When in doubt, choose Love.

Both my daughters were Caesarean births. Not the birth story I had in mind, but hey, that’s the one they got.

Picture this: my gyno drops the bombshell that I have an “incompetent cervix.” Seriously? Only a man would say that to a nine-month-pregnant woman about to give birth and embark on the scariest adventure of her life. Couldn’t he have used a less terrifying term? Like ‘you have a beautifully imperfect portal to give this child entry into the world beyond the womb’?

Needless to say, it took a lot of post-birth therapy to get over the trauma of his declaration. But, with a lot of my posse of girlfriends, not too mention wine, I’ve come a long way. I’ve even learned to laugh at myself for taking it so seriously. Back then, though, it felt like he was calling me defective, like I was less of a woman because my cervix wasn’t up to par.

Fast forward to the moment they lifted my precious newborn out of the shelter of my womb, and I couldn’t care less about how she took the final plunge into this world. She was perfect, and that’s all that mattered.

And then, the even scarier part of the journey began. Learning what it meant to be a mother.

Being an overachiever and go-get-er-done kind of gal, I figured I’d have the basics down pat and be sending her off to University in no time flat. And then, real life interrupted.

The next day, lying in bed, watching my child in the bassinet beside me, counting her breaths (you gotta make sure they keep breathing. Right?), with every rise and fall of her tiny chest I felt the tension ease. We were off to a good start.

Until, a lady named Jody came waltzing into my room with a too cheery hello and a booklet titled “When you’re not woman enough to have a working cervix” (Okay, I might be exaggerating the title). She explained she was from the Caesarean Birth Support Group and had come to help me get over the trauma of missing out on the most womanly of arts; pushing my child into this world through the birth canal. Seriously? I cringed and pulled away when she tried to show the booklet to me. Who even needs that kind of support group?

Lying there, listening to her go on and on, I wondered if I had so mis-judged my motherly capacities that my daughter wouldn’t be better off remaining under the care of professionals until her eighteenth birthday. Was my incompetent cervix an even bigger indication of my unfitness to be a mother? .Jody carefully explained all the feelings I should be having (which I had no idea I was supposed to be having) as I sank deeper and deeper into an ocean of self-doubt. When she again reminded me that she was there to support me, I didn’t laugh, cry, or chuck my brand-new breast pump at her. I politely thanked her and showed her the exit.

Why do we burden mothers with so much judgment and comparison? We spend ages scrutinizing each other, insisting there’s only one right way to be a “good” mom, or to become one. Why don’t we instead, do what we do for our kids? — Support, cheerlead, and create a loving space for growth and learning.

The fact is, before actually becoming a mother, motherhood was never on my radar; it terrified me. I’d spent my twenties declaring I wasn’t mother material. In fact, the medical experts agreed, after two ectopic pregancies left me with one tiny half of a fallopian tube, they told me I probably never could. Did I need more proof than that as to the motherly material of my make-up?

And then, at 32-years of age, the miracle of my daughter happened and I realized, ready or not, I had to do the hardest thing I’ve ever done, learn how to be a mother for a child who entered this world in her own way, without an instruction book on how to keep her alive and thriving. It was like diving into an on-the-job training course where I learned to grow up one step at a time while doing my best to not count all my mistakes, and dwell on the misteps and falling downs.

Even now, with my daughters and stepchildren as adults, I’m still learning. It’s a never-ending journey where I must constantly let go of believing I have all the answers or know what’s best for them.

So, Jody from the Caesarean Support Group, I didn’t deprive my daughters of anything by skipping the “birth canal journey.” And if they ever feel they missed out, therapy is on me!

What I’ve learned through diving into the deepwaters of motherhood without having any idea of the its destation is that while becoming a mother was accidental, the mother I am today is no accident. My children have taught me, every step of the way, more than anyone else ever could, that there’s no perfect way to bring a child into this world just as there’s no one way to become or be a parent. There is only the way it happens. And when we give it our best, when we stop looking back at all our mistakes or comparing our path to someone else’s or to an ideal we cannot attain, the road ahead is full of adventure beyond our wildest imagingings.

