Extend Love From a Tender, Openhearted Space

slide1In this time of growing fear and anxiety about the future, about the unknown, about strangers, tap into that tender openhearted space within and extend love. First to yourself – a warm loving embrace to acknowledge the fear and then tap into gentleness, kindness and generosity.

Then to the people you know and love. Because we need to hold our loved ones close and turn to each other in times of chaos and uncertainty.

And then, the most generous act of all – extend kindness and love to people you do not yet know, remembering our common core of humanity, that the shortest distance between two people is a story and that most of us in our hearts want peace, a safe place to live and a future to live into.

Learn the story of a neighbour, a co-worker or someone you bump into in the coffee shop, someone you have met and are curious about but have not yet chatted with. Go to places you would not ordinarily go – to a place of worship of a different religion, to community centers, to peace gatherings. Become educated and aware of different people’s experiences that are different from your own.

Doing this we grow our circles of support, our trust and our faith in humanity.

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Not On My Watch, Although I Am Still Deep In Shock

The US election result on top of Brexit, fake news, new euphemisms like “post-truth” and “alt-right” has left many of us reeling in our emotional responses. At times I feel numb, other times I am angry, often I am confused and I am anxious about the future. It is like world events are unfolding in stop motion and at each new frame I can hardly cope with what is being revealed or what it even means. How will I respond? How do I keep garnering my internal and soul resources to stay functioning in an openhearted way, embrace what shows up and focus on what matters? I know I am not the only person having these experiences now. My work with worldviews makes me deeply aware that we need to find ways to really listen to people with very different worldviews and the more different and more challenging our worldviews the harder it is to find presence within ourselves to show up to the conversation. And it is exactly what is needed now. When I look back on this time, I want to be able to say, in places where I do have influence, “not on my watch”. What do we need from each other to collectively say, “not on our watch”?

Worldview Intelligence

It’s been seven weeks since the American election and I, like so many people I know, am still in shock. I find myself going through the motions of my life, living into the moments as they appear while at the same time there is a niggling little curiosity that tugs at the corners of my mind. Is this what it was like in pre-war (pick any time period) Germany, France, Austria and so many other countries? Were there people who wondered at the inanity of it all, who feared for the future, who could see disaster lurking around the corner and felt powerless to stop it? Did they think the things my mind turns to as I wonder what the future will hold? As on a daily basis there are choices made that seem incredulous? Like all the cabinet picks who couldn’t be more opposite than the intent…

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Listening Another Person Into Healing

Recently, I agreed to be interviewed for an academic research project about an intense period / experience of my life. A period that is years behind me, that I can now speak about in a much more detached way than when I was in it or immediately past it. The interviewer knows some of my story. In the role of interviewer, her job was to listen, not to interact with my story.

Listen into beingAfter she left, I found myself at times weeping for no explicable reason. The tears just flowed. Beautiful, gracious, glorious release.

I am reminded of the power of just listening, not interpreting, not trying to put words in someone’s mouth. It is a witnessing that can bring another person into being. Can surface what needs to be surfaced for healing.

I don’t know what was there that was surfaced. I don’t need to know specifics. I am aware that something I did not know was still there was released. I am shifting shape yet again as I lean even more fully into this journey to openheartedness. As I answer the call of what is before me.

And I am grateful.

When was the last time you listened to someone else’s story? Just listened. With curiositySlide1 and compassion, no judgment. When you waited to see if they were finished their thoughts – because more thoughts, more aspect of story arises in the silence – before you asked your next question? When the questions you ask are for the benefit of the story teller and not for your own?

When you listen well enough, you can listen another person into being. When you listen well enough, you can listen another person into healing. Try it. See what happens.

Your Truth Wants to Be Known

The times we are most challenged are when we are out of alignment with the truth of who we are, the truth of our own journeys. Because we are all a bit broken, it can be easy to lose our way. To forget who we are and what is at our core. To be blind to what is right in front of our eyes. To refuse to see what seems obvious later.

Our view of the world is shaped by the people around us, by events, by choices we make. In wanting and needing to fit in, we shape some of who we are for acceptance. This may mean we hide parts of who we are or we act differently than we think we are.

