Certified Life Coach

Speaking of Dragonflies

Speaking of Dragonflies - Watercolour painting of a dragonfly

(reposted from July 2020 with an updated comprehensive guide to dragonflies from https://happydiyhome.com/)

In my experience, dragonflies have never posed a physical threat. I teased David once that he must have some Disney princess in him when a persistent dragonfly kept landing on his face and t-shirt while we walked in the woods one day.

They seemed to be a random but consistent theme for gifts for me and by me, dragonfly images in jewelry, pottery, a favourite tea mug.

When we joked that the new town we were moving to reminded us of Stars Hollow, the fictional setting for the Gilmore Girls TV series, we named our house the Dragonfly. And when my mom passed away, my brother and sister in law gifted me with a metal dragonfly sculpture for the garden in lieu of flowers.

Their prehistoric beauty weaves a magical thread through my life.

They are truly amazing creatures. Here are seven fascinating things you might not already know about dragonflies. And if you’d like an updated, comprehensive guide, you can find one here.

I hear my father’s voice most every time I see a dragonfly in nature. “They’ll sew your lips shut,” he’d say, and we saw them a lot. Someone had passed this piece of false folklore on to him when he was a young child. Well into his 60’s as we walked together, it had obviously left an impression, one that he handed down to me.

Years ago, walking in the woods along the north shore of Lake Superior with my nephew who was about 4 or 5 at the time, I remember the heat of summer rising up from the forest floor, the sun filtering through the trees, the song of cicadas heralding the approach of summer’s end, and dragonflies thick in the air. Their darting and hovering, the iridescence of their bodies and wings had always fascinated me.

“They’ll sew your lips shut Nonno says.” I suppose I made to pass on the story another generation. The nephew stopped in his tracks; I had to double back a bit when I realized this. His sunny expression had darkened as he quite firmly requested that I please not say that again, especially while walking this path.

Only then did it occur to me that the thought of an insect sewing one’s lips shut might be disturbing to a child. It had never bothered me, I supposed because I was most of the time a fairly serious child with two feet planted firmly in the ground, pretty sure this could not occur in real life.

On other topics I was more gullible. There was, for example, the few days I crawled out of bed on my hands first because I’d believed an aunt who’d told me that your feet would stick to the floor the next morning if you swallowed your gum. Kids choose which stories to trust; it’s random.

My nephew wanted neither my dad nor I to speak of dragonflies sewing your lips shut ever again. I wonder if he’d ever been as solid in this request of my dad as he had of me. I never told my dad that story; I wish I had. And I wish I had asked him how he’d felt as a child when whoever it was told him the dragonfly lie.

Because obviously the words had left an impression.

Until next time, with love,

Janine Bertolo (she/her)
Anti-capitalist crone and culture maker 
Trauma-informed somatic coach 


The day it first occurred to me that my father would die, I drove to the local health centre to meet him after his appointment. I arrived at the parking lot – it wasn’t large – didn’t see my parents’ van and called to see where they were. My dad told me he was at home – he didn’t have the test they’d planned because the doctor had found cancer. My knees buckled and I had to catch myself from falling by holding on to the car roof. I learned I wasn’t as strong as I thought I was.

When my father died, I was a buddhist. Him being Catholic clergy, this didn’t really sit well. We had many conversations and he seemed to find some peace with it, but I always had the sense that he felt like he’d lost me to the other team.

I’d resolved to transform my life – shitty job, lonely, sad, and poor – by chanting Nam Myho Renge Kyo for two hours a day and within a couple of months, a white furry saviour on four legs came into my life, I was offered the job of my dreams, and the son I’d given up for adoption at birth returned to my life and my heart. Born and raised in another city, he just happened to be staying in my hometown, and my work just happened to bring me there to set up an election campaign room.

So, when my father died, he’d come to know and love the grandson he’d held at birth without knowing if he’d ever see him again.

My father loved the song my son had written, “Coca Cola kids” but I’m almost certain I heard him singing “Pesi Cola kids” – my father as a young child in the early ‘40s sometimes stopped in at the local speakeasy in our hometown and the bartender would ‘get the kid a pesi cola.’ Pesi Cola became my dad’s childhood nickname. Or so the story goes.

My father was an artist. As a young man he would, on occasion, jump the train into the Algoma highlands to paint for the day, always returning for dinner. Or so the story goes. I have no doubt that he jumped the train to get to the highlands to paint, but I wonder if he really got home for dinner.

When he learned that his grandson had an artist’s inclinations, he gifted him with a set of drawing supplies and his best advice. “Just draw.”

Before my dad died, the privilege of working in the town I’d grown up in afforded us time to spend getting to know each other as adults and having all the talks.

He worried that he hadn’t lived a life that would send him to heaven, and I had another reason to despise an institution that would do that to him.

When I asked if there was anything he felt was left undone in his life he answered with the heart of an artist, “there’s so much more to paint.”

