Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Am I Really in Control?

It seems I am rarely called to write blog posts of late. One reason is that I've been very busy but beyond that it's that I don't really know what to write about. Sometimes it seems to me it's all been said and what is so important about what I have to say anyway? Is it to hear myself talk (or see my written word)? I'm simply not that fascinated with what I have to say much of the time and those moments of powerful insight seem to gently blend into the fabric of my being without the need to be expressed in writing most of the time.

Life is now and always has been unfolding in ways that are so beyond personal control or power that it seems a bit ridiculous to try to capture it in any way. It is simply flowing, the out-breath and in-breath of Life itself having an adventure that is being witnessed by what I call me.

Reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend this morning about what was going on in our lives which came down to how helpless we really are in so many ways. The suffering and pain we see all around us is so beyond our abilities to do anything about that it often sends us into all kinds of coping behaviour in an attempt to deal with the fact that we really cannot do anything about it.

It's all part of this great unfolding as is the realization that the best I can do sometimes is make peace with the helplessness and let the healing that is then available happen. When I think I have to fix you it really means I'm trying to fix myself which only reinforces the idea that there's something wrong with me (and you). This is the human condition; it is neither right nor wrong, it is the journey.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Beyond Survival

You know what it's like when you behave in a way that you aren't really proud of?

There are a variety of ways we tend to deal with this kind of behaviour but my favourite seems to be to defend myself, if not outwardly at least in my own little mind. One thing I notice however is that when I am busy defending my less than stellar behaviour I am not tending to something that is far more important than any image I may be trying to protect; that which is afraid or hurting or ashamed within me.

That's the problem with all defensive or offensive or distracting behaviour when we get uncomfortable, it does not address the real problem in any way. We may feel justified or superior or more powerful (at least a little less helpless) but if you look closely you'll find there's still something hidden in the darkness somewhere deep in our hearts that is being ignored, again. There is still someone deep inside that needs attention and all we've accomplished with our usual behaviour is to make it wrong or bad or simply unwanted which is what started the whole cycle of survival based behaviours in the first place.

When you take the time to feel into what is laying just below the behaviour you will usually find an innocent being who decided a long time ago there must be something wrong with it and so devised all kinds of strategies to cope. Those strategies served us in our struggles to survive confusing and painful situations but they really stopped serving us when our journey turned toward authenticity and true well-being.

One of the problems we encounter as we shift to authenticity over survival is that our patterns are so strongly ingrained and we are so accustom to the thoughts that we don't even realize what is now actually causing our pain; our own perceptions. If we never question the way we think and behave we never get beyond basic survival coping.

So if authenticity, inner harmony and well-being are what you are looking for try looking into what is behind the disharmony. You don't have to stay in survival, there is so much more available when you include even that which you have rejected about yourself. Then when the old patterns show up they don't have to rule your life, they become portals into a whole new world of beauty and wonder.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

When Pain Leaves A Calling Card

It is quite normal for us to move away from pain when it shows up in our lives. Whether it is emotional or physical, imaginary or real, our own or another's, pain is something we learned to move away from a long time ago. Much of that has do to with basic survival; if it hurts our instincts tell us to get away from it at all costs right?

It makes perfect sense to get away from painful things when we are talking about physical pain being caused by some kind of outside stimulus such as fire or being physically assaulted or some such event. Today I'd like to talk about emotional and physical pain that shows up without the outside stimulus. This kind of pain requires a very different response yet for the most part we treat it the same way, we tend to do anything we can to get rid of it without another thought.

I'd like to offer another perspective. What if the emotional and physical pain that arises within are not the enemy but rather messengers handing us calling cards inviting us to look at something that needs our attention? What if it is a way for inner being to communicate about something that is being resisted or misinterpreted or simply not in alignment with who we really are?

When I think of all the emotional pain I have experienced in my life  there is not one instance where it did not have something to do with some expectation or desire that was not being met or some event that I was interpreting through unresolved memories. I spent what seems like lifetimes trying to manipulate my world and the people in it to get what I needed, even though I didn't know what that even was most of the time, or conversely giving up in frustration and disappointment. I've done plenty of bouncing back and forth between those two extremes until I finally realized the pain was not my enemy, it was the out picturing of my own distorted thoughts and my ineffective coping mechanisms.

In relationship emotional (which eventually turns into physical) pain is an opportunity to connect when we realize it has an important message for us. We can learn to pay attention to the thoughts associated with the pain and see them for what they really are, projections and assumptions and expressions of unmet needs. If I have a need to feel safe or wanted or appreciated doesn't it make more sense to  turn around and bring reassurance to that innocent being within who feels the need rather than being angry at my partner for not meeting it? Believe it or not that isn't even their job! The problem is that we usually don't even realize what we really need because we simply react to the pain and don't take the time to be still and look at what's really going on.

Our partners in life are not here to meet our every need if we are to grow beyond our wounded child self concept. They can walk with us and bring up our unresolved pain but the truth is they didn't cause it and they aren't the ones who have to do something about it, we are. We can compassionately receive the pain, become aware of what's really going on and give ourselves the kind of attention we have been longing for. When we share this process with our partners, not demanding anything of them but rather including them and allowing them to be present with us in our vulnerability then we open the door to whole new levels of connection and authenticity.

