Author Archives: mysteriesunfolding


Dear Friends,

Only a few years ago, in the midst of running Story Circles and encouraging my son through university, I yearned for the “Creative Life”.  Yes, of course my life was creative then, but I’m talking here of a Grade A Fantasy “CREATIVE LIFE”:  you know, hours in my comfy chair reading poetry and then writing poetry; uninterrupted hours to edit my latest chapter or article; wordless afternoons of painting. I never told any real artist of my fantasy because I had a suspicion that they might laugh at my vision.  Well, now I’m the one laughing!  Welcome to my computer-filled day and messy desk! 

Today had a clear calendar — a writing day.  Yes, I’m here in my study, writing (this blog post!)  Lunch smoothie is at hand (at 3:30 p.m.), and I’ve just transferred the second load of clothes to the dryer. My goal for today was/is to bring a little planning to my life online and write my New Moon post.  (Happy New Moon!  Remember, the New Moon is symbolically associated with starting a new project after the quiet rest of the Dark Moon.  What energy is arising now in your life?  What will you devote that energy toward?)

I’m devoting my energy to the three projects in flux at the moment:  1) getting “THE BOOK” ready for publication, 2) getting the second edition of my poetry collection “Open to Mystery” reprinted and available online, and 3) figuring out how to share my authentic voice online in my blog, on FaceBook, and on Instagram in a regular and sustainable way.

“THE BOOK”, as it’s called here in my household, has gone through a name change:  in response to an early morning inspiration it’s now titled WILDFLOWER SEEDS: the beauties of a reflective life.  The metaphor of wildflowers suits the practices of a reflective life so well:  simple beauty within our everyday life, but so often mowed down, stepped on, or peed upon.  But remember, even the widely hated dandelion carries the medicine that may heal us of the cancers caused by the toxins used to destroy it!  We need the wildflowers.

So there are a few revisions I’m in the midst of, and then, no small chore, trying to figure out how to make THE BOOK available for purchase, both e-book and print book.  Making my Poetry Chapbook available online was supposed to be the learning curve and trial run for THE BOOK — well, hours and hours and hours later, along with hours of help from not one, but two experienced self-published authors, and I’m still in the midst — it feels like the beginning — of that learning curve.

My so-called writing life last week consisted of struggling with the printer of the hand-bound copies of the chapbook.  The first printing was so totally messed up that they gave me back my money and started over.  That doesn’t sound too serious, except that every trip to the printer entailed a few hours, exhaustion, plus a day to rest up!  

And being online, authentically, is an ongoing background thrum of my days. I now collect ideas to share just as I collect the things I want to talk about with my friends when I see them. What at first seemed like a burden is beginning to feel like a blessing and, dare I say, fun! I’m still not in the rhythm of it: what best is a blog post?  What deserves a FB post?  What’s visual for Instagram?  (Gotta remember to photograph my paintings!!!)  But I’ll get there.

Thank you for reading.  Thank you, for joining me in this adventure of a reflective, creative life. We shall carry on!

With much love and many blessings,


Are You Happy to Get Your Day Underway, or Would You Rather Sleep?

Cat with her Legendary Self painting

My days are quite full, and for the first time in my life I’m happy to get to work each day. Well, not on the days when I’m tearing my hair out because the computer won’t cooperate! Most days, though, the computer and I live in a fragile peace, and I’m grateful that it helps me to share my ideas with others and encourage those who need a little heartfulness.

The book I’ve been working on for 3 years will be published this summer (YAY!!!), and I’m very excited. As well, the chapbook of my poetry, Open to Mystery, is being revised, with new poems to be included. The new edition will be out in a few months, and available for purchase online as well as hand-bound copies available directly from me.

I’m finally beginning to see years of quiet background work come together into tangible offerings to share with others. I couldn’t be more grateful that it’s finally happening.

Also, I’m increasing my presence on social media! I know that not everyone reads physical books these days, and have been wondering how to share my ideas about living a reflective life and HOW to do so in enjoyable ways that can end up influencing the world around us. I may be a little late to the party, but it (finally) occurred to me that I could do that online. Duh!

