Catherine Mattice

Be Your Own Inspiration

  • Published in Life

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

These are the first few lines of a poem, Desiderata, that I connected to at a very early age when I was struggling with the discomfort and fear as a young teen stepping into my confidence, or lack of. Only recently did I take interest in the man who penned the poem, Max Ehrmann. He was an American poet and writer who began his career as a Harvard educated lawyer. While he wrote this poem in 1927, it only became popular in the early 70s. As I have grown older and explored my own life path, the poet’s life has become a source of inspiration. First of all, he had courage to leave a reputable profession to become a writer. A poet …while a noble profession, not always a lucrative endeavour. Also the poem, which has meant so much to me in my life and has reached out to so many others with its beautiful words and intention, only became popular after his death. So here is a man who had the courage to let go of a solid job for a passion that connected with his soul. And he never experienced the magnitude of his legacy during his lifetime. His poem transcended his physical presence and continues to touch people today. Even today, his words still have the magic to inspire me. For a few moments, take pause to reflect on the wonder of something far greater than my being within the universe. As Ehrmann so eloquently says:

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

So often we look outside of ourselves for inspiration, as I did with this lovely poem. But in fact, when we take pause, we find the inspiration is within us. I know in this sometimes crazy, hectic world it is so easy to get caught up in the drama and the fear. The fear of not having enough or not being enough. Be we need to step out of the mentality of lacking and into the power of being. There is a reason and purpose for our life. Release fear and allow it to unfold as it should.

As you move through your day today, I invite you to connect with each movement and each breath. Find the strength in your body and your being. It is all you. Whatever your hopes and dreams, whether you’re beginning a journey, continuing a journey or feel as though you are in the midst of a storm, you are here for a purpose. Invite magic and stillness into your life, a greater awareness in body and mind, allow the possibilities to unfold. Be open to learning more about who you are so you can tap into this beautiful awareness every moment of the day.

And most of all remember the last lines of the poem:

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata

Here is the actual poem,


Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others,
even to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann


A Walk in the Fog

  • Published in Life

We recently visited an enchanted place – Tofino, BC. Every morning my husband and I woke up early to walk along the expanse of Chesterman beach. Early in the morning at low tide, there were very few people on the beach. To open your arms and capture the expanse of sea and sand was so incredibly healing for the soul. Some mornings there was some cloud cover and a bit of fog, but we were lucky that the rays of the sun always managed to peak through casting a spiritual touch on the entire setting.

The very last day of our visit, we woke up for our early morning walk to find the entire beach blanketed with dense fog. It was warm, so we could feel the sun trying to push through, but you couldn’t see more than two feet ahead. A first reaction would be an uncertainty, not knowing where we were going or what was ahead. But we had walked the beach for the past few days, so even though we couldn’t see anything, we knew what the fog covered. We only needed to focus on one step at a time.

By the time we reached the place where we would normally turn to head back, Frank Island, the sun had already cleared most of the fog. Out of the fog, rose the tree housing the Bald Eagle’s nest we had seen a few days earlier. And there she was perched in the nest at the top of tree overlooking the entire beach. We stood and watched mesmerized, in anticipation of her making a move. But she remained still in her perch watching patiently. When we finally exhausted taking pictures from every angle, we reluctantly turned our back on nature’s majesty to head back to our room.

EagleAs we began the first steps a bird swooped overhead followed closely by two more. “It’s an eagle!” I shouted, jumping up and down like a child. Two more followed in close pursuit and we turned to watch as the three fledglings circled to their nesting area. Pure magic.

As we walked back in wonder, I thought: “What if we had decided to abort our walk because of the fog? We would have missed it all. Instead we were able to capture a moment that I will carry forever in my heart.

So now when I want to change plans because the weather’s not right or some uncertainty awaits, I hope I will remember the lesson of that foggy day. It doesn’t matter if you can’t see too far ahead. You know where you’re going. Have certainty in your steps. Take one step at a time. And even though you have been to the place you are walking toward, it will not be the same place. You never know what wonder awaits you. 


Writing Your Own Life Story

  • Published in Life

Much like most of the world, I was saddened when I heard the news that Muhammad Ali had passed away. While I read snippets of his life, looked through photographs and the famous quotes, I didn’t fully connect to his story. But on the day of his funeral, I was drawn into the televised event by the stories of his friends and family. I sat for a moment only to remain for the duration.

As a writer, I have always loved Ali’s quotes – the poetry and the audacity certainly, but mostly the wisdom and the passion. While the stories and words of his family and friends painted a picture of the man, it was former president Bill Clinton’s eulogy that stuck with me. 

Of course, Clinton made the connection to both Ali’s life and his time in the ring: “How do some people refuse to become victims and rise from every defeat?” But these are the words I have been carrying around with me since I watched his impassioned speech: 

I think he (Ali) decided very young to write his own life story. I think he decided, before he could possibly have worked it all out, and before fate and time could work their will on him, he decided he would not be ever be disempowered.

What he said sounded absolutely true of a man I have never met but only read about and watched from the outside. And the words seem to be more poignant with recent tragic life events. But the words spoke to me about my own life. Am I writing my own life story?

