Blog Archives
Leveraging Community for Greater Impact

 

This past weekend, I spent 3 days among a group of clinician entrepreneurs brought together by Dr. Meghan Walker for an event called IMPACT LIVES.  I was honoured to have been invited to give the opening keynote talk and then I was honoured again by being awarded The Paragon Award for excellence as the Clinician of the Year. 

As good as it feels to have been chosen and recognized, the shine of the moment quickly faded in the face of the reality of this most recent lockdown in response to the pandemic.  The need for our services is higher than it has ever been and the sobering truth is that we are not currently doing enough to help. 

While we are continuing to grow our team to meet the demand for 1-on-1 care, this situation clearly illustrates that an exclusive individual model for delivering services is not only unsustainable but cannot serve our community at the level that’s needed right now.  As Dr. Meghan stated several times, when times are challenging, what matters most is not our resources but our resourcefulness.  And when I stand back and look at the genius that exists among the people within this community, it strikes me that we actually have an abundance of both.

This community is filled with incredible leaders, not all of whom recognize their power, but we do.  We also have been privileged to have witnessed transformation happening among our individual clients at a rate that we have never seen before.  This is the positive side effect of this unprecedented time:  it is pushing us all to grow exponentially.  Can you imagine what could happen if we connected you with others interested in designing their lives?  I know that the impact would be through the roof!

As per usual, I have a ton of ideas. But to ensure we are going to best serve your needs, we would really appreciate it if you could spare a minute to complete this brief survey to ensure that whatever we offer is in line with your needs.  You can access the survey here.   

And while you are waiting to get started in a new group offering with us, I urge you to take advantage of the offerings I helped develop with Mindful World that are full of incredible content you can use today: The 2020 Mindful World Parenting Summit, The MIlton’s Secret Conscious Conference featuring yours truly along with Dr. Shafali Tsabary, Eckhart Tolle, Dr. Laura Markam, Lisa Nichols, and Barnet Bain as well as Milton’s Secret, the first feature film based on the teachings of Ekhart Tolle.  All of these offerings provide insight and tools for addressing anxiety, stress, and bullying and will be free only until November 25, 2020.  

For those of you who would like to get started in a group experience asap, I invite you to join me on Instagram, every Tuesday morning from 7 am – 7:30 am EST @growingforwardsoulschool for the Flow to Grow expressive writing practice.  If you can’t make it that early, no worries:  you can register to receive the recordings of each session through the link in our bio.  

Lastly, as some of us begin to shop for the holidays, I urge you to support your local small businesses whenever you can.  One such business is Allwood Market, my go to place for ethically, hand-made, organic, vegan, non-toxic, fashion made with love by the infinitely creative Kevin Allwood like my sequined touque and “Be You Til Full” hoodie.  Get yours while they last.  

Thank you again for being part of the Design Your Life Community.  We look forward to seeing all that will unfold as we use this moment to come together like never before.

All of Our Best, 

Dr. Stacy & The Design Your Life Team.

 


Dropping the “Imposter” Dialogue & Embracing The Call to Lead

Not too long ago, I was honoured to be featured as a “black boss” leader in this community and was asked whether leaders are born or made.  The turn around required for my response did not allow me the time to look up the data, so I went with my gut response:  probably a little of both but if I have to chose, leaders are made.  And indeed, when I checked the data, it confirmed that my instinct was correct.

The attention recently on the US election has had us collectively consider what it takes to be a leader.  For me, a leader is not necessarily someone who is an outspoken extravert, comfortable or craving the spotlight.  It is someone who is willing to take a risk and put their ideas into the world for the benefit of the greater good.

We here at the Design Your Life Centre pride ourselves on being leaders in our field, determined to fulfill our mission of fundamentally changing the conversation about mental health to being about health.  We are also determined to change the way mental health care is delivered by creating an exceptional client experience.

As part of this mission, we decided to put it in writing, all of it – our mission, our core values, and our why. We also asked our clients for their stories of transformation in order to help new and potential clients get inspired and excited to collaborate with us to design their lives.  It is with great pride that I share with you  The Design Your Life Centre Culture Book.  We welcome you to take a look and to share it with anyone you believe would benefit from this fresh perspective we hope will inspire more people to care for their mental health.

I am also excited to let you know that I have been asked to give my first key note speech ever! Yes, I am the first speaker to kick off  Impact Lives, a  3 day, online conference/workshop for clinician entrepreneurs from November 19-21, 2020.  I have been asked to speak to a condition that I know too many striving professionals struggle with: The Imposter Syndrome.

I am excited to address this group of clinician entrepreneurs and help them transition from asking themselves “Who am I to lead?”  to embracing the call to lead and come into their purpose.  Now more than ever, we need clinicians to be in the world, sharing what they know to empower as many as possible to optimize their health.  If you are a clinician or a coach that is feeling called to really increase your impact, this is an event that you do not want to miss.

