Wisdom from the Inside Out by Barbara RobitailleMy mother, the woman who I had allowed to define my life, was dead; my father had died theprevious year. After gathering the last of Mom’s few belongings, my brother asked how I was. Iresponded that I had never felt freer in my life. Quietly nodding, he understood.Suddenly, I had no one to disappoint, no one to tell me who I was or how I was to live. Alwaysthe good girl, I did as I was told and delivered all that they asked of me. I tap danced my waythrough life hoping to make their lives happy. There was love, but it was a hard love. As Iwatched my mother draw her last earthly breath, I felt the liberating breath of Spirit begin toawaken my Truth. I was 49 years old and only now gaining the courage to tell myself the truthabout my life.We never know the whole truth about someone’s experience. Each of us has our own story, and,while we share our humanness with others, how we define ourselves and the situations we findourselves in is uniquely our own. As a Soul Coach, I am privileged to listen to my client’sstories. The power Soul Coaching brings to the client rests in telling yourself the truth about yourlife. It’s one thing to respond with “I’m fine” to a casual inquiry from a friend or neighbor,however too often we convince ourselves that we’re fine when we’re anything but. Too often weadapt ourselves to conform to the ideas, values and opinions of significant people in our lives:mothers, fathers, relatives, husbands/wives, co-workers, bosses, and we even adapt to culturalinfluences. At some point life brings you the opportunity to come home to yourself.
The invitation to come home to your Self can arrive suddenly; a phone call with news of a healthcrisis or the death of a loved one can, in a single moment, turn your world upside down.Sometimes the invitation arrives at one of life’s thresholds, such as the experience of marriage,divorce, being a parent or caring for aging parents, empty nest, career transitions, or midlife. Myinvitation included all of the above in a matter of three years. It seems the Universe decided Ineeded to be hit by a thunderbolt to get my attention. It worked, but I wouldn’t recommend itunless you have the budget for regular spa visits, the latest anti-aging skin care products and theright skin tone to compliment gray hair. What’s true though is this - however the invitation isextended, feeling no solid ground beneath you, you stumble, looking for shelter with nowhere togo except home; to your Self.Arriving at your own front door, luggage in hand, still indignantly waving the invitation,resisting the RSVP, you would rather be anywhere but here. Most of us would rather clean ourrefrigerator, scraping mold off cheese, tossing that stalk of broccoli bearing a strikingresemblance to Bob Dylan, than choose to be alone with ourselves for longer than five minutes.Many of us are champion medal holders in creating distractions to avoid any time spent in quietreflection. We keep ourselves distracted with volunteering to sew all the costumes for the schoolplay or offering to return all our neighbors’ library books. We make our lists and set our lives oncruise control, sailing smoothly along with only a minimal amount of self-reflection. We create afalse sense of security, living on the surface choosing to ignore what lies beneath. As thebusyness and stress we have created in our lives escalates we become disconnected from Spirit.
But now the image in the mirror is unavoidable, it’s time to go below the surface; unpack yourbags.As a Soul Coach I help you unpack. We examine the contents of each bag, and with honesty andintention assess what truly fits and let go of what no longer serves you. This might meansomething as seemingly insignificant as letting go of that sweatshirt you wore at summer campwhen you were 12, along with Aunt Ruth’s careless Thanksgiving comment when you were sixabout your hair looking like a Brillo pad. As you do this, you begin to create space in your life.Composer Claude Debussy once said, “It is in the silence between the notes that true music isborn.” When you create space in your life, you welcome your Spirit home, you begin to hear thevoice of your Soul, however soft the whisper, calling you to live from Spirit, to know your ownTruth.Soul Coaching offers the opportunity to reconnect to the voice of your Soul that knows what youlove, knows what matters to you, knows who you want to be. You assess your life and in doingso, tell the truth to yourself about your life. As you clear your mental, emotional, spiritual andphysical clutter and reconnect with the natural world around you - the trees offering shade andmusic in the wind, the chickadees cheerful song, the single flower that blooms through thesidewalk crack - you begin to open yourself to living a life guided by Spirit, awakening that partof yourself that has forgotten that we belong to each other and all life. I am humbled to witnessmy clients awakening to the magic and miracles that are a part of every minute of every day;seeing kindness in a stranger’s eyes, hearing from a friend when you most need support, finding
something that you thought was lost. They begin to discover just how extraordinary theirordinary lives are.Those awakenings happen at my kitchen table. How ordinary is that? There is somethingcomfortable and familiar about being at a table. For years I have welcomed people to my tablewhere three beeswax candles glow on a bamboo mat. Friends, neighbors and strangers havefound themselves sitting at my table telling me their stories. Over cups of tea, coffee, cocoa orsips of wine, the conversation that was waiting, happened. My home has always been mysanctuary, offering me a place to relax, create, feel safe and feel Spirit; a true shelter for myheart, mind and spirit. People felt comfortable at my table. There was an ease between us. GentlyI would listen and counsel from my table. I never knew who might appear each day.The time came when I left my kitchen table to set up shop in a ‘real’ office as a Soul Coach. Iwas invited to join a local holistic health clinic and I agreed to become a part of a communitythat offered referral support and provided a sense of shared vision with colleagues. I honored myhumble beginnings by naming my business Barbara’s Table. Interesting energetic roadblockskept coming up as I tried to set up my office space. Among the most memorable: being lockedout on two occasions having been issued the wrong key, unable to disarm the security system,paint disappearing, and my phone unable to provide service. With each challenge I pushedforward, determined to establish myself in the mainstream career world.
