The Irish Celtic tradition honours and emphasizes the sacred value and meaning of “place location.”  Places that hold the spirit of something important to a person, family or tribe.  Usually encompassing core values that are held at the centre of survival and thriving.


Who Are You?



Right now, I am at my mother’s cabin in the highlands of Ontario where summers are hot and winters bitter cold and unforgiving.  There are many ghosts here of babies crawling in the dirt, sticky marshmallow fingers, and loon lullabies.

Children forest walking marveling at the creatures on the ground and in the trees.

Mom telling stories like Beatrix Potter, about the generations of chipmunks and their adventures outsmarting the nasty red squirrel.

Catching your first fish, starlight swim, the maniacal thrill of your third Yahtzee!

The other worldly dragonfly shimmering, stimulating wonder – who are you?


Where is Your Cathedral?



In this place, my mom was trying to recreate the magic of her childhood:  The simplicity of nature being the teacher, entertainer and caregiver.

The tender slow days where wilderness shaped you from within the safe haven of the forest, the water.

A place of worship and opportunity to transform and be healed.

Where is your cathedral?

With mom gone, the cabin still reminds us of the continuity of life: The family of merganser ducks gliding together, the glint of sun on continuously rippling water, haunting solemn cry of the loon, buttery soft air caressing leaves.

Everything imperceptibly whispering her secrets: Those of the spirits, the faeries, gnomes, and animals that can talk.  The glamour and royalty of hummingbirds and frogs.

The breathtaking moments when they land on us, look at us, spend time with us.  Maybe we are special too?  We are seen!


Waiting for the Rumble to Come



Don’t get me wrong… the cabin was also a place where the “proverbial beans were spilled.”  Family rows, generational trauma, secrets and betrayals all occurred in this place.  Our ear to the ground for the inevitable storm brewing in the distance. We would wait for the rumble to come.

Watch for the dark clouds to assemble for the great reckoning.

It was as cyclical as the rain that came after to wash away the tears.  Part of the cleansing and clearing of this sacred place.

We all kept coming back despite the beautiful turbulence.  Like a fierce battle that leaves you spent yet satisfied – always coming back for more.  It was real.

My step dad says, “Everyone gets something out of this place.”

A gift to keep.

A life changing amulet to take with you for the road.


Daydreaming and Angst-ing


Now I am here with my eldest daughter who is leaving home soon.  Today she disclosed the sweet nostalgia she is experiencing here on this eve of independence.  With the expanses of time here, she remembers daydreaming, angst-ing, and worrying about her life.

Was this all there is?

How will her life land and settle?

Could she do it – achieve a “good life?”



I Know Who I Am!


Being here and having the touchstone of turtle rock, twin pines doubling their size, and the people that are still here and haven’t changed:  There’s a framework for her to see and hear that uncertain little girl’s concerns.

Within this lens my daughter could triumphantly realize she is joyfully achieving her dreams.

The cabin’s magical container where all things are possible had been a crucible for her dreams.  And now, stepping back in she could see how many of them were alive and breathing!

The relief of recognizing, in real time, the flexibility and eternal every-unfolding nature of life.  She has choices.  She can be fearless in her hopes.  There is stability in her knowing.  The steady proclamation, “I know who I am.”

Without a place location to hold the fears, secrets, dreams, mysteries and insecurities for you, how can you know you’ve (at least temporarily) arrived?


Where is your place location holding you and the evolution of your life?



Revel In That Peace


Today she asked me, “What if something bad happens to take it all away?”

The merganser mamma knows all too well something bad always happens.

Storms always come on those particularly hot and sunny days.

It’s our birthright and responsibility to immerse ourselves in the sweet clean water of cool relief when things are amazing.

To revel in that peace until we see the dark clouds gather and hear the ominous rumble in the distance.

We must allow this place location to nurture and fortify us. We survive the inevitable storms so we can emerge intact, wiser and full of gratitude for another chance to live.







Kathlyn McHugh RCC, RSW Counselling Practice takes place at the Vitality Clinic in the West Shore Area, close to Victoria BC.

Visit the website at: Home – The Vitality Clinic