A Ceremonial Month: Embracing the Path to My Wise Future Self

June is the halfway point to the year. It might be an arbitrary mid-way pause and yet it still serves as a place maker of time. June also represents a season on its own. For folks like me in the Northern hemisphere, it is the shift from Spring to Summer. It is the turning of the year into a delicious time of play and pleasure. For our friends in the global South, it also represents a pause to turn inward and rest during Winter.

June is the mirror that reflects a passage of time, especially for students. It is the season where we acknowledge an ending before a new beginning can start. This is the time of year that many students graduate from all things related to school – daycare, kindergarten, middle school, high school or further education. Graduation is the event that honours one thing completing before embracing the next adventure.

As all rites of passages, it is an end of a season and cycle-of-life shift.

And like all endings, we need to hold space for the grief of something ending, even if it was supposed to.

I recently attended a moving series of talks held by Kimberly Ann Johnson and Stephen Jenkinson. Their series centred around the ‘forgotten pillars’ of our society and it served as a call back to rebuild the foundation of how we live today. Some of the pillars were matrimony and patrimony and their connection to ancestors. The other two are kinship and ceremony.

It is these two that i will speak of here.
Stephen Jenkinson shares that a ceremony is the punctuation of a passage of time. I love this analogy as it captures the rightful placement at the beginning rather than just the ending. The ceremony is not meant to be the goal, but rather the pause between. So when my partner turned 50 in May, i knew we had to implement a more soul-lead ceremony into the celebration of his life. Turning 50 is a pretty significant punctuation. While I can’t believe i’m married to a 50 year old, i’m just a year away myself. His turning around the sun has given me pause to notice where we are in our life journey. It is a marker of sorts, not unlike Summer and June, as a practice to make sure we are where we want to be.

(In case you are wondering what i’m doing here in this photo, i hosted a special evening honour my partner, who wanted a jam night. We made our singing debut, that you can see a glimpse into HERE.)

Some of us had various rites of passage be stolen by Covid. Maybe it was your own school graduation or maybe a wedding or something more intimate. Whatever it is, we are not meant to cross a threshold alone. We are supposed to be witnessed and held.

And yet it’s not exactly a practice of jumping over the hot coals, but more like an exhale that embodies the ebb and flow of life. We are not just celebrating this number called 50, but also bearing witness to who he has been up until this moment. Period Pause Punctuation. The ceremony is like a comma that joins two chapters in one’s life.

Now begins the good work of setting intentions and manifesting into fruition the next steps.

We are not quite Crones or elders yet, so we are both embracing the invitation to apprentice in our future roles. Both of us are anticipating this next place in our spiral path.

I attended a family member’s wedding in May – all sorts of rites of passage in the spring re-birth season! The actual ceremony was rather quick, and the officiant did use the magic words of matrimony and community. It made me recall my own wedding ceremony of many moons ago.

At my own celebration, we had everyone sit in a circle, all 75 of us. I had a living altar of wildflowers from my mom’s garden as the threshold centrepiece. We endeavoured all the guests to repeat a community manifesto to declare their commitment to us. We lead the guests in song and i wore a dress in my favourite shade of blue. I love how we say the bride is walking down the altar, not dissimilar to the association we have to sacred altars.

At the time, i refused to call it a wedding as that felt so off-brand for me. Now i know why: I didn’t want to connect my story to that of a cis-het patriarchal framework of marriage. Stephen also has valid laments about the business of weddings. They have become more of a party than a ceremony. I’m so grateful that a younger version of me was able to create such a meaningful ceremony that future me (the one alive now in my body) deeply respects.

I studied to be a group facilitator at school. We had whole classes devoted to group process and holding a container. Facilitating circles and group gatherings have been a big part of my life for over twenty years. In fact, in my program, we sat in a circle for most of our classes. We practised leading group workshops and exercises, and learned about group guidelines and considerations.

Now, in the mid-way point of my life, i am integrating a more soul-aligned lens into my work as a community space holder and ceremonialist. Into all of my life, really. This has come at the perfect time as my own children embark on natural rites of passage. Side note: This is something i offer in my work. If you want to learn more about how to introduce ceremony into your life, i share more about my work here. I’d be honoured to be a part of your dream seed.

What is the point of me sharing this here? For one thing, it’s a hint at the way my work has been evolving.

It’s also because I had a realization recently that is connected to one of the things i grieve with the loss of my mom. It’s the knowledge about women’s bodies and having a place to go for information and guidance. I only recently noticed how old she was when she was going through perimenopause and have so much more compassion for her, even though it was also a very hard time for me, partly due to her treatment of me. I wish 16-year old me knew what i know now.

And now i sit here in my own change process and am alone. Sure, i have friends who are in perimenopause and recently crossed the field into menopause. But what i needed all along, and didn’t know is the eldership of crones and older women.

What I needed was a multi-generational community, and kinship.

This has been on my own mind for the past 2 years, since my own mom died.

I was not raised with intergenerational wisdom and i now see that i needed it as a child, as much as i still need it now. I am at the wild edge of unbecoming someone i once was. I am shedding old identities, and one that has a physical manifestation – Menstruator. This past month, i had my first menstruation after an absence of 6 months. I was so ready to embrace Menopause that it threw me off to bleed again. I forgot what medicines and practices are important. An impatient Part forgot that nature still is in the driver seat. Silly me, who told me i should assume to know the future?! I got it alongside a new moon no less, so i’m honouring this alignment as a gift – a chance to plant some intentions for what my own ceremony may be. But more importantly, what i need in my life now to nourish me and support me as i embrace this new identity.

