Monday, May 27, 2019

Midlife tasks : Rite of passage, Crisis or Transition?

So much gold can be found in transition times, but mostly, we feel challenged by the unexpected shifts, changes and challenges - whether it's menopause, divorce, the death of a spouse, parent or child, job loss, empty nest or chronic illness - we are propelled into a process of Change, forced into letting go of the old way, and freaked out perhaps at what has not yet been revealed as the New Normal. 

This wonderful article really helped me reframe the mid-life transition, not as a crisis but as an opportunity for personal growth, a time to take inventory mid-journey and decide what is really important, finding meaning and purpose in the second half of life as a quest for authenticity. I especially like that she says creativity plays a central role in supporting this mid-life review. It also calls on our inner boldness and courage to be inventive and creative in the second half of life.

Here is a short synopsis of the tasks that help us do this: (ps journaling and SoulCollage(R) have helped me get started on these.)

Midlife is a time when our wisdom knocks at the door, sometimes forcefully in form of a crisis or life-changing moment. The following midlife tasks support a life-review and provide helpful signposts along the way:

·         Access Repressed Dreams and Unexpressed Aspects of Self
·        Tell and Revise Life Stories
·        Tend to Regrets and Shame
·         Name and Tame Fears and Inner Barriers
·        Make Peace with the Past
·         Clarify Values and Goals
·         Redefine Body Image and Sexuality
·        Deepen Confidence to Live Wholeheartedly and Authentically
·        Transform Anger into Self-Advocacy and Action
·        Identify Personal Gifts and Passions
·        Offer Gifts and Passions to the World
·        Balance Tending to Others and Tending to Self
·         Reformulate Intimate Relationships Based on Speaking and Honoring Core Needs and Personal Truths
·        Spiritual Quest: Define Meaning and Purpose
·        Nurture Creativity and Creative Self-Expression
·        Cultivate a deeper imaginary with self and others
·        Trust intuition and wisdom
·        Explore and create new possibilities. 
·         Discover more meaning and purpose

Journaling questions to help you gain clarity:

What are my unique gifts?
What dreams, goals and longings have I neglected? (ie what did I used to love, or dream of doing?)
What self-doubts and insecurities block me from being the best version of myself?
What beliefs undermine the expression of my full potential?
What do I need to give myself permission to let go of?
What do I need to give myself permission to embrace?
What are the missing pieces (unmet needs) from my childhood that I can now give to myself?
What feels challenging and leaves me feeling drained?
What brings me peace and satisfaction?
What brings me alive, excites me and gives me joy?
What do I value the most in myself?
What qualities do I admire in others?
What would I like others to have said they learned from me?

Allow any newly emerging ideas and feelings, goals and beliefs to surface. Honour and hold them safe, and if you need to feel held in a safe container, find a counselor who will do so, allowing your rite of passage to continue to unfold.

Adapted from an article Midlife: the Tasks of the Journey, by Elizabeth Strazar, MA, LPC Thimble Island Counseling   

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Here be Dragons: Transition Times, Facing the Unknown

SoulCollage(R) Card: Taming the Dragon 

“The human spirit is capable of an endless number of extraordinary feats. It is a dragon slayer, animating its presence within our being to challenge images and thoughts that arise from the depths of our darkness, intent upon reshaping how we see the landscape of our life.” -  Carolyn Myss

A few years ago, I took a class called Dark Gifts. I was intrigued by the title and ready to face my fear of writing the true stories of my childhood with a dysfunctional (but loving) family. I knew it was going to be scary, even though I had previously written a book of poems called “Little Mother”, and dived deeply in my journal for many years. But I also knew there was treasure to be uncovered in that dark cave.
At each transition point in my life, it seems, the dragons raise their heads and blast me with “thou shalt not pass here” messages. I am a brave and curious soul, usually, not reckless, not Game of Thrones kind of adventurer, but eager to understand my own processes and move onward and upward. Still, after the dizzying mid-life transition at menopause, I felt a bit weak in the knees, a bit less sure of myself, so this course beckoned to me.
Here’s the thing about dragons – what I found out when I asked it why I couldn’t pass (in a guided meditation), is that there was no good reason – and when I imagined my little girl self singing it a lullaby, the dragon actually lowered its hoary head and let me come closer. The tears that flowed from my eyes melted some of my own armour, showing me the true nature of courage; by allowing myself to be vulnerable, as Brene Brown says, more courage began to flow. It felt like a pivotal moment. (I’m still working on those childhood stories).
What I’m discovering with my creative practice of SoulCollage® is that the first step, after creating a safe space to play/work in, is to call in my allies and guides for help in facing the dragons. I have made several Protector cards, Wise Elder and Earth Mother cards, cards that feel nurturing and loving and accepting. I also have a few warrior cards, and a ferocious Mountain Lion who stands guard and protects my boundaries. Now I also know that my innocent girl child has a light and power that can fight the dark.
SoulCollage(R) Card: Mountain Lion Protector 