It truly is a wondrous and beautiful experience to embrace our pain and our partners with love rather than expectation. It generally takes a lot of practice and there are plenty of false starts but the rewards a more than worth it if we really want to share our lives with another or simply live authentically and joyfully.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Doing What I Love

It seems I so rarely take the time to write these blog posts of late. Much of it is because it has been a busy time and when I am on the computer I am usually researching and writing services or looking for appropriate songs.

I love the process of preparing for end of life services and weddings and baby namings (don't do many of these but I love it when I do). It's a sacred time for me to connect with the spirit of the loved one lost and their family or the couple who is entering a new phase in their lives. I also get to meet all kinds of people and be witness to the many different ways people deal with both loss and new beginnings.

 Sometimes I feel very connected to the families I work with and sometimes I do not. This is a normal part of the process because we all deal with grief and change very differently. Some become more vulnerable, others more guarded. Each one is precious however and I honour the many ways we all deal with life.

At this moment I am feeling very introspective and am particularly aware of the sacredness of life itself. In the stillness of the moment I feel the blessing of peace and the wonder of the mystery and majesty of the ever unfolding universe in all its diversity and beauty. I am grateful for the times I share with others and for the quiet moments alone as I do what I love to do.

Just feeling so much appreciation for it all and wanted to share that with you who happen to read this.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Alternatives to Traditional Religious Funerals

In today’s world more and more people are looking for ways to remember and celebrate the lives of loved ones who have died in more personal and non-religious ways. Sadly, some people actually forgo services altogether because they are not aware that their funeral or memorial service does not have to be a religious one.

When I was younger I used to think funerals were no big deal, I didn’t think I’d even want any kind of farewell ceremony. I really had no idea of the significance of this important rite of passage not only for the individual who has died but for family and friends who are bereaved.

For some reason in our culture there seems to be a kind of denial of death and grieving. People often want to just gloss over their losses and pretend it’s no big deal; I was one of those at one time.

Death, however, is one of the great mysteries we all live with in some form or other every day. Whether it is a far away event or right in our own family death is a constant, as are all the changes we undergo in a lifetime. Birth and death are inexorably tied to one another just as love and grief are two sides of the coin called sharing our lives with one another.

When we lose someone who is dear to us it changes us at a fundamental level. We don’t just get over that kind of loss; we learn to live with it. A farewell ceremony is not only about remembering the loved one lost; it is also about honoring the grief that is being deeply felt by those who are left behind.  It is a time to acknowledge that the relationship we’ve had with our loved one while it isn’t over, certainly has changed. 

Today there is a growing trend toward ceremonies that are more celebrations of life where the focus is on the person rather than on religious beliefs. A good celebrant can customize the service to suit the beliefs and desires of the family rather than obligatory traditions. Sharing stories and pictures, speaking of life and death, coming together to support and be supported in community are all part of the farewell ceremony as well as being important parts of the grieving process.

Even though religious ceremonies have traditionally been the format for this important passage, if you are not religious it doesn’t mean you have to forsake your beliefs to have a service and it certainly doesn’t mean you can’t do anything. Most funeral directors have a list of funeral celebrants who can assist families who prefer a non-religious service or you can look online to find celebrants in your area.

Don’t forgo this most important aspect of dealing with loss. Every life deserves to be celebrated and every person experiencing loss deserves to be acknowledged.

Friday, October 4, 2013

But I've Dealt With That

It is not uncommon for me to hear the comment 'It can't be about that, I thought I had dealt with that' from people who have done a lot of personal/spiritual work.

Many of us have been delving deep into the mind for a long time and have come to realize the kinds of thoughts and beliefs that have been driving us and making us unhappy. We've brought love to it, we've questioned, we've changed our minds, we've done affirmations, you name it; so why is it those old beliefs keep cropping up and creating havoc in our lives?

All too often people think they've failed somehow or done something wrong when they find themselves unwittingly caught up in old thought patterns. From my perspective this is not the case. Having 'dealt' with a pattern doesn't necessarily mean it is gone from our lives, though sometimes that does happen. Most often however what it really means is that when we become aware of false beliefs  we can deal with them with much more ease and in a much timelier fashion.

For example, I have a deeply held thought pattern of lack. It is easy for me to fall into it's clutches because it is so very familiar. It's also much easier now for me to notice when I have fallen prey to this insidious idea and bring new energy to  it. By new energy I mean bring soothing to that in me which is afraid and remind myself gently that it simply isn't the truth. If I am in a phase where business is quiet, which is when the thought tends to arise, instead of dwelling on what I perceive to be missing I can gently shift my focus to appreciating how much I do have and how much beauty and wonder there is in my life. I can also short circuit the future focused thoughts from dire ones to wondering about what amazing things this space might bring forth. There is so much more available than what my limited thinking can even imagine why stay caught up on those things that make me unhappy?'s the thing I want to convey about the idea 'I thought I dealt with that'; even if you have, the old pattern of thought will most likely show up again when circumstances come up that remind you of it in some way. It's OK, the old belief is still floating around but so are millions of other ways of seeing what is happening right now. You don't have to hitch your wagon to the most familiar thought, you can try on a new idea, a new thought or simply let yourself rest in the field of unlimited possibility until you spot something new and more in alignment with who you are becoming.

