Brave & Gallant

“You’ll know when you know”. That advice was given to me fifteen years ago after my first public speaking engagement in what became to be seen as my accidental career. The expression described what the veteran RCMP officer explained, would be the precise moment when I would not want to share my story publicly any more. And he was right. In the fall of 2017, as the 20th anniversary of Bob’s death approached, I knew deep in my heart I was done. A ritual by the banks of the Ottawa River, on a freezing November night marked the occasion. I built a tiny replica of the SS Brave & Gallant, the vessel in Amelia’s painting pictured above, that celebrates qualities the women in our family are reknowned for. After facilitating a workshop at the National Restorative Justice Conference in the city I was born in, I clambered down the icy bank and set the boat in the river. I felt free. I felt grateful. I felt ready to come home. For good.

For the last year I have delighted in the opportunity to work full time with Michael in his law practice. While I have handled the financial management of the firm for twenty years, I had never dealt directly with his clients. My restorative justice skills are being put to good use as I gather information and prepare documents for people dealing with the conflict of divorce and civil litigation. Holding space for the grief that so often comes in the door with an estate matter is second nature to me.

As my dear friend Deanne says, “you don’t need to go looking for hard”. Years on the road and the powerful collaborative work with my dear friend Shannon was life-changing. But it was time to deepen my roots at home again. I am so happy. I love being close to my family, friends and this beautiful island.

For five years I have volunteered with the mentor program with Big Brothers Big Sisters. While my young friend Carmen has moved on to middle school, we are now seeing each other on our own time. Over the years we spent many hours in the kitchen at her elementary school and I was struck by the number of families that relied on the school food program leftovers to supplement their family meals. It is deeply troubling to me that children come to school on empty stomachs; and even more worrisome that hungry families wait at home for their return.

Being close to home has meant my yoga practice has been able to flourish. I will never get over the pleasure of walking through Chinatown with my mat under my arm to get to class. Being close to home has also meant time to explore a creative outlet I have love since childhood - making jewelry. Like the Japanese concept of Ikagai, where passion, mission, vocation and profession intersect, I found a way to bring what I am passionate about together and am pleased to present…

n o u r i s h m e n t is a small line of simple jewelry I have designed to help support the agencies that bring breakfast programs into our city elementary schools. Breakfast Club Canada and breakfast2music are filling the bellies of cildren in our community so that they can learn and thrive. And to make the whole venture even morein line with my values, the line is being sold by my friend and yoga mentor Andrea Ting-Letts in her new store Beatnik Goods located in Moksana Yoga’s new home. Stop by and see the amazing line up of socially conscious products and the fantastic new studio space.

“I am done with great things and big things, great institutions and big success, and I am for those tiny, invisible molecular moral forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, yet which if you give them time, will rend the hardest monuments of (wo)man's pride.”

― William James

Gong Hei Fat Choy

I have to confess, September always feels like the start of my New Year. That back-to-school anticipation has never left me; whether it was my own experience growing up, or living it with our children over the years.

December 31st has it own baggage which I have worked hard to minimize for a very long time. The beautiful NYE evening wedding of my dear friends Shannon & Mike six years ago helped that process immensely. This year, it was shifted again when Michael and I celebrated Hogmanay with Sam and Linda in Edinburgh. The Scots wrote the book on how to ring in the Gregorian year; friends, family and strangers coming together with a celebration that lasts for three days!

The Lunar New Year shows up after all the busyness of the Christmas season has subsided, lighting up the winter darkness and ushering in those first hints of spring. It feels like exactly the right time to consider some heart-centered intentions for 2017. Interestingly as the Year of the Rooster begins, my natural clock has been recalibrating and I find myself waking up much earlier in the morning. I love this "found" time for meditating, exercising and getting a jump on my day before the phone calls and emails start. 

The Desire Map process that I introduced into my work last year gave me a set of core desired feelings that serve as a compass. Gone are those resolutions that begin with "I should" or are based on someone else's expectations. I now find myself setting goals in every area of my life that feel completely in line with what matters most. To me.

