Learning journey contracts

NestCity-BlogPostWe signed a 30-page contract with a client last week, full of legal details and formalities. It took about 10 minutes to sign it all. As I was getting the corporate seal and my fancy blue pen all ready to do their work, I realized that this formal contract is not as important as the contracts behind the contract. Continue reading Learning journey contracts

Courage to fail

This time last week I was licking my wounds. I did not pass a weekend course in advanced wilderness and remote first aid. It might have been the early morning starts. It might have been the impersonal feedback from the instructors. It might have been that I was “off” those days. It might have been the conflicting feedback I felt I was receiving. But the bottom line is the same, whatever the reason.

I failed. And it’s no one’s fault by my own. 

Continue reading Courage to fail

A writer inside and out

When I spend time out on the land, and I listen, it has things to tell me. Last month, while hosting Soul Spark with my friend and colleague Katharine Weinmann, I ventured outside to be on the land a bit before we got started. Continue reading A writer inside and out

For shamans at the edge

NestCity-BlogPostMiles from civilization
I take the world into my arms
I am washed on the wash
laid to bed, disentombed
dreams not parked
release a force
out into the world
a welcome mat
for shamans at the edge
of poetry that saves
lives with questions
evoking the holy mystery
of the soul
a call to open
to my changing heart
to my true


A poem caught with my writing friends at Self as Source of the Story, December 1-7, 2015, with Christina Baldwin and Kristie McLean. Continue reading For shamans at the edge

Elderhood vs fighthood

I am a 45 year old experiencing nourishing and harmful experiences with the baby-boomer generation ahead of me. I see two extremes of behaviour in this generation about to turn 70: stepping into elderhood and nurture those that follow, or stepping into fighthood and flail about, harming those around them, including themselves.  Continue reading Elderhood vs fighthood

City glass


One morning last week I noticed the ground shifting.

As the fog lifted while I completed my morning ceremony at the top of my city’s riverbank, I decided to harvest some of the wee bit of sage there. After starting to collect it, I realized I need to make an offering. I stood up. Took a breath.

City Glass - valley in fog

I offer the gift of clear seeing. 

Then I noticed that some of the sage, and even the land on which I have placed a foot, is starting its descent into the river valley. The land is drifting.

I offer the gift of clear seeing when things are drifting. 

After a few moments, I walk away, to make my way to my work day. My mind drifts to an affirmation that has been nagging at me for many months, testing me to see if it is still true, about my ability to see cities. I’ve been asking myself if my work has anything to do with cities anymore.

I notice a truck in the driveway of a home nearing completion of its construction. The name of the company on the truck:

City Glass. 

Glass: a lens or optical instrument; a mirror; a drinking vessel; a greenhouse or cold frame; a window or windowpane; a barometer; a hard, brittle substance usually transparent or translucent made by fusing sand with soda and lime and cooling rapidly. Glass is something we see through. Cities are something I see through, even when drifting.

As glass can be shaped to be a vessel for drinking, the city is a vessel for its citizens. Or the city is a way to see citizens, society, who we are and what makes us tick. This is what I see and understand. This is my work.

Today, I notice that the answer to my question about the role of cities and city-thinking in my life came to me when I gave it time. Over the summer, my visits to the river valley have been rare, but it is in this time, in this place, that the understanding came to me. The place from which I asked the question is where the answer came, both the physical place, and the mental, emotional and spiritual place.

The city and I are deepening our relationship with each other.

I ‘see’ all this about myself as the fog that hovers over Edmonton lifts. And as I make my way through the streets and alleys back to my home, I have to make several detours to avoid a gas leak and the many crews of the utility company tending to  essential infrastructure. A foundational piece of my part of the city had shifted.

What is the essential gift you give to your city, allowing it to come out of the fog?



Do it yourself leg-repair


Three weeks ago today everything changed, 12 km behind the largest mountain in the Canadian Rockies, on a steep slope of unstable shale. Broken and wobbly leg bones. A fabulous EMT on holidays to take charge, layers of splints, 8 volunteers to carry a big man down to a helicopter waiting to get husband Peter to an ambulance, then a small hospital, then a large hospital for surgery. Angels of water kept us hydrated on a hot afternoon. Angels of strength carried our packs down the mountain for us to collect later. Angels of friendship, with big eyes, gave high-fives on their way by.

At long last, Peter found himself in the warehouse – a nursing station that looked like the halls of The Home Depot. Shelves of supplies in the corridor, nurses who showed up to do the bare minimum and left him to fend for himself. Swelling that means a 5 day wait for surgery will be delayed? Well, get the ice for yourself. Motrin to keep the swelling down? Well, we’ll only get that for you if you ask for it. The trick is, as with all do-it-yourself endeavours, it only works when you know what you are doing.

When you can’t move, you sit and wait, hoping for the best. In Peter’s case, he laid on a shelf, and someone came to dust him off now and then to check if he still had a pulse. Mostly, he hoped that no one forgot he was there and needed attention.

Then the call on day 6, on a minute’s notice, for surgery. In the operating room, purpose is clear. Here, what will happen is explained in detail. There is even a laugh – will they find a nail long enough to fit the long tibia bone in his leg (he’s 6’6″). Then he’s asleep and they get to work with a big nail, a drill, mallet, screws and a screwdriver. The power and hand tools of The Home Depot merge with the technology of X-ray vision to guide the work of deft hands to put things back in place and set Peter up for the needed mending.

 Nail and screws

The next day, as Peter hobbled about on one leg, he was tentative. He’d spent 6 days on his back, and the last time he was vertical he violently twisted himself into this predicament. As I watched, this question came to mind:

It is possible to hobble with confidence rather than fear?

