Jul 262015

Cathy McNally recommends Act Natural – and below Sasha Kay writes about how she took up Cathy’s suggestion!

Dear Friends,


Jane Geesman and Sarah Lucht lead Act Natural at The Haven

I am excited. Want to share with you. Having just left Act Natural, what I notice is that I am not “thinking” something new, I think I am embodying a newness in my being.

This comes from doing two scenes in the program where the directors, Jane and Sarah, spotted and pinpointed places I was doing something passionately … but it wasn’t working. So they directed me to try a new tactic. To dig into my resource bag and find something else.

They had me do this two or three times … and eventually I really, really stretched … and it worked, magnificently! … leading to a different outcome than anything in my life previously.

Now, back in my daily life, I have a felt sense of having gone to a place I have never been before, and having it fit like a glove. Feeling my strength from within, holding my head a little taller, being grounded and celebrating who I am.

I am so excited to realize this that I am actually recording this awareness as a note into my phone while I am out walking my dogs! Why? Because it has only just landed. I haven’t had the words until this moment.

I highly recommend this program. Each one of us will have our own journey – this is actually my third time in Act Natural. I am a slow learner – slow fish as Ernie would say! – and man did it land this time!

I recommend everyone take it. I think all interns should include it as part of your self-journey. If you are a faculty member or assistant and haven’t taken it yet, I invite you to take it because this is one of those “We are never done learning … I wonder what I’ll take next?” programs. And the program will be extremely helpful too for people in all sorts of other work and life circumstances.

With lots of love from me.



From Sasha Kay

My experiences at The Haven have always been abundant with new learnings – awareness of self, of others, of the world I inhabit. From my first Come Alive to my last “biggie” in Living Alive Phase I, I have come away with experiences that have impacted my life and made it richer and more meaningful. I have become familiar with the Haven Communication Model, so was surprised when I received an invitation from Cathy McNally to experience something, which on first view, appeared completely different. Act Natural? An acting program??? At the Haven, no less! But as it was Cathy who proposed it – the answer was YES.

I don’t know whether I can find adequate words to describe my experience, but I can try and find the words of how I felt and still feel following the weekend: connected – inside and outside – playful, bubbly, vivacious, empowered, courageous, big, spacious, alive, grateful, and authentic. I went into the weekend cowering behind my attitude towards myself and my chronological advanced years; I came out full of piss and vinegar!!! The change is palpable. I am loving the chuckling, bubbling sense of playfulness that seems to be sitting inside my belly, mischievously waiting to jump out at you at any given moment. Delicious – à la Joann Peterson.

Thank you Jane Geesman and Sarah Lucht! I now have my mini-vacation planned – to return to Act Natural in 2016 and laugh once again until my guts ache!

Sasha Kay


Find out more about Act Natural

Jul 262015

By Cathy McNally. Cathy is leading Living Alive Phase I at The Haven in November. Here she writes about starting to date again, thirty-six years later …

_7035672-Cathy TM smallThe last time I went on a “date” was in 1979. Yup – thirty-six years ago. Oh my.

It was before my first marriage. I never dated my second husband, Ernie. We met as team in the senior part of our Diploma in Counselling journey. We met in Phase II, working side-by-side in a small team for those 26 days. We were able to see the quality of person the other was – truly a rich and remarkable way to “get to know you”.

So, 19 years after meeting Ernie, here I am exploring the possibility of entering this new reality of dating in 2015.

Things have CHANGED!

Shouldn’t be a surprise. And, I hadn’t paused to imagine what my body-felt responses would be to this new experience.

In many ways I am SO much more settled. I like me. I am okay with who I am – imperfections and all. I don’t need someone to approve of me. But that does not stop me from being human and “hoping people like me!” (I am smiling as I write that!)

Along with this reality is the fact of having so much more life experience. I think I am less hesitant to choose what appeals to me and what not. At the same time, I am also more aware that I may be looking out through old perspectives … maybe my glasses are tinted and I’m not noticing?

Thank goodness I have a wonderful and wise circle of good friends for support! (…and also to help stop me from over-thinking things!)

So, after the unsolicited suggestions of no less than THREE people in the space of two weeks, I signed up to have a taste of ‘Online Dating’. Interesting experience. I am immediately asked to give “my story”, to say “what I am looking for”, and “what my interests are”, what my “ideal date” might be. […remember I have not had a ‘first date’ in a l-o-n-g time!]

So … I sit down to get on with this task.

Oh my.

Just how appealing might it be for someone to hear that I want to be “friends first” and non-negotiable for me includes: honesty, integrity, and an appetite for intimate CONVERSATION! Sigh. I plod on…

Several weeks and drafts later I notice that I have finally relaxed and remembered to talk about how having fun and loving life, singing, dancing, sailing and more are also part of the picture for me. If he were here I could imagine Ernie encouraging me to “lighten-up honey!”

