Archive | April, 2014

Somatic coaching and Catherine Brunelle

28 Apr

We’re featuring Catherine Brunelle today in honour of the launch of her book The Adventures of Claire Never-Ending. Catherine lives to write and tackles each new task from tweet to blog post to book with thoughtfulness, creativity and a sense of adventure. Her smoothly flowing prose is evidence of her dedication to her craft.


Sister Leadership practices somatic (from the Greek word meaning ‘of the body’) approach to coaching where the primary concerns are recognizing the feelings, actions, and language by which we process an experience and, the subsequent meaning that we give to it.

Of necessity, Catherine has grown wise in these ways and has developed abilities in being grounded, resilient to change, flowing with pressure and stress, and enhancing her body-mind-spirit intuition. But then, she has her writing as a conduit. See for yourself in her own words.

Would you share your thoughts about writing and what it means to you?

For me writing is like opening a window in my mind. It lets in the fresh air, and lets out the ideas, which then move out of my body and onto the screen. From that moment onward anything can happen. It’s nice to have a space where anything can happen, and I can be the one crafting that world. I know fiction is fictional. . . but when I write it feels real and so I think in some ways it becomes real.

Even if I’m not writing anything useful, just the act itself is an outlet. Much of my emotional experience gets explored though writing – dreams, hopes, fear, doubts, reactions . . . they all show up in storytelling. Being creative in general fills me up with that sense. Whether I am writing, cooking, drawing, singing or staring out the window – it’s an experience beyond my mental narrative of everyday thought. I guess it’s about feeling that flow and just moving with it. So, that’s what it means to me. Quick answer: It’s a gift.

How did you come to write The Adventures of Claire Never-Ending, in particular?

I started The Adventures of Claire Never-Ending because I had wanted to get pregnant. The whole idea of pregnancy scared me, so I thought about the women who had come before and gone through it – my mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and so on. So that is what got me writing in the first place. Also, I had finished an MA in creative writing that was very heaving on serious literary fiction. Claire Never-Ending was my little rebellion. I wrote the fantastic and the ridiculous and the fun. Mind you, the book is still rather literary – but also light.

So for me, it was a story of connection and courage.

How did you feel once you had finished writing The Adventures of Claire Never-Ending? Would you share the story of that moment?

A lot had changed in my life by the time this novel was “finished”. I had been diagnosed with breast cancer, gone through treatment, moved countries, uprooted plans, and lived life in anticipation of that golden five year mark of remission. I finished the book about two times before it actually went to press. It was my stage four diagnosis that caused me to stop all the editing and just share this story. Even now I edit the text as I reread the story.

But I remember finishing the first draft and it was a happy moment. A book that had been written in preparation for having children actually survived my experience through cancer and being told that kids were very unlikely to happen. There’s more in this story than pregnancy – to me it’s a story of courage and life changing moments. That connection between generations (even if I did write it) feels real. It gives me strength. And so, when the first draft was finally done I felt incredible satisfaction. To me it was proof that you can go through hell and still find your way back to joy. Writing is my joy. The Claires, for me, are a story of courage. Maybe in a word, I felt love. I love this novel. I love the idea of the Claires.


The book launch is happening at the showroom of The Kavanaugh, Domicile’s newest condo development, 84/86 Beechwood Ave in Ottawa on May 2nd, 7-9 p.m. If you’d like to come along, please RSVP at


Do you write? Personalize and ask yourself the questions that I posed to Catherine. Has your writing helped you to enhance your abilities to be grounded, resilient to change, to flow with pressure and stress and your body-mind-spiritintuition? Share your experiences with us in the comments.

Norma Goldsmith, Guest Blogger


The Foundation of Multiple Intelligences

22 Apr

Remember this model?

UntitledIt’s a tying together of the theory of multiple intelligences with a personal twist as we look at how events in our lives filter through several steps of interpretation.  This  is really fascinating and important stuff, and today I’m going to start to explain why. Essentially, I’d like today’s post to lay the foundation for explaining an approach I often use in my coaching with client and in my daily life. It’s about realizing our patterns, and figuring whether or not they serve us well.

