Let your Inner Virgin Shine!

Inspired by Judy Chicago, I’ve created a virtual dinner party: One category of my blog will be dedicated to honouring women who I want to be a part of my soul community. Each woman at my virtual table has a lesson to teach, even if it’s simply to inspire us with her ability to hold greater aspirations for ourselves than we’d ever thought possible. Each one will be a manifestation of the Goddess, a Wise Woman, a pilgrim on the road of the Sacred Feminine. I want to share the wisdom of these women as part of my community of support.

As we draw closer to Christmas, it seems appropriate to bring one of the key players of this story to the table. (Yes, my Catholic roots are showing, but bear with me.)

The Virgin, 1926 by Joseph Stella The Brooklyn Museum

The Virgin, 1926 by Joseph Stella The Brooklyn Museum

The Virgin Mary is revered around the world as the woman who miraculously conceived a child by the God.

What does that mean to us today? Why does she continue to fascinate in our cynical times? What could she have to do with you and your health (regardless of your religious leanings)?

It all gets back to the original meaning of the word virgin.

We use it simply in the context of never having had sex. Depending on how old you are and what your cultural/social environment is like, it can even be a stigma or badge of honour.

There have even been times when I’ve speculated with GFs as to whether it “grows back” after a certain time without. Kind of how your insurance record clears after so many years without a claim.

Nowadays, we refer to any type of neophyte as a virgin: a night club virgin, a camping virgin. I’m a Twitter virgin. A friend of mine just lost her podcast virginity. Way beyond the sexual context, this virgin – male or female – is someone who’s never done…something.

But dive back to the ancient roots of the word and you find an independent woman, not answerable to any man or child. Though I don’t know the precise origin of this word, it speaks to me of a matriarchal society where woman was respected as an important, integral, valuable part of society.

Hence, Elizabeth I is famous as the Virgin Queen. We know she was far from sexually untouched. She was a virgin because she was a woman unto herself – sovereign over her own life as well as her king(queen)dom. And a strong one at that!

I also think about the virgin goddesses of mythology: Venus, who emerged fully-formed on her half shell; Athena who sprang from Zeus’ head in full armour, wisdom incarnate.

Put these 2 concepts together and you get my vision of who the Virgin Mary is: (Yes, this gets to my point!)

She’s a woman who had her purpose whispered in her ear by a messenger of the Divine, and she stood by that purpose no matter how difficult or painful it was. Though married to Joseph and mother to other children, they didn’t detract from the truth of who she was.

Mary acted as a conduit.

She was the vessel through which spirit became flesh. She represents this creative capacity of every woman: to have a fully-formed expression of the Divine emerge from her body. Now that’s a miracle!

Worship of Mary was a continuation of goddess worship under the strong thumb of Christian paternalism. She was the beacon that held women strong to their purpose – though lost and hidden for centuries – until it was time for them/us to emerge.

And (re)emerge we did!

Standing firm in our own purpose, which as a collective means giving permission to each other to heed the call whispered from the Divine. Perhaps this means bearing children, or bearing the burden of leading a campaign for female education. Maybe you write plays, or maybe you write contracts. Maybe you design jewellery or websites.

The what doesn’t matter. It’s the opening of yourself as a vessel, as a conduit to share yet another aspect of the Divine that does. And that enhances your health – your fullest expression – in more ways than you can imagine.

I’ve had some ideas swirling around my consciousness for a while now. It’s high time I gave birth to their reality. Too unformed yet to share any details, I can give you a hint: the dinner party theme plays a big part.

So tell me, what’s been whispered to you? When you share in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.

Share this post with the independent women in your life by clicking one of the pretty green buttons at the bottom of the page.

No angels whispering in your ears lately? Maybe try listening to those menstrual cramps, that anxiety, the pain in your knee or the restlessness in your soul. Not exactly Gabriel in robes and glowing wings, but there’s a message in there for you to heed! (Contact me if you need an interpreter.)

How to Lose the Food Guilt

I’ve read several blogs & articles recently about the benefits of having a cheat day on your diet. A day when you eat all the stuff you deprive yourself of the rest of the time: pizza, fries, cookies, mocha latte whatchamacallits.

Sounds like a great idea, except by using that word, cheat, we’re solidifying the guilt that’s so pervasive when we eat “bad” food.

Let me explain.

Words hold the energy and subtle messages of the way we’ve used them, in our life, within our family, even through the ages.

“Cheater!” my son yells as his friend muscles past him during a foot race; the other boy bursts into tears. From a young age, we know that breaking the rules is not allowed, and being called out for it can sting.

Cheat on a game, and no one wants to play with you.