Be gentle with yourself in the process; there is nothing wrong with you even if you did get lost for a time.  Learn to recognize the signs that tell you when you've gotten caught up in old patterns. Some signs might be:
1) Getting upset easily at the most trivial things
2) Feeling uncomfortable and restless
3) Being angry with others when they are caught up in their patterns
4) Getting into compulsive behaviours (over eating, drinking, shopping, sleeping, etc)
You get my drift.

Pay attention, be kind to yourself and find another way of seeing whatever is making you unhappy. Do it as often as you need to, even if it is for the rest of your life. Who knows when the old thought might get tired of showing up? Sure beats falling into the trap of giving up because 'it didn't work'.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

What To Do With Those Pesky Thoughts

In the last post I talked about self-soothing, dealing with the painful and uncomfortable feelings that arise from time to time (or almost constantly for some).

Today I'd like to say a few words about what you can do with the thoughts that are likely rolling around in your head bringing up those uncomfortable feelings. More often than not, we are not even aware of the thoughts behind our feelings mainly because we are so used to them that we either don't notice them or we simply believe them to be true so what are you going to do?

Thoughts that generate pain are simply ideas and belief we have about what is going on in our lives. They are usually assumptions we made long ago in similar circumstances that have become beliefs and the lens through which we tend to view the world as adults. It is our way of filling in the gaps between what we are witnessing and what we don't know, which is a lot.

Because of our discomfort with not knowing it is normal for humans to give meaning to what we see or experience. We do it so quickly that we don't even realize that is what we've done. The truth is however that 99% of the time we give meaning to situations based on our beliefs, not on what is happening. That is a huge part of the self-created illusion we live in.

When we stop, take a breath and do a little self-soothing around uncomfortable feelings, if we also take the time to ponder what we've been thinking about this situation we can uncover all kinds of interesting little tidbits of information that we've been buying hook, line and sinker. When we experience fear there are likely thoughts of being in danger somehow even though none really exists. When you notice thoughts like, 'I'm in trouble', or 'they won't like me anymore', or 'I've done something wrong' or (insert your own habitual thoughts) when you may not have done anything at all for instance,  it's time to question those thoughts and remind yourself that you don't really know any of what you've been thinking.

A cautionary note, don't argue with the thoughts and assumptions you become aware of, that will only strengthen them and cause you to become defensive; the trick is to gently question and compassionately remind yourself that what you're thinking is not likely the truth; the truth is you don't know what this means. Here is a great opportunity to start making peace with the reality of not knowing. We simply don't know why things happen most of the time; we don't know what things mean most of the time; we certainly don't know what the future holds, ever. Things can change so fast it makes my head spin sometimes.

I don't know. Very powerful words and a very powerful place to start from when you want to know the truth about what is going on. In relationship, when we can be vulnerable enough to admit we don't know what we thought we knew, an opening is created where we can actually connect with each other, talk about what is going on, ask questions, clarify for ourselves what is going on inside of us, build connection instead of distance. The possibilities are endless.

Don't buy into the idea that you know what anything means even if you've had all kinds of experiences to confirm it. Of course you did, that was how you interpreted things in the past so of course that is how you saw it, that's the way consciousness works. This is a new day, a new moment, a new opportunity to break out of old patterns.

It truly is a beautiful thing this not knowing.


Monday, September 30, 2013

What Does Self-Soothing Look Like?

I mentioned in my last post that instead of staying in reaction when something upsets us, one thing we can do is bring soothing and reassurance to the inner being that is in pain. I'd like to expand on this process because it is really quite foreign to most people I speak to.

When we find ourselves feeling anxious, fearful, ashamed, sad, guilty, angry, overwhelmed, or pain of any kind there is some element within that is in need of attention. Most of us were taught to actually do the opposite of attending to our inner world; we were taught to buck up, forget about it, distract ourselves and even berate ourselves when we had painful feelings. Many of us ended up believing it was 'weak' to allow any 'negative' feelings other than anger, which is a secondary feeling that gives the illusion of power and control, when we are feeling vulnerable and/or out of control. The problem is that none of these strategies actually deal with the real issue, the one who is in pain.

There is another way.

Self-soothing is a technique whereby we shift our focus inward and focus gentle attention where the pain (emotion) is most concentrated. For example, fear and guilt are usually felt most strongly in the solar plexus or stomach area; sadness is often in the heart region; anger is often in the jaw, neck and shoulders. By focusing gentle attention and taking full, rounded breaths into the place in the body where the feeling resides there is usually a loosening, a kind of space created where there has been tension and discomfort.

When I say focusing attention I mean literally looking at that area in your body with your mind's eye; looking at it with openness, acceptance, gentle curiosity and compassion. In other words bringing a new energy into the pain so that it can be soothed. Words of reassurance can also be spoken into this place because the truth is most of us long to be reassured that we are loved, that everything is going to be OK, that we are not alone. We usually seek this from others but in the end if we can't receive reassure from ourselves we are not likely going to be able to fully let it in from someone else. The truth is the one we really wanted it from may be long gone from our lives or simply unable to give it. So does that mean we can't have it? Not in the least my friend! You have it in you to give yourself what you most need, loving compassionate attention.

Try it the next time you feel upset or afraid or in pain; it is truly delicious and it is a game changer.

Next time lets talk about some things you can do with those thoughts that are generating the pain and discomfort.

Your comments and questions are always welcome!


Saturday, September 28, 2013

What Do I Do When I'm Stuck in a Pattern?

