Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Heroine’s Journey or Quest at Mid-Life

Ever notice how the GPS in your car never criticizes you? It never tells you that you’re on the wrong path, or going in the wrong direction. You simply input the destination and go on your way. If, you should make a right turn, rather than a left, the GPS simply says, “Recalculating…” It occurred to me how much SPIRIT is like a GPS. We simply tell SPIRIT where we want to go and start the journey. We can choose any path to get us there. There is no way to be lost. SPIRIT simply observes and gently “recalculates” as we go along. 
- Teri Goggin-Roberts at

The Heroine’s Quest involves an inner journey. It involves leaving the known or ‘outside’ world, facing unknown challenges, and returning with new knowledge. The journey at midlife involves moving down into her inner depths, leaving behind the upper world of cultural norms and roles, and descending into the Self. She may need protection from angels and guides as she learns to trust the Benevolent Universe is always providing for her.

The Heroine leaves behind the masculine realm of outer success and doing, to enter the feminine realm of Being.  She descends into her body’s knowing, and discovers the importance of taking care of her health, perhaps through facing an illness or accident. Self-care becomes primordial. She listens to her hungers, and appetites, her need for stillness and rest, her increased need for solitude. She discovers a need for food that supports her health, and exercise or movement for her muscles (but first she may feel like she is melting, a caterpillar turning into bug soup before growing her wings).

She descends into the realm of feelings and emotions, her restless heart. She learns to receive as well as to give. Pleasing others must be left behind. She removes her defensive armour, and gets in touch with grief, rage, feelings of loss, fears, mortality. She faces the shadow or dark side of suppressed emotions; she gathers the lost pieces of herself. A tempest is brewing.

She gets closer to the wild creative soul, allows herself to touch the raw, instinctive side, her sensuality and sexuality, her desire or lack of desire. She listens to her dreams.

She enters the ground of her being. It may feel like going underground, a depression, and a temporary withdrawal from the world of outer values. Her inner world calls out loudly. She rests there awhile to get her bearings. She asks herself, What am I hungry for?

To begin the return, she reconnects with the healing powers of earth and sky, trees and water, cycles of the moon and seasons, even the ground she walks on. She creates self-soothing rituals. She sticks with the quest, the questions, even when answers are not forthcoming.

She needs to reconnect with her inner knowing, her intuition, and develop trust in her IGS (inner guidance system). She explores practices that help: meditation, chi gong, yoga, expressive art, rocking movements, soothing music, naps.

She begins to heed her long held dreams, her longing to express herself, her creativity. She remembers what she used to love doing when she was young: pottery, piano, bicycling; she learns new ways to be in Flow through art: poetry, watercolour, journaling, SoulCollage(R).

She begins to speak her truth, unafraid of what others will say; she expresses and honours her core values. She finds her Voice. She is true to her Self, she owns her authenticity, her likes and dislikes; she knows her own mind. She discovers her feisty spirit is alive and well.

She enters the Guardian years, after menopause, with a new found wisdom and a desire to give back. She recognizes this has been a sacred journey. She gives thanks. She grows in compassion for herself and others.  Wise Woman or Juicy Crone, she will soon be an Elder.

She is aware now of the gifts of this journey, and returns to share what she has learned with other women.

(C) Jennifer Boire

with thanks to the authors who have inspired me to write about heroines and midlife: Maureen Murdock, Joseph Campbell, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Joan Borysenko.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Through the eyes of SoulCollage(R) Book Review

What I learned about SoulCollage(R) from reading Through the eyes of SoulCollage(R)  
by Anne-Marie Bennett, published 2015

(Note: SoulCollage(R) is a process of making a deck of cards that represent various parts of one’s life journey. There are four suits that represent either people we have loved, archetypal energies, inner personality parts and animal guides or instinctual energies).

