How the worst moments in our lives make us who we are

Writer Andrew Solomon has spent his career telling stories of the hardships of others. Now he turns inward, bringing us into a childhood of adversity, while also spinning tales of the courageous people he’s met in the years since. In a moving, heartfelt and at times downright funny talk, Solomon gives a powerful call to action to forge meaning from our biggest struggles.

We hear educators speak about how adversity shapes our lives and creates resiliency. Children who experience some degree of tension and uncertainly in their lives, often become very resilient adults who are able to step into big challenges with the belief that they can make their way through… why? Because they have done it before.

Andrea Solomon’s talk on How the worst moments in our lives make us who we are is both deeply moving and surprisingly uplifting.

Watch now

Oprah in love with the mystery….

Several years ago, I helped my sister-in-law, Ann, create and publish her stunning book, In Love with the Mystery.

Today, Oprah Winfrey quoted Ann’s book in her monthly newsletter, “What I know for sure”.  Here is what she says…

 

Oprah Winfrey sings praises for IN LOVE WITH THE MYSTERY by Ann Mortifee

 

About IN LOVE WITH THE MYSTERY…. (excerpt from my forward to Ann’s book)

“A few years ago, Ann chose to begin awakening each morning at sunrise.  During these hours of quiet, she developed a fertile stillness that has led to an ever-deepening awareness.  Every passage in this book is testimony to Ann’s commitment to this deep listening. Her words evoke a quickening through which we too can awaken more fully to the gifts in ourselves. These passages are potent; one striking the heart like a gong, the next, as comforting as a lover’s caress. I found them both heartbreakingly beautiful and liberating….”   Nancy Mortifee

To learn more about Ann or to order her beautiful book click here or ask for it at your favourite book store.

 

Embracing our Golden Selves ~ Creativity, Art and Nature

July 18th-21st – 4 days     (exclusively for Circling the Sun members)

This is Nancy and Peter Mortifee’s new “home” centre in Indian Rock (Naramata), B.C.

Marga’s Studio is a gorgeous new retreat space that joins our existing home on the spectacular Okanagan Lake in the middle of BC’s Wine Country. Named after my beloved mother-in-law, Marga Mortifee, Marga’s studio was built as a family guest cottage and intimate retreat space. Together with the adjoining lake front property participants can enjoy our private beach for swimming, kayaking and cosy spots for contemplation.

Jo-An practicing yoga on the dock

Naramata is an easy 5 hour drive from Vancouver and 20 mins from the Penticton airport where pick up can be arranged.

Our Summer theme is “Embracing our Golden Selves –  Focusing on Creativity ~ art and nature

–  Invoking the Celtic Goddess Brigit ~ Art, Creativity and Inspiration

What you can get out of this retreat:

• Creative time to work on your individual Four Season project
• Time to relax and rejuvenate in the sunshine, swim in warm lake water and a vigorous walk along the KVR
• Time to reflect on your Four Season experience, intentions and goals
• Delicious meals and fresh Okanagan produce

Spectacular Okanagan Lake

 

 

Alright.. ENOUGH ALREADY!!

I can still hear my teacher’s voice from across the room…

“The trouble with you, Nancy, is you aren’t sick enough of this behavior to change it. That’s why you’re stuck.”

“Are you serious?” I think to myself, “What are you talking about? Of course I’m sick of it. Look at how I am suffering.”

I’m indignant, defiant and scared. “Take a breath, girl,” I hear another voice say (this one inside my head) “let’s think about this for a sec.” As if watching an old movie, I recall the many other times I brought this same issue into the “circle” and here I am again. My defiance began to melt and it donned on me that I could actually make another choice. Thus began my journey to understanding what it really means to be ready to change.

In my heart I knew that I had made many beneficial changes in my life, shifts that came out of a deep commitment to awakening. Every day I realized the benefit of my personal shadow work. And still, I pulled in my teacher’s words, that before I could affectively change my core defense patterning, I needed to do more than simply be tired of it; I had to be absolutely sick of it. I mean really, really, sick to death of it.

We have all heard Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity, ““Doing the same thing, over and over again, expecting different results.” What I’m talking about here are those most challenging, intractable patterns that over and over again, directly compromise our intimate lives, with ourselves and others.

My friends who have committed to the AA twelve step program, say in order to actually STOP drinking, gambling, over eating, shopping, or whatever, a person needs to hit “rock bottom”. “Bottoming out” might mean you’ve been arrested, lost your job or an intimate relationship, such as your spouse or your kids. Or maybe it comes from doing something that’s just SO embarrassing you can’t live another day with your behavior.

