Category: Winter 2014-15

Four Standards of Self Respect

Think about someone you respect with everything in your heart, who you almost 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 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 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 working with me. Together we can create powerful opportunities for you to transform your present relationships.

Shirley Lynn

Peaceful Relating: Finding Scents with Love

This past Saturday Carlie and I participated in a workshop in canine nosework/scenting. The day once again provided me with opportunities to reflect upon key dynamics, skills and behaviours needed to succeed in love and partnership, to succeed in relationship well-being.

Throughout the workshop we learned how to positively and respectfully reinforce our dogs to ‘find’ the scent of wintergreen and then reward them for making choices to find this ‘stinky scent’ (not a natural scent they might naturally gravitate toward!). But more importantly, we were asking them to choose to ‘play’ with us.

Rayna & Lucy at Scenting workshop
Its in here, honest!

We started out by making the criteria very simple. Treats in one hand. Wintergreen in the other. Choosing to smell the wintergreen always resulted in a treat on top of the little bottle of wintergreen, communicating that ‘yes’ we want you to choose to scent this oil. Respectfully, we invited our dogs to play with us by using good enthusiasm, partnership, and clear communication. Each time Carlie chose to smell the wintergreen I cheered her on and gave her a treat on the container. I consistently affirmed and reinforced the behaviour we were seeking with each attempt she made.

Because we were in a workshop setting, each training session advanced the criteria, (so we could understand the process), but were clearly told not to go to the next level until the dog had shown good consistency, confidence and accuracy in the foundational skills. In the actual sport test, handlers are not given any information about which box holds the scent. Only the dogs are to track the scent. The foundation skills build that kind of clarity of expectation and partnership for the ultimate game. What we want in this game is their participation to scent out what we ask of them, but we need to trust that their nose is much more accurate than ours.

Each human-dog partnership had multiple opportunities to receive individual coaching to improve our movements (and intention behind our movements) to better communicate what we wished to communicate. Often it was such little movements like having the shoulder the wrong way, changing our walking pace, or looking at the dog rather than the target that only confused rather than helped the dog.

So throughout this next month, there will be much for me to pay attention to in my communication/training with Carlie as we share this journey of scenting together. Here is my list:

  1. Speak simply and respectfully (cues need to be a word or two).
  2. Be clear in the outcome. What is the end result and what does it look like?
  3. Be clear in what I’m asking her to do in each training session (can I explain it to myself in 5-7 words or less). If I can’t make it simple, how can I expect to create little steps and help her to be successful?
  4. Be consistent – with my encouragement, with my cues, with the progression towards advancing the skills, etc. – so it remains clear for Carlie.
  5. Remember that we are both learning to work together, so practise the foundation steps well and build trust in our partnership in this new sport.

These might seem like simple and common sense behaviours and knowledge you regularly practise with those around you. And yet, how often do our intentions, our criteria, our outcomes, our posture and behaviours (ie. eye movements, shoulder position, head position, etc) actually all align?

Something we tend to overlook when we want to ‘talk’ with our partner about something new or to introduce a new topic, is the actual criteria we wish to cover. What is the specific ‘conversation’ or what is the objective and what do we really want our partner to understand? When we are unclear of our criteria and goals, we set ourselves up to be upset, misunderstood or frustrated because we lack the clarity in our criteria, in the outcome of what we seek. And then we wonder what happened when the conversation ‘failed to get anywhere positive.’

Ask yourself what vision and behaviours of love and connection you need to get clear about so those who matter to you understand what you are asking of them and what you wish to offer to them. Take the necessary time to build trust and establish a solid foundation. It may seem slower at the beginning, but front-end loading is always worth the effort when stress hits!

A really useful tool I have developed to help you clarify what you want to do differently this year and accomplish in peaceful relating is Wisdom’s Way to Relating Peacefully: Your 2015 Working Guide. You can find it on my website or at my office. Do what it takes this year to show yourself and others you love them. You will bring peace to us and our world.

For me, the nosework/scenting workshop was a beautiful opportunity to practise mindfulness of love in how I partner with Carlie in ‘new territory’, in an old conversation (one of trust and partnership) as it occurs in a new context, in a new form, for a different outcome/game. I invite you to practise mindfulness of love with someone near and dear to you as well.


Shirley Lynn

Relating Peacefully Within Me

Out beyond ideas

of wrongdoing and rightdoing,

there is a field.

I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down

in that grass,

the world is too full to talk about.

Ideas, language

– even the phrase “each other” –

do not make any sense.

– Rumi

Each year, I work through my Guidebook Wisdom’s Way to Peaceful Relationships as a way to explore what I learned from the year before – what worked, what didn’t, what I want to do differently in the coming year, where I want to grow in Love and so forth. It helps me to stay aligned with my core principle of creating peace, building peace, returning to peace. It also challenges me to grow and move beyond any internal states of stagnation in my relationships. I end up with me a plan I can ‘walk through’ in the coming year and thereby stay focused.

As a result of what I wanted to improve in my relationships last year, I began to reflect upon how much language makes a difference in the way I/we show up to relating peacefully. I was thinking about peaceful relationships and how we create them. And still, I felt there was something missing. I found myself being guided to tweak this theme to give it more life and make it more dynamic.

I was also invited to practise love and forgiveness with a friend who had behaved in a significantly hurtful way. Through this journey of practising loving-kindness, a Reiki ethic that is core to my spiritual practice, I realized that none of my relationships are static, none remain truly stagnant in Love. Loving-kindness and forgiveness asked me to remain deeply committed to myself and to the heart of who I know I am – because there were times I just wanted to throw in the towel.

