Sep 302014
Harriet removing the No Trespassing sign

Harriet removing the No Trespassing sign. Photo courtesy of the Gabriola Sounder.

By Harriet Thomas. Harriet is a long time friend and supporter of The Haven. She recently named 50 acres of forest on Gabriola Haven Woods in honour of The Haven, and allowed public access in partnership with the Gabriola Land and Trails Trust (GALTT)

The plight of the Canadian forests and my relation to them has somehow been intertwined with my personal Haven story since I first came to BC some twenty years ago. The more remote the better for me in those days, and it was on a visit to Haida Gwaii from the UK that I had first heard about The Haven.  I met a lumberjack and his girlfriend, who happened to have taken some programs. I thought these people and the way they were talking was interesting. What I didn’t like – at all! – was the shocking mile after mile of clear-cut logging I witnessed there. It was virgin forest and it was being turned into toilet paper and it heartily sickened me. It fed into my world view of that time, namely of a doomed planet at the hands of a freakishly uncaring human race. Thank god I managed to make it down to Gabriola and The Haven!

Ten years later I had the opportunity to purchase 50 acres of forest a stone’s throw from Haven’s main gates.  I had no idea what I was going to do with it. All I really knew was that I loved it with a passion and it was in very close proximity to my beloved Haven and I had real concerns that someone else would buy it and chop all the trees down (this has since happened on two of the large properties nearby). Over the years some of the ideas for what to do with it have ranged from a treehouse canopy walkway, a treehouse hostel consisting of giant wooden orbs that would hang from the trees someone on Saltspring Island was creating at the time, a community of wooden cabins, an equine therapy centre and a little cabin for myself and my daughter at the end of a very long drive through the trees!

Unknown to me at the time I was in very good company in my impulse to protect and nurture a green space. Germaine Greer’s latest book “White Beech” was published earlier this year. Turns out that at almost the very same time I was purchasing my 50 acres of Canadian temperate rainforest, she was buying 60 hectares of Australian tropical rainforest.  In the prologue Germaine describes how for 10 years she felt herself to be a servant of the forest: “just one more organism in its biomass, the sister of its mosses and fungi, its mites and worms.” Like her I have never thought of the forest as mine and I can totally relate when she writes: “I didn’t think I was saving the world. I was in search of heart’s ease and this was my chance to find it.”

The trails which people have used since long before my day were officially opened  to the public this summer when I signed a license agreement with GALTT  (Gabriola Lands and Trails Trust) handing over the job of maintaining and insuring them. I was absolutely delighted to be able to take down the no trespassing signs at long last and the name ‘Haven Woods’ will be printed on all future GALTT maps.

One of the already well-established and rewarding trails on the property takes you from The Haven and the King Road entrance, through the woods, across Berry Point Road and either back to The Haven along the beach or to the lighthouse. This summer, on August 10 the largest full moon of 2014 appeared on the horizon immediately after a particularly spectacular sunset.  A large appreciative crowd that had gathered on the shore opposite the lighthouse were able to see both events within seconds of each other as both the setting sun and the rising supermoon could be viewed from Berry Point one after the other in short succession. It was thrilling to walk back to The Haven at twilight through the trees.

When I first came to Haven long before I knew Haven Woods existed, I had very limited resources and I used to camp at Descanso Bay Regional Park sometimes, in order to be able to afford programs (no bursaries in those days). I am particularly delighted that GALTT is going to make possible a new trail which will take you all the way from Tamarac Street, across Haven Woods, through Cox Park and down to Descanso Bay and the sea.

We spent many happy hours this summer exploring potential new trails to open up for residents of the island and visitors alike. The relatively far less invasive traditional logging methods at the beginning of the last century has meant that a wide variety of large trees, shrubs, ferns and undergrowth has survived  undisturbed in situ since the days before the property was  once selectively logged. Though not virgin forest in the sense that the larger trees and any giants were picked out 100 years ago or more, it is nonetheless home to a wide variety of indigenous plants, growing as they have been, no doubt, for millennia. I was delighted to be introduced to a woman at Gabriola’s south end who has taken similar measures there over some land by putting on a covenant protecting the trees.  I shall be working with GALTT to put a covenant on the Haven Wood trees in the future.  I read about people doing similar things all over the planet.