Finally, my hope is that you had a chance to check out The Mindful World Parenting Summit last week while it was free.  If you missed it, don’t worry.  There is another event coming that I am about to start shooting (literally in a few minutes after I finish writing this newsletter)  that will be bringing together some of the most relevant talks from the past two years of the summit combined with the teachings of Ekhart Tolle and Milton’s Secret, the movie, based on Ekhart’s teachings that shows us a way to address stress, anxiety and bullying from a compassionate lens.  While access to the  Mindful World Parenting summit is now only available for purchase,  you can still watch Milton’s Secret for free. Click here to get your ticket.

Some have asked me why I give my time to events like the Summit.  It is simple:  because it aligns with my mission  to change the conversation about mental health so we can all come together, to create something better for all of us.  And the bonus gift for me as I go into unchartered territory, is the opportunity to witness what happens as I align with my highest self to serve the greatest good.

Thank you for listening and for joining me on this journey.  It is the fuel that keeps me going.

 

With Deep Respect, Always

Dr. Stacy & The DYL Team

 

 

http://https://app.searchie.io/watch/Pn2lVp9wNO


What We Can All Learn From High Performers In Order To Thrive In The Face Of Challenge

I recently had the pleasure of giving a webinar for a corporate client who asked me to speak to their staff members in support of their mental health. My talk, titled, “Surthriving in the Face of Uncertainty,” perfectly describes the situation we’re all facing and what we need to learn to do to make it through this pandemic.

Check Out Surthriving

My experience helping people through the most difficult times in their lives, including high performers who want to perform at their best when it counts, has taught me a lot about what it takes to navigate and actually thrive in the face of challenge. Our high performers have a lot to teach us when it comes to the latter.

All great performers, whether it’s in athletics or the arts, are willing to accept the discomfort that comes with challenge. Training for anything always involves discomfort. Physical discomfort, whether it be sore muscles, or having to wake up at an ungodly hour to make it to the gm are experiences that the dedicated athlete comes to accept. The person who is focused on expanding their potential by embracing challenge does not resist discomfort; they accept that it is part of the process. This is what it takes to get through any challenge, regardless of whether we asked for it or it came into our lives, uninvited.

Check out our latest post on Joy – A Resiliency Practice for Navigating Uncertain Times

After witnessing some of life’s hardest journeys, I can tell you that the pivotal moment that turns everything around is when people stop resisting and avoiding the unpleasant aspects of life. For some people, getting to this point of acceptance is a long and painful process. But regardless of the time it takes to get there, the final destination is beneficial for everyone.

Once they achieve this mindset of acceptance, they quickly mobilize what they need to do to adapt. And they get better. The distress decreases, they start making better choices to fit their situation and step by step they start to climb out of the hole that they dug themselves into while spending weeks, months, and maybe even years in a state of resistance. Often, what emerges is someone who, in many ways, is better than they were before.

The current situation we’re all experiencing, is a paradigm shift. We are being forced to let go of the past. Recognizing what we yearn for helps bring clarity to what is really important. And this is the opportunity that is available to all of us. Because if we can listen to all of it, the pain and the joy of this moment, we will be able to create something even better. Indeed, it is very possible that we might not ever want to go back.

Take Care,
Dr. Stacy & The Design Your Life Team

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Joy – A Resiliency Practice for Navigating Uncertain Times

These unprecedented times have been hard for most of us. But while turmoil always accompanies trauma and change, another thing that happens at times like this is post-traumatic growth.

Yes, believe it or not, situations like this, do result in us becoming stronger in ways that serve us. However, this is not a passive process. The science on post-traumatic growth suggests that integrating practices that build resilience is a way of guaranteeing positive growth that allows us to feel better in the process.

Many have heard of gratitude as a practice that helps. Among its many benefits, paying attention to the things we are grateful for allows the nervous system to shift out of survival mode and into a state of restoration, which is what we want to ensure we are operating at our best.

Check out our last post on ACCEPTANCE: THE FIRST STEP TOWARD POSITIVE CHANGE

Another proven resiliency practice that gets less attention is joy. Gratitude and joy sometimes overlap, but are not quite the same and are worthy of reflecting on separately.

Joy refers to the everyday moments that you love and enjoy. One example is enjoying the weather on a beautiful day. I live in Toronto, where it’s often cold. Leaning into the feeling of the sun on my body, the colours all around me, and the sound of the birds on a beautiful day, allows me to be present with the good in the present moment. In addition to getting a good dose of positivity, taking the time to enjoy the good with all of my senses is a concrete reminder that, even in times of stress, good things continue to happen. Archiving the joy of a beautiful day in the inner-highlight reel of my life, also serves to assure me that there will be more joyful moments that I can look forward to discovering and experiencing in the future.

