As I walked the labyrinth, I repeated the mantra: the question is…

Journal entry- at Xenia Retreat Centre inside the Sanctuary after walking the labyrinth on December 29, 2014 [unedited]


@ Xenia with Laura.  What a treat!  Thank you!

She picked me up at 7:10 –> Ferry –> breakfast at Snug Cafe.

My hands now cold, limbs frozen, toes frozen, numb and painful.  Reminds of being on the lake in Sweden during Winter 1975 and 1976- skating and skiing with Pappa and Fredrik, toes painful and frozen.  

“Ta av skorna.  Försök att få blod tillbaka i tårna.  Vicka på tårna.  Fortfarande kalla.”

So what happened today?   This book/diary/sketchbook/journal was begun when I started my Connection and Creativity collaboration with Laura.  Now I am back in the sanctuary and ask the question… yes, I can profess, investigate, reflect, beg, recall, invite the question: 

What is the question?

As I walked the labyrinth, I repeated the mantra in Swedish: Frågan är… Frågan är… The question is…  The question is…

And what immediately came up- despite thoughts of “shoulding” around 2015 plans/ where I am now/ what I need to let go of- what came to me was family.  The question is family.  

I knew going into the labyrinth I did not need to dig further.  It felt like the labyrinth was tilted downward.  Angled in descent.  I was walking down hill.

I became hyperly aware of the Viking symbology.  As I stood at the centre in silence, eyes closed… the answer came: roots.  The answer is roots.  

As I exited the centre. I walked out with a new mantra: the answer is roots.  Roots.  Sweden.  Life.  Leaves.  Trees.  Mushrooms.  Torpet.  Fishing.  Ancestors.  Sweden.  Africa.  Family tree.  Upward.  Downward.  

As I worked my way out, the labyrinth now seemed angled in ascent.  

So entering into the roots, exiting into the branches of the family tree.  

Where do we come from?  Where are we going?





I want to keep the past alive for the generations to come.  Our DNA journey.

I know now I need to translate all the letters my mom wrote to Sweden.  I need to read Moberg’s The Last Letter Home.  I need to connect/open space to visit Sweden and Africa with my children.  To fully sit in BC, where my kids were born, where my parents died.  To open to reconnection.  New connection to extended family.  Can the difficult conversations be helped along through a gentle delicious family exploration? 

1976 conversation at the kitchen table in Sweden w my bestie Anki! I now have this table.


In a wonderful turn of events, my little brother invited me to work on our storage room on December 31.  He had already done a lot of the prep and we spent 12 hours together emptying locker 1022.  He then dragged my 400 sketchbook journals, dolls, kids clothes, memorabilia home to my West End apartment.  It is time to re-explore those roots.

Old pen and ink study (Dec 2000) of "Death comes to the monk" from Holbein the Younger 1538. I brought home approx 400 of my "image idea files" (I.e. Sketchbook/journals) and planning to share highlights on the blog throughout the year. An incredible purge and feels so good to have them all in my studio-bedroom now. Letting go of a lot of stuff as we emptied the storage room on the last day of the year was exhilarating.
Old pen and ink study (Dec 2000) of “Death comes to the monk” from Holbein the Younger 1538. I brought home approx 400 of my “image idea files” (I.e. Sketchbook/journals) and planning to share highlights on the blog throughout the year. An incredible purge and feels so good to have them all in my studio-bedroom now. Letting go of a lot of stuff as we emptied the storage room on the last day of the year was exhilarating.


My retreat journal Part 2 of 6: Into the labyrinth

I experienced a life-changing weekend as I co-facilitated Creativity and Connection Retreat October 17-19, 2014 on Bowen Island with Laura Mack at Xenia Retreat


Here are some journal excerpts so you can get a small glimpse as to how powerful the experience was for me.

Recall: PART 1 October 17, 2014 FRIDAY INTO SILENCE

Part 2 October 18, 2014 SATURDAY MORNING:

Photo credit: Xenia on Bowen Island
Photo credit: Xenia on Bowen Island

6:30 AM The darkness did not overwhelm me last night.  The porch lights from next door were enough to illuminate to make me feel calm.  At times my heart wanted to race but I breathed through it.  Amazing.  