And, when the path is dark and the seas are stormy, when in doubt settles in like a cloud, choose love—it’s the best way to navigate this wild ride called motherhood.

What is your boat built of?

In Choose Growth, authors Kaufman and Feingold, expand upon Mazlow’s hierarchy of needs and put it into a boat. Mazlow never meant for his heirarchy to be represented by a pyramid, they write. When he originally described it he described life as a constant state of growth that is often a two-step-forward, one-step-back phenomenon.

Being able to focus on steering the boat, rather than constantly patching holes and bailing it out, is essential. Being able to steer the boat, and use the experience to grow our human condition, even more critical to our human journey of becoming.

We are born to evolve. And grow. And learn. And keep learning to evolve some more.

But, if we spend all our time plugging holes and bailing water, there’s little time to think about ‘what did that experience teach me?’. Or, “What can I do differently?” Or, “How can I use that experience to grow in my life?”

Years ago, trapped in a relationship that was killing me, the longer I stayed in that leaky boat, the faster I began to sink, until one day, fortunately just in time, I was pulled from the sinking vessel and given the miracle of getting my life back.

It was not a miracle I wanted to ignore or abuse or misuse. It was too important to me. Too valuable to waste or throw away. And, I told myself, that sinking boat… it wasn’t mine to begin with. It was built on his lies. And there was no truth in he who was The Lie.

Since that May day in 2003, I have focused on building a sturdy,healthy, strong boat for myself. At times, I have taken steps back from my two-steps-forward, but the stability of my boat provides me a sense of safety and connection I feel within myself and with those who love me and how I choose to live with intention, helps keep me and my boat afloat.

Nowadays, when harsh waters and crashing waves surround me, I don’t need to spend a lot of time bailing out my boat. I simply hunker down to weather the storm confident that the love, connection and belonging I have found will not be ripped from my sails and blown away by the howling winds.

Today, I’m willing to open my sails to the winds of life and steer my boat in the seas of growth and change, confident that by remaining open to all life’s experiences, whether I judge them ‘good’ or ‘bad’, by being vulnerable with my heart and soul, I will be free to explore all of me — the dark and light, the mysterious and known, the ups and downs and inside outs and outside ins, without getting pulled under by the riptide of despair or crashed against the rocks of shame.

It is fabulously joyful to sail my boat in this sea of life teeming with possibilities, hope, love, joy, happiness, mystery, wonder and awe.

It is fabulously nourishing to be surrounded by people who love and cherish me and whom I love and cherish.

And it is fabulously inspiring to have a life I cherish, a life that is a reflection of my deep belief that we are all born miracles of life, the divine expression of amazing grace, magnificent, beautiful and deeply needed in this world for the unique, creative expressions we bring to it, expressions and ways of being that will create the better we all want to create for everyone.

When we open our sails and allow ourselves to be truly seen and known, when we love every molecule and cell of ourselves, we are free to be our magnificent selves.

And isn’t that a fabulous way to be?

Life in the Key of Grace.

According to Thomas Moore, whose soul-centered philosophy speaks deeply to me, some of the more turbulent life passages we’ve experienced need to be healed, or we stay stuck. In our ‘stuckedness’ (my made-up word, not his). Unhealed passages leave us acting out in immature, unconscious ways that limit the grace with which we pass through each day and ultimately, prevent us from knowing grace in aging.

“Passages are not always easy. You may decide it is too much for you and settle for being stuck in a comfortable phase.” — Thomas Moore, Ageless Soul

Moore suggests we look back on our lives and see various passages as linked by plateaus which represent the stages of our lives. Not necessarily the ‘aged’ stages, but rather, the significant events which make up our growing ‘up’. School. Marriage. Travel. Jobs. Adventures…

Sometimes, we don’t navigate the passages between plateaus well. Sometimes, in our inability to let go of one plateau to pass through to another, we refuse to say yes to possibility and hold onto, or stay stuck in, what was and can never be again.