Once you’ve been practicing gratitude and joy, recognizing those moments as they occur gets easier. We get better at leaning into them and absorbing all that they have to give us. This is how we build inner resiliency that helps us feel grounded and confident in our ability to face anything, including these uncertain times.

So what are the moments of joy you had today? Consider sharing yours with those you know and with us too in the comments below. It’s a conversation that we all need to be having now.

Take Care,
Dr. Stacy & The Design Your Life Team

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ACCEPTANCE: THE FIRST STEP TOWARD POSITIVE CHANGE

ACCEPTANCE: THE FIRST STEP TOWARD POSITIVE CHANGE

As humans, we tend to resist change in our lives. We’ll do anything to avoid change despite its certainty and our incredible ability to adapt. Learning to move through change vs resist it is what makes all the difference in our ability to successfully navigate whatever life might bring. As scary and hard as it might be, the faster we can get to a place of acceptance, the sooner we transition to a place of positive change.

By accepting the reality of any situation, it enables us to discover appropriate solutions in our lives. Rather than employing solutions based on what was or for a future that has yet to happen, staying grounded in what we know allows us to align our actions more appropriately with our current reality. As a result, we solve problems more effectively, make use of solutions that can actually work right now, and give ourselves the opportunity to appreciate our own competence and resilience. The more we do this, and pay attention to how we are doing, the more evidence we acquire to build our confidence in our ability to cope with whatever might happen next.

But how do we reach this stage of acceptance? What if we’re dealing with a particularly challenging situation? Breathe, grieve, and identify what you need. This is a saying that I want you to remember when you’re dealing with a difficult situation or a change in life.

Check out our latest post on BREATHING: UNLEARN WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED

The first step is to breathe. Finding our breath helps in combatting our fear, allowing us to access our wisdom and higher selves. Rather than avoiding a challenging situation, breathing empowers us to travel through these scenarios by calming our nerves so we can see it more clearly for what it is.

Next, we must grieve. It’s important to recognize that with every change we also face loss. Loss of what was, loss of what was familiar. Moving into the unknown is scary. Letting go of what was, allowing ourselves to recognize it as a loss, and feeling our feelings about that is the process we need to go through in order to let go and move forward.

Once we’ve calmed our nervous system and have taken the time to grieve, we’re better equipped to identify our needs. What can I handle now? What resources do I have? How can make best use of the supports and resources available to me? What other supports do I need? These questions combined with the commitment to act to make a difference for ourselves is what allows us to not only survive adversity but thrive in the face of it.

If this was helpful, please share it. We are all in this together.

Take Care,
Dr. Stacy & The Design Your Life Team


The Power Of Mindful Breathing

BREATHING: UNLEARN WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED

It may sound unusual, but one of the most important skills to successfully design your life is breathing. This is something we do all the time, but it’s also something we take for granted. The key to mastering this skill is mindfulness, as opposed to forcefulness, in your breathing.

You should never underestimate the power of mindful breathing. By taking deep breaths and focusing on each one, we’re able to completely alter our perspective on any situation. It’s a way of communicating to our nervous system that there isn’t a reason to be panicking.

Some people experience panic and anxiety attacks in certain scenarios, but focused breathing is a valuable technic to process a triggering incident. You can start practicing by checking in on your breath, observing how it changes from one instance to the next.

Check out our post on Yes, You Can Step Out of The Matrix and, Into a New Reality

A deep breath is one that travels below your lungs and down to your diaphragm, allowing your stomach to expand. Once you exhale, your stomach will collapse and the carbon dioxide will slowly leave your body. Focus on it, but don’t force it.

This regulates our emotions and manages our stresses. As soon as you change your perception of breathing, you can change your perception of the world.

Take Care,
We look forward to seeing you soon and continuing to help you Design Your Life.

Dr. Stacy & The Design Your Life Team

 


A Gift to Support Your Self-Care on Mother’s Day & Every Day

Mother’s day is hard for so many, especially now.
For those who want nothing more than to hug their mother, or embrace their children rather than give a distant wave.
For those who have lost a child, or have been trying for the child they have yet to hold.
For those who grieve the mother they loved dearly and has passed on, or the mother they had wished for but never had.
Mother’s day can be hard

And so… for all of those who are mothers and for all who have had a mother , we offer this little gift: an affirmation we hope will help you connect with the infinite love that created you that you can tap into and give to yourself.

Many thanks to @zachkellum for offering this opportunity to combine my voice and this message with his beautiful music. Follow him on Instagram for a dose of his vibes that will make your spirit soar.

