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Change ~ from the Outside In

FROM THE OUTSIDE IN ~

So much of my focus – in both my personal life and work with clients – is to explore, practice and ignite CHANGE from the inside out.

But! There is also the other way, which is to go at change from the OUTSIDE IN.

I first came to really appreciate this approach to change, healing and development during the writing of my Masters thesis on Dance Therapy in 1994. Studying the pioneers of this therapy form, a thread ran through that spoke of changing the body to change the mind. Moving the body to discover new states and perspectives. Working with the body to grow new wings – to play with contrast, to expand beyond familiar habits and ruts, to discover other ways of being and living.

To remind myself of this option, I keep this little figurine on my desk. My daughter gave it to me for Christmas a couple years ago. It makes me smile every time i look at it.

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Today, a day that feels a little grey to me… a friend speaks of the “lovely spring rain” in an email, whereas I’m seeing the dreary non-color of snow-melt-not-yet-spring reflecting my interior… I look upon this wee statue and remember. I stretch out my arms, even though really I feel like crawling under a blanket. I smile as I stand in the shower. I lift the muscles in my body, inviting in an interior lift. a change of state.

Does it work? A little. And sometimes a lot. To shake it loose, those blues. To not take them so seriously. To shift state like clouds moving across the sky. To remember: I HAVE emotions, they inform me, they move through me, they are part of my humanness and often carry important (and sometimes skewed) messages. But I AM NOT my emotions.

In addition to all my own focus and my coaching and counselling with others on noticing, being present to and learning from the emotions that move through us, there is also this, and it is such an important “also”: To not take our emotional states so seriously all the time.

Can we do both?

Be present to them. Witness. Empathize with ourselves and others. Let those feelings move.

AND remember: I am not my emotions. I have freedom to change – both from the inside out, and from the outside in. Because I am a unity – there is no clear line between where my inside and outside start and end – CHANGE is most effective when I do both, listening to the moment… is this a time to give in to the pull from beneath that blanket? Or is this moment to say to myself “Just drop it, love, stretch out those arms, remember to expand and shake it loose?
Is this a moment to feel-think myself into acting, or is this a moment to act myself into thinking-feeling?

To discern what is truly called for in any moment takes practice. Lots of it.

Today I choose some of the “outstretched arms” and some of the “simply be present with the feelings”. As the day progresses, the state shifts, the light changes, the weather pattern moves on, and space opens up for new Life, new moments.

And you? Perhaps today as you parent, as you relate, as you live this human adventure, stretch your arms out, take some deep breaths, and shake whatever may be bogging you down, so that a new moment, a new choice, a new possibility emerges.

With love, m

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Hope buried, but there, stirring.

A week ago I walked through a beautiful snow labyrinth made by my friend and neighbour. It was the day of Imbolc, the mid-point between the start of winter and the beginning of spring. Like a tipping point, where we note that we are halfway through winter and from now on, every day brings us closer to sun and warmth, here in the north. I have been told that on this day, deep in the ground, the seeds begin to turn toward the light, the stirring begins.

Well, as I walked toward the centre of the labyrinth, snow was pouring down, not a speck of spring visible or tangible. Just a whole lot of flurries and cold sparkle. My mind carried along myriad thoughts, like stray cats, a bit of this and a bit of that as I wound my way along the snowy path. Once I arrived at the centre, I stood still, closed my eyes and settled into Stillness. I listened with my inner ears to see if I could sense any subtle stirring under the ground. Anything at all. With snow swirling all around me, I stayed for a while, listening. I followed down from my feet, down into the earth.

And there it was, almost imperceptible, buried way down, under layers of earth and thick, cold snow, a faint stirring. Subtle. My imagination possibly. Or not. It didn’t matter. What did matter was the experience of reaching down far, all the way to new growth, to hope. It is an active gesture, not a “wait until it falls in my lap” one. It takes focus, concentration, openness and willingness. It feels real.

Ever since, throughout the week, as reports of global affairs continue to dismay and disrupt, I remind myself to follow my feet down through the layers of earth, where seeds turn to light no matter how much snow is piling high (this week we just happened to have epic record-breaking February amounts of over 60cm. Seriously, everything is covered in snow these days, not a seed in sight!)

Listen with me, yes? No matter what is going on. We will not put our heads in the sand. We will keep our minds alert, we will pay attention to what is going on. And: we won’t forget to touch in with the hope, with the knowing that light is stronger, and that we cannot abandon that. Thawing toward warmth, we are part of keeping hope alive. We will listen for the seeds.

Or as Jack Gilbert said (thank you Liz Gilbert for calling my attention to this marvellous poet), we will be stubbornly glad:

“We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world.”


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New Year’s blessings & reflections

January 4, 2017

Dearest ones,

A new year has begun. Everywhere I look and listen, people are speaking of new beginnings, new year’s intentions and resolutions. I enjoy the energy and momentum I sense in this, the hope and courage too, and yet, when I touch in with my true me… I realize I’m actually not quite ready for new beginnings in an outward sense.  

Around me, nature is very quiet at this time of the year, encouraging me to reflect, to incubate and listen. 

How are you feeling? 

I invite you to tune in to that. Not to what others are saying or expecting, but just that. You. To stop. To listen. To allow yourself to be, before diving into the next becoming.