There are many ways to heal those broken passages.

One way is to draw a timeline of your life. (For me, doing this exercise, I like to tape pieces of 8 x 11″ paper end to end horizontally. I begin at the beginning – birth, and include photos, pictures cut out of magazines, drawings, etc. as I move along my timeline. I take my time – this is my lifeline, my life journey, I want to savour each moment, whether I judge it good or bad – it is my life.)

From birth to today, mark the significant events and a word or three to describe what you did when that significant event appeared in your life.

Look for patterns, for spaces where your reason for ‘living in the NO’ or stepping back from possibility carried over into other areas of your life, even when you wanted to say Yes.

Now, hold those moments lovingly in your mind, and let compassion, love, acceptance pour over them. Let your heart open wide to the realization that in those instances you chose No, not because you couldn’t do it, but rather, because doing it was too risky, scary, fear-inducing, or you just felt more comfortable staying stuck.

Let the grace of self-forgiveness envelop you. Imagine grace is a serene river flowing through every fibre of your being.

And then, say, “I see you. I forgive you. I let go. I am peaceful with my decision today.”

Repeat often.

The questions we ask ourselves.

Monday morning. An uncharted day.

My afternoon was to have been busy – but I made a mistake in dates and now, it’s wide open.

How will I fill it? Or is it, spend it? Or use it up? How shall I pass the time?

Perhaps rather than any of the above, I need to see my time as a time to live wild and free. Bold and fierce.

Maybe, rather than asking myself, ‘How shall I pass the time?’, I invite myself into the day with the question, “How shall I live these hours fully-heartedly in love with my life today?”

And then, as Rilke invites, ‘to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language.‘ so that I can ‘live the questions now.’

Ah… to live the questions as if they are a book written in a very foreign language.

Memory stirs. Athens. My then-husband driving. I am navigating. I know where we want to get to but am totally lost. My map is in English. The roadsigns in Cyrillic. Which I can’t read.

I try to decipher them. Quickly. I am losing ground as he tries desperately to stay with the traffic which is a cacophony of blaring horns and angry voices of drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and donkey cart drivers all vying for the same piece of road.

My driver is frustrated. Getting angrier by the minute.

I try to decipher the signs faster and faster as the temperature goes up in the car with the ferocity of a Chinook wind blowing in off the Rockies.

I am not succeeding.

Suddenly, I fold up the map and declare, “Let’s get lost.”

He laughs (sort of). “We are lost!”

Right. We are.

Then… let’s stay lost. Rather than seeking the pre-determined destination, let’s see where the road leads us. Let’s be open to the adventure!

I’d like to say that’s what we did but, if memory serves me well, we chose the safer route. (My idea of adventure and his were not the same.) We found a tourist office and acquired concise directions to take us to the inn we had booked for our week in Athens.

But what if… what if we’d stayed on the lost path? What if we’d chosen to keep travelling into the unknown.

Today, it isn’t the what if’s about the past that makes the difference. It’s the lessons learned, the growth experienced, the memories made of the journies taken.

I have never forgotten that drive through Athens. It was the genesis of my journey into letting go of my need to know every step of the journey before it began and my desire to stay rigidly attached to the outcome. It was the beginning of learning to trust in the process rather than the plan.pic

Unbroken Morning

Wrapped in the soft glow of candlelight illuminating the dark, I sit in the quiet of night’s velvety embrace.

It’s early. Dawn sleeps deep, bedded down in night’s arms. The dark envelopes the sky.

I sit at my desk, breathing in the silence and watch the lights from the pedestrian bridge that crosses the river outside my window shimmer on the water’s inky black surface.

I am awake. I don’t want to be. But a dream I cannot remember awoke me. Unable to find sleep again, I do the thing I always do when sleep evades me. I get up, light a candle on my desk. It sits in front of the large picture window in our living room, looking west. Looking out into the darkness, to the river, the dark silhouettes of the trees that line its banks, nature’s painting of black on light shadow, waiting, like portals into some magical, far away land calling me to let go of what I know to enter the realm of all there is yet to discover.

