Kathleen’s Journal:

I AM Work In Progress: A Journey of Essence Emerging Form

This blog is about developing and applying, fulfillment and demonstration of all that is quintessential you.  It is a conversation for realization of our inherent individual and collective potential. Its intention is to support exploration of our Self and our Relationships to discover our unique authentic Contribution in the world.  In lieu of planning and strategizing, it calls us to create and make choices from intuition and to align our actions with resonance.  Ideas and passions, pursuits and projects, ventures and vision…… we need every quintessential expression.  Begin by accepting QuintessentialYou Design’s Gift For You – Discovery of your EssenceExpression – the fundamental ‘how’ and ‘what’ activating your own QYou Blueprint.  Then, follow us on Twitter and through this blog for inquiries, explorations, and discoveries that make your potential your living brand moment to moment, everyday: You For You, You With Other, You In World.


‘Project You’ – Re:Sharing My Huffington Post Published Article





Today someone asked me why is it that this practice, this process, this discipline of QuintessentialYou is so inspiring…. why it has me….. why so infinitely engaging and fulfilling across all yearnings and challenges? It took me back, but only momentarily because after all, what could be more inspiring, more infinitely interesting and curiousity-satisfying than witnessing life evolving through our own unique experience?  What could be more fulfilling than collaborating with the organic trajectory of individual expression when and as it occurs?  Is there anything better than following the practical vibrancy of what resonates internally to take the ‘next indicated action’ externally?  If there is, I haven’t found it and this has happily found me.

The Nature of Real Change

The capacity for real change is an art.  The extent to which we are conscious of our worth, our essence, and our skills is the extent to which we have power to change.  Real change asks much of us.  It requires willingness to “journey.”  “Who we are,” our personal level of authenticity, is integral to this process.  Recognition and awareness of this steadies us beyond our intellectual thinking, as we negotiate our way through individual & organizational life events, positive and negative, happy and devastating.

Our transitions unleash new breath.  Sometimes, we seek out these opportunities.  Sometimes, they appear before us, unwelcomed and disturbing.  Either way, “who we are” influences the outcomes we envision and the results we get.  What we imagine and how we feel leads to potential passage.  These “passages” build capacity for solution.  They develop “heart” for staying with the journey, however difficult, because discovering one’s unique exceptional way and how it can be employed is the only kind of change worth pursuing.  Accepting less than this depth of internal work and investigation is an acceptance of less than real success.

Both individuals and organizations possess internal environments.  Success lies in learning how to allow these to unfold.  When this “inside” emerges, we “live” our highest potential, with passion and purpose, at work and at play.  Then, and only then, does an individual realize health, peace of mind, performance.  Only then can an organization experience true creativity, productivity, and growth.  They are interdependent.  They generate success.

To support this approach to change, we must explore questions and feel what it’s like to generate solutions from within, and really “own” development and progress in all aspects of our lives.  We must recognize high performance as the sum total of many intangibles: building a relationship with the unknown, the ability to innovate, to respond versus react, to sustain steady growth, and to evolve to clarity with a willingness to journey through confusion.  We must consider the true meaning of high performance and why its cornerstones are new definitions of confidence, trust, and commitment:

Confidence defined by the capacity to face our fears and to proceed in spite of them to take the next indicated step as it appears;

Trust defined by an assurance that the structures and conditions emerged by each ‘next indicated step’ are precise in their alignment with the unfolding of potential and its particular need at this particular time;

Commitment defined by collaboration with the fulfillment that is each and every expression that shows itSelf as person, place or thing…. as condition, circumstance and event;

Finally, with recognition of these newly defined cornerstones, whether we understand them intimately or not, we are invited to come to that simplest of places….. to Presence…..Presence to the here and the now and the expectancy that comes with each pregnant moment….moment after moment.  It is a tiny task in its singularity and an enormous order in our human complexity.  It is a request and a requirement for expansion of our individual and collective capacity for ambiguity.




What Is The Genius Of QuintessentialYou?

 ‘Just as each of us has a genetic code guiding the formation of our physical bodies, so each has a genius code, the blueprint of our potential talents and gifts that yearn now to be expressed.’ …..Barbara Marx Hubbard, Emergence: The Shift From Ego To Essence

Though we are seldom conscious and present to it, how we experience and create life is different for each one of us.  It is what makes being human so intriguing and so compelling and every individual an exquisite expression of humanity.

