Are you keeping the fire?

My word for 2018 is reclaiming. It reflects my desire to live out of the truth of all I am. My challenge has always been, like many women, I am high in the personality trait of agreeableness. We are great at building relationships and bringing people together. The downside is that we can lose what is important to us over time. We become very good at defering to others because we value harmony. If you have ever said, "I'm good with what everyone else wants to do",  you are being agreeable.

Over the past decade, I have been reclaiming the part of me that loves being outdoors. I have great memories of being outdoors when I was growing up. It was normal for kids to be outside playing and I spent a lot of time at the nearby creek. My family camped. We frequently went for picnics at conservation parks. During my adult years I spent more and more time in the city and less time in the woods. Time in nature became an event.

At this stage of life I find myself drawn more and more to experiencing life outdoors. When I am in the woods I feel most at peace and most alive. I fantasize about living in a cabin in the woods (if everyone would agree to it!).

As happy as I feel in the woods, I also am aware that I am lacking skills that will help increase my comfort and confidence levels and allow me to explore more. So I looked for an adult education program and signed up. A few weeks ago I participated in the first weekend of a six month wilderness training program .

One of the most powerful experiences of the weekend happened on our final day. After we had a brief introduction to fire making, we were sent solo into the woods to build and start a fire and then tend it while we had our lunch and reflected on all we had learned on the weekend. I was very anxious about starting a fire. As it turns out, starting the fire and tending the fire were two different skills. But since there were matches at our disposal the fire starting wasn't too difficult.

It's a long story so reach out to me if you want the details and I'll tell you all I learned. Suffice it to say, it was deeply profound for me. And although I was very moved at the time, I didn't expect it to stay with me and continue to surface over the last few weeks. Don't you just love when that happens?

As I work with women, I see the metaphor as firekeepers and tending the fire as being highly relevant. I am reading a book about Life Stages and Native Women (see below (#book) ). The author mentions Scots-Métis author Amelia Paget, "She writes about how difficult it was to start a fire by friction or by flint stone, and pointed out, 'as the Indians had such difficulty in starting a fire, to the older and more responsible women would be entrusted the task of keeping it alight. And when moving from one place to another these old women would carry a lighted torch of wood, always watching to see that the spark did not die out'."

I love the idea of being a firekeeper or fire-tender. It is a metaphor for the lives of women. As we progress through life we put a lot of energy into where we are building our fires and getting them started. But the real work is keeping them going. There is a tending that we need to do. We need to keep the fire going for ourselves as well as for our families and communities.

If you are struggling with keeping a flame going in your life, reach out to me. We can schedule a session to talk about how you can tend it.  


I just discovered Life Stages and Native Women at my local library. I've been enjoying reading about the wisdom of women that is passed down through the generations. I decided to take the plunge and order a copy of it. It was written by a Cree/Métis educator living in Guelph Ontario. It focuses on the stages of a woman's life and how First Nation's peoples understood and valued these stages as a contribution to healthy community. Click on the cover to order.

Note: I am an Amazon Associate so I receive a small fee for any books purchased through my posts. You don't incur any additional charges.

Your Truth:

  • When you read this post did you think of any areas in your life that you have neglected or drifted away from?
  • What do you dream of doing that doesn't seem possible in your life right now?
  • Do you resonate with being a 'firekeeper'?
  • What are some of your values you would like to pass on to future generations? 

Full Moon, Imbolc and Ground Hog Day! Oh My!


You are probably celebrating and observing more special days than you realize. Most of us have several days we celebrate during the year: birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, etc. We use those days to honour people and relationships that are significant in our lives.

Those who have a religious tradition will have additional days that they observe. Easter, Day of Antonement, Nirvana Day and Ramadan are a few that come to mind. (If you are interested in viewing an Interfaith Calendar click here.

And then there are cultural specific days and once religious holidays that are now secularized days, like St. Patrick's Day and Christmas. Your calendar can get quite full very quickly!

For those of us who are longing to deepen our spiritual connection there is an opportunity to align meaningful practices with special days. I've written about my practice of walking a labyrinth on the last day of the year as an example. Sometimes, choosing a new day, a day that is free of past baggage can also provide you with an opportunity to create something fresh. And when it comes to spiritually connecting, especially if you find yourself disillusioned with the traditions of your past, fresh can feel really life-giving. In the past few years I've started celebrating certain days that help create rhythms in the year. Here are a few ideas and how I've observed these days.

Moon Cycles: On Reframe Your Life, my co-host and I interviewed Ezzie Spencer from Lunar Abundance. You can listen to the episode here. When I first heard Ezzie interviewed on another podcast I was a little skeptical. I thought a moon cycle practice might be a little too 'woo-woo' for me. What I learned through the interview was that the moon can set a rhythm in our lives. Not just the full moon but all the moon phases. Listen to the episode for her thoughts and ideas.

I've become quite intentional about taking time to observe the moon phases. I even purchased a calendar this year that follows the moon cycles. Today is a full moon (a bad ass - Super Blue Moon Total Eclipse) . I've started doing a walk under the full moon. In warmer weather I go to the waterfront with a friend. We reflect on the weeks passed since the last full moon. We've built a small fire at times and written things we want to release on pieces of paper and burn them. Tonight I have been invited to a small gathering of people to come around a friend who is at a crossroads. She chose tonight for this meeting because of the full moon. She felt it would be symbolic for this discussion. There are some things she wants to release and some new things to embrace.

