and territory,   
which are what will finish us off
in the long run. Some cat owners around here   
should snip a few testicles. If we wise   
hominids were sensible, we’d do that too,   
or eat our young, like sharks.
But it’s love that does us in. Over and over   
again, He shoots, he scores! and famine
crouches in the bedsheets, ambushing the pulsing   
eiderdown, and the windchill factor hits   
thirty below, and pollution pours
out of our chimneys to keep us warm.
February, month of despair,
with a skewered heart in the centre.
I think dire thoughts, and lust for French fries   
with a splash of vinegar.
Cat, enough of your greedy whining
and your small pink bumhole.
Off my face! You’re the life principle,
more or less, so get going
on a little optimism around here.
Get rid of death. Celebrate increase. Make it be spring.

Margaret Atwood, “February” from Morning in the Burned House

Friday, February 13, 2015

10 ways to practice Self-Love, on Valentine’s Day or Every Day

As a Scorpio, eldest daughter and born Caretaker (I found this out at, I am often great at giving out advice but not so great at doing it myself. This list reminds me how important it is to fill my own well so I can share the love with those around me.

1.      Stop, listen, pay attention: I love the acronym for PAIN. Pay Attention Inside Now. How do you feel? What are you missing right now? Where does something not feel right? Where do you feel awesome? Noticing how you feel is the first step to taking action.

2.      Body Love: Honour the body’s messengers/guidance: those signals are popping up to help you. Don’t put it off. For instance, if you’re tired, take a short nap. If you’re hungry, make yourself a healthy snack or smoothie; if you’re stressed, take a stretch break and breathe. Don’t make excuses; love yourself by listening to the body’s messages.

3.      Loving TLC - Pamper yourself: this is not selfish. You can’t feed the world from an empty well. Need a mental health day? Give yourself permission to lounge and relax, read a book in bed all day. Or if this is difficult, book a massage. Get your hair or nails prettified; buy yourself a bunch of yellow tulips. Mid-February can be pretty bleak, so add some color to your life.

4.      Free to be me Love - Do something silly only you love to do: jump on the bed and giggle, convince a friend, sibling or partner to go sliding with you (even if you hate the cold, get out and play). Make a chocolate fondue and smear chocolate all over your fingers then lick them clean.

5.      Funny Love - Loosen up and laugh more: find a funny movie you haven’t watched in years, make it as corny as you can find, The Three Stooges or Maxwell Smart, something you used to love as a kid that will tickle your funny bone.

6.      Friend Love: call a friend you haven’t spoken to in over a month – we get so busy, we forget that a long talk with a close friend can open the heart; not a text, Facebook message or email – a real heart to heart in person or on the phone, if possible. If they live far away, surprise them with a Skype call.

7.      Creative Love: give yourself a creative break today. I love Sark’s book Succulent Wild Woman - she recommends staying in bed in your jammies and colouring with pens or crayons. Getting your creative flow on is a surefire mood booster. If you haven’t gotten your paints out for a while, set up the easel in the kitchen and make a mess. Do some collage, if you want something simple – all you need is glue, scissors and a few magazines. Get in the Flow; you’ll love yourself for doing it. As Sark says: Live like a full cup of self love, sharing the overflow with the world.

8.      Soulful Love - Pray/write/dialogue with your Soul: Don’t have a soul mate? Your soul or inner voice would love to speak with you. Author Janet Connor of Writing down your Soul, suggests that you just lay it all out in your journal – what you’re feeling, a dilemma you’re in, a challenge facing you – then let your inner voice respond with what is sure to be wise words. I love using this journaling tool to access my inner wisdom.

9.      Full Body Love: look at yourself in the mirror and see past the crow’s feet, the crooked eyebrows and the shadows under your eyes – see past the flaws, don’t curse them. Bless them! Say out loud while gazing into your right eyeball. I love you! I will cherish and love you all the days of my life. To help you with this, put on John Legend’s gorgeous song: All of Me.

'Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections

10.   Ultimate Self-Love Party: strip naked, in front of a full-length mirror and touch with a loving touch every part of your body that needs some extra attention or love right now. Unhappy with your thighs? Touch them with loving thoughts. Saggy underarms? Touch them with love. Purposefully ignore the self-hate and ride over it with the voice of your Inner Best Friend, and again, sing All of Me: Love your curves and all your edges, all your perfect imperfections… Remember, what you curse falters, and what you bless, flourishes.

Bonus points: a little sexy self-loving can’t hurt – get out your rose smelling almond oil and an inspiring book (Deep Down or 50 Shades of Grey) and play with your partner or your pillow!

Find the time and space to be your own best lover this Valentine’s. Don’t get caught up in the cliché of red roses and chocolate hearts: you deserve to love yourself, today, and every day.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Valentine's is for the lover in you

Dear ones,

it has been too long. I am posting frequently on Facebook, sending out monthly newsletters, leading classes and retreats, but I have forgotten to come back to this blog.

I guess it's a sign of where my attention is going.

But today, this week, Love Week, here is something to watch and listen to, to remind you that your heart longs to be loved, held, cared for, to love and be loved.

and here are some Lovely Quotes about Love (music by Stuart Hoffman). Watch this lovely slideshow, prepared by Mitch Ditkoff, who is trying to make this go viral and raise money for (a great cause, peace and dignity for all).