In the workshop I’m offering this weekend, called Darkness to Light, Navigating Transitions, we are going to name and claim our dragons, the boogeymen who say – Stop! You can’t go forward! There be dragons here!  And we will also find and name our allies. We have all been through many transitions in our lives, but in the face of the current transition or challenge, we sometimes forget the skills and tools we learned the last time around. For instance, most of us have survived a lot of challenges: we made it through adolescence, challenging relationships, illnesses, loss of a loved one, or a job change – but when we are in the middle of it, it feels just as scary every time to face the unknown, to be uncertain of the future. I remember Joan Borysenko describing it in a workshop on Change as being in the hallway, with one door closed and the other one not opened yet.  It’s normal to feel uneasy about what is not seen yet, and unknown.
SoulCollage(R) Card: Goddess Blessing Child with Sun and Water

This is why we need to call in our allies. We also need to name our challengers, pull the dragons out of the dark and ask them to speak to us, ask them: what is the treasure you are guarding? What gift do you have for me? What can I give you in return? There is always a gift in the darkness; hiding in the shadows is our gold.
Writing this article, I came across this powerful piece called Meeting the Dragon, by Robert Holden:  “’On the path of bliss you will meet a dragon. On the dragon there are many scales. Every one of them says ‘Thou Shalt Not’," said [Joseph] Campbell. The dragon may take many forms. For instance, a person who discourages you, who says “You can’t” and “You shan’t.” When I was 20 years old, I worked at a BBC radio station for the summer. I loved it. On my last day, the station manager asked to meet me. It was a short meeting. He told me I shouldn’t pursue my interest in radio as I didn’t have the personality or the talent for it. I burst into tears in front of him. What he said sounded like the truth; not just an opinion. This month marked the start of my ninth year hosting my Shift Happens! radio show for Hay House Radio. Not every “Thou Shalt Not” is true.

The dragon is, essentially, an inner experience. It’s often a self-doubt, a judgment, or a belief that breathes fire at you. One of my dragons is the “inner critic” that would roar at me when I sat before the blank page. Over the years, I learned to tame this dragon. Initially, I did everything I could to avoid it, to outrun it, to heal it, and to slay it. One day, I had a revelation. It struck me that the “inner critic” had never been published! I was released. The inner critic still roars at me from time to time, but it has no fire.”
This piece spoke to me personally, because I studied Radio & TV Arts for one year at university, but gave it up, thinking I was not the competitive type of person it took to make it. These days, I have the chutzpah that I didn't have at age 19.
While some people express and explore through words, others use images or dance, breathwork or yoga or any other expressive art to feel the fear, find their strength and glide around the dragons. No matter which modality you use, one thing I’m sure of, your spirit has more power in it than you know. Reclaim your inner resources, your inner wisdom and find your playful spirit of resilience. Perhaps you won't slay the dragon, but have a conversation with it. Use your intuition, your imagination, and most of all, use imagery and symbolism, the language of the soul, to get to the bottom of your treasure.
And of course, if it feels too overwhelming and difficult, consult a professional who can help you face your fears and move forward.
There may be dragons here, but there also be Transformation and Healing!
Playfully yours in creativity, 

Art Collage: Warrior Monk Flies down the Path with Eagle 

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Inner Critic vs Inner Coach, creating a self-nurturing voice

Journeys start from where we are. Everything starts from where we are. Where we are is
where we’re supposed to be. —Evelyn Eaton.

Journaling can serve as a private, personal journey to self-awareness and self-love. A journal can be a place where, once we have purged the negativity, we can start to forgive ourselves, boost our self-confidence, appreciate who we are and bear witness to our accomplishments.

