A Muse Inc


Denise's Blog

view:  full / summary

Action Expresses Priorities

Posted by Denise Van Domselaar on May 6, 2011 at 10:46 PM Comments comments (2)

I receive regular email newsletters from internationally known psychologist, scholar, behavioral scientist and teacher Jean Houston. The title of the email that arrived this morning is the same as the title of this blog entry. “Action Expresses Priorities.” It is referring to an invitation to focus on priorities and to take appropriate action that comes from Mohandas K. Gandhi. Jean asks us to reflect on this question:


“What would you do if you could not fail?”

Wow…there’s a question that will stop you in your tracks. How can we even imagine that we could not fail? Fear of failing fuels so much of what we do, or at least the way we do it. We censor ourselves; we take only timid tiny steps, or sadly, sometimes none at all. We have trouble allowing the full realization of our true power, creativity and intention. Yet Jean invites us to take heart with another of Gandhi's Truth Statements:


“The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing

would suffice to solve most of the world's problems.”

This is what Gandhi called Satyagraha, Truth Force. It is what moves all worthwhile action and change. It includes the principle of non-violence. Non-violence, in my opinion, is a requirement to solve our own problems, the issues within our families, communities and globally.

Non-violence: now there’s another notion that could stop you in your tracks. This does not only refer to the obvious such as not hitting or shooting each other. It includes our chosen words, our attitudes and thoughts. When we speak and act from our truth we are coming from a place of humility. Humility sees oneself as neither more important, nor less important than anyone else. We are able to be non-violent to others to the extent that we are that with ourselves. How many of us mentally beat ourselves up after making what we deem to be a mistake or experience “failure?”

Truth: Those things we give our focus and attention to are the things that grow. If we have fallen short of our own expectations in matters large or small, and follow that up with a sound inner lashing, we are treating ourselves violently. Our focus on this creates a dynamic whereby we act as our own inner bully and it keeps us oppressed in the same way that a bully controls his/her victim. We then tend to make choices that keep us “safe” from our inner brutalities and this prevents us from fully living our power, creatively and intentionally.

Let’s agree to strive to view ourselves and others more compassionately, allowing the luxury of learning curves or finding the gift in errors. Can we cultivate curiosity and a sense of play? These attitudes support our desires to try our wings in developing all of our passions. Expressing this becomes our priority. Imagine what YOUR world would look like; what THE world would look like if more of us focused on our passion. What if we believed that we could not fail? This choice to shift our thinking is an action that expresses our priorities.

What are your priorities? How are you including them in the multitude of tasks and demands in a day? Are you giving your dreams and passions their time in the sun? Nourishing and tending to them in recognition that they are the treasure map to your highest ideals and greatest actions? It is here that practicing non-violence is essential. Do not squelch or step on the creative stirrings and fresh green shoots poking through in your own heart. Take action to give them priority. I believe that our true heart’s desires are what Gandhi calls Satyagraha. May your Truth Force be with you!

PeaceBuilding Circles

Posted by Denise Van Domselaar on February 21, 2011 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Peacebuilding Circles are an old idea made new. They are a highly respectful and gentle means of resolving conflict and offering support to individuals, families and other groups. They are based on Indigenous people’s conflict resolution protocols. The “talking stick” is the heart of the circle. Basically, the stick gets passed around the Circle and only the person holding it is free to talk; everyone else is then free to listen. People are free to pass if they have nothing to say; and this choice is itself that person’s comment. This may not sound like much, but in actual experience, it is extremely powerful.


Why Circles? The more we use authority, the less people make their own decisions. If we want  individuals, families, a community, and a world where people think for themselves and are responsible we need to control less and allow more accountability.  When power/control attempts to thwart an undesired outcome or force a desired outcome, that which is trying to be eradicated does not go away. It goes underground and resurfaces, perhaps wearing a different hat. But it is still there. Therefore the goal of Peacebuilding Circles is inclusion and empathy rather than coercion or exclusion.


People are “meaning makers.” We attach meaning to situations and experiences. We make meaning differently, not rightly or wrongly. Conflict resolution in Circle focuses on helping all parties hear and understand how all concerned have made meaning.


Peacebuilding Circles are so respectful that they could be called “sacred.” A Circle is a process where everyone has a voice. It is intentional space to step into the direction of everyone’s best self and be accountable to the values of that best self and to reach agreement. Sitting in Circle can be a lengthy process as it takes time for each voice to be heard and for consensus to be reached. In Circle, people can drop their masks and be in touch with their best self.


Peacebuilding Circles can be used in a variety of ways such as  Celebration Circles or Encouragement Circles. This is where a group of stakeholders sit in Circle to honor or encourage an individual.  Learning Circles are where Circle may be used for teaching and learning. Community Building Circles can be used to strengthen community relationships and building empathy.  Dialogue Circles assist people with divergent thoughts to come together to listen to each other respectfully.  Healing Circles are processes to support people through a difficulty such as grief or loss. These first 5 types of Circle do not have a goal of consensus; the goal is connection, common ground and community.


Circles where consensus is required include Decision Making Circles where collective planning or problem solving is required and Conflict Circles for workplace, family or school conflict resolution.


