Category: 2014

Creating Peaceful Relationships: Listening to Christmas

Creating peaceful relationships has been our theme and focus for this past year. Having a spiritual theme or focus helps to light the path, making it clearer and a calm place to be. When I wander off course, as is the case at times, having a theme or focus has the power to gently bring me back on course, keeping me grounded and centred.

This theme has invited me to deeply consider those relationships or relationship dynamics that are no longer healthy for me and contribute to loss of self worth, loss of empowerment, loss of inner will for what I want my life to be about, and loss of vital life force power at the core.

path2It has also been a year of discerning and anchoring in those relationship dynamics and patterns that promote health and well-being, those which increase self worth and self regard and indeed encourage potential and passion. The path has not always been completely visible to me or to my clients, but the theme and the habit of deep, meditative listening to my heart and to Spirit provided the way forward, and more specifically the way upward!

At last week’s Reiki practice night we took time to share stories of relationships lost or transitioned in 2014. We offered ourselves the gift of community Reiki meditation to heal and where needed, to release this grief and whatever other feelings entangled with the grief. We then moved into a Universal Peace and Light Meditation. What a beautiful way to enter into the Holiday season. By acknowledging and providing a contained and healing space to my grief and other deep emotions, they do not need to bleed into my sense of joy and blessing that may have occurred in the hidden shadows of my celebrations.

So now I have the opportunity to listen to Christmas … not the busyness or to-do lists, not the Christmas songs blasting from the radio or ads telling me what I need to be happy this Christmas, but to Christmas itself. And when I listened this year, quietly, serenely and with open heart, I heard about Love.

I heard of the Love that sustains all things in all life when we open our hearts to this GREAT LOVE. I even felt this LOVE as the foundation of my own soul. And in the moment of deep listening to Christmas, I had faith that “I am okay” in this LOVE.

I heard that LOVE gives. I heard that LOVE receives graciously, with gratitude. I heard that LOVE is EVER-PRESENT. And in that felt experience of LOVE in my heart, I knew that all that I heard in listening to Christmas was true, deeply and completely true. I just need to keep my heart and mind open to it.

As 2015 approaches, we are taking this theme of creating peaceful relationships and expanding it into Wisdom’s Way to Peaceful Relating. We will be exploring our on-going openness and relating to LOVE. I am excited to see where this theme leads us. Join me on this magical ride into and throughout 2015.

peace-love-and-joyAnd until then, I want to deeply thank you for your participation, your commitment, your love and faith in our work together of creating new kinds of relationships – to foster peace and compassion in our wounded world and relationships.

May each of you, your family members (4-legged and winged ones included) and the Earth be blessed with moments of LOVE and your own rich Holiday message when you take a few moments to listen to Christmas with heart.

In peace, love and gratitude,
Shirley Lynn

Listening to Christmas

Have you ever heard snow?

Not the howling wind of a blizzard,

not the crackling of snow underfoot,

but the actual falling of snow?

We heard it one night in Wisconsin

quite unexpectedly

while walking up a hill

toward our cabin in the woods,

a soft whisper between footsteps.

We stopped, switched off our flashlights,

and just listened.

All around us in the darkness

we heard the gentle fall

of snow on snow.

No wind, no sound

but the snow.

Have you ever heard Christmas?

Not the traffic noises in the city,

not the bells and hymns and carols,

beautiful as they are,

not even the laughter of your children

as they open their presents–

but Christmas itself?

Have you been by yourself

and just sat and listened to the silence within,

patiently, without letting the mind

race to the next Christmas chore?

Perhaps if you have,

you felt the pulse of all humanity

beating in your own heart.

Perhaps you noticed

an outflowing of love

for all your brothers and sisters

on the earth,

a soft sense of Oneness

with all that lives.

In the silence of a snowy night,

listen intently, holding your breath,

and you may hear snow on snow.

Serene, alone,

undisturbed by thought,

listen to the silence in your heart,

and you may hear Christmas.