So I have lots of meaningful work to do, lots to make happen, AND, I know what to do next, and each next step is actually possible for me to do.

You see, I’ve spent most of my life not exactly sure of what I should do each day.

Working as the Director of a Sexual Assault Center, and then more recently, home educating my son afforded me the blessing of being able to choose which particular tasks I took on each day. Being the “boss” meant that I had broad guidelines as my mission, but it was up to me how I accomplished those broad aims. “Develop services to help heal those sexually assaulted and educate the public around the prevalence and causes of violence against women.” “Educate my son so that he is equipped to be a contributing and effective member of society.”

And what I chose to do mattered. What I did or didn’t do had ramifications for others, but there was no one who could tell me each day who I should talk to, what i should write, which meeting to attend, or how to get a wiggly 7 year old boy to learn math. While I tried to plan and prioritize with few resources, women weren’t getting the services they needed, and a little boy kept growing right in front of me.

For years and years and years, I hated to get up! For years and years and years, I was sleep deprived and had so much pain from fibromyalgia. Yet I hauled myself out of bed when the alarming clock shocked me out of whatever dream I was in the middle of. I would stagger myself into my day, and just do my best.

Thankfully, in more recent years I’ve been able to care for dear body better. I now am able to sleep as long as I need to, and that helps the fibro immensely.

And knowing what next needs to be done, and knowing that it matters, allows me to wake up happy to get at it!

When have you been happy to get your day underway, and when have you longed to just stay in bed? Whatever freedoms you have in your life, as much as possible, use them to make your life suit YOU.

May you have good work to do and be able to do it without depletion.

Happy New Moon as the energy of this spring arises!

With much love and many blessings,


It’s not the end of the story. . .

My birth tradition is Catholic Christianity. Butandalso I have moved deeper and wider as life has unfolded. Today is Easter in that tradition. For me, the message that holds is that death isn’t the end of the story. No matter what the deaths in life, the breakings, the sufferings — there is the possibility that something new will come. When Jesus was killed, it wasn’t the end of the story. We’re told that in some mysterious way his friends and accomplices experienced him as wholly alive, loving, WITH them —- and also, still with his wounds from being nailed to a cross.

Our scars are our medals bearing witness to all that we have been through.

Take heart. This isn’t the end. There’s always more story to come.

Happy Spring!

May be art

Nibbled to death by ducks?

Ever feel like so much is going on, swirling around you, that you feel rather overwhelmed? (“Of course not,” you say. “My life is perfectly balanced and organized!” Yeah, right!) Nothing terribly bad nor even terribly important is going on right now —- it’s just that there’s a lot! Like being nibbled to death by ducks. Each single nibble isn’t painful; it might even be fun and stimulating! But when the whole flock nibbles. . . .

One of my ongoing annoyances is a pile of so many tabs open on my computer that I can no longer even read the titles. And they pressure me. It all feels like stuff I’m supposed to deal with right now! I come across videos that I REALLY really REALLY wanna watch, but this minute isn’t the time for it. So I keep the video open on one of my computer tabs. Well, one tab becomes 5, becomes 12, becomes 20. My spouse offered to teach me how to have different pages of tabs so that I could keep many times more tabs open! I’m sure that doesn’t happen to you, ever (!) And then I add a few (dozen) podcasts that would be really cool to listen to. . . and my life becomes like the second of the paintings up there — so many wonderful things to reach for! (Let’s not even get into all the un-wonderful things that are swirling around. Another topic, another day!)

Well, yesterday I took the time to write in my bullet journal (actually, just my daily notebook) a list of all my “wanna watch” videos, and a separate list of things I want to listen to. Then deleted all the tabs. I thought it would take at least half an hour, but it was less than five minutes, and now I feel like my life has that purple circle in the second painting. Boundaries. Just one step away from those ducks nibbling, one step away from the tabs pressuring me. (Unfortunately, I’m easily pressured. Does anyone else feel the fresh vegetables in the refrigerator calling “Hurry! Eat me before I grow mold and die a meaningless death! I’m decaying as we speak!”)

