Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Dream Wisdom

What are your dreams telling you?
Indecipherable at times, dreams are more like poetry than prose.

They use metaphor, the body literally translated into a scene: my feet are on fire we say, when there is a burning sensation. Then a dream of a dog, Maggie, our golden, with her feet on fire.

What does a dream mean? Only you can know and understand your own symbols. There are a ton of books that will tell you, water means this, a tsunami is bad and a well is good. Water means emotion, or a flood means this....

But I have had dreams where what I was afraid to look at, the meaning of the dream, turned into its opposite. I was working with a Rolfer at the time, someone who translates one layer of the body's experience in the fascia and muscle to another layer of the body in the brain (at least, that's what I understood). One day I brought in a significant dream and we looked at it, we went into each part, each image and asked how it felt to be that part.

I have had many recurring dreams of floods and rising water, and usually take them literally as a fear that the earth is going to be flooded when the glaciers melt and the oceans rise. Since I live on the edge of a river, on the 'lakeshore' (but it is really not a lake, just a widening of the river), this scares me.

The dream this time was a wall of water, a shimmering silvery wall of 100 feet high water coming towards a wall, where I was sitting on a fence with my husband beside me. He was trying to help me climb over the fence, but I was frozen, unable to move. The wave was coming closer. The end.

The rolfer asked me to be the wave. What did it feel like? I closed my eyes and saw it shimmering there, full of light, and the word Benevolence came up in my mind. Benevolence, I thought? the annihilation of my life can't be kindness. Then we went into how each part of the dream felt. What came out of it was a huge ton of love and kindness was coming my way, my husband was part of it, and I was frozen in fear, unable to open and accept it but when I looked at it in the face instead of running away, I could feel the love. Not at all what I thought this dream would be about - fear of success, or fear of huge changes in my life, or fear of disappearing.

In fact, it was a fear of disappearing perhaps - the ego disappearing into so much love, that boundaries are erased.

Dreams are like messages from our unconscious, or perhaps angels, who knows? But they are always interesting to look at from the inside out. Don't take the surface picture for the whole story. Ask questions about the mood and feeling of the observer, of the participant and of each item or piece of the dream and you will get a clearer picture that may surprise you.

Instead of being afraid of knowing the real meaning of a dream that may even seem like a nightmare, you may find that your dreams are giving you friendly advice and pointing you towards new growth.

"The dream keeps us
in touch with that soul
in which we all live.
The dream keeps us
in touch with our place
in that one creation.
The dream puts us
into a time and space
in which we are restored."

Coming Home to Myself, Marion Woodman, Jill Mellick
Reflections for Nurturing a Woman's Body & Soul

Friday, March 23, 2012

Unconditional self love at mid-life

Perhaps you've heard Anita Moorjani's story about recovery from cancer that seemed miraculous.

She was interviewed by Lilou on Juicy and I watched it last year, but since I'm doing a retreat on self-love and opening the heart, I went looking for it and found her website.

In an interview with The Near Death Research Foundation in 2006, Anita described how her view of the world and her fears were turned around by her close brush with death. She had been admitted to hospital after 4 years of living with Hodgkins Lymphoma and the doctors gave her 36 hours to live. In her near death experience, she said she felt the whole world was within her, and it was filled with unconditional love. She woke up convinced that we create our own reality by the way we think, and that we can control our negative thoughts and realize we are made of love, that our 'real' life is the illusion. As if what we believe becomes real, and what we allow into our consciousness manifests outside of us. In this case, she said, she decided to live from love and not from fear.

"The universe has a way of presenting to you exactly what you believe. If you think life is great, you are correct. If you think life is tough, you will be proved correct too....The external world is only a reflection of my internal world."  She goes on to say, there is not more negative in the world than positive, it's just what we choose to see and believe that creates our reality. We can choose to know unconditional love and feel our own magnificent oneness with that reality. 

A lot of us our own worst enemies, she continues. So if we learn to stop beating ourselves up with self-criticism and judgments, we will be less judgmental of others, and create and attract more love. "The more I love myself unconditionally, the easier it is for me to see beauty in this world, and beauty in others." 

In conclusion, she says the best way to attract more love in your life, is to fill yourself with self-love.

In a cynical world such as ours, where spirit and business operate on two different planes, and the 'real world' of debt, war, chaos and despair threatens to overwhelm us every day, I find her words very important. It requires a major mental shift to even think this way, let alone believe it. Let's hope we all don't need to have a near death experience to find unconditional love at the center of our universe.

