Archive for July, 2010

The Journey Continues

It has been one week since taking flight. Part of me  is still flying while another part of me rests in disbelief – did I really jump from a plane? Three days after the jump our evidence arrived – the videotape of our experience. Other than the usual critique on how I looked in full flight gear (especially the helmet), I remain in awe as I see the door open and each person jump. In the final moments before my leap of faith I am staring into the camera unaware that I am being filmed, in full concentration and focused on positioning myself. I hear the staccato one-two-three and then see me disappear out the door ass over teakettle as we do our back flip. It takes my breath away as I watch it and yes, I feel the sense of exhilaration take hold of every muscle in my body. Both Jim and I enjoyed watching the evidence and I am sure will re-visit this many times as we share it with friends.

In Flight - July 18th, 2010

WOW! Freakin' Amazing'

Since then, friends and acquaintances have asked my if my fear of falling is now gone? I can’t say for sure. In those moments before jumping I was extraordinarily calm and it is that feeling I want to hold onto, to call it in whenever I am facing fear and let the calmness guide me. Will this be a challenge? It’s too early to tell and I feel like I have a strategy, a new tool in my arsenal of  choices.

Then the next question – what’s next on the bucket list? It’s time for an update and there is one small bucket list item that I plan to knock off fairly soon, one that is not as dramatic. I want a small tatoo of a flying heart over my left shoulder. I will keep you posted!

Critic to Coach
I have been playing with a new idea : From Critic to Coach. The idea has come up in conversation with my coaching clients as a side bar to re-programming the message of our self-critic. Several of my clients have noted that part of the critic’s voice is simply there to watch out for them and that perhaps not all of his/her messages are negative or damaging. I wanted to give this consideration. It occurred to me that while the critic’s message is less than ideal for most of us, it is based on old beliefs which no longer serve us and may be outdated. That said elements of the message may be valid albeit they need re-framing. The question simply stated is: Is your critic’s message spirit building or spirit depleting? If you wanted to shift it from spirit depleting (critic’s voice) to spirit building (coach’s voice) what would that sound like?

My thinking on all of this is that we do need to acknowledge the critic but we don’t have to believe her. We can value what she has to offer and challenge the message. We can re-frame the offering in a way that serves us and builds us up rather than diminishing us.

I would love to have your comments on this idea. It is the seed of a new work book associated with ME FIRST. Your thoughts?

Goddess Camp
For those of you living locally, we will be hosting the second annual Goddess Camp on August 28th, 2010. Join is for a day or reflection and intention.

Goddess Camp 2009

Until next time….


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Sign posted outside Sky Diving Area

Where do I begin? After a ten day delay, yesterday I finally made the big jump, faced my fear and took the leap. For the first time in my life I went skydiving. I am not sure how one describes the experience as some of the expletives I might like to use are not appropriate to put in this column. Suffice it to say that the two young ladies who dove before us simply said, “Freaking Awesome”. And that is a great summary!

Getting here has been an eighteen month journey which began at Beyond Courage, a five-day retreat in November 2008. As part of the program, we were learning how to pack a parachute.  I actually thought I was going to be using it but it turned out to be simply a team exercise. The seed however, was planted, my 60th birthday the occasion.

Jim and I arrived at the airport about two hours before our flight allowing us to see other skydivers come in and land. It looked easy and effortless. It was also incredibly beautiful, to look into the sky and see that speck of black high above separate from the plane, breaking free like a baby being birthed among the clouds.  Moments later the multicolored chute opens, wings are sprouted in that instant, the pace slows. The skydiver dances through air, painting designs in the sky.  The landing, the part I most feared ismanaged by the tandem master, and looks like sliding into first base. The entire experience looked magnificent!