On Facebook recently I saw a quote that read, I have been a seeker all my life and still am, but I stopped asking the stars and the books and started listening to the teaching of my own Soul. (Rumi) Stopping to listen in, and dialogue with parts of myself as represented in my SoulCollage(R) cards, is the best thing I have ever done to get to know myself better. And not only that, but it’s helped me accept all of me, the good and the bad, the light and the dark.

The lovely essays and reflections on life in the book Through the Eyes of SoulCollage(R), Reflections on Life via the SoulCollage(R) Lens, by facilitator and trainer Anne-Marie Bennett, grew out of the last ten years of her SoulCollage(R) journey, and were originally written as newsletter articles for KaleidoSoul, Bennetts’ SoulCollage(R) community. 

In this first book, of two planned books of essays on seeing life through the lens of SoulCollage(R), Anne-Marie covers two of the four suits – Community and Companions. (Council and Committee are the other two suits). Community cards are made for all the actual people who have lived, touched us in some way, or been close to us (including pets). Even teachers you have known or celebrities you admire fit here. Cards can be made to grieve and honour lost ones, and can increase our sense of connection, or “nettedness” as Bennett calls it. The Companions section has some wonderful ideas about how to receive messages and gifts from our animal guides or totems.

The book includes a list of vocabulary for the uninitiated, and a Time to reflect space to encourage readers to journal along with each chapter, as well as additional ideas for card making. She provides a link to her SoulCollage(R) cards on her website, with other resources and recommended sites and books. Facilitators can mine the book for workshop themes based on the topics in each chapter, with the author’s full permission.

There is a chapter on spirituality that I found especially appealing. Bennett sees SoulCollage as a form of prayer, as a tool to stay close to spirit. I like that Bennett describes the cards as more than just pieces of cardboard with images glued on them – they represent our wholeness, all the parts of self gathered together. Using the cards allows one to access deeper layers of soul, through active imagination and intuition, seeing patterns, themes, and writing about what one sees.

Bennett suggests that sticking close to your SoulCollage(R) cards through readings is a way of coming home to yourself. She strongly encourages makers of SoulCollage(R) cards to either do daily readings, picking two cards and sitting them on your bureau, or journaling about them, or Focused readings, where you set aside a special time and space to ask a question, clear your mind, and receive guidance from 3-4 cards you choose at random. Again, journaling is a component, as you dialogue with the cards and receive messages – in actuality, your sub-conscious selves, or inner self replying to your own questions. Bennett’s book is full of instances of synchronicity and learnings. It can be a fun, light process or one of transformation and deep healing.

After finishing the book, I spread all my SoulCollage(R) cards on the floor of my bedroom – they covered most of the room – and did what Bennett suggests – separated them by darker Neters or shadow parts, and Light Neters. I put the darker ones on the left, for no apparent reason, and the lighter, more playful cards on the right. Right away I noticed the difference in colour – the darker cards (representing anger, shame, old hurts and abandonments, painful heritage, etc) were mostly dark coloured. And the joyful, juicy creative cards (representing whimsy, joy, spirit of play, sanctuary, love and marriage, sexuality, freedom and creativity, were much more colourful and light – reds, yellows, blues predominating.

This was a very good exercise and I’m glad to have learned it from Anne-Marie’s book.

Some of my favorite essays were about learning how to trust the intuitive process. How does one begin to listen in and discover which inner parts need attention? I put a star beside a few chapters: What lights you up, and Inner Beauty (writing a love letter to the self, sealing and mailing it is a great idea and one I use in my journaling classes). So many creative moments are explored in this heartfelt, inspiring book...simple moments, from stopping to pause and admire nature, lessons learned riding the metro, to having the courage to tell all your heart.  

Read this book and discover many artful ways to pause, wonder at, and savour the moment.

You can find the book on Amazon, or read more about it here:

Jennifer Boire is a published author and a facilitator of the Creative Circle class, (creative journaling and SoulCollage(R)) and leads retreats for women.

Anne-Marie Bennett– KaleidoSoul founder, SoulCollage(R) Facilitator and Trainer lives in Massachusetts.

