What if?

I am sitting under the tree that still has many leaves to shed. Those already fallen, spread around my feet, a carpet of gold.

I had to come outside. With the walls pressing in, fresh air was needed.

The temperature of the world has surely gone down this past week as the world reels in the wake of atrocities with many innocent caught in the middle.

Little ones, growing ones, parents and elders.

Easter Saturday: suspended & heightened. The liminal space we find ourselves in during this pandemic.

Easter Saturday. A day of waiting, of unknown. liminal, empty, uncertain. A day of dark, of facing death and loss. A day of grief, of resistance and perhaps gradual acceptance. A day of feeling all the losses, all the pain and sorrows, a day of not turning the other way, but simply and profoundly: being with. As hard and uncomfortable as that may be.

What is happening on this day is not visible to the eye. It is stirring beneath the surface, perhaps imperceptible to the point of nothing. But there is something happening, for even simply bearing the unknown is something. To not turn away even when we don’t know how to move forward is transformative.

To breath through whatever feelings may be coursing through our bodies, while not gasping for distraction or any kind of numbing, is piercing and is alot. We come out the other side changed and ready for Easter, for resurrection, for new life. But in order to truly come out the other side, it seems that Easter Saturday, this liminal, achy, lost, nothing-ness but alot-ness needs to happen and is part of the recipe for awakening, for spring.

As a teen I began contemplating how Easter Saturday might have felt to the friends of Jesus. They who truly didn’t know about Sunday being round the corner. Who were only feeling the loss and confusion. They who didn’t have the benefit of the future, of knowing that resurrection – as promised as it might have been – actually would come to pass. How would that day of emptiness, of coming to terms with the death of their most beloved friend and teacher have felt? Devastating we can imagine, as we all have had such moments, days, weeks and years, when that which was most dear to us, most important, was gone to our perceptions and knowledge. Gone. With no guarantee of return.

Today and these past weeks, as our whole human family faces and deals with the covid-19 pandemic, I feel we are in a long, drawn-out Easter Saturday. A time when life is suspended and heightened. When the Unknown looms larger than ever. Grief is at our finger tips and takes over in waves. Fear crawls just under the surface and explodes here and there. Hope sparks and swells, hope for a saner tomorrow. We are waiting, while our former lives are upended, up rooted in suspension.

An image that has come to me during these weeks is of autumn leaves tossed up in the air. The leaves are up there, swirling, suspended. They have not landed yet. What the collective result of this pandemic and our collective response to it will be, is not yet known. All is tossed in the air.

As my husband (and main companion in sense making around this unprecedented and historical moment) has pointed out: as we seek to understand what is really going on in the multi-layered, suspended and heightened moment we are now living, there are so many dimensions, agendas and forces at work, it can be near impossible to get a complete picture. What we can do, however, is to look back to say November of last year, and notice all the vectors already at play then. For what we do know of this moment, is that all is heightened, and each of these vectors, these agendas, is now on steroids.

All are seizing this moment is one way or another.

Those whose call it was to become a spiritual teacher or supportive coach, now have a window in which to step up with wisdom to share.

Those interested in confusing the population and disseminating false news, or simply shocking with the latest dramatic news, what a moment.

Those who have long felt our earth needs a pause, here finally a chance to reconsider our trajectory.

Those who are amongst the most decent of humans, ready to simply serve, are showing up with such fervour and courage, we can only bow in appreciation and cheer with the fullest of hearts.

Those whose deepest need was to stop, to pause, and rest, are finding an invitation to do so now.

Those who are keen on mandatory vaccination, are seeing this as their moment.

Those who have been working tirelessly for greater income equality, now their efforts are finding an opening.

Those who have been scheming for more authoritarian regime, this is their moment too.

Those who always knew that gardening was a quiet revolution, now is their time.

Those who see individual freedoms as nuisance, now have a moment to squash these.

Those who have longed for greater collaboration, it is happening.

Those who have always carried care for the whole at the centre of their beings, this too is their moment to act in a heightened way, even if just by staying home, but also in tireless research for treatment of this virus, in care for the sick, in providing essential services, in leading with integrity.

There are many many forces at work, all of their agendas, all of their vectors experiencing and making use of this heightened moment in the course of our human unfolding.

These forces — both those aiming for greater good, beauty and truth, as well as those aiming for the opposites — are on steroids at present. Heightened. Intensified.