We all need guides. We are not meant to go it alone. I am awakening up to this need now. Better late than never right? I think a big part of it is seeing how alone my own mom was at this time. I’m not sure if this is the narrative i have told myself so much it has become truth, or if it is factually accurate. What i am noticing though is that i don’t want to enter this next stage of life alone.

I spoke about honouring some Blood Mysteries before. I held a ceremony for my daughter and last year. I plan to conjure up a similar one for once i cross the portal into being post-menopausal. Until that happens, i am casting a vision to grow Village aunties into being. My aunties will not be blood related so they will need to be curated via neighbours, friends, book guides, online mentors, and community members I am starting to meet.

I am exactly where i am supposed to be.

My Midlife Midwife Era: Weaving the Spiral Path

If you look at most therapist bios, be it on their Psychology Today profile or on an Instagram landing page, you’ll notice that we specialize in “life transitions.” What does that actually mean though? I know for me, it means helping people be able to feel grounded to some degree when inevitable change happens. It means holding space and being witnessed in this sea change.

Since we are humans, we are constantly evolving, and change will happen, whether we like it or not. We’re not meant to stay the same or have our course be rigid. We’re actually meant to course correct when we are thrown curveballs, whether it is a global pandemic, a break-up, or a loss or maybe also meeting the love of your life or finding your dream job. All of it still takes time to embrace the transition.

We need to take pause and notice that life transitions are only one step in rites of passage. Our way of identifying life transitions needs to be updated and decolonized, and actually know it as a more soul-led practice that involves ceremony and acknowledgement.

So one thing I love is zooming out of our personal experience and noticing the universality of it. And guess what, there are archetypal stories that also reflect our own human experience. It’s a beautiful balance of our humanity and the divinity within all of us. This is where I have deepening in my own life as well as practice as a therapist, holding space for folks and their transitions, while also being able to let them know that while their stories unique, their experience is also universal.

We’re not as special as we think and yet maybe that’s a good thing.

For instance, a lot of us may know the concept of the hero’s journey by Joseph Campbell. In fact, I know I’ve spoken about it previously in other articles here. One thing that I’ve been sitting with though is how linear and masculine-based it is, and so i wanted to find something that felt more aligned with my own story and journey to full consciousness. I’m really relieved that there has been a resurgence of more feminine embodied archetypal stories, ones that have been pushed under the surfaces decades ago.
Take Maureen Murdoch’s book, The Heroine’s Journey: Woman’s Quest for Wholeness for example. This book has been pivotal in my own life’s transitions. If you want to learn more about the concept of a heroine’s journey, this article is very helpful.

The feminine path shows us a different way. One where we step out of current machine and decide to do things on a more full and authentic, more soul level. This isn’t about doing it without honouring our masculine side, but rather integrating both sides of this coin.

As i approach 50, i’m noticing how my own story thus far fits really well into the spiral path. When I was a teenager, I learned some things about my parents lifestyle that didn’t resonate with me. I also knew that I didn’t want how they modelled partnership to be what I carried further in my own story. And then in my mid-20s, I really rejected my feminine side. I cut my hair short, I wore doc martens and hung out with boys more than women. Only then to notice in my 30s that not only did I deeply cherish my relationships with women, my body also just felt more safe and comfortable in their presence – most jobs in my life have been in the community of women-identified folks.

So of course, this is how my path was already carved out for me. It all makes sense now, and i love that it’s a spiral path and not a linear narrative storyline. There is ebb and flow, back and forth, learning and unlearning, and coming back again. The oracle cards i bought at 22 are now a big part of my life. I dusted them off a few years ago, after being shelved away for years. I’m back again where I was before and yet I’m all together new. Now I am more embodied in this knowing and deep understanding. I’m looking back with perspective and wisdom. The 20-year old me who rejected being a woman, or being in service with my feminine power is in awe with where I am now.

As I close in on my halfway point in life, I’m reflecting back in my own timeline. I’m not surprised how well it fits in the path, nor how these archetypal stories of Maiden Mother Crown (and all the other ones) fit into my own journey through life.

I’ve been reflecting on how i got here, so that i can also support others weave their internal threads more intentionally. I have been midwifing my own midlife with such love and care, and feel called to offer this to others. I find this especially true for women who have had difficult relationships with their mothers, maternal lineage, or relationships with women where a lack of eldership and matriarchal wisdom is lacking. I have been going through my own rite of passage with fine grain detail and have noticed some things that i did intuitively really fit with The Spiral Path. It is about embracing a plan of action, that is saturated with an embodied sense of self-control and empowerment.

How to Weave your Path

1) Keep your Word to Yourself
Are you the first person you break a promise to? How often do you put your own needs (and dreams) at the bottom of your priority list. This martyrdom does not serve anyone. The laundry can wait, the dishes can be done by someone else, and everyone wins when you honour your soul’s calling. It can be by reading a book that moves you, attending a circle, dancing under the full moon. Whatever it is, make a commitment to yourself to honour your own promise to yourself. No one else will.