I am now happily settled in Devon, UK, living in the centre of a busy town – a far cry from my fantasy of a tiny cottage in the middle of the woods or living on isolated archipelagos a long way from home! All around me I see evidence of nature doing very well indeed. People are telling me all the time in one way or another how much they care for animals and the planet and I hear them. Have I found heart’s ease? – I would say yes!  And it is my heart’s great delight and great hope to imagine that occasionally people coming to Haven for workshops might find their way to Haven Woods and find strength and solace in the trees.

 Posted by at 3:29 pm
Sep 212014
Photo by Sam Mak

Photo by Sam Mak

By Cathy McNally. The next Living Alive Phase I runs from October 10 to November 4 and is led by Susan Clarke and Toby Macklin.

I recently had the pleasure of a conversation with a very remarkable and courageous young mother. She was mulling on what direction to take next in her life. She is particularly focused on wanting to learn and grow, so that she can be a better parent…and she wants to be better NOW!

I found myself sharing something that I have not written about in a long time.

If I was able to recommend ONLY ONE program to someone—to GIFT ONE program to a person for the biggest impact in their life, it would be Living Alive Phase I. No kidding.

I took my own Phase One in February 1990. To this day, I am still reaping the benefits of the life learnings that I gained over those 25 days. Indeed, I would say the remarkable program design and commitment ensures that the path of participants is of their own choosing…and fully supported along the way.

Each person must live their way through each day—no shortcuts possible! Due to the length of the program, each person is practicing their unique lessons while still in the program … prior to their departure. ‘Unique lessons’?—yes, that is what I meant. Every human being learns in their own unique way—this is where my use of ‘unique’ comes from. For example, in my Phase I, after a session on boundaries, the key pieces I had picked up that day were NOT the same as my room-mate’s!

At the end of the Living Alive Phase I program, I left with the key pieces of learning that fit for me…and had practiced these some, plus got feedback from a variety of others along the way. Hugely practical, and immediately applicable when I arrived home.

So, why am I saying this now?  My conversation with the young mother reminded me that I want everyone to know about Living Alive Phase I! It changed my life for ever, for the better. And the next Living Alive starts on October 10th. If you are even slightly wondering…I invite you to jump!

While I am on my ‘Only One’ soapbox … there is something else I have not written about in a long time. This is about The Haven’s models.

Whereas I love and value them all, if I could recommend or gift ONLY ONE, it would be the Communication Model. In my life, this has had the single largest impact … which reached into every corner of my world. I have used it in my work, in my primary relationship with my husband, with my children, my family, with friends, with ‘enemies’, with people I intimidate myself with, and on and on. I still use it daily.

Many of The Haven’s programs fold in work on the Communication Model. And, because it has been SO important and impactful in my life, I helped co-create a program that makes time to explore the many nuances of effective communication. I invite you to hunt it out on The Haven’s website or the 2015 program catalogue and make a date to join me and my colleagues in one of the ‘Communication Fundamentals’ programs next year

Hope to see you there!

 Posted by at 5:04 pm
Sep 152014

MirroringThis article written by Joann Peterson, The Haven’s first Director of Education, was first published in Shen magazine in the spring of 1996. Joann co-created The Power of Direct Mirroring which is now led by Cathy McNally and Wendy Huntington. Join them for a transformative experience at The Haven October 9-12

MIRRORING: The Discovery Of The Self 

It seems that most of us have a love/hate relationship with mirrors. Looking into a reflecting surface, we take in information and interpret it to be a “truth” about our body and our image/identity. Believing that mirrors never lie, we may develop an avoidance phobia, spend hours creating the best possible image of ourselves to present to the world or merely profess a casual interest as we glance into a mirror well placed to reflect back only the most carefully selected parts of our anatomy. Seeing ourselves reflected from another surface is seldom a neutral experience.

The very first time we experienced mirroring was not from a physically constructed surface, but from the most significant person in our world. For most of us, this experience occurred during the first days of life, when we turned our head in response to an increasingly familiar voice and maneuvered our eyes to be in contact with Mother. In silent query, this gaze asked one of the most vital questions of our lives: “Am I really here? Do you see me?”

