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Interconnected universe {#4 in my series on resilience}

Interconnected universe {#4 in my series on resilience}

Knowing, also, as even the scientific world attests, that we are apart of an interconnected universe, in which the smallest movement of a butterfly’s wing could actually have an effect on the whole system, I can imagine that each of us generates ripples of influence through who we are, what we do whether we love and if we pray and that someday we shall know.

(Jean Shinoda Bolen)


People who can access friendships during times of transformation and tumult, experience greater resilience.  And it only takes one friend.

I’ve been so lucky!  I’ve had a handful of friends this year who have listened to me, called, texted, messaged, skyped, prayed, imagined, laughed and laughed and laughed and sat quietly and taken it all in.   They’ve just been present and that presence has increased my balance and made it possible to quietly move forward.

They haven’t been the friendships I’ve nurtured in the last 15 years either.

Go figure.

They have been super old ones from childhood and high school.  And super new baby ones from my new life as an intuitive life coach.

Fascinating. (to me)


Resilience + A Super Simple Map to Check Your Location {#3 in my series on resilience}

Resilience + A Super Simple Map to Check Your Location {#3 in my series on resilience}

I was in the midst of a series of posts on resilience when my own life rose up in a huge distracting way and I needed to put all my mental, emotional, spiritual, financial resources toward facilitating this HUGE shift.   Reserves of resilience were required.


There is soooo much research now on this topic from studying survivors + thrivers of the various holocausts around the world, survivors of abuse, survivors of extreme challenges, thrivers in business.

Dr. Borysenko says knowing the Map of the Territory (3 stages) is helpful in navigating your own life challenges and impending transformations.  Sounds simple, right?

1.  First you die to who you were.

It’s understanding that whether it’s an illness or a life challenge, you realize you are no longer who you were and you have yet to become who you will be.

For me, I had to die to the idea that my marriage and home life were workable.  That life was clearly over.  That dream died.  Quickly.  Unexpectedly.  Once I accepted this I moved and took charge completely of creating a new beginning.

2. The Limnal Phase. 

Be patient with the unknown.  You are at a threshold of a new life.  You are living in the time between no longer and not yet and you can’t rush through.  You have lessons to learn.

So much of the last 3 years of my life felt limnal.  Who was I after closing my children’s music school?  Will I be able to successfully work as an intuitive life coach with my new training?  Who am I without all the people and activities that kept my life in place?

Even though this crumbling of my marriage really should logically require time in the limnal phase, I feel that walking away from that world was right at the edge of my limnality. 

3.  The Return to Life. 

This is where you come back to life.  You return with a soul that is deeper, more compassionate and wiser.

I’ve moved back to the city.  I’m back in the throes of the energies of a more urban life.  Back at the gym.  Meeting new people.  I’m starting to imagine my life beyond all my losses of the last few years.  I still rest more than I used to.  But my appetite is returning.  I’m cooking.  I’m beginning to create in my art studio.  I’m playing with my favorite folk orchestra again.

It’s a beginning.  I’m juuust on the edge of my new life.  Not always happily.  Yet. 

Not always able to not look back.  Still I’m not imagining that old life will return.  It’s over.  I have a new home.  I’ve accepted that many friendships will not travel with me into my new life.  I’ve been shocked to discover some childhood friendships are the strongest ones in my life.  I’ve leaned on them with gratitude.

When I’m Feeling Bad, I Forget What To Do

When I’m Feeling Bad, I Forget What To Do

I’ve had several conversations in the  last few weeks where the person I’m speaking to is having an emotional struggle.  I listen.

And at some point say, “You know, maybe tapping would be good for this…or a forgiveness tool…or a nap.”

In every case the other person has said, “I always forget what to do when I’m upset.”

That’s NORMAL!

When we are having emotional crises, our brains move into survival mode and we can become immobilized and choose actions that might not serve us well or really are just fight or flight type responses.

If I forget how to choose peace…here are some reminders…

  1. Breathe intentionally
  2. Drink water
  3. Use EFT (tapping).  If you are talking about a trauma or something that you are upset about TAP while you talk.  Even if you are talking to yourself.  TAP while you think.  If you are talking to a friend, TAP while you talk.
  4. If you can not stop crying go into the shower and TAP while you cry in there.
  5. Go outside + breathe the fresh air.
  6. Take a nap.
  7. Meditate
  8. If you can’t meditate, close your eyes + listen to some Baroque music for 10 minutes.  Baroque music is usually played at a tempo that slow the brain down and levels your breathing.
  9. Put your hand on your heart and say, “I know I need to forgive somebody for something right now.  I’ll do it later.”
  10. Buy and use Rescue Remedy!
May You Live To Be 100!  {#2 in my series on resilience}

May You Live To Be 100! {#2 in my series on resilience}



Baba died last year just before her 99th birthday.  She spent her last decade in care homes after she had become blind.

