Flying pigs and photo created by Joke Mensink, a dear friend and a special light amongst the many wildly creative and talented artists within our amazing Gabriola community.

This week another Herceptin and chemo treatment and then, if all goes according to plan, Maria Gomori and I will be off to Anaheim, California for the Milton Erickson Evolution of Psychotherapy conference.   I’ll be doing all I can to muster my strength so I don’t miss this.  It only occurs every four years and we have made it a tradition to attend together for the past several conferences.   In 2018 Maria will be turning 98 years old, I will be discovering what it means to be on Sabbatical.  We will be traveling by plane unless one or two of Joke’s pigs appear to offer us a ride.

Maria will be presenting at the conference and honored as Faculty.   Approximately 8,000 people attend from around the globe to experience luminaries in their varying fields such as Irvin Yalom, Jean Houston, Dan Siegel, Jack Kornfield, Erving Polster, Peter Levine, The Gottmans, Harville Hendrix, Sue Johnson, Martin Seligman, Esther Perel, Antonio Domasio, Robert Dilts, Jeffrey Zeig.  Apparently Tipper Gore will be there this year, I am curious about that.  Last conference the guest was Alanis Morisette.  Past Faculty has included Virginia Satir, Carl Rogers, Carl Whitaker, Thomas Szasz, Rollo May, Ronald Laing, Viktor Frankl, James Bugenthal, Bruno Bettleheim and most recently Salvador Minuchin. I’ve always found experiencing people in person to be rich learning.  I, and several of us who have been involved with Haven for so many years have had the privilege of learning directly from Virginia Satir, Thomas Szasz, James Bugenthal and Carl Whitaker in the Heron session room.   I call this conference my “appreciation fix” for what is offered at Haven, recognizing the depth of integration of so many current approaches, including the skilled and deeply relational aspect that is so often missing from others.

One of this year’s presenters that I am most excited to experience will be David Whyte, speaking about SOLACE:  The Art of Asking the Beautiful Question.  I often offer his poetry to those who participate in my workshops.  Here is one of the passages I love to share, and also take guidance from for myself, from his book Consolations:

SOLACE is the art of asking the beautiful question, of ourselves, of our world or of one another, in fiercely difficult and un-beautiful moments.

Solace is what we must look for when the mind cannot bear the pain, the loss or the suffering that eventually touches every life and every endeavor; when longing does not come to fruition in a form we can recognize, when people we know and love disappear, when hope must take a different form than the one we have shaped for it.

Solace is the beautiful, imaginative home we make where disappointment can go to be rehabilitated. When life does not in any way add up, we must turn to the part of us that has never wanted a life of simple calculation. Solace is found in allowing the body’s innate wisdom to come to the fore, the part of us that already knows it is mortal and must take its leave of pain and difficulty, to the depth of suffering and simultaneous beauty in the world that the strategic mind by itself cannot grasp nor make sense of.

To look for solace is to learn to ask fiercer and more exquisitely pointed questions, questions that reshape our identities and our bodies and our relation to others. Standing in loss but not overwhelmed by it, we become useful and generous and compassionate and even amusing companions for others. But solace also asks us very direct and forceful questions. Firstly, how will you bear the inevitable that is coming to you? And above all, how will you shape a life equal to and as beautiful and as astonishing as a world that can birth you, bring you into the light and then just as you are beginning to understand it, take you away?

Albert at his best!

So, I wonder what is your beautiful question?

Doing my best to show up, be present, tell the truth and let go of the outcome.






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My sons, Jeff and Scott, Jeff in the foreground

Today, October 25, would have been my son Jeff’s fifty-second birthday. It has now been twenty years since his sudden death. Fifty-two years since I was in labour birthing him, in all his beauty, into this existence. Just over twenty years since living through my devastation by his death.

Given that grieving and loving are twins, and loving is eternal, then grieving is also eternal. Grieving is not a malady to recover from, not to be “gotten over” like an illness. I agree with the masters, Martin Prechtel and Stephen Jenkinson that grieving is indeed a skill. Living with grieving and loving, birthing and dying is a skill that can, and for some of us must, be learned.

There was a time when I wished to never again be brought to my knees the way I was when Jeff died. Although I won’t say I am completely free of that desire, I am coming closer to letting go of my attachment to even that expectation.

Jeff on the left, Scott on the right

I celebrate Jeff, a loving, creative, remarkable being and the brilliance of his existence. I celebrate my capacity and strength for loving and for grieving.  I celebrate Scott, my elder son, who shares the loving and grieving of his brother.  I celebrate Maxie, Jeff’s daughter who is now 19.  I celebrate Maxie’s mother Carrie, I celebrate all five of my grandchildren, including Maxie, Cameron, Samantha, Jeff and Rick and my six great-grandchildren Jaston, Kadia, Isaiah, Elijah, Isabella, Hendrix, I celebrate Cameron’s wife Kandice, Rick’s partner Isabella, Jeff’s partner Wayne, Samantha has a new partner I haven’t met yet and . . . oh so many lives to celebrate, their names are streaming through me but I’ll stop now.  And oh, so much to grieve.

I wonder if grieving is even the easier to bear of the twins — perhaps it is loving that renders the more exquisite agony? Perhaps the comparison is irrelevant, still I wonder.

Jeff on the left, Scott on the right








the three of us a long time ago on Gabriola — Scott on the left, Jeff on the right




These days there are times when I sit quietly and simply wonder. This morning what wafted in were sensations and images of circular connections. As my experiences wind their sometimes baffling circular way through the years then come to completion they interconnect with previous circles and cycles linking the ever-growing chain of my life. Often […]

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