Copyright © 1994 by Alan Harris. All rights reserved

Off the Wall and Loving it

Yesterday afternoon at a training class with Carlie, I became aware of the freedom of being able to work with Carlie off tether.

Novice dog on tetherWhen she was still a puppy, learning in a big room with other dogs, Carlie first remained tethered to a wall while training. This afforded each of us a safe space to work, teach and train on our own goals without other dogs or people coming into our space and causing a sort of potential conflict. When dogs are first learning skills and behaviours in the method I’ve been learning and teaching, the dogs choose to learn the behaviours through positive reinforcement. What they learn as a result of this process is emotional self control as well as an awareness that they participate in manifesting what they want and need in partnership with their person.

Carlie and Shirley in trainingAs Carlie developed maturity, reliability and a sense of responsibility, we progressed in learning and practising more advanced skills and behaviours. We also set our sights on ‘getting off the wall’, or working un-tethered.

Carlie is three now (already, I know!) and we work, not only off tether – we work off leash. I trust her to stay with me and ‘work’, to not go visiting and bothering other partners who are also training. Yesterday in class, she modelled for a young six month old puppy how to start a class in a down-stay off tether, but with leash on. For Carlie, that is old stuff. But for this novice dog, it was a big deal. Carlie already knows that if she goes ‘wandering’, and doesn’t respect other people’s and dog’s space, she will get tethered – if she acts like an adolescent, she will get treated like one. Not favouring this loss of freedom (responsibility), she quickly returns to respecting the boundaries of our own work space. Rarely, do I need to reinforce this line between freedom and responsibility. We are able to work at quite a distance from each other and complete rather complex sequences of behaviours. It’s a joy we both share.

On our drive home from class I was reflecting upon my personal vision for 2015. I realized that there are some limiting patterns and dynamics that I need to be free of, so I can move forward more effectively and smoothly toward my dreams and goals. I found myself saying that I need to be un-tethered!

To be tethered is not a bad thing starting out. Sometimes it may even help us to stay focused and centred on the tasks and skills we need to learn – basic life skills or emotional self control, for example. Without these foundational life skills and without any sense of self control, being given all the freedom in the world in all likelihood will set us up for failure and inability to cope with life now.

Carlie and Shirley at TreibballHowever, those youthful tethers have served their purpose and we need to release them as adults. We need to trust we have the skills and the emotional self control to be responsible with our freedom to learn, grow and be successful. We may still need a guide to show us all that we can be and do in our freedom. We may still need to be reminded that if we forgo self control of an adult and throw a temper tantrum or whine or play victim to life, we may just find ourselves back ‘on the wall’.

With freedom comes responsibility. To benefit best by freedom, we need to have a vision of who we want to become, how we want to show up in relationships, what we want to enjoy, how we want to express our passion and compassion, and how we want to contribute toward a meaningful life.

As you bring closure to 2014, what dynamics or patterns need to be un-tethered so you can move ‘off the wall’ and more freely expand, grow and realize a greater potential in you?

Freedom to be and grow into your most Natural Self, talent and purpose is an amazing and simple expression of the heart. Yet, it requires a great responsibility to listen, to respect one’s own space and that of others, to honour the partnerships with which you have committed yourself and to keep learning and growing into your potential … your best self!

I invite you to get un-tethered and start visioning for 2015! Prepare yourself to live your life ‘off the wall’. Need help? Call or email me to set up a time to move beyond the limitations of long ago. I’d love to partner with you and go the distance!

Now is a great time to get started. Take advantage of my First Year Anniversary Promotion. Meet with me before the end of December 2014 and receive a 15% discount on your next appointment in January 2015.

Don’t let winter woes keep you tethered. Ask about long-distance energy therapy and phone sessions as alternatives to in-office visits. Live your life ‘off the wall’!


Shirley Lynn

Celebration Time! Announcing my First Year Anniversary Promotion

What is better than this? Announcing my First Year Anniversary Promotion

731I have truly enjoyed and been grateful for my decision one year ago to move my office to the Elmira Wellness Centre. Even though it was a stressful time for me, this new space has generated new energy and vision for me and my business.

