Youth Engagement Impeded by Pressure of Elder Legacy Need?

It is a freshly minted question for me.  Is youth engagement impeded by the pressure of older adults wanting to leave a legacy or the need to get it right?

The question began fermenting for me during the Art of Community Building training for African Nova Scotian facilitators in June of this year (2013).  It was an Open Space question posed by the (now) late Rocky Jones: how to engage the youth?  I used the Law of Two Feet to find my way to that conversation and listened in for a few minutes, trying to understand more about a question that is asked all the time in all kinds of situations.

I wondered out loud, if they really knew what the youth wanted?  That’s what they were trying to find out, they told me. You know those moments when you feel that vague stirring in your soul because something is not connecting but you’re not sure what or why?  I was in one of those moments, feeling that there was a point that was wanting to emerge – in my own mind anyway – but none of us in the conversation were hitting on it.  It was a vague sense of somehow missing the mark and it kept stirring for me.

Later at dinner, the hosting team and a few others of us continued the conversation.  Rocky and Roshanda Cummings, a young leader and apprentice host on our team who came from San Francisco to co-host with us,  got into a beautifully intense conversation about the role of elders, about Roe wondering where her elders were, with Rocky listening intently as she poured her heart out about what it was like to be a young black woman in the places she lived and traveled.

I thought about how Roe had been invited into this work – not with the question of “how do I engage you” but with the open hearted invitation of “what can we do together and I would LOVE you to come to Nova Scotia to do this work with me!”

Stillheart Roe and Kathy

I began to wonder how many conversations around youth engagement (or engagement generally) come from a place (unintentionally of course) of fear, regret, reproach or judgment.  Reproach and judgment because youth are not meeting some standard of engagement or community participation that may no longer even be relevant or of interest to youth.  Fear and regret that elders may have let youth down, let themselves down in the process, worried about what kind of legacy they are leaving youth and community.

And then I wondered, “What if a conversation with youth about how to engage them had a totally different starting point?”  Inspired by Mary Oliver, for instance, and her great question: “Tell me what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life!”  What if a question like that was the invitation to a conversation where we really listened to each other instead of suppositioned?  What if everything about the conversation said, “I care about you and what you care about,” if engagement came from the place of how do I support you in that which calls you from the soul, and what could we do together and learn together if we jumped into engagement from that point?

Just sensing into these two approaches, the energy shifts shape from one of burden and how do I get someone else, in this case youth, to do something they don’t seem to be particularly interested in doing to one of curiosity and eagerness as I anticipate listening in to what makes someone else come alive and imagining with them how they could do more of that!  And maybe I could do it with them!

Shape Shifting Along the Path of Soul Journey

There are times, more frequently and consistently lately, thankfully, when My Self is in step with My Soul – my soul journey.  My Self has taken a long and winding road, full of pot holes, steep slopes and obstacles on the path, shifting shape in subtle and dramatic ways, to find her way to My Soul.

My Soul holds loving space.  Patiently waiting with full invitation for My Self to notice, to step in, to fall in, to embrace.  Sometimes My Soul whispers to My Self to help My Self find her way.  Sometimes she beckons loudly.  She always trusts My Self will find her way back. If not in this breath, maybe in the next.  If not in the next or the next after that, when there are no more breaths in the physical My Self, setting the non-physical free to blend back in with My Soul.  There is no time limit.  My Self manufactures urgency that My Soul does not assume, does not need, in the moment, a moment that could be a moment as we know it or a lifetime as we experience it.

When the two, which I have playfully named My Self and My Soul as I lean into what it is I am even trying to understand and discern here for myself, are in synch, there is a depth of stillness, beauty and love that envelops me in every way imaginable and emanates out in the world in palpable ways.  Synchronicity flows.  Miracles follow miracles and wonders never cease.

My Shape Shifting Lion Friend – on for the Soul Journey

I have known this soul journey through unconsciousness, awakening, pain and sorrow, joy, love – to greater and lessor degrees.  I have often thought there must be ways to get to it just from joy, that pain and suffering are symptomatic of the human condition and should be optional.  There are easier ways, most of us just don’t seem to choose them.