Also by this time I am getting out more, have been on a singing camp, done another amazing Act Natural program, and  … three days ago … went sailing again for the first time since I arrived in Canada 18 years ago. It was breathtaking. I was moved and teary. I must remember that there really is a little salt in my blood!

So, I have no idea if I am doing this dating thing “right”. I am clear that I am feeling … sharing … laughing … crying …and being alive. The ongoing gift in my life: embodied, relational connecting … what The Haven is all about.

I am blessed.


Post Script: with two “meet for coffee” first dates under my belt, it seems that being open, honest, personal and real doesn’t put everyone off, and can lead to a warm and interesting first conversation. The process continues …

Jul 222015
Elfi Dillon Shaw

Elfi Dillon Shaw

By Elfi Dillon Shaw DipC, RMT, Somatic Sex Educator

At the beginning of this year I entered into a sabbatical time and space in order to focus my attention on developing a new core program on sexuality which I had been invited to create for The Haven. Since then I have designed an intensive foundational program called: Sexual Intelligence for Body, Mind and Heart. I believe that life energy expressed as what we call sexuality is in itself an intelligence whose teachings and lessons can be learned with open mind and heart, by engaging breath and body and by connecting with one another.

For the past 25 years I have immersed myself in the conscious and guided study of tantra, taoism, sex education and therapy, sexological bodywork, and somatic sex education. The work that has emerged from my studies is deeply motivated by my desire to decrease unnecessary suffering through sexual misunderstandings within individuals, within relationships and in communities through providing education for partners, individuals and communities.

It is clear to me that sexual life can be illuminated with kindness and humour, with playfulness, openness and respect for the many feeling states that can emerge within it. I am also convinced of the healing power of life energy when we are guided to it with awareness and support. This new program provides a field where life experiences can be transformed and where new seeds of growth can be planted.

Each one of us emerged on this earth because two people joined in sexual connection; we came to life through the union of egg and sperm. The life force that created us is also the potent creative energy of desire and longing that draws us to one another, and allows us to resonate with the natural, non-human world. It constantly reminds us of our living bodies and the eventuality of the end of life in the body. Within our cellular community we would do well to remember this force when we might allow ourselves be swept away by its power and delights or when we do our best to repress or control its force. When we allow this sexual energy to flow with full commitment to consciousness, it can serve us in many non-genital sexual ways, boosting our creativity, general health and nourishing our spirit. We can learn to be in charge of charge by utilizing the tools of ancient Eastern and Western sexual wisdom teachings.

At the same time that we realize that we are born through the act of sexual union, each one of us is shaped by society’s web of sexual control, repression or excesses, by myth and traditions. We are influenced by our own familes’ beliefs about sexuality, and our personal, sometimes painful experiences. The power of sexual energy often brings disturbance and heartache but the relational and awake use of its strength can reconnect us to ourselves and each other in a loving way.

The Haven provides a container where sexual energy can be experienced and communicated in an athmosphere of aliveness and regard for each person. Sexual and sensual aliveness can occur everywhere, not only in the genitals, when we join in the dance of life’s erotic energy and steer our sexuality with honest communication in our community and partnerships.

Consider joining me for Sexual Intelligence for Body, Mind and Heart if you would like to:

  • Address and reduce anxiety related to sexuality, in regard to body, self, spirit and relationships
  • Acknowledge and transform barriers of guilt and shame
  • Learn diverse perspectives on sexuality throughout the life- and relationship-cycle
  • Learn erotic skills to enrich your life
  • Find out how personal sexual history and beliefs are shaped by culture, history and present day society and how this impacts health and relationships
  • Make more conscious and healthful sexual choices
  • Learn about the power aspects of sexuality and how to have fun in a safe way
  • Connect with life core energy through all the senses and live from a place of presence and passionate kindness
  • Find eros in the natural world
  • Discover where spirituality and sexuality meet

In an atmosphere of consensuality and confidentiality, in this program we will strengthen our vitality, our chi, through breathwork, movement, listening, reflecting and sharing. Guided by ancient tantric and taoist wisdom, as well as contemporary knowledge from sexology and sexual health sciences, it is possible to heal sexual wounds and celebrate the erotic dance of life and renew relationship with self, each other and nature.

Sexual Intelligence for Body, Mind and Heart is intended for people of all genders and orientations. It is not designed specifically for couples, although couples are certainly welcome to attend. 2015 dates are October 11-16.

For more information about the program please feel free to connect me via phone (250 247 9504) or email moc.h1438071528cuote1438071528roctr1438071528aeh@i1438071528fle1438071528 To register online visit the Haven web site or contact the registration office by email (ac.ne1438071528vah@r1438071528etsig1438071528er1438071528) or phone  (1 800 222 9211 x 1).

