Category: Reflections

A Carlie Moment Brings Me Back to My Happiness

As some of you may know, I have once again stepped into a journey of companionship with a new puppy. The beautiful relationship I had with my last companion Marzie helps shape and make clear what I want and do not wish for in this new life with Carlie. I hope to have Carlie work together with me eventually so our training and socialization in the here and now is very important.

The other morning I took Carlie for a wonderful morning walk. Carlie already walks well with me off leash. What a gift. And yet, in a moment of enjoying a beautiful morning, I stopped to incorporate training. Using my trusted treats, I asked Carlie to ‘come.’

Carlie was enjoying what she was sniffing. Interesting information was wafting up her nose as she begins to explore the big back yard of the river flats nearby. We had just been instructed in puppy class the night before to only call once and then positively reward when they come. In that moment, however, I thought ‘she didn’t hear me’ and so I repeated myself. Immediately, I caught myself and knew she had heard me the first time. I stopped myself from repeating her name again and bent down with a tasty treat. She kept sniffing and looking around her. I waited.

As I waited the minute and a half it took her to make eye contact (which is what I was waiting for), I realized the learning moment for me. She had a choice to make. She could come to me quickly or it could take a long time for her to come. She was independent from me, even though I am responsible for her well-being and good socialization. She is not me, nor is she the source of my success or failure in this moment. Her identity and my identity are distinct from each other. Yet, I seek deep companionship with this little blessing.

I realized that in the midst of all these natural and amazing distractions, her choice to come to me is determined by the choice of treats I offer (so yes, very tasty) and second by who I am. Yes, in that moment, I realized I needed to BE someone that was very special and attractive to her regardless of her enticing surroundings. My attitude, my intention to be a positive and secure leader and companion, my energy, my heart’s openness and presence were all necessary to help Carlie make the choice that would create happiness for us both.

I also realized that I would need to create space and time for this new relationship to evolve with respect, gentle confidence and harmony (what all family members, including our cats had requested with the presence of a new puppy). My schedule, my self care needs, balance between work and life all need to be re-adjusted if I want this relationship to develop positively, increasing the moments and expansiveness of our happiness. If I do not make these adjustments, and lack the patience for her development as a separate being, we both will end up frustrated and stressed (resulting in behavioural issues). If I do not make the effort to train with respect for my boundaries and teach her healthy personal space and boundaries of her own, we could end up in power struggles with each other. I cannot imagine the stress and ‘upsetness’ that would create for each of us.

All these thoughts flashed to me in a moment and I waited with happy heart, clear of what I need to do and WHO I need to be. Carlie looked up at me and made eye contact. I was so delighted that she chose to acknowledge me and look to me for direction and connection in that moment. She came running and we celebrated together and she got her treat. Throughout the walk we practised again, only the next time I only repeated her name once.

That moment made me realize how often we drive ourselves from our own happiness simply because we are unclear about what we want, because we forget to respect our needs and/or because we step in too soon to ‘fix’ or control the outcome and get on with the moment. Too often, our sense of self and our sense of happiness is determined by the externals in our life because we are empty of the knowing and habits of what makes us happy, joyful and healthy.

This February I am offering a 2 day workshop on Cultivating a Joyful Life: Health and Vital Self Care (please see program section) and I invite you to attend and step forward in becoming the person that makes you happy and the person you respect! If you are doing and being someone who you no longer wish to be (i.e. unhappy, stressed or unhealthy), then write out a list of characteristics or traits that a well-balanced ‘being’ would be happy to be around (including you). Begin with one trait and one baby step towards developing this positive trait. It begins with one committed step forward, no matter how small it may be. If you are unsure how to find that positive baby step, then call for a soul coaching session and/or register for the workshop.

Enjoy this month of living love in your life. Do the self care that improves the quality of your happiness and be your own valentine this entire month!!

Blessed be.

©Shirley Lynn Martin, February 2012


Preparing for 2012: Alone and Hurt? or Supported for Real Change?

Have you ever had a time where you had to make a change or else a relationship, work or your health will cave in but you are too scared to get help?

Have you ever experienced a time where you knew you had to bite the bullet and ask for help but you talked yourself out of it anyway?
Asking for help is such a simple act and yet, at times has demanded such courage from me. I recently had a situation where I had to ask for help where I really had to step up to the plate to get the right people to help me. The number one fear getting in the way was what they will think of me followed closely by what will it cost.

I know these are blah blah blah stories that allow me to bail on myself and ultimately, not step outside my comfort zone. I know that if I really want to change something, I can do it regardless of what others think or say. I’ve done it. I also know I can find a way to fund it; even it takes a little longer. I’ve done it. And I also knew that if I turned away from this challenge this time, it would simply present itself again in about 2 months, just as it has before. That’s the way my soul (and yours) work. I would not be let off the hook. Like baby eagles, our inner wisdom pushes outside of our comfort zones.

So I hired the support I needed and got the assessment of all the changes that needed to happen. Okay, breathe and breathe again I told myself. As I wrote in my last reflection, change is not always easy. It means stepping outside our comfort zone to get the results we are seeking. It’s named the comfort zone for a reason. It’s comfortable there because we know the patterns and often even the results. And we know who to be in this context. With real and honest change, I have to change who I am, not only the external situation or habits that may be involved.

As we celebrate the coming holidays and open our hearts and renew our connection to Love and Joy and Peace, we also come closer to stepping into 2012. As you move through the last 3 weeks of this year and into the New Year, I invite you to reflect upon the following questions. Write out your answers only after you’ve given pause and listened to some deeper voice inside. If you want to be done with feeling alone and hurt then decide what you will do and who you will get to help you. If you want to experience the satisfaction of finally getting unstuck, of learning to say No to smoking or a ‘drama’ relationship or Yes to a job change, then consider these questions and get support to make a real change that lasts. ASK FOR HELP that can SUSTAIN the CHANGE!!!!!!!!
What were the incredible moments of 2011? The moments that were really special?