And what the outcome will be when we consider all these vectors, all these individual and collective wills and actions, decisions and values — all these leaves thrown up in the air — is not yet decided. We don’t know what the outcome will be. We feel the intensity. We are feeling all the days of the Easter Journey — death, the in-between, and the resurrection — all at play simultaneously.

And perhaps most of all: we are feeling and experiencing the “in between” — the Easter Saturday part of the journey. We don’t know if Easter Sunday will happen. We don’t have the benefit of knowing the future and being reassured by it. We don’t have assurance. It could go either way. Collapse and constriction, or renewal into healing and care for the Whole. Or a mix of all of it.

Held in liminal space, with vectors flying in all directions, this is our moment to encourage the breeze to move those leaves in the direction of greatest goodness, truth and beauty.

This is our moment to encourage trajectories of kindness, forgiveness, sustainability, coherence building, sovereignty and dignity. This is our moment to nurture every strand of connection, insight and care.

This is the undecided, elongated moment wherein the tides could turn, as a whole, one way or the other.

And so, my dear beauty makers, goodness tenders and truth tellers, let us do our best to help the breezes blow in the direction of sanity for this humanity, this planet, and all that lives within and upon it. May resurrection happen. May we find our way to what we have been dreaming, hoping, praying and working for.

The ways to do this are as myriad as we are. For some it may be tending to their children with presence. For others it may be fervent dedicated prayer. For some, gardening. For others, thinking out of the box and helping create meta-systemic change. The paths are many. The potential of resurrection, of a next stage in our humanity to actually feel like Easter Sunday, like the most wondrous spring morning, is with us. May we show up for it.

With all my love,

Dear Teenagers – thinking of you during this COVID-19 pandemic

Dear teenagers,

As we find ourselves in the middle of this pandemic — a new and disorienting experience for all of us — you, whose developmental stage it is to venture out into the world with curiosity and growing confidence, have been on my mind. Surely also because I have a teenage daughter whose daily life is suddenly stopped short. Staying home is not what you are cut out to do, even the introverts among you love to visit with a friend and stay busy with your various activities, from what I can tell.

But now you are being told (another thing that doesn’t sit so well with your natural and healthy state of wanting to figure things out for yourselves, make up your own mind and become more independent, not less!) that you must stay home. Just you and your family. Your family that you love or may have a challenging time with, or quite likely you both love and are challenged by, and a whole bunch more feelings in between.

Now you have had more cancellations happen in the past few weeks than in a usual year or decade even… swim meets, dance practice, outdoor program adventures, long-anticipated trips, soccer matches, performances and exams and graduations you have worked so hard for, parties, hangouts with friends, your first job…

I know this feels overwhelming. Unfair. And hard. Likely bewildering too — what just happened?! You didn’t see this coming even as your future has already long been shadowed by threats of a climate out of balance. But this? So fast and so drastic. You may be feeling disappointed, scared, angry. Your mood may be changing from one moment to the next… you may say things to your family members you afterwards regret, but you just feel so out of sorts. You may not know what to do with yourself… a lot of the usual options are gone for now. You may be worried about your schooling. You may just want to ignore the whole thing and pretend it’s all fine. But your go-to people when things feel hard at home — your friends — are also holed away, and as used to virtual connections as you are, it’s not the same as hanging out in the park, skateboarding together, giggling and snacking together, or chatting for hours.

On top of all that is the big unknown. While unknowns were likely already a huge part of your life (what will I do after I graduate? What do my peers think of me? Does s/he like me? How will I ever study for this exam with all the extra-curricular stuff going on? etc.) this is a whole other order of unknowns. On top of that the adults around you seem to be as bewildered as you are. Perhaps quicker to snap too, worried and stressed.

So what now?

Truly, I don’t really know. I so wish things were different. As my daughter sat with her first wave of big disappointment, I sat there with her and wished I could change the situation (believe me, your parents would love for this to go away and your life to get back to usual!). She was sad. She was angry. And stressed.

And all I could do was sit there with her and feel it alongside her. Feel my heart breaking as I felt hers crumble in dismay.

All I could say was: “I know. I’m so sorry. It’s hard. It really sucks.” And then just silence, I didn’t have more words for a while and neither did she. But then, they came: “We’ll get through this. Remember, we can do hard things. One step at a time. Let’s try not to think too far ahead, there is so much we don’t know right now. Let’s just take it one moment or day or week at a time, whatever chunk of time works best for you”.