I have come to realize that my core mission is to facilitate clients in creating and nurturing peaceful relationships – with themselves as well as with others in their lives. This theme of peaceful relationships reaches into so many facets of our lives – how we relate with ourselves (physical, spiritual, emotional health), our relations with others (family, friends, animals/pets, co-workers, neighbours, etc.), our relations with Nature, to name but a few.

When we view our world through the lens of relationships, questions invariably arise about where and how we fit in, where we belong. As we examine these questions, we often realize that where and who we are now isn’t necessarily our true and highest self. Change and growth are in the making.

As the New Year approaches, it seems fitting to reflect on What is better than this? As I strive for more peaceful relationships in my life, what sense of belonging and connection can I create or accept which is better than this?

If you are ready to contemplate and work with these questions in the presence of sacred witnessing, I invite you to set up an appointment with me today. Let’s sort out what needs to be released from your life and courageously seek out what is better for you now and into the new year.

To get you moving toward what is better for you, I invite you to take advantage of my First Year Anniversary Promotion. Meet with me before December 23rd 2014 and receive a 15% discount on your next appointment in January 2015.

Concerned about the winter weather? Ask me about long-distance energy therapy and phone sessions as alternatives to in-office visits. What is better than this?


Shirley Lynn

Celebrating One Year Later…

As I was doing sorting and clearing work, I came across this blog from last November 24th, exactly one year ago. It struck me that it is still applicable so I thought I would share it again!

What Can Be Better Than This? The Path of Releasing

As many of you know, I have recently moved from the office that I’ve been in for the past 7 years. It was a good space and afforded me and my clients some really good things and powerful moments. I enjoyed the park across the road where Carlie and I could go for a walk at lunch or eat our lunch in the park, lounging under a shade tree to re-group and ground before the afternoon revealed itself. So when I got the letter of termination of my lease, I had an initial breath of ‘oh my goodness’ – followed by an affirming prayer that something better will come in its place. During the month of October, I often questioned ‘what can be better than this’?

As I searched for a new office, I realized I needed to practise the path of releasing. Although I truly and deeply enjoyed where I was, I had to let it go to experience something more. Sometimes life calls us to release what we love in order to experience more of what we love. It’s a strange paradox which reminds us that the Universe is an abundant expression of Love, Joy and Peace, but to stay in the flow of these gifts, we need to let go of what we love to remain in the flow of Divine Love and Peace.

This paradox opens us to both the grief and the joy of what life unfolds. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, grief is a fundamental or core emotion in the cycle of life. We will never escape it. However, we can develop good skills in allowing grief to ‘pass through us’, rather than getting stuck in its hold of our hearts. Once I acknowledged my grief in moving from my old, comfortable and familiar office, I could more joyfully move forward, trusting that somehow something better would continue to manifest in the potential of my vision.

What Can Be Better Than This? This question came to me from a good friend and I have often asked it when faced with these kinds of moments in my life or when I am seeking new potential to unfold and I am asking for change.

As this year begins to wane and the winter solstice rises in our consciousness, I invite you to reflect on what you need to release. Is there something you totally enjoy and perhaps even love, but need to let go so you can move toward what fits your greater potential. It’s not always about releasing what you don’t want anymore; rather it’s releasing what no longer serves. Sometimes we may not recognize that something no longer serves us because we still are enjoying it.

731What Can Be Better Than This? After much consideration and shopping around in the limited time I had, I chose a new office space in downtown Elmira. This new office space in the Elmira Wellness Centre (the old Clock Tower building) holds a most lovely and inviting feel.

One year later I can say that the move was a fantastic one and I’m totally enjoying this new space. It keeps getting better and amazing things happen with clients here. Together, clients and I have been creating awareness and resolution using ALL the space this larger office provides! By stepping out, I did indeed find what can be better than this.