What resources do you have to continue the quality of these moments in 2012?

What did you hate about 2011? What is it that you just can’t stand anymore?

What decisions will you make for 2012 based on what you hated about 2011?

If you stay stuck in what you hate, what is the real pain you will feel? (be honest and complete in your response)

Who will care if you stay stuck? Who might you meet if you changed?

What is a specific goal you want badly enough that you are willing to ask for the right help to get the satisfaction and joy of accomplishing it?
As we move forward, know that we are all moving forward together. We can choose to move in fear or we can choose to get the support and accomplish what really matters to us, even if we do feel scared. That just means we are human. At least if we ask for help and get the support we need, we are also open to feeling joy, competent, connected and loved.
I wish you a very Happy Holiday, Joyous Moments, and Hope that has wings to take you into 2012 with optimism for something new. Be the change.
Shirley Lynn Martin

Falling into Change

Is a change happening for you that is so intensely hard, you wonder if you can even be resilient through it? Do you wish all would return to as it was? We never just change. There is a whole process to change that is necessary or we simply resist and balk, perhaps even stamp our feet and dig in our heels. Sound familiar? Of course, some things in our life, some relationships change and simply fall away like leaves do in this season.

Precontemplation is the stage of change where we have no intention to change. We may not even know where or why we need to make a change. Perhaps we don’t even recognize that one even needs to be made. Sometimes, we know change needs to occur, but it’s just off the radar because it is so low on the priority scale. Because it’s not even on the radar, there is no contemplating a change to occur in the next 6 months. This stage has an unknown length of time.

If we do not have the awareness of what we need to change and our mindset is closed to hearing from others of how our behaviours impact them, this stage of precontemplation can create huge frustration, hurt and betrayal for people around us. Especially if we never see the negative impact upon others or our environment of our relationship patterns, our habits, our behaviours of conflict or even our shadow orientations. And yet, the only way we move into contemplating change is the moment we begin to recognize that our behaviours and relationships cause us greater pain than they do pleasure. At that point, we begin to be open to letting go of that which no longer provides pleasure and we begin to contemplate change.

The paradox is that this contemplation to change can last two weeks to several years. You see, the stage of contemplation is about seriously considering that one will make changes of behaviour in the next 6 months. However, the person may not yet be convinced that change is completely necessary; that their pain is not that bad and that the pleasure of change may not be worth the pain of change they believe it would require. In fact, they may only just be aware that the pain they experience is even connected to the behaviour, so to speak. I often encounter great fear in this stage as people vacillate between awareness, denial and the realization a significant change needs to happen.

The reality is that our soul manifests changes in a timing that our egos cannot control…much to our chagrin at times. However, if we are not awake and in tune with our soul essence, we may not be aware of the flow toward change with which our soul is leading. The process of change can then feel much more abrupt and something that feels forced upon us, rather than the gentle course of contemplation and preparation before action even takes place. Not listening deeply has a huge price on our lives.

I am constantly joking with people that spiritual practices and nurturing spirituality makes sense and is a most reasonable activity in our lives. And here is another reason for doing so: we are better prepared to remain resilient, creative and patient in the process of change. Surrendering to change that our soul is manifesting is simpler and easier, though not less challenging.

At the point that we finally prepare for change – which typically can be anywhere from 2 hours to 3 months (but can last up to 6 months) – we have begun to set intentions to change behaviour in the next 6 months. We may have made some small behavioural change or may have tried over the past year and have not been successful. So while preparation for change is one step closer to the action of change, what is often challenging here is getting clear on our intention and focus for action. Our contemplation must be meaningful or we migrate back into precontemplation. Though change is not a simplistic process, constant re-migration to precontemplation and contemplation without ever getting to action is simply a waste of energy, creativity and frankly is a behavioural addiction to procrastination, excuses or a mental attachment to fear.

I’m quite amazed at how often I hear people speak about wanting to change a behaviour or complete a goal and then choose not to get the help and support they need to accomplish it. Why do we think we have to do everything ourselves? What is the issue of asking for help and getting support to change? Or all kinds of stories are created excusing them from standing up and living their destiny in a creative and loving way.

Surrounding ourselves with beneficial support and having a spiritual practice that sustains us through this time of new action can be the medium of our success or failure. Making mistakes is not a bad thing. Nor is failure. Often failure provides us with information and insight about where our strategies are not aligned with our values or about the truth of what we really, really want. The issue is, as I see it, is that we are ashamed of ourselves if we fail and so we don’t ask in case we don’t succeed. That way, no one has to know.

The other thinking process I hear is, “I’m not going to spend money on the help I need. It’s too expensive.” Usually, when I question further, money is simply a front, a smoke screen for the real issue, often one of inadequacy of some kind. The amount of struggle that can be created by these inner shadows of shame can bring about such distress in what is already a challenging task…that is, to change our behaviour!!

Finally, we take action and begin the successful altering of our behaviour or social situation. We take action and action and action and over a period of 6 months we are at a place of low risk to the old behaviour. We establish substitute behaviours that bring more health and meaning. We often begin to open up to others in a new way. We have found strategies to avoid or counter expected high risk situations. We also take pleasure in rewarding ourselves. Hmmm, maybe meaningful, contemplated change is about soaring.

The really cool knowing here is that the Universe shows up the moment we start movement toward change! Oh yes, it creates space that allows us to discover that change is an impulse we need to follow to dissipate our pain and gain the wisdom of a new way. And once we take our insight and MOVE into ACTION, the Universe shows up in every way amazing to support, encourage and fulfil our intention.