Friday, November 06, 2015

30 Day Soulful Self-Care challenge

I started the 30 day challenge on my birthday, Nov 4. Turning 60 last year has made me very aware of the importance of self-care, and it is a challenge because I let everything else come first.

Why is it that women (and especially since I'm a mother, so mothers) have such a hard time putting ourselves on the list?

I intend to experiment with doing something small, practical and doable every day for 30 days to feed my soul, improve my health, or otherwise practice some loving self-care.

Once I see what works for me, I can share it with you too.

If you want to follow along, day by day, see the Creative Soulful Woman Facebook page, where I will post photos and notes of this special, soulful self-care experiment.

If you want to join me, then drop me a note or make a comment about what you are doing to take good care of yourself - even if it's as small as pausing before eating to say thanks, writing in your journal for 10 minutes, taking a walk in the fresh air and filling up your inner well with kindness.


Friday, October 30, 2015

Can I live my life from the center?

This morning in yoga and in the short meditation afterwards, I felt like this:

soft mothering pulse, vibration
at the mother root of belly being
we long to feel rocked as if we were infants
I long for that all embracing feeling
of being loved, touched with love
seen with love,  heard with love.
we don't find it often in the grown-up world -
in the growing up years we may be hugged and held
but we were also scolded and scorned.

mom sang lullabies to us at bedtime
and she also swatted us away like flies.
she did rock me on her lap - I can still remember
being pushed off that lap and sent to the back seat of the car
on a long trip, station wagon full of kids.

mothers are not the endless source of loving
but that womb-rocking they do for nine months
is what we remember
as love
as nourishment.
this morning in shivasana, lying on my back
with knees up over a bolster
I just let go and breathed
and the mother-root energy pulsed
in the center of every outbreath and inbreath
and I felt rocked and held -

that hug we long for
is always there, but much quieter
than the noisy world in your office or kitchen.
it doesn't clamour to be felt
but the absence of that rooted-ness
is what scatters me
in a million directions.

I am a heat-seeking missile
when it comes to that Presence.
I want to zone-in, get close,
and closer,
hum, purr, rock,
stillness in motion
rocking my child's heart
back to comfort and release,
back to Ahhhh....

can I live from that center?


Friday, October 09, 2015

8 Steps for Improving Negative Energy

When negative energy surrounds you, what do you do? 

Having a shitty day? I am easily affected by bad weather, bad news and bad moods. Some days I swear the planets are lined up against me (Mercury retrograde anyone?). But I refuse to be own worst enemy. Especially with the fading light in fall, and the coming winter in the Northern Hemisphere, I need help to counter that bad soul-sucking negativity and fight my tendency to wallow in downright depressing thoughts. 

Here are 8 powerful game changers that really work for me:

Stop: stop listening to the hate messages, whether from outside you or inside your own mind. Step Back. Remove yourself from the victim/target mode.

Feel: drop down into your solar plexus, put your hands on your belly. Now do a body scan, letting your attention go from the top of your head down to your feet, and breathe through any tension or tightness you find. Purposely send breath to those tight, frightened spaces. Either do a sitting forward bend, or roll over into standing rag doll, and just breathe long, deep breaths for a minute. Let your feelings bubble up and don’t be afraid to feel what you feel. You will survive!

Listen in: how do you feel now? Write down what is coming up for you – tears, anger, fears, relief? Let it out on paper.

Change the inner tape: notice the old messages you are hearing and where they come from. Is that your mother’s voice haranguing you? Your oldest brother, your Grade 10 English teacher telling you you’re not good enough? Too fat, too lazy, too loud, too whatever? See next point for rewriting the script.

Enlist help of Inner Coach or Best Friend for support: rewrite the script with the help of an Inner Coach that you imagine (a friendly, encouraging voice) or call up a real best friend. Counter every negative statement with a positive one. Critic: You never listen, you talk too much. Inner coach: When you are interested you listen closely.

Playlist: play some uplifting music. Music helps me shift into softness, self-compassion and wellness. Find your Lift me Up songs and play them, in your Iphone, on your stereo, on Spotify. Strong, Beautiful Woman by is a great example.