2) Take up Space
I recently went skating with my kid and her school. I was amazed by how these children took up space – on the ice, and also everywhere. I learned along the way to apologize for the space i took up, and then resented that i felt invisible. Now, i make a point to share about my own day at dinner, I set a goal for something I want to do on the weekend, I claim my rightful seat on the couch during family movie night, I screamed with joy during the recent Eclipse, and yelled “this is orgasmic” without a care in the world for who heard me.

3) Find the Balance within Masculine Go and Feminine Flow
This one was a hard one for me. After first abandoning my soft feminine side in my early 20s, i then learned how i internalized patriarchy and capitalism in my body. I saw ways that i was neglecting my own soft strengths and having a balance of both qualities and energies is what makes us whole. I can be a good business owner AND also work in the space of feelings and community. In fact, i need both in order to stay resourced and sustainable in my work.

How this looks for each of us is unique, and doesn’t have to be 50/50 to be balanced. It’s about embracing the universal truth that these qualities are not necessarily gendered but rather energetic.

4) Learn about Archetype Stories
Having a map that shows us the way is not only helpful, it is a practice of self-compassion. Learning about fairy tales and goddess stories has been a big part of my journey with my own life transitions. The book Women Who Run with the Wolves is my bible, for instance. I see myself in the stories. I also see more fully the stories of my ancestors and lineage. This is both humbling and reparative.

Archetypal stories allow space for nuance as well as the duality of honouring the humanity and divinity in all of us.

5) Honour Life with Ritual and Ceremony
Rituals are the ways we tend to ourselves and remind us that the only life we are living is our own. They enhance our experience, and carve out a path with intention and self-love. Ceremony is the way we can be witnessed for who we are by others, as we cannot go through rites of passage and life transitions alone. If you need some more guidance, check out my Instagram post here for some inspiration.

6) Pleasure Sorcery
I am so thankful to adrienne maree brown for the term ‘pleasure activist.‘ The opposite of pleasure is feeling numb, partly due to grief that has not been cared for. I wholeheartedly believe that the absense of pleasure is what is causing so many people midlife crisis, existential crisis and burn-out. Access to pleasure and joy were taken from us, or at least shunned into our collective shadow. In a Come to your Senses podcast episode, Mary shares more about how to have courage to be more your Self.

I am a Pleasure Witch, alchemizing the change that happens when we eat the best fucking chocolate mousse in your life, slowing down your partner in a sexual romp to access your own climax, marinating in new lilacs blossoms so that you can savour their smell. To source yourself in pleasure means giving yourself permission to slow down, take pause, awaken your senses.

Still unsure about this? You are not alone – the word pleasure still harbours some negative connotations. How about a practice of gentle pleasure? Try the 5% concept – what is something you can do to make it just a bit more enjoyable – is it playing music while you clean the bathroom, or fresh flowers by your bedside, or maybe it’s a delicious piece of pie to have with your taxes.

7) Trust you are Inherently Worthy
And here’s another tricky one – we need to reclaim that we are inherently worthy simply because we are alive. Our worth should not be tethered to our achievements, busy-ness, productivity. That is a patriarchal, white supremist and capitalist mindset. That keeps us stuck in hustle culture and a stressful experience. When we reclaim our worth, that is our success that will lead to a sense of abundance from a heart-centred and balanced life. Our worth is the value you bring to your own life, and will ripple out to how you impact other beings.

It is a process to reclaim this truth. When i started to learn that i had not just permission but the right to enjoy my own life, and not live vicariously through my children, i started to make sure i added my own projects, plans, and pleasure into our calendar. Nora Roberts shared a fabulous analogy – as a prolific writer, she was asked how she can prioritize and plan out time for writing: it’s all about making sure you catch the right balls.

8) Find Your Purpose
I knew since i was a kid that i was going to be a therapist of some kind. For years, i wanted to be a marine biologist but science and math are not my forte or passion. Being in water and living like a mermaid was not enough reason. When i started my journey as a therapy student, i thought i would be a child psychologist. The fact, it just dawned on me as i’m writing this that i did an undergrad program in HUMAN Development. Of course i was destined to support folks with life transitions.

Now that i’ve been a working therapist for over 18 years, and the years before that in abused women and children’s programs, it all makes sense how my work life is in service for others healing and growth. It is my life’s calling, and is the passion that gives my life a direction.

I am also more than my work, and my roles in life. I am a being who is whole unto herself – i am home.

To Come Home to Yourself
May all that is unforgiven in you
Be released.

May your fears yield
Their deepest tranquillities.

May all that is unlived in you
Blossom into a future
Graced with love.”
~ John O’Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Invocations and Blessings

BeComing Home to My Self

“I have already lost touch with a couple of people i used to be.” ~ Joan Didion

October always feels like a month of change. It’s hard not to take note of the metaphor of things coming to an end with all the leaves falling to their natural completion. Humans are more like nature than we ever want to admit.

I’m no different and now I’m ready to not only accept this inevitable passing of time, but now I mean to surrender it. As SURRENDER is my word of the year, i have been on a journey with it this year. Now it’s become an invited guest on my adventure called life. I’m not going to lie though, it’s still a lesson i am learning: A part of me is being pulled through a new threshold, and at the same time another part wants to remain the same.

Initiation is the paradox that reflects a new version of me.