With discipline, repetition, focus and loving action, we can maintain a new behaviour simply by repeating what we did in the action phase of change. Change is. We can’t stop it. It will come. It is our attitude and meaning of change that can help us be more graceful in the midst of it. Even if we stumble through change, having a spiritual practice and an awareness of what we need to navigate our transformations, we will be graceful.

I’m curious about what change is upon you this fall. The leaves are beginning to fall. They are not resisting it. Fall season comes every year. If you imagine being a leaf on a tree right now, about to fall, what is it that needs to fall away? What do you need to let go of so you can move more freely and gracefully through change? What’s stopping you from making a change you know you need to make? Where are you in the process of change:
Integration: new behaviour is now a habit?
I know change can be very difficult. I know that as much as we want the pain to stop in our lives, being and living the change that opens the path to pleasure can seem arduous and even too fearful to contemplate. However, if you experience conflict in your intimate relationships, in your work, with your friends and it seems to be repetitive, then perhaps you may wish to contemplate change where you have denied change is necessary.

Speaking with someone you trust, inviting yourself to have a bold conversation with someone who can support you with change, seeking the empowerment and awareness of Great Spirit are just a few ways to get you changing, like a leaf gracefully falling from a tree, letting go of that which no longer serves you.
Blessed be.
©Shirley Lynn Martin

Remember to Think Like a Child and Imagine Joy Could Come to You

For this reflection, I had asked my father’s loving spirit to help me write something that we all would enjoy. Instead of a channelled message, he pointed me toward remembering how we enjoyed story time together when I was a child. He reminded me how stories can be powerful ways for our inner minds to cultivate the fruits of the spirit. I share a couple of stories with you now. One of my favourite child stories is All I See is Part of Me, by Chara M Curtis. If you need a wonderful way to heal your inner essence, this is a great book to read over and over and simply delight in remembering who you truly are! Perhaps you may wish you to remember one of your favourite childhood stories and recall the joy it invokes in your body and in your heart. Let this story help you experience this summer more joyfully.
Hunting for Smiles (these stories are written by author Pedro Pablo Sacristán)

The Princess of the fairies was ill. The doctors could not find what the problem was, but luckily two little dragons managed to find out what was wrong. The problem was that the Princess wasn’t seeing anyone smile. So the two little dragons set off around the world, trying to find some smiles. Well, they didn’t come across a single one. So off they flew, to the planets, to the stars, searching for a smile.

They travelled so far and for so long, with no success, that one of the dragons decided to head back, so he could be with the Princess when she died, which she surely would soon. But the other dragon decided to carry on, and in the very next planet he visited – a small and dark planet which was hardly visible – he found out an amazing fact: all the smiles in the Universe were right there, gathering for a party. The dragon told the smiles what the problem was, and without hesitation millions of smiles agreed to accompany him on his return home. The dragon arrived, and as soon as the Princess’s gaze fell on so many smiles, she instantly regained her health and happiness.

The first dragon, on seeing this, was immensely happy that his friend had been more persevering and patient than himself.

The Drawing that Talked
Pinty Tailor was a little boy who enjoyed going to school and doing all sorts of things, except for art and writing. Using brushes and pencils did not come easy to Pinty, so his works of art did not end happily, and he would just give up in disgust.

But one day Pinty found a pencil of such lovely colours that he could not resist, and he tried drawing a circle. As ever, it did not go well, and he was about to throw the pencil away when his drawing began to speak to him.

‘Psst! You aren’t going to leave me like this, are you? Come on, the least you can do is draw me a pair of eyes!’ said the drawing. Pinty was understandably shocked, but he managed to draw two little spots inside the circle.

‘Much better, now I can see myself,’ said the circle, looking around at itself… ‘Arghh! But what have you done to me?!’

‘I don’t draw very well,’ said Pinty, trying to make excuses.

‘OK, no problem,’ the drawing interrupted him, ‘I’m sure that if you try again you’ll do better. Go on, rub me out!’ So Pinty erased the circle and drew another one. Like the first one, it was not very round.

‘Hey! You forgot the eyes again!’

‘Oh, yeah.’

‘Hmmm, I think I’m going to have to teach you how to draw until you can do me well,’ said the circle with its quick, squeaky little voice.

To Pinty, who remained almost paralysed with shock, this did not seem like a bad idea, and he immediately found himself drawing and erasing circles. The circle would not stop saying ‘rub this out, but carefully; it hurts,’ or ‘draw me some hair, quickly, I look like a lollipop!’ and other funny remarks.

After spending nearly the whole afternoon together, Pinty could already draw the little figure much better than most of his classmates could have. He was enjoying it so much that he did not want to stop drawing with this crazy new teacher of his. Before going to bed that night, Pinty gave his new instructor a hearty thank you for having taught him how to draw so well.

‘But I didn’t do anything, silly!’ answered the little drawing, in its usual quick manner.
‘Don’t you see that you’ve been practising a lot, and enjoying it all the while? I bet that’s the first time you’ve done that!’

Pinty stopped to think. The truth was that previously, he had drawn so badly because he had never practised more than ten minutes at a time, and he had always done it angrily and grudgingly. Without doubt, what the little drawing had said was correct.
‘OK, you’re right, but thank you anyway,’ said Pinty, and before he went to bed he carefully placed the pencil in his school bag.

The next morning Pinty jumped out of bed and went running to find his pencil, but it was not there. He searched everywhere, but there was no sign of it. And the sheet of paper on which he had drawn the little figure, although still full of rubbing out marks, was completely blank. Pinty began to worry, and he did not know if he had really spent the previous afternoon talking with the little man or whether he had dreamt the whole thing.
So, to try to settle the matter, he took a pencil and some paper and tried to draw a little man.