Calming the Critic or Self Saboteur the goal is to learn how to recognize and silence debilitating self talk; because our secret belief is that if we don’t put ourselves down, we’ll never be motivated to achieve. By building a loving, self-nurturing voice or Inner Coach, we can change our self-talk.

Remember, we don’t have to like every single thing about ourselves or what we do.  But in order to develop, we have to accept ourselves as we are. The biggest impediment to self acceptance is the inner critic, who can be so loud and continuous that we think it is our own true voice. However, it is only one aspect of our psyche. From the book 20 Minute Retreat, by Rachel Harris Ph.D.

Self Deprecating Critic Voice vs Self-Nurturing Coach Voice**

The best way to silence your inner critics is to nurture your inner coach – when he or she is cheering loudly for you and supporting you every step of the way, your critics will pipe down and know they’ve been beat.   

Here are some ideas to calm your Inner Critic and build your Inner Coach:

1) Know that your Inner Critic will never go away completely. By learning strategies to calm it, you can reduce its destructive power and live more freely.

2) Become mindful of when and how your Inner Critic talks. Start with noticing the words it uses and write them down. Make a list of 10 ways you hear yourself criticizing you. Notice the patterns of what your Critic says and how it makes you feel. This will create awareness of your negative self-talk and the affect that it has on you.

3) Explore the sources that have fed your Inner Critic. Whose voice is it? Consider who in your life disappointed you by being critical rather than helpful. Remember that many people misguidedly think that being critical is useful, even loving.

4) Interrupt your negative self-talk & replace it with a neutral and encouraging inner voice. Imagine a mentor or coach speaking to you. As you repeat this process over and over again, it will become easier. Imagine that your inner coach is sitting next to you as you write in your journal. (It will take practice to speak words of compassion. As is true for all learning, we develop through imitating.)

Base your image on a real person: perhaps a mentor or a sports coach or a best friend who supports and encourages you, someone who has had a significant influence on your life. Visualize that person’s face and hear his or her voice.

Now draw both your Inner Critic and your Inner Coach (inner sweetheart) and give them names.


Inner Critic:                                                                         Inner Coach:
You never listen; you talk too much               Not always true. When you are interested you listen closely.

I should have been there for my son today.     It’s not too late; you do care for him, spend 
                                                                         time with him at supper tonight.

Your thighs are too wobbly.                             Your legs are strong, they carry you through
                                                                          the day. Give them more walks outdoors.

You can’t handle this. You’re a failure.           Little by little, I address this issue bothering me.
 One step at a time, with patience and love I grow   stronger.

SoulCollage(R) card Inner Critic

**taken from various sources on-line, and adapted for my Creative Circle Journaling Class

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Why Become a SoulCollage(R) Facilitator?

SoulCollage(R) card: Heroine's Journey

What is SoulCollage®?

SoulCollage® is a creative, intuitive process for personal growth, healing and transformation.  You create a deck of cards for personal consultation, using images, intuition and imagination. Synchronicity and surprise are a few of the main elements that give this process its richness and value.

It is easy, fun, and satisfying and can be used by individuals or in groups (families, churches, schools, therapy, coaching, and many other contexts).

By participating in a four-day Training, you will learn how to prepare for a workshop, create safe space for participants with connection, permission and protection; consult your cards in a SoulCollage® reading, as well as learn how to promote your workshops. You will be given access to a rich archive of information available to Facilitators on the SoulCollage® website. 

Who are SoulCollage(R) Facilitators?

Facilitators of this process come from many fields including writers, artists, coaches, and labyrinth facilitators. They may be individuals seeking a creative way to give back to their communities, , cancer support groups, schools, writing groups, and hospices, or therapists, art therapists, counselors, nurses, chaplains, and other licensed professionals working in trauma recovery, addiction recovery, with teenagers, at risk children, and many more.

Find out more about the training with Trainer Jennifer Boire in Montreal, July 3-7, 2019 at the Villa St. Martin, Pierrefonds.

Note: The training will be held in English, with French materials available. A French speaking facilitator will be on hand to answer questions and guide small groups in discussion.