I find Deva Premal’s yoga music very soothing too. 

Move your body: if you still feel lousy, get up and shake it off, literally, shake your body all over for 5 minutes or go for a brisk walk. A change of pace, change of air, and physical movement will help bring you out of that blue funk.

Enlist the help of Mama Nature : sit at the roots of a tree and breathe your bad feelings down into the ground, into the tree, and breathe in the green healing energy of that Mama tree. Release, release, release and make room for new healing energy. It’s as close as the ground you walk on, the air you breathe. Do like a tree and breathe out the bad stuff.

Get Creative: pull out the crayons, felt tip pens, doodle or draw a mandala.  (Just for the fun of it, release the perfectionista within and don’t judge the outcome, just enjoy the process). Move pen on paper and let the Joy of Colour lift your spirits. If that feels too daunting, browse some magazines, cut out some bright, colourful images, and make a collage. You can do this! 15 minutes, tops.

I hope these tips help you move that negative energy out, and some positive uplifting energy in! I know it works for me.


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

What I offer: Creative Soulful Sanctuary

The SoulCollage® process thrives in a sanctuary -- a spacious temple of safety and healing set apart from ordinary life, where time slows down and people can drop into deeper self-awareness to meet and hear the wise voices of their own Neters. Participants return to daily life with their world subtly changed. With practice, a participant may internalize the energy of the sanctuary, easily catching sight of -- and insight from -- the Neters flowing all around her/him.

As a SoulCollage® Facilitator, I see my role as the Guardian of the Sanctuary, one who prepares and holds the sacred space; one who fosters the conditions that allow each person to do their own solitary soul-exploration, freed from any input or interference from others. This soul-work can be enhanced when done in a community -- with the help of silence.
 - Seena Frost.

This is how I see myself as well, as a Creative Soulful guardian of the Sanctuary, one who offers support, and a place where this important soul-work can be done by each one.

There are so many ways to feel a connection with the soul. Seeing any human being smile touches something in my soul, but newborn babies especially so. Feeling seen and heard by a loving circle of women opens my heart. Nature’s beauty stirs a feeling of joy inside.  I love Seena Frost’s description of sanctuary. That is where I want to live! And I’m musing lately on more ways to provide this.

I believe we are all creative, and we all have a soul. But creative soulfulness is something we need practice at. I offer support by providing a space and sanctuary for classes and retreats, and even on my Facebook page, so that in your over-filled busy days and weeks, you can pencil in a little time, or maybe a whole day or weekend, to feed your need for Soul Food.

What I am offering:

The Creative Circle class is in full swing on Tuesday afternoons since September 22, 2015. Classes include poetry, SoulCollage(R), mandala, doodling, and mixed media expressive arts. Drop ins are available for $40, onetime fee.

SoulCollage(R) Workshop: I’m headed to Calgary on Oct 24 for a one day mini-retreat and SoulCollage workshop entitled Playing with Creative Soulfulness (10 am – 5 pm). RSVP for more info.

Hummingbird Retreat-Tap into Joy: If you’re thinking about going south this winter, consider a 4-Day retreat in Costa Rica, February 21-24, with myself and yogi/shaman Brigitte Bauhart. $750 Canadian. 

Includes: Joyful Yoga on the beach, walks in a Tropical Rainforest, creative expressive exercises, SoulCollage(R). Time to nap or swim. Expand your joy with dancing and a Sunset cruise. Extra: excursion to visit Hummingbirds. If you love to play creatively and soulfully, this is for you!  (There is room for 6 participants to stay the whole week; cost includes 4 day retreat, all meals during retreat; and a sunset cruise. Deposit required by Nov 1). Register at

NOTE: My website is being updated, to make the site mobile phone friendly and simplify the information. I had fun recording a welcome video this week (see below).  Should go live early October.

Don’t forget to like the Creative Soulful Woman Facebook page at

stay in touch!