Overlooking this obvious fact, we take for granted the elegance and intricacy of who you are and who I am in the sea of we.  We move through our daily routines rarely stopping to think that there is so much more to each and every one of us than the bodies we see or the ideas that we communicate.

Within our expressed visible selves, an essential elemental self weaves together a discernible Blueprint that is at the source of everything we create.  The QuintessentialYou Blueprint gives us access to this elemental self and its evolutionary process of creation.  Available only through resonance with our inner being, this unique internal architecture calls forward our aggregate self—the totality of our of essence and expression.

Though it is there in everything that is important to us and all that we do, this aggregate self can only be articulated through individual experience.  This is the work and the source of the unique QuintessentialYou Blueprint that is each one of us.

The QuintessentialYou Context 

The QuintessentialYou Blueprint is our individual design of the fundamental elements that combine to make us who we are.  When we make the choice to live consciously through our personal evolutionary process, these elements become distinguishable and relevant to all of life’s endeavours and desires.

Our language holds the clues to this process and its ultimate design of our unique Blueprint.  Inquiry and intentional conversation provide access through the words we use and the experiences they evoke.  Drawing our attention to what arises, inquiry and conversation distinguish what resonates with us by overriding any attempt at intellectual thinking, explaining, or ‘figuring out’ responses and their meanings.  This approach requires us to surrender all evaluation, stay in process, and make progressive choices informed by our experience.

A Context Of Inquiry

In our natural state, we are aligned to the design of our Quintessential Self.  Though we are not aware of it, we inherently know our Blueprint design and we participate with it through our particular life circumstances.  As we move through inquiry, we explore, discover, and are able to articulate our Blueprint’s foundational elements that are informing our life and its fulfillment.  This articulation begins the process of collaboration and co-creation with our Quintessential Self.

We cannot think our way to our QuintessentialYou Blueprint.  Recognizing this, it is imperative that the process eliminates analyzing and strategizing in favour of experiencing, witnessing, and choosing.  To accomplish this, four fundamental principles guide an Inquiry—Exploration—Discovery approach:

The Language of Resonance asks us to articulate what is present—what we are feeling and experiencing in lieu of explaining what we are considering, thinking, or surmising.

The Choice of Experience calls us to choose what represents our feeling and experience over what our logical mind and thoughts indicate should be our response.

The Process of Emergence requires us to stay in its spiral progression toward decreasing choices that ultimately emerge what the Blueprint element IS from what it IS NOT.

The Principle of Juxtaposition ascertains apparently distinct words and places them in nearness or contiguity to each other as part of the substance and composition for wholeness.

‘The mystery and magic of being an individual is to live life in response to the deep call within, the call to become who we were destined to be.  In primal terms, it is the call to discover and realize the divine blueprint in the soul.  This is where true freedom awaits us.’ … John O’Donohue, Beauty: The Invisible Embrace

Are you in touch with the deep call within?  What does your experience indicate?  Where does your true freedom reside and await your inquiry, exploration and discovery?

How Did The QuintessentialYou Blueprint Come To Be?

‘…we must now find ways of turning society beyond its too regimented path, and towards paths of design and planning and construction which allow the life of every whole and the life of every part to emerge freely from the process by which we made the world.’… Christopher Alexander, The Process of Creating Life, Part Three-A New Paradigm For Process In Society

We are each a world – a unique individual world in eternal process.  This evolutionary process houses our resonant potential.  It gifts us the experience of being home in the form of our primary expression – the body, and in the individual external expressions outside our immediate physical shell.  In those times and circumstances that we experience as ‘off’ or lacking, forced or ‘jagged’, it is a sure bet that we have left ourSelf and its natural process for something outside or foreign to it.  We have all had this experience.  Our humanity ensures it.  We know the opposite experience equally well.  We remember those savoured moments and circumstances in which we chose ourSelf and what was true in our being.  We recall the experience of natural emergence from a process of which we were not aware and did not understand.  I have been asked lately how it is that the QuintessentialYou Blueprint came to be.  For me, the answer lies fundamentally in presence to this kind of emergence ‘beyond the too regimented path’ of which Alexander speaks.