My fingertips skim the keyboard on my laptop. The river flows. Olafur Arnald’s piano quietly plays in the background. The fridge hums. Beaumont the Sheepadoodle, lies at my feet, sleeping.

A light moves along the bridge. Someone on a bicycle is crossing. East to west. For a moment I am distracted. Where is he going? What is he doing riding a bike across the bridge at 4am?

His light disappears. I return to this moment.

The river flows. No wind stirs the naked branches of the trees that fill the gaps between tree trunks like cracks in ice spidering out.

Morning has yet to beckon.

Day has yet awaken.

I breathe in the quiet of the moment and feel my body easing into the darkness.

There is nowhere to be in the dark of night. No one thing I have to do. There is only this. This moment where I sit typing, breathing, and watching the river flow and the lights dance on its surface.

Day will come. Light will return to the sky. For now, I sit in the dark belly of night and let my mind flow like the river and dream of dancing with wild, fierce abandon into the unknown adventures of the day yet to rise.


You Are Not A Mistake

Transitions can be frightening and necessary. We can’t see the road ahead. We don’t know what will happen. We feel unsafe in unknown territory.

And…we worry that to step forward into the unknown means leaving the past behind. Including the anger, the loss, and the pain that fuels us.

Somewhere, in a book I have long forgotten the name of, I read that we must look to nature for inspiration. The author wrote of how the beauty of fall is followed by the death of every leaf. The leaf lets go because it knows it’s time to move on. It is not striving for something else. It is not angry with the tree for letting it down. It isn’t about being perfect, it’s about the willingness to acknowledge its journey was perfect.

For humans, that perfect journey includes acknowledging our human imperfections, making amends where our imperfect behaviours have caused harm (where possible) and forgiving others so that we can transform our hearts and lives throughout our journey as change is as inevitable as the sun’s rising every morning.

To let go of what was and to allow what is unfurling to unfurl, we must forgive what was, what was, what wasn’t, and what did hurt us, and caused us angst, or pain.

And in that forgiveness is the gift of more. More peace. More gratitude. More possibility. More grace.

It isn’t that forgiveness negates justice or the need for justice. It is that forgiveness sets the forgiver free — and possibly the forgiven too. It is that forgiveness opens our hearts to possibility. Renewal. Hope. Peace. Love and Joy.

Forgiveness makes me whole. Because no matter what justice I deem necessary, or the law determines right, there is and always will be room for Divine mercy.

Mercy is the right of the God, the Divine, the Universe, the unknown and forgiveness is the deepest mystery of all.

A mystery is not something that cannot be solved or to be frightened of. Mystery is something I do not understand enough. And in the quest to understand the mystery of forgiveness, I am strengthened in my quest for inner freedom through learning what it means to forgive.

Those words in a book I cannot remember, continue to resonate as I explore what it means to be human on this journey of my lifetime.

A human being who makes mistakes and is never a mistake.

Resilience is built into our nature.

Episode 26 – Dare Boldly: No matter your age

When I worked in an adult homeless shelter, people always commented on how it must be a very depressing place to work.

I always replied, “It’s one of the most inspiring places I’ve ever worked.”

Every day I experienced a thousand people awakening in the morning to take another step. Their lives may have been in disarray, they may have lost everything and carried only the heaviness and indignity of the label, ‘homeless’, but they kept going.

That was inspiring.

I learned a lot about resilience at the homeless shelter. I saw it every day. From the young 18-year-old who was determined to finish his high school education to the 60-year-old woman who met her 20-something daughter, whom she hadn’t seen in several years, on the elevator one day. In that one meeting the mother made the decision to get help with her mental health issues so she could move out of the shelter and be a mother that could guide her daughter away from street life.

Resilience was everywhere at the shelter.

I remember Colin. An indigenous man who had left his family and community behind when the load of his past became too much to bear. When we met, Colin had been on the streets for many years and hadn’t seen his adult sons since they were school-aged children. “I want to be a man they’d be proud of,” he told me in the self-esteem-building class I was teaching.