Recently an “aha” moment opened my Spirit to what is true for me. Due to tricky appointmentscheduling with a client, I agreed to see her at my home. I put the kettle on for tea and lit thecandles in my kitchen - just like old times. The session carried energy of ease and grace. I was inmy groove! I was home. My intuitive gifts that I use in combination with the Soul Coachingprogram were at a heightened level and the intimacy of connection with my client felt deeper.She asked if we could meet in my home again the following week saying “I love being here.” Iknew without question that I was to come back to my table.As we come back to ourselves, answering the question “Who am I, really?” our lives awaken toour wisdom within, hearing the soft whisper of our Soul calling us to our truth, guiding us inbringing our light to the world. This is what it means to be alive; letting go of the fear that holdsus hostage; having the courage to embrace the power to define your life; knowing you have thepower to choose how you define each moment of your life. Howard Thurman once said, “Don’task what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the worldneeds is people who have come alive.”When you show up and make the commitment to dig down deep, it feels as though the Universeand your Soul open floodgates to support you every step of the way, acknowledging the yearningthat has been kept undercover, held captive by your ego and the mind that said, “You must dothis if you want to be loved, if you want to succeed, if you want to belong.” Grace descends andsynchronicities expand. Those “aha” moments bring the gift of redefining your way of being inthe world, transforming your life.
I have come to know and honor Mystery as I work with my Soul Coaching clients. Each dayholds the promise of possibility and I never know which day’s exercises or which soul coachingtool will be the one that will bring the delight of the “aha” gift of understanding and connection.For one client it might be Day 9 that brings them to their knees, another might resonate deeplywith doing a Soul collage, where images, color or words hold the key to insights that awakentheir Divine identity.In cleaning out a closet recently, I found the soul collage I made during my Soul Coachingtraining course at Summerhill Ranch, and as I looked at it, I was stunned when I saw the wordsKitchen Table pasted on my collage. My Soul knew I belonged at my kitchen table. My ego tookme on a detour, but my Spirit brought me home. In the center of my collage there is an image ofa woman standing on a stage holding a microphone. I remember feeling strongly drawn to thatimage and I get goose bumps as I stare at the image now, some two years later, as I realize I nowtake voice performance lessons and own my identity as a singer.With 28 days of powerful questions to reflect upon, meditations and hands-on tasks, the sensethat anything can happen comes alive and opens the door to the Divine imagination within.Which Soul Coaching tool unlocks which door is different for everyone.
One of the most powerful tools used in Soul Coaching is composing a vow to yourself. Inpreparing to write this chapter, I contacted several former clients asking them what they foundmost helpful during their six week journey. Everyone included the writing of their sacredcontract as one of the most meaningful tasks. As you might imagine, writing a vow to yourself;writing loving, tender, kind words brings a softening towards yourself that is unfamiliar, anduncomfortable. We’re not used to being loving and kind to ourselves. Instead, the opposite isoften the case. When we make a promise to a friend or family member we do everything possibleto honor that commitment. Yet how easily we break promises we’ve made to ourselves. Inwriting a thoughtful, heartfelt vow to your self, you acknowledge your goodness, yourshortcomings, and your strengths and make the commitment to accept and honor yourself.Entering a Soul Coaching experience is like going on a holiday by yourself. This is a time whenit’s okay to say “It’s all about me” - a time to allow yourself permission to focus on you, to askyourself each morning “What do I feel like doing today?” and then doing it. You learn to keeppromises to yourself. If you wake up wanting to go to Paris, and you know you won’t beboarding the next plane to Charles De Gaulle airport, perhaps you could bring a little bit of Paristo your life that day - have a croissant and glass of wine for lunch at a local bistro, or spend timeon the internet looking up travel information to Paris. Print out a picture of the Eiffel Tower andcreate a Vision Board filled with other images or words you desire. The point is to take time tolisten to your Spirit, to pay attention to your heart’s desires; to nurture the childlike naturewithin, the part of you who remembers that magic happens.
There are many ways to open yourself to magic and miracles in your life. One way is to writedown exactly what it is you desire and declare “I desire this or something better to come to me inperfect timing.” A client of mine, Eric1, decided to make a list of all the elements that, to him,created the perfect house. With no expected timeline, he put the list in a special box he kept onhis dresser. Within two weeks, he received word that the condo he was renting was being put upfor sale. Rather than wait in uncertainty for the condo to sell, Eric began to look for a new placeto rent. After viewing several options, he found a beautiful home in a neighborhood convenientto work and school. Upon inquiring, he learned that while he was welcome to make anappointment to view the property, there were over 100 applicants scheduled to meet the ownerand walk through the house.Arriving at his scheduled time, Eric slipped in the front door, just as the couple before him wasleaving. He overheard them offering the owner more money than she was asking for the monthlyrent. Eric considerately removed his shoes as he entered the house and after exchanging a fewpleasantries with the owner began to roam through the house. He loved the feel of each room,delighting in its quirky layout, knowing he would be at home in this place. Talking a bit morewith the owner, he assured her of his genuine interest and desire to become her tenant. As thenext couple arrived, Eric quietly left, knowing that while he felt good about his connection withthe owner, many others were equally excited about living in this wonderful home. 1 Names have been changed to maintain client confidentiality.