I told him that he could keep painting after he’d passed and that I’d be looking for his skies (he always said painting skies was the hardest) and he smiled at the idea.

When my father died, he died at home because that was his wish. And when the time came, I was able to move back into my parental home to honour that wish and help to fulfill it.

My father fought death like a champion boxer. He would not take a bedpan and insisted on walking to the bathroom. We’d moved his reclining chair to the bedroom because it afforded him more ease in his body than the bed.

Once, while my mother and I were trying to help him up by each taking a side, my dad slipped out of our grasp, heading to the floor. My mother screamed for my brother to come and help.

The last thing I heard my father say out loud was “stop yelling in my fucking ear” through gritted teeth. It makes me laugh to this day.

Another time, after he’d become non-verbal, I tried the lift solo, wedged my toes against his, took his arms at the elbow and levered him up from the chair.

Once up, I told my dad that it reminded me of standing on his feet to dance when I was little, and the look in his eyes told us he remembered.

Somehow my dad was able to grant my mother’s wish that he wait to die until after their 45th wedding anniversary. He went the day after. I joked that he’d had to put in the full 45 years to assure himself a place in heaven, but the truth is that when my father died, my mother lost the love of her life.

My father’s dying on Palm Sunday was hugely inconvenient. Protocol on the death of clergy required a full mass, attended by the diocesan leadership, all ordained clergy should be in attendance. Protocol for Holy Week, spanning from Palm to Easter Sundays, meant no masses were to be celebrated on any day but Wednesday, short notice when the announcement would be in the Monday papers (life was different 17 years ago).

Many people who would have wished to attend did not find out about his death until after the funeral was over.

And still, the afternoon before and morning of the funeral, the line of visitors for my father’s wake stretched from the front of the back of the building and spilled out into the street the whole time. There was no pause in the receiving line to take a break to eat. My mother’s beloved cousin had tucked a package of red licorice under my dad’s head – they’d always had red licorice on road trips, and she wanted him to have some for his final journey.

We were so hungry in line that we considered pulling it out to eat, but I can’t recall if we actually did.

When my father died, I felt my work was done and did not want to stay in town for the funeral.  But sticking it out meant that I heard stories about my dad that I’d never heard before:

About how he’d saved a woman’s son from drowning in the Buckley Creek when they were little – she held me in a hug sobbing that her son was alive today because of my dad; about the many ways he’d touched people’s hearts and lives in his pastoral and everyday life; I heard how he talked about me with pride to his Underground Painting Group; and about how he’d struggled through my choosing Buddhism with a friend, a nun and my former high school teacher, and about how he’d come to love and accept that; she told me that he could feel it when I chanted for him. She told me that he loved me very much. And even if I already knew that, it was something I needed to hear.

After my father died, the skies were more spectacular than I’d ever seen them. My father lives in my lover’s voice, even though they’d never met. He’s heard the stories, and often says “Now there’s a Ren sky” when there are really no other words to describe its beauty.

A crow followed me for months cackling every time the big white furry saviour on four legs misbehaved. “Remember how that bastard used to run away every time you left the house. How much time did I spend on chasing him on my bicycle? Caw caw….” Yep. I’m pretty sure my father played around as a crow after he died.

I remember my father’s letter to me on leaving for university containing his best advice for finding peace in the chaos of academia – “find a tree to sit under and make friends with it.”

Months after my father died, my son told me how he’d sat under a tree to do his summer school assignment – create a painting. Feeling clumsy and frustrated at his efforts, he closed his eyes, took a few breaths and said to himself “You’re Nonno’s grandson.” And when he opened his eyes, the sky was more brilliant than it had been before and he painted a painting he was proud of.

I told my son the story of tasking my father to paint skies for us after he’d passed.

Seventeen years later, he still is.

March 20 2022 was the 17th anniversary of my father’s death. It was a Sunday then too. Maybe that’s why this anniversary feels more tender for me somehow.

My father lives in my heart and my cells and my knees more fit for a football player than a skirt. My mom had great legs, but no….

I see my father in my son’s face and hear him in his gentle speaking voice.

My father lives in this house he’s never set foot in – in his paintings hanging on the walls, in the pink orchid blooms he was so proud of growing himself, in his mother’s century old Christmas cactus blooming beside them, and maybe even in the crow that spent half an hour bouncing on a tree branch outside my bedroom window, justafeckous

Reynold J. (Ren) Bertolo
September 27 1935 – March 20 2005


March 13 Newsletter

Hello beautiful human,

How’s the human being thing going?

I don’t know about you, but I am ready for spring.

Curiously enough, my body seems to have shifted into daylight savings time on its own – I’m heading to bed and waking an hour earlier over the last couple of days.

If you know me at all, you’ll know how UNUSUAL that is. It’s not exaggeration to say I hate DST, especially at its end when I usually feel a real dissonance in my body that screams “the time is wrong! Put it back where it’s supposed to be and leave it there please.” Actually, no please. Just do it.

