Years ago when I was at university, I took a Communications course where I heard for the first time Marshall McLuhan’s famous line, "The medium is the message”. I wonder what he would say today if he could hear, and I do mean that literally, the barrage of messages that constantly bombard us from every conceivable medium. Our televisions blare at us that we should earn points and weigh less, Eat Fresh and be "lovin’ it”. The radio reminds us, ‘Have you called Jenny, yet’? Glossy magazines admonish us to: Just Do It, and that 5 minutes is all you need to Restructure Your Skin, and gosh, You’re Worth It. Oh thank heaven for the Internet: we can save time and instantly email each other the latest in educational jokes and surveys and enlightening spam messages, all 24/7. What about our ubiquitous cell phones? Already never out of touch, we can text-message each other incessantly and keep ourselves (and other people) happy while we wait for the answers with our personal ring-tones; a whole new medium that we willingly love to hate, but can’t do without.
Our world is all about getting the message: everybody’s message. It’s a world of words and marketing, all conditioning us to move and react in prescribed ways; a world that measures and criticizes and promises the ultimate in quick and easy happiness, if we’ll just buy into it. And there’s the catch: it’s what we want to hear. We are all looking for long-lasting, personal happiness; quick and easy sounds just fine. But that’s the trouble – happiness is fleeting when we continue to look for it externally. And how will we ever find it and keep it, when all the voices we hear and the messages we receive are not our own?
Marion Dewar is a woman who hears her messages on a different frequency: she has learned to listen for them with her heart and soul. Born in Germany, she grew up in the shadow of the Second World War, in a time and place where her childhood was filled with rigid structure and un-relenting expectation. She followed the path that was marked out for her and married, had two children and later became a widow. Challenging herself to understand and succeed in the business world, she came to Canada and for 25 years travelled the country, working her way up to management levels in the retail fashion industry. Many personal struggles played out: she raised her children as a single mother; endured several company bankruptcies and job losses through difficult economic times, and suffered the loss of her husband. But she learned something about herself along the way: that she was always stronger than she actually felt, and that one of her greatest strengths was in helping other people cope with their problems.
With a sudden end to her everyday working career, Marion took stock of her life at the time: Who was she now and what did she want to do? "In the second part of your life, I believe you’re supposed to celebrate yourself, not have somebody controlling your time. I just felt that I’d done what was expected from me; it was time to find my purpose”.
Having always had a natural empathy with people, she knew she loved helping individuals overcome the helplessness of being a victim; seeing them becoming unstuck, feeling happy and connected, and finding their own individual purpose. It seemed the right step at the right time to take counselling courses through Malaspina College, which she followed with a certificate program in 2003 from Nanaimo’s Dr. Phil Winkelmans, a well-respected Life Coach and author of an internationally acclaimed book, "The Art of Purposeful Being: Your Destiny Project”. Correspondingly, she recognized her lifelong use of Tarot cards as a helpful tool in depicting someone’s current state of being as well as their potential options for courses of action. With a fellow coach as her partner, she began "Clarity Coaching”, the practice of teaching people how to hear the messages of their soul and find their personal happiness from within.
Marion explains, "What we do is go behind coaching – you need your foundation first, then we have to work on the problem. We have to get rid of conditioning and find out where our negative emotions come from. Coaching isn’t dwelling in the past, but you need to find out and be aware of your past to gain clarity and awareness. If you’re aware of your conditioning, you can do something about it. This is the foundation: Removing what you think is the reality, building something that is strong based on your inner knowledge, wisdom and feelings.”
"Everybody tells me their problem first – and most of the time it’s really based on an underlying issue, a not-connected-with-yourself problem. Usually it’s one of three things: sadness, fear, or anger – which all comes from childhood – a time when you had to react. You will carry this emotion all your life if you don’t do something about it. As soon as you’re aware of it, you have the option to feel negative or positive about it. We use a lot of awareness exercises and tools that are really effective; you can use these at home. It’s an active process rather than just a passive acceptance. But it’s more than that. Only you can solve your own problems, so coaching comes in to find clarity and options. And when you solve your own problems, it’s a big AHA moment, and then you realize that you’re not stuck, or you don’t have to be, and you have the option to move in any direction you want. That’s the freedom, that’s the balance in our lives. When you know who you are, all our external stuff is not really so important. When things are balanced, everything is easier, and you can balance your life no matter what life lesson you get”.
Marion should know. She has learned and grown from every life lesson that has been handed to her along the way: a very spiritual development. "It took me a long time to be here and feel balanced in every area of my life. A lot of hard work”. She now has two grown children and a marriage with a man who is the love of her life. She’s also heard her own messenger: a wisdom and a certainty from her own soul that lets her coach from her heart and follow a ‘Lifeplan for the Moment’. "People always ask me why I’m so happy and sparkling: I guess it’s because I live for the moment and I really enjoy living for the moment”, she says.
So maybe there’s a message for all of us in this: Let the external voices, clamouring and cajoling all around us, fade away. Let the obstacles that stand up in front of us, be gifts that teach us and tell us who we are. Let the happiness that eludes us, settle and grow over us. Celebrate every step of the way. Live all our moments.
If "the medium is the message”, then maybe we need to learn how to listen again, to hear that very quietest of voices, the one that comes from deep within each of us over the very greatest medium of them all: our own heart and soul. It’s a broadband connection, and it’s always on.
Janelle is a freelance writer in Nanaimo, her email is firstname.lastname@example.org