At times we find our selves acting “out of character”, making choices that seem contrary to our values. Sometimes we explain that away – I am not normally like this, but… And we may, at times, feel trapped. Trapped in relationship that does not and will not work. Trapped in a job we don’t like, that sucks us dry and makes us yearn for weekends and holidays. Trapped inside a shell of who we are wondering where we went, where we disappeared to and how to find our way back.

Like the truths of journey we do not know – separated families, adoption, family secrets – our own internal truths want to be known. This internal separation – of you from you – seeks wholeness and integration. Your truth will find ways to make itself known, offer to you opportunities to accept it, act on it, live it. If you do not accept at the first invitation, another invitation will come along. And another. And another. The longer you wait, the more insistent the invitation. Instead of a tap on the shoulder, or a sense of knowing or an intuitive hunch, the force of the invitation ramps up, becomes a hammer, explodes or implodes, accidents or illness come along. You run away until exhausted and still the truth haunts your very being.

You cannot hide from it, you cannot hide from you. You must turn and face that which you fear to see. It takes courage. For some it takes reaching the end of the rope, no longer willing to traverse a path of illusion and disillusion, ready to clear the smoke and mirrors to illuminate the core – the core of your being where love, compassion, curiosity, joy and light reside. Yes. In every single one of us. We just need to embrace all that is there and learn that the journey to openheartedness makes us stronger.

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Spirit Guides. We All Have Them.

Spirit Guides. We all have them. Each and everyone of us.

I used to believe it was only “special” people who had guides and, when I became aware that I had guides – because other people told me about them, I believed only “special” people could access them. When I was told, by different people in different situations, that I was intuitively powerful, I didn’t believe it. When I was asked to access my intuition, all I drew were blanks and guesses.

Until the veil began to lift – just a little bit.

I first became aware of my guides because other people – psychics, mediums, intuitively gifted individuals – told me about them. I always believed in spirit so to have someone tell me about a guide was a gift. The first one I was told was watching over me was a priest from my father’s family. I asked my father if there had been a priest in our family and he told me about Bishop who died when I was young. I used to sit on his lap and play with his cross.

I was told about a master guide wizard who grew ominously large and fierce when protecting me from harm.

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Sacred Art – my lion and a medicine woman – channeled for me by artist Tania Marie

Then I took part in my first drumming ceremony. The guidance we were given beforehand was to pay attention to animals that were coming to us. It was clear that my spirit animal was a lion, so many images of lions came to me in the days before the drumming. And it was / is my journey animal. In the drumming ceremony, I tried hard to have a vision and nothing came. Until I stopped trying so hard, surrendering to what was there – a sense of things that became vivid images – a meadow, then trees, then flying with the lion (yes, lions can fly in spirit world if they want to – and you can fly with them), then a bonfire with people chanting, laughing and dancing around the fire. The lion and I landed, shape shifting into one, dancing around the fire with the greatest sense of joy.

For a long time after that, nothing. Plus, I didn’t know what to do with what I already knew. Then, one day driving in rain pouring so hard it felt dangerous, I called on the support of everyone’s guides who were in the car and another appeared – a native American brave, young, strong with sharp features. And there are others and more.

The feeling of love and support when you know there are guides and entities in the unseen world who are always, always there is incredible. They are there, even when we don’t know they are. They love to be seen and acknowledged and all it takes is a simple turning of attention to them, just a thought and they come into awareness.

Many of us don’t go searching for them because we are afraid maybe they aren’t there, or we are not worthy, or we won’t know how to be in conscious relationship. But it is such a gift. To them. To us.

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My own first rendition of my medicine woman guide – she urged me to draw her during an experience in Brazil in 2011

When I became aware that not only did I have guides, but I could help other people become aware of and connect with their guides – discovered almost my accident that I could do this, I did that work for awhile – helping people develop relationships with their guides. Like so many things, it fell by the wayside for a while. Now, people who have been reading Embracing the Stranger in Me are asking me to coach them in meeting their guides. And I remember, that this is also work I am called to do, a gift I have to share and I am gifted with seeing other people’s guides, the delight they have in being acknowledged. So, I have been stepping back in and happy to talk to anyone about what coaching support looks like for you to connect with your guides. You do have them and they want you to know them.

Self Care Does Not Equal Arrogance

Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast,
it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil
but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts,
always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.