You could hear her universal salutation when anyone left her room or her presence…

“May you live to be 100!”

and it didn’t matter who it was, they would smile.


Today she would have been 100.  Pic:  On her 98th birthday, my mom was helping Baba to see her beautiful cake using finger-vision.  That’s the only way when you’re blind!


Susan + Gail


Just a side note…my sister…who died at 21…would have had a birthday today as well.  She would have turned 50 today.

There we are, me at age 2 with my sister at her 1st birthday party.  She was born with brain damage, recurring seizures and cerebral palsy so at this point she wasn’t able to sit up for her cake or her pic.




Dr.  Joan Borysenko tells us there are commonalities among people who are resilient.  These things come from studies of folks who have survived holocausts and other devastations.

Last week I wrote about Persistent Creativity.  Dr. B calls it Radical Creativity.   More here in this post {#1 in my series on resilience}   This week {#2 in the series on resilience} is FAITH.   One of qualities that creates resilience in everyday people is FAITH.

Having a belief in something that you believe is bigger than the situation you find yourself in.

In our family, I learned that there were important callings in the world. 

To be a doctor or a lawyer was best.  Teacher was next.  Anything else was okay  but if you really wanted to earn Baba’s respect become a doctor, a lawyer or a teacher.

Now, if you wanted to shine for all time and bring eternal honor to the family then you had to become a priest.  Not all families would have such an honour.

Choosing to follow this path earned much more than her respect.  Truly, she believed an entire family could earn eternal blessings if one person chose this as their life’s work.

Baba was often heard to tell strangers that she had doctors, lawyers and teachers in her family but did you know there were three (3!) count them…3 ministers in the family!?

This was like a direct blessing from and to God at the same time.

When I think of resilience + faith…I think of my grandmother.

IMG_0924She was the eldest child in a family of many.  Her mother had 21 pregnancies but lost every other one.  So there were 10 children in the end.  Baba helped to raise her siblings and even though she was born in Canada didn’t learn to speak English until she was in school.  She once ran away into the woods with her youngest infant brother to prevent their father from selling the baby for money.

IMG_2430Baba grew up in the days when women did EVERYTHING.

They not only did the housework and raised the children, they worked in the fields and helped with harvesting.

They had few choices, little education and dreams of a better life not for themselves but for their children.

Life was physical, grinding and there really never was any money. Everything was precious.  No one owned books and few could read or write.

She eloped to save money.  She only had 2 children in order to give them a better life.  She raised turkeys INside the farmhouse one year so as not to lose any to cold weather, disease or predators.

She told me this story so I would know what she did in order to save money to put a down payment on a house in the city.  She dreamed of  her children getting a better education in the city and her dream came true.

Everything she did, she did for her family.

Her belief in God was the ground upon which her family was grown. 

Baba’s resilience stemmed from her deep faith as a member of the Orthodox Ukrainian religious community.  This belief made every loss, struggle, win bearable for her.

IMG_1222Almost 2 decades ago, she almost died.

She had gone to the hospital with an emergency, slipped into a coma and we were told she was going to die.  The priest was called to administer last rites.  It was the Ukrainian priest so the rites were in Ukrainian.

I’ll always remember that night as we all gathered around her hospital bed with the priest swinging the chanter, incense filling the room and him singing and chanting in Ukrainian with my mother harmonizing.

It was unbelievably beautiful.  As though we’d been transported back in time to ancient places with ancient rituals.

Part way through the blessings the priest looked up and asked if there was anything anyone wanted to say.

I said yes…tell her we forgive her.  The priest’s eyes popped open!

Why he asked?

Well, I said, she’s been really cranky for the last 10 years and not very nice. So he asked us all to leave the room.

We left her with him.  I went home to bed that night knowing I would probably not see her alive the next morning.

When I arrived at the hospital the following day, Baba was sitting up brushing her hair and she had her teeth in.  I was stunned.  Baba, what happened?

Baba said the priest told her in Ukrainian she had to forgive everyone for everything.  And you can’t argue with a priest she said!

I am here because I forgave everyone, she said.


That was my first adult miracle experience of the power of forgiveness.  The doctors had no explanation for her recovery.

Baba lived for almost 20 years more after that night.

And I learned that forgiveness is a transformative internal force that when given forth can sustain your life and when withheld can extinguish life.  Forgive everyone for everything.  A resilient action step.


For me, resilience is faith in something bigger than the situations we find ourselves in.


I have faith in the transformative power of forgiveness.

With it, our lives have more possibility. Without it, we are weaker, more vulnerable, less resilient.


Happy Birthday, Baba!

