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It was very early on a Sunday morning as the plane lifted off the ground from the Ottawa airport. I was returning home after the completion of my twelve day intensive Catalyst experience at the WEL-Systems Institute in Kanata. Questions floated through my mind, even at this early hour, and I pondered about whether the landscape would look any different to me than it had on the incoming flight? As the landscape receded I stared out the window and I also pondered about me? I knew every thing about me was different, and wondered what my husband might notice when he picked me up at the airport in Saint John? What will it be like when I get home, go back to work? What might my friends notice? Will I be able to sustain the changes, stay awake when I get back to my familiar routine and the everyday demands of my career? Were the changes noticeable? Well some of the outside changes might be fairly easy to see…more bags under my eyes from the long days and a little more roll over the top of my pants given all the snacking I had done!

And then I paused my thinking for a moment, gazed out the window again, took a deep breath and realized that the answer to all the questions was a resounding YES! I am different both inside and outside and I see same landscape very differently. I know, with every ounce of my being that if I am to shape my world, rather than be shaped by it, what counts is me knowing that I am different! But perhaps I am bit ahead of myself, so let me like the painter I am in the process of becoming paint a landscape about how I got to be on the plane in the first place.

Since I was a very young child I have read voraciously. I enjoyed stories, all kinds of stories. Stories about everyday heroes, detectives, explorers, all kinds of people who sail to far away places have fabulous, exciting adventures, discover new lands, become enlightened or find great wealth of some kind. I now realize that I had mythologized all those heroes, as well as having made many other people in my life larger than life. I mythologized that most other people were special in some way; they were never just ordinary like me! And I certainly never considered myself to be an explorer, at least never before the last twelve days. Which is kind of interesting given that I have spent much of my adolescence all my adult life and searching, looking, always looking? Looking for a place, any place where I could belong, feel safe, peaceful and at home. Especially safe and at home in my own body, as if I really belonged there!

So I traveled far and wide in space and in time looking for “the” answer any answer that would calm the raging restlessness, the hunger inside me. I fed the hunger, I drank the hunger I read the hunger, and I took programs to silence the hunger and reasoned with the hunger. I lived in my head and used logic, and intelligence to search for the answer that I was sure was out there somewhere. I consulted experts and sometimes I actually tried their recommendations before I came to my senses and realized that this---------------fill in the blank… program, book, therapy; recommendation was just someone else’s idea of what was “right” for me and put it aside. Along the way I acquired a massive library of self help books and a wall of certificates. No, I am certainly not saying that I failed to gain anything from some of the activities I engaged in! I did, and sometimes things actually got “better” for a period of time.

Each stage of the journey I been on added something to my life and became the launching pad for my next stage, the next learning. Nothing, I have learned has ever been wasted but then again none of the lessons seemed to stick either. Then before I knew it I would be back on the old familiar, well worn path working 70 or 80 hours a week and putting life on the back burner because the new habit didn’t stick. Because I forgot to write the affirmation or practice the ever and the changes just slipped away. Most of the time I was just hoping that someone would notice how good I was being and give me the proverbial pat on the back and tell me what a good job I was doing!

Without ever having been taught it I just knew that the burdens of the world were mine to carry and to fix. Without ever having consciously chosen it I became a kind of modern day Cinderella who never got to go to the ball. If I had gone to the ball I would have felt that I really didn’t belong and I would soon be found out to be the Cinderella I was! Make no mistake I looked pretty darn good in my ball gown and glass slippers! I am very well educated, I am accomplished and many people would describe me as always having been successful! So what is the big deal here anyway?

While I was working harder and longer and I didn’t have time to notice that things in my life seem to fall into an identifiable pattern. I never questioned that my role was to be the beast of burden and I continued to go round and round in circles wondering why I thought I wasn’t getting anywhere. Were all the good things in life just for other people? I had paid my dues and now I wanted to be part of the club. Oh yes and when I was in the club I spent my time thinking that I didn’t belong even when I was the president!

So I came, in time, to understand that wanting to be part of the club wasn’t ever going to get me where I wanted to be. Where I wanted to be was not a place on a map or anything out there! It was a place inside me where my very life would be mine and I knew that demanded I do something different. But what could I do differently?

I did do something, well not so different initially. I went to a conference, attended a workshop, heard about the WEL-Systems Institute, got curious and, as they say the rest is history. And other folks say that when the student is ready the teacher arrives….or so the saying goes, and my teacher arrived. Not directly, that is not usually the way it works, at least that is my experience! So the teacher arrived, in a very round about way but arrived all the same. The teacher arriving was not enough; I knew that from past experience. It required something else. The something else was that I chose to invest in me, invest time and money and learn how to find my way inside. Inside where the answers lived all the time and the result is I have learned to shape my life. I am a Catalyst. I have learned that I Am My Own Magic and I can shape my life minute by minute, day by day, rather than be shaped by it. Home feels pretty great!


M. Patricia Donihee PhD is a certified WEL-Systems® Catalyst and CODE Model Coach™ who has shed her Cinderella persona to attend the ball and dance to her own magic! Patricia lives at Peaceful Haven, on the banks of the Kennebecasis River, in Saint John, NB. She owns her own firm, Donihee Consulting, where she gets to draw on the wisdom of her years in creating an invitation to others to discover their own magic. You can reach pat directly at or on the web at

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