 Jim and I were called over to the prep area. We were given a few minutes of basic instruction. “You will crawl on your knees to the door. Sit and put your feet on the step just outside the plane. Your tandem master will be behind you, firmly attached and then 1-2-3 jump! Sounds easy, non?” Maurice asked in his French accent. “Once you jump, ” he added, “you make like a babana. Press your head back into my shoulder and tuck your legs backward between mine. That will give me more control and trust me, you want me to be in control!”

He was full of humour and fun, gently teasing and reassuring us as he ‘geared us up’. The gear: a blue and orange jump suit; next a heavy leather harness which when tightened fully felt like a chastity belt and a very tight ‘lift-up’ bra combined. I can’t say what it did for Jim’s ‘family jewels’. The helmet was the most charming part of the equipment, Red Baron like in style, with large plastic goggles. Thumbs up and we were ready to go.

Betty and Jim ready to Jump
Thumbs Up!


In addition to the pilot and co-pilot, we were seven in all. My tandem master Dennis (who thankfully was tall and strong as I had dreamt the night before that my tandem partner was a midget!), Jim and his partner, Maurice, and two camera men to record the event. One additional jumper joined us just for the ride. The belly of the plane is small and very crowded; everyone literally packed in like sardines, the person in front between the back person’s legs. Once everyone has boarded, there is no changing your mind. As the plane taxied down the runway and then took off, I still felt remarkably calm, as if this was an everyday occurrence.

The fields below fell away. Beyond the hills of Gatineau Park appeared. In the far distance I could see Ottawa on the skyline. The sky was dotted with late afternoon clouds, wispy and billowy and I knew I would soon be among them. Suddenly the door opened and our tandem masters yelled, helmets on! The first diver jumped, gone, so fast. There was no time to think and before I knew it we were moving toward the back of the plane.

Just before taking off Dennis had asked me if I wanted to experience a back flip rather than jumping front first. I said sure. What did I know! I was later thankful for this as Jim described facing forward and looking into the abyss as one of his most breath taking moments. 

Jim and his partner were out the door and before I knew it I was facing the inside of the plane, at the doorway, placing my feet on the step, Dennis behind me. I heard him yell 1-2-3 and before I realized what was happening we rolled backwards, doing back flips in the sky like a gymnast with wings. OMG! The air rushed by me, assaulting me at first while I caught my breath. I could feel the wind pushing at my face, teasing my lips upward. Someone had told me this was the ultimate facelift and I was thinking they were right. 

Once we stopped flipping I felt absolute joy as I looked around me and I shouted to the wind, “I am FLYING!” The downward rush came to a sudden halt when the chute opened and I feel a sudden upward thrust, as if the hand of God has just reached down and caught me. The air rushing by my ears stopped. It grew very quiet. We glided through the sky, circling Maurice and Jim, then approached them allowing the two chutes to ‘kiss’.

Dennis passed me the controls and told me to direct the chute. I hesitated but he insisted and I turned us to the left, then to the right. He re-assumed control as we circled the landing area, performed a few large circles giving us a 360 degree view of the landscape. 

The ground approached quickly.  Dennis brought us in for a smooth effortless landing and before I knew it I was sitting on the grass and it was over. The entire flight from 13, 000 feet downward took only a few minutes.

As I rose from the grass I felt barely a quiver in my knees. I was still calm and I noticed at no point in the entire experience had I been in the grip of fear. I felt awe, and wonder, and freedom and bliss, and yes, just a wee bit of pride that I had actually allowed myself the experience! And I would do it again! 

We Did it!

What did I learn? What was the SIGN? I want to experience awe, wonder, and bliss more often. I want to give myself permission to embrace fear and go beyond it and, most importantly, I want to sky dive again, both metaphorically and realistically. I want to jump into life everyday and feel that kind of excitement excitement! What about YOU?

 Until next time….


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Today is the tenth anniversary of our move to Tigh Shee, a move which took us from downtown condo living in Montreal to a country home in rural Ontario.