As we have been contemplating belonging this fall, this remains a great question for 2015: What can be better than this? As I strive for more peaceful relationships in my life, what sense of belonging and connection can I create or accept which is better than this?

If you are ready to contemplate and work with these questions in the presence of sacred witnessing, I invite you to set up an appointment with me. Let’s sort out what needs to be released from your life and courageously seek for what is better for you now and into the new year.

In honour of my first anniversary in the Elmira Wellness Centre, I am offering an incentive to get you started. Meet with me before December 23rd 2014 and receive a 15% discount on your next appointment in January 2015.

Concerned about the winter weather? Ask me about long-distance energy therapy and phone sessions as alternatives to in-office visits. What is better than this?


Shirley Lynn

Creating Peaceful Relationships: Remembering the Past Honestly

Although this week’s blog is a departure from my usual story-telling approach, I hope it still elicits reflection about the power of belonging (or the cost of exclusion) and the desire for change as we strive for more peaceful relationships. Whether global or personal, we must acknowledge more completely all those of our past and the events that occurred, to acknowledge what is now. To see it honestly is the door that invites us to create and choose a new future, whether personally, communally or globally.

This week we will see many celebrations that honour men and women who have served in various military capacities – in times of peace as well as in wars and conflicts – events which have affected us in more obvious but also in deeply hidden ways. Over the past year, the Record has been highlighting stories of local ancestors who have fought in WWI to commemorate the 100th year of this war. Reading these stories of the men, women, their parents and families who were left behind, brought to life the human element and toll of this war for me.

Whether it’s global conflict or familial, we are best served when we listen and seek to understand the views of many parties because those who are excluded will always find a way to belong. It may not matter how they choose to belong – as we have seen in the recent events here in Canada – but everyone does seek to belong. It is a core and most intrinsic human need. When we fail to listen to the ‘soul or narrative’ of all those involved, they will speak from the grave through the next generations. It’s what family, communal or global systems do.

The pain and grief of the past will speak to us in our present and in our future until we listen, acknowledge and choose to act differently. Only then can ‘it’ rest in peace and bless us in the present to make new and creative choices that allow the flow of love.

Remaining veterans want us to remember what they fought for – our freedom and peace. Although I want to honour and deeply bless those who served with the intentions to forward peace, freedoms of speech and diversity of culture, human dignity to all, I equally want to remember the creative conversations and political resolutions of those who choose other ways than war to achieve change through justice and dignity in society.

We must never forget. Yes, that is true. But let’s remember as honestly as we can. Let’s listen to the stories without romanticizing and mythologizing them. Let’s acknowledge the costs and gains for what they were and remain to be, so we can better understand.

I give thanks to the First Nations people and early governance of the French and British and others for their contribution in creating a different kind of country where I can enjoy the benefits of “peace, order and good governance” meant to serve the greater good. I will continue to seek various points of understanding to gain greater perspective to the ‘soul’ of these events.

I honour and remember the Silver Cross Mother who lays a wreath at the base of the National War Memorial on behalf of all mothers who lost children in the military service of their nation. The grief of parents losing a child is profoundly deep and lasts a lifetime.

I pay tribute to the Canadian Forces personnel I sat in circle with while learning mediation and conflict resolution alternatives, even as some of them were in constant ‘shakes’ from combat (PTSD).

I pray for those who have served and now suffer deep mental illnesses that affect their own souls, their families, their communities.

I give thanks to the Canadian Generals who publicly have shared stories of recent wars in which they were commanders and now have a mission to speak on what we must do to create peace in our world.

We all seek to belong, to experience the benefit of good order and to share in the wealth and balance of give and take that life requires to sustain itself. Creating peace in our relationships, on any level, will require listening, forgiving, being honest to see more of the whole, loving and much more creativeness, but I contend that creating peace is not more expensive than the wars that have been, and continue to be, fought.

May we remember with heart and soul (the inclusion principle), so the past can rest and we can move toward creating peace in our relationships.