I spoke about my entry into High School Mom terrain last month. Besides this key rite of passage for my kiddo (and therefore me on the periphery), I am on the cusp of another massive personal developmental change. I don’t just mean menopause, but something else that accompanies it – the end of a stretch of 7 years of growth. In both Traditional Chinese Medicine and Rudolf Steiner’s 7-Year Cycle Model, the pattern is based on a process that changes every 7 years. The phase i am in now is the time of Soul Searching that ends at 49. This is the time for Wonder for the Spirit Self. As i’m near the end of it, i’m glad that i know this – the end of this stage is coming and i don’t have to be surprised or grieve it too late.

Speaking of Perimenopause, i would be remiss not to also acknowledge it here. Especially as October is World Menopause Month. I now have so much more understanding of my mom’s life, and also grief and regret that i did not ask her more about this change when she was alive. I rarely looked at her for guidance in general, and i deeply regret that.

So I turned to the second best resource, one that I share with my mom – books.

In the book, 7 Transforming Gifts of Menopause, the author describes how having clarity and courage, expanded time and spiritual freedom, as well as access to our authentic self can be the alchemizing ingredients that we need to step into this major and unspoken rite of passage.

And maybe, just maybe, it’s worth unpacking an old theory about this liminal space with a more feminist and critical lens – as Rites of Passage was first deemed a concept by a well-established and white anthropologist, it is safe to assume he did not have everyday regular folk in mind, let alone women going through their womanly changes.

“Change and transition are not meant to be easy. With every shift you make in your life, whether it’s a relationship ending, a job change or city change, a friendship ending, new identities emerging, or loss, you will inevitably experience both grief and expansion. That’s the thing about transitions. You will lose something, but if your eyes and heart are open, you will grow. Even through the hard stuff. You will grieve and you will grow. Make sure you hold space for both.” ~ Vienna Pharaon

I feel firmly rooted in this stage of my life. I am starting to reflect on how it got here. To be honest, some of it was a surprise, and some of it was under the cover of being in lockdown. Some of this journey has been a way of grieving the loss of my mom, and accepting this new place i live in. I am embracing this balance of tending to my own life in front of me while also holding space for my ancestors and their unfinished lives.

And so yes, some of it was very intentional.

This is me starting to step out of Mother and into my Virgin Era. I know that may not make sense because the word carries a very different meaning. Think more like a good virgin olive oil, or virgin wool – pure onto itself. In Marion Woodman’s work, a virgin is a woman who is whole unto herself. She is awakened to live her life more fully and intentionally for herself. I think it’s also about finding balance. This archetype occurs in a woman’s life after she becomes a mother, and before she enters elderhood. Most don’t get to live in this place.

A big part of this is because patriarchy has taught us that our worth as women is tethered to our ability to mother. When we are older and deemed too old to bear children, our short-lived and near-sighted worth becomes obsolete – in the eyes of a male-centred world that is.

“I think midlife is when the Universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear: I’m not screwing around. It’s time.” ~ Brené Brown

Archetypes Can Guide Us
Recognizing that i was in this transitionary stage of no longer a young mother anymore, and not quite ready to be a Crone, i knew i had to turn to who has been here before me. So this year, a goal of mine was to be a student of archetypes. Who better than these wise elders to give me guidance? More specifically, feminine archetypes, the divine or sacred feminine, as well as goddesses that i was never curious about before. This commitment lead me to Maureen Murdock’s reframe of the Hero’s Journey – which she calls the heroine’s journey for the path of the fool. I love how she unpacks the various stages and turns. This website offers a great guide if you are also curious and want to dive deeper into this work.

Most of us have heard of the triple goddess archetypes – the Maiden, Mother and Crone. But did you know there are more feminine archetypes? Like Sage, Mystic, Warrior, Lover, or Huntress?

In reading the wonderful new book Sage, Huntress, Lover, Queen by Mara Branscombe, i’m noticing that both the Sage and Lover are aligned with my journey to Virgin. They are midlife archetypes for women. They are all whole unto themselves. They intentionally bring together their outside relationships and career to come into unity with their inner self and life’s calling. Their service to the world no longer outweighs their own inner journey. This is the practice is leaning towards wholeness, and not assuming one archetypes is the answer-for-all.

Jane Hardwicke Collings is a wise elder who speaks directly about this change. She has coined the term Sagescence to mirror the rite of passage that is similar to adolescence and matrescence. She shared that “sagescence brings with it many gifts. We become more self-focused and motivated to take care of ourselves. We are gifted with the opportunity to heal all the unhealed parts of ourselves. We fully align with the lunar cycle as this replaces our menstrual cycle. Our visionary capacity and intuition grow and grow. Our leadership skills arise or get stronger. And our orgasms get stronger and longer!”

Not only do we remain sexual and pleasure-seeking, i love this reframe that our pleasure is intensified in elder years, not diminished as is usually the story.

When we know that our personal story is reflected in an overarching archetypal one, a sense of relief and being seen is felt. Sometimes, it’s a felt sense of understanding and validation that we get. I know for me, i feel less alone – this is my story and many before me. Now my inner voice that has been calling for me can sigh out a bit as she knows i hear her calling. What’s different now is that I’m less afraid to ignore her.

Photo Credit: Paula Dicu

How does this stage of life look? I’m glad you asked because it’s wonderful! For one, we get to go out again and do things just for the sake of fun, however that looks like as the 47-year old i am. It’s now that i’m starting to really enjoy date nights with my partner, instead of the transactional dates that helped us survive as a couple in early parenthood. I am taking dance classes and attending women’s circles again. I have even gone to some weekend retreats. Some of you may have been doing this all along, and that’s amazing. The difference in this stage is that it’s not to balance or get a break from my mother role and work. Rather it’s because the call to work as a mother is less hands-on, and it’s been integrated into my life as a whole (see that word creeping in here?)