I still remember arriving here, two cats and some personal possessions in tow, to an empty house. Jim stayed behind to supervise the packing. The house, while beautiful, was sad; the walls in almost every room painted a pale grey. The outside was a mirror image, a landscape devoid of any gardens except for a few well placed shrubs. a deck made from grey PVC material and surrounded by a hedge.

It was a blank canvas, and while five years old, an invitation to re-create the environment. Jim and I had a dream, to open space here, to make this place a welcome one for travellers, a place to heal and find peace and with this we began to transform this property.

Over the ten years we have resided here we have built the gardens and labyrinth. We did so because Jim felt called after having a vision that he was to do so. We named our home Tigh Shee, Celtic for House of Peace. Just before 911 we received a message from a friend and the Universe that there was great danger coming somewhere in the world and we were asked to open our home and property to the sentient beings (fairies and the like) so we walked the boundaries of our property and with great intent and created a loving safe place  for all beings, human, animal and otherwise, whom might choose to visit or dwell here.

While I recognize this smacks of Woo Woo, come and visit our fairy garden and you will experience their energy.  We have hosted many events here, public labyrinth walks and numerous retreats and our work continues.

Today we have a wedding here. What an amazing gift for this tenth anniversary, to have two wonderful folks share their special day with us and in the Celtic tradition. It is yet again a SIGN for us that what we are creating has meaning and is calling to others to be here. It is our intention to continue creating and building this energy, inviting you and others, travellers, to come and rest.

Until next time…


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Desolee, as they say in french. On July 9th, Jim and I departed on the great adventure. It was early morning, and we were ready to take the great leap. I felt remarkably calm, centered and focused. Of course, I was not hanging out of the door of the plane at that point either. Thirty minutes into our drive to the airport we hit the first storm, the rain coming at us so fast and furiously we had to pull off the highway and proceed at a snail’s pace. It did not last long, and it was advance warning of the day to come, as a series of storm cells marched through the Ottawa River valley.

Arriving in Ottawa, I called the airport and spoke with the young lady scheduling the flights and the jumps. “We have you on stand-by”, she informed me.

“What does that mean exactly?”, I asked. 

“We wait until we see a break in the storms, then you take off”.

I am thinking that this is less than perfect for me, imagining us jumping among the huge black cumulus clouds that are crowding the sky, the occasional thunder and lightening circling us like a great celebratory dance. Sky diving took on a whole new dimension as I imagined myself guided to the ground by electric shock therapy.

Despite my reticence, I gave her my cell phone and said , “Call me when we are good to go!”

Jim and I went on to Starbuck’s for a brew and a chat. As it was attached to the Indigo-Chapters bookstore, we wandered,  sipphoned through the CD’s on sale coming up with a few gems from the past that we had never replaced from our extensive record collection, like Moody Blues and other favorites, picked up the new Fast Company Magazine and headed out. It was raining, again. Without any discussion I called the shydiving company again and re-sceduled. The young lady seemed non-plussed and non-committal. I was thinking that customer service was not her forte or she is not comfortable speaking english, as it was evident that she was a Francophone.

Ottawa is a great city to hang out in. Off we went to the Glebe, one of our favorite neighbourhoods, had lunch, relaxed. It was a reminder that we were, after all, on vacation. I am learning that a Stay-cation has its merits and downfalls. I love being at home in my gardnes and being a tourist in my own part of the country yet I don’t detach completely from my everyday life.

We went on to have dinner with friends Marie-Josee, Luc and their children Julien and Edouard. Aren’t these amazing names? And yes, they are French Canadian, something that I love about my life here in this part of Canada. M.J.’s mom Louise joined us and this is where I had to make the jump after all, dive into life in a way I had not expected that day. Louise speaks very little english and my French is very rusty. Have courage I thought, you speak French, yes you make mistakes, so what, take the jump.

And so I began, and through patience on my part and my French Canadian hosts, had an amazing conversation about spirit, and life, and children and friendship – all in French and occasionally moitie-moitie – mixed english and french. I also noticed that two glasses of a fine merlot advanced my ability to speak significantly, whether that or my natural inhibitions dropped! Would this be a recipe for the next jump, the one where I leap from the plane, I wondered? Better not – I want to be completely lucid.