With all the big things, yes…my husband, our children, our family, passion for my work…yes I do believe I am writing my life story. With the little things…speaking my truth, saying no without guilt and taking the time to attend to my own bucket list of life experiences…perhaps I could do a better job of that. But I am trying to focus on the gifts I do have rather than what I feel still needs to be done. 

For most of us, it’s probably the bigger things…those hopes and dreams that we tuck into our back pockets that may not be the way we had envisioned writing our story. Perhaps we feel we should implement a lifestyle change to eat better or exercise more. Or maybe it’s a vision for our work, a long-held dream to create a business or make a difference with our work. Whatever it is, maybe we’re afraid to take that step forward for fear of failure or that we’ll succeed and it won’t be what we thought.

For me, it’s that little dream I have been trying to manifest to gather all of the elements of my gifts to put it toward a healing place – either a place of my own or a service to offer others. Somedays I feel as though I am moving toward in the direction my dream, other days, I feel as though I will never get there.

So I think it’s the words that Clinton said near the end of his speech that I will try to carry with me:  “in the second half of his (Ali’s) life, he perfected gifts that we all have: Every single solitary one of us has gifts of mind and heart. It’s just that he found a way to release them in ways large and small.”

Yes we all have gifts. Perhaps I am not Muhammed Ali or Mother Teresa, but I am most definitely me.  And right now at this very moment in time, I am doing the best I can. I have beautiful gifts that I am able to share with the world.  I have a family I love very much and I try to let them know how much every single day. I am grateful for each day. I give with my heart in my work. I take care of my body, my mind and my spirit. As I continue to write my beautiful life story, I have decided I will add a few extra chapters, devoting pages to happy, carefree stories created only for me. While certain aspects of the plot may not unfold as I had envisioned, I continue writing the story of my dream. There will not be one word of regret in my life story.



Wisdom I learned from my family

  • Published in Life

When the Child becomes the Teacher

When I decided to become a yoga instructor, I didn’t realize what a profound effect teaching would have on my life. I simply loved yoga. I loved the flow of the movement, the meditative aspects, the feeling of transformation when I walked out of class, the people I met…the entire experience infused a sense of belonging. So when I began teaching, the connection just deepened. As my mentor and instructor put it: “You found your dharma.” And I didn’t even realize I had until she said the words.

There are so many reasons why I love teaching but part if it is the opportunity to explore themes on how to live my yoga when I step off my mat. For five minutes at the end of class during Savasana I am able share some of the wisdom I have stumbled upon in my life with my students. It’s not that I feel the need to tell my story, it’s more of a hope that my experiences will help others in this sometimes crazy life to find direction and an easier path to their own healing.

While I haven’t always had the forum of Savasana, I have been sharing the wisdom of my life experiences with our children from a very young age. All mothers have their gifts to bestow on their children. I haven’t always been a mother who bakes or sends care packages of food when they went away places, although I do like to prepare their favourite foods and wholesome meals for family get-togethers.  As much as I have good intentions, sometimes I just didn’t seem to have the time to prepare the care package of goodies when our children were away from home. Instead I have tried to impart food for the soul. I remember driving our children to various activities…baseball, dance, school, friends…and taking the few moments in the car to impart life lessons. For the boys it was so easy, baseball has so many life metaphors. Like Babe Ruth’s:  “Never allow the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game!” When our daughter suffered anxiety and bullying from other children, it was tough to explain to a young girl that others hurtful actions were an insecurity within the bully. But we persisted.

As our children have grown into young adults, finishing school and pursuing their own life path, they are now beginning to slip in a few life lessons for their mother. I carry three such lessons from each child close to my heart.

Lesson 1: When our son Matthew talked about a friend’s parents bestowing a care package of goodies to be shared with friends, I had a moment of panic that I wasn’t good with care packages. Maybe I should be sending him goodies from time to time as he began carving his own path. At least to let him know he was loved and missed at home. But Matthew quickly cut through my panic with the calm of a parent placating a child. “Mom, it’s okay. I just need you to do you.”

Lesson 2: Even though I do believe I have found a lovely calling on this path of teaching yoga, there are times when self-doubt seeps in. I began my yoga journey a little later in life. So while I do have a strong practice, blessed with strength in most poses but not the lithe-like flexibility of someone who has practiced from a young age. When opportunities arise for me to lead a practice to a larger group, I may hesitate. After all, there are stronger, more experienced instructors out there. I have only been teaching for a few years. Our middle son, Cameron, caught me in the middle of one of these self-deprecating rants with a gentle reprimand. “Mom, you can’t let fear hold you back. You teach a certain way that gives people something they need. When you say no because you don’t think you can do it, you’re denying people the chance to experience your unique energy.”

Lesson 3: Over the years, I have been blessed to spend a lot of time with our daughter, Kate. As she has grown into a young woman, now our together time is more grown up as mother and daughter who have become friends. I value her direct input on things from shopping to personal advice. After a recent shopping trip, when I lamented that I felt too old or too fat in some of the garments, she candidly zeroed on my self-criticism in exasperation. “Mom. You’re beautiful. Stop criticizing yourself. Just own it!” 
As I continue on my path as a teacher, I recognize that I am still working on some of my own advice and I am always a student. Anytime self-doubt disrupts my centre, I look to my yoga for healing through breath and movement. And I work to replace negative self-chatter with the wisdom of three very beautiful souls - to be me without apology, step beyond fear to share my gifts and to own it all.