So this year, as we  approach the change to DST, this change in my body is curious. What’s going on here? Stay tuned to find out what happens in November.

That was a really long introduction to let you know that changes are afoot, and I’m not just talking about the clocks moving forward an hour Sunday morning.

I’m unapologetic about changing the name of this newsletter to “Self-Centred” 

While I will always identify as an anti-capitalist crone, I want to shift this space to explore together: What does it mean to be and become self-centred?


It’s a term that definitely holds negative connotations, right?

But what exactly is wrong with being self-centred?

I’m not talking about being the centre of the universe – that’s a developmental phase that we grow out of in infancy if all goes well.

The way I see it (and I’m not alone – thanks to Kelly Diels for the conversation that inspired this process) we’re supposed to be the centres of our own goddamn lives.

Even if the world tells us that’s wrong. 

Even if systems of fuckery do their damndest to separate us from our selves so they can steam along unchallenged.

We are conditioned to believe messages that tell us we’re too much. At the same time as being told we’re not enough. Too smart, too fat, too thin, too white, too brown, too loud, too quiet, too femme, too butch, too much.

We believe we’re broken when in fact it’s the world that’s broken, not us.

The messages are so consistent and persistent that we internalize them and don’t even remember when or how we left our selves behind. 

We begin to tell ourselves we’re too much and not enough, and we’re really really good at it. The systems of fuckery have successfully offloaded the labour of keeping us weak and distracted. Evil genius really.

What happens when we’re not self-centred?

Everyone and anyone else with a louder voice gets to call the shots.

We buy into the messages of capitalism and colonialism that treat life – plant, animal and human – as commodity. We place value on what we do rather than who we are. We become cogs in the machine.

We can only see binaries in a decidely non-binary world. Black/white; right/wrong; with me or against me.

We acknowledge everyone else’s needs before tending to our own. Except on the rare occasion that the oxygen mask drops from the cabin ceiling, putting your own needs first is simply unacceptable.

Even if we smile and nod at hearing “you can’t give from an empty cup” do we really live that way?

It’s often just another way for the hustle and bustle world to shame us into submission. “What’s wrong with you that you’re cup is empty? Pull up your bootstraps and get ‘er done already. Look at me, I’ve done it. Enter your credit card information here, and you’ll fee so much better.”

For five minutes before the buyer’s remorse sets in. And then it just becomes another example of the ways in which we’re broken.

We’re running on empty and can’t figure out why we’re depressed, stressed, exhausted, and feeling hopeless.

We fall under the spell of perfectionism that throws us into freeze when anything we attempt is not perfect.

We think we have to do it all on our own and that asking for help is weakness.

We collapse. And the systems of fuckery have won.

Well fuck that.

I’m reclaiming “Self-Centred”

And I’d love you to join me.

I believe our bodies remember that true authentic voice that says “You matter. You are loved. You are valuable and the world needs you. Just as you are.”

And I want to spread the word.

Send a reply: I’d love to know your thoughts on being and becoming self-centred. 

Othersise there’s nothing for you to do, except look for the next newsletter. It’ll have a new name.

If you decide this new direction isn’t for you, know that I honour and appreciate you.

Big love is coming your way,

Crone Connection – February 2 2022

Hey Beautiful Human,

How are you doing? Really?

In my last newsletter I talked about feeling like January was the 13th month of 2021 – in other words, it didn’t feel very new year-y.

It’s February now – Happy Ground Hog Day for those celebrating.

And we’ve moved into the new Lunar Year. The year of the Water Tiger.

I’m beginning to realize that my body might be more connected to the lunar calendar than the Gregorian – a shocker, I know. More connected to nature and its flow, to the earth that we’re born from and will return to, than some artificial construct of a 16th Century pope.

This feels more like the New Year for me – how about you?

I am feeling a little more energy to tend my priorities – health, family, community, business, changing the world. And with Imbolc marking the halfway point between Winter and Summer Solstice, I feel hope for spring bubbling up. Just a little bit.

It’s been a week here in Canada’s National Capital Region. At writing, we are on the sixth day of siege by the “Freedom Trucker Convoy” – a group of unhappy people who’ve travelled across the country to overthrow the government and ‘get their freedom back’.

Speaking as an activist who’s spent many days and hours demonstrating and protesting on Parliament Hill over the last 20 years, this week is unprecedented in the displays of white supremacy and hate, bullying, violence, disrespect, and desecration, disrupting the homes and work of people living here.

The residual stress is a lot. My heart goes out to those who have endured the blockade of their streets and communities with an endless barrage of air horns and diesel fumes.

While it is difficult to impossible to access the city, I have had the privilege of observing from the distance of our country riverbank perch.

I’ve noticed in the observing that my brain and body go into fight mode, with a desire for justice that is informed by systems of fuckery – capitalism, colonialism, racism, the patriarchy.

So instead of taking a transformative, restorative justice approach, I want revenge. I demonize. I want punishment and retribution.

