Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Creative soulfulness for Women

How does one begin to be creatively soulful? And why does it seem so imperative at mid-life to find our creative flow?

I use the word soul the way I've heard it used in Jungian texts and psycho-spiritual books I've read to mean the animated, inner essence of a human being that appears to feed us, and also need nurturance.

What feeds the soul? Contact with nature, according to Carl Jung. Getting our hands in the dirt and gardening, for instance. Letting our love of the night sky draw us outside to stare at the myriad little dust particles of light in the dark. Swimming at midnight on a quiet lake listening to loons. All these simple and yet magical experiences touch a part of us that is non-rational, non-business like, unconcerned with the bottom line, rent due and bills to pay. It brings us a deep feeling of satisfaction, of awe and wonder. It brings us back into a conversation or contact with our feeling 'soul'.

What else feeds the soul? Beauty in whatever form appeals to you. Beautiful colours at sunset, patterns and textiles, wallpaper and carpets can feed my daughter's designer soul. My artist soul likes to play with images and photos and make collages. My poet's soul likes to play with rhyme, metaphor and juxtapositions of neat sounding words. My musician's soul loves to sing harmonies, listen to soothing music, go to Blues concerts and lose myself in the rhythms of djembe classes.

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. having someone on the street stop and notice me long enough to smile and say Hello is also soul nurturing, especially in the city where we tend to walk on by, striding purposefully to our next appointment.

Creative soulfulness therefore is something I am developing as a way to offer space and sanctuary for classes and retreats, so that in your busy schedule, your over-filled days and weeks, you can pencil in a little hour or two, or maybe a whole day or weekend, to feed your need for Soul Food.

the tools I use have not changed, but I am expanding my learning this summer. So far I have taken a Creative Journaling class with le journal creatif teacher Alexandra Leroux, filling up my art journal with doodles, collages, drawings and poetry; a mandala class at the Musee des Beaux Arts de Montreal with my daughter, using compass and ruler and paint and coloured crayons to find the still center in the middle of a circle; and later this summer I'm headed to Colorado to study with the author of Women Who Run With the Wolves, Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes in a facilitator training called Singing over the Bones. I'm very excited about that, to integrate her teachings and storytelling techniques into my creative soulfulness.

Stay tuned for a website tune-up in the late summer, and new class offerings for September 2015 as well as details on a winter retreat in Costa Rica in February with myself and yoga/chi gong/shamanistic leader Brigitte Bauhart.

Namaste, and have a great summer
xxx aka Musemother

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Love the Fool in You

I love this post, found on Facebook.

The Shadow side of us includes all the parts we neglect, deny, want no part of. The parts that are too much, too little, too sensitive, too loud.

I practice self-accepance by making SoulCollage cards for the Fool in me, the Whiney crybaby, the Stoic one, the out of control Bossy one, as well as for the sides of me I love and accept.

check out for a short video explaining how easy and fun it is, or visit my website at under Retreats and Classes.


Monday, May 04, 2015


Mothering, mid-life transition and menopause – doesn’t sound like a fun mix, does it? It can be a stressful time, and you definitely need to take care of yourself, but you also have to have fun!

image found on Pinterest

Now that my kids have flown the coop, I’m rediscovering the hobbies and activities I used to love doing as a child, and exploring new ones. For instance, when I was in high school, I remember spending hours making Bristol board-sized collages . Yet I hadn’t done it in over forty years. Two years ago I discovered SoulCollage® (, so much fun and a lot of self-discovery.  I also joined a Sweet Adelines chorus 8 years ago, and that led to singing with a barbershop quartet and lots of fun performances. I hadn’t been on a theatre stage since high school, but a recent musical theatre experience of ABBA songs made me feel happy and alive.

So take these tips as a clue to finding your own CALM through creative self-care rituals at mid-life. Take classes, experiment, find out what you are passionate about – I bet you it’s something creative!

1.   Get Creative and Flow –doing any artistic or creative activity using your right brain is the #1 way to slow down and love your life: get in the FLOW. (Flow is when you lose track of time, and are totally absorbed by doing something you love). Try journaling, SoulCollage®, writing poems; tell your stories to your grandchildren, take up crocheting, gardening, floral arranging,  pottery classes, piano lessons. You’ll stay young longer.

2.   Listen to your Intuition: get in touch with your wise inner self; to cultivate this, allow more down time for getting in touch with your intuition. Journaling is a great way to do this. Or get out into the woods, take a walk, and breathe in the natural world around you. Pause and appreciate life.