So, as you can see I don’t know much. I just know that being there with her matters. And, even in the middle of all the unknowns, here are a few more things I do know:

1) You teenagers deserve the truth. So when parents and adults and politicians and decision makers don’t know the answer to something, they should just say so. And when you have heard enough news, just say so. If it makes you too anxious, then tell them to give you only what you need to know, no more. You can also ask your parents to not talk about the virus all the time, it will be good for them too, to take a break. We, for example, have decided that meal times will be “virus-free” conversation.

2) You also deserve comforting. Even as you are older, and possibly taller than your parents, doesn’t mean you don’t need comforting. Don’t be shy to ask. Parents of teens sometimes get unsure if their comforting is still welcome. If it is, just let them know and also how they might best express that… it might be a hug, or them giving you some space or being extra patient, or making some yummy food, watching a funny movie together…

3) Your feelings matter and make sense. You are allowed to feel whatever you feel. I hope you have a safe place to let those feelings roll through you and not get clogged up. Just remember that feelings and behaviours are different: allow all the feelings to tumble through, but don’t harm yourself or others as you express them.

4) Coming to terms with this kind of “new normal” takes time. Don’t worry if for days you feel frozen, and can’t get the energy up to do much. It’s a lot to take in and adjust to. Take your time. Do nothing for a while — most of the time you teenagers are way too busy anyways. Your energy will come back sooner if you let yourself chill for a while.

5) You are one of the most creative segments of the whole human population. The way your brains are growing during these years, the way you question things (and us adults!) and have your own ideas, the unique way you look at reality and feel intensely: all that makes you creative. I trust your creativity. I trust that you will come up with some awesomely cool ways to deal with this sh*t show.

6) In the middle of lots of Unknown, having some kind of a beat to your days, a rhythm of sorts really helps. Just a general outline (or if you’re like my daughter, a very specific list) of things that help you roll through a day and feel good about it afterwards… some creative time, some exercise, some helping out on the home front, some screen time but not all day long (on that note: monitoring how much news you listen to can really help — too much is too much. You’ll know when you feel deflated or anxious afterwards), and some time outside even if just on your porch or your yard or sticking your face out the window. Take deep breaths.

7) On that note, sometimes it helps to do things even if you don’t feel like it. Like getting up in the morning. Or playing with your younger sibling. Or reading that book you were in the middle of when school suddenly stopped. Or baking something yummy. Or apologizing when you blew up at your family. Or doing that one thing you never had time for but wanted to do more of… like writing a song. Choreographing a dance. Organizing your photos. Writing a real letter to your grandparents.

And as much as I encourage you to show up for yourself and then for your family (which includes being gentle and nice to yourself when you don’t manage!), now is also a great and important time to show up for the big wide world. Remember all those heroes and heroines in stories you read or watched as a kid? This is your time to be one of those. To do the hard thing with as much patience, courage and stamina as you can, which right now is: to stay home. Not to fly off on all kinds of adventures. Just to stay put. And to do this on behalf of the Whole, of the most vulnerable, those who could get really sick with this new virus making its rounds. It is a time to truly remember that we all belong to each other. That our actions affect others. So please, stay home — as much as that goes against your innate natural next step to seek out and find your own footing in the larger world, to move into intimate spaces with others, to explore and adventure out into your future.

If there are ways we can help you have more fun and make it more manageable staying home, let us know. If you have ideas on how we can support you in spreading your wings, even as you are asked to stay put, tell us.

As said, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t let yourself crumble, be mad and sad, moody, unsure… whatever you might be feeling. Let that be too. It will pass if it doesn’t get stuffed down. But be both: the you with all that you may be feeling in any given moment, and also the you who can stretch and surprise yourself with showing up and making a difference in small and big ways. You matter. As does everyone else.

And again… I’m so sorry. It’s hard. But we can do hard things. And I can’t wait to see you get back to your dance & theatre performances, baseball games, fun times with friends, schedules you might complain about but also rely on, grad parties, travels, and feeling like the future is a friendly place. Until then, may we adults learn from you how we can best support you.

A mum.