But whatever their motivation, it is clear to me that these protesters are not happy people.

Happy people don’t deface, publicly defecate and urinate, disrupt, bully, and threaten other people into submitting to their will, all in the name of ‘freedom.’

I’m pretty sure I’m right about this, even if it is a hard pill to swallow.

Because it means, whether or not my body screams for it I would not be happy disrupting, bullying, or threatening other people into compliance with my version of an ideal world. That and it wouldn’t work.

Even if I was capable of it, I can’t just exact revenge and expect anything to change.

It’s not that I don’t believe we should not be accountable for our actions. We absolutely should.

But, as Audre Lorde points out, the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.

It applies to me just as naturally as it does to the people occupying my city.

The question remains though – what do I DO?

And the answer is this:  I seek community.

This is not a realization I came to on my own by the way. I just knew in my body that I needed to be with my people and attended the Slow Burn Monday morning musing session this week hosted by Larissa Parson. *

The next day, I attended the final main lesson of the ReBloom advance coach training * – Unlearning Systems of Harm and Co-Creating with Life Itself.

And in that discussion, by bringing my authentic heart the place of safety and consent, someone shared this offering (as well as a description of the Water Tiger and its significance) from Daria of Accountability Mapping. He teaches transformative justice through the body.

I’m signed up.

My nervous system is feeling soothed, and my capacity for taking this next step in healing and growth has increased.

Community: It’s a simple and elegant antidote to the trauma of isolation and individualism that systems of fuckery espouse.

We’re not meant to go it alone.

It all starts in the body.

Find your people (and just in case you need to hear this, EVERYONE is not your people)

Find the places where you feel safe and held. Let them fill your cup.

The world needs you.

Until next time, with love,

Janine Bertolo (she/her)
Anti-capitalist crone and culture maker 
Trauma-informed somatic coach 
Consensual Copywriter

* You may have noticed a trend here. Do two newsletters make a trend? These are my people, and you’ll probably hear more about them if you decide to stick around, because this is the space where I share what I love.

I appreciate you and would love to hear your feedback; just hit reply.

Feel free to pass this along to anyone who might appreciate it.

And if you’ve received this email as a forward and would like to subscribe, you can do that here.

Happy Croney New Year!

Acknowledging my colonial settler privilege in living and working on the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe People, in progress of learning right relationship with the land and its First People.

Note to readers: It’s been a while… Happy New Year! I have created a subscription newsletter, but will continue to post here as well. So, if you’re happy with receiving these dispatches as is, don’t change a thing. If you’d rather subscribe to Crone Connection newsletter, you can do that here

There’s big stuff happening in the world right now, and its impacts on our lives and relationships are significant.

I don’t know about you, but I have to take the news in very small doses to prevent feeling overwhelmed and helpless with the state of the world.

And I’m so goddamned tired of all things pandemic.

Though if the truth be known, it’s not really the pandemic I’m tired of. For me, the deep fatigue and burnout set in long before the pandemic hit.

It’s capitalism, colonialism, the white heteronormative patriarchy that’s exhausting me, and has been for … well for my whole life.

The pandemic has just blown the lid off of a system that has really only worked for a very small 1% of the world. The rest of us have been navigating healthcare, childcare, home care, education, justice, and economic systems that are underfunded, undervalued, and have been on the brink of collapse for a very long time now.

A system that has been rigged to keep power and resources in the hands of a very few, predominantly white, predominantly old, predominantly straight, men.

The rest of us are told that it’s our fault we’re not thriving. That all we have to do is pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, straighten up and fly right, so we can the 1% too.

And in case you didn’t already see where this is going, I’m here to call bullshit on that.

Don’t blame the pandemic

The messages of capitalism tell us we have to go it alone, to trust no one, and that there’s something fundamentally wrong with us if we’re not thriving. Those messages have never landed well in my body, and decades of allowing them to dictate my life have taken their toll.

I believe (and I am not alone) that healing, and transformative change are only truly possible in community.

The patriarchy has conditioned us to believe we are here to deliver, to serve, but that’s just one aspect of the flow required for human beings to thrive. I have learned that the simple act of receiving can be a revolutionary move.

I am so grateful for the communities of care that have welcomed me, provided a landing place for exploring, excavating, dreaming of, and working towards creating a better world. I have received so much.

Just in case you need one, here’s your permission slip to do the same.

Find the people and places that nurture you, that fill your cup with love, and sit with them. It’s not comfortable given that we’ve been programmed to go it alone, but I can assure you that it’s worth navigating the discomfort.

And you may just find magic.

I have found these communities to be filled with revolutionary soulmates, supportive and nurturing and essential and soothing to my body, mind, and soul:

The Slow Burn Community (and all things Larissa Parson)

We Are the Culture Makers (and all things Kelly Diels)

The ReBloom Advanced Coach Training Community (and all things Rachael Maddox)

Future Planning Sessions

This past weekend, I heard Christina Lopes say that, rather than feeling like the start of a new year, January 2022 feels more like the 13th month of 2021. Apparently there are astrological reasons for this; the universe follows its own rhythm.