Baba used to sing this tune to me in Ukrainian.   My cousin and I recorded a simple version of it for Baba one Christmas and I listen to it now when I want to reminisce about Baba and her stories.  (Click the arrow to listen)


Interested in engaging with the transformative, resilience-bestowing powers of forgiveness?  More good stuff here…

You can hop on info train for the soon to begin (in July)  Forgiveness House Program HERE.








Resilience + Persistent Creativity {#1 in my series on resilience}

Resilience + Persistent Creativity {#1 in my series on resilience}


I realized this week, my heart has been slowly healing through what Dr. Joan Borysenko terms “radical creativity”.

For 19 months, I’ve unconsciously been engaged in an ongoing, focussed, baby-stepped creation here in our garden…an act of what I would call ‘persistent creativity’.

This is what I started with.

Nothing really…it was a tree stump.

I don’t have a BEFORE picture because I didn’t realize I was creating something when I started.  So imagine one big tree, clear cut in the garden.  An exposed stump about 4 inches high.







That stump wasn’t pretty and I had to walk by it everyday at our new home.   It looked lonely and sad (and flat) this tree stump. It needed some love and to be honest, looking at it reminded me of how raw and vulnerable I felt everyday when I got out of bed.

This stump would become the focus of my persistent creativity…but not right away.

On my first visit to the ocean in November of 2012,

with our little dog in our new neighbourhood, I found a heart-shaped stone. 

IMG_3134Our dog is a sniffer so there is not much walking that really goes on.  Mostly a lot of shuffling and waiting for him to finish sniffing.

It’s kind of boring + restful and I find myself looking at the ground a lot.




On that first visit I looked down and there was the first stone.  It was clearly heart-shaped.

rocks heart

I picked it up (you would have done the same…) and considered it a private message intended just for me, a reminder that even though my entire life had turned upside-down, that there would be love in this part of the world too.   Soon.




I kept the stone in my pocket…for a long time…it was a promise of some kind.



One day found several more heart-shaped stones in one visit.  I picked those up too.   This went on day and after day for many weeks. Of course, I was taking them out of my pockets by this time and they were sitting by the sink, by the door, in my work space.  They were gathering.  The way a small child gathers.


Then it started.  I was compelled to cover the stump with heart-shaped stones.  They were so small no one even noticed what I was doing at first.  Then I found some BIG stones and small heart-shaped shells  and added them too.


I started to count them. 12 stones.  15 stones.  28 stones.  45 stones.  62 stones.  I kept track the way a 5 year old does.  Imagining how long it would take to cover the stump.  A loooong time.

One day, I added our IMG_3032mosaic.

It was made by a group of children in 2008 and gifted to me in celebration of my marriage that year.
My husband noticed.  Are you collecting rocks?  he said.  Yes.  I said.  Heart-shaped ones.  They’re messages for me and I get them at the beach.  Looks nice.  he said.


By the fall of 2013 (a year later) it looked like this…

No more room on the stump!IMG_3030  Tidy.

This is what it looks like today…

A littIMG_1171le unwieldy.  A sprawling giant heart-shaped installation.

One stone at a time.  About 6 feet across and 4 feet tall.

19 months of collecting.  Hundreds of stones.



It’s spread to the garden itself and I have to pull weeds now.  I even take time to remove the leaves from the arbutus trees as they shed (did you know arbutus trees lose their leaves in the spring and summer…not the fall?)

So…my lesson? 

Time doesn’t heal all wounds.

Wounding is just an opportunity to create something new, something unexpected. 

This tree stump was something I could actively + persistently love.  A natural canvas that allowed me to engage naturally with my new topsy-turvy world and put a bit of my own soul into a space that I don’t own….a space I will leave for sure.  My liminal abode.

Next post…I talk about The Liminal Phase.  It’s part of the Map of the Territory for resilient folks going through transformation.

So tell me…

anyone out there in the liminal phase? 

Any one dealing/healing with it through acts of persistent or radical creativity?



Pray for Best Outcome

Pray for Best Outcome

Prayer or non-attachment

Angeles Arrien, anthropologist + author, speaks of 4 guiding principles in life:

1.  Show up.

2.  Pay attention.

3.  Speak your truth.

4.  Don’t be attached to outcome.


Jean Shinoda Bolen alters that slightly:

1.  Show up.

2.  Pay attention.

3.  Speak your truth.

4.  Pray for best outcome.


Great advice for when we are thinking…

what’s going to happen next?  for someone else…or the self.

What do you think? 

Prayer or non-attachment? 

Which is resonant for you right now?


Also, on those lists….the #3’s “speak your truth” is a recurrent theme in the forgiveness world.  It’s one way to help us set the boundaries we need to thrive.  Speak your truth…very important…scary but important!