My sleep was like skipping stones though.  Perhaps tonight I will feel safe to fully fall asleep.  

Laura woke everyone up with a GONG!  We are still in silence.  The breath I felt in the sanctuary was one of the best moments of silence- felt like the deepest heart-est breaths.  

Laura just came back with a surprise cup of coffee. Bliss.  

At 7 am we have breakfast in silence then at 8 meet for walking to the labyrinth (still in silence) then to the yurt for opening circle…  

Before breakfast I walked with my coffee to the yurt.  I keep being pulled to it.  Set up the archetypes using iPhone compass to fully align with NSEW directions.

I then stood for a long time leaning on the fence looking out over the meadow, feeling Mamma and Pappa.  


Ready to let go of pain and unhappiness.  Just allow the joy of my childhood to be what now lifts me.  I am loved and I am deserving.  I am a daughter.  A woman in very aspect.  I am “the mother.”  There is no power or fear in that.  I full step into me.  Let go and start fresh yet carry on.  To be in this childhood summerhouse-type setting is powerful.  I have a ball in my throat and tears behind my eyes that need to burst forth but sitting at breakfast now.  

Kitchen in the lodge.  Photo by Laura Mack.
Saria at work in the kitchen in the lodge. Photo by Laura Mack.

Recalling dinner by Saria last night.  Exquisite.  Shepherd’s pie, mixed salad (with everything from the garden), beets in orange juice and vinegar… baked glazed pears with whipped cream, fresh muffins.  I just want to keep writing but I need to pause.  Grab a cup of coffee and make sure I eat.  The breakfast spread: everything including grilled avocados with egg.  I had muffins, granola, yoghurt, fresh fruit.  A participant sits beside me.  Voraciously reading about the history of the property.  I love her curiosity, and tireless quest for knowledge.  A kindred spirit that needs to ingest, to feed on life through research.  

This experience is intensely safe.  Comforting.  Excited about the day ahead.

"Xenia Retreat. Feeling full. Awed. Peaceful. Expanded. On purpose." - Laura (Walking to labyrinth, we paused at Opa.  Photo by Laura Mack.)
“Xenia Retreat. Feeling full. Awed. Peaceful. Expanded. On purpose.”
– Laura (Walking to labyrinth, we paused at Opa. Photo by Laura Mack.)

The labyrinth walk in silence.  Profound.  The walk in, I had scattered thoughts, breathing into this early morning musings by the meadow.  In the centre, I felt peace and clarity and white light.  I cried throughout the walk outward, grieving, mourning, letting go.  Holding, releasing, allowing.  


 “The poet Marianne Moore famously wrote of ‘real toads in imaginary gardens,’ and the labyrinth offers us the possibility of being real creatures in symbolic space…In such spaces as the labyrinth we cross over [between real and imaginary spaces]; we are really travelling, even if the destination is only symbolic.”
― Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

Photo by Laura Mack
Photo by Laura Mack

I picked up two mottled leaves as I started to walk outward.  They represent Mamma and Pappa as they entered the last few days before their hearts stopped.  


But did they stop?  Did the family not just pick up the beat as we synchronized with them?  I had my ear to mom’s chest as her heart stopped.  But I beat with it and carried it on for her.  

How could I not consider this life that I have truly miraculous and worth living?  Truly miraculous and always worth living.


Opening circle and breaking silence in the yurt at 9 AM.  We reflected on our dreams, our experience in the sanctuary and at the labyrinth.  Laura introduced the Symbols Way and the 4 archetypes that we will focus on this weekend- encouraging us to ask ourselves: 

Where are you now?  

What archetype are you not so in touch with? 

Our first art-making session included mark-making and revisiting the labyrinth by tracing our steps on top of my drawing.  Delicious.  