I thought of the warehouse nurses. I have no idea if their indifference to their work is endemic to the whole hospital, or to their unit, but their lack of care was startling. Among the nursing staff, the disconnect from self and work was palpable. The collective disconnect was even more palpable. In contrast, a custodian was friendly and careful to make sure an extra chair arrived to accommodate our family of four. An orderly attending to another patient made sure a wheelchair fit Peter properly to get him to our car and take him home. The nurses didn’t help send him home well or safely at all. They were hobbling with a lack of confidence in their purpose to care for people waiting, in pain and discomfort, in the unknown.

As I watch Peter figure out his relationship with crutches, more questions come to mind:

  • What crutches are in my life?
  • When are crutches needed, not needed?
  • How do I know when I am done with crutches?
  • What crutches am I still using unnecessarily? 
  • Do I even notice when I’ve gotten rid of them? 

In many ways, the leg repair is do-it-yourself. Peter’s body will heal itself, but there are specific junctures where he needed the help and care of others. He couldn’t get off the mountain by himself. He couldn’t keep the swelling down by himself. He couldn’t get the bones in place by himself. In the weeks to come, he will test out his new leg, Mr. T he calls it. He will slowly put weight on the leg and see how he and Mr. T are going to get along.

He will slowly stop using the crutches.

Eventually he will throw the crutches away.

Then he will decide about going back to the mountain.

Mount Robson



Re-membering my inherent wilderness



When my Integral City colleague (and founder) Marilyn Hamilton was asked to serve as guest editor of the Integral Leadership Review, she extended an invitation to me to write an article, about whatever I wanted.

And the only story I wanted to tell was about the wilderness quest. The story started to come out here, but here is where it ended up.

Re-membering my inherent wilderness.

ILR headline

A sage spot


Do you ever wonder how long something has been sitting there, right under your nose?

For just over two years, I have been walking over the the riverbank near my house most mornings for some quiet time before the day starts. It started when we had some contractors working on our house and there was no quiet time IN the house. It is time where I settle into the me I want to be for the day, and on days where I don’t get there until later in the day, it is time where I find my way back to being who I want to be.

A sage spot
The sage’s view of the valley today

Five months ago, I went on a wilderness quest, or vision quest, an ancient rite of passage in cultures all over the world. It was an experience that held great meaning for me and my whole being, and one of the things I came away with was the smell of sage in the smudging ceremony. The smell transports me back to a powerful moment just before I stepped into the wild alone.

Before I left for the quest, I knew that my morning walks to the river would be different after the quest. A few weeks after my return, I was stunned to see sage growing a few feet away from my ‘spot’. Had it been there all along?

I rubbed the plant’s leaves, feeling through my nose the sacred in this spot where I look out on the wild of the city.

A spot where I find the sage in me.

What else is right under my nose?





Others allow me to remember self


Today, I pause to notice what I choose to do with the peace in my life.

Canadians pause to remember today. To remember the 2.3 million men and women who have served, and more than 118,000 who died. To remember those who continue to serve. To remember Canadians who gave their lives and their future so that we may live in peace.

Today, I pause to notice the peace I experience in my life, in exchange for their sacrifice.



: to have or keep an image or idea in your mind

: to cause (something) to come back into your mind

: to keep (information) in your mind : to not forget something


How do we get stuck at simply remembering the past instead of re-membering the future, of bringing back into relationship what has been torn apart?

(John Phillip Newell


The peace in my part of the world allowed me to go on a wilderness quest. A month ahead of the quest, I recognized that my intention was to find the bigger ME that sees abundance in the world, to find my abundant Self. At the time, I called this my effort to rewire the reptilian in me, to awaken my whole being to what scarcity looks and feels like (no food for two nights in the wild). I did this safely, without fear of loss of life.

The peace in my part of the world allowed me to go on the wilderness quest with people who travelled safely from Canada, the United States, Germany and Australia. In my case, I drove 1500 km with one uneventful border crossing, and hours of beautiful countryside.  Nestled in the northern part of the Cascade Mountains that stretch from northern California, to southern British Columbia, I enjoyed the passage of Chronos + Kairos time.

Here's where we were, courtesy google map
Skalitute Retreat – google maps
The valley
Skalitude – a beautiful meadow, and the Sacred Mountain to the north

The peace in my part of the world allowed me to Earth gaze from Earth. I contemplated my self, my Higher Self and the nature of me and the nature around me. I was contemplating my planet and my place in it. I found a place to camp up the valley to the right of the Sacred Mountain.

Camp Red Chair on topo

The peace in my part of the world allowed me to listen to the voices of longing in my soul, my soul hungers.

Today is tuesday
on the Sacred Mountain
which means I notice
what I’m really hungry for
i have shelter
i am warm enough
my thirst is quenched
my hunger is 
for my soul to be seen
by me
for my soul to be seen
by others
for my soul to be seen
by this place
to see Me
to see Others
to see my Place
I am hungry for Me
here I am.

The peace in my part of the world allowed me to take time to settle in to the experience for weeks afterwards. In this time, I recognized that synchronicity is the Universe tapping you on the shoulder, a wild synchronicity that invites me to be awake in every moment. Further, I noticed cascading synchronicity, a series of events and understanding that revealed the synchronicity in synchronicity. Words in books, on maps, in experiences. Everywhere I went.

The peace in my part of the world allows me to fully be Me.

The peace in my part of the world allows me to look after others.

The peace in my part of the world allows me to look after place.

Thank you.