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Archive for the ‘Women’s Life Issues’ Category

All About The Self: Self Care & Self Compassion

Many of us have recently spent time with extended family during the holidays as did I.

During this break and retreat from the usual pace of life, I had the opportunity to reflect, renew and review. I was reminded of the importance of self care and how many of us can get so caught up in the caring of others that we forget to take care of ourselves.

Over the past few months I have been re-reading Jack Kornfield’s excellent book, ‘A Path With Heart‘ and am intrigued by the section about the paradox of being selfless or having no self and having a healthy and strong ‘sense of self’ and a ‘true self’. Kornfield says There are two parallel tasks in spiritual life. One is to discover selflessness, the other is to develop a healthy sense of self. Both sides of that apparent paradox must be fulfilled for us to awaken. I would say that this can be applied to general life as well as spiritual life and helps to clarify the definition of self-care. Life coaches often talk about self-care and how important it is to put yourself at the top of the list and clients are often very puzzled by this as have often been taught that this act is ‘selfish’.

For clarity, the action of self care through understanding yourself and having a healthy sense of self, allows you to go out into the world in your relationships, duties and obligations from a strong personal foundation and center. The metaphor that is often used is that of being on a plane and ‘the safety talk’, where the flight attendant reinforces that if you are traveling with children, it is important to put your own oxygen mask on first, then help your kids with their mask. The principle is that if you are not being ‘well oxygenated’/well cared for by ‘self’, you can’t care for others well.

So, self-care is about taking care of you! It is about self reflection and self-awareness and enchanting both your inner and outer lives, it is about creating a healthy sense of self.

Self compassion adds another deeper and broader level of caring for self and I’m excited to be writing more about this in the future.


Rainy Day Reading in Bed


Due to some unexpected cancellations, more than anticipated rain and a slight overuse injury, it appears I have created one of the suggested Self Care activities for myself … a ‘stolen’ rainy day reading in bed! I am so very thankful for this.

I usually have 3-4 books going at one time, one fiction and the rest non fiction and memoirs.

Today, I’ll start with something uplifting and kind of spiritual and plan to finish ‘the mindful path to self compassion’ by Christopher K. Germer and then move on to ‘breathing under water’ by Richard Rohr.

Next, I hope to read a few chapters from ‘Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis’ by J.D. Vance before diving into ‘The Underground Railroad’ by Colton Whitehead. Once I finish ‘The Underground Railroad and if I still have some time left, my next novel is ‘Do Not Say We Have Nothing’ by Madeleine Thien. Ms. Thien’s novel won Canada’s Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2016.

Now, if only there was someone to bring me delectable beverages and munchies all day, this day of rainy day reading would be perfect.

Wisdom About Our Weird Everyday Lives

Rock Statue

Weird and Everyday

Words of Wisdom from Pema Chodron

Pleasurable vacation time gives an ‘interrupt’ to ordinary life, which allows our inner wisdom to break free. I find that some of my best ideas and intuition about life changes arrive during times in nature.

The following quote from Pema Chodron, in her wisdom, really speaks to me.


Awakeness is found in our pleasure and our pain, our confusion and our wisdom,

available in each moment of our weird, unfathomable, ordinary everyday lives.’


~ Pema Chodron from ‘When Things Fall Apart – Heart Advice for Difficult Times’

Enjoy your wonderful day!

in peace & mindfulness




3 Life Coaching Tips to Deepen Self Awareness

Health Tips

Life Coaching Tips

I am currently re-reading ‘Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao’ by Wayne Dyer for my morning meditation and just read the 11th verse of the Tao, which in this translation, goes like this:

Thirty spokes converge upon a single hub;
it is on the hole in the center that
the use of the cart hinges.

Shape clay into a vessel;
It is the space within that makes it useful.
Carve fine doors and windows,
but the room is useful in its emptiness.

The usefulness of what is
depends on what is not.

I was reminded about some of the previous self-care posts and life coaching tips where I talked about the idea of one’s personal centre and being ‘grounded and anchored’.  This verse of the Tao, adds in the additional concept of ‘emptiness’, how valuable the emptiness can be and in fact how powerful ‘nothingness’ is. This idea feeds into the intersection of ‘being and doing’ and how in our culture, we are very focused on ‘doing’ and are valued for doing lots. It might be fun to explore the theme of ‘being’, your inner self, your personal emptiness, presence and essence.

I would like to offer some definitions in the spirit of creating shared language and common understanding. These definitions are adapted from the Merriam Webster on line dictionary.

Presence: the bearing, carriage, or air of a person; especially stately or distinguished bearing, a noteworthy quality of poise and effectiveness, something (as a spirit) felt or believed to be present.

Essence: the most significant element, quality, or aspect of a thing or person.

Personal Presence & Essence: the above as related to ones self.

The self-care coaching tips are designed for you to feel your way into your emptiness, to explore your personal presence and viscerally experience this.