The ensuing dialogue, expressed with and without words, continued throughout childhood and later expanded to include significant others, often authoritative figures. We became intimately involved in a lifelong process of creating ourselves and legitimately used first our parents then others as a valuable feedback system. In this process we forged the very foundation of our sense of personal definition and identity.

Unfortunately, many of our mirroring sources were unclear and distorted surfaces that had no visible “defective product” label. We adopted as “truth” information that was flawed in accuracy. The distortions are familiar to many of us: the concave mirror in which the messages reflect fault, inadequacy and rejection; the convex mirror in which we and our accomplishments are interpreted as bigger than life, where striving and goal achievement is the only process valued, or the disengaged mirror in which the message reflects disinterest, invisibility and absence of connection. These represent but a few of the many distortions offered from people who themselves had grown up with flawed mirrors.

I recently had a surprise visit back to a distorted mirror message when I scheduled a hair cut appointment. For the first time in my adult life, I contemplated getting my hair cut short. Before the words were out of my mouth, I grew anxious, nauseous and was close to tears. Staring at myself in the mirror, draped and damp and waiting to be shorn, I watched my head begin to shrink and my ears begin to grow and ultimately wave in the breeze. From the recesses of my memory, from some archaic library within my past, came the words “We will never, never cut your hair short, Joann. You have ears as big as Dumbo.”

Suddenly, I was 8 years old and pestering my mother for a short hair cut. I remembered hurting deeply as I listened to my mother and really looked in the mirror discovering the truth myself. Then, I thought I was stupid for not having seen this flaw before! I was chagrined and later amused to discover that this mirroring experience had unconsciously shaped my picture of my own body and had contributed to years of hair cutting anguish. I checked out the accuracy of Dumbo-vision with my hair dresser and he gave me a very studied opinion that seemed direct, relevant and one that ultimately left the decision up to me. So, I decided to cut! With inches of my shorn hair piled on the floor, I peeked into the mirror and discovered I loved this new version of me. Dumbo no longer reigned; either my mother had flawed perceptions or my head had grown to accommodate two normal sized ears. In any event, with conscious decision, I rejected the mirror that no longer served my picture of me and chose my own updated vision to reside as my mental picture of myself.

Then, I began to wonder how much of my reactive, “automatic function” beliefs about myself and life were related to distorted mirroring experiences. I believe that over the years, a great deal of my context was determined by others; I grew up very afraid and therefore vigilant about others’ attitudes and behaviors toward me. I was, and am still, struggling with an attachment to field dependence; I am tempted to look to others for information about me before I assess myself inwardly. In that way, I abandon myself. When I consciously assess myself first and then invite feedback from others, I offer myself the possibility of becoming more individuated.

Fortunately, there are mirrors that are reasonably clear and without distortion or cracks. These are called direct mirrors because what they offer is a direct reflection of the experience without biased interpretation. The messages are personal, thoughts and feelings are separated, interpretations are usually descriptive rather than judgmental (about outcome) and honesty is an essential ingredient.

My mother might have said, “Joann, I know summer’s coming and that you hate the time we spend unsnarling your curls. You really want short hair. Let’s look in the mirror, hold your hair up to the length you want it. What do you see?….. I see that your face is small because you’re still growing and I think that with your hair short your ears look pretty big. Do you agree? I don’t like your hair short; I like it longer. But, it’s your hair, what do you choose? How are you feeling about what I’ve told you?…..” Direct mirroring is difficult for most of us to reflect because it requires presence, consciousness about our own process and careful attention to responsible communication. What gets in our way is a desire to control and shape others’ experiences and an arrogance about knowing the “truth.”

One of the difficulties of the mirroring process is that we “give unto others what was given to us” thus perpetuating distorted mirroring with our own family and friends. Experiencing frequent diminishment in my parents’ eyes, I offered my sons a grandiose picture of their early accomplishments. (A mushroom drawing became a framed masterpiece in the family gallery–the bathroom).