A Key to Thriving in Relationship: Tune yourself! Just Like An Instrument

You know those moments just before a symphony concert, when the audience is settling, the last rustlings of handbags and programs travel across the space, the air is sparkling with anticipation… and the musicians are tuning their instruments…

That sound. A wild-yet-synchronized cacophony of violins, cellos, double bass, clarinets, flutes, trumpets and harps sliding up to a sharp, down to a flat, up again a slice, down another, and then there it is: landing just so, placed on pitch, tuned and ready. Quiet. Poised. Deep breath, in and out. And Go. The concerto (from the latin concertare, which means to harmonize) can begin.

Similarly at a band practice, or alone with your fiddle in the living room: before you play, you tune your instrument. You know what happens if you don’t. The ensuing tunes will sound either slightly off or quite terrible, possibly even make a piece of music unrecognizable. I know. We have a harp in our house, and if it ain’t tuned, it doesn’t do the harp-thing at all.

When it comes to making music, this is all clear and accepted. It is the norm. We tune the instrument before we play it. If ever we drift out of tune we retune.

Now how about the rest of our lives, all those instances when we ourselves are the instrument?

Think of all the ways we relate to one another, the many ways we “make music” together (or not!) through our words, gestures, tone of voice, emotional quality, body posture: in conversations with our friends, our spouses and partners, in the interactions we share with our children, the myriad moments of engaging with one another on a daily basis.

Do we come at these tuned? Or out of tune? As we all know, the results vary hugely, depending.

When I tune my instrument – my self – I become present. I am both relaxed and attentive. My breath is calm. My emotions are regulated. I can make eye contact. I am at home within myself, and I listen and speak from this inner home. I don’t jump to conclusions. I remain curious, open-minded, soft-hearted.

When I am out of tune, I tend to be tense, turbulent, quick to react, defensive or avoidant, irritable, impatient, caught up in emotional storms, and often covering vulnerability with a hardened shell.

I’ve tested both versions many times – inadvertently and on purpose. The ensuing quality of connection is starkly different. Without fail, the former allows for greater intimacy, insight and connection. The latter tends to propel a relationship in a downward spiral, toward misunderstanding, hurt and separation.

We are hardwired to react when feeling threatened. We can quickly move to defense, offense or shutdown when we don’t feel safe in a relationship, when we are not met with empathy, kindness, and patience. Staying tuned in the fray of relating takes practice, lots of it!

I encourage my clients to practice tuning themselves for and in all their relationships, especially in their closest ones, with partner and kid(s). I explore with them how they can best regulate their emotions and get in touch with their inner home. Then I send them off with this homework: “When you’re ‘on’, engage. When you’re ‘off’, stop and recalibrate yourself. Make this a priority and see what happens.” The results are worth the while.

My husband and I practice daily too, have been for years now – as said, it takes plenty of practice! We have agreed that whenever we get ‘out of tune’, we pause the conversation and do whatever it takes to get back in tune. This is our priority. It can lead to rather abrupt ends to conversations, but we have consistently found that those stubborn “We will talk this through no matter what marathons” really don’t lead anywhere useful and tend to leave us both depleted.

Another place I get to practice daily is with my daughter. Just the other day, I was about to ask her for the fourth time if she could empty the dishwasher. I was getting aggravated and about to nag. On that day, in that moment, I caught myself just in time. I noticed where I was coming from, the irritated state I was in, and remembered my “being in tune before playing music” commitment. I took a deep breath. I let it go, refreshing my intention to communicate when “in tune”. By the time I was back in tune, the dishwasher was empty.

What if we check in with ourselves before each and every conversation and notice whether we are out of tune or in tune? And what if, whenever we slide out of tune, we stop what we are doing and retune before continuing?

It sounds so simple, yes? It is not necessarily easy; but it is a simple, straightforward, and extremely effective in navigating all our relationships with greater ease and grace. Tuning recalibrates us, allowing more consciousness to enter any relationship.

To make this a handy tool, I break this practice down into a few steps for you:

1) Awareness. This is where it all begins.

How am I doing as I enter this interaction? Am I emotionally calm, clear-minded, open-hearted, centered, curious?

Or am I out of tune?

Am I either ‘sharp’ – tense, high-strung, wound up, tight, reactive, full of emotions that need empathy, release and regulation…?

Or ‘flat’ – not fully here, not engaged, tired, not caring enough, feeling victimized, distracted, have I already given up…?

2) Commitment. Imagine a world in which we tune ourselves consistently before engaging with one another… as neighbor and friend, as partner, lover, parent, teacher, politician. Imagine a partnership in which you only ‘play music’ when you are both tuned. Imagine parenting with this awareness. The results are well worth the commitment.