So rather than focusing on the relationship, I became intrigued with what peaceful relationships look like in action, how images of such relationships change when we shift our focus to the activity of peaceful relating.

So I have changed my language to peaceful relating, with particular focus on the ongoing activity of relating peacefully. This new language began to re-shape my reality as I began to consider the creative emergence of what could unfold next as I made choices to relate peacefully now.

I am a being – a living, dynamic being in motion, in movement, in activity. My mind is always active, even while sleeping, I dream. Although I experience stillness in meditation or contemplative prayer, it is dynamic, alive and flowing. So too is my potential in relating with all things. If I want to be in the positive flow of life, then there is a call to relate in love and peace. It calls me to be attentive and present to what my experience is and what is alive in me as I interact and engage with life, with my dog Carlie, my family, clients, home, people in my community, and so forth.

Relating peacefully awoke an awareness within me of self doubts, griefs, old hurts that I wanted to release and open myself to more Love in my relationships. This awareness called me to be attentive, flexible and strong in my boundaries that respected my core being.

This coming year, as we start on this journey of relating peacefully, I invite you to observe and become aware of the manner in which you relate in peace with yourself. Where does it already happen? When can you relate in love with your body and the whole of who you are? What happens when you fall out of relating peacefully with yourself? Where are you stuck in a relationship which needs new language to help you make loving movement again?way

Wisdom’s Way to Relating Peacefully – Your 2015 Guidebook will lead you through your own personal journey of discovering a new language, new metaphors, stronger strategies and a transformation of old practices. Allow yourself to let go of what doesn’t work anymore and meet me in a new field of consciousness in 2015 – relating peacefully. You can download your copy from my website today. Printed copies also are available at my office.

Shirley Lynn

Hitting ‘Reset’ for the New Year

Submitted by Mary Martin

There is something alluring for me about standing on the threshold of a New Year. It’s a time to reflect back on the past year with all its mistakes, successes, doubts, new awareness, etc. By the same token, I also am challenged with how to embark on this New Year without carrying forward last year’s unwanted marks. Sort of like trying to make a snow angel without marring it with a footprint!

In a recent discussion with friends about making New Year’s resolutions, I admitted that I had given up making resolutions years ago because I never disciplined myself to follow through. However, I did and still do feel that embarking on a New Year is a good time to take stock of where I have been and where I want to go.

Later that week, I heard someone on the radio suggest that if the New Year’s resolutions don’t stick maybe they weren’t the right ones to begin with. This caught my attention and prompted me to reflect back to when I had decided not to set myself up to fail with resolutions.

It all began years ago when I was facilitating a spiritual discovery group at work. It was our first group in a new year and we were looking at 4-R rather than making resolutions. The 4 R’s we used were Review, Regrets, Rewards and Reset as a guide to reflect on and evaluate the past year and to set goals for the New Year. Our discussion focused on what we could and need to do for a meaningful reset to happen because without plans, strategies etc., the reset would be ineffective.

My reset that day was to fear less and love more and this reset/resolution has stuck. This reaffirms for me that I have found the right one. However, this is more than a New Year’s resolution for me – it is also a lifestyle choice. So to stay focused and committed, I need to press the reset as I embark on a pristine New Year.

There have been times when I have needed to do a reset before the year was up and that was okay too. Just as that spiritual discovery group knew that in order to be successful there needed to be action, so too must I be conscious of how or when I allow fear to limit me in any way.

So with each reset I ask for help to first recognize and then act on the fears that would hinder my ability to be authentic in my approach to life and in all my relationships (including with myself). As I move forward into 2015, I remind myself again to fear less and love more!

Feel free to join me…

2015 New Year’s Blessing to all!

Wisdom’s Way to Peaceful Relating: Welcoming in the Opportunities of 2015

It’s 2015 and something NEW is in the air, not just on the calendar. For me, subtle shifts of clarity and alignment of mission have helped me to affirm that we are always in a state of relating. Whether we are relating with family, friends, or colleagues, or to our bodies, money, to our neighbours, community institutions, religion or even to our spiritual practices – we are relating with someone or something inter-connected with us. This is an on-going activity, an evolving engagement with every and any aspect of our life, including those we encounter and reside with on our life’s journey.

So what might Wisdom’s Way to Peaceful Relating have to do with your life?

Wisdom’s Way is about the path of what is most divine and natural and follows the Universal Harmony in all things. We must listen for this Wisdom which speaks to us from within our essence, the quiet place in our hearts, the love that is shared in relating to the GREAT LIFE which flows through us all and in Nature.

Peaceful Relating invites us to be mindful, aware, compassionate, ‘sacred-centred’ in how we show up to the way we live, the choices we make, our attitudes and the nature of our engagements with others.

Throughout this new year, we will continue to share stories, insights and ancient wisdom mixed with modern tales of knowledge and discovery as we explore, experience, test and integrate the light, love and strength of Wisdom’s Way to Peaceful Relating. Stay tuned, stay engaged and invite others to join us in this creative dialogue and opportunity for growth!


Shirley Lynn

And now, may this blessing by D. Simone provide you with renewal, health and enthusiasm for 2015!

“May Light always surround you;
Hope kindle and rebound you.
May your Hurts turn to Healing;
Your Heart embrace Feeling.
May Wounds become Wisdom;
Every Kindness a Prism.
May Laughter infect you;
Your Passion resurrect you.
May Goodness inspire 
your Deepest Desires.
Through all that you Reach For, 
May your arms Never Tire.”

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