Happy Lover's Day!


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Happy Solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year

Here are some great winter quotes for you to muse on:

I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says "Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”  ― Lewis CarrollAlice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

Here's a good one on Home:

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”  ― Edith Sitwell

“Spring passes and one remembers one's innocence.
Summer passes and one remembers one's exuberance.
Autumn passes and one remembers one's reverence.
Winter passes and one remembers one's perseverance.” 
― Yoko Ono

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.[Meditations Divine and Moral]” 
― Anne BradstreetThe Works of Anne Bradstreet

“Snow flurries began to fall and they swirled around people's legs like house cats. It was magical, this snow globe world.”  ― Sarah Addison AllenThe Sugar Queen

Have a cozy, snug winter holiday,


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

How to find Harmony & Peace

It's the end of the year, very very soon. But first we hit the holidays, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Solstice, Christmas, the ring in the New Year...

But before that, before any resolutions come across the plate like a home run hit.....ponder this.

"Trying to be all things to all people leads to anxiety, irritability and burnout. It's time to dial it back - by about 30 per cent - and put your own well-being first."

This excerpt from a great article in yesterday's Globe & Mail hits the nail on the head. Constantly striving to do more, faster and better only makes us less effective sometimes. It can affect our productivity by using up all our reserves of energy. We're so afraid of appearing lazy or selfish, even to our own Inner Critics, let alone our family and co-workers, that we don't know how to let up on the gas pedal. Crash and burn victims are all around me, too many cases of burn-out and chronic fatigue.

This article quotes several  life-work balance experts, such as Renee Peterson Trudeau, who say it actually makes more sense to dial it back a bit, and reserve up to 40 per cent of your energy for yourself. Take the time to slow down, put important things first, and really, finaly, tune into your inner wisdom. 

To that end, this year I have done 70% of my shopping on-line, and rejoice every time a big box is left at my door - I have a big extended family on both sides, and even with gift exchanges and name picking, there is a long list, including not only my children, siblings, but god-children and niece's new babies, etc.

I have yet to hit the shopping mall and face the wrath of tired shoppers circling the parking lot looking for a spot that isn't 3 miles away.

If you still feel like you need to feel worthy and acceptable by 'doing it all', read this article and take a deep breath. Consider the notion of "The power of Less" or "haiku productivity" - that introducing some idea of restraint on your activity may actually help you prioritize. Go from frazzled to peaceful - it's worth a try.

Love yourself, love the holidays, love your family, but save 30% of your day for resting, recouping and relaxing. Get the little elves to help you decorate and wrap and cook. 

How does that sound?

best wishes for happy festivities and Love,

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Listening to your own wisdom

I was reminded today during a wonderful Zumba class and chat with personal trainer Brigitte that I am often being guided to trust my inner resources instead of finding the answers outside myself. We had a great talk while recovering from all that physical exertion, lying on the floor.

Twice in the past ten years I have met with creative coaches, one of whom was a channeler of 'guides', to help me find the right direction for my life and how best to use my gifts. Both times I was told, 'my guides are telling me you have to find the answer yourself.' Or, 'I think you need to go sit with the Unknown for a while and see what comes up'.

There is a booming business in clairvoyants, angelic voices being channelled and all kinds of ways to seek guidance from other people, even crystals, but the most challenging thing I've ever had to do is trust that I am receiving guidance, if I can just pay attention to the signs and signals that are coming at me, and listen to my heart.

Today, after Zumba, I was looking into some inquiry cards that a SoulCollage facilitator posted a link to. The card of the day (they pose questions, don't give answers), was What is my next step?

I thought that was pretty serendipitous so I stared at the patterns of the card, hoping to find an answer. Something vague floated around in consciousness for a while, then I thought, ok, let's just order the cards. 

Back to my inbox, an email from my sister asking if I had seen a writing submission for a magazine -  which I had not heard of, and there I found an amazing article by Deena Metzger about indigenous people, and her path as a healer. She is a writer I admire, and I know she addressed the SoulCollage conference last year, so I read her story with great interest, especially about the importance of dreams.

I had a dream that I was trying to figure out, and a line somewhere jumped out at me - about grief and grieving, that we move from the frozen part of grief to feeling grief, and that answered a question I had been asking Brigitte earlier about the remnants of a frozen shoulder. She and I were trying to get to the bottom of any emotional baggage that was stuck and hindering the healing (over 3 years now), besides the overuse of computer and bad posture on my part. 

Deena also wrote that sometimes she asks herself, how would a wise elder act, before acting. How would someone who cares for the earth, for all her relations, for community, acting out of compassion, not competition, act?

And that reminded me that this whole 'right shoulder', inner masculine side of me that is very competitive, and overactive, could calm down a little and listen to her inner wise elder. I have a few SoulCollage(R) cards that are African elders, male and female, and I have wondered why there were so many indigenous people in my Archetypes suit. 

Anyway, one goes in circles sometimes, bopping from one website article, to another. But today, they all felt linked, and it brought me back full circle to my own inner wisdom. I love that through journaling and SoulCollage(R) answers come to me from my own subconscious, when I am relaxed and not forcing things, just 'playing'.

and now, off to dream....

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