We are now booked for Sunday, July 18th at 5 P.M. I will keep you posted. For now I remain calm and serene knowing that when the time is perfect, I will be making that jump.

Before then, a busy week looms ahead with a trip to Toronto to deliver the final Insights Discovery Workshop in the current project I am on follwed by hosting a wedding here at Tigh Shee on Saturday. The Labyrinth and the gardens have been extraordinary this year.

Tigh Shee Labyrinth Summer 2010

Until next time,


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Taking Flight

Several years ago I watched a movie called the Bucket List featuring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. I am sure many of you enjoyed the antics of these two aging fellows who were facing life’s final journey. The Bucket List is of course, all those ‘to do’s’ that have accumulated over a life time and which you actually want to experience before you ‘kick the bucket’.

With this reminder, I embarked on creating my bucket list which included traveling to the two places on earth I have yet to see, New Zealand and Costa Rica. I knocked the Alaskan Cruise off the list four summers ago.

I won’t bore you with all the details of my lengthy list, except to share that one item on my Bucket List is to sky dive. Why you might ask? I have this fascination with flying and being in the silence of the sky once you are you there. Oh yes, and did I mention, I have had a lifelong fear of falling. Yep, you got it! FALLING. And so I have decided that in celebration of my 60th birthday I am going to make the great leap. The event is scheduled for this Friday, five days away, at 1 P.M. Did I mention that I asked Jim, my husband to take the leap with me and he consented, so there will be two fools dropping out of a plane.

This is of course a tandem jump. As a first timer, and a person too impatient to take the months necessary to learn the inner workings of sky diving, I decided that this was all I needed, but who knows, perhaps it will be addictive and I will feel compelled to do it again and again.

As I have shared my plans with friends and family, most have looked at us with ample amounts of skepticism and an occasional, “you’re crazy!” I have examined my motives further and have concluded that because I am sixty, this entitles me to some eccentricity.  And then there is this issue of my fear of falling. This fear keeps poking up its ugly face, not as often as it used to, but never the less, still a nuisance. It is what I call a limiting belief, stemming from my mother who was always warning me not to try this or that, that I might fall and I might get hurt.

Eighteen months ago I attended a program in California called Beyond Courage. I had signed up for this as I wanted to be tested. I believe there are some areas of my life where I am quite fearless and I wanted to check out the final frontiers of courage. The first day, the first event, was a ropes course. This involved climbing a telephone pole (no problem!) and once at the top of the pole, standing on top of it unsupported (big problem!). Of course you realize that I was on a harness and supported by a very reliable team of comrades. Regardless, I spent a very long time clinging to the top of the pole convincing myself I could make the final ascent because of course, I was afraid of falling. In my lengthy and convoluted conversation with my inner critic, I realized I could not fall because I was on a harness. Recognizing this, my voice then said, well if you try and you fall, you will have failed. Then I realized to fail would be not to try, success would be to do it anyway even if I fell. 

You will notice, if you are listening, that voice of fear inside of you holds you back in ways you have not even been aware of. The voice is quiet yet insidious. By the way, I made the final climb and I did stand up. Once the pole and I stopped shaking, I was able to take a look around me. The view was magnificent! And then I jumped and grabbed onto the trapeze that beckoned me, and I flew through the air. I suspect it was in that moment that the seed for sky diving was planted.

I am not suggesting that you need to take the steps I am taking to face your fears. I simply encourage you to become aware of what fear might look like to you, where it came from and how it serves you at this point in your life. If, like me, you are tired of it, then it may be time to try something outside your comfort zone. 

Finally, if you are reading this, you may want to also visualize me taking the great leap five days from now, eyes wide open, taking in the vista of Gatineau Park and the Ottawa River Valley, and laughing all the way down!

Until next time….


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