In an environment where being sober was the anomaly, Colin was very proud of his three-month-old sobriety. Determined to see his sons again, he kept taking steps in the right direction.

I was in awe of Colin’s commitment and resilience. Life kept knocking him down and he kept standing back up and moving forward.

Six months after we met, a massive heart attack took away any chance Colin had of meeting his sons again. And though he lost that final battle, he died exactly as the kind of man he told me wanted to be, “A proud man.”

Colin, and so many others I met at the shelter, displayed the characteristics of resilience every day. Courage. Strength. A willingness to face life’s challenges without giving up, and a deep awareness that to take a different path they had to change the things that brought them to the shelter door.

Resilience can come in many forms. There’s physical resilience, mental resilience, emotional resilience, and social resilience.

At the shelter, resilience came wrapped up in a community that held each other up and gave what they could to one another, no matter how little they had. And, it came in the hope and belief tomorrow would be a better day as long as they made it through today, together.

Colin never got to that tomorrow where he met his sons and heard them say, “We’re proud of you, dad”. But, in getting up again and again and continuing to fight for his sobriety, he taught many others the value of holding true to yourself and your dreams.

It is a lesson that continues to inspire me today.

Episode 26 – Resilience week – Dare Boldly: No matter your age

Take the “What’s the Big Deal about Aging?” questionnaire!

I’m really interested in a) writing and talking about aging, and I’m really interested in your feedback so if you don’t mind taking a few moments, I’d love to get your feedback – it’s my very first survey so I’m learning as I go! (in other words, it’s not the best designed survey but it’s my first! 🙂 )

Click HERE for survey (max 5 minutes to respond)

Gratitude is a light within

Episode 25

It has been smoky here all week.

The smoke, while bothersome, doesn’t cause me discomfort. It hasn’t affected my walks with Beaumont nor my enjoyment of being in nature.

For my beloved, it’s a different story.

It’s been a long week. Confined almost continuously to the house, he still coughts and struggles at times to breathe. And, because he’s in a clinical trial, he can’t take any oxygen or drugs, other than his normal inhalers, to help alleviate the angst.

I am grateful for this clinical trial which may result in relief of his symptoms.

But, as medical science searches for ways to alleviate asthma and lung disease, it is uncomfortable for him, and I know, at times, terrifying. To struggle for breath. To feel always as if you are gasping for air.

I am grateful this week that I had chosen to write about gratitude. Grateful that in keeping my focus on its many graces, I have been constantly reminded to breathe into its healing powers.

It doesn’t mean I don’t struggle. I do. I worry. I fixate on wanting him to get up and get moving. On thinking there’s something else, he, or I, can do to make it better.

I get out of sorts. Short tempered.

And then, I come back to gratitude.

I am grateful for this practice. Grateful to have this safe space to return to centre, to find, as Val Boyko calls it, my middle ground.

I can’t ‘fix’ any of this. I can’t, as he asked me the other day, get him a new lung. What I can do is get him a cup of tea. Bake him my chocolate chip cookies he loves so much, even though I worry about their impact on my hips. He was once a professional football player. Weight is still not is issue, other than the need to put it on! Other than when I was pregnant, I have never had a problem putting on weight! 🙂

And, I can change how I respond when I’m feeling frustrated and worried.

I can stop thinking about how ‘this isn’t what I expected’ and turn instead into the love that brought us together, the shared joy in each other’s company.

I can stop wallowing in self-pity and awaken my desire to be playful, joyful, and heartful in our relationship.

I can stop being driven by fear and allow courage to draw me back into Love, peace, and joy.

Rather than thinking about the things we can’t do together, I can lean into the things we enjoy doing together. Play games. Read to each other out loud. Watch a movie together. Cook a meal together. And so much more.

I am grateful that we get to be together. That we get to share each day, together. And, that in being together, we get to support one another in living life to the fullest of our abilities and capacities, always giving the best of what we have to one another. Always keeping our vows in the forefront of our life together.