So now you're looking inward for what is going on when you realize you are experiencing a familiar pattern in your relationship (s) whether personal or business. What is it exactly that you should be looking for?

To begin with, feelings of discomfort (fear, sadness, anger, frustration, stress, overwhelm, anxiety, etc) are the physical reflections of thought processes. Thoughts and feelings are expressions of ideas, thoughts being the non-physical expression and feelings the physical, being how the body experiences those ideas. The mind (non-physical) is constantly trying to work out solutions to situations and events that it does not understand or that it categorizes as needing resolution. Our minds are really amazing machines that search, sort and categorize information at a speed that makes it very difficult to even realize what it is up to. Most of it is not happening at a conscious level; we'd likely go crazy if it was.

One of the places the mind searches for answers is in memory. It looks for similar experiences and projects into the space of not knowing what is really going on something that it has stored in memory. When what gets projected into the current situation is something that was fearful or painful somehow then the new event gets categorized as painful as well even though it may have nothing to do with what is really going on.

For example, your partner has a friendly relationship with someone of the opposite sex and fails to let you know about it. You find out by looking through their text messages one day when you were looking for something else. You immediately feel a current of energy moving through your body and you get suspicious and angry. You confront your partner and they evade you or get a sheepish look on their face. You immediately jump to the conclusion that they are lying to you and there is really something going on. A fight ensues where you demand answers and your partner gets defensive. You get nowhere except disconnected from each other (and yourself by the way).

Here are some possible conclusions both might have arrived at that are not based on what is happening in the present but rather some painful memories:
1) I am not valued here.
2) They are cheating on me
3) I am going to lose this relationship
4) I screwed up
5) I have to avoid in order to be safe
6) I am going to be blamed for something even if there is nothing going on
7) I have to defend myself or else I will be hurt or annihilated
8) I have to get you to explain so I will feel safe
9) Insert whatever thoughts came up for you.

If you look at the situation as it happened without the assumptions inserted there are a million possibilities, some of which could be on the list and many that are not. But because we tend to be blinded by our insertions and projections we are not really open to the truth. We are often more interested in being right even if right is painful for us.

If we are going to change the patterns we fall into we first have to step back, take a breath and remind ourselves that we really don't know what this means. Then we can bring soothing and reassurance to the inner being who is experiencing the discomfort. Then we have to say something that is true rather that accusing or defensive, i.e. "I'm afraid", "I just felt a really strong reaction and I know I'm projecting some painful memory onto this situation. The truth is I don't know what is happening I would like to figure it out together."

If you take the time to realize what is truly most important to you it will help you take the step of honesty. By the way, if you are going to say one true thing it is about you, not about the other. You have no idea what is really going on for them even if you are convinced you do. The question really
is, is it most important for you to be right, or is it to connect?

Until, next time...


Friday, September 27, 2013

If Only You Would Change

Have you ever had the thought that if you could get them to change you would feel better about a spouse, friend or business associate? I think most of us have at one time or another, or all the time for some.

When we feel discomfort, fear or anger in a relationship there is often a thought that if we could get the other(s) to change somehow we would feel better. Sometimes we are successful for a while in getting others to change their behaviour but most often one of two things will happen; either they will slip right back into it or we'll find some else who will manage to push that same button. Grrrr. gets exhausting after while trying to control people's behaviour so we won't feel bad. After several revolutions around the sun where the same old feelings keep showing up regardless of your efforts to control how life shows up, you really have to start wondering if the problem isn't with them but rather something in you that needs addressing.

I spent a lot of time and effort trying to manipulate people and situations so that I would feel safe and wouldn't get upset. Never did work really. Instead of getting what I really wanted (which I was completely unaware of) I ended up leaving a lot of relationships. I really wanted 'them' to love me and to understand me but I was not willing to be completely honest about that mainly because I was so caught up in my strategies for getting my needs met that I lost touch with what the needs were in the first place. I see this in clients and friends all the time. It's actually part of the human condition. That isn't to say that there is no way through but rather that we're all in this together and no one is 'bad' or 'defective' for getting caught up in it.

The point is when we finally see and admit to ourselves that we are playing out a familiar pattern when we get upset then we have the opportunity to do something different.  The reason it isn't all that easy to spot the patterns sometimes is that the faces and outer appearances vary so the place to look isn't at what happened but rather how we reacted. The thoughts and feelings are what is being repeated and they are what is causing the upset, not what someone else may or may not be doing.

I often get people saying they've never felt this way before when I first ask them whether this feels familiar to them but it doesn't take long in the conversation to uncover the falsehood of that statement. It isn't because people are trying to lie about it, they just don't know how to recognize the thoughts that are so very familiar that they don't even know they have them.

So the first step in making a real shift when you feel discomfort in your relationships is to stop looking out there for something to change and start looking in your own thought and feeling patterns for what is being triggered.

More on this topic in my next post.


Friday, September 20, 2013

Do You Ever Wonder About Change?

Do you ever become acutely aware of all the changes that have taken place over the years? Now and then I find myself driving down city streets pondering how much things have changed since I first moved here over 40 years ago. I drive down our relatively new ring road, one of thousands of cars that just a few short years ago had to drive through town instead of around it to get from one end of the city to the other and I marvel.

I think of when I didn't have an iPhone or better yet of the very first mobile phone I had which was bigger than a shoe. I'm amazed by all the technology and the things that generations after me take for granted.

