I was with a client last week and he said to me: We’re in Shaman time. I said What? He says that’s when we bend time, when it could be 3pm or 3am, when the construct of a ticking clock drops away and so does our relationship to it.

Oh, I said.

That’s what listening feels like to me. That’s how I know when I’m in it instead of doing it.

I’m a core story specialist, at least that’s what I put on my business card so people can ‘get’ it, but really, if I lived in a small village where we were named by what we do as the integration of who we are, people would call me: Story Tracker. That makes me chuckle. We’re just so weird aren’t we? I’ll own that. I’m weird. Damn weird. Perfect weird. I can see me as a character in a film: I’m a little bit witchy, probably old and wrinkled and the director has probably given me only one eye to accentuate my story scars. I’d have a long crooked stick that I poke at you as your story unfolds in front of us… Relax, I have two eyes and I don’t carry a stick, though I might be a bit witchy… One could make a case.

Life would be a lot easier if we didn’t feel the need to separate who we are from what we do because they really are one in the same. Well, that is, when we’re doing what we innately are, thus all the book stores bursting at the seams with volumes about how to achieve being, as if being has a goal post attached to it. 

It’s not about doing nothing in order to be, it’s about being so that our doing feels like nothing, or as my client calls it: Shaman Time. 

At some point in a Story Day with me we usually end up out at the wildest part of the island where I live because there the wind howls, the waves crash and the trees bend and grow sideways.  I take people there because it’s the closest I can come to being in Tofino without actually having to make the trek to get there myself. My brood of a family have camped on the wild wet west coast every summer for the last fifteen years, and it’s where I go to feel small, witnessed. My favourite time of the day is just as the sun is setting when there’s a loud heaviness of silence sitting above those of us standing on the beach. I can feel my own story being tracked, but this time not by me.

When I’m walking with my clients, I ask them about the word Mystery.  What makes a good one? I ask.

They say: It’s thrilling, it’s kinda scary, it’s unknown, it’s a story; until I ask: What makes it NOT a horror? Not a cliff hanger? And how come we feel compelled to watch or read them all the way to the end?

Because we want to know what happens, they say. Like duhhhhh… they implore, respectfully looking at me as if I missed something.

Why? I ask.

Because we know that it will end, it will resolve and when it does, it makes sense.

Right, I add. Right.

Then I make a joke about being a kid and watching Scooby Doo and how my favourite part was always when the unmasked villain says: “and I would’ve gotten away with it too if it hadn’t been for you meddling kids.”

Don’t we all feel like that sometimes?

The quote that has run my adult life comes from Mark Helprin’s novel, Soldier of the Great War about Alessandro Giuliani, an aged World War 1 Vet who goes on a pilgrimage and befriends a young boy on the way. As the two of them walk for days together, he recounts his life asking again and again in multiples of ways: Why did they die and I live? Why did my life matter? In the randomness of pain and beauty, where is the purpose of my choices? of my life? and the quote from his book that I have had pinned to my wall for years which has become the message that is now my life’s work is:

“Let no mystery confound you into the conclusion, that mystery cannot be yours”.





See, time turns into mist and then disappears when I’m listening to people because that’s how mystery, like home, shows up for me, and in that space of witnessing it’s as if God reaches in through our story and says Yes.

And we both can hear it.



November 25th – 27th on Bowen Island, BC Canada (20 minutes outside of Vancouver) at Xenia Retreat Centre, TinaO is hosting Live Your Best Story, a weekend about Listening to your story so as to Lead your life.

If you’d like to talk to TinaO to find out if this weekend retreat is a good fit for you, send her a message below or at to book a complimentary core story phone session.  Living Your Best Story is a weekend designed just for you. It’s gentle. It’s honouring. It’s introspective and it feels like coming home.


TinaO Living Story


TinaO is a Core Story Specialist, a writer, speaker and the founder of TinaOLife – a hub for all things worth living for, and the workshop Live Your Best Story. She’s also a professional network marketer with a decade in the industry and  she teaches: selling isn’t slimey and marketing isn’t make-believe. You can be yourself and be successful in Direct Sales.