It feels better to me that they are on a “wanna do” list next to the “to-do’s” and “must-do’s”. The pressure has lifted and I can consider them AFTER the “must-do’s” are done. The added perk is that now I always have a running list of interesting and even some delightful things to look forward to.

Whatever is pressuring you, try to find a way to park it, but without losing it. There’s plenty enough that requires our urgent attention every day. Find the difference between the truly urgent and things that are just pressuring you. Boundaries. Semi-permeable when necessary.

Make a small shift: Change how everything looks!

Hello dear friends,

Over the last day or two we’ve experienced both the New Moon in March AND the Spring Equinox of 2023 — two harbingers of change and newness. What is new in your life? Or, what can you make new yourself? What is worthy of re-newing?

Sometimes it’s as easy as shifting your perspective on what is in front of you, and I recently discovered a very literal illustration of that: look at the 8 design images above. They are all the exact same design, colored in different ways to highlight different aspects of the design. Here is a closeup where you can see the underlying design:

I wish I could say that I drew the design, but no, I only photocopied it from a coloring book of Islamic Geometric Designs.

At first glance I would never guess that they all have the same underlying image. It was what I added, that is, how I colored the images that made the results so different. And isn’t that the way with many situations in our daily lives, too?

I notice my annoyance with something my spouse does or doesn’t do. But then I remind myself of other times when I was touched by his thoughtfulness or amused by his humor. It’s especially frustrating when he’s intending to be kind yet his actions mess up some of my best laid plans. On good days I remember that I have a choice in how I look at the actions.

Here’s a poem I wrote a few years ago with a similar idea:

Our Responsibility to be Informed by Cat Charissage

How do you get your news?

How do you live out your citizenly responsibility to be informed?

In times of war it feels that we must keep up with it all,

We must know which cities are now occupied by “the enemy,”

We must watch the crowded lineups of women and children escaping the country while they can,

must keep up three, five, nine times a day as our phones “ping” another notification of death, of suffering.

We feel good knowing these things, keeping up with the latest.

We’re being responsible, well informed citizens.

We even think we know what’s really going on

Forgetting that the first casualty of war is truth.

But — what is really going on?

And did you hear about some other news?

That in Red Deer, healthy twins were born to a couple who’d yearned for ten years for a child.  And now they have two!

Did you hear about that family in Calgary whose grandparents needed to move into assisted living, renovated their home so that the grandparents could move in with them?

Did you hear that in schools around the world, teachers gently taught little ones how to read?  And not just today, but every day?

Or that in every hospital in every nation the nurses cared for their patients, and lives were saved?

Be conscious of what news you take in.

What’s really going on?

A lot more than we’re told.


Dear friends, let us always ameliorate suffering and stand for justice, but always, always strive to see whatever beauty is in front of you. And if you just can’t find it, create some.

With much love and many blessings,


What new Energies are Moving in your Life? New Moon Musings

Hello dear friends,

On this New Moon in February, what is moving and becoming in your life? We’ve passed the cross-quarter day of Imbolc, February 2, also Groundhog Day, and Candelaria (Candlemas), all signifying the movement (in the Northern Hemisphere) of winter into the first intimations of Spring. (Maybe. . . here in southern Alberta we’ve just had quite the winter squall, complete with plunging temperatures and plenty of snow.)

To give a quick update, my book Developing Your Inner Life is a Political Act is still being considered by publishers. I sent the proposal to five publishers, and received two “thanks but no thanks”. I have yet to hear from my preferred publishers, though if another month goes by I will assume that they’re not interested. Were that to happen, I then need to decide whether to self-publish or try other publishers. Traditional book publishing has changed to unrecognizable industries in the last 20-30 years, and amazon publishing (that is, self-published print on demand books), along with the ability and necessity of authors themselves to publicize their books, has completely changed how we go about sharing our ideas publicly.

So I’m right in the middle of re-designing my website and strategizing how I might share my ideas/experience here online. I WILL get the book into the world by Fall (at least that’s the plan —- but you know the old saying “Want to know how to make God laugh? Tell her your plans!” So I’d say that’s the intention — I try not to make too many plans!) but will become more active here online so that some of you who might not be interested in a full book can still pick up many ideas on developing a deeper inner life and exploring life’s depth dimensions.