It turned out not bad at all, except for a couple of jagged lines. He imagined his bossy little teacher telling him to round out those edges, and that it looked like he was trying to give him spots. Pinty gladly rubbed out those bits and redrew them. He realized that the crazy little teacher had been right: it made no difference whether you had the magic pencil or not; to manage to do things, you only needed to keep trying and to enjoy doing so.

From that day on, whenever Pinty tried to draw or paint, or do anything else, he always had fun imagining the result of his work protesting to him and saying ‘Come on, my friend, do me a bit better than that! I can’t go to the party looking like this!’
Find the stories that cultivate joy and make you smile.


Blessed be.

Shirley Lynn Martin


As Spring awakens and new life emerges from the ashes of Winter, I am struck by the natural surrendering activity within Nature. The natural world trusts Life. It does not seek to control it, nor does it force itself to awaken in a particular manner. I am equally struck by the sheer diversity and creativity of Nature. Though the same perennials occupy the same spot, largely, from one season to another, the flowers blossom uniquely to the season at hand without fear. I most often find my calm and joy both in Nature and in Reiki flowing through me, connecting me with the Great Divine. In this daily practice, I learn to surrender and have faith that in my ever emergent new life, Goddess wills what is sacred, joyful and benevolent for me and the greater good of which I am a part.

Still, I walk a paradox. I live in a world molested by fear and greed. In the midst of such local and global unrest, turmoil and chaos, fear can spread like fire, gaining tornado-like speed that in a moment can rock our confidence and decimate our ability to walk dignified as glorious human beings. When fear grips our hearts, minds and bodies, the power of our spiritual faith can restore neural-hormonal balance so we can think with reason and trust. The power of our spiritual faith reminds us that we can believe in the goodness and benevolence of God, Ultimate Reality, Great Mystery, Source of Being and that this Divine Activity seeks only compassionate and truth-filled outcomes, even when we can’t see them.

I have observed over many years how fear-thinking rears itself in my heart and in the heart, mind and body of others. Although I still can succumb to its deceptive rationales and judgements of life, I have learned to more quickly become aware of its insidious consciousness and step back into a place of breath and Great Love so I can remind myself of a greater creativity and Holy Will working itself out in Nature and in the true nature of humanity.

Fear consciousness functions mindlessly, deceitfully and impulsively. When we join this fear and live in its consciousness, we become the fuel that feed its growth and its “machine-like” world view. I’m not talking here about having fearful thoughts that flit through and make us realize that we need more information or need to educate ourselves to gain a more comprehensive picture. I’m talking about the fear fiend that makes itself home within our hearts and depletes our inner light from living creatively and compassionately, seeking the greater good for all. Chronic fear shrinks our sense of self and deteriorates our confidence to make a difference in the world and be engaged with it joyfully.

This entity of fear becomes greedier, disrespectful and mindless the bigger it gets. Its level of consciousness is polarized and legalistic and extremist. The bigger it grows it becomes doom-oriented. It seeks to control and grab, shrink, force, eat up and spit out as though no human or environmental dignity is of value. This kind of fear entity flat-lines our compassion and we start to only think about our poverty, irrespective of the abundance of resources in the world and our ability to create sustainable engagement in the marketplace.

Spiritual fith is to have faith in the Divine working positively and for the greater good of all things. It is truth beyond knowledge. In my Peace Building Conversation course, I state that we must have a daily spiritual practice that feeds and sustains us, that matures and transforms us. The power of spiritual faith matures as we practice and strengthen our belief and connection in the Love, Compassion and Benevolence of Great Mystery that is the Source of all Living Creation.

For me, my spiritual faith leads me because it walks both ahead of me and beside me. My spiritual faith asks me to suspend my self-conscious – “who am I to know this” and to suspend my fear thinking. Most often my spiritual faith grounds me in my belief and soul confidence that good and positive outcomes will manifest for me and the world, even if I can’t see it, nor imagine it in this moment. It isn’t that I never feel fear. That can be a daily event. But it doesn’t last anymore because when I ground in my spiritual faith, which I nurture daily, my faith vanishes my fear.

Eleven years ago, when I left my job to start my own business, I had one client. Now I wouldn’t suggest people go out and do what I did. There were other extenuating circumstances involved. Nevertheless, what I did have which was far more comprehensive than any 20 clients and an over-booked schedule, was faith in God’s vision for my life. It was my number one business plan. It was not blind optimism, nor new age reductionism that I could manifest 20 clients in a few days if I wanted without needing to know anything about sustaining a business.

Just as the mind is more powerful than the body, the Spirit is more powerful than the mind. My decision to start my own business was reasonable and yet my spiritual faith transcended my fear and asked me to begin with one client and to trust deeply that a Higher Purpose was positively working itself out in a good and abundant way. My spiritual faith called me to walk an unknown path and to build great courage and endure the initiations of true wisdom. My spirit’s faith knew what I needed to reclaim my soul’s (and body’s) health and a new vision for my life. Walking this unknown path and trusting that all would turn out generously was like jumping off the cliff and believing I would grow wings. I GREW WINGS. Since my first life vision went belly up, growing wings again was a huge act of faith and Divine Love.

Over the years, my spiritual faith continues to guide the activities of my business development, my marketing strategies, my networking, my programs and all the administration entailed. My faith grounds me every time I have to readjust or tweak my business mission where I worry about the sustainability of my work in the midst of the entire world’s economic and social crisis. It returns me to my inner peace.