Commit to only communicating when “on” (grounded, open soft heart, centered).

When you feel “off” (contracted, tense, shut down, defensive), pause and instead do a time-in (time to regulate until ready to communicate again). Whoever notices the “off-ness” calls a time-in. No discussion. Just time to regulate, recalibrate, each in one’s own way. It takes discipline to contain the momentum of reaction.

3) Regulate. As needed, regulate. Do whatever it takes to tune yourself-as-instrument. For each of us, this may look differently. Here are some ideas (find out what works best for you): Go outside; take a walk; drink water; breath; put your hand on your heart and remember you are loved; meditate; stretch your arms up and out and remind yourself that Life is not ‘out to get you’ (nor is your spouse or your kid, generally they are just working from the capacity they can access in any given moment); take a nap; dance; have a shower; cry and release any pent-up emotions until your heart is softened; talk with a friend, listen to music; and breath some more, focusing especially on your outbreath.

More in-depth regulation involves tracking reactive patterns, noticing predictable triggers, doing shadow work, somatic trauma release, and making use of any other ways we change our state to gain insight and heal the un-integrated aspects of our self. Becoming whole is a journey. Working with a therapist or a mentor can be very helpful. You don’t have to do this alone.

4) Reconnect with ongoing awareness. When you feel regulated again, check in with your partner, your child, your friend: “Is now a good time to pick up where we left off? If not, let’s set a time for that.”

Then, when you try again, repeat and keep going for as long as you can, while remaining open-hearted and centered. As soon as you trip up and slide ”off”, repeat the regulation practices.

And whenever possible, tune while interacting! This involves ongoing regulation, which hinges upon ongoing inner body scanning for sensations (tension registers there first). Pay attention, and you’ll notice a ‘storm’ brewing before it erupts. As soon as you notice early signs of arousal, you can regulate (deep relaxed breathing and soothing hand on heart) while continuing the conversation, becoming a virtuoso — a truly skilled ‘musician’.

5) Practice. Awareness is like a muscle. Regulating is a learned skill. They both take practice and witnessing presence. You will stumble. You will trip. But over time, one interaction after the other, gradually, you will build momentum for a safe, joyful, conscious container to relate, to communicate, to make ‘music’ together. Over time you will become adept at navigating through challenging patches and phrases in your conversations and interactions.

This ongoing tuning is a core skill in approaching parenting as a spiritual practice.

It is foundational for conscious partnering.

To become aware of when we are off-key, to then bring ourselves into tune, and to play from there: that’s where the music happens.

Then you have readied yourself for the duet, for the band practice, the symphony orchestra, the love-in-action.

Then you are modeling for your child how s/he can calm down, communicate and learn to self-regulate.

Then you are conversing with your partner in a shared container that allows for deeper understanding and insight, rather than throwing gas on a fire, speaking words you later regret, and going at it from an aroused system rather than a grounded, clear-minded one.

So, next time you are about to chat with your partner, check in with yourself first: is my self-as-instrument tuned?

If yes, go ahead. If not, go tune yourself. And if you slide out of tune during any interaction, pause and re-tune. As you get more adept, you will be able to tune and retune right in the midst of your interactions.

And then, let the concerto begin.

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If you would like to join me and a wonderful, international group of parents as we explore these kinds of practices and how they can be applied to parenting, I invite you to “Parenting as a Spiritual Practice – an 8-week online course that runs May. 1 – June. 26, 2017.

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. >> www.integralparenting.com

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

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


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

To Wait Actively

Today I offer you these questions from Sue Monk Kidd’s “Where the Heart Waits”:

“What has happened to our ability to dwell in the unknowing, to live inside a question and coexist with the tensions of uncertainty? Where is our willingness to incubate pain and let it birth something new? What has happened to patient unfolding, to endurance? These things are what form the ground of waiting.”

I invite you to sit with these questions. Don’t think too much, just sit with them, next to them. Or hold them on your lap or in your heart.

What arises in you?

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Exploring Trust

Last week, during our homeschooling English class, A. and I watched this wonderful talk by Brene Brown on the Anatomy of Trust.

We took our time, we paused it here and there, discussed sections, took notes, and had an incredibly rich and insightful conversation about how and if we trust ourselves, and others.

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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.

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