And this is what’s brewing in my life these days: I am actively strategizing and implementing how to move my ideas out of my head into the world!

The photo above is the cover of the current journal that I am finishing up today. I hand craft my own journals and start a new one on every New Moon — following the energies of the building energy until the Full Moon, then closing up projects and resting as we move into the dark of the moon in the few days before we can see the new crescent moon start to increase again. Of course not every project follows that pattern, but it provides a loose plan for how I organize the projects that are under my own control. It’s actually quite satisfying, feeling as though I’m moving in concert with the heavens in a small way.

The mandala is freeform: I drew a circle with a compass, then started at the center point and drew the patterning outward right with my alcohol markers (BIC markers) right on the canvas I used as the cover of that month’s journal. The pattern isn’t perfectly symmetrical — but neither is my life. And they’re both beautiful. Beautiful enough! I love the vibrancy of the bold colors next to each other, and that reinforces my hope to live my life with both intention and intensity.

I use my journals not just to keep my reflection writing, but as a kind of archive, a container to receive, document, and reflect on my daily life. If I send or receive a newsy email, I’ll print it out and paste it in. If I go to a concert or reading, I paste in the program. I start a new one each month because it’s still light enough for me to carry from my downstairs study to the kitchen table, and even to take with me when I’m out and about. They are constructed with Canson mixed media paper, 12 in. by 18 in., folded in half to make my inner pages. Often I take unbound pages and clean my brushes on them or play with watercolors while watching videos in order that my journal innards are already colored and inviting when I assemble the final book. The covers are either plain canvas or thicker watercolor paper into which I sew the two signatures of paper with a very simple pamphlet stitch. There are myriads of fancier and more beautiful ways to make journals, but I find that the fancier the journal, the more I’m afraid to “mess them up.” This suits my use well: beautiful enough, but no perfection needed or expected. I explore without anxiety.

Today I just finished creating this month’s journal, and I hope to show you some photos of that in my next post.

With much love and many blessings,


First New Moon in 2023; Chinese New Year: Starting with Silence and Beauty

I’m a firm believer in Coloring Books for Adults! I colored these three images recently. I wish I could say that I had designed them, but for that I’m on a much more elementary level:

These two images are my first attempt at creating some traditional Islamic geometric patterns. Using just a pencil, straight-edge (ruler), and a compass, (plus an eraser!) the most amazingly complex patterns can be made. The general idea is that God, or Mystery, creates the grids, the background designs of all that is, while we as humans create our own lives and patterns and beauty on top of the grids. And that’s how these are made: you start with the overlapping circles, then connect a number of points to make a background (the pencil markings in the images above), then connect some lines with others in a variety of ways until you emerge with beautifully repeating patterns.

I find that in this season of my life, for whatever reason, I feel very restless when I attempt my meditations. My brain is very wordy, and calming dear mind is very elusive. So I’ve begun to color in some ready-made patterns, and, hopefully, more of my own patterns as I learn more. The coloring works wonderfully to get myself out of my mind and to settle in, to listen to what’s underneath all the surface chatter. Unlike many meditators, I always have my notebook next to me when I have a sit. Often I will remember something that is important that I’d really better not ignore, and I’m able to jot down a reminder and then let that thought go as I settle back down into silence.

It’s very hard to show up to our Depth Dimension Practices perfectly, but fortunately, we don’t have to. Just show up. My colored in patterns remind me that yes indeed I did show up. Starting my workday out of this pool of silence makes the whole day a little smoother. I wish the same for you, however you find it.

Year-end thoughts

Hello Dear Friends,

The above images are from my Studio Notebook. It takes a bit of courage to post them here, as they are certainly not “fine art”. Yet, I deeply want to encourage you to do a little creative something most days —- and if we wait to post only the “fine art”, not much will ever be shared!