Earlier today, running in a beautiful Nova Scotia fall morning, through my neighbourhood, down to the Bedford Basin, along the waterfront, up to and down the main road, through a path along a little stream, back in a quiet neighbourhood and along the lake to home, I was present to my physical experience.  The air crisp and cool.  The sun filtering through the leaves of the trees – what’s left of them anyway.  My feet crunching through the fallen leaves.  Not thinking of things but holding my own self, my own experience with curiosity.

I notice this sense of transition – again, never ending, always in it transition.  I see the world around me, my actions, my work, me, changing, shifting shape all the time.  Often subtlely.  I feel things slipping off and new things budding.  It’s often quite lovely.  And I feel sorrow and joy.  Great depths of sorrow.  Great expanses of joy.  Either of these experiences can evoke tears and either are perfectly okay.  I am learning to hold them without judgment, just the noticing.  Oh, and the allowing.  Allowing them to flow when they appear – for joy or sorrow or any other number of reasons they may appear.  And, of course, it is not just tears but any range of possible expressions of emotional state, many of which are quite delightful.  Including stillness.  Including exuding love – like  a magnet, attracting people, experiences  stories and more love.   I am learning that when you travel the path of love, all things are added.

When I first moved into my house two and a half years ago, for almost two months I woke up every day feeling joy and delight.  Every single day. It was so lovely.  I understood that instead of struggle, perhaps joy could be the baseline experience that informs our journey, that we keep springing back to when we let go of whatever is getting in the way of joy.  It was quite a revelation born of the wondering and expectation that was beginning to creep into my awareness that maybe one morning soon I would wake up and not feel joyful.  I wanted to invite the level and intensity of joy into my life, every single day.

Then, financial realities began to hit.  Time began to bleed, minutes into minutes, days into days.  I could feel stress in my body and I knew it was being created not by my experience in this moment, but by my thoughts foraying into the future and the past, forgetting to reside in the beauty and okayness of Now.  My Self separated from My Soul for a little sojourn in other places.  My Soul tenderly held the space for My Self to explore.  The exploration in service of soul journey.

As I listen to Esther Hicks channeling Abraham, a conglomeration of non-physical entities, and Abraham speaks about expansion, I’m now getting it.  Abraham says, what’s the good of a banquet if they only offer what you want?  Where is the opportunity for growth and expansion in that?  If all my days had stayed only in that joyful place, would I have experienced this new depth of soul journey, where My Self is in tune, in step with My Soul more often, if some disturbance hadn’t entered my field of awareness?  If they hadn’t shown up, maybe I would have been content to stay within the boundaries of my lovely new home because I’m sure loving my solitude when I have the opportunity.  Instead, the murmurs of discontent show me what I don’t want, causing me to look for more of what I do want and then attract to me and my journey the most amazing, remarkable experiences.  I’m shape shifting yet again and how lovely is that?

It’s not struggle. It’s not even transition. It is being, experiencing, allowing.  There is no struggle if I don’t.  Lots of letting go of illusions and opening up to more and more of what I want – My Self walking with My Soul more often, inviting me to show up fully, to hold space more deeply, to carry things more lightly and allow myself to be swept along to the next shifted shape that is the new hallmark of a journey that only gets better and better.

Corridor of the Dying or Something Else?

It is such a small leap for me I don’t know why it never occurred to me before.

I went to visit my mother this weekend.  She has had dementia for more years than we know and she has been in long term care for almost three.  Awhile ago I wrote about only understanding her journey from a soul perspective.  This is becoming more true for me as she gets nearer to her transition.

During this visit, I sat on her bed with her, maintaining physical touch the whole time I was there.  When she looked at me and we held eye contact, she smiled and even laughed.  So did I.  Sometimes with my tears also flowing.  The rest of the time, I watched her lift her head to look very intently at things I could not see all around her room.  It is clear to me that spirit in gathering although less clear to me when she will finally decide to let go of her physical body, but likely soon.   We, her family, are becoming more ready as we walk this path her.

To get to the dementia ward in what everyone in the town calls “the Home”, you enter the front door of the building, walk a short corridor past the administration offices and enter through an electronically locked door into the main residential part of the building.  You then have to walk down a long corridor to get to the dementia ward, behind yet another locked door.