Sometimes I watch old movies and feel a yearning for the simplicity of those times, when the world wasn't so full of stuff and people. Then I look up and notice where I am right now and how very blessed I am to be experiencing all the changes that are taking place right now. I look out my window at the Mayday tree which not so long ago was in full bloom and now has dark green and red and yellow leaves as well lots of open spaces where the leaves have already begun falling.

And I wonder, what is it about change that we tend to resist so much? There is so much wonder and beauty in the process of change yet there is often also a feeling of dread as the old falls away and we enter that space just before the new makes itself fully known to us. The place in between, the cocoon, the field of infinite possibility, the unknown...

Making peace with the fact that so much is truly unknown is a wonderful process. What we most often fill with fearful thoughts and projections is really the place from which all is brought forth into manifestation and we are part of that process. Do we consciously know what is coming with any real accuracy? Not really but there is something deep inside that is excited about it all when we stop projecting the old onto the unknown. There is something that knows all is well when we stop and appreciate what is and what is happening. That which we really are is working through what we think of as us to bring forth exactly what we came here to experience and we get to play and marvel and appreciate and be in awe at the wonder of it all.

That's one of the many reasons I'm really looking forward to my workshop this Sunday. It is a constant reminder for me to fully engage and enjoy the process of transformation that is happening right now at every level of existence. It is truly about playing in the field of infinite possibility which is Home


Monday, September 9, 2013

Finding Balance and Harmony in the Unknown

Life is full of surprises and disappointments and opportunities. One minute you may be wondering about what to do next and the next there may be a call leading you in an unexpected direction and the next thing that happens has it all fall out from under you, only to reveal yet another opportunity.

Life waxes and wanes like the cycles of the moon only not so predictably. There are times I must admit that I for one think I would like to have some control over what is going to happen but  the truth is I do not, nor would it be truly helpful or expansive if I did.

Being in control of things means to limit life to what I know and where's the fun in that? But it feels safer you might argue. Perhaps, but that too is an illusion because there likely wasn't any real danger in the first place, only the unknown. Ah, that is what we really want to protect ourselves from most of the time now isn't it?

I wonder what it is that makes the unknown so scary when in fact it's all unknown. We cannot really predict the future or even fully understand the present or the past for that matter. We give things all kinds of meanings, again likely to make ourselves feel more comfortable, but if we were to be totally honest we simply don't know. I invite you to breathe into that space for a moment right now. That vast space of infinite possibility which is the unknown and unknowable in its immensity. Nothing to be done about it, just be present to it. Instead of making it the enemy, another option is to befriend it.

When things are humming along and we are doing whatever it is that we do to stay busy we don't tend to worry much about these things. Hmm, maybe that's why we live in such a crazy busy world these days!That is what it is but this kind of busy-ness can only take us so far. Eventually most of us run into ourselves and that which has been driving the busy-ness in the first place. This often turns out to be fear of the unknown, projections of our unresolved past or some kind of pain we are trying to avoid.

If we hope to live balanced, harmonious lives we have little choice but to actually face our demons, our own driving thought patterns, so that we can realize the truth behind that and open to a new experience instead of recycling old unwanted ones.

That's the whole idea behind the new workshop I am developing and will be facilitating on September 22nd in Edmonton. If you want to check it out there's info on my website.


Friday, August 30, 2013

The Joy of Playing in Possibility

Wow, the end of August and summer time is almost over for those of us living in the northern climes. I love the changing of the seasons however and even though we still have 3 weeks until fall I can feel the change in the air.

That's one of the reasons I ended up doing my new workshop called Playing in the Field of Infinite Possibility on the fall equinox, it's all about change. I wasn't actually thinking about that when I chose the date but there it is none the less.

The ideas for the workshop started developing a couple of weeks ago and really took on a life of their own. Working with clients, conversations with friends, a request to submit a workshop idea for a conference all kind of amalgamated into this new creation coming together. I love the way Life works when a sincere question is asked.

In the process of all things coming together, in my quiet time one morning I asked for some kind of symbol or sign that would really give the idea of an infinite possibilities workshop form and shape. Then I opened my eyes and looked up through the kitchen window and there was a beautiful little yellow butterfly. Butterfly! There it was, the perfect metaphor for the process of moving from our caterpillar thinking where we just see the blade of grass right in front of us to lifting off into a whole new perspective where all things are possible. I've been enjoying an even more incredible sense of open, optimistic possibility ever since.

It took a few days for the title to show up but the process of the workshop has been forming from the start. I will be using the butterfly metaphor throughout the workshop and the more I play with it the more powerful the process becomes because I am using it in my life as I prepare for the workshop. It reminds me of why I love doing these workshops in the first place; I get to play in that energy even more than when I am just going about my day to day life doing other things.

Then today I went to pick up my mail at my business address and what do I find but a beautiful thank you card with blue and yellows butterflies all over the front from a family I served a couple of months ago. There are no accidents.

If you're in the Edmonton area and would like to participate in this fun and transformational event you are most welcome to check it out on my website.

Namaste and have a fabulous Labour Day Weekend!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Pondering The Five Ws in Our Lives

When someone close to us dies it is a time of great sadness as well as great opportunity. It is important to grieve the loss of a loved one and it is equally important to take the opportunity provided to review what is important in our own lives.