The Bible: 1 Corinthians 13:4

bandaged heartIn a recent heart to heart with a friend we were talking about self-care and self-love. My friend was concerned that this would translate into selfishness and even arrogance. Fear of this was, and maybe still is, keeping him from taking care of himself, from loving himself. How many of us carry this limiting belief?

Then the verse above, from Corinthians, often quoted at weddings, came into my mind. Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not boast. This does not just apply to how we treat another we are in relationship with, but it applies to us too. To offer ourselves patience and kindness in the journey. When we  extend love and compassion to ourselves, it does not turn into selfishness or into arrogance. It turns into the openhearted journey. It makes us more aware, more powerful and invites us to embrace the fullness of our humanity. It also invites others to do the same.

Nowhere does love equate to arrogance. Nowhere. So, take care of yourself first, love yourself first., know your worth and others will know it too.

Parenting Children in Their Twenties is Harder

Parenting children in their twenties is harder than parenting them when they’re younger – at least that has been my experience. It requires responsiveness, resilience, adaptability and great unattached, unconditional love – which is easier to say than live at times. And the transition of the parenting role can be unexpected and different than the empty nest syndrome.

If you have children in their twenties (or have been through that stage) and just did that wide-eyed look of dawning comprehension because some of your experience just got named for you, that is the look I’ve been getting from friends when I say this out loud to them. They know. They understand. Like me, it hasn’t been a conversation they’ve had in exactly this way and naming it brings relief.

When I mentioned to my older boys’ father that parenting the kids in their twenties is harder, he laughed. “That’s because we thought we’d be done by now,” he said. There is some truth to that. And it is more than that at the same time.

When your children are born, people will warn you about the terrible two’s and the rebellious teen years. Never once did I have someone say to me, wait until they are in their twenties! Not once. Yet, this age offers interesting and unexpected challenges from a parenting perspective.

These young adults are ready to be independent and launch their lives while at the same time still needing support, although they, and consequently you, are not exactly sure what that looks like. And the journey to independence is not straightforward or a straight line. It is fraught with missteps along the way. This journey needs to be acknowledged and not over dramatized. It is just the journey of life unfolding as it does.

These young adults, our children, may ask for support and balk at it at the same time. They may want to be close to extended family and want to be left alone to live their lives – and who can blame them. As a parent, feeling the sometimes contradictory energy and tuning into how best to hold that space can be a challenge – because we love our kids, we only want the best for them and we want our family connections to stay (or grow) strong. Understanding how to hold family close and lightly at the same time, as a parent, is new learning. Hold it too tight and you risk pushing loved ones away. Hold it too lightly and you don’t end up honouring values that are important to you. Lean in too close and it is suffocating. Lean out too far and there is less substance and connection.

My twenty-something sons and their partners.

My twenty-something sons and their partners.

As we navigate a new stage of relationship it is important to hold that space with love, to extend love, to not take the quest for independence personally or be offended or hurt at times.  Keep inviting – true invitation, not insistence. Celebrate the next stages of life – yours and theirs. Both my twenty-something year old sons are in long term relationships, living with their partners, launching the next phases of their lives. I’m proud of them and cherish the relationships I have with all four of them. As a bit of an independent leaning individual myself, I value their own journeys and want only the best for them. I want them each to be and continue to grow into their own uniqueness as individuals. I suppose there is also some grief from time to time mingled in with the celebration, which surprises me a little although maybe it shouldn’t. It is the need to let go of previous stages of attachment and relationship to be open to what will serve best now, in recognition of new stages of maturity – of all of us as individuals and in our relationships with each other.

Everything moves in cycles. It is important to remember the ebb and flow of things as you hold intention for your family connections. One thing I learned when the kids were younger was to not project current (unwanted) behaviours or patterns onto the future as if the future would simply be more of the now. Life offers us the opportunity for our relationships to grow and mature. What that looks like with our kids in their twenties is different than what it looked like when they were younger and is likely different than what it will look like when they are in their thirties and forties (I don’t know for absolute sure because I haven’t gotten there yet).

I know I have a new appreciation and respect for my own parents and I have a new appreciation for my twenty something kids as they continue to be my teachers in this openhearted journey of life.