The Blueprint and the work of QuintessentialYou Design came unexpectedly and spontaneously.  Its first appearance came in an informal conversation with a mature male who was in a pivotal transition point in his life.  As a part of being in discussion with him, I casually mapped a series of questions and inadvertently created an on-the-spot process that resulted in articulating for him, two simple words that I sensed embodied his unique ultimate possibility.  He began to cry and asked me immediately how it was possible that I could nail him so perfectly and so succinctly.  To this day, I remember saying to him that I did not ‘nail’ him – he did.  This distinguished element turned out to be the central core of one’s QuintessentialYou Blueprint – the unique central element around which we each take our evolutionary journey and how we individually conceive all that we create.  Today this element is called EssenceExpression.  Its original appearance gifted to me, it is now QuintessentialYou’s Gift To You.  Left with his response and the scrap of paper on which I was writing, I curiously started asking the questions of friends and family.  The response was the same.  People cried.  They laughed.  They sat in awe of their essential Self.  That was the beginning, if you will, the initial emergent piece of what has become a body of work that reveals one’s blueprint, distinguishes its elements, and emerges its fulfillment over time.

When the Blueprint began emerging, I knew only to witness my own life, observe what I saw and specifically record the process that was evolving.  That is exactly what I did.  Without exception, the Blueprint just kept unfolding.  I am literally in service to its emergence.  I could not make it go any faster than it appeared and try as I might in the beginning, my own natural training has been to stay in stillness, in silence and solitude on one hand and simultaneously in relationship and in the world on the other.

As the Blueprint continued to emerge, I established a pilot group that has stayed with me through the entire process and whose members are still with me today.  I work with them and do the work myself as a part of this group.  In each client’s case and in my own, we are clear that what we are accessing and evolving is our essential self – our Quintessential Self.  We recognize that we are each in our humanity, the vehicle for fulfillment of that very Self.  The QuintessentialYou Blueprint emerges as each individual or venture evolves in their own process through three series of intentional conversations.

On a personal level, I most certainly have faced challenge and crisis and breakdown of structures I had set up for my egoic existence.  Even so, I was and remain compelled to follow what resonates within.  Perhaps in essence, that is the work of the QuintessentialYou Blueprint – the awakening and the strengthening to live consciously as our Quintessential Self in the face of everything.  With this choice, we remove layers to reveal who we are and what is authentically ours to contribute.

It has been and is to this day, a labor of love in juxtaposition to a love of labor – an assimilation of all that makes me and you Quintessential us…. ‘beyond the regimented path and towards paths of design and planning and construction which allow the life of every whole and the life of every part to emerge freely from the process by which we made the world.’

What is your natural evolutionary process and its authentic contribution?  What is the resonant potential within you, waiting to be revealed?

Project You – Your Greatest Contribution!

‘New life conditions on our planet require us to shift every function in the living system, causing activation of our own ‘genius code’ – our unique creativity – a design which resides deeper in our body/mind, perhaps even in our yet unused DNA, and in the emergent potential of evolution – in order to produce the capacities and consciousness we need to meet the challenges ahead.’…. Barbara Marx Hubbard, Emergence: The Shift From Ego To Essence

We are very busy in our world today.  Some of us are busy making it.  Others are busy doing good.  Some of us are studying while others are building.  There are those concerned with science and technology while their contemporaries explore the arts.  Some seek justice as others search for keys to economic stability and prosperity.  Individuals and groups declare the need for new approaches to environment, governance, communication, health and education.  There are a plethora of problems and a smorgasbord of arguments for resolution.  We look out and see what we think needs fixing.  We observe where correction is required.  We analyze.  We plan.  We implement.  We work hard.  We miss our most important project and the potential of our most profound contribution – ourSelf.

The work of Self is not busy.  It is not a project for improvement or change.  It does not require hard labor or hours of doing.  Beginning from a premise of perfection, ‘Project You’ is a courageous commitment to fulfillment of the promise that is each one of us.  It is a process of inquiry – exploration – discovery to shed what is not essential for the emergence of what is quintessential in each one of us.  The task is one of revealing what is elemental to every human being, distinguishing these elements, and emerging their always present yet waiting latent potential into visible form.