Are you feeling it too?

I know I am, and it was reassuring for me to know others are feeling the same way. That we’re all not quite ready to burst forth into the new year with our one big thing yet, not quite ready to make that list of resolutions and buckle down. We’re tired and we need to rest.

And it’s okay. It’s okay to be gentle with yourself, to go slowly, choose what feels best for you, and make decisions from that centered place.

In addition to my regular offerings as a trauma-informed and somatic coach, I have introduced Future Planning Sessions – an hour in safe supportive space to land in your body and focus in on want you’d like to create for yourself in the next few months.

I know the power of setting intentions and getting out of my own way to allow them to manifest and would be honoured to hold that space for you.

Sessions are delivered by Zoom, priced at the introductory rate of $150, and transferrable so you can buy one for a friend.

Book now or click here for more information. ⠀⠀

Thank you for reading my new year newsletter! I appreciate you and would love to hear your feedback; just hit reply.

Feel free to pass this along to anyone who might appreciate it.

And if you’ve received this email as a forward and would like to subscribe, you can do that here.

Until next time, with love,

Janine Bertolo (she/her)
Anti-capitalist crone and culture maker 
Trauma-informed somatic coach 

The Dynamics of Shame

the word "shame" in scrabble tiles on a red background

This is the story of a schoolyard bully, a conspiracy led by mom, and the dynamics of shame that can get stuck in the body.

Growing up in the 60s, we had a neighbour who lived across the street. He was a year younger than me, in my brother’s class at school.

And he was a bully. Over the years the incidents were countless.

I remember the bully raking his fingernails down my cousin’s face when she came to visit as we were playing together outside. Funny enough, when I asked her about it, she doesn’t remember a thing.

I remember him crossing the schoolyard to kick me in the shin so hard that I couldn’t walk, couldn’t control my sobbing, all because I’d complimented him on his beautiful new desert boots.

I felt shame that wasn’t mine, and when the teacher on yard duty hauled us by the arms into the principal’s office to have him deal with us. I refused to acknowledge the facts – that I had done nothing to deserve the kick, except stand in the schoolyard during recess enjoying the warmth of the late spring sun radiating off the brick wall.

I defended him. Said it was an accident. That nothing really happened, and could I just go back to class now?

The bully? He just kept wheedling that he hadn’t done anything wrong.

I just needed to hide, to retreat in fear that my name had been placed in “the book”

(What the hell was the book anyway? The fear of having your name in “the book” was real back then. Did all schools have “the book”?)

I returned home after school that day and could not face my family for the shame, going straight to my room until dinner and returning there afterwards until bedtime.

On the third day of this self-imposed punishment, my mother came to my room, sat down on the bed beside me to talk.

The bully’s mom had called my mom to let her know that her son was upset because of something that had happened in school a couple of days ago, and that I was involved. Of course, he had given her no details.

Witness the dynamics of shame.

Still I defended him, denied he’d done anything wrong, insisted it was an accident. I don’t remember if I ever set the record straight with my mom, though I doubt the incident left as big a mark on her memory as it did mine.

(And yes, she asked me if I got my name in “the book” – it wasn’t just a kid thing)

In any case, one day my mom, frustrated at hearing our complaints and pleas about the bully’s behaviour (and apparently lacking any other viable options for resolution) took a conspiratorial tone and set a plan in motion.

The next time the bully lashed out at us, she instructed me to pin him down while my younger brother beat him up.

The war to create peace approach….

Of course, as young children, this was viewed as free license to stand at the end of our driveway, taunting the bully from across the street until his rage reached the tipping point and he stomped over to deal with us.

What can I say? I’m a lover, not a fighter. The mechanics of war do not come easily to me.

Also, I’m slightly dyslexic and its effects are amplified under stress.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Here’s what happened: In the heat of the moment, I got flustered and I pinned my brother down instead of the bully.

My brother fought me valiantly, but I managed to keep him down.

I’ve always been physically strong, though I grew tired of doing all the holding while the bully was not getting his due.

In actuality, the bully was wailing on my brother with me complicit.

I can still see the righteous look of unfettered rage and frustration on my brother’s face when he muttered through gritted teeth: “You’re supposed to be holding HIM down, not ME!”

And in that moment, the jig was up.

The bully’s rage spell was broken on hearing those words, the unmistakable realization that he’d been lured into a trap gradually dawning on him. The rage left his body. He sagged a little, started sobbing and ran back home.

My brother and I retreated to our own house to play in the basement, silently steaming at each other over the failed coup. We didn’t bother to bring our mom up to speed on what had happened.

We heard the bully’s mom come to the back door, and the low tone she and my mom took in speaking to each other. We managed to eavesdrop and hear my mom claiming not to know what could have gotten into us and assuring her neighbour that she’d address it.