Shirley Lynn

Change is a Process – Are You Ready for It?

Last week we looked at the initial stages of change – pre-contemplation and contemplation. In both of these early stages, we are unaware of our need for change, or may be resistant, or we may have tried to change but were unsuccessful for various reasons.

Today, we will explore the later stages of the change process. What does it take to make lasting change?

3.  Preparation for change. At the point when 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 already made some small behavioural change or we may have tried over the past year and were unsuccessful.

In preparing for change, a common challenge in this stage is getting clear on our intention and focus for action. Our contemplation must be meaningful or we migrate back into pre-contemplation. Though change is not a simplistic process, constant re-migration to pre-contemplation and contemplation without ever getting to action is simply a waste of energy, creativity, and 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? 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!

4.  Taking Action. Finally, we begin altering 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 find strategies to avoid or counter expected high risk situations. And we take pleasure in rewarding ourselves.

The really cool knowing here is that the Universe shows up the moment we start moving toward change! 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 amazing ways to support, encourage and fulfil our intention.

5.  Maintenance and Integration. 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 understanding 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.

What change is upon you this season? The leaves are letting go. They are not resisting it. 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 to move more freely and gracefully through change? What’s stopping you from making a change you know you need to make?

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 previously considered change unnecessary.

Where are you in the process of change?

Remember, you don’t have to do this alone. Speak with someone you trust, have a bold conversation with someone who can support you with change (wherever you are at), and seek the empowerment and awareness of Great Spirit – these are just a few ways to get you changing. Let go of that which no longer serves you.

As always, I am available to support and guide you in your process of change. Call or email me and let’s get started…

Shirley Lynn

Change is a Process – Set Yourself Up for Success

Like the ever-changing seasons, we too experience change and transition throughout our lives. For some of us change is easy – an “easy come, easy go” kind of mentality. For others of us, change is incredibly difficult and is resisted with much fervour.

Did you know that we never just change? There is a whole process to change that is necessary or it won’t happen. In the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing the Stages of Change with you. Understanding how change happens gives us better insight into why some changes are so hard and yet others are fairly easy and painless.

  1. Pre-contemplation 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 needs to be made. Other times, 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 our 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 pre-contemplation 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.
  2. Contemplating change happens when 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 what no longer provides pleasure and we begin to contemplate change. Even so, this stage can last two weeks to several years as we seriously consider making changes of behaviour within the next 6 months. However, we may not yet be convinced that change is completely necessary – our pain is not that bad – and the pleasure of change may not be worth our perceived pain of change. In fact, we may barely even be aware that our pain is connected to our behaviour. Fear is common in this stage as people vacillate between awareness, denial and the realization a significant change needs to happen.

The reality is that our souls manifest change in a timing that our egos cannot control. So 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 abrupt and 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 believe that spiritual practice and nurturing our spirituality prepares us 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.

Where are you in the process of change this fall? Are you getting ready to make a change? Or are you still in the mindset that a change is unnecessary or too risky? Do you need more time to sort things out?

Remember, you don’t have to do this alone. If you want someone to walk your process of change with you, call or email me to set up an appointment and we’ll get you started…

Shirley Lynn

Creating Peaceful Relations: Celebrating our Animal Companions

In the Catholic tradition, St. Francis of Assisi (patron saint to animals, merchants and ecology) is well renowned for his prayer “make me an instrument of your peace.” I believe it captures the essence of cultivating harmony in relationships and gifts us with a way to develop the attitudes and behaviours for peaceful relationships.

St. Francis is equally known for how he interacted with animals, the four-legged and winged ones; the world of plants, water and trees. You might think of him as an environmentalist mystic who called all creatures his brothers and sisters, including the sun (brother) and the moon (sister). St. Francis is known to have communicated with the animals. On one occasion his communication with a wolf helped to bring peace between a village and this wolf where each creature was honoured and respected.