There is a tendency to kind of sleep walk through life, just surviving every day, working to get by, finding all kinds of distractions from feelings of emptiness and discomfort; simply living to exist always putting off those things that we really want to do ‘someday’.

Life is a beautiful and fragile thing however and it waits for no one. We do not know how long we have here nor do we know what the state of our health will be ‘someday’. Too often we put off even thinking about what is important to us or if we do we tend to relegate it to that murky some day that for some reason never seems to come. Even if it does, it is often very short lived, that life of our dreams because we put it off for so long.

Now is a good time to ponder and consider some of life’s big questions which we could look at from the perspective of a news reporter’s five w’s.

Who – Who do I want to be in relation to the people I care about? In relation to my work?  In relation to what I believe about life?  Is who I am being right now the person I envisioned I would be; if not, what is one thing I can do to change that?

What – What is most important to me in terms of what I want to contribute, how I want to express myself, what I want to experience at this time in my life? Am I living true to myself or have I sold my dreams for the illusion of security?

Where – Where do I want to spend my precious time? Where have I always dreamed of being? Am I there or at least taking steps to get there?  Or do I keep putting it off for some unknown time in an unknown future?

When – When am I going to take the step I know I need to take to move me closer to that life I’ve always dreamed of? When is it a good time to say yes to Life?  When am I going to stop putting off what I can actually do today?

Why – Why am I doing what I am doing with my life? Is it what I really want or am I living by default? Am I wasting my precious time asking questions like why is this happening to me or why can’t I have what I really want? If so, why not shift into questions like how can I live the life I know is in me now?

When we take the time to ask ourselves the important questions in life we are far more likely to experience more of what we want than when we spend our time looking for excuses or distractions.

Why waste another precious moment in regret or worry or want when we can be living right now in wonder and appreciation? 


Friday, August 9, 2013

The Fruits of Inner Labours

Summer is waning; you can see the leaves starting slowly to change colours, many of the flowers are done and others are in full bloom while the fruits of the harvest are ripening.

We are entering the season for gathering crops in the physical world. It is important to take the time to gather the fruits of our inner labours as well from time to time.

One thing I've noticed in my garden is how ready inner being is to experience a deeper level of appreciation for everything that is unfolding in my world. It has also been time to more fully embrace and integrate the parts of me that are represented by my mother. It seems to matter how much of this I do, there is always more and that's OK with me because it seems to be one of the ways that Life gently leads me to what I am to experience next.  Life is an expansive experience so it stands to reason that the more I consciously integrate what was previously rejected in life the more in alignment I am with the expansion that is taking place. 

There is much peace and grace in this place of acceptance and integration as each piece that has been denied comes home to rest. And so this is also the season for deep gratitude for the abundance of the harvest.

What has be ripening in the garden of your heart this summer?


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Conceptualization Verses Realization

I watched part of a documentary on PBS last night called The Buddha. It was a bit of history as well as touching on the teachings of the Buddha. I find the history of various movements to be quite fascinating really. I often wonder how we got to where we are from where things started. As with all religions, philosophies and movements of various kinds the further from source it gets the more distorted it is. Kind of like our own memories, they are rarely if ever truly accurate because they are coloured with our interpretations and feelings.

One of the things that most attracts me to the Buddha is the teachings on suffering and compassion. My own process has certainly led me to a level of compassion for myself and others that I would not have known otherwise. It was the process of realizing that what I was telling myself about life was not the truth that actually led me to compassion however, it was not a teaching about compassion.

I suspect the reason so many beautiful teachings have been lost and distorted is because people follow the teachings rather than exploring them internally and coming to their own realizations. When we simply take concepts others have perhaps experienced or want to experience and try to adopt them they always fall short, sometimes disastrously so. The gap between what is conceptualized and what is realized is filled with beliefs that are not in alignment with those ideals and that is often how suffering is maintained.

I don't say created because the very thing that leads us to ideals and philosophies usually has to do with some kind of suffering we are already experiencing. I liked what they said in last night's documentary about suffering as well. It isn't what we usually think of as suffering but rather more akin to discontent. It is discontent (suffering) that sends us looking for relief. The question is, does just believing what some else says about a thing bring that sought after relief or does it tend to eventually exacerbate the suffering even if it did bring temporary relief?

The Buddha and I are in agreement about many things but one thing for sure, you have to do your own investigating, you have to see for yourself what is making you unhappy and you have to find your own way through. The teachings of others can point the way but we each have to walk the path. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say be still and know.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Wearing Beliefs Lightly

It seems I so rarely visit my blog page these days. The good news is that it's because I've been busy and thoroughly enjoying what I am doing which has been mainly work but then I love my work so isn't that a great thing?

Today is a hang around at home day thanks to lots of rain which has been pretty spectacular. I was so grateful yesterday when the rains waited until early evening to arrive since I was officiating at two weddings outside. The weather was fabulous for both and I was so happy for the young couples who didn't have their parades rained on.

I've been so focused on the ceremony side of my business I don't even know what to say here. OK, here goes.

One thing I love about working with couples and families to provide weddings, celebrations of life, baby namings, etc is that it is really all about providing them with something that will have meaning for them, no matter what their beliefs may be. I'm happy to meet them where they are because quite frankly as far as I'm concerned beliefs are the structures through which we experience life not because they're the truth but rather because that is where we are in the moment. It's all OK. I don't have to convince anyone of anything, I just want to be there with them where they are and do what I can to make whatever event I am facilitating good for them.