Cheat on an exam, and you fail it or maybe get suspended.

“Cheaters never prosper.” The old adage reinforces the notion that anyone who tries to circumvent the established rules won’t succeed.

These message get ingrained in our psyche, part of the belief system that drives the choices we make. When we do cheat, it comes with a sense of having to look over our shoulder, to make sure no one’s looking. Even as we try to let the secret snacking out of the closet (pantry) by making a consciously chosen day of it, the word itself still binds us to that sense.

The result: Guilt.

I shouldn’t be eating this piece of cake.

I shouldn’t have had that second glass of wine.

I’m such an idiot for buying that bag of chips.

Now I’ll never lose those last few pounds/ balance out my hormones/ clear my skin/ _________.

How do you lose the guilt and get back to enjoying your food? Two Ways.

1. Change the Rules

Dalai Lama rules

In a nutritional flip-side version of the 80/20 rule, the cheat day means you eat according to your particular healthy guidelines 80% of the time, so that 20% of the time you can let them slide. It leaves room for being human.

Even highly stringent college courses only require an 80% average to pass.

The great thing about following the rule from this perspective is that you eliminate the need for perfection, a state that’s nigh impossible to achieve. Heck, even when you get to the place you define as perfect, a new standard or option comes into view and raises that bar out of reach yet again.

By shifting your mindset about what entails success, you can relax around the notion of “wrong”, as it becomes part of the learning process of the journey. You introduce ease and choice into the equation.

You can calm down on a day without coffee, knowing that if you really want/need one, it’ll be ok. You can dig into that kale salad with more gusto when it doesn’t feel like a life sentence.

2. Change the Word

As I said before, my main contention with the practice of a cheat day isn’t the theory, but the language.

To extract the guilt, why not call it Permission Day?

Now that word opens possibilities. When you’re allowed to do whatever you want, that sense of ease expands even further.

But if I let myself eat that cookie, won’t I end up in a full-on backslide?

Given the green light, do you actually go fully overboard? The first time your curfew was extended past 10 pm, did you automatically get up to no good, or did it simply give you more time-freedom to hang with your friends as usual?

The more you adhere to whole food choices as the norm, the more your body will adjust to its benefits, and start to crave the “good” stuff regardless of what’s on offer.

Besides, I’ll bet that if you did go too far the first time you stayed out until midnight, the experience (i.e. the hangover) certainly taught you a lesson about your limits.

In the same way, a food hangover will call you out when you sidetrack too far. No need to kick yourself while it’s happening, your lack of sleep & bloated belly will tell you, and you can adjust accordingly.

The new word, permission, also adds a touch of reverse psychology. When the forbidden fruit moves to the other side of the garden, it loses some of its appeal.

There was a time, when I first cut way down on my sugar intake, that it was pure torture to go through the grocery line-up, with its rack of chocolate bars screaming my name. After several months of concentrating on whole food – mostly vegetables – I barely glanced at the candy. In fact, the thought alone of eating that much sugar now makes me feel ill.

Trust your body to know the right thing when it gets it, and to heal from an imbalance with grace.

What about you? Have you found a way to move past food guilt? When you share in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.


The Power of the C-Word


In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love. *

You can feel it in the heat of the sun, see it in the buds on the trees, hear it in the excited chirping every morning. There’s a charge in the very air. And those thoughts of love soon turn to something more…

That’s right. I’m talking about Commitment.

Now, here’s a word that gets bandied about so much lately, it’s kind of losing its edge. We lose the weight of it, the implications of saying it. We’ve forgotten its power.

A few weeks ago I was at a friend’s wedding. Listening to the words of the celebrant and hearing the vows, drew me back to my own experience of those vows. I reassess what we said at our wedding and ponder how we’ve gained strength (or strayed) from them.

The purpose of marriage, of publicly declaring your commitment to another, is that it provides a container in which to pour your relationship. It’s the safe space where you can sift the good from the bad. It’s the bucket of mortar from which you can start to lay the foundation for the relationship.

commitment bowlAnd this isn’t exclusive to marriage. The idea holds true for any relationship – personal or business, internal or external.

So here I am, weeks later, pondering all sorts of commitments in my life.

It was about a year ago that I made the commitment to show up in this blog every 2nd week to share thoughts, insights and practical advice with my clients & followers. (It took until July to get the actual ball rolling, but the intention was in place last April.)

It’s been remarkable to witness that decision coming into fruition. Despite fears that I’d get tired of it, or the occasional bout of writer’s block, I’ve managed to follow through. Sometimes the results are better than others, but I can feel my own comfort & dedication to both the craft and my audience blossoming with time & effort.

The commitment has been the glue that’s held my decision in place.