3 Life Coaching Tips for Self Awareness

1.Re-read the verse above. Using the metaphor of the wheel, spokes and the power of the empty middle, apply this to you, your being, your presence, your essence. Consider the emptiness of the hub, what is in the emptiness, how does it feel to just sit for a moment in your emptiness? Write out what you notice or feel with this exercise, put some words down about your being, presence and essence.

2.Choose a friend who you know cares about you deeply and you feel will be honest and caring in her response and ask her to describe your essence or personal presence.Consider if this feels right for you. Play around with the idea of your essence and presence and tweak what you have already written if necessary. You should now have a short statement about yourself.

3.And now, on the lighter side, see if you can do a ‘180 degree day’ sometime this week. This is a day that you do everything 180 degrees differently all day. If you a very responsible employee, you may take a day off for no reason, or you may wish to eat dessert for breakfast, or exercise in the evening rather than the morning. Just shake it up abit!

These life coaching tips will help you explore ‘what you are not’ and hence will help you to know yourself better and get a sense of your presence and essence.


Dreams | Inspirational Quote of the Day


dream catcher

Dreams …

If your dream doesn’t scare you, it isn’t big enough.”

– book title by Kristine K. Stevens


It is very easy to think that dreams are for younger people and I’ll admit, when I read this quote, I get a bit of a knot in the pit of my stomach, perhaps as I’m comfortably ensconced in midlife.

However, current research on neuroplasticity and maintaining cognitive function clearly shows that learning new skills, having new experiences or generally working that gray matter is a very very good idea.

So, it’s time to brush off the ‘virtual vision board’ and start imagining this next phase of life albeit with dreams not quite as edgy as previously held. And fun too!

Many folks get caught up on semantics and in my life coaching practice, I find that if I ask ‘what are your dreams’ rather than ‘what are your goals’, there is a completely different response and almost a relaxing into the answer with a sense of ‘joie de vivre’.

In addition to my family, I have a dear friend I travel with and we are currently planning a trip slightly more ‘exotic’ than usual. Traveling with her is like having my personal life coach continually by my side, even so, this next trip feels a little scary. Great I say!

I’ll have time to ponder and plan as we embark on our annual sailing holiday soon. Hmmm, I wonder what ‘dreams’ I’ll return with!

Life Coaching Tip:

Allow yourself some downtime to ‘just dream’ with no restrictions and ‘as if anything was possible’. It might be fun to see what you come up with! There are many ways to do this, no wrong ways and most require no structure and lots of white space. It might be fun to keep a journal just for your ‘life dreams’ and add pictures, quotes and ideas as these spontaneously arise. If this is a new concept for you or one you haven’t engaged in since childhood, it might help to ‘chunk’ your life into categories and ‘dream’ within a category. Have fun with this and catch some great dreams along the way!


Life Balance 3 Tips to Improve Your Holistic Health

Building on the theme from recent posts about summer energy, poetry and living in alignment with nature and her cycles, let’s weave in some of the teachings of the Tao Te Ching as a foundational theme in creating life balance.

Being brought up in a Western family spiritually grounded in Christianity, I wasn’t exposed to the Tao until my 30’s while on a spiritual quest following a family crisis. Do you find that crises often lead to spiritual growth? It was after reading The Life of Pi by Yann Martel that I decided to go deeper with the learning about the Tao. This may be a funny way to deepen learning, ie from a very enjoyable novel, however it worked for me! Since that time, the books that have helped my western mind understand the Tao have been ‘The Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzu’ translated by Brian Browne Walker, ‘Change Your Thoughts-Change Your Life: Living The Wisdom of the Tao’ by Wayne Dyer and ‘A Thousand Names For Joy: Living in Harmony With The Way Things Are’ by Byron Katie.

Byron Katie’s book I found to be particularly powerful.

As a life coach and executive/leadership coach, the women I work with are often challenged to find a balance or equilibrium between making conscious and strategic changes on the one hand and allowing the gentle flow of life on the other hand. Another way to describe this dynamic is seeing the balance between striving towards change and being drawn towards your future. The Tao seems to be very helpful for the second part of this equation. The Tao reminds us that life is like water, it resides in the low places, over time it carves out deep valleys and can move mountains, and it is hard to grasp. I have found that the more I try to figure the Tao out, the more complex it becomes and if I allow my entire self to be open to it, I ‘grasp’ it more easily. So, the life balance learning is about honouring the Tao of life and the Tao of you.

Life Balance Tips Using the Tao, remember the second part of the equation above, :

1. Read something about the Tao Te Ching, you can pick one of the books above or simply do a quick search on the internet.

2. Ask yourself how your life is or isn’t like the Tao?

3. One of the dominant themes of the Tao is about water and flow, spend lots of time in the water (for fun) and ask yourself what you feel drawn towards? Interesting imagery is to imagine that ‘life’ is a gently flowing river and you are floating down in a beautiful kayak, can it truly be this effortless? Might you run up into a log jam or two? Might the current of the river move you beyond it? Play with this image and sink into the energy of the Tao to bring more balance to your life.

Happy International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day as women all around the world celebrate the large and small gains we have made towards being granted identity status, equality, reducing violence against women and children, improvement in healthcare for our families and access to education to name a few.