More than ever, people are being awakened and called back to the basics of responsible living, values-based boundaries, skills to manage conflict in everyday relationships and a spiritual practice to make life and body healthy, peaceful and balanced. I am confident that people need skills to return to peace. I now have a maturing faith in God making my business work as is Divinely intended. Daily, I witness that which lives within the earth and all humanity surrender to the Great Transformation sweeping our earth.

If your faith is in your fear, in your ego, or in the institutions that grow your money, then beware of great distress and illness of your heart, mind and body. It is not only reasonable and practical to nurture your spiritual faith, to mature it. It is joy-filled and a living miracle because it has the power to vanquish your fear. Have spiritual faith. Grow it. Nurture it. Nourish it. Mature it. Then, experience new and abundant life and true freedom.
©Shirley Lynn Martin

Four Standards of Self Respect

Think about someone whom you respect with everything in your heart, almost whom you radically respect. Reflect upon their actions, their values, the way they care for others and themselves, the choices they make and the manner in which they communicate with others. What do you notice? What stands out for you about the way in which they embody self respect that ‘demands’ you respect them?

A key destroyer to self respect is a lack of personal boundaries and standards. Personal boundaries and standards, when effective, communicates, among other things, to others how we wish to be treated, who we are and the responsibility we take for our lives. Over the past 20 years of working with people, I have heard hundreds of stories of wounds and hurt that people carry in which their core sense of dignity and respect have been compromised, violated or disregarded.

Clearly, when children are abused, neglected and repeatedly traumatized by the lives of shame and abuse from their parents, guardians and trusted elders, learning the standards and practices of self-respect is negligible and non-existent. Like cancer, if these same children grow up and don’t get the healing they require, they may spread this shame of disrespect and abuse to others, only now it begins to multiply. Other times, there are those who have become so accustomed to low self-esteem, they simply fall into patterns of weak boundaries that end up sabotaging the very goals they are working so hard to accomplish. Developing self respect is a key healing balm to transmute our shame and low self worth.

Spiritually, self-respect is necessary to experience our inner potential and to fulfill our purpose or deep meaning in life. To contribute to the betterment of our world and to restore wholeness to our planet, we need to begin to grow our self respect. Here are four key standards of self respect which authenticate your life and strengthen your spirituality.

1. Value and Honour yourself

Although we know we need to value and honour our needs, our dreams and our goals if we are to respect ourselves, actually following through as though we are required by a Divine standard for ourselves is a choice we often justify away. To deeply value myself, my proper nutrition, my body health, my mind’s well-being and my spirit’s nourishing would be as fundamental to me as putting gas in the car to make sure I could get from point A to B. And yet, how often does the gas in the car get first priority? Valuing and honouring ourselves means that we need to treat our whole selves, our inner core with dignity, a key standard of respect. On a scale of 1-10, where do you put yourself? Where would you like to be and what do you need to transform to respect yourself as you would like?

2. Be Honest and Live your Principles

Many of us deeply value honesty, and trust those who are truthful. What I am often struck with, however, is what it means to be honest and truthful with myself. If I am only aware of my ego understanding of life, then I cannot be honest. I will be untruthful, no matter how hard I attempt to behave honestly. To be honest and truthful means I need to be connected, aware and growing in the presence and light of my soul, my inner deepest heart/mind. The challenge to be truthful is not just about what we say. Rather, and more importantly, being honest requires that our words, our actions, our intentions, our energy and our spiritual being flow with integration and coherence. This process is a daily commitment to oneself and to the principles we live by regardless of what life presents us.

Seeking to become more soulfully honest naturally and eloquently raises our standard of self respect. What new question can you pose to yourself that would forward your truth from within your inner being?

3. Trust your Inner Wisdom

We all have deep knowledge and gut instincts about what is good and beneficial for us. We have been trained to ignore these signals, body cues and insights and instead, to give credibility and authority to our thinking rationales. Of course, I believe reason and insight or intuition both can harmoniously work together for our greater good. However, they are to be in balance and work as a dialectic tension with one another. We frame our lives and our thinking in binary, dualistic fashion so often that we neglect our own inner wisdom to guiding us forward.

Our bodies are a powerful communicator about what is beneficial and what is destructive for us. And yet, because we have weak standards of self valuing and honouring, we miss the key signals that point us to our truth, our wisdom and the way forward in our lives. Without trusting our inner wisdom, our standard of respect will rarely mature and support us in the difficult moments of our lives and relationships.

What is the insight you have been disregarding and rationalizing away, that if you listened would provide the breakthrough you are seeking?

4. Act with Courage to Change

Here we encounter the stumbling blocks of most stumbling blocks—the courage to change. To claim our courage is to seek our unknown potential. Respect truly builds and grounds within us when we take action toward our potential, and that means we must be aligned with and open to Spirit. Potential is a Higher Power when we choose potential that promotes our joy, peace and goodwill to all sentient beings.

The Chinese character ‘chaos’ is depicted as a new plant breaking the ground and is translated “where dreams begin.” In other words, the beginning is often difficult and requires us to change our habits and mindsets and perhaps even release old relationships and seek new ones. Such changes create fear in us so intense sometimes that we cannot see the success of the positive results and we turn back to where we came or become frozen in a sense of failure. The courage to change brings into focus the other 3 standards and as a coherent set of standards has the power to transform the very essence of our joy and the path we walk to manifest it. Deep self respect demands our courage to act.

What metaphor of SELF RESPECT can your Inner Wisdom create that is so powerful, strong and wise, you literally change a weak and destructive pattern in your life and relationships?