Finally We Are Opening Our Eyes to the Shortcomings of Our Education System

Posted by Denise Van Domselaar on November 1, 2010 at 12:19 PM Comments comments (0)

This morning at my "day job" as a counselor at an alternative school that operates within the regular provincial education system, our principal provided us with this link.  Although I have known that our regular education system falls short for many students, I hadn't realized the history of it.  I know from my own experience and from watching many others that it often deadens spirit and creativity.  I know that it can sometimes damage the self esteem of students whose natures don't "fit in the box", convincing them that they are "less than" and not intelligent.  Thank goodness for advocates for change in this area!  Check it out.:)





Gettin' the Art out there!

Posted by Denise Van Domselaar on October 31, 2010 at 1:12 PM Comments comments (0)

I am so excited!  Yesterday I brought some of my art pieces to Expressionz Cafe to be hung in their gallery from November 16 - January 16.  This is an ongoing multi-artist exhibit with regular rotations of exhibitors.  The space is huge, the works varied and the talent amazing.  Please check out Expessionz website for more information on this innovative space that houses services and businesses who share a common vision of health, well being and living life fully expressed!


Good News!

Posted by Denise Van Domselaar on September 27, 2010 at 11:24 PM Comments comments (0)

Art prints are now available!!  These fine art lithographs are printed on high quality Arches water colour paper and are beautiful.  Gift yourself or someone else with affordable art!  Check under services and prices for more info!

Cyber Coffee Break Quote

Posted by Denise Van Domselaar on September 23, 2010 at 12:00 PM Comments comments (0)

If you are lucky, and if you live long enough, and if you trust your materials and you trust your instincts, you wll see things of beauty growing up in front of you, without you having anything to do with it.

--Michael Cardew


Posted by Denise Van Domselaar on August 4, 2010 at 5:10 PM Comments comments (2)

Creativity can be a scary, dark and awesome beauty when it does not invite or suggest -- rather it DEMANDS -- living in juicy wetness, in chaos.  At these times everything is  in change and the only way to remain sane is to dance with the Divine.  This dance is a holy madness that blows apart and reconfigurates, always becoming its highest and best.  It  can seem brutal in tearing apart what no longer fits or is authentic.  Surrendering to this creates the stillness that is in the centre of the hurricane and in this place we can come to trust the process,  We can come to know that when Divinity wants to dance with us that we learn the steps by taking them and we get danced to a better place...a place that is somehow more true to who we are.

Notes on the Need for Beauty

Posted by Denise Van Domselaar on July 29, 2010 at 9:28 PM Comments comments (0)

Greetings to all of you!  I thought it was high time that I make another blog entry in order to retain the interest of all 3 or 4 of you who have become members of this website, for which I am very grateful!

I have been reading a book called "Notes on the Need for Beauty - An Intimate Look at an Essential Quality" by J. Ruth Gendler.  What a cool book!  Here are some quotes that feel so yummy and juicy to me.  Let me know what YOU think!

"Beauty doesn't mind questions and she is fond of riddles.  Beauty will dance with anyone who is brave enough to ask her."

"Beauty rinses our eyes,  Sometimes beauty moves us to tears.  We bathe in, drink the presence of beauty."

"Beauty breaks us open and connects us to the hearts of others, the soul of the world, deepens our connections with the places we live and dream about the people we love, animals, plants, trees and rivers.  Beauty opens the door to creativity and wisdom."

"Beauty is a presence and a friend, a teacher, a companion, the guest who visits unannounced, the guest you wish would stay longer."

"Beauty brings us home to the ordinary, earthy, earthly sacred; it nourishes, renews, disturbs, comforts and wakes us up."

Don't you feel "full and alive" just pondering these thoughts?  I know I do!  I especially love "beauty rinses our eyes."  How true that is.  I think it rinses our hearts and souls too.  I believe that we are all called to BE beauty in this world.  Let our thoughts and actions be beautiful!


Sometimes Beauty is terrible.  Tornados, fires, are examples of this.  Sometimes what is truly beautiful is the strength and courage that shines out from what seems not to be beautiful -- a sick child whose gentle spirit sparkles despite his chemo treatments, a dying person whose withering body still holds the flame of their evident spirit, a new shoot growing in the charred stumps of a forest fire, the terrible beauty of witnessing a wolf stalk and kill a deer for its food.


Let us learn to look for Beauty everywhere, especially in the hard and challenging places!

Psyche's Box of Beauty

Posted by Denise Van Domselaar on June 24, 2010 at 12:42 PM Comments comments (2)

How would I have known

That the box so dark and tight

The one I kept the lid on

Through the day and through the night

The one I had nailed tight shut

So firmly, solidly glued

That when at once I opened it,

Would burst forth with every hue?

I couldn't have known

About the treasure I sat upon

Because I had not dared to look inside.

And all the rumblings I'd hear within

Made me afraid and want to hide.

So when I finally opened it,

First slowly, then wide, wide,

I was astounded and amazed

By all the beauty held inside.


Poem by Denise VanDomselaar

All Rights Reserved