I am grateful that in writing about gratitude, I am reminded to put my own words into action.

I am grateful.


Brian Pearson and The Mystic Cave

I first met Brian Pearson of The Mystic Cave many years ago when I attended a concert in the church where he was once pastor. A talented orator, humble leader, gifted musician and writer, Brian’s ability to transcend Christian doctrine to reveal the ephemeral nature of our human condition wowed me. A devout, ‘I’m not into organized religion’ advocate, he didn’t convince me to sit in a pew every Sunday morning going through the rituals. He did however, awaken and inspire me, so much so that when he asked me to be a moderator on The Mystic Cave private FB group, I said yes. Spending time with Brian is always a gift.

Recently, I had the gift of spending time with him when he interviewed me for The Mystic Cave podcast (available wherever you listen to podcasts). Brian is an exceptional interviewer. Beyond asking great questions, which he does, he does his research, listens deeply and dives into not just the who, what, why, but the impact and import of everything.

He’s also just a very warm and welcoming host which makes it easy to relax when in his presence.

I hope you take the time to visit Brian’s website and… if you’re so inclined, listen to our chat.

Love Will Always Find You

When my daughters were little, I loved to write stories just for them.

One such story was about a lobster named Louis (my father’s name) who liked his shell so much he did not want to have to change. One day he decided to run away thinking that would prevent the inevitable.

As we all know, if it’s inevitable, it can’t be prevented and some things in nature are… our nature.

For Louis, running away resulted in a series of misadventures that almost got him trapped in a lobster cage (it looked safe!) until finally, he fell asleep behind a rock only to awake to discover his shell had deserted him.

Embarrassed by his shell-less body, he dug a hole in the ocean floor and buried himself in the sand.

Of course, in his shell-less/defenseless state, it was the best thing he could do. Looking out at the darkness around him, he discovered another pair of eyes looking back at him — it was a lady lobster named Sue who was also hiding beneath the sand.

The long and short of it… They fell in love with the sound of each other’s voice and the words of comfort they shared (not quite that mushily in the story ’cause Louis was scared and Sue was wise and witty…)

Anyway, what Louis learned is what the story was all about — no matter where you go, or what you do, or how you look, or how deep the hole you’ve dug for yourself…. being yourself is the only way to be, ’cause being yourself is where Love will always find you.


Louis’ story drifted into my mind in the early morning hours as I lay soaking in the bath, the light of a candle flickering and classical music playing softly in the background.

I’d awoken with a dream in which I was chasing a butterfly through a field of wildflowers and fell over the edge of a cliff to land in a bed of roses.

Just kidding.

I’d awoken at 4 from a dream where I was angry and couldn’t remember about what. As I wasn’t getting back to sleep I decided to have a bath.

It does makes sense that I was thinking about anger. I’d been speaking with someone about anger earlier in the day. They asked me, “How do you get over anger?”

You don’t, I reply. You go through it.

Anger in the moment can be a powerful force for change (as long as we express it appropriately), I said. Anger many years later is a sign of something deeper. Have you considered seeing a therapist?

I’m not broken, they exclaimed.

And that was when it struck me — as a society we sometimes hold a collective view that seeing a therapist is a sign of what is wrong with us.

I disagree.

For me, seeing a therapist is about acknowledging things that aren’t working for me anymore and seeking help to find my way through. It’s about getting right within myself so that I can walk through the world doing the right things to create a better place.

You cannot heal or change what you do not acknowledge.

Therapy is the opportunity to heal those things that no longer work for you.

For years after my brother died, I carried this unsettling anger about his choices and the things he’d done. Holding onto it wasn’t making my world a more peaceful, loving place today. It was holding me stuck in the past.

Anger needs to be released and the best way to do that is to let it flow into the Love that is always there. And sometimes, we need a guide to help us find our path.

Like Louis and Sue who shared the darkness and found their way home to themselves — ’cause that’s where Love will always find us, no matter how far we run.