As you enter the residential part of the building, you come upon people – old people and in some cases, really old people – sitting in wheel chairs or chairs – just sitting there for the most part, most nodding off.  Those are the ones well enough to be sitting up.  As you go down the corridor, bedrooms are on either side and in most of them someone is lying on a bed, oblivious to the rest of the world.  Sleeping, snoring, unaware. And, as good as this place is – and I do believe it is one of the best, it smells of old people waiting to die, sometimes less so, sometimes more so.  It is a hard corridor to walk with regularity, know the shape of these people’s lives have shifted so dramatically.

I have always thought of these people as waiting to die.  We all know the only way people come out of long term care is in a coffin.  This is where some of our population go to die – when their loved ones can no longer take care of them and, believe me, that is not an easy decision.

For some reason, with this visit with my mom, I had a little revelation and I don’t know why it never occurred to me before, but I’m glad it has now because it expands my awareness of what else just might be going on in these corridors.

My spiritual journey over the last dozen years or so has shown me pathways to altered consciousness, to spirit journeying, to spirit guides, angels and other entities.  I am aware that it is possible to “travel” in dream states – sleeping and waking – and that much good and healing work can happen in these states of altered awareness and consciousness.

As I sat with my mother and observed her looking at that which she could see and I couldn’t, I all of a sudden became aware that her physical body might be old and weak and her brain injured, as they say at the Home, but her spirit or soul is strong.  I began to wonder just where, how far and how often she may have been journeying while her physical body slept and that thought took me to all those sleeping bodies throughout the whole facility and a curiosity about where some of those souls might be journeying to while their physical bodies sleep.  I’m sure some of them may well be wrestling with their own demons, so to speak, but whose to say that most of them aren’t off doing much needed soul work in ordinary and non-ordinary reality.

Then I could feel a bubble of light surrounding this Home. The notion that these beautiful souls might be making contributions to the world that most of us cannot see or understand made my own spirit more joyful.  And now I hold my mother’s journey with an added degree of lightness and joy which I have no doubt she feels.  She is journeying well and will continue to do so, I have no doubt.  She is a great teacher for me.  And I love her and she know that.

Shape Shifting Poetic Reflection

Shape Shifting (1)

 

In over my head

Didn’t know the depth

I dived into

The deceptiveness

Of the calm

Hearing a promise

Of salvation

 

Under the surface

So much more

I didn’t want to see

Blinders on

 

Undertows

Grab hold of me

By the ankles

Yanking firmly

Sucking me down

Down

Down

 

Bubbles escape

All around me

I struggle

Wear myself out

Exhausted

 

I am lost

I cannot find myself

I am deceived

 

Struggle stops

I withdraw

Make myself small

Maybe this

Is how

I will survive

 

My soul whispers

My name

It is familiar

Like a breeze

Lightly on my skin

It is almost inaudible

With the din

Around me

 

Can I make myself smaller

Hide in plain view

 

I am sad

Angry

Poison

Is running

Through my veins

Hatred

Like I’ve never experienced

Before

 

Who is this person

Where did she come from

 

My soul whispers

My name

The undertow

Yanks me

Deeper

Into the abyss

I am lost

 

From the surface

Gazing through

The slight distortions

Of the water

I look calm

Only the occasional

Flicker

Gives clues

To onlookers

About the extent

Of chaos

Turmoil

Permeating

Every aspect

Of my being

 

My soul

Whispers

Louder

Calling my name

Begins to send

Messengers

Of hope

In unexpected

Delightful

Confusing

Illuminating ways

 

The water heats up

The seas

Unleash

The full

Fury

Of the storm

I am lost

 

Ahh

Ahh

But now

My soul

My soul’s journey

Is calling my name

Loud

Louder

Clearly

Beckoning me

Gently

Here

Here is your path

Here are

Your messengers

Here is your support

Drums

Guides

People

Places

Events

Timing

 

Open your heart

Tear down your walls

Tentative

Brick by brick

Peering out

Feeling

Little rays

Of light

Hope

Finding centre

Finding ground

 

The storm

Looms again

I rise

To meet the storm

 

STORM BE GONE!

 

Facing down

Ego

Facing down

Judgment

Self judgment

The most insidious of all

 

Yes!

