To do whatever I can from whomever I am to help to move humanity toward enlightenment.
Bio – Short:
Nicole is passionate about integrative health and healing, an occupation that grew, in part, out of a genealogy of strong women including Elizabeth Blackwall who was the first female physician in the US. Along the way she’s been driven by a deep personal compulsion to do the tough messy work toward her own health and wholeness — inner and outer. In this context she’s an event producer and facilitator, writer, speaker, coach, life pilgrim and mother. She knows that she can’t hold space for others’ to do their own work without doing the work herself. She’s well on the road to spiritual maturity, feet on the ground, fallible and funny. She’s part of a stream of non-genealogical elders who hold a deep commitment to “bring up the next wave” of folks who are awakening in their own gifts and working to anchor that awakening in their practical day-to-day lives: financially, materially, in relationships and in the spaces around us.
Bio – Full:
When Nicole was in her late 20’s, she was floating along in a canoe on Jewel Lake in southern British Columbia, when she had a revelation: she needed to be working in the health and healing field. She’d had many jobs on the route to that canoe trip: picking mushrooms as a teen (no, not THAT kind of mushroom) museum work in promotions, and course development at the University of Victoria, and she had spent the early part of her life accruing skills and experience working with words, business systems and people. It was good, yet it left her feeling rather scattered instead of having a strong sense of direction.
That decision to work in health and healing grew, in part, out of a genealogy of strong women including Elizabeth Blackwall who was the first female physician in the US. There were other people influencing her to narrow her focus to health including a suspicion that her grandmother died from too many drug interactions, and the lifelong heartbreak of watching her father, who was diagnosed with a mental illness when she was ten years old, being mistreated at the hands of unsympathetic professionals. She knew there was a better way. But more than those things it was a deep personal compulsion to do the tough messy work toward her own health and wholeness – inner and outer.
That same revelation led her initially to work as an office manager in a counseling office and private post-secondary institute where she also took all the counseling training they offered and earned Certificates in NLP, Timeline Therapy™ and Ericksonian Hypnosis. She already had a Degree in English and French and she went on to take Reiki training and a wide variety of other practical workshops and courses. Her daughter was born shortly after she left that position and she wrote and offered counseling and coaching for awhile before she started working for the Association of Complementary and Integrative Physicians of BC. At the time they were a going concern, and as their only employee she learned to navigate the territory of multiple ‘bosses’ who had strong personalities and also had a deep commitment to influencing change with regard to systemic health issues as much as she did.
It was there she met Geoff Gosson with whom she partnered to form the social enterprise Animate Community. They produced three major integrative medicine conferences in 2005/7/9. Those international events provided a context in which care providers – from physicians to energy healers – and health researchers and administrators could learn about a whole approach to healing taking into account physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual health.
The first conference was a catalyst that propelled her and a few others to found the Victoria Community Health Cooperative. She was a key player in inaugural meetings, became a steering committee member and was on the founding Board of Directors.
The third conference led to the development of what is now the Healing Cities Institute. She, two urban planners and a developer continue the work to find ways to integrate whole health aspects: physical, mental, social, spiritual, into the planning, retrofitting and building of communities, neighborhoods, cities. They co-wrote the Healthy Communities Practice Guide that was distributed to all Canadian urban planners. In the Healing Cities context she asks a few questions that help guide the work: What if we saw the space between things – cities, buildings, trees, birds, people – as something we had in common? something that connects us instead of something that distances us? And, can we work with an urban space as a living organism capable of healing itself just a human body can heal itself? And in turn, can a place heal us? And, when we think about these questions, how does it change the literal physical design and building? Her focus is how to integrate opportunities for spiritual health into built spaces and places.
These various projects led her to create a framework for all this diversity, and MOEN Pilgrimage, was born. For her, pilgrimage is creative action and a way of moving through life. It started after she walked the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain twice and it is now her life practice and her business. As she sees it, walking as a spiritual practice and a creative act has the advantage of immediately putting us into our bodies through the movement – a kind of modern moving meditation. Because it is often done outside, it connects us to the world around us at the same time as we connect with our own inner world and it helps us to build a capacity to bring the transcendent and mundane aspects of ourselves into more balance. It can be done in daily 10 minute periods of time as a break from routine, or even on our way to the grocery store; or, we can take a longer time away to delve deeper. Both, she’s noticed, are effective paths to transformation.
At one point she was sitting on five advisory boards and working groups including the Contemplative Society. It was too much, and she eventually let them all go in order to, well, rest for awhile and do more inner and outer work so that she could continue to be in service in other ways and sincerely walk her talk.
There’s a saying that suggests that we move forward, change or grow when the pain of not doing so becomes stronger than the pain of staying stuck, and Nicole has been kicked out of ‘being stuck’ a few times! She walked her way through personal crises when her marriage of almost 20 years came to an end, through heart-break when other relationships also ended, through the confusion and frustration of how to move forward from all that, through the loss of her residence, and ultimately the loss of her previous identity. These gifts of pain now fuel her and are practical raw material for her own ongoing transformation. One personal outcome for was the fun invention of “Relationship School” in which she and her new love are ‘enrolled’ as a couple where they see ‘relationshiping’ as a constant creative act.
If you were to ask her, she would tell you that through working intensively for the past 5 years with teachers and individually, she’s earned a degree in how-to-move-through-life’s-crap-with-grace. Eckhart Tolle more gently refers to that as “stillness in the midst of personal hardship.” But there’s no institution granting such degrees yet, so she focuses instead on capacities she’s been building like: how to hear and see common ground in apparently conflicting perspectives, non-dual or unitive thinking, inner silence amidst the noise, how to hold paradox, how to get grounded, how being curious can turn a problem into a source of wisdom, how to notice Oneness, and other cool stuff like that.
All along the arts have played a huge roll in accessing those deep inner recesses of wisdom. From playing music and hosting house concerts to writing, painting, knitting and felting, each have opened up new space in her. She’s published a number of articles along the way, but most recently she loves how poetry cuts through the clutter of words we drown in everyday, right to the core of communication. She’s been experimenting with using spoken word poetry to summarize the content of workshops she facilitates or attends.
When Nicole is working one-to-one with a client, hosting or facilitating an event, writing, or speaking she’s not shy about bringing everything she is to bear on the conversation. She knows that you can’t hold space for others’ to do their own inner work without doing the inner work herself. She’s the real deal, well on the road to healthy spiritual maturity, feet on the ground, fallible and funny. She’s part of a stream of non-genealogical elders who hold a deep commitment to “bring up the next wave” of folks who are awakening in their own ways and working to anchor that awakening in their practical day-to-day lives: financially, materially, in relationships and in the spaces around us.