It’s easier to get this when you consider the more dramatic behaviors and certainly some unhealthy patterns are more obviously dangerous than others. But what about behaviors that are subtle, less obvious to others, or are easy to deny in ourselves?

One of my most debilitating defence patterns has been self-abandonment. I have wrestled with this pattern my whole life and the truth is, hardly a day goes by without my “abandoner” showing up. For years, my self abandonment was easy to deny, because it showed up in disguises that society admires. To the external world, the self abandoner may appear selfless, accommodating, easy going or flexible; a really nice person who puts others first.  Hmmm… some of that sounds okay.

However, the self-abandoner can also be spineless, afraid of looking bad, wishy-washy and ultimately full of anger and resentment. Left uncared for and uncontained, the self abandoner undermines all intimacy with self and others.

For me, my “bottoming out” was my last divorce and the recognition of the wounding that my dysfunctional relationships had caused my daughters. It was clear that I had only an imaginary sense of self. My, how I suffered, until I finally realized that I was sick enough of this particular behavior pattern to take it on in a serious way.

“So how do you know when you are sick enough”, that’s what my clients often ask. My answer is this:  When you get to the point where the pain of holding onto the pattern is greater than the pain of letting it go, you know you’re on the right track.

In my case, I have historically attracted similar painful experiences into my life over and over again, before I have finally got the message. It’s as though the volume increases with each subsequent hit until I eventually reach my denial threshold and finally choose surrender over defiance. Does this sound at all familiar?

Now, it may seem simple, in that it defies logic to hold on to a behavior that hurts us and yet, sadly, applying logic to childish patterning only serves to fuel self judgment.  Any fool would know that not speaking up in a dangerous situation leads to hurt and injury, right? But the “fool” in this case is just a scared child who is hungry for someone to look after her, and that someone is me.

So what can we do when we know “enough is enough, already!” Well, the only strategy that has worked for me is to reach out for help. Perhaps there are those rare individuals who can take it on solo, I just don’t know any of them. Friends and family can be huge supporters and yet, sometimes they can unconsciously collude with us, which really isn’t any help at all, in fact often makes it worse.

For me it requires intention, then commitment, follow-though and accountability. It takes a willingness to be vulnerable and to allow my fear, rather than continuing to be defended and defiant.

As you know, I am a big fan of group process; I love the magic that a group brings to the circle and to each individual in it. Bringing the “same old” issue to a gathering of women can help us move through the barriers much faster than letting it stew and keeping us awake at night.  Those of you who have been in my women’s groups know how mysteriously the common themes emerge and how magically the work of other women helps us with our own.

If you’re on the fence about exploring this kind of personal work, I invite you to listen to your heart and your belly. If you hear a voice that says, “Alright, enough already!” I’d take it as a good sign to take the leap.

 

Nancy’s next retreat is Mindfulness and Intimacy for Women at Hollyhock, July 26-31st, with co-leader Deepa Narayan. For Nancy’s full schedule of retreats and events click here

 

originally published June 17th, 2012, most recently edited, June 11th/2013

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Festival of Awareness ~ April 26-28th in Naramata, B.C.

Join Nancy at the beloved Naramata Centre, April 26th-28th as part of the Spring Festival of Awareness 2013

Come to enjoy the company of women...

SUNRISE MEDITATIONS ~ Awakening the Heart – a guided heart opening meditation with song and movement (for both Women AND Men) 6:45-7:30am  BOTH Saturday and Sunday mornings

MINDFULNESS & INTIMACY (for Women Only) – Sunday am 8:45am-Noon

In a sacred circle of women, explore tools for cultivating a deeper intimacy in your relationships, beginning with yourself. Through body-based meditation, movement, artistic  and emotional expression and creative activities, you can begin to connect with your deeper knowing, awaken to unconscious patterning, and learn to let go of behaviours that no longer serve you.

When we learn to clearly and cleanly express our emotions with blame, we experience the joy of awakening to a new, more intimate relationship to self and others.

This 3 hours workshop is a “taste” of Nancy’s work with women. She will focus on group process, celebrating the community of women and having fun!

For complete details : Call Marion @ 250-497-6861 or Angele: 1-855-366-0038  Click here to visit WEBSITE

On-Site Registration starts 12pm Friday, April 26th at Columbia Hall, Naramata Centre

 

Couple Work

Nancy offers private sessions for couples at any stage of their relationship. If you have an urge for deeper intimacy and want to explore a more authentic, clear emotional expression with your partner, contact Nancy directly at 604-266-6785 or by email: nancy@mortifeetraining.com

Private sessions take place in person at Nancy’s Vancouver home or on SKYPE/Facetime.