I have been a Thousand Different Women by Emory Hall
make peace with all the women you once were
lay flower sat their feet
offer them incense and honey and forgiveness
honor them and give them your silence
bless them and let them be.
for they are the bones of the temple you sit in now.
for they are the rivers of wisdom leading you toward the sea.

As I am crossing through this portal into this next stage of life, my life, I am feeling more certain about it. And I’ve been tracking the guide posts that have been lighting the way for me. I’ve reflected on this and have noticed a few key elements that have been anchors for me during this time. A few years ago, my word of the year was rise and since then I’ve been really holding it close to help me steer my path. I find it holds a nice complement to other words I’ve had recently like breathe and Grace. As of course, I love a good acronym that helps us find our way even more clearly and succinctly so maybe this resource will come in handy for you as well.

How to RISE Up into the Latest Evolution of Your Self
1) Reflect on your Path to Now
It’s important to always start with looking back on what was, what brought you to this point and if you continues to serve and resonate with you. We need to grief what has ended, even if it is at its completion. For instance, my work has evolved to reflect where i am now. I started my career as a crisis counsellor. My work pivoted when I became a mother, both to change my hours to ensure I had more balance, and then eventually even more when I would work more specifically with mothers in my private practice.

October is when i celebrate the decision to leap into my private practice full-time. It was 3 years ago this month that i made the leap. I have always wanted to have my own private practice as a therapist. And i have never looked back on my decision with regret or second guessing. This has been a wonderful testament on how i have leveled up, or evolved in my work and life in general.

2) Integrate the New Pieces
Previous parts don’t necessary have to go by the wayside. In fact, they can be honoured and acknowledged for all the work they did to get you to right here right now. Even if they are flawed and stuck – they served a purpose. In order to truly transform into this new stage, though, we need to cross the portal with both fit in. So, spend some time pondering just what versions of you do you still need and want by your side? What new roles, identities, or strengths will best serve you? For instance, i loved learning that my Sexual Self is not lost to me. She has been waiting by the sidelines too long and i can whisper to you now that by no way is it 100% true our libido is diminished when we age. We evolve in this way too, i think, actually. You did see the reference to orgasm being especially yummy later in life right? Enough said…

Of course, my Wild Lover is not my only new Part – i also am excited to have my Mystic, Sage, and Creatrix there as main characters of my life’s soap opera.

A simple way to incorporate this new version of is is to start bringing your new goals or intentions into your everyday life, even in small incremental steps. This can be in a sacred morning ritual to help this transition. It can be an update to your skincare routine, a new lotion, or a way to adorn yourself daily. Oh, i can’t speak more highly about the magic of adornment! It is truly an act of divination.

3) Support
We are social creatures, and our bodies are designed for connection – literally. We have a social engagement system built into our nervous system. If you are skeptical of this, just think of mirror neorons and oxytocin. We thrive in community with others who are here as well. The word ‘coven’ carries a witchy connotation these days. It’s hard not to think of women in black dresses dancing around a fire. But originally, the term meant a group of like-minded folks gathering together. We need others to reflect back what we are thinking. We need others to also show that we are not alone on this journey.

It’s hard to keep in touch with friends in this stage of life, because life keeps calling us away. So we need to be intentional about this commitment to our close ones. Find the people in your life that mirror back what you are passionate about. You may not be as alone as you think you are. Jen Berlingo refers to herself as a life traveller and her book Midlife Emergence is on my wish list. She speaks about this need to create a village, and one suggestion is to be persistent and keep inviting your people to gather. This is wisdom i have been implementing this year.

4) Embrace and Embody this New Self
I find this step is a key element of deepening into this new skin. Otherwise, things remain intellect-having and more transactional. We need to embody the change. One way i am doing this is by redefining my style and dressing my age. For a while, i resisted it – i was fighting the drive to dress a certain way. Now. i have come into my own with how i dress. All my younger parts are so happy to have me feel confident and in my element. This is my flowy dress era. It has always been important for me that my style matches the inner me. More importantly, not only do i dress my age, i now see the rite of passage of becoming this style also mature: How my pre-teen daughter dresses is how i USED to dress. I have evolved.

Another way to alchemize this passage is by being witnessed as you cross the threshold: Be honoured in ceremony. Host a gathering, a circle, or a party if you feel called to do so. I am doing just that and i can’t wait! More on that next month, i promise!

If you need any further guidance or practice to help you find your way home back to yourself, meditate and cast a vision of the future you are dreaming about. Visit with the archetypes that inspire and resonate with you. Or check out this article, it may be helpful.

And remember, we are all works in progress, changing even without our full attention. If we do it with more intention, our dream life can be within reach. I have transformed: And yes, it may still include butterfly wings – i just wear them on the inside now.

Surrendering into That Kind of Mom

I want to be that mom. That mom that is always ready to have her kids’ gaggle of friends over on a whim or moment’s notice. That mom who has her kids and their friends come to her for support or guidance.