If self respect is an area you would like to improve, consider studying with me and learning about boundaries, peace-building conversations or about deep love in any of my workshops. I would love to study it with you and facilitate a powerful opportunity for you to transform your present relationships.

click here to see workshop schedule
©Shirley Lynn Martin

Practical Grace: Walking Forward into 2010

Imagine a mother hearing her newborn baby making googling noises for the first time while she was across the room attending to another task. Now imagine her deciding to go to this infant and share with this infant her deep and profound love for this child in this incredible moment. However, instead of moving toward the child face first and in a forward motion, she backed toward the child fearing that what she was hearing was not real or that the googling would stop by the time she got there.


Imagine a father coaching his son or daughter to play a musical instrument from a perspective of his own musical failures, relegating his successes as inconsequential and irrelevant to the coaching of this child here and now.

These might seem like rather ridiculous scenarios and yet how often do we back into our future, fearing the worst outcome. How often do we grasp only to the LEAST of what we did instead of the MOST of what we did or the MOST of who we are? Our internal models of the way we perceive and take action in the world often determine the kind of world we either create and/or experience.

At the beginning of this year, we talked about it being an 11 year and what that meant (see archives to gain a point of reference). Throughout the year we kept the question in front of us about which path are we choosing, that of our true nature and our joy and peace or the status quo and habitual path that leads to our depletion, illness and overall stagnation in mind, body and spirit. These latter states of being create anger, frustration, depression, fear-mongering, pain and suffering and unresolvable grief.

I find it fascinating that after such a year of choice of what path you decided to take and live, this next year in 2010 is a 3 in numerology. For me, the energy or DIVINE INTENTION of 3 is all about sunshine, creativity, motivation and when at its best the inspiration to express and communicate yourself more expansively and joyfully.

What does this have to do with how we approach 2010? If the Universal energies are bringing us the vibrations of all that the energy of 3 represents and we walk toward this year backing in or only focusing on the past failures, we will miss the opportunity to truly experience the gift of this energy or perhaps Divine Intention for our hearts in this year.

If we return to the earlier scenarios, the baby would see and experience the mother’s joy and the bond and internal mechanism of self worth and confidence would be fed in the infant and the joy in the mother’s heart be exponentially intensified. The father would gratefully and joyfully share the beauty of the music when he was at his best, making it possible for his child to discover the art and power of music as well. These are the most powerful moments of self-expression that transform ourselves and those with whom we are in relationship or communication.

Practical Grace means that we walk forward in our lives, LOVINGLY! It means we release the fears so that Grace can break into our awareness and offer us a perspective that allows us to experience and find the sunshine. Perhaps we have not been able to walk into our future lovingly because we haven’t known the skills of self-expression and communication that lead to joyful and peaceful or outcomes that resolve conflict, that further our goals, that forgive wrongs and right relationships and that deepen our intimacy with ourselves and God/Goddess/Sacred.

As you move toward 2010, turn to FACE it if you haven’t already. Then look at what skills and goals you have that affirm and support this new path of truth you have chosen this year. What resources do you have to take with you into 2010 to get the most benefit out of all that this year of sunshine, motivation and self-expression and communication energy offers? If you back into 2010, you will struggle because your vision is skewed, invisible and psychologically unattainable. For you will in essence be facing 2009 or earlier. We won’t be there. It’s now closing. Turn around. Shift your perspective. Change your consciousness and get going toward that which sustains your happiness and health and inner peace. Communicate your vision somehow and find an extraordinary way to begin the path to express your TRUE SELF with the most sunshine you can!

Marzie and I want to wish you an extraordinary season of love, light and charity for all your family, friends and community. For many we know your family and community extends globally and so our blessing reaches out that deep as well.

Love and sunshine blessings!!
©Shirley Lynn Martin

On the Cusp of Creative Loving

Are you noticing that we are coming to a close of another decade? For some of you, when we talk about the 60’s, you have clear memories and images and themes that cross your mind such as peace symbols, flower children, the Beatles, a revolution against institutions of the 50’s and prior. Likewise for the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, each of these decades has had a specific theme paralleled with major global events that shaped the psyche of a generation. Whether these narratives are all good or not, whether we like it or not, these decades of social narratives simply have occurred and shape how we love one another.

From 2000-2010, major global events have occurred alongside significant social phenomena that have again fashioned another generation and required deeper commitments of the adults in this world to awaken and return to the language of love and spirit. Personally over this past decade, I explored the themes of love and peace—though these themes seem to be recurring themes that I simply explore, study and practice with ever greater knowledge, expression and ethical mandates for my life and relationships.

In my Soul Coaching seminar, we explore the connection between love and spirit and go through exercises that reveal how we use language to enhance and enrich our experience or constrict, restrict and perhaps even impoverish our life and love.

Think about the word love for a moment. Is it a verb or a noun to you? What does it mean? Imply? Connote? Now explore these questions emotionally and what else do you become aware of about your meaning when dipping into the emotional plane of your love? In the emotional reality of your life, can love be trusted? Does your love offer you and others self-respect and gracious kindness? Does love accept who you are as you are or do you have to live in a state of denial to remain ‘okay’ with the status quo? Is there pleasure for you in your meaning and language of love?

People often say to me several things about love. The word is over used and has lost its meaning or it doesn’t capture their true sentiments in their heart. Another key theme I hear is that love hurts and abandons. When I ask them what other word captures what they mean and would express what they experience in their heart, they often don’t know.

How is it that such a core need that determines ultimately our life and death, whether physically or psychologically and even spiritually can be viewed so narrowly and with such limiting language? For almost two decades, I have been studying the meaning of Grace as a language of love and have come to the experience (not just a conceptual understanding) that Grace is the gift of being embraced as the Divine’s Beloved just because I am and I accept the gift!