You are safe

We’ve got you

You’ve got yourself

 

Love

Openly

Joyfully

 

Love is buoyant

Like a cloud

You will float

To the surface

 

I am finding

My way

Trusting

Just a little bit

Feeling buoyancy

Feeling joy

Letting go

Surrendering

 

Am I done yet

Can I graduate

What

No certificate

Life long

Life affirming

 

Why you are here

 

Surrendering

More fully

Trusting

More fully

Beauty

Unexpected delights

Surety of path

The how

Drifting off

Into the ether

Materializing

In its own

Unexpected

Glorious

Ways

 

I am found

My voice is found

My ground

My path

I am birthing

 

My soul

Is singing

Celebrating

Without the storm

Without drowning

I would still

Be lost

 

Unexpected Little Gifts

Appreciating the little and the not so little unexpected gifts feeds the field of gratitude, makes the heart glad and the soul sing.  It shifts the the shape of the moment, the day, our world, the world we touch including our relationships.

If we only care to pay attention, there are so many unexpected little gifts that show up in the run of a day -  and some of them are not so little.  A comment here.  A nice touch in there.  Someone noticing, paying attention, listening.  Connecting with other human beings – sometimes friends, sometimes strangers -  contact illuminated in a gesture, a word, eye contact, a touch.

Unexpected little gifts in my life in just the last day or so?  Dinner last night with a friend of mine and a beautiful young friend of my teenage boys – they are away for University, their friend, who has become my friend, stayed here for University and we headed out for dinner at The Wooden Monkey.  The Wooden Monkey in Halifax is one of those not so unexpected little gifts – beautiful, home grown, organic food lovingly cooked and served with care.  A beautiful late September night inspiring a walk on the waterfront and a drink later at an outdoor cafe.

As I write my book – Embracing the Stranger in Me – coming across really good writing from a decade ago that I had completely forgotten I wrote so now I don’t need to rely on memory – my writing from the time will take me back there into those compelling experiences that contributed to the me who now shows up in this world.

My hairdresser, unfortunately, broke her wrist and couldn’t cut my hair, but referred me to a place a client had given me a hundred dollar gift certificate for a few months ago.  Nice unexpected little gift.

Friends find me on Facebook chat or skype and we have short or long chats that pick up the spirit and make the day shine, sometimes just a hello and sometimes opening up the gift of possibility.

My eight year old says, “Mom, you’re the best mom ever.  I wish there were two of you!”  (I do too, but probably not for the same reason.)

There are so many more delights in every single day.  They shape my world.  They make me smile.  They energize me.  They motivate me.  They bring me joy.  They give me strength, remind me of my strength, connect me to my strength and then I radiate the joy, peace, and connection I experience, attracting more of it, helping me see and support brilliance in the world, in my friends, my family and the people I have the honour and privilege of working with.

Like my Brazilian friends who I will be joining at the end of this week (along with another good friend from Colorado) for an Art of Hosting training near Sao Paulo.  Good friends.  Deep relationships.  Amazing work already – with each other and in Brazil.  The swiftness with which my travel visa was processed. Smiling to sense into what more will emerge there.

Unexpected little gifts.  In every single day, in so many ways.  I like it when they shift the shape of my world and my experience. I look forward to seeing what unexpected little gifts show up in my day tomorrow and the tomorrows after that.  Maybe you will be one of them.  Maybe I will be one of them for you.

Contemplating Joy

Byron Brown, in Soul Without Shame: A Guide to Liberating Yourself from the Judge Within, asserts that compassion, strength, love and joy are essential soul qualities.  He says that ego – or our internal judge or critic – would have us believe this is not true, that we are in constant search of these qualities and that usually they are unattainable, maybe because we believe we are not worthy.

A constant search for these qualities would always have them in the future and, while we may have fleeting glimpses of them, they are elusive.  We are thus, by default, relegated to a life of strife and striving, doomed to be ruled by the internal judge or critic who, when we are not doing well admonishes us that we can do better and when we do well, first congratulates us and then says, “How long do you think you can keep that up?”.  Stepping out of this habitual, ingrained pattern in our thoughts and in our life takes conscious, intentional effort but when it happens we experience moments of freedom – even joyful freedom.

Of the essential soul qualities, it is joy I am contemplating most frequently at the moment.  Joy because, as the shape of my world has shifted, I feel joyful – often.  I wake up in the morning feeling joyful, go to bed at night feeling joyful.  I don’t necessarily feel joyful every moment of every day but at least I’ve become aware of my emotional journey and am living into it – rather than walking through it as if it was happening to someone else – or, maybe, happening to just a shadow of myself rather than the multi-coloured range which has become more available to me over the last couple of years.