And address it she did. We creeped up the stairs to the kitchen after the neighbour left. Mom looked at us with a smile and a nod and a twinkle in her eye and said, “Good job.”

I felt there was no need to go full debrief on the incident and describe my abject failure in executing the plan. The end result was the same either way, right?

The bully got the message that his behaviour would not be tolerated. I like to think it was the beginning of a détente.

These memories bubbled up during one of my training modules for advanced coach training in trauma resolution. The instructor, Racheal Maddox, was speaking about the dynamics of shame, and how we are conditioned to take on shame that isn’t our own when traumatic events happen.

When we experience violation of some sort, shame causes us to retreat and hide and convince ourselves that we’re bad, that what happened was our own fault, how shame is a result of trauma in the social nervous system, and how shameful behaviour is more often than not the result of feelings of shame carried by the perpetrator.

I had forgotten about the schoolyard kick in the shin until then.

I also remembered a day before that, when the bully ran crying home from the schoolyard a block away because someone had bullied him. His father’s response was to place a stick of wood in his hands and urge him to go back to the schoolyard to beat the kid up with it. He followed down the street, yelling ‘encouragement’ while, obviously distressed, tears streamed down his son’s face.

Thankfully, our neighbour who lived at the next corner, intervened and the bully and his father returned home, rage deflated by shame.

I recognize that the bully and his father were raised by a system that values toxic and hyper masculinity. I can imagine they both felt trapped by that.

I realize that as a child, I felt the bully’s shame, the shame he was unable to express because it was too big, that allowed him to do something really shitty to me while defending his behaviour. Prickly defensiveness on the outside and the frozen heart inside.

“The traumatic event is in the past but if it’s not allowed to complete and release in safety it gets stuck in our bodies and nervous systems and affects the way we navigate the present.” Rachael Maddox

The memories and emotions around these incidents bubbled up freely because I’ve tilled the healing soil for stuck feelings to move and ‘complete’. My body feels safe and resourced enough to let them flow and let them go.

I hope that sometime in the past fifty or so years the bully and his family have been able to find some healing from the intergenerational trauma caused by toxic masculinity.

And I wonder if my brother has forgiven me yet.

I am a trauma-informed somatic coach who helps people tap into the wisdom of their bodies so they can heal and thrive.
More information here.

Truth & Reconciliation – Justice Resources for Settlers

Truth and Reconciliation Justice Resources for Settlers

This page contains truth & reconciliation justice resources for settlers, and information about the terrible legacy of colonial genocide of Indigenous people that continues in Canada to this day.

Information here may be triggering to some readers. Support is made available to survivors and their families 24 hours a day at the Indian Residential School Survivors Society’s crisis line at 1-866-925-4419.

The discovery of the bodies of 215 Indigenous children buried in an unmarked grave on the grounds of a former residential school in Kamloops BC brings urgent focus on the need to acknowledge and dismantle systemic, intentional, and state-sanctioned genocide.

I grapple with feelings of horror, despair, hopelessness and helplessness around this ugly reality daily, recognizing that my horror, despair, helplessness and hopelessness amount to nothing unless they are put into action.

This list is by no means comprehensive, and I am by no means an expert.

I will leverage my privilege and voice in any way I can until justice is realized, confronting my bias and continuing to learn how to be an effective ally.

Please contact me with additions, suggestions for revisions and edits.

Know whose land you occupy. Say the names. Acknowlege.

I live, work and love on the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishnabe People, on the banks of the sacred waters of the Kitchissippi and the ancient gathering place on the waterfalls named Asinabka by Grandfather William Commanda. You can watch Matt Lemay‘s documentary film about the Kitchissippi here.

Native Land is a website run by the nonprofit organization Native Land Digital, guided by a Board of Directors and an Advisory Council, funded by riendly organizations and individual donors. This resource provides information for knowing whose stolen land you stand on.

Why acknowledge?

Political Legacy

Canada ‘complicit in race-based’ genocide of Indigenous Women

The NDP has proposed in Canada’s House of Commons that the government immediately cease fighting Indigenous children in court. MP for Nunavut, Mumilaaq Qaqqaq spoke to the motion June 3. Watch and listen here.

This is not Canada’s past history. The genocide perpetuated with the residential school system continues today with “child protection” policies across the country.

The children buried on the grounds of the Kamloops residential school would be approximately 55 years old now.

Why Aboriginal Peoples Can’t Just “Get Over It” – Understanding and addressing intergenerational trauma

Take Action

Non-Indigenous people — here’s what you can do, right now

Settlers Take Action from the ON Canada Project, “a grassroots, volunteer-based project. We bring together your friendly neighbourhood nerds, active citizens and change-agents in order to help keep Millennials and Gen Z informed and engaged with issues impacting Canadians, prominently COVID-19 right now.” This resource includes information on how to contact your elected representatives to demand reconciliation and action (#reconciliACTION) here.

Reconciliation Canada provides resources and toolkits for community action.