I remind myself of the quote by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich “well behaved women seldom make history”, which is a wonderful play with words, however, as I understand it, is Thatcher’s ‘tribute to the silent work of ordinary people’ (wikipedia). And isn’t this sentiment relevant in these times? It will be the silent work of ordinary people, not only women,  coming together to organize and organize some more, to push forward, to challenge, to not remain silent.

So, yes, today is a wonderful day to remember and celebrate all the work of the women who have gone before me who have fought for the rights I have today and to understand that as our world grows smaller, conversations including intersectional theory will become more important. To inform my thinking in this I am happy to say I have three fabulous daughters, one of whom particularly is my mentor. She even accompanied me on the Vancouver Women’s March a few weeks ago. So, today is also a wonderful day to acknowledge and celebrate all the women and girls who follow us, who are our future and our hope!

Walking Toward the Sun: A Metaphor for Ageing


Walking Toward the Sun

As my 60th birthday nears, I’ve been engaged in frequent conversations about ageing and how I’m going to ‘mark’, celebrate or recognize this transition time.  The stale language of ‘over the hill’ has never worked, however, this morning on my beach walk, ‘walking toward the sun’ seemed like ideal phraseology.

‘Walking toward the sun’ implies that each day is fresh and new as indeed it is and while life is a continuous journey, one’s life can be re-imagined each morning.

I feel energized by the sun and nourished by the moon. I walk towards the sun and am drawn towards the moon. While certainly Ageing and the cycle of life is in play, these words and images feel much better than imagining I’m on a continuous downward slide.

Using ‘sun’ as a destination is also kind of intriguing for me.

So, I continue my life as a day and a journey filled with fiery light and soulful nights.

Conversations That Matter – Conversational Intelligence

Conversations That Matter – Conversational Intelligence

We have had a lot of deep and powerful conversations in our home this weekend and early week, discussions that matter. It’s been quite the weekend and I find myself waking up again, even this Wednesday  morning feeling drained, with my heart broken, awash with emotion. Emotions that bounce around between sadness to hopelessness to incredulousness to patriotism and back to sadness, then again to hope as I see my grandson.

In my almost 60 years, I have never experienced such observable racism and xenophobic actions so frequently displayed and with such chilling and heart breaking consequences.

I am so proud to be Canadian and although my knowledge of Canadian political ideology has needed some ‘refreshing’, seeing the leaders of all political parties, all faiths and Canadians all across the country come together to support the families of the Quebec City terrorist attack victims brings tears to my eyes. It is in acts of ‘coming together’ in spite of differences, to talk from a place of ‘curiosity and inquiry’ that ultimately elevates thought and connect hearts.

We are in times of world political upheaval and uncertainty. We are all being challenged to move beyond the construct of ‘competition’, ‘either/or, ‘winner/loser’ to the constructs of community, ‘we’ and ‘both/and’ in both our personal and professional lives. In my opinion as we engage in powerful and intentional conversations anchored in higher paradoxical thinking, we elevate our minds, connect our hearts and show up in a different way, in compassion and empathy, with a fierce resolve to forward movement but in a ‘new way’.

For me, the discussions occurred in my family, primarily with my daughters,  all three of whom have a slightly different perspective and are mighty skilled at sharing it! Friends and the friendship relationship can enhance your journey and provide a wonderful environment for deeper exploration and learning as well as just plain fun!

Here are three ways to make sure you have powerful conversations:

  1. Make eye contact
  2. Listen really well, give pause, don’t interupt
  3. Speak from your heart

Enjoy your day my friends and remember that the world is truly filled with good people and we get to choose who we engage with and how deeply we do this!



Being Mindful About Your ‘Just Enough’ Place?

Inspired Living: Where Is Your ‘Just Enough Place’?

Are you one of those people who is always striving to do better, who would feel dissatisfied by ‘just enough’?  Are you striving to be better, get better; achieve five year plans, learn the next new thing and so on? There is nothing wrong with a healthy dose of ambition, in fact, it helps you get things done, however, it needs to be balanced with an equally dynamic and seemingly mutually exclusive energy of ‘I am enough, I know enough, I have enough’ or what I, as a life coach call, your ‘just enough place’.

If the balance isn’t there, if you move beyond your ‘just enough place’ frequently enough, people can become highly wound perfectionists, never satisfied with their life. On the other hand if one totally misses the ‘ambition or life long learning gene’, life is devoid of forward growth and learning. The concept of ‘just enough’ then, is integral to life balance and fulfillment.

The concept of ‘just enough’ is also woven into many spiritual traditions, where ‘living lightly on the earth’ is valued and the notions of discernment and generosity are also highly valued.

Again, it’s calling for the use of higher thought, for the ability to hold two seemingly mutually exclusive ideas and ways of being in mind and action … just for today, I am enough, I will take just what I need, I will eat just enough to satisfy my hunger, I will share any extra I have … while working with heartfelt and heart centered intention towards your goals, anchored in clear and strongly held values and guiding principles.

Be mindful and play with these ideas in your own life and see what unfolds. Here is another article on the topic you may enjoy.



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