Joy feels freeing and expansive.  It is fed by gratitude and appreciation. It is fed by noting it and sinking deeper into it – surrendering to it, letting it seep into all my pores, breathing it in with every breath and back out into the world so other people can also feel the expression of joy – even if they do not know what it is they are experiencing.

And as I notice joy and joyfulness in my life, in any given moment, every now and then I also notice the little voice that says — yeah, sure it’s summer now, but what about the fall?  How do you know you are actually going to keep your business busy enough to sustain yourself in the fall?  You should be worried about that now!

Hmmm, you should be worried about that now.  Sounds like the voice of my internal judge wanting to be heard – in fairness to it, it does want to keep me safe and financially sustainable, but it has a limited range of options with which to do that and they all include struggle, worry and fear – emotions I am very familiar with – as I am also familiar with how constricting and how limiting they can be, shutting down the capacity of the soul to be in full expression – which includes full manifestation that comes from a place of trust.

Most of us have learned that life is full of struggle and if you want to get ahead you have to work hard, really hard – and even then there are no guarantees.  We have learned that life is not handed to us on a silver platter, we have to work in order to live and adversity makes us stronger – you know that phrase – that which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

Okay, so there may be some truth in that but I declared awhile ago (a bit more than a year ago in fact) that I was welcoming ease into my life.  I’ve had varying degrees of success with that over the last year and a bit – it takes intentionality and really paying attention  in any given moment, and, for now, it seems to be more and more a characteristic of how I am living my life and what is showing up in it.  It doesn’t mean there aren’t difficult things or moments that show up. My father’s diagnosis of prostate cancer is a good example, the uncertainty of this story as it unfolds over the next 6 months to a year and the impact on me as his main source of support in his health care.  Or my mother’s journey with dementia in a long term care ward.  Or entering yet another new phase of my life as both of my older children prepare to depart to different provinces in the fall for University.  But it does mean I entertain these stories, events in my life, with a different kind of graciousness which invites ease into how to hold them them.  And it doesn’t mean I can’t feel joy or be in a state of joyfulness as I experience the ebb and flow of my life and the ebb and flow of the lives of people I care about.

I am welcoming ease, welcoming joy and welcoming the full array of what all needs to show up in my life, saying no to worry and to fear, yes to presence and to calm.  I am aware that fear, worry, frustration are waiting in the wings some days, some moments, but I am no longer expecting them and no longer inviting them – consciously or unconsciously.  Every moment will take care of itself.  And, if I believe that, it is a far more playful and fun way to show up in the world, a world of joy and joyfulness.

If it is true that the other shoe will drop, why can’t it look and feel like the first one rather than the one we allude to: the heavy handed, heavy-hearted counterpart to joy, love, compassion and strength?

Shifting Perspective on My Mom and Dementia

When I walk into the dementia ward of the long term care facility that is now home to my mom, her eyes light up when she sees me.  Does she know I’m her daughter?  I don’t know.  But she sure knows that she knows me and she knows that she loves me and that I love her back.

It is this language of love that is causing me to shift perspective on my mom and her dementia.

We think her symptoms began the year my youngest son was born – 2002.  Naturally enough, it was my dad who really began to see them – the forgetfulness – forgetting how to do things she had done all her life, even simple things like how to make a sandwich or turn on the washer.  Tucking folded tissues all over the house – in drawers, under pillows, in her purse, in her pockets, in the toilets.  Watching the weather network for hours on end and complaining that it was the same thing over and over again but not remembering she could change the channel.  Falling asleep in her chair.

Like so many other families dealing with this issue, we eventually faced the dreaded decision about long term care.  My dad was her main care giver and had reached the point of exhaustion with 24 hour care for her and especially interrupted sleep both because mom began to wander a bit at night and because she had incontinence.  My dad showed a whole new dimension of himself and of his love for my mother as her caregiver – something I never imagined I would ever see.

The day we took her to “that place” and walked away and left her was one of the most difficult days of our life as a family.  To see a wonderful woman lose her capacity to speak coherently, to dress herself, to care about her appearance, to become someone other than the woman we all knew and loved, living with a ward full of people who have also become someone other than the person their family and friends all knew and loved.