Others, still smarting from years of belittling messages, will unconsciously tend to mirror others in the same way out of pattern repetition or to perpetuate a destructive pecking order. If we have received adulation and grandiose acclaim for achievements, we may grow entitled to this heady attention despite the fact that deep within ourselves we judge this mirroring with contempt as inaccurate. In this mechanism self hatred thrives. Without consciousness, these processes continue unchecked from generation to generation.

Bringing awareness to distorted mirroring, realizing the impact of these messages in our lives, and interrupting the cycle through learning how to directly mirror one another is the essence of MIRRORING: Discovery Of The Self, a new workshop Linda Nicholls and I have created. We’re excited about the discoveries people are making in the workshop and we continue to update our own self perceptions. The format of the three days invites us to revisit our relationship to physical mirrors and body image, to learn more about the mirroring patterns that were part of the crucible of our self identity, and to offer one another clearer, direct feedback.

 Posted by at 11:47 am
Aug 302014

Claire Uhlick


It’s hard to believe that my trip to Gabriola Island is only a few short weeks away! I’m very excited to have focused studio time and a chance to break free from my day-to-day routines. I’m also looking forward to immersing myself in the vibrant island community.

I was originally selected as one of the participating artists for The Haven’s Fall 2013 Artist in Residence program. Only shortly before the trip, my mother passed away from multiple myeloma cancer. It was a devastating time for me and for my family. I am so grateful to Rachel Davey at The Haven and to the Gabriola Arts Council for being so understanding – acknowledging that at that time, I needed to be with my family, and for being flexible by allowing me the chance to complete the residency at a later date. Now, almost exactly a year later, I am eager to take advantage of this opportunity for time and space, to reflect and create.

I’m coming to The Haven with an open mind and lots of ideas. I have goals (daily and weekly) prepared to challenge myself throughout my three-week stay; but I am also open to the ways in which this opportunity might inspire some new work. My paintings come from a very honest personal place; I believe my life experience and the environment around me greatly influence my work.

I am thrilled to be coming to The Haven, and anticipating a productive time in such an inspiring place!

I will keep updates on my website throughout my trip. So keep checking in!


 Posted by at 10:44 pm

The Pleasure and Price of Remaining Unaware

At The Haven, on the evening before Ben Wong’s celebration of life, we showed a DVD of a talk that Ben and Jock McKeen gave at the Satir Institute of Manitoba in the 1990s, called the Pleasure and Price of Remaining Unaware. So many people enjoyed watching the talk that we asked Jock for permission to make this [...]

I’m So Busy! The Power of Balance

I’m So Busy! The Power of Balance

Laurie Anderson and Kim Hudson are leading The Power of Balance at The Haven, June 6–8. How often do you find yourself saying how busy you are in one way or another?  I caught myself trying to impress my daughter with my busy schedule one day. I had to stop and laugh as she gave [...]

Decluttering and Inner Beauty

Decluttering and Inner Beauty

Rachel Davey writes: We have just completed a ‘decluttering’ of the fireplace area in the lodge, with the intention of highlighting the beautiful mantel that was created and donated by Paul Arnold. When I contacted Paul and sent him the photo, this was his reply: “Thank you Rachel for your thoughtful email and attached photo. I [...]

Disappearing into Larger Identity

Disappearing into Larger Identity

By Adrian Juric. Adrian and Cathy AJ Hardy will be leading Life Transition Through The Lense of Nature at The Haven, June 20–22. Spring is always a time of heady excitement at the elementary schools where I work as a counselor.  Students grow euphoric when thinking about the freedom and adventure that summer will bring, [...]

More Like a Cha-Cha

More Like a Cha-Cha

By Jennifer Hilton. Jennifer is a Haven Faculty member and a Haven Coach. You can learn more about her or contact her for coaching by clicking here. New! Free 20 min starter session now offered by all Haven Coaches. I like this definition of being an optimist … at least I do now. I tend [...]

In Dying, an Engagement with Life

In Dying, an Engagement with Life

Haven faculty member Ernie McNally lived his belief in relationship even as he was terminally ill. By Julie Chadwick. This article originally appeared in the Nanaimo Daily News, March 31, 2014. When Ernie McNally was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour 18 months ago, he approached the looming potential of death much like he had [...]

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