Why is Project You so intensely critical?  The answer lies in two fundamental factors.  One is obvious.  The second, though less apparent, is crucial.  For sake of conversation, we might categorize these two factors as external and internal, as expression and essence.

Let’s look first at external Expression.  This is where we humans spend most of our time and effort.  We observe a circumstance, condition or event and react to it.  Something happens to us.  If we like it, we pursue conditions that guarantee its re-occurrence.  If it is disturbing in some way, we investigate the cause and establish measures that we hope will prevent repetition.  In the case of larger scale familial, community, organizational or global issues, we institute calls to action and activism.  Wherever we are, there is some version of chaos and crisis calling for attention.  We live in a world filled with news that initiates fear, concern and a call to do something.  So we get busy and we get at it.  We do the best we know how to do.  We use history and experience to guide us and to prevent past mistakes we have made ourselves or witnessed others making.  We chip away at these problems with fervor to make a difference and repair the situation at hand.

Internal Essence extends a definitively different invitation.  We humans spend less time and effort in this exploration.  Collectively, we are much less likely to consider our own patterns in relationship to the circumstances, conditions and events of our external environment.  We react because we yearn for resolution.  Yet we have not been trained to look within, to listen and distinguish our exquisite internal architecture that holds the new beginning we crave.  It is not yet our common practice to inquire and explore our essential structure and collaborate with it to bring forth from within the very solutions we seek out here.  For this accomplishment, we are called to use life to understand who we are and gain access to the inherent knowing that is our authentic contribution to make.

This contribution lives at the most subtle level of our being.  It is fulfillment of deepest, purest desire that we sense and may not recognize or be able to instantaneously articulate.  Regardless of our level of awareness, it is there.  It is our innate, natural project for which we are impeccably designed.  There is just one requirement.  We must choose the journey and give ourSelf over to discovery.  Rather than busyness, we must find our version of stillness and quiet while simultaneously staying in relationship with each other and our world.  Above all, we must abandon what we already know for evolution of a new internal knowing that emerges this resonant potential and its quintessential form.  Each of us is the one – the only one – who has the capacity to carry out this individual contribution.  We are made for it.  We need every quintessential one of us.  The world is waiting.

Can we count you in?  Will you embrace Project You in service to emergence of your quintessential contribution?

The Defeat Of Sadness

In Canada, hockey is a beloved sport.  In Vancouver, it is a culture.  From the time I was a little girl, I recall my Dad and his friends cheering for the Vancouver Canucks.  I remember my parents organizing their social gatherings around hockey games.  Saturday evenings always began with a hockey game, most especially when Vancouver was on the ice.

As we grew older, we grew interested with our own friends.  We make meals and plan gatherings around the games.  Our little ones play and we make an effort to support their teams.  The game we have come to love is a finesse, not a brute game.  It is a competition of skill and thinking on one’s feet…. literally!  It is fast and hard-hitting and emotional, for sure.  There are teams who play with technical prowess and teams who play their power.  Most certainly, one is much prettier than the other.  On a personal note, I definitively love the technical finesse game versus the brute version.  All that said, what occurred in Vancouver last night had nothing to do with either version of the game.

At the end of last night, for a vast majority of people in the city of Vancouver, what was in the space?  What feeling was calling to be experienced?  Disappointment?  Deflation?  Sadness?  Were you willing – fully willing – to feel the sadness?  Your sadness?  Alternatively, did you choose to resist that sadness?  At some deep and perhaps unknown level, did we push sadness aside?

What might have occurred if we invited it in?  What might be possible if we were willing to fully experience the sadness in the space?  Would it have altered the frustration, anger, and ugliness we witnessed?  What did chaos in the streets tell us about ourselves?  What message can we take from it for our own life and its progession?

We witnessed large scale frustration, large scale anger, large scale ugliness expressed as disconcerting and discouraging city riots.  Is this what it takes to have us fully feel what we are experiencing?  Daily on a much smaller scale, are we unwilling to notice and fully acknowledge a general sense of sadness?

Are we adamant in pursuing The Defeat Of Sadness?

Will we relentlessly resist acceptance of this necessary and rich human experience?

Today I feel sad. It would have been enough to just be sad about a team’s collapse. Now, unfortunately, my sadness is about something much deeper and more disturbing than the loss of a hockey game.