The first two are meditation images, where I trace an old cd for a circle, intuitively draw a design that expresses my inner self in the moment, then try out different colorways. It’s the fastest way into silence for me! The second two are my very early attempts at a new love: geometric designs, especially Islamic geometric designs, created with only a compass and a straight-edge. (And unintentionally photographed on a crooked angle!) The final image is what I created, just like taking notes, from a simple art process from another Intentional Creativity teacher, Ally Markotich.


Today is both the Solstice and the New Moon: In the northern hemisphere, both the Sun and the Moon return! Perhaps not visible yet, but surely promised! What have you been doing to mark this season? Or are you gobbled up by obligatory family traditions and expectations around Christmas?

My guys (spouse and son) are not into Christmas. (Well, I do have a present or two for each of us hidden away!) I’ve reframed the disappointment of little or no festivity as relief that the holiday does not entail more work from me, but can truly be a holy-day to be made into what I want it to be. And that means art and writing, assessing and planning! Of course I know that “planning” is the only sure way to make God laugh — but I hold things lightly, and laugh too!

I’m deeply in the midst of my traditional year end re-reading of my journals from the past year and deciding, to the best of what I can control, what to keep and what to let go of. One thing I will keep is my relatively new habit of an artist’s Sketchbook, or Studio Notebook, in which I regularly try out new ideas as well as use my art as spiritual practice. Above are some of my quick creations.

I keep journals for two primary reasons: throughout history, women’s lives were not, and still aren’t taken very seriously. Actually, neither are most men’s lives either, unless they were either conquerors or extraordinary saints. (Remember that who gets proclaimed as a saint is always a political statement.) I’m not a conqueror, an extraordinary saint, nor a servant (the expected role of many women). I want to honor and appreciate ordinary lives, and feel the power of honoring and appreciating my own.

The other reason I keep a journal is to make visible to myself all that I do on a daily basis that unless documented in some way falls into invisibility. If I don’t keep a journal, a week or two can go by and looking back, I can barely remember anything I’ve done. This then triggers my social conditioning that says I must be wasting my time (a very serious sin according to the overculture). I banish those old voices by documenting the truth: I have a full and interesting life and while I do many, many things, I do not waste my time.

Since I’m still in the midst of the great “re-reading”, I’ll tell you more of my discoveries later. But for you, what are you saying goodbye to? What will you be keeping? Is there anything new wanting to happen?

With much love and many blessings,


Sending Out My Book to Publishers!

Dear Friends,

Greetings to you on this New Moon of November! The above image is a sample page from my Studio Notebook, where my intention is to invest about 20 minutes a day in playing around with color and image. The above colors are not typical choices for me, but I quite like the effect. It reminds me of my visits to my favorite place on the planet — the American Southwest.

MY BIG NEWS: I just finished the Proposal for my book, Developing Your Inner Life is a Political Act! I have to tell you the truth — it was almost harder than writing the book in the first place! After reading a couple of books and lots of guidelines as to how to pitch your book to publishers, I set to the task of explaining why this book should be published now, and how it will appeal to audiences. The publishing world has significantly changed in the past 30 years, and proposals now need to have a complete marketing plan plus how you will promote your book on Social Media. Well, I’m not used to thinking that way, and it took me a few weeks to get my mind around it all. Finally, I’ve written the proposal, including what potential publishers will need in order to make a decision whether to take it up or not, while also keeping true to who I am and what I honestly have to offer.

Instead of thinking that I have to do all sorts of things I don’t want to do (i.e., be on social media a lot) just in order to sell my book, I’ve reframed it. I realize that I have lots of things to share that would help people live a more reflective life, identify their authentic desires and values, and then have the motivation to take those passions out into the world to create a better life, a better world that can be a home for all of us. If I focus more attention to talking about those things on the internet and on social media, I will not only reach more people, but will also be letting people know that if they’re interested, I also have a book that expands on all of those things! And so, in a month or two I will be blogging more, and setting up a mailing list for a regular newsletter as well.

I finished the Proposal, but I still need to send it out to the 6 or so publishers I’ve selected. I’m hoping to do that tomorrow. Please send some good energy that my book find its right home in order to get out into the world. Open to any helpful advice you might have. If, after a few months, I get no nibbles, I will probably go ahead and publish it myself on amazon publishing. We shall see!!!

