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.