We must enrich the language of love if we are to ever begin to build the peace we desire in our conversations and relationships with ourselves, with others, with Nature, with the world and most surely with the SACRED ALL. Let’s consider for a moment, what this reflection might read like if we replaced the word ‘love’ with ‘deeply cherish’ each time. What would start to happen in your heart, in your imagination, in your beliefs if you begin to creatively expand your language of love? What would you ‘intimately appreciate’ about your partner? What would you ‘kindly delight’ in with your children, grandchildren or furry companions? Who would you need to forgive if you begin to ‘exquisitely accept’ yourself? Who would you stop blaming for your unhappiness if you extended soulful compassion to yourself?

As you consider this decade we are finishing, think about the language of love you have been using in autopilot. See if this language of love you are using is healing, awakening, creative or even compassionate with yourself and others. Notice how your autopilot hidden meanings of love affect the relaxation or tension in your body. What is the best of this language of love in this decade that you wish to carry forward with you into this New Year and NEXT DECADE?

When you know what you want to carry forward with you in the next decade, look ahead into the next decade, starting with this next year and ask yourself, “what new language of love would I like to begin to explore in concept, in experience, in feeling, in action and in my ethical mandate for my life and relationships?” We are on the cusp of a whole new decade. Consciously choose to deeply love in this next decade. Consciously choose to richly cherish, to compassionately treasure and to offer sacred worthiness to yourself and all sentient beings. We are the leaders. We must stand up and love more deeply to bring harmony and peace in our families, communities and the world in which we live. If you want to nurture this kind of love and learn skills, practices and develop ways of being in this kind of deep love and peace, consider one of the many courses in these areas I offer. Blessed be.

We here at Feathers, Rainbows & Roses would like to gift each of you with a symbol of a rich and deep and sacred love that forever reminds you are cherished in the eyes of the Divine way beyond your wildest imagination. We gift you the symbol of a purple rose!

Happy Holidays and a Blessed New Year!

©Shirley Lynn Martin

The Legacy of Marzie: The Simplicity of Creating New Perspective

I have a stone in the shape of a heart on Marzie’s grave that reads, “It takes a long time to grow an old friend.” And she is that still! She continues to come on walks with me, snuggle by my side at times when she knows a good dog’s heart is just what I need. And daily she reminds me to eat healthy and really enjoy my food. Her tasty home cooked food and liver treats were one of those most precious realities of Earth that she relished.

What I find comforting on our walks is that her spirit’s behaviour is quite consistent with who she was. That is, she didn’t want to be squished into any one, small label about who she was. Some days she was a healer and coach and other days, she was a hunter and runner. Other days, especially on windy, rainy days, she could become a very indoor dog, who preferred the comforts of her bed. And in these moments of who she was, she comforted me, she loved me and so she CHALLENGED ME!

Marzie has this coyote spirit about her—the trickster. When I was stuck in my behaviours of heart brokenness, she would inevitably run ahead on a walk, then run back, whirl this way and that way, dodge and bounce, so that my mind could no longer follow its own path. She had successfully interrupted my thinking pattern enough that she could invite me into new behaviour which she thought would bring true relief and restore trust.

And that’s all it took. Interruption of my thinking and engaging in a different, more positive behaviour!

My spiritual mentor recently told me that spirituality is never truly authentic unless it fundamentally increases and strengthens one’s love and trust. Marzie challenged me daily to increase my love and trust with myself, with Goddess/Holy Spirit/The Beloved Universe and with the true heart of humanity.

She was keenly aware of energy that was negative, chaotic, toxic and angry. She didn’t want to stay in these environments and would respectfully signal that it was time to go. I believe Marzie knew that her time on Earth was relatively brief. In her wisdom, she made certain we remained in a flow of life where she could stay focused in the behaviours that supported her inner joy and brought healing to those she touched.

Sometimes controlling our thinking seems incredibly difficult and we can end up with inertia of a most depressing kind. We become paralyzed from action or defer to the most habitual habit, even if destructive and boring. Marzie disliked boring walks. Walks were meant to be an adventure. Rarely did we go the same way twice in one day. Rarely, did we even have the same purpose for going on a walk if I was really aware of her presence, connecting with beloved partnership.

Marzie liked adventure and knew the behaviours that created adventure on a walk. She was intentional and trusting that Goddess loved her. When I got on a thought pattern that reflected unhelpful sadness or distrust, she would mirror my behaviour derived from my unenthusiastic thinking until I noticed what she was doing. ‘See’, she would say, ‘this is what you look like to me, you mood spoiler. I’m bored of it. Can we find something to do to change our heart’s way to love and trust.’

Marzie would say that thoughts are like cars on a highway, so many, so different, some the same, but are of different colours, some big, some small, some loud and some very quiet. Yet they all are intended to transport us safely and proficiently from point A to B and for Marzie, to an enjoyable place. She disliked car rides that had no ecological value to them and would clearly let me know when we had been in the car too long or too often. Such slothful use of our car was contrary to our mission in life and she clearly let me know.

Typically, all these thoughts drive through our mind with amazing speed. What she liked, however, is when I rolled down the windows so she could sniff and we took the interesting roads. Of course she noted the many other cars on the highway. However, we weren’t driving those cars. We had my corolla which had her blanket, her seat in the back, treats on the floor, music we enjoyed together and windows that regularly had nose prints on them.

The car we had and the way we rode the car came about because of the behaviours and attitudes to which we both were committed to enhance the quality of our lives. In other words, as much as our thinking influenced our lives, what became more evident for me through Marzie, is that it is our behaviour and attitudes that mattered most. When I behaved kind and loving; when I behaved in trusting and peaceful ways, when I behaved focused and habitually positive ways, then my mind changed and life seemed a blessing.