I've noticed that the less investment I have in what anyone believes, including myself by the way, the happier I am. I know I too operate within a set of beliefs, what's wonderful about the way it is for me now is that I don't think they are true either. So I can wear them lightly and see through the cracks and even shed them when the time is right which enables me to do what I do with compassion and acceptance. I can assure you it was not always so and the contrast is what makes it all so wonderful and remarkable for me.

It's that nymph to dragonfly thing again. I love it and I am so grateful!


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Something New or SOS?

I had a great time at The Journey Home to Essence book launch and celebration the other night. I so appreciate everyone who came out to play with me.

There was a particular comment/question from a fellow traveler that I wanted to talk about a bit in today's blog post. This individual brought up something that I know many of us have thought and felt over the years, especially those of us on a path of inquiry who are always looking for the truth or peace or happiness or whatever word you use to describe that which keeps calling you forward.

The sentiment expressed was about working with certain teachings and doing really well, having this awesome experience, kind of feeling like you've 'arrived'. There is peace, there is bliss, there is a rightness about everything in life; ah at last, this is it.

Then slowly but surely the peace starts to erode, the bliss is not so blissful, the awe gets tarnished and then before you know it you've left Nirvana. Irritability, frustration, unhappiness, inner and/or outer conflict arises. How can this be? I've done all the work, I've faithfully followed all the steps, it was going so well...

Why is this happening? What's going on? What has come into my life and disturbed my peace? It must be something new, surely it can't be the Some Old Stuff (SOS). I thought I dealt with my childhood issues. I thought I was past all that reactive stuff. Darn, all that work and it didn't work!

Take a breath, relax, it's OK. There isn't anything wrong and there isn't anything new. Doing the work whether it is the Liberation Process, the Work, meditation, yoga, prayer, therapy, affirmations or what have you doesn't mean that the patterns of our discontent, which seem to be embedded in our DNA, aren't going to come up again; these are tools to use for when they do.  The very idea that says 'I've already dealt with that so it can't be the some old stuff' is a falsehood that can bring up all kinds of resistance. It's ok that it's the same old stuff, the good news is that you don't have to figure it all out again and you probably have the tools you need to deal with it when it does come up, again.

I've noticed that when the SOS comes up for me it doesn't take long anymore to recognize it for the old pattern it really is and bring a compassionate and understanding energy to it so that it doesn't take over my life (at least not for long if it does get away on me a bit). As I said, it's ok, you're ok, this is life being life.

As the Masters of the Far East reminded us long ago, 'Before enlightenment, chop wood carry water; after enlightenment, chop wood carry water.'


Sunday, June 30, 2013

Cleaning Up The Inner Toxic Environment

It's Canada Day weekend and today I have absolutely nothing that I have to do or that I have scheduled to do. Wow, it's been awhile since I've had a day like this.

It's also been a while since I've written a blog post and so the two coincide and here I am.

Now what am I going to say? I've had all kinds of thoughts and insights over the past weeks but of course they simply come and go and the details kind of get lost in the living.

One thing that has been brought to the forefront of late is a habit of impatience that I have actually had most of my life. I have certainly been aware of it for a long time but I usually just deal with it in the moment or don't deal with it at all, just let it moved on through so why the focus now? Well, I suspect it has something to do with the other focus I have had which has been on healing.

For almost three months I have been experiencing very interesting and unusual pain. It changes and morphs and moves around but mostly it has been hanging around. Thankfully it is much better now but I suspect there is a good reason for it having stayed with me the way it has. It has helped me to look at some things in consciousness that I have been rather lazy about; which brings me round to the impatience factor.

When the focus went to healing the pain in this body I naturally stared bringing lots of love and compassion into the pain and paying attention to the messages I received as I did some deep listening. This really helped. Then I finally woke up to the fact that just paying attention now and then and bringing in focused energy was not enough. A conversation I had with an acquaintance whose mother was in ICU and had experienced all kinds of hospital related problems after going in for a simple surgery really hit home. The analogy that occurred to me after that conversation was that if the inner environment of thinking and feeling is toxic some of the time, even though it is also very loving and compassionate at others, pain or problems are compounded. Fearful and impatient habits create a toxic environment even if they are only manifest in certain conditions i.e. line ups, driving, waiting for appointments, mundane daily routines and the like.

Bottom line for me is that I can no longer indulge in habits of impatience and think I am going to feel good. It's one big system and it's all interconnected. Each part is communicating with the other parts and as in the hospital analogy, if there are bugs in the system it's likely I will catch one even though I may be in there suffering from something else.

So it's clean up time. Time to get into the corners I've ignored and pay attention to it all. It's so easy to get lazy but it really doesn't serve on this journey. I'm not naive enough to think I'll change it all just because I'm aware of it but I've already experienced a big difference as I've been compassionately observing and catching myself in the act more.