Teaching Tools:

Stolen Lives: The Indigenous Peoples of Canada and the Indian Residential Schools

Participate in a blanket exercise.

Ravens: Messengers of Change Activity Book

News & Resources

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission: read the report and the 94 calls to action (only 5 of which have been implemented by the current Liberal government whose leader promised in 2015 to implement them all.

This Narwhal Newsletter contains backgrounder information and links to essential reading and information reposted here:

From APTN News

From Ku’ku’kwes News

From CBC News Frontburner

The Scent of Lilacs

My morning altar includes a bouquet of lilacs, my father's compass, and a crone modeled in artists' clay by my father many years ago.

The scent of lilacs on my morning altar sparks musings on ancestral memory and healing.

“All the eggs a woman will every carry form in her ovaries while she is a four-month-old foetus in the womb of her mother. This means our cellular life as an egg begins in the womb of our grandmother.

Each of us spent five months in our grandmother’s womb, and she in turn formed within the womb of her grandmother.

We vibrate to the rhythms of our mother’s blood before she herself is born, and this pulse is the thread of blood that runs all the way back through the grandmothers to the first mother.”

(When The Drummers Were Women: A Spiritual History of Rhythm by Layne Redmond)

This powerful bit of ancestral science comes floating back to me in morning meditation, as I breathe in the heady scent of the lilacs.

I remember hopping in the car with my dad and a pair of clippers to scour the countryside in the spring and find a stand of lilacs to cut a bouquet to bring home to mom.

That memory and a strong call to have the scent of lilacs nearby and close to me inspired my partner and I to store a pair of clippers in our car and find the blossoms sitting on my altar now.

My maternal nonna loved lilacs, as did her eldest daughter, my mother, her sister, and as I think of it, as do all of the women in my nonna’s lineage, and it’s no wonder that we do.

The scent molecules imprinted at a cellular level as she breathed them in have been passed on to us, in her womb, as she carried my mother and her siblings.

They synthesized in the eggs that seeded our birth, and they are passed on to our offspring, physically and energetically.

In the breathing, in the scent, I feel her love and strength flowing to me, with my mother as an intermediary on its journey through the generations.

The molecules in the air that I breathe are recycled, the atoms that formed them created when the universe began, indestructible and eternal.

Those atoms form the molecules our ancestors breathed for millennia, recycled and cleansed, exchanged in our lungs at the level of the alveoli.

Oxygen in, carbon dioxide out, in a regenerative dance with nature, whose trees and plants exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen, literally sustaining life.

As I inhale and exhale, in meditation and throughout the course of my life from first breath to last, I am inhaling atoms that were inhaled and exhaled by my ancestors, through generations.

They carry the imprints of ancestral legacy. Their energy, their knowing, their experiences, their pain, their trauma, their joy, their victory, breathed into my lungs and out, held in our bodies at the cellular level.

We are connected with our ancestors physically and energetically, each time air meets flesh in the act of breathing, air meets blood, an eternal exchange, receiving nourishment, expelling toxins for the earth and nature to receive for composting.

Every breath I take cleanses, restores, energizes, alchemizes the cells of my body that hold ancestral wisdom and imprints of ancestral trauma.

It is no coincidence that lilacs grow plentiful and abundant on old farmland, in regular rows. Before flush toilets were invented, lilacs were planted over outhouse holes after they were filled and the outhouse moved to a new location.

More poignantly, lilacs have been traditionally planted over burial sites for placentae and stillborn babies. I first read about it here.

As I breathe in the scent of lilacs, I flow healing and love back through the generations to my mother, my nonnas, my ancestors. I wonder at what experiences, joy, sadness or trauma imprinted the scent in our collective memory.

What other ancestral experiences, joy, sadness or trauma have imprinted and affected me in the way I navigate life? I know my grandmother experienced two miscarriages after my birth. Were there more? How did they affect her?

I wonder if the reactions and responses I have to life situations that feel like they’re not really mine, but feel real nonetheless, stem from incidents and experiences before my time, passed on in my ancestral lineage.

In all the wondering I become more committed to my own healing, and know I am contributing to collective healing in the doing.

I am a trauma-informed somatic coach who helps people tap into the wisdom of their bodies so they can heal and thrive. More information here.

My previous post and an update

Dear Readers,

My previous post was missing a note. I really must learn to navigate WordPress!

From time to time I will be posting pieces related to Trauma Recovery and Somatic Coaching. Those posts will be categorized as Trauma Recovery.

My (somewhat) regular musings on life, the universe and everything will be categorized under Becoming Janine.

These categories have been added to my website blog menu for your convenience.

There is some overlap as Becoming Janine has been and continues to be a journey of healing.

I appreciate your following Becoming Janine and hope you’ll stay with me as I navigate life, healing, and all things related. I’ve got more stories in me!