 

 

For the men we love…

Every so often, a beautiful poem or video reaches my inbox, sent by a woman or man who feels deeply. I want to share a couple of them here as we move closer towards Valentine’s Day.

Whether it be our husband, partner, brother, uncle, co-worker or friend, we all have men in our lives who are hungry to grow and learn, just like us. May they be well to live and love as they wish and to heal with their mothers, sister and every other woman in their lives. The world is a safer place when we all strive to live the words of this prayer…

Man Prayer by Eve Ensler

 

The Awakening Man:

A Portrait Of Possibility For Humankind

by Jeff Brown

The awakening man is conscious, heartfully defined. Through his eyes, being conscious is not a cerebral construct, nor an intellectual exercise bereft of feeling. It is a felt experience, an ever-expanding awareness that moves from the heart outward. It is feeling God, not thinking God. The new man is always in process, awakening through a deepening interface with the world of feeling. He continues to strive for a more heartfelt and inclusive awareness.

The awakening man has shifted his focus from a localized and ethnocentric perspective to a world-centric framework of perception. His community is humanity. Rooted in the relational, his sense of responsibility extends well beyond his localized self and community. Where possible, his choice-making is fuelled by an expansive vision of possibility for all of humankind. Not every man for himself, but every man for humanity.


The awakening man has reverence for the divine feminine, in all her forms. He celebrates the wonder that is woman. He is respectful, honouring and gracious. He is saddened by the horrors perpetuated against women by the malevolent masculine. He holds his brothers accountable. He makes amends for his own misdeeds. He co-creates a world where all women will feel safe to move about freely, to find their voice, to actualize their inherent magnificence. He welcomes a world where women and men stand as equal partners. Humankind.

The awakening man is not externally derived. He is authentically sourced. He does not compare himself to others. He does not adapt his personality to the dictates of the crowd. He stands in his own centre, respectful of others but not defined by them. He works diligently to liberate his consciousness from the egoic ties that bind. He has become his own benchmark, valuing authenticity over image. He is the sculptor of his own reality.

The awakening man courageously works on his emotional processes. He clears his emotional debris and sheds his armour. He faces his issues and unconscious patterns heart on. He calls himself on his self-avoidant tendencies and honours the wisdom at the heart of his pain. He communicates his feelings in a way that is respectful to others. He learns and speaks the language of the heart.

The awakening man leads a purpose-full existence. He has heard the call to a deeper life. Not satisfied with survival alone, his ambitions are rooted in higher considerations- the excavation and actualization of his sacred purpose. He is energized by his purpose, not by the machinations of the unhealthy ego. He is coated in an authenticity of purpose that sees through the veils to what really matters. His purpose is his path.

The awakening man is accountable for his actions and their effects. He does not deflect responsibility. He does not sidestep or blame. He is self-admitting and emotionally honest. He admits his errors, and makes amends. He works diligently in the deep within, crafting a more clarified awareness with every lesson.

The awakening man moves from the inside out. More interested in inner expansion than outer achievement, he cultivates and honours his intuition. He explores and develops his inner geography. He adventures deep within, integrating the treasures he excavates into his way of being. He seeks congruity between his inner life and his outer manifestation.

The awakening man seeks wholeness. He is not satisfied with a fragmented way of being. He has no attachment to archaic, linear notions of masculinity. He seeks a sacred balance between the healthy masculine and the healthy feminine. He seeks an inclusive way of being, one that reflects all of his archetypal aspects.

The awakening man embodies the highest standard of integrity in his words and deeds. He makes a sustained effort to work through anything that is not in integrity within him. His framework of integrity is never convenient or self-serving. He honours his word, even at his own expense. He moves from a value system that is unwaveringly incorruptible. He recognizes that success without integrity is karmically unsound and meaningless.

The awakening man prioritizes conscious relationship. He values authentic co-creation. He honours relationship as spiritual practice. He seeks physical intimacy that is deeply vulnerable and heartfully connective. He is attuned, engaged and healthily boundaried. When relational challenges arise, he courageously works through any obstructions to intimacy. He stands in the heartfire.

The awakening man is a warrior of the heart. He has taken his clarifying sword inward, cutting away everything that is not compassionate. After too many lifetimes with weapon in hand, a benevolent warrior is being birthed at the core of his being. He honours the warrior capacity for assertiveness, but he is not arbitrarily aggressive. He moves from love and compassion.

