Change ~ 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.


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

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.”


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. 


 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.


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!


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,    


The Art of Parenting: Learning to Live at the Edge of the Unknown

As parents — as people! — we all (I’m pretty sure all of us, yes?) wish there were a simple way, a method that is tried and true and guaranteed to get us the results we hope for… be this a fitness program, a healthy diet, a supplement protocol, a parenting handbook, a financial plan, a spiritual practice, a qualified approach to ANYTHING.

“Just tell me what to do and promise me it will lead me where I want to end up, and I will do it!” Sound familiar?

Our ego-minds want so very much to know, to be sure, to have the secure, guaranteed path and outcome laid out for us.

But, as you may have noticed, Life has other plans. This earthly existence keeps derailing the “for sure’s”, keeps throwing curve balls our way, keeps nixing our perfect plans and visions, and instead nudges, forces, coaxes, calls, yells, whispers and pushes us to: let it go.


Yes. To let go of this fabricated, deeply ingrained notion that “there is one way to do it right and if I just know what that one way is, everything will be all right”.

Let it go.

Are you sure?


You know, as we all do, as we all experience repeatedly, that Life is otherwise.

And, when it comes to parenting — this crazy, exquisite dance between our self and our child—Life utterly derails any such notion of “predictable, known, for sure and for certain”.

This is not to say that many of the parenting books and parenting methods and parenting tips and parenting know-hows and parenting experts and parenting “fill-in-the-blanks” are not helpful; they often are, supplying encouraging tips and insights to try out and help us along.

But all of them will only go so far.

They won’t ever get you to that solid place that you so wish you could get to. It’s impossible to provide the “right” response to the zillions of possible parenting moments, dilemmas, disasters, questions and curve balls you encounter.

You will still come face to face with situations in which you are at loss, in which you really have no idea what to do or say, in which you have tried all kinds of things and nothing seems to be working. At the end of the day you will still be left wondering if you shouldn’t have, couldn’t have done “it” differently—“it” being any aspect of parenting you can think of. You will never know for sure whether you should have protected your child more or challenged her more. You will still wonder if he needed more guidance or less, if she would have been better served had you trusted her more or directed her more, if he needed more comfort or more stimulus, more independence or more connection.

When traversing the territory, when engaged in the actual doing of parenting, it is not this or that method that will offer you a solid handrail to clutch on to. It is not the “apply this or that” technique that gives you the ultimate ground to stand on as you seek your way through the storms and the sunny sky days.

It is INSIGHT. Learning about how children develop, how they mature and flourish. Understanding how their brains, their hearts, bodies and spirits: grow, make sense of the world, integrate or get stuck, release tension, connect and repair.

It is DISCERNMENT. Making choices from a place of seeing, rather than guessing. Making sense through awareness, rather than because someone else said so.

And it is EMBODIMENT, which is another way of saying lots of practice.

The practice of learning to stand calm and steady, to breath with a cracked-open heart, and to keep breathing when a knee-jerk reaction is about to burst out of you.

The practice of self-awareness. Knowing your self—your tendencies, your type, your strengths and growing edges, your shadows, your soul. Also, continually inviting yourself into a fuller sense of belonging. You are not alone. You belong. You matter. You are loved. Receiving that fully, and living from that knowing.

The practice of presence. Of slowing down and being there, for your child.

The practice of listening between, beneath and beyond words. Listening for the emergent response, not memorizing what the ‘parenting book’ said.

The practice of trusting your innate, silent voice that knows because it loves. The voice that is there when all else becomes quiet.

The practice of forgiveness, to yourself and your child, for being human.

The practice of choice: thinking outside the hand-me-down box. Being brave and creative so that you discover and live what matters most to you and your child. So that you stand up for what is true for you and your family.

The practice of releasing attachment to your own subjective perspective, and of looking behind your child’s eyes, over and over.

The practice of meeting and engaging with your child as a sovereign person, while guiding and parenting him.

The practice of making love bigger than whatever else may be happening.

The practice of including and transcending ego. Gradually and consciously, coming home to your true self and enabling your child to live and flourish in his true self.

And the practice of practice! We can easily trip up on “Oh no, I’ll never be the perfect parent and I’m so stressed about that!” To evolve rather than perfect. To strive for consciousness while enveloping your efforts with generous doses of kindness, forgiveness and humor. One step at a time.

Discovering the simplicity on the other side of the complex territory that is Life, that is parenting, is about getting a hang of how to relax in the middle of the unknown, in the plenty of chaos, in the multitude of possibilities—that is the spiritual practice. That is the way forward to dancing at the edge of the unknown and coming through with your heart and her heart intact (perhaps a little frayed, but good and solid).

Remember: Your parenting flows from your being, much more than from your doing. As you become comfortable with living at the edge of the unknown, finding calm confidence within yourself while life continues to whirl and spiral in and around you, you will have truly learnt how to “dance in the rain, instead of waiting for the storm to pass”. You will become weatherproof!


If you would like to join me and a wonderful, international group of parents as we explore and practice this comprehensive and underlying approach to parenting, I invite you to “Parenting as a Spiritual Practice – an 8-week online course that runs Oct. 10 – Dec. 5, 2016.

This course is designed to bring to life the full potential of parenthood: a transformative vessel for evolving yourself, your child, and the future. During these eight weeks I offer you perspectives, practices, discernment and insight that will help you discover an unshakeable ease and delight amidst the inevitable ups, downs and doubts of parenting.