Whether you’re ready to plunge into a new year with vigour, or rest a while longer in the ‘in-between’, or simply carry on, I’d like to share a couple reflections to accompany you. 

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 Winter in the northern hemisphere has just begun. The season invites me to stop. 

To settle into Stillness. To curl up and rest. To hibernate, at least a little. 

To get so quiet that I can listen for and hear if anything I am not expecting may arise. Out of the Stillness. 

And so I choose to see all of January as the ‘in-between’, the prolonged stretch of a stopping-while-listening-for-new-beginnings, offering more time for reflection, contemplation, rest, and trusting that the energy will rise of its own accord, without forcing or willing it, when the Stillness has had enough space and time.

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Years ago, when I was just a few weeks pregnant with our daughter, Adonia, I went to a 10-day Vipassana retreat during which everyone is silent for the entire time. One of my clearest memories was how hesitant I felt to start speaking again at the end of the ten days. The Silence had been both a challenge and a safe place. Speaking struck me as the easiest place to mess up, to bring egoic, reactive patterns back to the interactive space. The quiet invited me to untangle myself from those conditioned patterns. To stop. And start up again with greater awareness and care.

I did end up speaking again 🙂  Messing up, learning and growing all the while. 

This January 1st, and in the ensuing few days, I have had a similar experience. Marking a new year as a new slate, the start of renewed possibility and potential, I have been watching myself more closely throughout the first day, and the second and third, and now the fourth, catching the moments I slide with greater precision, while recognizing that no matter the intention, I will slide, I will mess up. And I will get back up and keep going.

I made it through day one with nary a reaction, impatience or doubt. Day two and beyond, I sprinkled with more unconsciousness. Living includes learning. I can’t stay in the purity of Silence.

So, here’s to taking the plunge into Life, over and over again, renewing our faith that we can grow our consciousness, our capacity for love and kindness every day, while forgiving ourselves and making good when we miss the mark.

It’s that lifelong dynamic between reaching for the stars, for we are noble, while curling into the earth, for we are also humble. Stretching and challenging ourselves AND offering ourselves kindness and compassion as we make our way onward, along this human adventure.

Let us welcome the new year as an opportunity to do both with renewed attention!

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I wish you a most blessed new year. 

I pray we wake up as a humanity to the incredible Beauty, Goodness, and Truth we are at our core. I pray we find our way and that in 2017 we light up the world, kindling the fire in our midst that never dies away.

I wish you well.  

I look forward to our journey together – be this in my capacity as counselor, parenting coach, parenting course facilitator, friend, colleague, sister, fellow traveller.

Thank you for you!

With all my love,    

                           Miriam

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Biased toward Productivity

January 30, 2016

Often I don’t even notice it. Just how biased toward productivity I am.

Once in a while I get a glimpse. And in those moments, once-in-a-once-in a while, I even catch it and say to all the possible productive possibilities, “Not that, not this, not that” until I find myself finally stopping. Like this morning. It’s rare. It’s precious. To the point of inspiring me to write about it in case it inspires you to stop, really stop, sometimes too.

I wake up. The house is quiet. It is Saturday morning, no rush of up and go. The house itself seems to be breathing quietly. Even the hum of the fridge seems softer. Here I am awake, sleep is done, early morning reflection and meditation too. What now? Read more

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Regret: Facing, Feeling and Healing the Heartache of Lost Possibilities

A friend and colleague, recently turned 40, shared the following sentiment, “I have now reached the age when I experience regret. And it sucks.”

There, he said it. Just like that. I remember the relief I felt, hearing someone speak this out loud. Not whitewashing the experience with something like, “But it’s all good!” or negating the uncomfortable recognition by focusing one-sidedly on all the benefits of choices made and all the good intentions held. Just the raw and honest expression of regret, which, I find, gets spoken rarely these days.

Read more

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Receive Generously: Getting to the Core of Our Human Thirst

I was 13 when, due to a number of conducive circumstances — including being immersed in gorgeous choral singing in a candlelit chapel, and my own spiritual fervor — I experienced my first conscious glimpse of God’s unconditional love. Of being bathed in the incredible love and grace that is there to partake in.

The experience stands out for a number of reasons, one being that it remains a blessed memory in my life’s journey. Another — which leads me to the theme of today’s blog — is that it pointed to one of the paradoxical ways I see us dear humans repeatedly tripping over our own two feet.

There I was, gifted with what I recall as a piercing, overflowing, all-encompassing love. Completely amazed and blown open by the fullness and generosity. Me? Little me, loved like that? Read more

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Can You Be Grateful for What You Don’t Like?

Lying under a starry night last week while camping and looking up for shooting stars with my 8-year old daughter, our conversation turned to gravity, what it is and how it keeps us from spinning off the face of the earth. We both lay there, letting the significance of gravity sink in, noticing our minds grappling with the immensity of it, and then turning our attention back to the Great Dipper and the Milky Way. The next day, as we shared grace before lunch and spontaneously expressed gratitude for a variety of things, my daughter spoke: “And thank you for gravity, even if I don’t understand it.”

I pondered her “thank you” over the next few days, especially noting gratitude’s freedom from cognitive understanding: We don’t have to fully understand something in order to acknowledge and see it as a gift. We don’t have to make sense of it to say “thank you.” Read more