As my kids get older, i am starting to see just why i want to be that mom. It’s because i’m a therapist and am well versed in hard vulnerable conversations. The ones that need to happen and rarely don’t. It’s also because i so needed that in my own childhood. My mom couldn’t be that for me. She tried – she got the snacks ready, she hosted the sweetest birthday parties in my younger years. And yet, i couldn’t turn to her for the big stuff as i got older.

For one reason, it’s because she was faced with her own big stuff. I know this because she turned to ME for support and guidance, for solace and to grieve.

When my youngest kid’s friend recently had a period scare, i was that mom – that mom who was not only at the right place at the right time, but also that mom who they could come to in their embarrassing need for help.

And it was a few months later that i was told i made it to the Cool Mom Club. Did you know that was a thing? It’s not really. I made it up but i know that we all claim to not care about it. That we would rather be the kind or funny mom. I don’t want to be the (insert sport here) mom, or the chauffeur mom.

I do like the sound of the cool mom though.

It means i am someone who is safe to turn to for embarrassing stories, hushed secrets, for questions that are hard to ask but important to, and to feel less alone in this thing called life.

Recently, my cool mom status was put to a further test when i let my kids go on amusement park rides on New Year’s Eve. The test really came when i agreed to go ON a ride. You know the one, it’s where we go sideways and backwards really fast and lose all sense of gravity. My first mistake was thinking i was not only cool enough but young enough. My second mistake was picking the seat for pure colour (it was PURPLE) and not logistics like it spins more.

In the end, I did get off the ride when it was over. I also needed to take care of myself by sitting on the curb for quite a few moments to gather my bearings. It also meant that my family was able to care for me while i took one for the team. My daughter also was grateful to share the experience of this ride that took me by surprise in more ways than one.

“Always appear what you are, and you will not pass through existence without enjoying its genuine blessings, love and respect.” Mary Wollstonecraft

Now that my kids are not so little anymore, their pains and feelings are getting bigger. They are in fact very similar to ‘real life’ stuff like managing conflict with friends and peers, healing their own heartbreak, and figuring out who they are. Me eldest child is starting high school in the Fall, and is really thinking about who they are. My youngest kiddo is dealing with friend drama and is heartbroken with a recent full-blown conflict with people she thought were her best friends.

When i hold them in their pain at age 2 – and it’s about sharing their favourite toy – i can be there to hold them in the much bigger life lessons. I can’t stop the pain from happening but i can be there to hold them so they are less alone in the pain that has to metabolize and heal.

This is what i truly wanted and did not get as a child. I had a bully and mean girl drama in grade 6 that was very isolating and alone. I was alone in my suffering and i do not want that to be the experience for my own kids. My mom didn’t really know my friends as i got older, and my peer orientation became so separate from my life at home. I also have to track my own reactions so that i don’t transfer my scars unto my kiddos. What is mine is not theirs. Thank goddess for good books like THIS ONE that keep me on the right path.

I may not sing in key, but i also know a lot of the best and most current pop songs, even if they are sourced by Tiktok. By the way, while my status as a cool mom is valid, i am not that mom that will allow my 10-year old to be on Tiktok or have a phone. I’m still very much a cool AND feminist eyes-wide-open mom.

This recent experience also helped me anchor my word for the year, which is SURRENDER. I don’t see surrender as giving in but rather soften into trying something.
Surrender is not giving up. It is much more active than that. It is not passive, but rather permission giving. Surrender is sovereign. It is not giving my agency or power to someone else. Permission from within to myself.

It also means i do not have to do it alone. Surrender is a very intentional acceptance of softening, which allows for the gift of vulnerability of asking for help. It means reaching out at the same time as turning inward. So, it’s time for me to read the beautiful wisdom of Sil Reynolds’ book Mothering and Daughtering. She co-wrote it with her own daughter when she was a teen. I’m ready now to accept my new phase of motherhood is to teenagers – this is new terrain indeed. Just when i thought i knew what i was doing with school-age children, they are now blossoming into adolescence.

So, as all rites of passage remind me – this is the ebb and flow of life. It is the birth/death/rebirth cycle. Speaking of witch (ha ha!), this year, I plan to surrender to my witchy side, to the divine feminine in me, to the goddess. This is a part of me I have been keeping hidden and quiet. I’m ready to surrender to this calling. Surrender is spiritual and divine, it is acts of ritual and an all-in attitude of acceptance.

I’m also planning to offer something new in my work. So surrender is needed to take this next step, to stop resisting this dream. Stay tuned! Hint: I’m putting the final touches on a course for parenting after experiencing trauma!

Surrender is also needed to help guide me away from stuckness. It is about making peace with the messy parts of life. I hope it gives me space and new ways that are aligned with the me I have evolved into. Not the old me.

Each year, I find words that act as guideposts or lights for my main word. Besides the theme for each month, these words play a role in helping me make a decision. Some are seasonal and some are more regular visitors.

Let’s see how I will surrender myself into this.

The Serpent and the Butterfly: Shedding the Skin that No Longer Serves

When i was contemplating my decision to have children many moons ago, i had to ask myself some hard questions. What kind of mother did i want to be? Did i want to be a mother? Who would be part of my village as a support to me? What work did i have to do first in order to show up as a mother? Did i feel aligned with the label of Mother, and how would parenting change me?