With love,


Trauma Recovery using the ReBloom Method

Painting by the author, a colourful brain reminiscent of a healthy, thriving and active nervous system

I am a trauma recovery somatic coach who helps people heal and find ease from trauma that gets stuck in the body and gets in the way of living a fulfilled and authentic life.

I have experienced the ReBloom method guided by Jo Tucker, a member of the ReBloom Hive and post-traumatic guide. I find this method of coaching to be most effective, allowing me to reconnect to the wisdom of my body and release trauma that has been stuck for decades. Jo and ReBloom have been instrumental in my journey of healing and personal post-traumatic growth.

What are somatic practices?

Somatics describes any practice that uses the mind-body connection to help you survey your internal self and listen to signals your body sends about areas of pain, discomfort, or imbalance. (Reference)

What is trauma?

The best definition of trauma comes from my teacher, post-traumatic guide and culture maker Rachael Maddox. She is the author of her newly published book ReBloom: Archetypal Trauma Resolution for Personal and Collective Healing, and the creator of the ReBloom method for trauma recovery. This is the method I use in my practice. It has served me best in my post-traumatic healing and growth experience.

Rachael defines trauma as “an embodied violation hangover”

In other words, trauma is:

  • a violation (emotional, physical, energetic, or any combination of the three)
  • that happened in the past
  • that gets stuck in the body (physical and energetic) and remains long after the violation has ended.

That stuckness, that trauma, influences our behavior. It affects the way we see ourselves, the ways we communicate with ourselves and other, and the way we view the world. Trauma impacts physical and emotional health.

This definition is expansive. Most of us have experienced trauma in some form in the course of living our lives. It is an almost unavoidable for people living in relationship with other people and communities shaped for generations by systems of oppression – colonialism, capitalism, sexism, racism, ableism, privilege…

A trauma recovery approach includes:

  • Consensual techniques and tools offered without force, trusting the inherent treatment plan and unique timeline of every individual
  • Doing what’s doable and appropriate for you in the here and now; honouring your capacity
  • Focus on the nervous system and the reverence for the body’s capacity to grow, heal and transform
  • Informed consent and sovereignty central to the coaching experience
  • Honouring ‘resistance’ as the body’s way of whispering its needs

In addition, the ReBloom trauma recovery method offers:

  • Inclusion of story, myth, ritual, archetype and metaphor as part of the healing process
  • Focus on health as the foundation of the model, as opposed to focusing on the trauma (you don’t have to recreate or even remember the trauma event to heal from its effects)
  • A critical approach that recognizes the impacts of oppressive systems (colonialism, capitalism, racism, sexism, etc.) and cultures
  • An emphasis community-regulation and nature-regulation in addition to on self-regulation and co-regulation
  • Radical consent to disclose or not disclose your personal history and story as part of the healing process
  • Permission to honour your self, to use your sacred “no” and opt out at any time from any practice that does not resonate in the moment or feels uncomfortable

A ReBloom coach guides you through trauma resolution, teaching and using somatic techniques and exploring using the seven ReBloom archetypes for post-traumatic growth.

The ReBloom method is a 3 part approach to trauma recovery:

Discovering your current ReBloom oracle

  • It starts with a question: What am I living inside? or What am I being called to address in this moment?

Growing embodied coherence

  • Learn to allow physiological trauma trapped in your body to move (or “complete”), regulate your nervous system, and nurture resilient aliveness in your body

Cultivating relational coherence

  • Explore the natural blueprints of health associated with the ReBloom archetypes to bring you into right relationship with yourself, others and the world

The ReBloom archetypes for post-traumatic growth

The ReBloom archetypes describe progressive stages of growth, development, and healing, recognizing imprints caused by trauma and returning to your natural blueprint, in seven areas.

This method facilitates learning and movement from:

Neglect to Worthiness & Receptivity
(Soul Seed)

Exploitation to Sovereignty

Shame & Repression to Whole Self Expression

Manipulation & Control to Clarity & Choice

Violence & Chaos to Vitality & Empwered Safety

Isolation & Alienation to Intimate Belonging

Colonization to Co-Creation
(Sacred Gardener)

Work with me:

I offer packages of 9 sessions to explore, excavate, heal and learn using the ReBloom method, priced at $1111CAN, taxes included (service fees apply if you live outside Canada). Payment plans available and encouraged.

Package includes a 1.5 hour intake session to set goals and identify priorities, 7 one-hour coaching sessions booked by you at your pace (one or two sessions per month recommended), and a final closing/reflection/celebration. All sessions are conducted online using Zoom.

I currently have 5 openings for this package and am offering them at the discounted price of $999CAN while they last.

If you’re feeling called to work with me as your post-traumatic and somatic coach, I invite you to reach out. You can contact me here. I am available by direct message using Instagram or Facebook messenger, or you can email me at janinebertolo.coach@gmail.com.

You can also book a free 30 minute call on my booking site to chat and discover whether working with me is a good fit.

* Information regarding the ReBloom coaching methodology is reprinted and shared with permission from Rachael Maddox