As of March 29, 2019, there are 3,837 Facilitators in 48 countries, including Aruba, Australia, Brazil, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Egypt, England, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Kenya, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, United States, Taiwan, Turkey, and Venezuela.

Watch founder Seena Frost explain how to do SoulCollage(R) on the short video: 

      for more information on the Training in Montreal

Friday, March 15, 2019

SoulCollage®: How to become your own oracle

Have you ever gone to a reading by a clairvoyant, or picked up an oracle deck of cards to find out the answer to a question that has been bothering you, or has gone unanswered? Have you ever wanted to get more in touch with your own intuition and find the answers to your own questions?

SoulCollage® is a unique way to explore your Self, all the parts of you, your light and your shadow, your talents and gifts, your allies and challengers. Using only images, intuition and imagination, you create a deck of 5 x 8 cards that becomes a visual journal of your journey, one that evolves as you evolve.

With this deck, created using images and symbols that call to you, you hold a symbolic reflection of your one and many-faceted Self in your hands. Once you have a dozen cards or so, you can do consultations or readings with them. It's quite astounding how our own psyche loves this process of dialoguing with images. The SoulCollage® process was designed by Seena Frost, MS, MA in Div., a psychotherapy clinician and supervisor in California for over thirty years. The international community now includes more than 3,700 Facilitators in 45 countries, and a team of SoulCollage®  trainers who offer training programs all over the world.  

Caretaker Card

What I’ve learned from this unique creative process is that the body uses metaphor and images to send us signals. Sometimes working with images is a more direct path to seeing our own truth than working with words. We all have our own personal totems, images, symbolic animals, and SoulCollage® helps us feed the feedback loop between psyche, body and mind. It’s a fun, creative process that is very light on the surface, as we cut and paste images, but leads us to deep truths that resist interpretation by the linear mind. We learn to trust our intuition, the bridge that connects what we feel and what we know sometimes in a flash: mental logic and heart wisdom come together and communicate.

“When the soul wants to experience something,
she throws out an image in front of her and
steps into it.” Meister Eckhart

The voice of our embodied soul, or wisdom, is our intuition. It sends messages in symbolic form and metaphor from deep inside us – thoughts, guesses, hunches seemingly come out of nowhere. When we are in touch with our inner guidance, and feeling connected to our own truth, we can heal a relationship with ourselves that has been aching to be known. Images are one of intuition’s most powerful voices, and have been called the food of the soul.

SoulCollage(R) card: Woman Dances with Wolves

Ultimately, it is the voice of the soul... When you take the time to draw on your listening-imagination, you will begin to hear this gentle voice at the heart of your life. It is deeper and surer than all the other voices of disappointment, unease, self-criticism and bleakness. All holiness is about learning to hear the voice of your own soul. Your soul is your true source and a new energy and passion awakens in you.” ~John O’Donohue, Beauty, The Invisible Embrace
I invite you to come and learn more about SoulCollage® in a safe and friendly environment, at an all-day introductory workshop Sunday April 7, with a small group of people (maximum is 10). 

We will spend time making cards, playing with images, and witnessing how our intuition guides us to exactly the right image for the card it wants to make. You are a unique being, and your soul essence is waiting to reveal some of the pieces of your puzzle to you, so you can begin to gather the whole.

As Seena Frost, SoulCollage® founder puts it, “Every soul essence has a special imprint or pattern within it; some have said it’s like our mission. This pattern is a blueprint for your deepest self, the self beneath the persona we all must develop to live in the world. Its imprint is recognized by the archetypes who gather and who act like magnets drawing you into manifesting your pattern; remember, it’s not a goal, it’s more of a map, a map of your potential, uniquely yours.” 
If you are feeling stuck or overwhelmed, or just curious about all the parts of you, this creative, fun process can help move you along to a deeper understanding.
Come join me, Sunday, April 7, Ermitage Ste-Croix, from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm, with lunch included, for $60. If you invite a friend, I will gift you with a package of cards/frame/pen and glue so you can get started with SoulCollage® and discover your own inner wisdom. Register at: 

NOTE ON FACILITATOR TRAINING-   If you already love SoulCollage® and would like to train as a facilitator, read this:
The Facilitator Training is different from a SoulCollage® retreat or workshop, even though in both settings a participant may experience deep personal process.  We expect that you are interested in taking the Training because SoulCollage® has been meaningful to you in your own process, and you are eager to share SoulCollage®, even if you are not clear just how you will be doing that. Many people become clear about how they will use SoulCollage® during or even after Training.
SoulCollage® has also proven to be a valuable therapeutic tool when used by therapists and professionals as a part of their practice.
See  for more information on what is required before you sign up. 
I am holding a training in the Montreal area from July 3-July 7, 2019. See my website for details and costs.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

What is SoulCollage(R)?