Now there’s a word that always makes me think of my heart. It’s been beating (non-stop!) since 8 months before I was even born…and it’ll continue as long as I do. That amount of dedication fills me with unsettling amounts of awe. I’m completely undone by the idea that the Life Force is driving that action for me.

To go even deeper, a commitment by my spirit to incarnate sparked the driving force of my entire existence. The decision is made, the wheels set in motion, and there’s nothing to do but follow the ride to its completion.

It’s when I think of that steadfast gesture, by my soul and the Universe together, on my behalf, that I understand my own responsibility within that commitment.

I’ve been talking a lot recently about self-love, about self-care as a daily expression of that love. As for any beloved, it’s daily action that solidifies the foundation on which the relationship grows.

I commit to my own self-care & health as necessary to carrying through the intentions my soul has laid out for me in this life.

I’m getting kind of heavy here – are you still with me?

Let me put it another way:

When you take the time & effort to look after your health, you allow the best manifestation of your Self to shine. You afford yourself the strength  & energy to show up fully for your family, your work, your community, your environment.

You’re able to live the most enriched version of your life.

Because that’s the ultimate aim, commitment is one of the first things I require from my clients. I’m working on a contract they’ll sign, but for now, it simply takes the form of payment in advance.

Paying money is a concrete way of saying, “I’m all in!”

This (or any) type of pledge makes a statement to both the psyche and the Universe, so that they can align with your objective, and start working towards the picture of better health you hold.

Making that commitment means there’s a greater chance you’ll follow through.

It’s like when you take a course. You pay your tuition and get ready to work. And sure, who the teacher is will have a certain influence on your success, however, we all learned through high school and college that you get out what you put in.

Your chances of a satisfying experience are greater when you show up, fully present, to the lectures, when you read the required materials, when you apply yourself wholeheartedly to the assignments.

Same with your health. I’m merely a guide. Your chances of improving your health & well-being depend on how present and engaged you are to the process.

Which gets me to one last, but oh-so-important piece:

Commitment is NOT synonymous with perfection.

Like marriage, like school, like any part of life really, there’ll be good days and there’ll be days when you just want to pack it all in and say “F&#* It!”

Like marriage & school, the bad days provide the room for growth. Mistakes show us where we need to learn. Improving your health also requires compassion, kindness and forgiveness as much as any relationship or endeavour.

The commitment keeps you tethered to the path.

blossom path

Back to the charged energy of Spring.

In the spirit of renewal, I’m ready to bolster the walls in my own life by openly stating:

I am committed to stepping up my own self-care with a deep homeopathic detox.

I have a feeling it’ll be a challenge on many levels, but the delicious promise of what it offers on the other side stands taller in my mind’s eye than a few weeks of discomfort.

When you share in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.


* from Locksley Hall by Alfred Tennyson

Taking vs Receiving, a Lesson in the True Source of Giving

This post is about gifts, only because I’m writing it in December. Fact is, you could substitute money, praise, pleasure (sexual & otherwise), health, or any other concept you value. Each one is simply a form of positive energy, an expression of Love.

How many times have you heard/read variations on the idea that you will only get as much love (money, praise, etc.) as you give?

Have you ever considered the opposite? That you can only give as much as you allow yourself to receive?

Seems counter-intuitive, the idea of not being able to receive. Yet, some days I feel like the poster child for this one.

I have a hard time receiving:

  • A compliment;
  • An act of kindness;
  • An unsolicited gift, or one that’s more than I expected;
  • Any positive expression that goes above & beyond what I’m used to.

I have this way of deflecting positive energy with a retort, a complaint or a dismissal – “I have circles under my eyes, my hair’s a mess today”; “When you washed the dishes, you forgot to wipe the counters”; “I don’t really need another blue sweater”…

Does any of this sound familiar to you?

Turns out, the more closed I remain to receiving, the tighter my fists get around my ability to give. In my house, I have a reputation of being somewhat of a Scrooge at this time of year.

The other day, my husband, our son & I went downtown for some Christmas shopping. Normally, shopping’s not my thing. I can get stingy when it comes to buying things for others, and I most often talk myself out of any item I want/need for myself. To dispel the discomfort, I usually plow through stores and get out as fast as I can.

You see, I’ve been programmed to be more comfortable with the concept of Give & Take. And, when I’m honest with myself, that’s what I do, I take.

Taking is an active, deliberate action. It’s based in the head. And it means I’m in control.

I picture it as holding out my hands or reaching with them. Sure, most times (though not all), I’m taking something that’s been proffered. But then it remains out there, at arm’s length.

