Introduction: Walking side by side

A life is to be honoured, not solved.
~ Unknown

There are times when life sweeps us up in adventure: a new job or relationship, a big career move, the momentous decision to retire. There are other times when the adventure turns inward: we feel spurred to deepen our connection with ourselves, to bring more authenticity to our lives. Whether external or internal, the adventure can feel exhilarating – and sometimes daunting as we enter such new and unknown territory.

Still other times, life seems to crowd in, stealing our very breath. Do this, do that, do more and more and more. Unending commitments and expectations bark at us. The daily e-mail barrage threatens to drown us. Small irritations build up. We find ourselves in a cage as we valiantly juggle work, home, family, friends. “What about me?” a tiny voice cries. Maybe after this latest crunch. Maybe sometime soon.

Whether you’re in the midst of an adventure, or find yourself confined, it helps to have a calm and trustworthy guide to walk with you. As your coach, I accept you just as you are. I take pains to understand your world, support you positively, and challenge you with honest, kind respect. I offer you space in which to breathe more freely, consider your situation freshly, and bring about liberating and long-term change.

What this coaching path looks like

You want to make the most of your talents and your time here on earth. During our coaching engagement, you embark on an inward journey of self-discovery, as well as an outward journey of practical action. As your coach, I walk with you, guide you – and rejoice with as you blossom.

Clients have come to me with a variety of goals:

  • I want to exercise my leadership abilities more confidently.
  • I yearn for more balance in my life. I don’t want work to be everything.
  • I want to deal with conflict more effectively.
  • I long to express myself and my voice more fully.
  • I want to get unstuck, and move my vision into action.
My coaching is anchored in the approach pioneered by Integral Coaching Canada, which states that how we think, feel and act is based on our unique assumptions about our place and function in the world.

Our assumptions often serve us well, shaping our strengths and successes. At certain points in our lives, however, we may sense that we need a more expansive orientation to the world – a new foundation for our thoughts, feelings and actions.

Personal change takes root when we recognize the value and limitations of our existing assumptions, and take the bold step of interacting with the world from a new and wider perspective.

As an Integral Coach, I help clients combine self-awareness, reflection and action. During one-hour sessions, we engage in a shared process of discovery. Taking into account your readiness, pace and interest, I design practices that help build and sustain new capacities and behaviours. I often suggest poems that speak to the issue you’re working with. You leave each session with a plan of action that and a practical toolkit for moving forward.

Sessions are conducted every two to three weeks, in person or by Zoom or Skype. Typically, a coaching program continues for eight months to a year, involving 8 to 12 coaching sessions.

To schedule an introductory session, free of charge, contact me.

When to work with a life coach

Most of us want to shape our lives in ways that bring fulfillment, challenge and ongoing growth. But we all face times when it seems that what we’re doing just isn’t working that well anymore – despite our best intentions and efforts. You know that you are ready for coaching when the urge to change becomes stronger than the discomfort of maintaining your status quo.

If you are intent on developing yourself, you probably also want to understand yourself better. By learning more about yourself, you can clarify who you are, where you’re going, and how you matter in this world. In the process, you cultivate a greater appreciation and compassion for yourselves and others.

Self-discovery invites us to change…and here’s where it can get a little tricky. On the one hand, we know that change is valuable, especially when it results in feeling more whole and alive.

On the other hand, when change gets personal, we’re often reluctant to give up the comforts of our long-standing habits, even when they no longer serve us well.

My clients often speak of arriving at a “crossroads”: wanting to change, but not knowing quite how to let go, how to make the shift, how to sustain it. That’s where I step in: to help you cross the bridge to sustained change and transformation.

If you think that you might benefit from coaching, I’d be pleased to tell you more about how I can help you. Contact me for a free introductory session.

My coaching credentials

As a professional life coach, I am motivated to help individuals live compassionately with themselves and with others. I appreciate that my clients’ lives are complex and, at the same time, malleable to positive change and growth. My ultimate goal is to help my clients become more free to act with purpose, connect more deeply with themselves and with others, and renew their joy in life.

I began training as a coach in 2001 with Integral Coaching Canada, earning my Integral Coaching® certification in 2006. Since then, I’ve coached individuals from all walks of life, ranging from government and private sector executives to senior advisors and administrators; from participants in government-sponsored leadership development programs to self-employed business people. In working with me, clients have introduced and sustained changes in areas such as work/life balance; life purpose and direction; fulfilling potential; self-confidence; career transitions; dealing with conflict; authentic personal expression; and organizational skills.

Integral Coaching® and Integral Coach™ are registered trade-marks in Canada
owned by Integral Coaching Canada, Inc. and licensed to Mary Lou van Schaik

Do you know how the caterpillar turns? Do you remember what happens inside a cocoon? You liquefy. There in the thick black of your self-spun womb, void as the moon before waxing, you melt (as Christ did for three days in the tomb) conceiving in impossible darkness the sheer inevitability of wings.
~ In Impossible Darkness by Kim Rosen
Compassion, insight and empowerment describe Mary Lou’s approach to her coaching engagements. She has a talent for gently easing her clients toward self-discovery and renewal. I am making great strides under Mary Lou’s stewardship because we set specific goals at the beginning of the assignment. She creates daily practices that are customized to my interests and needs and these practices form the foundation of change. Truly a delight to work with such a seasoned, innovative professional!
Mary Lou is a creative and effective professional coach. As a fellow professional in the field, my standards are high. Mary Lou met all of my expectations as a coach and I would not hesitate to recommend her to anyone looking for a truly enriching coaching experience. Warm, personable, flexible and reliable, I would rehire Mary Lou without hesitation.
I thoroughly enjoyed our sessions together during such an intensely busy time for me. Closing the door to the outside chatter and sitting across the little round table from such a masterful and compassionate coach was precious time.
Thank you for accompanying me on my journey. I appreciated taking the moments to slow down with you and reflect. You’ve also helped me to gain skills to be aware of my actions/thoughts/feelings/what’s happening in my body and to listen to my inner wisdom and trust its guidance. I’m still building those skills – and am inspired to grow in them.

I want to unfold. I don’t want to stay folded anywhere, because where I am folded, there I am a lie. And I want my grasp of things true….”
~ from "I am too alone in this world" by Rainer Maria Rilke