This easy, fun, creative process allows you to explore your inner parts of self  by making a visual journal of cards that you create. It is deeply transformative and helps us answer the age-old question, Who am I and what am I doing here?

Watch this short video to see and hear more:

I am keenly interested in helping women find creative tools that feed and tend the soul, that make us feel nurtured and protected in what are turbulent and confusing times. I believe we are beings filled with light, yet we often live in fear of shadow.

We are limitless and courageous in facing our challenges with persistence. 
Yet we doubt ourselves.
We are women with heart, connected to all living things. 
And we thrive in community.

Come join me and learn more at:

One Day Introductory SoulCollage® Workshop: 

Gathering the Pieces,  Finding Wholeness, from 9:30 - 4:30 pm 

on Sunday April 7, at the Ermitage Ste-Croix 
21269 boul. Gouin, Pierrefonds  (near Montreal)

Cost $60
pre-pay by e-transer or paypal 

Registration on my website or by email 


Monday, February 04, 2019

Cultivating your Inner Spark in Winter

Recently I was looking at a photo of mine taken this summer for my website; and, oh how she glowed! Yes there was make-up and a hairdresser involved, plus sunshine and a little perspiration making my skin particularly shiny. I remember it was a very hot day for a photo shoot. So it’s unfair to compare it to my face mid-winter, pale skin, and bags under the eyes.

But I do find that on these dark gloomy days that I am missing some radiance, and need to find that sparkle in the eyes. How do I do that, I wondered, when it’s -20C outside and even my dog doesn’t want to walk very far....going down south is not an option for another month. What to do?
My resolve this year has been to muddle on through winter, especially January, when my body just wanted to curl up and sleep. I decided to do just that yesterday,  nap on the couch with a book instead of berating myself for not having any energy. It’s that time of year when you think you should be planning ahead, at least for this self-employed workshop leader, it’s a good time to plan my year. However, my creative mojo was way down in the basement, and pulling up my socks was not helping.

SoulCollage(R) card: Seeking words

I realized my energy needed more pumping up or plumping up, like a duvet cushion that needs a good shake and thump. So I decided to attend yoga class more often – bump it up to twice a week and also hired a personal trainer to get me started with some cardio and stretching.  I vowed to stick to my small daily practices that I know work.

For me this means sitting down to meditate every morning, first thing, while it’s still dark. Breathing into the silent mantra of breath: rest, silence, breathing. Such a sweet (and sometimes challenging) practice that fills me up from the inside.  The benefit is immediate, and leads me to appreciate and be grateful instead of listening to the overactive whiney, critical voice. This morning in my restorative yoga class the teacher had us do a few heart opening poses, and hip openers, lying back on a bolster, breathing pranayama style, 4 counts in, 4 counts out. I looked at myself in the mirror once I got home, and I am feeling calm, less frazzled than yesterday.

SoulCollage(R) card Tasting the New

Beauty flows from energetic presence, the Yoga Journal article I’m reading says. And I believe. All of a sudden I have patience. I can give attention to my work, to my dog, to my friends in need. I have energy to share. Last week, I was a muddled mess of confusion. But after sleeping in, napping and eating lots of home-made chicken soup and slow simmered stews, pampering myself with good vibes and yoga, I am slowly coming out of that swamp of emptiness into a pool of fullness again. Soothing oils in a diffuser  like frankincense, lavender and rose also help me feel good and keep the cold bugs away....

It is true that building energy with quiet, calming practices like Creative Flow helps fill the well too. When I am really unable to work, plan or think, I head to my collage table where all my supplies are laid out: images, glue, cardboard. It helps that in an on-line class we had a vision board project to make, and that deadline got me moving. But before the vision could come, I needed to plump up the heart energy with some rest.  

What do you do to find your inner spark?