What do you feel?

Chasing Transformational Change Is A Futile Pursuit

‘The essence of leadership is to shift the inner place from which we operate both individually and collectively.’…. C. Otto Scharmer, Theory U: Leading From The Future As It Emerges

Last week, in working with a young man participating in QuintessentialYou Design’s DevelopmentConversation, I witnessed the very essence of why I do the work I do.  Involved in the early stages of a community project, my client has shared many of the ups and downs, ins and outs that come with his desire to make a difference.  In the context of the human development work we are doing together, Andrew (not his real name) often discusses what he sees as not quite right with our existence and the mistakes we have made in building the structures and processes that we collectively use to make our way in the world.  Over the weeks of discovering his own internal architecture through the QuintessentialYou Blueprint work, Andrew progressively sees what makes him tick and make the choices he does in his little corner of the world.

As the weeks of conversation progress and the layers of who and what he is not drop away to reveal who he is, something begins to happen.  His conversation alters.  He begins to hear hisSelf and to recognize the difference between everyone else’s noise and his own quiet desire and subtle authentic concern.  I am not referring here to ‘concern’ as a cause for worry.  I mean ‘concern’ in the realm of what absorbs him and has his full attention.  Having worked on projects and community initiatives, he has seen firsthand the chase to make change happen.  He notices and acknowledges his determination to fix what is ‘wrong with the world’.  Yet, somehow naturally and organically, this same determination begins to have a different flavor.  Without fanfare or any obvious precursor, a transformation takes place.  The change being chased juxtaposes.  The chase changes.

I witness an individual awakening to a new idea – to a transformed structure in relationship with the world.  In a moment of spontaneous innocence, musing about no longer being interested in exploring the problems per se, the young man exclaimed, ‘I want to investigate the void – that empty place that we continually look to fill.  That’s what I am interested in.’  What is it that makes us chase new things, novel circumstances, new relationships?   He didn’t ask this but later, I wondered for myself, ‘Is this the same factor that has us yearn for a renewed world, a repaired environment, a re-jigged economy, a restructured government, a reorganized business etc….?

And if we could be with that very void, what might be possible?  What might be revealed?  Where might it lead us?  What future might emerge?  What might we individually create for ourSelf, each Other, and the World?

To make this leap and access this field of potential, what would we have to open to?  What would we have to trust and realize?   Can we individually and collectively muster up the courage to follow Andrew’s innocent suggestion to investigate our own void?  Is it possible that in this very vacuum of emptiness if we are willing to experience nothing we gain access to everything?  Within me, within you, collectively within all of us, is our pursuit the very thing that holds us back from that victorious moment in which transformational change arises and arrives in the space within our own being?

I would love to hear your experience and your thoughts.  Do leave a comment or two.

Can We Live A Contemplative Life In A Modern World?

Can We Live A Contemplative Life In A Modern World?  In a word, ‘yes’.

Does this mean sitting on the proverbial rock?  Does it demand following an established, proven meditation practice?  Does it require divesting ourselves of the world’s events, activities, routines and pleasures?  In a word, ‘no’.

If we are fully in anything, surely we can see that to be fully in life we must have a contemplative relationship with it.  Origins of the word suggest that to contemplate something is ‘to observe it in a temple’.  Early definitions include the notion to ‘observe omens carefully’.  With these meanings as background, living a contemplative life in today’s world is not only possible, it is critical and paramount on so many levels.  Consider the evidence: the environment, world economy, international security, universal peace efforts, developing countries, and more.  Let’s face it, from the perspective of observing in a temple and observing omens carefully, we have abundant indications and ample opportunity.  This post is not going to go down that road, however.  Instead, my invitation lies a little closer to home.  It is an invitation for you and for me, right here in our own backyard.  Will I live a contemplative life?  Will you live a contemplative life?  Can we each live a contemplative life in our little corner of the modern world?

What does this mean and what might it look like?  We can answer that only for ourSelf.  And it does require response…. for our present world and most certainly for the future we are creating.  Varying from individual to individual and ultimately from community to community and culture to culture, its importance is universal.  I can offer my own version and ask you to consider what yours might be.

