My word of the year is SANCTUARY


A sacred place. A place of refuge. A place where wild beings are safe in their natural habitat.

That’s what I want to focus on this year. Sanctuary. For myself and for others.

The word came to me while I was working on the prompts for A Soulful Year. One of the prompts is an invitation (in mandala form) to consider what you are most longing for in the coming year. Half way through my intuitive writing on longing, I knew what I want most and what I most want to create for others.

I want sanctuary.

First, there’s the practical, bricks and mortar kind of sanctuary. I want a space where I can work, create, write, and host conversations. I want a place of refuge and quiet, where my work can blossom, and my wild heart can thrive in its natural habitat. I don’t know what that will look like yet, but it is becoming more and more imperative that I move my business out of our house (which is relatively small for a family of five and has very little dedicated space for my work). It may look like a whole new house for our family that includes a space that can be used as studio/classroom. Or it may look like a rented studio/classroom. I’m open to the right solution and the right space.

And then there is the kind of sanctuary that I want to create. For you, my dear clients, friends and readers.

In all that I do – my writing, workshops, classes, etc. – I want to create safe, sacred space. I want to create the kind of space, both with my words and with my physical presence, where it feels like you’ve come home, to safety, to belonging, and to your own wildness.

Because we are ALL longing for this. We are ALL in need of sanctuary.

We need places where our hearts can crack open without fear of judgement.

We need places where our tears can flow without hindrance.

We need places where we know we will be held.

We need sanctuary. We need refuge. We need the sacred.

Last year, while visiting Oakland, California, I wandered along the edge of a lake and then stopped to visit a beautiful church perched at the edge of the lake. I was struck by the fact that both of those places were considered “sanctuaries”. One was a bird sanctuary, where birds were safe from hunters and predators, and one was a religious sanctuary, where the weak and weary could find spiritual solace.

I want the best of both kinds of sanctuary.

I want a spiritual sanctuary, where questions are welcome, where the hungry are nourished, and where nobody is judged for whatever spiritual path their on. AND I want a wildlife sanctuary, where the wild in all of us can run free and unhindered; where we can soar through the sky, or float across the water; where we can build our nests and tend to our young without fear.

In 2015, I will seek and create sanctuary in my work, in my community, in my family, and in myself.

I will make it a priority to find the right space that will nourish me, my family, and my work.

I will make it a priority to create sanctuary for my clients, whether they come to me for coaching, attend my retreats or workshops, sit in circle with me, or participate in my online offerings. I will welcome their vulnerability and cheer on their wildness.

I will make it a priority to create sanctuary on this blog, offering you, my readers, a safe place where you can come when you are hungry for stories that leave you feeling less alone.

I will make it a priority to serve in my community, helping wherever I can to offer sanctuary to those who need it.

Tell me… what kind of sanctuary are you seeking? And how can I help you find it? I would love to hear in the comments.

Note: I’m beginning the year by creating sanctuary for women in Winnipeg. I’ll be hosting an inaugural Women’s Circle (that will hopefully become a regular gathering) on Thursday, January 15th at 7:00 p.m. It’s free and all are welcome. Find out more here.

Seeking Sanctuary


I sat on the shores of the lake, watching the birds float and fly past. A cormorant stood on a post, its wings spread wide to the sunshine. The lake is a wildlife sanctuary. In that space, the birds are safe to do what is truest to their natures. No predators can harm them there.

Sanctuary. A place to be safe.

Wildlife sanctuary. A place to be safe in your wildness.

Near the lake was a church. I wandered inside. It was beautiful, polished, and serene. A sanctuary.

And yet… it wasn’t a wildlife sanctuary. My wildness did not feel safe in that place. I wanted it to – longed for a real sanctuary where my wildness was honoured – but I didn’t trust the immaculateness. I couldn’t feel safe revealing all of myself in that space. Too much of me had been judged in spaces like that in the past.

“What if I DID feel safe in this space?” I thought. “How would church be different if it were more like a wildlife sanctuary? If it were the kind of place where we could be totally free to be our wild selves without feeling the pressure to conform? Without having to protect ourselves from predators? What if it truly represented the wild way that God loves?”

As though to test my question, I took off my shoes and stepped into the baptismal font. The water was cool and sweet against my skin. It felt good – a baptism of my wildness. But it didn’t feel safe. I kept an eye on the door, expecting a stern priest to walk in and send me away for defiling the church. All I dared to reveal was my feet. I stepped out quickly and tried not to leave footprints.

I went back outside to the lake. There I felt safe. With the birds and the trees. I took of my shoes again and didn’t worry about footprints.

A week later, at another lake, giggling in the dark with a small tribe of friends, I tripped through the woods and stepped into the lake. Tentatively, we inched our way into the dark water. It held us and invited us further in. We gave ourselves to it. Bathing suits came off and we let ourselves be baptized in our wildness. For long lazy moments, we floated – just a little bit fearful and yet fully wild and fully alive.

This was our wildlife sanctuary. Here we were safe to reveal all that we were. Here we were wholly loved – by the water, by each other, by the gods of our understanding.

From the moment we step away from the safety of our parents’ arms, we are each on a lifelong quest for that place of sanctuary – that place were we can dare to let ourselves be fully wild, fully naked, and fully baptized. Sometimes (far too rarely) we find it in a church, sometimes we find it in the woods with a circle of friends. Sometimes we only find tiny whispers of it that make us long for more.

Once we find it, we know that we need more of it and we know that we need to commit our lives to co-creating it for others. Because there is nothing quite like the feeling of knowing that we are fully loved and accepted in our nakedness. There is nothing that makes us feel more alive and beautiful.

Together, those of us who have learned to reveal our wounds and our nakedness to each other, become co-creators of circles of grace. We are wildlife sanctuary keepers. We are witnesses of the kind of God/dess who longs to help us create REAL sanctuaries, not artificial polished spaces where only those who have washed first can step into the baptismal font.

Because living truthfully in our wildness is the only way to fully be alive.

If you are longing for more of your wildness to be revealed, step into the sanctuary of Lead with Your Wild Heart. You are safe here.

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