The awakening man endeavours to live in a state of perpetual gratitude. He is grateful for the gift of life. He is grateful for those ancestors who built the foundation that his expansion relies upon. He is grateful for those who encouraged him before he could encourage himself. He is grateful for those who stand beside him in this lifetime. He knows that he does not stand alone.

The awakening man is comfortable in his vulnerability. He participates in his own revealing. He is not afraid to surrender- to reality, to love, to truth. This is not a weakened form of surrender, but one that is emblazoned with courage. It takes more courage to surrender than to numb. He openly explores his capacities for receptivity and tenderness. He does not identify these capacities as distinctly feminine, but as whole human. He is strong enough at the core to live in a vast array of emotions.

The awakening man moves through the marketplace responsibly, with a vigilant eye to the ways of the unhealthy ego. He is not opportunistic in a vacuum. He does not compete for competition’s sake. He does not accumulate for the sake of accumulation. In charting his course, he is mindful of his impact on humanity. He is empowered but he does not exploit power. He derives his power from his connection to source, not from power over others. Where possible, he shares the abundance, gifting back to humanity. He works hard to bridge the world as it is with a world of divine possibility.

The awakening man has reverence for Mother Earth. He has reverence for animals. He never imagines himself superior or distinct from the natural world. He understands the interconnected and interdependent nature of reality. He knows that if he does damage to the environment, he does damage to himself. He walks carefully, with awareness, consciousness and appreciation.

The awakening man has no claims on God. His spirituality is tolerant, inclusive, respectful. He honours all paths to God, so long they are respectful of others. He accepts those who believe, and those who don’t. He condemns any path that uses religious differences as a justification for destruction.

The awakening man brings forward many of the qualities of the healthy masculine of old. He is noble. He is responsible. He is productive. He is kind-hearted. He is protective. He is unswervingly honourable. He is down to earth. He is sturdy. He is flexible. He is realistic. He is hopeful. He is sensitive, not fragile. He is healthily egoic, not self-centred. He is both practical and heightened at the same time. He ascends with both feet on the ground. He is really here.

Jeff Brown

 

My thanks to Alison van Buuren for her thoughtfulness in sharing both of these…

 

My Winter Story…from resistance to presence

For me, winter has been a season to just “get through”. I have pined for summer’s heat long after the season of sandals and swimming has passed; all the while, the opportunity to be present to where I am and what “is” has been lost in a dream of warmer days and sunnier climes.

That all changed last week when I played tour guide to two dear friends from India who experienced our beautiful city, Vancouver, almost exclusively in the rain. It was the mystery of the Musqueam welcome pole outside the Museum of Anthropology that made me think about how such treasures last for hundreds of years throughout hundreds of winters and layers of rain, ice and snow.

So, I have made it my early New Year’s resolution to kindle a, dare I say, warmer relationship with winter this year. This photo is from our “backyard” in Naramata, the Kettle Valley rail line, a favourite route we take in every season. More walking in quiet contemplation is my winter medicine, while embracing appropriate winter footwear sooner and without resistance. I’ll let you know how it goes…

More walking in quiet contemplation is my NEW winter medicine...

Mindfulness and Intimacy for Women ~ Hollyhock Retreat Centre July 26-31st, 2013

Please join me this summer for a extraordinary opportunity to go deeper into this work in the nurturing company of other women. Deepa Narayan and myself will be co-facilitating at Hollyhock Retreat Centre, a life-long learning institute on beautiful Cortes Island.  This 6 day residential workshop will be completely experiential and allow us to discover new ways of relating to ourselves, others and our lives. Deepa and I will be teaching only what we have learned in our own lives and through the past decades of training.

 

 

If you have ever felt, “if only…why doesn’t he/she change…life isn’t fair…I wish…I am afraid…
I am not responsible for this.. I want more out of life….”, come and join us!

Deepa and I are committed to creating a judgment free space for women from all walks of life to explore  what holds us back from a fully authentic and intimate life. We will be using many different modes of creative expression to wake us up to trying on new behaviors. We also guarantee lots of laughter and fun.

Hollyhock is a special place and because we have 6 days to work together, there is time to wander the beach, go kayaking or take advantage of the wonderful bodyworkers.

Register NOW!

Any questions about accommodation and transportation can be addressed to Hollyhock staff. If you want to know more about the workshop, please contact me directly.

Read more about Women’s Retreats

View from the deck at Hollyhock

Enjoy a garden tour

Meditation Sanctuary