A Special Family Constellation by Amanda Holland

Photo Ingrid Pullen Photography
Kate and Rob Foster are sitting in the kitchen of their new home in Tasmania, where they have just relocated from the Sunshine Coast, with their daughters Pearl, 12, and Freya, 7. On the bench behind them, a beautiful rose that Rob picked for Kate on his morning walk, leans sweetly in a glass vase. They talk lovingly about the work they do, their joy in being of service to their community, and of their beautiful, blended family (Rob is Pearl’s step-dad).
“It’s easy to step back from a distance and look at our life and see our lifestyle and look at all this, like it looks very romantic and rainbows and butterflies, and it is, but it’s also decades of inner work!”
Kate Foster is no stranger to bravely navigating the inner landscape as a seeker, writer, mother, partner, and facilitator. She relates the creating of a joyful family and fulfilling life to cultivating a garden. First, you have to step back and see exactly what you are working with.
Kate explains, “Before you can begin anything, you need to fully accept where you are. That’s a crucial step that is often missed… sit here and accept that right now this is the garden we have in our life. Maybe it’s full of weeds, maybe it’s been ploughed and there’s nothing here yet, but when I can look at this and I can see this and accept, then I have somewhere to move from.”
From there, you must look at what you would like the garden of your life to be, and begin planting seeds, or as Rob, a fellow seeker, student of Buddhism for 25 years, and entrepreneur explains it, “Live as much as possible with intention.” Only by consciously planting today will you create the future you truly desire tomorrow: “Whatever we are doing today, if we are honouring our values and bringing kindness and patience to these things, that seed that we are planting is going to be something that will reap beautiful happiness in the future.”
Kate and Rob have both studied many modalities in their journey for greater truth and self-connection. It was through Family Constellations therapy that Kate first found the unshakable sense of peace within that she knew was possible but had not yet found. Without giving anything away of her own experience, she suggested Rob go as well. For Rob, he found the profound gift of being able to lovingly embrace, rather than deny or sever from, personal history and lineage. “None of this work is about changing who we are. It’s about seeing clearly.”
Family Constellations is a unique therapeutic process that facilitates clarity on where you may be unconsciously carrying and perpetuating loyalties, limits or burdens from your family lineage, going back generations, to break the cycle, heal and find the freedom to truly be you.
“We have these loyalties that say, ‘I won’t have more than you. While I could, I wouldn’t belong, so I will suffer too. I won’t let my relationship work either, I will struggle with finances’,” says Kate. “There are all these ways we try and belong.”
Rob and Kate are now both Family Constellations therapists, who with gratitude and joy, see the freedom that their clients receive from this process.
Once able to see the stories within your family system, that did not originate with you, you can move beyond them and become willing to have more of the things that may not have been very prevalent in your family history – such as joy, abundance, loving relationships, and kindness with self.
That’s when the true planting and cultivating can begin!
For the Fosters, they get together with their daughters and discuss what they would like to create in the year ahead, asking, “What do we each want to contribute to the world? What do we want to learn and experience this year that would allow that?”
They value realness over perfection in their role as parents, including their children in some of the difficult conversations of life, and being honest in a safe and approachable way. Having both been raised in a generation where much was hidden from children, Kate and Rob know the gift and contribution that true vulnerability creates in the family environment. “It’s a safe place to make mistakes and get things wrong and come together to heal, restore and replant the garden,” acknowledges Kate. She also gives her best piece of advice when it comes to raising a family: “Leave them alone!” Giving each other space is crucial.
“Everyone is just trying to find out who they really are in this life. The kids have their own way of navigating that,” says Rob, while also commenting they have definite boundaries.
“Screen time… They don’t get a lot of access to screens,” comments Kate. “Boredom is welcomed in our house,” adds Rob as Kate laughs, “Yes, be bored! That’s when creativity comes.”
And these two definitely know about creativity! Kate has published her first book, Invitation to Trust, and is currently working on her second. She also runs women’s circles and retreats. Both Kate and Rob travel across the continent with their Family Constellations work and Rob is also writing his first book… all this, while moving to the southernmost state of Australia with two young daughters and a cat!
When asked about the kids and what it is to live with kids whose ‘normal’ life is being opened to the philosophies of Eckart Tolle and having everyday discussions about what they desire to contribute to the world, Kate and Rob beam with pride.
“I asked our seven-year-old the other day, ‘What do you think our family is about Freya?’ She said, ‘Oh mum, our family is about kindness and connecting with other people and helping others.’ And I’m like, ‘Yes! We are on track!’”
Rob adds, “They’re so good at playing and bringing joy. We can make life and these spiritual pursuits such a big difficult thing to do, but part of it is making it playful and joyful and joking, and just light-heartedness… We all set the weather in the place, and the kids bring a lot of joy and happiness. And if they have difficult days, we try to just guide them and say, ‘How can you help someone else in the class that is having a difficult day?’ If you are always looking to try and help and benefit others, then our problems don’t look so vast. I am hoping that through us living that way as best we can, they’ll pick that up.”
From what I can see, they are already reaping the benefits of what they sow. And while they are not (nor trying to be) the image of a perfect family, they are a living example of what being true to and embracing all of you (and others) can create. A beautiful, unpredictable, ever-growing garden that is given its best chance to be all that it can be, and makes the world a better, kinder and more joyful place as a result.

HBliss

Vanessa Finnigan is the founder, editor, publisher of Holistic Bliss Magazine and she also offers multi-media whispering sessions. She has been a freelance writer for 15 years for magazines and a psychologist for 21 years.

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