I especially love that the practice begins with gratitude. I have so much to be grateful for in every aspect of my life. Purposefully taking stock of that is like a magic elixir. Also, being accountable to myself for those elements in my life that do not serve me has allowed for some "cleaning house". Saying "no, thank you" can be powerful.

Yesterday I had my very first experience floating.  It was nothing short of amazing; and something I will now be incorporating into my self-care regimen. Coincidentally, the day also marked a full year since I have seen Em. She left on this day in 2016 on her big adventure with Jon and has been living and teaching in Vietnam. As I was floating, she was part way through a ten-day Vipassana meditation retreat in Hong Kong; just one chapter of her exciting Big Solo Project. I can't wait to reunite with her in the Spring when we will meet up with Sam in Europe. 

2017 is unfolding beautifully. Shannon & I will be back in the Arctic with our Full Circle collaboration facilitating the F Word workshops both at on-the-land retreat and in the communities of the Mackenzie Delta region. Our first trip will be at the end of February; the thrill of the ice road awaits! We remain committed to upholding the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and building on the transformational healing work we are doing in Canada's north.

Works of Heart is my new project. I am designing retreat experiences that incorporate the Desire Map with circle practice and yoga; giving me a chance to collaborate with some very special yogis. In Vancouver, I teamed up with Janet Willemina Wallden, and we offered a memorable corporate retreat for MCAP; a concept that I hope to grow.   

Here in Victoria, I am honoured to be working with Deanne Young, my dear friend and mentor on-the-mat for many years. Deanne and I created Heart's Desire; our first day of radical self-care was a huge success, we have another coming up on February 12th and plans for a weekend getaway later in 2017 is in the works. Stay tuned!

I am committed to feeling equipped, connected, vibrant & playful. So far, 2017 has been all that and more. Gong Hei Fat Choy!


The Real Deal

Thirteen years ago I perched on the edge of a desk in a classroom and addressed a small group of Grade 11 students. My fear of public speaking diminished only slightly by the fact that I was sharing the Story of Bob and that it was coming straight from my heart.  Over five hundred schools, countless conference keynotes and thousands of air miles later I am still telling our story.

I came to think of it as an accidental career. Along the way I have written a book of my own, contributed chapters to several others, been interviewed for countless theses on topics including victimology, forgiveness and restorative justice. Accepting my insistence on "living out loud", my family has endured the public spotlight of endless media attention, documentary film crews and a made-for-television movie filmed in our hometown.

The road I found myself travelling with this work has often been solitary. Just as I began to feel the weight of the loneliness I was introduced to Shannon Moroney. A fellow family victim of violent crime, we connected over our shared desire to help others explore The F Word. Forgiveness.

This year Shannon and I launched Full Circle Facilitation & Consulting. We are committed to help restore health and vibrancy to hurt people and communities.  Moved by the recommendations of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission, we are about to take our fourth trip of 2016 to the Beaufort Delta region of Canada's high Arctic to work with the Inuvialuit living with the generational aftermath of residential school. 

During some precious downtime in the Spring I read Danielle Laporte's book, the Desire Map. It truly rocked my world. I felt as though I finally had some answers about why certain decisions in my life were so easy to make, and why others greatly challenged me. Shifting from thinking about what I wanted to do this minute, next week or ten years down the road,  I learned it was actually more powerful to figure out how I wanted to feel. The process of identifying my core desired feelings resonated so deeply that I have become a licensed Desire Map facilitator. I am already finding exciting collaborative opportunities to pair this work with yoga to create restorative retreat experiences. Stay tuned for more on that front!

Aristotle said, “Where your talents and the needs of the world cross; there lies your vocation.” My accidental career is starting to feel very much that way. In the spirit of accepting this work is the real deal I am proud to unveil my beautiful new website designed by the uber talented Laura Prpich from Caribou Creative. I am thrilled with what she has created. I hope you like it too!