Eric was chosen among all those who applied. He was ecstatic at his good fortune, but it wasn’tuntil he had moved all his belongings and was settled in that he remembered his list. Smiling tohimself he read his list of house desires, realizing that every single one of his desires was presentin his new home. All except one. He had listed the desire for bamboo floors. The house did havehardwood flooring, but it was not bamboo. Later that day sitting in his living room, his gaze wasdrawn to the backyard, where, for the first time he noticed that his back fence line was plantedentirely with - bamboo.Self-care, acceptance and forgiveness are integral elements of the Soul Coaching experience. Ichallenge my clients to remember their manners toward themselves. We can be amazingly hardon ourselves. I had one client who made the decision to commit to the Soul Coaching programhoping to learn to say “Yes” to herself after a lifetime of self-cruelty. Growing up in a householdwhere she was guilty until proven innocent, where nothing less than perfection was allowed,Emily apologized constantly and took the blame for whatever might go wrong, beating herself upfor every little thing.In our work together, we explored the words and tapes that played in Emily’s mind as she madeher way through the day. It is amazing how harsh and critical those inner voices can be. Thejudge and jury need to be dismissed and replaced with more compassionate and honorablevoices. The good news is that you have the power to fire the judge and jury. Once the realizationawakens, firing the judge and jury can be exhilarating. No need to mind your manners; let themgo without two weeks notice - "You’re outta here. Pack your things and get moving, now!” Bit
by bit the new language emerges; the old tapes are erased and, as a result, decades of conditionedbehavior can be redefined.Many of us look back at events in our lives through a lens that blames others for our involvementor excuses our behavior. “The devil made me do it,” the immortal line used by comedian FlipWilson’s character, Geraldine, to explain away her outrageous, mean-spirited behavior, wasalways good for a laugh, but not so funny when experienced off-stage. It’s easy to blame ouractions on someone else. But, it is important to own our actions, recognizing that we choosesituations and how we respond in those situations, rather than adopting the position of being avictim of circumstances, blaming others, living in denial or making excuses.One of the exercises in the Soul Coaching program, often the most uncomfortable for clients,involves looking back at your most memorable life experiences, those thresholds that you feelshaped your life from the position of being an observer - a Sacred Observer. Through the lens ofthe Sacred Observer, you detach from the emotional charge that you have used to define thosemoments, offering the opportunity for a new perspective that could assist you in seeing yourselfin a new way.Living your life from the place of being a victim holds you hostage; the hurts and wounds of thepast remain alive in feelings of blame, denial, regret or fear, as well as robbing you of the futurewith the energy given over to worrying about future outcomes. You are not able to live in the
present moment, to know the blessing of living this one moment, to rest in the space of now.Recognizing that you have the power to release living from a place of victimhood, that you arenot a victim, knowing instead that you have the power to choose how you react or respond in anygiven situation is a huge step towards reclaiming and owning your power.When you stand in your power, trust your own information and allow your intuition to guide youin making choices and decisions, life becomes truly your own. After years of wearing someoneelse’s shoes you are now standing proudly and confidently in your own. You dance, sing, smile,laugh, cry and live from your Truth. You honor all that you are and open your authentic self toall that you imagine possible. You have come home to your Self, embracing your humanness andyour Divinity. You Believe.Years ago, I happened upon a letter written in 1513 by Fra Giovani2 to a friend. The words in hisnote have echoed within me ever since. I offer them to you as a reminder that you Take Peacewhen you remember your connection to others and all life. You Take Heaven when you let go ofpast regrets and release worry about future outcomes; when you live in the present moment. YouTake Joy when you awaken to the magic and miracles that are in every moment of every day. Ibelieve Soul Coaching awakens you to the infinite possibility that is your life. You can choose totake heaven, to take peace, to take joy in your life. It is up to you. 2 FraGiovanni Giocondo (c. 1433- 1515) Italian architect, antiquary, archaeologist and classicalscholar. Excerpt from A Letter to the Most Illustrious the Contessina Allagia degliAldobrandeschi, Written Christmas Eve Anno Domini 1513.
I salute you. There is nothing I can give you which you have not, but there is much that while I cannot give, you can take. No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. Take Heaven. No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present instant. Take Peace. The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. Take Joy.Note to Book Designer:Soul Coaching Oracle Card Quote:(To be inserted in text box in body of Chapter)Sanctuary – Affirmation: I am divinely guided gently and lovingly.Go within and find your inner refuge. Be a safe haven for others. Step forward with grace,deliberation, and thoughtfulness. Take moments for reflection.