And now I’m going to tell you a little story. 🙂

For a whole lot of reasons we’ll touch on as we go, I grew up tying academic achievement with my own self-worth.  The better the grade, the better I was. That’s crazy unto itself, but add in the fact that my peer group of friends were brilliant “logical smart” individuals, and you are left with a load of pressure. I compared myself to their achievements so much that I totally skipped over my own valuable contribution to the world. Don’t get me wrong, I resonate with being logical smart – I throw the question “why is that?” at everything and need to know the theory and statistics behind ideas  . . . but during school, when I equated being successful with high grades in math and science (which was a struggle for me to obtain) it basically caused me to ignore my even greater strengths of people smarts, music smarts and more.
I judged myself against an ideal that didn’t fit my mold back then. I now understand that our brain has an ever-changing structure and its activity can change too. The brain’s neuroplasticity allows it to grow, decline or go unchanged as we transform with experiences, habits and our genes. In that way, we can grow our capacity to be smarter and increase the number of neurons in particular areas of our multiple intelligences. Change happens when we exercise the brain.

As the saying goes “use it or lose it.”

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Do you ever feel that pressure to be amazing academically, to the point of using that to measure self-worth?

Fast forward a load of years to right after I had gone through breast cancer treatment. An opportunity arose to attend the Royal Roads University to become a Certified Executive Coach (CEC). Of course I jumped at the opportunity! But in the process an unexpected external trigger kicked in: school = self-worth  tied into grades. And here I was thinking I’d accomplished so much in my life that this feeling wouldn’t come back!

Using the Multiple Intelligences Map, I’m going to take you through my reactions, and how I was able to reframe that process for a far more positive outcome. If you can think of a similar situation, walk yourself through that experience as we go, and see if this makes sense to you. Feel free to leave questions or comments if you have a question.

External Event Trigger:

Going back to school.

Tendency to delete, distort, or generalize the information: I began to feel the same emotions from high school, with feelings of being less good than others (distorted information). Suddenly there was this need to prove myself again.
Mapped across multiple intelligences: By the time I reached the Royal Roads University, I had more awareness about my other strengths and had built up my self-esteem through coaching. I have a great love for being with people (emotional intelligence smart) and sharing in their stories, I love music (music smart) and have an ear for its complexities, and I have the ability to live with a sense of Spirit (spiritual smart) in every moment. Not bad, eh?! However, my logical smart side, being triggered by that word “grades”, wanted to stand up and rule.

I can still remember how this attitude led me to feel inadequate even during that RRU experience. There was a PowerPoint slide presentation that I had created for my RRU team, and a team member said it wasn’t professional. Okay, so I might have indulged too much in the different colours and let my artistic side go just a bit wild . . . in any case, being told I wasn’t professional enough felt like a blow. Forget that I had done what felt right, my logical smart side took a hit to the ego and it impacted my self-worth. Was I not good enough to be there?

Internal Processing:

I decided to examine my own response which was resonating with my need to do everything extraordinarily well. But was it really such a great setback? So I am not a natural composer of PowerPoint slides, so what?! When I received the feedback, it was devastating and my body felt it – but then, as I was able to review the situation (internal processing) . . . I started to realize that in perspective of my other strengths  and that everyone is doing their best, this feedback could help me in the long run.

I just needed to get my bruised ego out of the way.


I bounced back. I asked myself how I could improve the situation, and I had more empathy toward my other strengths; anchoring myself in what I was good at like interacting with new friends from the course which helped me speak with far more confidence.


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When you become aware of  your internal processing of an event that stirs up a strong emotion in you, you are certainly on the right track to create change.  The beauty of this communication loop with yourself and how you relate to others is that it can continue to weed out what isn’t working for you. It has been four years since that RRU experience and I’m happy to say that I continue to learn and grow by exploring my thoughts and emotions with my coach. I now respond less to triggers that do not serve me and I spend more time rejoicing in the imperfections of a blessed life. Thank you MC and John!

So, have you ever had an experience that you would like to share with us about how you communicate with yourself or others? I’d love to hear more if you resonate with any of the above, or if you have questions too. Just leave your thoughts in the comments.

Till next week,

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