“Show not what has been done, but what can be. How beautiful the world would be if there were a procedure for moving through labyrinths.”
― Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose



Stay tuned for Part 3: Saturday late morning- Cyclops Goddess and the Matrilineal question to set the stage for Symbols Way…

“THE MOTHER-DAUGHTER RELATIONSHIP is at the headwaters of every woman’s health. Our bodies and our beliefs about them were formed in the soil of our mother’s emotions, beliefs, and behaviors. To become optimally healthy and happy, each of us must get clear about the ways in which our mother’s history both influenced and continues to inform our state of health, our beliefs, and how we live our lives. Every woman who heals herself helps heal all the women who came before her and all those who will come after her.” – Dr. Christiane Northup


And for information on more workshops and retreats!


“I am wandering awed… gnawed trees breathe a delicate air.” Creativity & Connection Retreat Oct 17-19, 2014



Retreat Flyer

We will provide you with tools for gaining insight and shifting perspective using inspiring themes such as archetype symbology and shadow-work.  Self-reflection activities will take you deeper into your own journey while group experiences expand your mindset.

Laura will share authentic leadership exercises to assist you in gaining perspective on your personal and professional challenges.  Kat will guide you through creative process and expression and will facilitate those precious aha moments we all love to celebrate.

What we’re offering you is a weekend of Safety, Gentleness, Nurturing, Discovery and a wee bit of Wildness!

Retreat Flyer




Laura Mack

My mission is to create opportunities for inspiration & transformation.”

Laura is a business consultant, facilitator and writer. She has a broad understanding of both the rewards and challenges of entrepreneurial life as well as the corporate and non-profit sectors. Laura is an associate consultant with ViRTUS, and Authentic Leadership Global, Inc.   She brings a variety of facilitation, strategic planning, team building and leadership tools into her practice. Known as a connector, Laura is passionate about sharing her experiences with ‘netweaving’, actively connecting those with similar interests and activities. She also is a volunteer facilitator of restorative justice with the North Shore Restorative Justice Society.

Katarina (Kat) Thorsen

My mission is to awaken creative expression through global art initiatives.”

Kat is a Vancouver artist, craftivst and therapeutic art facilitator and is passionate in her belief that art can heal and build connections.  Kat facilitates arts and crafts workshops for all ages across the Lower Mainland and coordinates Frames Film Project, an arts-based program providing life- and employment skills for local at-risk youth.   Her popular interactive art events and street art encourages participants to become part of the creative process.  Kat published her first book, Drawn Together- Maintaining Connections and Navigating Life’s Challenges with Art in 2013. Her next book is a true crime analysis and graphic novel based on her research into a historical Vancouver murder mystery.




Some previews of what you will experience:






The Labyrinth is an Archetype, a divine imprint found in spiritual traditions in various forms around the world. By walking the labyrinth we are discovering a long forgotten mystical tradition which becomes a metaphor for our own spiritual journey. The walk is a shared journey – an activity which communities can do together to coalesce and unify vision. The labyrinth is a mandala that meets our longing for a change of heart; for a change of ways in how we live together and for the energy, the vision, and the courage to become agents of transformation.





I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wandering awed about on a splintered wreck I’ve come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty bats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them.
― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek






Experience self-discovery, connection and the glorious insights that being in nature provides as we embrace the gorgeous BC rainforest and island setting of Xenia Centre.

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Xenia Creative Development Centre

You will be nurtured by amazing fresh food and our Xenia host Saria will be available throughout the weekend to provide healing sessions.

Why Xenia?
“Xenia” stands for the cross-pollenation of ideas between guest and host.  It means hospitality and being friends to the stranger. Xenia has always opened its doors and heart to whomever finds their way down here.
Xenia Centre is a gift to humanity, evoking service, she offers back peace, presence and a direct experience of ones true nature. Through so much love and attention being poured into her, Xenia has impacted the lives of thousands from around the world. This is truly a sacred place, a place that brings us home. In 1994, a young widow with a small child risked all to convert a dilapidated old sheep farm into one of the worlds most beautiful and unique sanctuaries. Against all financial advice, she followed her souls yearning to service this mission, the dream of Xenia called Angelyn to its birth.




$650.00 for shared accommodations or
$750.00 for private.
A non-refundable 50% deposit will secure your room selection & possibly roommate selection if you’re sharing.