For me, living a contemplative life is ‘Quiet Luxury’.  It is meeting my existence every day in all circumstances from this state.  These two words are for me, the very EssenceExpression of my being.  Of course, yours are different – different from mine and from every other human being’s on the planet.  Therein lives the very elegance of our unique lives, each one’s integrity and impeccability.  In touch with this core of my being, I have a touchstone that guides my path and illuminates my process.  From this place, I can maintain a discipline of inquiry-exploration-discovery in support of living a contemplative life.

What is this Inquiry-Exploration-Discovery process?  It is both simple and powerful, subtle and impactful.  At the level of inquiry, it has me pay attention to the question that emerges in my circumstances and then take the question to my life for exploration.  It may seem obvious and yet, we are wired for something else.  We are not trained for ‘observing in the temple’.  Our instruction has provided us with structures that move us quickly to answers.  Contemplation is viewed as slower, less direct, and lacking analysis.  It is too bad because taking this less familiar, less automatic path leads directly to Discovery, the third element of the triad.

Resting in Inquiry and staying present in Exploration are the keys to a contemplative path that keeps us fully in life rather than taking us out.  These cornerstones expand our vision and widen the highway to the destinations of pure desire.  Inquiry and Exploration lead naturally to the gift of Discovery over and over and over again.  Day in and day out, year after year from the innocence of youth to the wisdom of age.

In our modern world, these three cornerstones and the distinction of our EssenceExpression living at the core of our being are keys to the unique life that is each one of us.  Aware and awake or oblivious and asleep, it is our individual choice and our greatest opportunity to ‘observe in the temple’ and bring the difference we are to our modern world.

What’s the EssenceExpression of your being?  Where do you stand with respect to living a contemplative life in a modern world?  What is your experience of Inquiry-Exploration-Discovery as a way of life?

The Surrender Of Strategy

‘There is nothing capricious in nature and the implanting of a desire indicates that its gratification is in the constitution of the creature that feel it.’…. Ralph Waldo Emerson

This post is an invitation.  It comes with an RSVP.

The invitation is to try something new – to leave behind an old, well-used methodology for a new option.  We’re generally pretty good at choosing.  We take choices for what we want.  Choice is explicit and finite, assuming preference between options.  Achievement is available through discernment and determination.  We’re presented with alternatives.  We make a definitive selection that results in one verdict over another.  One choice is NOT it.  The other choice IS it.

However it is that we come to it, consciously or unconsciously, we strategize choice.  We eliminate what doesn’t meet our criteria to focus on what does.

We are used to strategy.  It is our default way of being in the world.

Desire requires more presence.  It is gentler in its invitation, somewhat softer and a little more subtle in its initial calling.  Desire chooses us.  It is implicit and infinite, assuming affinity among variations.  Fulfillment is available through exploration and recognition.  Presented with opportunity, willingness and attention allow collaboration of complementary possibilities.  Desire is realized through a multitude of available choices or combination of choices.

Desire nudges us, grows in us and takes up residence in our being.  We cannot strategize desire.  It just is and in its presence, we don’t think about criteria.  We experience the all of it.

When true Desire is present, we lean into it.  We imagine, feel, and surrender to it.  It becomes a part of what we carry and embody.  This is not our default way of being in the world.  And we could have it be so.

Understanding that Desire creates our Choices, we could give our time and attention to desire.  We could soak in its fulfilled circumstances and in our rest, give it space to emerge the perfect choice.  All we have to give up is strategy.  Yes, you heard me correctly.  The path to fulfillment comes with an invitation to give up strategy in favour of surrender to desire.  In juxtaposition to what we have been taught, strategy and surrender change position.  We lead with surrender.  Strategy follows.  Surrender provides what is fresh and what we can’t know.  Choice in the right time and place calls for strategy.

We live in the tension between these two.  Desire is ever calling us to notice and acknowledge its invitation and fully engage its experience.  Choice lures us to determine and activate an option.  Both are necessary.  Trouble is we most often employ one without presence to the other.  We scan our options and make a choice, never fully experiencing, leaning in and surrendering to Desire.  If we gifted ourSelf this one adjustment, we could in turn, surrender strategy and rest fully into the choices emerged by desire.

Will you accept the invitation?  What will you RSVP?  Are you willing to give up strategy in favour of surrender to desire?  To what desire fulfilled will you surrender?