In other news, I was able to attend Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ first in-person training in three years: The Wounded Healer Master Training in late October in Colorado. As she had had a very intense case of covid that had lasted weeks and weeks, I was delighted to see her looking stronger, powerful, and more vibrant than I’d ever seen her! When she came into the room at our first gathering, the whole room of about 70 of us spontaneously, as one, stood up and applauded her into the room. Almost all of us were in tears, knowing how much covid has taken from us, and so grateful to be able to once again learn from Dr. Estes and be with each other. The people who are regulars at her trainings are some of the finest people I’ve met in my life, and I gather strength from knowing that we are all out in our corners of the world, doing our work for the benefit of all. I am so grateful to have been able to go.

In the next two months I have two surgeries scheduled for carpal tunnel syndrome. I have no idea how difficult the surgeries and recovery will be for me (another reason I’m so pleased to be getting out the proposal before then!). Yet the CTS affects me pretty badly now, and if successful, the surgeries will be so welcomed. Other chronic pain, especially in my rotator cuffs, can’t be fixed through surgery. I’ll take any relief I can find! Your prayers and intentions for safe surgeries are received gratefully.

May we all have what we need in this quiet, reflective time of winter and its attendant festivities! I’ll be home, quiet, recovering and reading books that have long been put aside while I’ve worked on my own book.

With candlelight, warm drinks, comfy chairs, and great books or videos, I wish you treasures of winter,

With love and blessings,


“Mission Statement” and “Strategic Plan”

Painting/Collage from Sept. 9, 2022 Retreat for Spiritual Directors, Watercolor on paper, Cat Charissage (c) 2022

Dear Friends,

Happy New Moon, just two days after the Equinox. Here in North America, the light signals that fall is in the air. I love the way the light in September makes the leaves and the trees glow golden.

A couple of weeks ago I was at the fall retreat of the Lethbridge Spiritual Directors’ Peer Support Group, and I led a portion of the day with this art activity. I invited us to think of some of the “worlds” we live in, then to look at them, peer between them, and think of what is ours to do in this season of life. My four “worlds” were Family (including Chosen family), Sharing my Enquiry and Wisdom, Intentional Creativity, and Transformative Connections:

I painted a cross between a medicine circle and a Celtic cross, the purple circle to represent my life at this time, with the large yellow crossbars representing my soul life. The four “worlds” include words which describe the what and the how of each of those worlds, and the yellow curved papers uniting the circle with the outside of the circle describe how I wish to live in this world: “Focus”, “Respect dear body”, “Appropriate Boundaries”, “Drawn, not Driven”, “tonglen” (a practice of metaphorically breathing in the darkness of the world, offering what I can to cleanse the darkness, then breathing out clean, clear light), and an awareness of the presence of “Holy Ones and Ancestors”. All the flotsam and jetsam floating around the purple circle are all the things in the world that I find interesting and attractive, all the books I want to read, the movies I want to see, the new people I’d love to meet, all the disciplines I’d love to learn about, all kinds of ways I’d love to be of service, all the art classes I’d love to take, etc., etc. Alas, we are all limited beings in time, yet, to the extent possible, I want to be conscious of how I am living this blessed life, to be conscious of what I’m focusing my energy on.

After I finished this collage, I looked at it and had to laugh —- and here’s the simple, contemplative life I want to be living! Looks pretty busy and cluttered and oh so full —- so many words, so many colors!!! So I did another small painting: the blue background, the purple circle of self and the worlds I live in within it. When I went to share my artwork with the others, I said that the simple circled cross was what I aspire toward, as in my mission statement; the full-colored busy one is the way I actually live my day-to-day life.

So what about you? At this cultural “new year” of so many new projects starting, what worlds are you living in? Are there worlds that you need to move out of in this season of life? Are there worlds where you need to offer more focus? Can you come up with a simple image, or word or phrase, that encompasses your life these days? Is your life what you want it to be? If not, where do you have choices in order to change things here and there, or change things in one fell swoop!? We don’t control everything in our lives, but we can control our attention. What are you paying attention to these days?

Enjoy this transition time!

With much love and many blessings,