In order to help me grapple with these questions, i looked at my models of motherhood. I reflected on these relationships to help me get a sense of this role. My own mother was very invested in her identity as a mother. She made sacrifices as a woman, a newcomer to Canada, in order to be as present and active as a mom. She took my sister and i to every dance, music and swim class. She sat in the lobbies and waited for us. She showed up and was always around. Of course, she had a life outside of us but i didn’t really see it, nor ask her. It was assumed that she was solely, or at least mainly, mom.

I looked at other mothers – my friends’ moms, my dance teacher, TV characters – all mainly showed that mothers martyred themselves for their children even when they balanced this role with other parts of their life.

“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.” ~ragneesh

In the end, i knew that i wanted to include children in my own life, and yet i also knew that remaining a therapist was important to me too. I further knew that keeping parts of me active was imperative in my transition into motherhood, and coming out of the other side of it. While i appreciated the sacrifices mothers made at the time, i knew we deserved better ourselves.

And yet all the good books on becoming mothers and having children were more about how to feed and clothe babies, instead of helping us with this major rite of passage we experience. Patriarchy still enforces, and not so subtly at times, that women’s role is to raise children: That it’s an inherent knowing versus a learning-as-we go imperfect model. We are told to bounce back to who we were before, or at least our bodies are supposed to.
We are not meant to bounce back. We are not the same as before. We are not yo-yos or slinky toys. We may be better or not but we are clearly changed. We all die these little deaths in our lifetime, because we are supposed to.

When it came to this massive shedding of skin and reckoning, mothers are still coming out of the goo of chrysalids on their own. While we are creating a new skin, the idea of being more than a mom is still kept in the shadows.

Now, 12 years into parenthood, i have a better sense of the mother i want to be. I also know that we cannot make this transformation alone. Luckily, there are more books, resources, and communities that speak about this openly and directly.

The death of former me is now my chance to rebirth a new version of myself. This is the snakeskin transition. And yet, we are not given time or permission to grieve the old version of us. We are supposed to jump all in and celebrate motherhood wholeheartedly. We arn’t supposed to regret it, and if you do…good luck.

We need to grieve for the person who we were or hoped to become, and also take from her what we want to continue holding. This is alchemy in human-form. Alchemists work to completely change (or devour) what was in order to become something new and stronger. It is meant to be a cyclical process.

I participated in a powerful workshop over the summer, where Kimberly Ann Johnson had Deborah Quibell as a guest. She is a Depth Psychologist who focuses on Matrilineal Reconstruction through the lens of Jungian Archetype work. I know that’s a mouthful and yet it really shows a light on this identity shift.

The pervasive and traditional paradigm of what makes a mother is based on these roles: nurturer, protector, empowerer and initiator. Phillip Moffitt speaks further about these functions in this amazing article by Bethany Webster. And yet, i also think that the Mother Archetype is deeper than that – she is the creator of life, of manifesting into being what was not there. This could be a child, but also creating art, a new job, or a garden. So much emphasis is put on the work of nurturer, protector, and empowerer that it seems to be disregarded that we also initiate, or create.

What we also create is a new version of ourself – our former version is now dead and we have been reborn as in this new archetype, identity, or role. So it’s important to ask yourself “where am I now? What is my transition now? WHO am i now?”

Jung spoke a lot about archetypes and the different processes of transformation. The process helps us contain and right us in our story. As a Cycle, it holds me with some parameters for safety. And yet, people going through this major metamorphosis of parenthood are not reminded of this shift overtly. This sea change has fallen to the shadows.

So, it’s important to revisit these archetypes, as a way of normalizing this magical identity crisis. This is where Empowerment comes – i cannot empower anyone else, that work comes from within and is embodied.

Some of us are not mothers by birth nor have children to care for. And yet, the Mother archetype is more than raising children directly. The concept of “Mother” archetype is when you are in the “full bloom phase of your life, where you step into maturity and claim your inner power. It is about losing the charge of the child (or “maiden”), answering your soul’s inner calls, tending to your own inner wounds from a place of maturity—so that you can answer the convictions and calls of the world that is in such desperate need of mature feminine, Mother energy.” If you want to learn more about this, check out Sarah Durham Wilson of Motherspirit – her work is transformative.

The Mother archetype is for anyone, including those of us who is not a physical mother —it’s one thing to be a mother and another thing to be in the Mother phase of life.

Marion Woodman was a Jungian analyst who focused on this body of research. “The woman who is a virgin, one in herself, does what she does not for power or out of the desire to please, but because what she does is true.” This article dives deep into her work, as she believed the archetypal rite of passage was maiden-mother-virgin-crone I kind of love that she tried to reclaim the word ‘virgin’ to better reflect someone who is

There’s a beautiful word called matrescence that speaks to this messy transition and change in role and identity. Only after becoming a mother of two did i see i wasn’t prepared for the grief and loss of my life beforehand. When I realized this rite of passage needs to be messy and then integrated, it allowed me more self-compassion, acceptance and autonomy with this new role. Not all of us who are maternal are mothers and not all of us identify as mothers, and yet it’s such an age-old expectation. So having time to grieve is a empowering way of holding on to our full range of feelings. Having space to share these thoughts is itself a wonderful way of finding community when we feel so invisible.

All change takes time to integrate. The transition into motherhood takes up to 2 years. It’s a messy process, not unlike a butterfly coming from the goo of a chrysalis. Jessie Harrold speaks about this a lot and i love that she also refers to this messy transition as goo. In this article, she shares more about this change of rites of the heart.