Imbolc: (Also called (Saint) Brigid's Day) Imbolc is a Gaelic traditional festival marking the beginning of spring. Most commonly it is held on 1/2 February, or about halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals—along with Beltane, Lughnasadhand Samhain.

Imbolc is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and there is evidence it has been an important date since ancient times. It is believed that it was originally a pagan festival associated with the goddess Brigid (goddess of fertility) and that it was Christianized as a festival of Saint Brigid, who is thought to be a Christianization of the goddess.

At Imbolc, Brigid's crosses were made and a doll-like figure of Brigid, called a Brídeóg, would be paraded from house-to-house. Brigid was said to visit one's home at Imbolc. To receive her blessings, people would make a bed for Brigid and leave her food and drink, while items of clothing would be left outside for her to bless. Brigid was also invoked to protect homes and livestock. (source: Wikipedia)

In the last few years I have been exploring more of my Irish roots and feeling drawn to Celtic practices. Last year was the first year I actually did anything to observe Imbolc. I love this idea from Abby of the Hearts: On the eve of January 31st it is traditional to leave a piece of cloth or ribbon outside the house. It was believed that St Brigid’s spirit traveled across the land and left her curative powers in the brat Bride (Brigid’s Mantle or cloth). It was then used throughout the year as a healing from sickness and protection from harm.

Ground Hog Day: OK, so maybe this was a bit tongue in cheek but why not start a tradition. In many ways it is similar to Imbolc. It is a time when North Americans look to nature to give us a sign that winter will be ending. You may not think of it in terms of the spiritual but why not? And think about how people observe and celebrate Ground Hog Day. It has all the makings of a holy day - animals, tradition, crowds gathering, celebration, beliefs! All that it needs is for you to attach a practice to it that gives it meaning for you.

There are other days that I have started to observe. At one time it seemed odd to me to celebrate anything outside the tradition I knew. It seemed a bit out there to me. But as I have expanded in my thinking I've realized that was my own issue. In the future I will write about the Summer Solstice and what I have learned about celebrating this annual day. No matter what day it is - holy days, special days, and natural cycles provide us with an opportunity to be intentional about connecting with nature, with ourselves and with the Divine. I think that is worth celebrating!

Take it further:

  • On a blank calendar (printed or electronic) note all the days that you currently observe in some way.
  • Review the inter-faith calendar - is there anything you want to add?
  •  If you are interested in following the moon - add the full moon and new moon to your calendar (or visit Ezzie Spencer's website above and download her free calendar).  
  • Are there any other days that interest you that you would like to explore? Add them to your calendar.
  • Are you experiencing any resistance to the idea of observing special days during the year that may be outside of your tradition? Sit with that resistance and explore where it comes from.
  • Look at your calendar and think about all the days on it. How can you be more intentional about making meaning on those days?
  • Would you like to explore how to build spiritual practices into your life? Set up a call with me to discuss how I can support you.

Making Peace with Geckos

I am not a big fan of the gecko. When I share that with most people they gush about geckos like a new grandma gushes about her grandbaby (guilty). "Oh, they are so cute." or "They eat mosquitos. They are great to have around." (Side note: So do bats but no one is gushing about them.) I feel like I have to defend or hide my gecko issues.


I am convinced that geckos have that cat like ability to be drawn to the person in the room who least wants to be around them. And so when I travel to a warm climate, I know they will seek me out. They will find my room and wait until just before I turn off the light to make their appearance. When I compare notes over breakfast the next morning with my travel companions, I usually discover they didn't have any geckos in their room. So, recently when I travelled to Cambodia I expected to see a gecko in my room. I've been there four times in the last few years and I have had the joy of the company of geckos and other lizards every time. I wasn't disappointed. There on my FIRST night in the hotel, a large(ish) gecko made it's jubilant appearance on the wall across from my bed. As I lay there looking at it and wondering if it had a twin on the wall right behind me, I decided to take a different approach.

I decided to try and understand my enemy. I

've been really interested in the spiritual significance of animals in the past few years. It may seem a little out there to some of you, but in many cultures, including indigenous cultures and Celtic cultures, animals have symbolism and there are beliefs that animals cross our paths to teach us something. There is a belief that all of creation is imbued with spiritual meaning. I'm open.

So, was it possible that the gecko could teach me something?

Thanks to jet lag and Google I spent some time learning about the gecko. I discovered that it is known for self-protection and regrowth. The gecko when threatened will drop its tail as a decoy and can regrow another one. It symbolizes that natural cycle of life. They are said to indicate that it is time to stand on your own and make your views and presence known.

I decided it was time to make peace with this creature. Peace not friendship. I thanked it for showing up in my room. I told it to help itself to all the mosquitos and I would try not to freak out when I saw it dart across the wall. (Yes, I talked out loud to a gecko.) And then I turned the light off. Would you be surprised that I rarely saw my friend after that first night? In almost two weeks I only saw him a couple of times. I guess other people needed a lesson.

For further reflection:

Who or what do you need to make peace with? Is there a message in something you are currently experiencing? How can you be more open to hear from a voice that you may not be comfortable with?