3.   Love your body:  move your body every day; join a Zumba or Salsa class. Find out what foods make you calm, (greens or protein for example vs sugar and caffeine). Make friends with your emotions through a body scan and/or relaxation exercises (see link on side-bar for Musemother’s Relaxation CD). Listen to the small signals before they become bigger, i.e. don’t let minor health issues or emotional upsets get swept under the rug.

4.   Be Mindful: the best anti-stress medicine is to use your breath in Yoga, Tai-Chi, Chi Gong or Meditation for calming the parasympathetic nervous system. New neuroscience research shows that when we meditate, the areas of the brain associated with stress slow down and the parts associated with feelings of joy, peace and compassion become active. It’s another way to experience FLOW in the body… and it’s as simple as doing some alternate nostril breathing or yoga, or focusing on a centering breath technique. 

5.    Play with friends! Energize yourself. Are you a couch potato? the weather is nice, get outside, play soccer, walk in nature or go lawn bowling. Remember what you used to love doing –singing and dancing? Join a theatre club or chorus (sharing fun activities with others is a known endorphin booster).

Bonus tip: One more habit you can build in to feel better, is to change your negative self-talk and fears by working with affirmations. When you change your thoughts and words, you change your beliefs and core vibration. Here are a few samples to get you started:

Sample positive affirmations for well-being (make up your own, write them down and read out loud):

1.   I am centered, happy, and healthy.
2.   I am worthy and deserving of love.
3.   I fully embrace my personal power.
4.   Each part of my life is balanced with my need to rest and rejuvenate.
5.   I joyfully embrace my creativity.

Happy Creative Self-Care!

CALM: Creative, Artistic, Loving, Mindful.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Facing the fear of Mid-life Changes

Recently I spoke on 50 Ways to Love Turning Fifty at a local library. Near the end, when I opened up the discussion among the women present, it became clear that the real subject was the fear of going crazy with pre-menopausal changes. Every woman is different, of course, but many complain of unaccounted for mood swings, a strong need to be alone, a serious lack of sleep, a libido so low it's scraping the floor. There are a host of other emotional symptoms that come along with the hormonal changes.

Often, doctors don't seem to be aware that women need a heads up – women don't only want to know if their estrogen or progesterone is high or low. They want to know that they are not going crazy. They want to know that some of this is normal, and may hit them in their 40's before they're even thinking about menopause. (Average age is 51, but peri-menopause can start 7-10 years before that).

If you have any overwhelming emotions or issues, it's definitely worth talking to a health professional, whether it's naturopath, homeopath or an open-minded doctor, to find out how to mitigate the symptoms. Sometimes the emotional rollercoaster is worse than any physical hot flashes etc. Sometimes, seeing a therapist may be called for, to help clear away any emotional ‘stuff’ you've been sweeping under the carpet for too long. 

Bottom line is this: take care of your self. Lighten your load, let your family know when you need help, rest when you can, make yourself less busy. It’s time to accept that there are major changes afoot, and you need to assimilate all this 'stuff' coming up. Get away when you can, and most importantly, talk to girlfriends who are open to talking about menopause.

There is a chapter in my book The Tao of Turning Fifty about the descent of Inanna, a wonderful ancient story about a woman being totally stripped of all her powers in the underworld, then returning with new life. It reminded me of my own menopausal journey, which in some ways was a journey into the dark caverns of frozen emotions. There definitely is a return to the surface, as you let go of the old stories and return with new understanding, new clarity and refreshed vigour. Don't lose hope!

I hope this book will be a lantern in the darkness or a guidepost to  women who are experiencing turmoil and are not sure which way is up. I can see now that some of the physical issues I was facing in my forties and fifties, the bursitis, frozen shoulder and a broken leg - were physical manifestations of my inner journey. Ways that I was 'allowed' to slow down, and receive extra love and tender care. Ailments that forced me to treat myself with kindness and compassion, instead of pushing on past my limits

So this is a reminder to you, if you are travelling through mid-life and experiencing any turmoil, that you are not alone. Other women have been there, are voyaging along with you. Please take good care of yourself. Don't put self-care off -- don't put yourself last on the list. Your family, husband and children deserve the best of you. 

You are worthy and deserving of taking a creative break, of rest and good nutrition, as well as healthy exercise. Get out our journal, or call up a friend, and talk to someone today about how you feel.


Tuesday, March 03, 2015

or Women's Week!