“What the caterpillar sees is the end the rest of the world has not met as the butterfly”. ~Lao Tzu

Rites of Passage have three phases: separation, liminality, and incorporation (integration), as van Gennep describes: “I propose to call the rites of separation from a previous world, preliminal rites, those executed during the transitional stage liminal (or threshold) rites, and the ceremonies of incorporation into the new world postliminal rites.”

Here is a summary of the three stages of transformation:
1) Nigredo – Separation or Death
Here, we are reminded that we need the dark soil to give us nutrients. The shadow is not a bad or dark place, but a necessary reflection of richness in the dark. It is a passage, and opening. So, similar to the chrysalid, we need to take this time to retreat inward and reflect on our journey thus far, be in the moment, and breathe

If we think of a garden, it needs the dark soil to give nutrients and the shadow to let it grow. There is Richness in the dark. That is why we now hear the phrase “dark night of the soul’ as a passage: When we recognize this as a necessity to move through, it’s easier to do so.

If you are in this Phase, take some time to 1) Meditate on softness, breathe fully 2) retreat inward or in nature, 3) be still and settle in. Drop down, just like the model of a garden dropping its roots in the underworld 4) find images that are peaceful in the darkness 5) light candles to honour the shadows

This process creates a fight within us. When we break apart, that’s when we see the light. So we need the darkness to help us and guide us where to go

2) Albedo – Liminal (neutral) Space Between
This is a time that brings some clarity. We start to wash away impurities or inconsistencies. This is a marked change in attitude and deeper meaning to the process of change. So, it’s important to not rush and declare suffering is over. There is still some fragility and vulnerability in this new version of you – again, i see a young seedling that is trying to survive an early Spring storm.

The people in your life may expect more of you than you can give. They might try to put their thoughts on you. So instead, honour the quiet moment for its simple, innocent beauty. Embody a felt sense of joy and relief to come out of darkness. Ask who has come, and what does it need? Get close to suffering and sift it to find the gold.

It is still early to explain this to others as you are still tender here. What is the conversation you want now? You haven’t truly integrated yet – this is the liminal space that is messy and tender. You may still be bracing in case you may suffer again. As Deboarah put it, “it is Daybreak but not sunrise quite yet”

A ritual here could be to light a candle and then say out loud what you want to bring out of the shadows. Bringing the Shadow into the light with curiosity, self-love or compassion. The more we can embody our feelings, we are able to bring into the forefront our shadow. Movement and dance are key. Breathwork and posture helps too.

3) Rubedo – Integration and New Beginnning
This is the time of reckoning, of integration into a fully initiated and incorporated Self. It is when we are bursting in our new bloom and bounty. There is a warmth and light of consciousness, and yet there may be still a slight inner conflict as a part still wants the old, the new is still raw. This is when the butterfly sines in the light, or a new flower blossoms in all her glory.

We need to embody this new place in order to integrate it into our other parts. Some Parts have died. Others are new and don’t feel integrated or seamless yet.

So, ask yourself questions: Who am I now? What came out of this change? What do I need to bring to the world? How to bring out the story into that world. This is where the warmth and glow starts to happen – the gift of my transformation.

Don’t ignore this new self who worked so hard to appear and be heard.

One activity I love to do as a way to honour this phase and completion is to make an artifact or anchor. First, do a mindfulness exercise to see where you can locate that sensation in your body now. If it had a colour what would it be, a shape, a smell or temperature? Create the item in clay, paint it, collage, or write a poem about it.

Why am i going into detail about this? For one, it’s because a big part of my work is supporting people with their transition into parenthood as well as the metamorphosis that happens as they incorporate all their Parts back together. For another reason, i see so many of us still stuck in the role of mother, and they haven’t yet crossed the threshold into a fully initiated being. So many of us get stuck in Stage 2 – the liminal space of the role of mother superseding all else. We deserve better. Patriarchy wants us to stay in this place. It needs us to still identify more as a mother or in the Mother Nurturer realm. Patriarchy is afraid of our power and wisdom, that comes with a deeper connection to feminine energy. Patriarchy needs us to be stuck in our role as mothers, and doesn’t value us as more than that.

I have been grateful to witness this Collective emergence, both from the pandemic and reclaiming sacred feminine power/energy. There has been a re-wilding of our feminine energies, our sexual root energies that connect excitement and pleasure mixed with nurturance and creativity of mother. This excites me as i know I’m not alone in this calling to be more than a mom, to be a fully initiated woman.

For too long, the Divine Feminine and Mother archetypes have been hidden by their shadow parts. They have been deemed as less than, as secondary. This has led women to internalize shame about their worthiness and sovereignty. There has been a reckoning in becoming comfortable with the unknown, be wild and be with people who are okay with this.

As Sarah of Motherspirit reminds us “until a woman descends into herself..her own worth, purpose and voice, She will be seeking these treasures outside of herself for a lifetime, and no one will be served.She will remain a child begging for permission to trust herself, to feel her feelings, to take the healthy risks to bloom.”

Recognizing those archetypes in us helps us know ourselves more fully and that can lead us to being more intimate with ourselves and authentic. Having stories like these help us see the larger story of humanity and not just our own personal experience. It allows space to play with this new capacity of being a person who creates life (or art, or gardens) as well as the one who gives it vitality and energy to thrive. This is that fine balance shedding skin that no longer fits and coming out as a more full version of you.