My mother has been there for almost two years now.  The scope of her life is this ward.  She has some mobility issues that make it very difficult for us to take her out.  It’s hard to get her moving without assistance and if she refuses, well, that’s it.  She used to just sit in a chair, looking out the window.  Now she has a wheelchair and can that woman move!  It is hard to pin her down to one spot.

I reconciled some time ago, that this was no longer the woman who raised me and I just needed to be present with the woman who was now there.  If I responded to her incoherence as if it was a fully formed thought and created a repartee with her, her spirits were fine.  If I was to get stressed or upset, she would too.  That was the first level of my discovery.

I have often wondered as I walk through the long term care facility filled with very old, sleepy people, to the dementia ward in back, what is the meaning of life when you are so old and incapacitated, just waiting to die or living in your own little demented ward with a whole bunch of other people also living in their own little world.

As I’ve pondered this, and visited with my mom – being present with her – I moved to my next level of discovery that is really shifting my perspective on my mom and her journey with dementia.  This is a soul’s journey.  When I visit with my mom I am not visiting with the personality and the ego that inhabited her body for all those years before dementia.  I am visiting with her in the spirit of her soul’s journey.  If I can look past unbrushed teeth, unkempt hair and incoherence,  and my own sorrow for the loss of this vibrant woman and mother in my life,  I can actually be with her in spirit and it is her spirit that shines through her eyes with delight when she sees me.  Her soul is connecting with my soul and she is relating to me on the level of soul, not the level of this physical plane.

I need to see her with new eyes in order to be in a place of appreciation for her journey.  I know that sounds odd and yet I can’t change her journey as much as I might like to.  I could be stuck in lamenting what I perceive to be her loss, or I can begin to see her in the beauty that is called forth in her as I greet her in the context of the soul journey.

“That place” is her home now.  She is well cared for by all who work there – people with special gifts of love for their charges that shines forth in how they treat them and interact with them.  There is a community of support – not just for her, but for my dad too.  Because it is in a small community, the irony is that there are a surprising number of friends who show up at the same time in this place – each living in their own little world that most of us would consider a confined space, each traveling their own soul’s journey.

Yes, it’s tragic but there is a strange kind of beauty that also shines forth and really shows up when invited.  And – when you’re visiting, there is never a dull moment.  Lots of stories that may be told someday or may have already served their purpose in causing laughter and making for a little brighter day.

The Wolf at Twilight – A must read!

In the past I have heard about the need for people – us, white people, in North America – to understand the impact of colonization on the story of this land – a story begun many thousands of years before there was ever a European landing on the shores of North America.

This story is compellingly told by Kent Nerburn in his book The Wolf at Twilight: An Indian Elder’s Journey Through a Land of Ghosts and Shadows. Nerburn is the story catcher for a Dakota elder, named “Dan” in the book, who he journeyed with a number of times over a couple of decades.

In telling Dan’s story, he also tells the story of the First Nations people, of how they welcomed newcomers to their land, wanting to learn from them and willing to share with them.  How cultures, beliefs and ways of life clashed so dramatically that the First Nations people were practically wiped out in a land as vast as North America.

European ways of being were forced upon a people and a land with a system of property ownership that went beyond just land.  A significant portion of the population was wiped out because of their lack of immunity to the diseases brought by the European settlers.  The very rigid religious systems played a part in attempting to wipe out the remainder by crushing the heart and soul of a people and their culture through “educating” them in the white man’s language and traditions – and through the use of force.  The impact of residential schools on families and a people was devastating.

There was a time in our history when the white man wanted to drive First Nations people into extinction and when they couldn’t kill the people anymore, they killed their food supply, deliberately laying waste to magnificent herds of buffalo that once roamed this land.

The path to alcoholism and drug use emerged as the light of the soul dimmed, flickered and was almost extinguished.

The sense I got from reading The Wolf at Twilight is that it is not really about laying blame, although it very well could be.  It is about generating understanding of a time, history and culture that is fundamentally important to what is happening today in the world.