For anyone interested in learning more about where to find this inner love of self, I have been very inspired by the words of Prem Rawat, at

Enjoy this spring weather!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Menopausal Medicine

First off, medicine is a misnomer, because this blog is about finding what feeds you, what thrills you and what makes you feel whole. Medicine of the soul is more like it.

I don't believe menopause is a disease, I believe it is a transformational journey, a walkabout for your inner woman, an initiation into your inner wise self.

I believe what you need is not more hormones but more harmony. Not more estrogen or progesterone but more self-love. Okay, some of you may need hormonal treatment just so you can sleep through the night and not wake up all ragged and worn-out. I don't blame you for wanting a remedy, any remedy, just to stay sane.

But most of all, dear menopausal, mid-life journeyers, what you are getting from life and your wisdom body, is a major wake-up call. It's time for you to take care of you! It's time for you to listen to your own wisdom. And do what you love, manifest your creative dreams.

Many great doctors, neuro-scientists and teachers are exploring the female brain and body at menopause and two of my favourite doctors, Dr Mona Lisa Schulz and Dr Christiane Northrup both say that our intuition is 80% based in the body. That's right, we get messages from our shoulders about taking on too much that is not ours; we get messages from our necks that we are working too long and too hard on the computer (and probably our posture is off too). We get messages from our gut that we are not 'digesting' something - not able to swallow the bullshit/lies being fed to us from co-workers, bosses, friends and relatives. Our breasts may be warning us that we are giving away too much of ourselves to others and not practicing good self-care.

We just don't always pay attention until it's too late. Then we wake up, fast, very wise all of a sudden, because of an emergency that calls us to slow down - my first such wake-up call was in the form of a broken-leg that forced me to enlist help in the running of the household and taking care of children departments. Lying in bed for a week or six mending the bones and the spirit was very good medicine. But did it have to hurt so much?

The challenge is to listen in - to pay attention to the soft whispers. The easy way would be to write things down, messages that come to you through dreams, gut feelings, intuitions and those under the radar kind of 'feelings' that get corroborated later. Learn to trust them, learn to follow them, even if it means a little risk. The more you follow the feeling, the stronger the next one gets, and then you begin to trust the larger universe. Are there angels and guides helping us tune into our own wisdom? I don't know but I like to think so.

So take your medicine, work on believing in your own wisdom, practice keeping track of when it leads you in the right direction, write it down. You are being initiated into a new phase in your life. You can begin to feel empowered, and look for people, books, classes that make you feel proud of that womanly power. I've just signed up for a newsletter from Mama Gena for example because I am curious about her Pleasure Intensive classes, and the good things I've heard.

May you never stop learning and growing and claiming your territory, and knowing your own power as a mid-life woman.

author of The Tao of Turning Fifty

Monday, March 12, 2012

Self-Care at Menopause

If you are in the throes of menopause and have spent any time browsing the web, you know that there are many sites proclaiming to have the answer : progesterone cream, hormonal treatments, natural supplements, wicking pyjamas, all kinds of products.  I just did a quick tour of the some of Top 30 Menopause Blogs and came away dizzy with the array. They make it sound like menopause is a disease!

What is different with my approach is that I believe self-awareness is key. Yes, you may need to change doctors if yours doesn't believe that you are in perimenopause at age 46 and that you are too young! and yes, herbal remedies and homeopathy got me through my six year perimenopausal journey - motherwort for anxiety and red clover for hot flashes. But the midlife transition for me was not so much a physical event as a major emotional upheaval. It was more of a quest for self, actually.

I was impatient, irritable and flew off the handle easily. Was it triggered by hormones? was it the fact that my kids had hit puberty and were cranky cavemen and self-centered fashionistas? Perhaps we were all a little wonky due to hormones. My poor husband! But really, instead of putting myself away in a straitjacket, the best solution was to get the self-care I needed. Part of that included talk therapy, reiki treatments, massage and getting away on weekend retreats to feed my need for alone time.

In fact, getting away and having time alone to think was very helpful. I did not want my family to suffer from my outbursts, and I recognized that I needed more time alone. Being a writer, there is always a conflict between solitary writing time and taking care of meals, laundry, house management time. Buying an older house and renovating it completely, top to bottom, probably added to my stress level too. But in having the courage to face the down times and the feeling like I'm going crazy times (and in having wonderful girlfriend to cry on their shoulder with), and in journaling my journey, I got through it.