Article originally posted on Huff Post, Sept. 29, 2016


Bless You as You Step Out Into the World

Dearest ones,

This week many children, teens and young adults are setting out into a new school year… kindergarten, a new grade, a new school, college, university, travel, adventure, homeschooling kitchen table…

My heart and mind are with them, imagining them heading out into worlds known and unknown, into positive and challenging situations, into collectives in which they hopefully are well welcomed, and encouraged to bring their unique selves, to shine bright, whatever that means – quiet, loud, colorful, tentative, joyful, inquisitive, bold, shy, …

But we know that is not always so. This world doesn’t always meet our kids with kindness. Sometimes school is hard, really hard, for all kinds of reasons.

I borrow here an excerpt of a prayer I wrote for my daughter this summer. I share it here for all children everywhere, as they grow and step more and more into the big wide world that is a lot of everything – light and dark, welcome and confusion, encouragement and hurt, beautiful and daunting, exhilarating and crazy-making, tender and terrible.

Perhaps you can hold this prayer and care with me for all children everywhere, as they make their way, one step at a time?


May your heart stay soft and open as you step out into the world more and more.

May you be protected and guided, discerning when to lean out, and when to curl inward.

May you stay ‘home’ within yourself.

May you stay true to your Self – as you try out different styles, gestures, mannerisms, ways of communicating: please remember your soul, your very own unique authentic self. It is this deeper self that is your anchor and compass. It is this true self that holds and shares the warmth of your Heart with others. That discerns what is right, good and healthy for you and others.

May you keep spreading Light, through your words, your thoughts, your deeds. May you look out for those who need your Light, who you can coax out of their shells and make them feel like they belong too.

May you delight in this Life, and may Life delight you. May you be sheltered, healthy, inspired, creating rather than reacting, joy-filled and con-fident (in trust).

May you keep following the threads of truth, the resonance you experience, trusting those whispers to discover your unfolding expression and service.

Know that you are so very fully and completely loved – by Life and all manner of expressions of this Life. Know that you are not alone. And remember to ask for help whenever you need it. We are here for you.


 Artist: Claudia Tremblay

With all my Love,


PS: Registration is now open for our upcoming integral parenting course – Parenting as a Spiritual Practice, which begins Oct. 10th. If you or someone you know is interested, you can find out more here > 

 And we so appreciate you helping spread the word! Thank you.

Tender Hearts Walking Around in Adult-looking Costumes

June 21, 2016

A daily practice that is growing in me and becoming a welcome habit is to view my fellow adult beings with the additional perspective of imagining them as the child they were. I find it a quick, effective way to have more compassion, to understand an other more fully, to judge less and inquire more.

We are tender hearts, wrapped in adult-looking costumes.

Let’s not forget this as we interact with one another.

Behind the facade, behind each exterior is a tender heart, a vulnerable self.

Remembering this can help us soften, listen, bring forth kindness, curiosity and a generosity of spirit as we relate with each other.

Tender hearts walking around in adult-like costumes.

Yes, even the grumpy co-worker. And the impatient woman standing in line behind us at the grocery store. The nervous, fluttery chitchatting mum and the quick-to-react, intense spouse too, as well as the “whatever” uttered too often too easily. All of them. All of us.

There is an innocence tucked in each person. There is a vulnerable tender heart at the centre of us all. Under the mask of the coolest styliest person, under the slightly distant turning away of the shy one, under harsh words that are uttered, under the closing down of communication, under the overbearing loud in-your-faceness, under all of it, there is the tenderness, the innocence we share, we all had and were at the beginning.

Keeping this in mind opens us to seeing deeper, not excusing current behaviours, but understanding more completely, and then, with this bigger view, possibly hearing under- and overtones that could easily be overlooked, swept by and missed… and yet, if seen and heard, can provide doorways to presence, to healing and regeneration.

So this my invitation today: look for the tender hearts walking around in adult-like costumes.

With great love to your tender heart, whether you carry it out on your sleeve, tucked in gently and safe but within easy reach, further under the surface or deeply buried,


Miriam Mason Martineau's photo.J

Mother’s Day Blessing – A Prayer

Dear fellow mothers – and with mothers I mean all of you who pour your hearts and minds, bodies and souls into mothering, into nurturing and sustaining Life in its myriad forms – so, to all of you, blessed keepers of the Hearth,

As I sit quietly this morning, listening for what I really want to share with you to honour and celebrate you today, the inner nudge is clear: share a prayer.

Here it is, for you, this mother’s day.

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The Future of Parenting

When asked to present a TED-like talk at Integral Life’s “What Next” conference in Dec 2012 on the future of parenting, I sat down and challenged myself to come up with the most condensed version I would pass on to a parent/caregiver that I think would make a REAL difference. Here it is: Integral-evolutionary context and three essential keys on how to “parent the future” as well as pointing to the “future of parenting”:

Integral Spotlight Video
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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

Gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh

In the week following our daughter’s birth, one dear friend came visiting bearing the gifts of gold and frankincense. And a few days later, independently, another close friend came by with some myrrh. And so our wee lassie was graced with these three gifts, reminiscent of the gifts the three wise men brought to honor, to acknowledge and gift the baby Jesus. A beautiful gesture of honoring the Christ in her, the potential of awakening to Love, to the fullness of Life, here in this lifetime, in herself and with others.

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