Jul 182015
Haven Foundation Members L-R: John Gill, Randy Wong, Gerry Owen, Dick Sass.

Haven Foundation Members L-R: John Gill, Randy Wong, Gerry Owen, Dick Sass.

John Gill stepped down as a Member of Haven Foundation at the July 2015 AGM and he will be greatly missed. Much of his contribution has been in the background, and it is time to shine a light on all that he has achieved.

John has played a pivotal role in The Haven’s transition to Haven Foundation, a federally registered educational charity which officially came into being on January 1 2004. Many years of work went into the transition, and John was at the forefront of this, serving on advisory boards, meeting with lawyers and providing guidance and advice to Ben and Jock and their families as they created their legacy and ensured The Haven’s future existence. Most organizations that go through this kind of transition do not succeed. It is no exaggeration to say that the same fate may have befallen The Haven had John not been involved.

Those who worked most closely with John recognize the magnitude of his contribution, so I would like to quote from the messages written by his fellow members Dick Sass and Randy Wong, and from Jock McKeen.

“On behalf of your fellow colleague Members, we wish to extend our deepest gratitude for your service and friendship over these past 12 years in our capacity as Haven Members. I find it extraordinary and gratifying that we three have joined together in sharing our different points of view and backgrounds in service to that which we have lovingly known as The Haven. I am so very pleased to have had the opportunity to connect with you and Randy on a project as worthwhile as that provided by a learning institution like Haven Foundation.

We wish you well in what you may consider full retirement … you will be missed but not forgotten.

Dick and Randy”

“On behalf of Ben and myself, I want to write some words to formally acknowledge our deepest gratitude for all you have contributed to us as friends, and to Haven as our shared project.

Indeed I don’t believe we could have done this magical transformation from for-profit to charity without your sage perspectives and your tireless dedication to the Haven project. You have helped us realize our dream of a place/space/ ethos for the future.

For me, I feel a great privilege to work alongside you, to know you and to call you my friend. I wish you and Carolyn much joy and reward in your well-earned retirement.

Love always, Jock (and Ben)”

In addition to the service that John has given to The Haven, he has also been, together with his wife Carolyn, a consistent and generous donor, ensuring the success of a variety of projects and programs. As we wish John all the best for his next great adventure, we also warmly welcome Gerry Owen, who replaces John as a Member of Haven Foundation.

Mastery and Mystery: A Personal Journey of Transformation

Mastery and Mystery: A Personal Journey of Transformation

By Tina Boehm. Tina is soon leaving her post as a Haven Registrar, and will be greatly missed. Here she reflects on three programs she has taken recently and looks ahead with gratitude. This Spring I started to feel the inklings of something stirring inside me. A restlessness and discomfort started to set in. In […]

Learning to Slow Down and Respect the Process

Learning to Slow Down and Respect the Process

Sarah Sheridan writes about her experience of The Inner Activist’s Building Strong and Respectful Relationships, held recently at The Haven. For more about The Inner Activist and upcoming programs visit inneractivist.com. This article was first posted on the Inner Activist blog. During our week on Gabriola Island I kept a journal for keeping track of […]

Thunderbird Dorms – an update and a sneak peek!

Thunderbird Dorms – an update and a sneak peek!

By Rachel Davey As we enter the final week of the Thunderbird dorm project, here are some sneak peeks at what’s going on inside. For these custom built dorms, we’ve tried to think of everything that will make your stay as comfortable as it can be, at a very affordable price. Go to the Haven […]

2015 Drought

2015 Drought

Water is always a critical issue at The Haven, and we have already recognized that 2015 is a drought year. We are taking additional steps to ensure that we have enough water to last through the summer. We have 180,000 gallons of water storage capacity, and we have started drawing on this already. In comparison […]

International Holistic Centers Gathering: Final Day, Gifts, Growth, and Gratitude

International Holistic Centers Gathering: Final Day, Gifts, Growth, and Gratitude

By Cathy McNally Gifts, Growth, and Gratitude As I look back on my week at the Centers Gathering on the Pelion Peninsula in Greece, I have a sense of much personal deepening and growth. I am also returning to Canada with a sense of significant expansion of our resource network. Christine Lines from Findhorn summarized: […]

International Holistic Centers Gathering: May 14 & 15

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By Cathy McNally Mid-week Adventures: Wednesday May 13 Mid-way through the week of the Centers Gathering we had an unexpected event: the whole mountain lost electricity starting around 8am.  Happily this occurred just after the kitchen had finished heating our water for morning coffee and tea!  It also meant we needed to change our morning plans […]