October 4th is known as the Feast of St. Francis, and today many Christian congregations have adopted this day as the time to ask for God’s blessing on animals – from pets to farm animals to wildlife. This special ceremony is called the Blessing of the Animals. Frequently, people bring their animal companions to church to participate in this special blessing and to celebrate the many ways they enrich our lives. It goes something like this:

Blessed are you, Lord God, maker of all living creatures. You called forth fish in the sea, birds in the air and animals on the land. You inspired St. Francis to call all of them his brothers and sisters. We ask you to bless this pet. By the power of your love, enable it to live according to your plan. May we always praise you for all your beauty in creation. Blessed are you, Lord our God, in all your creatures! Amen.”

I am not Catholic nor have I participated in a faith community that has honoured or celebrated our animal brothers and sisters in such an intentional way, but I do feel that St. Francis’ message and way of being in this world is still relevant and serves to encourage and show us how to enhance and respect all our relations.

In the coming week I invite you to give a special blessing to your animal companion. Share a message with the bird outside your window. Imagine listening to their message back to you and imagine that you hear and understand it. Bless the tree that provides shelter and perhaps nourishment for that bird.

Honour and respect all your relations. And like St. Francis, see and treat your animal companions – indeed all of nature – as a mirror to the Sacred. We all belong to Creation! We all deserved to be blessed. Share a blessing and take yet another step in creating peaceful relationships.

Shirley Lynn Martin

The Gift of Community: A Place to Belong

Recently I attended a funeral of someone with close connections to our family. His life came to an end after several years of treatments, followed by months of steadily declining health and eventually his last days in a hospice surrounded by family, friends and supportive staff.

During the eulogy, one daughter shared how their father in his later years had changed from a physically and emotionally reserved man to one who gave “the best bear hugs”. It awed and inspired me to hear how this family had used their time so wisely following the initial diagnosis to resolve and heal many old hurts and misunderstandings. They attained a deeper level of connection and acceptance and intentionally created more loving interactions with each other.

What particularly touched me at this funeral service was the strong sense of belonging to a community. I was among a large gathering of people who all cared deeply for this man’s family. As the family walked into the sanctuary I could feel our powerful communal embrace enveloping them. Clearly, this community was united in supporting each of them in bearing their pain and loss. It was a beautiful and sacred moment.

Later I reflected on what a gift it really is to belong to a community that embraces and supports you as you move through life’s ups and downs. Those of us who are connected to communities (of whatever kind), have probably experienced something similar. I contemplated how isolating and lonely it would be to not have the love and support of others when you need it most. This too is something that some of us have experienced – when we have felt let down by our community.

How or why does this happen? Perhaps the answers are as varied as we are but I suspect that some of it has to do with how much time and effort we put into creating and nurturing community around us. Community can be equated to a bank account – if you never put anything in, there is nothing to draw from either when you need it.

It can be easy at times to put our communities (intentional/chosen or inherited) “on the back burner” when we are busy, distracted or experiencing various stresses in our individual lives. We get caught up in these immediacies, perhaps at the expense of spending time within our communities. I am not advocating for putting the needs of everyone else ahead of your own – I too have witnessed and experienced the consequences of such self-denial – but I am suggesting we evaluate how we balance our own needs alongside those of our chosen communities.

As a society, we place great value and acceptance on satisfying our own needs and desires. Perhaps this is inevitable because of the speed at which we move through life – forever chasing that shiny ball of wealth and self-interest. But I would like to believe that there is still a place for and desire to connect with others – whether it is with those we share commonalities (ie. location, ethnicity, religion, profession, a common interest, lifestyle, etc.) or with those about who we know little.

Being connected to others outside ourselves helps to satisfy our innate need to belong. One definition of belong that I like is to “fit in, be suited to, have a rightful place, have a home.” Isn’t that what we all want more than anything else?

To what communities do you belong? Do they add value to your life? Do you add value to the community? Who is with you through life’s ups and downs, your joys and sorrows?

If you need help finding the right balance in your life or evaluating which communities add value to your life, book an appointment with Shirley Lynn today. You deserve to feel and know where you belong.

