Tag Archives: body

The Sunny Side of Stress

Under stress cartoonToo much to do? Running like crazy? Hardly able to take a breath? Worried about money, somebody’s health, a deadline? Awake at night with the stress by day?

Stress. When it’s chronic, it can be toxic to our body, mind, emotions and reflected in our negative behavior. But when it’s acute, stress can actually be a motivating factor for positive change.

God (or the Universe, however you want to see the world) played his usual tricks on me. A few weeks ago, I was invited to give a workshop on the “Upside of Stress” and gladly agreed. Knowing that stress is energy which can be consciously transformed into positive change, I thought, No problem! It will be fun.

But the joke was on me. God seemed to say, “Okay, Catherine, if you’re so smart and want to talk about transforming stress to 50 other souls, then let’s see what you are made of.” Wham-O! One thing seemed to come after another. Work piled up on top of work, I injured my hand and it became infected, and my taxes were due. It was all just enough to test my resolve and big, fat ideas!

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Crossing the Threshold into Old Age


We cross many thresholds throughout our lifetime.

Tomorrow I will turn 60. What a surprise to softly land at this decade of life after so many turbulent years! I’m afraid that I cannot take any credit for it happening. My arrival has come all by itself with God’s grace.

I am happy to be on the threshold of old age. One of my friends recently said, “Oh, you are entering the age of wisdom.”

“I don’t know about wisdom,” I replied, pointing to my grey hair. “But I am certainly entering the age of whitedom, wrinkledom, and forgetfulness!” I understand this birthday as the beginning of another part of my life which is about to unravel.

As Brigitte Bardot said, “It’s sad to grow old, but it’s nice to ripen.” Old age may be the time when your body starts to fail in strength, energy, and functionality. But it is also the time when the soul starts to ripen. In old age you finally have the time and perspective to weave the various threads of your life into a more comprehensive understanding of yourself. Old age is the time to harvest all your experiences into a synthesis of Joy.

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Celebrating and Redeeming Flesh

baby with muscles

I am writing on a warm morning in early autumn. The oak branches are full and alive, corn fields lean with their ripeness, and rabbits graze in the filtered light. As the days grow shorter, I am trying to embrace autumn (and then the long winter) that will soon descend on Northern Europe. To do this, I have been collecting the yellow birch leaves that strew my path, acorns fallen from the night winds, and chestnuts that are still encased in their prickly green shells.

To fully participate in the beauty we find in nature, perhaps we need to start with appreciating our own living nature, beginning with our bodies. Autumn is autumn with all the decline and loss it might evoke, and all its shimmering colors, low filtered sunlight, and the fervent calling of wild geese overhead. This is true of who we are as well. We are who we are … wondrous and onerous, fragile and strong, light and dark.

This time of year also seems to be mirroring my own aging process. Lately, I have experienced a number of what I call OPTs (Old Person Things). I leave the kitchen, walk down the steps into the cellar, and stand bemused as I try to remember what I came down for. I take my wallet out of my purse and put it back without removing the bills that I need. I search for glasses, shoes, jackets and even credit cards that are sitting right in front of me. I watch (horrified at times) as my cognitive skills slow to a near standstill, yet at the same time I can feel myself grow more open, grounded, and at peace.

Take a moment now to wonder about your own body — to find your body wonderful! Your body contains a hundred times more cells than there are stars in the galaxy. Everyday, your heart, on average, does the daily work of lifting 1000 kilos from the ground up to the top of a five-story building. We have 656 muscles throughout the body. Our senses of sight, hearing, smell, touch, breathing, thinking, and speech bring us powerful revelations and gifts.

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New (In)Sights

Looking Beyond the Mirror Image

Looking Beyond the Mirror Image


During the last month I have had cataract surgery on both eyes. Nearsighted since I was 9-years-old, receiving clear vision after wearing glasses for 50 years is nothing short of a miracle. Surveying my garden after the operation, the blues of the cornflowers and borage blossoms seemed to jump out at me. Since then many natural images that would once have escaped me are appearing. A delicate winged dragonfly fluttering on top of the lavender. The rhythmic dance of the poppy petals in a soft morning breeze. Sad eyes on the face of the full moon.


However, my bathroom mirror is much more difficult to look at now! How eluded I have been! Suddenly I see wrinkles around my mouth, blotches on my cheeks, all the gray hair on my head, cellulite everywhere but… can it be…on my calves?! The list goes on! How did this happen overnight?

Acceptance seems key here. Of old age. Like 60 which is coming up fast for me. Three years ago I jokingly complained that in all the photos taken of me, an old lady seemed to be there, following me about like a faithful dog. (That old lady, of course, was me!) But I also realize that there are at least two advantages to getting older.

  1. I can now tell beautiful men that they are gorgeous without worrying about the consequences. That was not the case when I was younger.
  2. I now seem to be able to touch people more freely. I can lightly brush their cheek, pat their shoulder, even take their hand or hug them. I am more free to physically express my affection, heartache, and compassion. As a young woman, such physicality was impossible as it could easily be misunderstood as erotic, provocative, or unseemly. Now it’s just viewed as an affectionate gesture from a nice old lady.

So, take heart. There are advantages to growing old that you may not have seen yet. I recently edited a marketing piece about branding that included an example from a producer of beauty products. About 10 years ago, the CEO and his staff decided that their strategy would be to convince American women that they were ugly and growing old. That was the intended goal of the multimillion dollar company. To make you feel old and ugly. And they have had lots of money and expertise to achieve this end. Don’t let them win.

Facial CreamBeauty, as they say, is only skin deep. I have tried to look away from the bathroom mirror into one that might reflect my soul. This view can also be bit disconcerting, but I do see some progress and success. I am happier. I am quieter. I am hugging more people. I am more myself.

The recently deceased Lauren Bacall is quoted as saying, “I think your whole life shows in your face and you should be proud of that.” I always like to say, “I once was young and beautiful. Now I’m just……beautiful!”  In psychosynthesis terms, I am trying to dis-identify from my body, knowing that it is temporal and constantly changing. I am so much more than just my body. I am pure consciousness and will. And that is something that doesn’t come in a jar of face cream. Consciousness and will is the human expression of God to which we all are born.