I discovered that she liked when I communicated with her through wonderful and joyful pictures best. And I realized that pictures are more than thoughts and those wonderful pictures we have, inspire us, just as they did with her. She understood pictures and she could engage in conversation with me about the meaning of them. She had her knowing about how to bring them into living reality which was equally valid and masterful as my own knowing. And so our hearts would work toward harmony of creating meaningful reality from these pictures together. I have come to realize that is what I need to feed my subconscious as well– meaningful, amazing, life-giving pictures and great movies.

Such pictures too invite me into new behaviours and attitudes that change my mind. I still talk with Marzie, and my father, about my pictures and movies. They lovingly and wisely (and with wistful coyote medicine) keep changing my perspectives through calling me into daily, focused action toward my mission and purpose. Nothing grandeur. Nothing falsely magical. Just focused and daily behaviour that reflect the perspectives of the mission and purpose I hold in my heart.

©Shirley Lynn Martin


Click here to read Tribute to Marzie

Grief and Abundance: Two Sides of the Same Coin

As many of you know, my dear companion, business partner and beloved comedian Marzie, my dog of many years, died recently due to an aggressive form of cancer. She had let me know she didn’t want any form of treatment to cure it. It would simply be her time to go when the tumour would bleed out. She did agree with me to benefit by the healing medicines of Chinese medicine, reiki healing, homeopathic remedies, osteopathic and tonal chiropractic to keep her health and immune system as healthy as possible in light of the stress on the body this cancer could take. At the same time, she and I began the journey of healing any karma or wounds that may have been part of our relationship or anything else and/or have existed from other times and places. The psychological and spiritual wounds quickly healed as we changed our lifestyle and our way of service that better reflected the joys and inner needs of our spirit.

With the support of these medicines and her retirement from Feathers, Rainbows & Roses, her health improved and she became a very energetic, happy and “live fully in the moment”, precious heart for another 6 months. We walked together daily, often with my sister and Marzie’s soul friend Chelsea (rottie dog), with purpose and complete awareness of our special time we had. We ‘talked’ a lot about her love for me and my love for her. We had two amazing mini vacations where she and I and my friends, both canine and human, played in the bush and along Lake Ontario and relaxed well with great food, warmth and good sleeps. Marzie and I took the time to enjoy each other and we became deeply attuned to one another in our hearts. Such opportunities are the graces of abundance where love nurtures itself even more completely.

Her death and transition into Spirit were filled with miracles and moments of laughter. I told child clients who asked about her that she was an angel now and that whenever they needed her, they simply needed to open their hearts and ask her to help them or be with them and she would be there. And she is. She always loved children. Another act of true abundant love. She loved big people and helped them remember the abundance of love in the simple faith found in the true heart of a child.

So why are we then left with the sadness of grief in what may equally be happy transitions? Marzie’s death was a happy occasion for her. I felt the sheer joy, pleasure and freedom of her spirit in the next realms. Grief, like abundance is simply a natural part of life. Perhaps in our modern ways of thinking and new scientific, metaphysical discoveries, we are yet again trying to eliminate the natural human response to loss and transition. Grief does not necessarily mean we are suffering, but it does require the presence of our hearts, bodies and souls to acknowledge the release of that which we love and had deep and profound meaning for us, whether in death or in the diverse transitions we all encounter in our lives. In the system of Chinese medicine, grief is understood to be ever present in some form or another in our lives. With that acknowledgement this medicine says, we must keep our bodies, lives and minds in balance and nurtured with other natural expressions of joy and abundance that equally and perhaps paradoxically, are apart of our existence. We cannot escape grief because we fear it, deny it or wish it didn’t exist. Nor are we to render it our complete ‘god’ by holding fast to it in the face of abundance that shows up at the same time as does grief. So why are we then left with the sadness of grief in what may equally be happy transitions

I am aware that in the midst of my grief of lost loving, partnership, spring is coming to life with all the buds and flowers, wild and domestic, beginning to bloom. I am aware of how Nature and the return of the birds are singing the songs of spring. I am aware of the furry friends in my life that yet remain and who continue to share their love and wonderful characters with me. I am aware of the abundant notes, well-wishes and gifts that people have sent me in this time of re-organization of my life. They have genuinely and without hesitation shared their love with me and for Marzie. I relish in the delights of newborn children coming into the world that also has occurred over the past weeks.

Life flows on and on. In grief, we may join the flow more slowly, but the flow of life continues. Abundance simply keeps the flow of life active and engaged. Where life ends another begins. It is not our task to eliminate grief to only experience abundance. Grief and abundance are two sides of the same coin. Embracing them both and allowing them to shape who we become and increase our joy and love for one another is the task of being human. Abundance means that even in my grief, or your grief, we will be taken care of and loved. There is just that much love and compassion and nurturing available to us in this human experience. Holy Love does not forget us. Human beings can often forget each other, forget ourselves and everything around us, leaving us empty of the compassion, nurturing and deep company which we most need and desire.

Keeping our hearts open in the midst of grief requires not just our own spiritual discipline, but requires the presence of a loving and caring community. We heal grief in community, I believe, because we loose and release the profound connection in the midst of community. A loss of one person, or pet or identity, or job, or home, a loss of a person, a marriage….etc. affects more than one person. Such loss has an organic, ripple effect. Healing grief thus needs the loving, caring heart of the community to heal. I believe the Divine orchestrated such wisdom so that in this communal caring and love, we remember the Abundance of Life that permeates all existence.

Abundance means there is always new life. Always. The rain always comes. The sun always rises the next day. Grace is ever present. The mercies of the Divine are equal and more than the grief that is given. We are asked to trust that faith so we can share that faith and share the bounties of our planet and the relationships we hold dear.

©Shirley Lynn Martin