We're such clever creatures we think we can fool ourselves but when you're passionate about the truth all the tricks have to eventually be revealed. Then a new trick seems to show up but that
's the journey isn't it? One foot in front of the other, one moment at a time. Life is unfolding exactly as it should and there are undoubtedly all kinds of adventures yet to be had.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013


I feel kind of sad this morning. I just had a conversation of sorts with a young woman with three children whose husband of one year asked for a divorce a couple of months ago. She now has to move and start over again with her three young children. Perhaps it has something to do with hitting close to home having been the child of such a situation many years ago. Perhaps there is also a remembering of all the times in my life when relationships didn't work. Perhaps another element is another conversation with a young couple who is getting married who through our conversations are just starting to realize how much of their communication is actually stilted and incomplete and could easily cause major problems in the future if not addressed.

Who knows but all these factors coming together this morning definitely remind me of why I chose to do the coaching work I do.Communication, or lack thereof, I would say is one of the top challenges not only in marriage but in work, family and friend relationships as well, oh hell, in life period.

I remember distinctly being interviewed by a reporter with the Calgary Herald many, many years ago when I had my oilfield supply business in Red Deer where he asked me what my number one challenge was and, realizing it fully in that moment, I blurted out communication. I was terrible at it and so was pretty much every one I knew. At that point I had already gone through two marriages and numerous relationships and I also knew, at least peripherally that one of the big problems for me was lack of effective communication. I remember thinking that if I could resolve that issue I could make a fortune.

Well, I've come a long way since then baby (with communication, not the fortune) and there is always more to do. That's the journey and I'm very grateful for it even though I often feel sad when I hear about people's frustrations with communication in relationships of all kinds.

So what is it that keeps communication from being more effective?

The bottom line is fear, but fear of what? Fear of rejection, fear of the truth, fear based on old programming, decisions and assumptions; all boils down to basic survival if you follow the thread far enough. Whatever we decided we had to do to survive the confusion and pain when our little brains were forming is still driving our communication today, especially if we haven't stopped to question the validity of those decisions and assumptions, and most people have not.

It isn't so much that we need to learn any new communication techniques, that's just another ineffective bandaid. What is most called for as far as I can tell is going back to the source of the problem and really looking at what we are afraid of so we can see the truth; what we fear isn't real and it rarely has anything to do with what we are dealing with in the moment. Our fears are projections of memories and assumptions that have been distorted and reinforced over time.

In order to communicate effectively we have to see through the veil of falsehoods that block us from telling ourselves and each other the truth. It isn't easy because it is so cleverly disguised but it is doable and it is worth doing.


Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Look at the Issue of Human Population

I just read Dan Brown's latest offering Inferno and I loved it. The way he combines history and art and beauty with real world issues and the fast past scavenger hunt is truly masterful.

I particularly appreciate his subject matter this time around which is what I consider to be the global elephant in the room, our ever increasing human population. We are so busy trying to extend lives and save everyone that we tend to overlook the simple fact that this planet can only sustain so much human life which is no different from any other life form.

I have long been pondering this interesting unfolding of population growth but like so many others I imagine, I have no idea really what to do about it so I don't tend to talk about it a lot. That may well be one of the reasons it isn't discussed more globally, we feel quite helpless in the face of the vastness of it. One thing we can do about it though is have the conversation, or at least start it. Let's take a real look at what is happening with the unchecked growth of the human population instead of burying our heads in the sand and pretending it isn't happening.

I live in an affluent community where we are used to having access to pretty much whatever we want especially in terms of food. I've been noticing in the past few months that certain produce items that I've taken for granted have not always been there when I go shopping. No big deal in and of itself but it is a reminder that here in the north we are very dependent on other areas of the world to supply much of our food, particularly produce.

In terms of population we are relatively small in number here in Canada so why would we care about it? Why not go ahead and have big families? Truth is most of us aren't any more, our growth is mainly through immigration today, but the fact still remains that we need to be just as responsible as anywhere else on the planet and maybe more so because of our vulnerability. We are consumers, in a big way, so we are using up resources far beyond what our numbers would indicate compared to most of the world.

And what of those many places in the world where population growth continues to skyrocket? There are organizations going in and trying to educate people about birth control but unfortunately those ideas often don't resonate with the cultures they are attempting to change. Then you have those well meaning religious missionaries who are also going in and telling people it is against God's will to use birth control. Really? Are they still doing that? Yes indeed, ignorance and religious zealotry by far trump the small efforts being made to effect change where it is most needed.

So that brings us back to where we started, even if we admit there is an issue with population what do we do about it? I don't know. But I'm willing explore it and to participate in the conversation and do what I can even if I end up being a lonely voice in the wilderness.

As with all things it starts with looking at our own perceptions and fears. When I started looking at what might be behind the lack of desire to deal with this issue I at first thought that it had something to do with we humans thinking we are so very important and more valuable than the rest of life on this planet. That may be what it looks like but it didn't take long to see through that illusion to the more likely scenario being lack of value. Trying so desperately to prove our value as a species is an indicator that under all the greed and despair and defensiveness and clinging to these bodies the real driver is a belief that we are not valuable at all.

When I look behind the curtain of belief in not being valuable what I see is the other mistaken belief that says we are our bodies. Oh you might like to protest that, thinking yourself so very spiritual but if you look closely, you will undoubtedly see how identified we really are to these organism. Why else would we be so desperate to stay in them at all cost? Of course the mechanism of survival is at play here but is it time now to evolve beyond survival? Is it time to be still and know that we are Life itself and face down the falsehoods that have really been driving us instead of just paying lip service to the idea?

Hmm, I wonder what might be possible then?

Let's talk. I would love to see your comments and thoughts on this issue.