When I reciprocate, or try to, from this perspective, it’s nothing but an exercise in tit-for-tat. There are no reserves for extras. Or, it sets me up for resentment when I overextend on the giving side. It’s also the place where obligation comes in, especially during the holiday season, when I’m being stretched to give in so many directions.

This weekend, I tried a new tactic.  I promised myself to go shopping with an attitude of trust, letting things unfold as they would.

I opened my arms to the day.

It was all pretty relaxing, and then our last stop was a little treat for me: checking out the new shop one of my favourite designers just opened in town.

The boys found some armchairs while I browsed and the clerk handed my son some pictures to colour, so I took the opportunity to try on a few things (maybe add some items to my own Christmas wish list). I felt like my son in the Lego section of a toy store, even picking out more than I usually would, just because they were so settled. I resisted the urge to rush through it.

I went out to model each item – pulled a runway pose or two just for the heck of it. The more fun I had, the more my husband’s face lit up. And the more pleasure he took in watching me, the happier it made me, until finally he asked which one I wanted…today.

I had to duck my head and nip back to the dressing room. It was what I wanted deep down, offered so generously, and it freaked me out.

Alone in the change room, I was able to make a choice as I calmed the tears of overwhelm.

Receiving is passive. It involves the Heart, and taking in the offered gift with open arms.

Receiving leaves me feeling vulnerable. And yet, receiving causes me to relax, expand and inevitably move outward again. I’m able to give from the Heart – offering of myself from a full cup. No pressure. No obligation.

I almost blew the moment by making a stink about the designer shopping bag my husband handed me – I get quite militant about using our own bags – but shut myself up in time.

What I learned so beautifully from what seems like an everyday event, is that when I receive a gift, I allow the other person the pleasure of giving to me. When I deflect what’s been offered, it’s like a rejection. It is a rejection.

Giving & receiving is a dance.

The natural flow of life.

Like the tides. Like the flow of blood through the heart.

It’s a spiritual practice of praying for what you need and meditating to hear the response.

An infinity symbol, continuously returning to the centre.

Perhaps I’ve already got one Christmas present this year: the resolve to ask for what I want, and the courage to receive what I get.

That, and pretty new dress. 😉

So tell me, what will you open your Heart to receive this Holiday season?

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Just Say the Magic Word!

One of my favourite parts of summer is going to the lake. I have a deep affinity for lakes. Being by a lake, or better yet, swimming in a lake opens my heart to the beauty and possibilities of Life like nothing else.

You’d never guess that I grew up with a fear of water that still raises its head from time to time. For one thing, I can’t stand the feeling of being underwater. And jumping off a dock (never diving head first!) is something I need to work myself up to. Yet, I do it at least once a summer, if only to remind myself that I can do it.

This fear of jumping is a pattern I see in other parts of my life. It’s also a pattern I see in my clients. It shows up as dissociation from the body. It comes up as the resistance to dive deep into her symptoms. It expresses itself when she goes off topic constantly during a session.

What if I jump and there’s no one there to catch me?

Pain comes from contraction, from resistance. The pain comes when a part of you says No.

Whereas, saying Yes opens a door.

After years of living in fear, I gradually learned the benefits of taking that leap from No to Yes. Not always graceful, sometimes I land on my ass or flat on my face. I’ve broken hearts (including my own), I’ve embarrassed myself, and I’ve failed. But through it all, I’ve learned to live life on my own terms.

When the door closed on my first marriage, it took a great deal of courage for me to walk into a void of unknown with 2 kids in tow. I should have trusted that a window would open somewhere, and I was soon exploring a path of profound self-discovery.

Two years ago, it took a leap of faith to head off to a conference without knowing anyone there.

That same year, I’d signed up for an online course for more money than I had available. The decision was based solely on the fact that I’d made a specific request of the Universe, and the program appeared out of the ether. Not only did it provide the exact tools I needed, it came with a dynamic community – its own built-in safety net.

Offering talks and online programs when the holistic health school I’d taught at for 5 years had to close its doors…just when I was hitting my stride as a teacher.

Those moments of saying Yes, and the subsequent dominoes in my life, turned out to be a wise investment in my practice, my health and my inner growth. They proved to me, yet again, that I could trust Life to bring me what I need when I need it.

My tendency, my default response is still to say No, for fear of falling, or worse, failing. With practice, I’ve learned how to trust Life to keep me safe when I say Yes. I’ve learned how to trust myself and others.

I’ve learned that when I say Yes, I fly.

What’s stopping you from leaping? What’s been you to make that first step – what kind of support do you need to do it? When you share your thoughts in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.

Know someone who could use a helping hand to make a change? Use any (or all!) of these social share buttons to let her know.