In my travels and work, I am seeing a growth in interest around indigenous practices and ceremonies – circle council, vision quests, sweat lodges, drummings, sundance ceremonies, an honouring of the life breath that is in everything and everyone and shamanic practice.  These practices are being reclaimed by First Nations people as they relearn traditions that have been almost lost to them and work to heal the soul of their people and their culture.  These practices are being adopted by white people who hear the whisper of the sacred in these practices and are also seeking healing – for themselves, their communities and the earth.

This book is a must read for all of us interested in shifting the shape of our future.  We need to understand our history – not just what we consider to be the good parts of it, but the shadow that shows up in how our ancestors treated the people who lived on this land before they arrived – as less than human beings.  It is only in living into our own history that we will be able to transcend it and really generate the level of healing that is being called for in the world right now.

The resilience of a people who were brought to the brink of extinction and are now reclaiming their heritage is brilliant and an inspiring example of what is possible for everyone and for the healing we all need.

Giving Birth to Freedom

Giving birth.  I have been thinking about this a lot this past year.  I have given birth to a new company: Shape Shift Strategies Inc.  I am giving birth to a new book: Healing Across the Ages; Releasing the Hold of Family Secrets.

Most importantly, 2009 marked the year I gave birth to the second half of my life.  This birth had a nine year gestation period and it is only now I realize its correspondence to the last decade.  How lovely that 2010 is  marked with this newness for me.

As I’ve been reflecting on the quiet and alone time I have had this holiday season, what has registered for me is also the birth of a new feeling of freedom – and that brings great joy.

It is the freedom that comes from being really good with my own company – not feeling martyred in being alone or feeling sorry for myself, but truly settling into being with myself.  It doesn’t have to be happy alone time – it can also be time to just sit with what arises in me, especially as I consider the journey, and the people who have influenced it, over the last three years or so.

The freedom of not wanting, and not being lost in the wanting, of what isn’t.  The freedom of accepting people, situations and relationships for who and what they are.

The freedom of accepting myself for who I am,  for the essential soul qualities I have been unearthing and sinking into and for the talents I have been allowing to flower so I can do what is mine to do in this world, in this lifetime – boldly bring my healing gifts to the shifting shape of the world and the regeneration of its people.

2010 is the beginning of a new era.  It is for me for sure.  I sense it is for others too and for the world.  I believe we are at a pivotal time in the evolution of the human race, where we really know that the old ways of walking through life and tackling big issues do not work any more.  We are more ready to wake up than we have ever been and it is for the waking up process that I have been preparing.

I am only in this place of freedom thanks to a decade long awakening journey that I’m sure is not completed yet but is now on a new plateau, a new level of vibration.  It is thanks to people in my life – good people, friends, colleagues, coaches, and some challenging relational experiences over the last decade – including the challenging relationship I’ve had with myself, that I am able to be in and recognize the birth of this freedom.  These have all been great gifts to me and, at the beginning of this most important decade, I sit in a place of deep gratitude and appreciation for all those people and all those experiences.

The best is truly yet to come and, my intuition is, that it will look very different than what we’ve seen and what we can imagine.  I have never been more ready!  Happy New Year, happy new decade and Happy Birthday to all that is good in this world.

The Power of Story

Story.  Story telling.  It defines us.  It defines our culture – home, work, community, other.  Through the stories we tell we point to where our focus is and we get more of what we focus on.  Much of our story telling is unconscious – we tell our stories without thinking about them or their impact – on us, on others.

What if we told every story from a place of consciousness and intentionality, understanding the power of story and how it shapes our experience, our relationships and our world?  What stories would you choose to tell with intentionality?  What stories would you stop telling?  How would some of your stories shift and change as a result?

We make sense of ourselves, our journey, our relationships, events that happen to us, the places we work, through story.  We cannot move on from our experience until we have integrated it through story and, most often we need to be witnessed – which is why we verbalize our story to others.

Story is the basis of sustaining relationship.  We cannot know another person until we know their story and often, once we do know their story, everything shifts – from interacting with “those” people to interacting with living, breathing human beings where soul, the sacred and magic can enter.

Every story counts.  Every story serves to put positive or negative energy into your interpersonal field.

Your stories define you.  Sometimes we are attached to certain stories we tell – especially the ones we tell over and over again.  Are you attached to a story in your life?  Does it serve you in being the best you can be?  In living an inspired life?  If not, how can you shift the story you carry to shape a more powerful experience and build capacity – for you and for those around you?