Submitted by Lucy Martin

Creating Peaceful Relationships: Where Do I Belong?

Recently, I enjoyed a weekend visit with my brother and his family. Upon our arrival, my 3½ year old nephew helped carry my bag to my room and immediately began asking about ‘the special game’ I had promised to bring along. Since it was dinner time, I said we had to wait until the next day when it would be sunny and warm. He chatted eagerly and enthusiastically with Lucy and me, sharing all the recent news and events he thought we might deem important. And so that night, I went to bed surrounded by family and my nephew’s excitement as he explores the world and relationships that are his life.

The next day we finally got to play ‘the game’ – the squirt game as it became known – super-soakers filled with cold water from the hose. We ran around the yard, squirting, chasing, screaming, laughing, interspersed with bits of 3 year old ‘trash talking’ to challenge the stakes to become more and more wet. The game became a standing afternoon tradition during our stay.

Fifteen years earlier, Lucy and I played this same game with our other nephew and niece. In fact, we frequently remark how playing with our two nephews is a deja-vu experience. The pleasure of playing with them and building meaningful relationship is both a joy and a delightful responsibility.

Knowing where I come from and where my roots are is a strong family norm. We can decide what we want to do with them, but we understand where these roots are and what they are about. I notice my 3 year old nephew already being quite clear who is who in his family, who belongs, including his old Chihuahua dog and who are neighbours, friends or community members. My older nephew and niece have heard stories of our youth, of my long-deceased father. They never knew my father in person, but they know him through stories and pictures. They know they are his descendants. My younger nephew will also hear some of those stories and will know his grandfather through the mannerisms and decisions and values and virtues his own father practises and instills in him.

Knowing our roots helps us know where we belong. It helps us clarify where home is. When we are clear where we belong, we can better find our place in the world, our place in our adult world beyond the family of our childhood. If we are unclear where we belong or never felt like we belonged because abuse, adoption, trauma, tragedy, neglect, immigration, etc, in our family of origin has not been resolved, we tend to carry a deep confusion in our psyches, creating blocks and confusion in our key adult relationships, whether at home or at work.

As my nephew is learning that he belongs to our family, not only through birth, but more importantly, through love, he is developing a conscience which will help him navigate the parameters of this most important reference group – his family. According to Family Constellations Systems theory, three key reference groups help form our sense of belonging: family group, social environment and ethnic group, religion and culture we have grown up in, respectively.

Without us being necessarily conscious of this ‘equilibrium of belonging’ that we are navigating, we are constantly asking these two questions: “What do I have to do to belong?” and “What do I avoid to prevent being excluded?”

The fear of exclusion sits deep within our psyche and we are hardwired as vulnerable children to choose belonging, regardless of the rules, behaviours and norms we take on, rather than choose autonomy. Belonging, as children, is an matter of survival! To belong and to bond with our family, we are required to stand behind our parents and be loyal to them. Can you see where conscience comes into play?

In this last quarter of 2014, I invite you to explore your relationships and where you are creating peace in core relationships and where you are blocked or sabotaging yourself from doing so. Return to your goals and commitments for 2014 and evaluate the results you have attained this far. What yet needs your attention to create more peace in your relationships, whether at home or at work?

As you take your next steps for this last quarter, reflect on these questions:

  • Where are the places or groups I belong?
  • What do I have to do to belong in these groups?
  • What do I avoid to prevent being excluded from them?
  • How do these choices and behaviours limit or expand my conscience in love?
  • What needs to be transformed or change?
  • Where does love need to flow again so I can increase my peace?

I know this may be a difficult inquiry for some of you. It can be helpful to have additional support as you explore these questions and further pursue your journey toward greater inner peace and peace within your relationships, whether personally or in your work. This may be the perfect time to consider a soul coaching partnership with me to help you get unstuck and find the right movement to reflect what makes you whole, balanced and more peaceful.

Namaste, Shirley Lynn