“The woman’s journey
is to realize
her power is
within her.
As a woman.”
                                                                                 Joseph Campbell, Pathways to Bliss

Celebrate Women's Week!  Enter the The Tao of Turning Fifty give-away on my Facebook site, with 3 great prizes – 

1) an autographed copy of The Tao of Turning Fifty plus my Musemother Relaxation CD 

2) a copy of the book 

3) a copy of the Musemother CD

Share this with your friends. I would LOVE to make it to 1000 likes on my Facebook page.

TO ENTER THE CONTEST (starts today) : 


Monday, March 02, 2015

Self-Care: What Small Daily Practice can you do?

“Most unhappy people need to learn just one lesson: how to see themselves through the lens of genuine compassion and treat themselves accordingly.” ~ Martha Beck

(from my March Newsletter)

Happy Lunar New Year,

Welcome to the gentle, dream-filled year of the Ram, symbol of o-operation, strength and determination. I am writing to you from the depths of winter here in Montreal, a still white landscape out my window. The land is sunny, most days, but caught in a polar freeze.

And I feel the need to confess something to you, who may look at me as a teacher, retreat leader or wise woman. It’s taken me a long time, but I have finally begun, at age 60, to intuit what my inner rhythm is. Especially since the empty nest years have arrived now, with more free time to be creative, volunteer my time, or just have tea with friends, it has been challenging to not be over busy. I love taking on too many projects, (I’m sure it makes me feel worthy and deserving). But lately, my body has been sending me messages of overwhelm and I have to listen.

The other day, on a teleconference about Self-Care, I heard three small words that shifted something in my inner world: small daily practices. The presenter was making self-care sound important, she was writing a PhD on the subject. I sat up and took notice. She acknowledged the challenges we face because our culture, our work and our schools don’t train us to respond to our need for feeling at ease. We are trained to look elsewhere, to treats or movies and vacations for contentment. The whole notion of tuning inwards takes practice.

While I have been practicing meditation and yoga for a long time, my daily work habits are more about running around in circles, needing to feel useful but often feeling pressured for time. Even the cat and dog take priority over my well-being! On top of that, I have some of the paradoxical characteristics of the creative personality. *

For instance, I can be wildly energetic, then crave quiet and rest; am both extroverted and introverted, needing social company and solitude in equal measure; both painfully self-doubting and wildly self-confident. “Despair alternates with bliss, despair when they aren’t working, and bliss when they are,” says Juliet Bruce.

Which means the energy vortex in my home is not always calm and flowing.
But in the words of Tami Kent, author of the book Wild Creative, there is a way to work creatively that honors inner flow. It may mean throwing out the list-making habit: “Rather than attempting to be creative in all areas at once, I follow the creative flow to the priority at hand. If I tried to make a list of everything I did, crossing off tasks in a linear manner, I would accomplish much less and with less creative insight. Instead, I live each day from the presence of my center and take direction from the guidance that arises naturally. …pausing and receiving guidance from within is the way to align with your creative channel. …Simply follow the flow.”

This was my aha moment this week, both Tami Kent and the Self-Care piece. I had had a crazy Monday, jumping up from meditation too fast to call someone who needed help making costumes– I was ready to throw away the Monday mini-retreat, that small practice that keeps me feeling grounded in my internal oasis. And in the process, I rode roughshod over my Creative Soul in panic. It turns out she had spent the night at the hospital with her daughter, and couldn’t use me until later in the week. So I thankfully returned to my journal and continued where I had left off. Inside my body, I could feel how off-kilter the rushing had made me. So this week, I decided that was the end. It does harm to my psyche as well as my body, to respond in panic to the adrenaline rush.

A lifetime of bad habits sometime overcomes our common sense or inner wisdom. I know that I want to make self-care and creative flow a habit, not just for the hour I sit to practice meditation, but at the computer, in my kitchen, and generally, all around. Small daily practices help me slow down and pause, checking-in to see how I feel and what is needed before dashing off in high gear.

I’m going to need help. I release the worry that other people may feel I am not responding quickly enough to their needs. I honour and pay attention to my own feelings. What small daily practice can you do?

One last thing: I am starting a give-away March 3 on my blog and Facebook site, with 3 great prizes – 1) an autographed copy of The Tao of Turning Fifty plus my Musemother Relaxation CD, 2) a copy of the book, and 3) a copy of the CD.

You can share this with your friends. I also want to make it to 1000 likes on my Facebook page.

TO ENTER THE CONTEST (starts TUESDAY MARCH 3) :  here is the link -



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!