It all seems in the distant past now, my kids have recently left home for university in different cities, so my creative time is all mine. In the last two years, I have discovered that working with other women in facilitating workshops and retreats is fulfilling me much more than sitting in my little office writing. I think the journey through our forties and fifties is a huge wake-up call for self-care, for discovering what we love, for seeking and finding our authentic selves. We stop being able to play the game, or fulfilling the surface roles society demands of us. We need to feel connected to our heart's desires, and something deep inside keeps bugging us until we pay attention.

It may take some digging, some writing, some researching and reflecting, but it's worth it. Take the time, and make the time for you. Make finding yourself and your happiness an item on your agenda. Stop burning the candle at both ends in working late and ignoring your needs for regular meals and sleep. Your menopause will be smoother if you slow down and take care of your needs.

take care now

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

What Visions May Come: Listening to Inner Guidance at Mid-life

Since my mid-life quest or transition began, I have gone on many journeys and retreats, taken classes with inspirational authors and sought answers to my questions in many, many books. The odd thing is, all of these ended up teaching me one thing: turn within for the answers.

At one retreat week in particular, I had booked an appointment with a woman who was said to channel spiritual guidance, hoping she could help me discover which writing project deserved my full time and energy. I sat in the chair across from her, nervously waiting for her to open her eyes and speak. She looked at me after a few minutes of silence and said, My guides are telling me you have to find your own answer!

I was a little bit peeved at the time, thinking, I came all the way to Taos, New Mexico to hear this? But ultimately, it was a very good truth. I had been looking for the answers in other people's books, in conferences, in outside authority. And it was time for me to be author of my own existence and trust my own inner authority.  Easier said than done.

Over the past four years, I've been developing my trust in this by using various exercises and visualizations, and I have to say, it takes practice to trust your own inner guidance, but it becomes easier and easier. Two of my favourite authors on the subject, Dr Mona Lisa Schulz and Dr Christiane Northrup, both say that our bodies are the greatest source of intuition or women's wisdom if you like. Sometimes we get small whispers, but if we don't listen in, the signals get stronger and stronger. For example, a friend of mine recently recovering from a burn-out, is back at work and her work hours are increasing. She told me one week she had a recurring dream three times, that she was in her car, stepping on the gas pedal and there was no power, no movement, no response. That seems an obvious metaphor for lack of energy, no gas in the tank.

Through dreams, through body signals, through direct questions in your journal, you too can access your inner wisdom. Shakti Gawain has shared her visualization for meeting your inner guide in her book Creative Visualizations ( and I use this exercise often in my Creative Journaling classes.  I also use angel cards, tarot decks and native totem animal cards to get access to the sub-conscious or inner guidance on mini-retreats I make for myself at home (see my website for tips on how to do this at ).

I believe we all have a Wise Inner Self; perhaps it's the same thing some people call Soul, or Heart. It doesn't matter what word we use, but there is a wonderful feeling of accessing our best or higher self, when we let go, ask for help, and release self-doubt. Writing in my journal and doing my sitting practice of going inside, I access this wise, quiet voice. Solutions and answers to my questions bubble up from inside. I begin to trust that everything I need to know is inside me. My teacher Prem Rawat has been inspiring me to go inside for years now (, and his teachings have been most helpful.

It takes a bit of practice, but anyone can get in touch with their inner guidance. It strengthens your connection to your self, to your faith in an Inner Authority. It is a powerful, free, inner resource. It releases you from self-doubt and helps make you a stronger more confident person. It feels good to be aligned with the Creative spirit and I believe we are all co-creators with the divine energy of creation.

Writing Down Your Soul is another good book to get you started, by Janet Conner,  and I find that in general, writing a question in my journal and asking my Inner Wise Self for guidance always helps me find my way through whatever confusion or doubt is assailing me.  You can develop a trusting relationship with your own wise self, and practice using affirmations and positive thinking to undo the years of negative conditioning or crippling self-doubt that some of us were brought up with.

Going on Retreat and spending a whole day or two nurturing my connection within is also an excellent way to strengthen your connection to your own intuition and wisdom. I have so enjoyed working with Karen Ely, Ken Nelson, Joan Borysenko, Jennifer Louden in workshops and retreats, and hearing Prem Rawat`s live inspiration has been especially wonderful.

Check out my website for more information on classes and retreats in the Montreal area. I hope to offer an e-course one day, so keep posted for that development.