Our hope is that you listen to this affirmation daily, maybe even several times a day, to absorb the truth of the message so that you can and will show up even better for yourself. And if you love it, please do share it. We all need this now.

Enjoy.

Sending you all a big virtual hug.

Dr. Stacy & The Design Your Life Team


Breaking Old Patterns and Learning New Skills

If you’ve ever found yourself growing tired of old life patterns, you’re not alone. Life is filled with constant patterns for everyone, but these patterns don’t have to be unpleasant or stressful.

We’re all living patterns. At The Design Your Life Centre in Toronto, our therapists and I regularly discuss patterns with our clients. While some patterns are positive for our lives, a stressful life indicates that we need to replace old patterns with new ones.

Research has shown that people need to develop skills to break old patterns, and replace them with new patterns that serve them better. Helping people identify and understand limiting life patterns they are stuck in and, more importantly, the skills they can practice to create new patterns that will allow them to truly design their lives is what we do best.

Helping people in this way is our mission. Because designing you life is not just about showing up for ourselves. It helps us show up better for others too, because when we live in a way that is aligned with who we are, we are happier, we feel purposeful and that automatically gives to those in our midst. This is how doing the inner work helps to make the world a better place.

Check Out Finding Balance in response to Covid-19

Take Care,
We look forward to seeing you soon and continuing to help you Design Your Life.

Dr. Stacy & The Design Your Life Team


When You Are Invited to Have an Impact on a Bad Hair Day, You Check The Ego & Make It WERK!!

I was having a lazy Sunday; you know, one of those days where you decide not to put the usual effort into looking your best.  For me, that meant putting my fuzzy mess of curls in a ponytail and donning my fabulous sequinned Kevin Allwood toque  to venture out to face the day.

On that very Sunday morning, the CBC called to ask me to speak on camera about Blue Monday, the so called saddest day of the year, as well as Seasonal Affective Disorder. Of course I said yes.

I had 1.5 hours to get camera ready.  On a day when I did my usual, I wouldn’t have given this a second thought.  But on that particular Sunday, my hair would have still been wet had I tried to rehabilitate it the only way I know how.  So the sequinned hat was going to make its debut, thankfully only on  local television.

When the videographer arrived, I found myself explaining the toque and asking if it would be better for me to take it off.  She encouraged me to wear it, so I did.  When the camera started rolling, I proceeded to speak about how there was no evidence that ‘Blue Monday’ was the saddest day of the year, but at least it got us talking about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is a real challenge for many.

I felt good about having the opportunity to debunk a myth and educate the public about interventions that can help.   I got a chance to share that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (learning to address the thoughts and behaviours that contribute to mood problems) helps more than light therapy (the most common form of treatment) and can actually cure SAD.  That’s right.  The majority of people who do CBT for SAD, don’t meet the criteria for SAD the following year.  Pretty impressive.

The piece aired that evening on the 11 pm news.  The following day, the story was picked up and suddenly that picture of me in all of my sparkly regalia was popping up on MSN, Yahoo, and internet news feeds all over da place.

I received requests from 6 other news platforms that Blue Monday, and I was able to fulfill three of them giving me even more of a chance to have an impact.

It was indeed a great day.  And yet, every time I saw an image of myself in my sequinned toque a part of me cringed.  “You look so unprofessional” was the voice that accompanied that feeling.  Yup, that image was awakening my ego, that wounded part of me that rises under the perceived threat of being diminished, of being rejected for showing my true self.

Maybe you know this voice too.   It’s the one that keeps you from looking at pictures of yourself having  fun because all you can see is the extra weight.  Or maybe its the voice that prevents you from being in the picture at all because somehow you are not prepared to look your best.  Or maybe it prevents you from even going to that event, and showing up in any way shape or form, because you fear you do not belong.

This is the ego.  As a woman of colour, I have had too many experience of my voice not mattering.  The voice that convinces me that I have to work extra hard to look “professional” in order to be taken seriously is the ego, which rises to protect me from being thrown out of the tribe.   It’s the same voice that screamed at me when I stopped straightening my hair, a decision I made to free myself from the many ways in which this practice was toxic for my mind, body and spirit, and from the racism I had absorbed and internalized that kept me doing it for years.

Twenty years ago, when I chose not to listen to what the ego was telling me about my hair, I gave myself the opportunity to discover that it’s message was not real, at least not in my present reality, and with that decision, I reclaimed my authenticity; I reclaimed my power.

Now, as I cringe at the photo, I consciously take a deep breath, and recognize that I showed up as my true self that day and had an impact.  I let myself absorb this fact and just like that, the ego weakens leaving more room for my true self to expand and unfold.

So the next time you find yourself becoming small as the world beckons you to share your voice,  stop, breathe, and do it anyway.  It’s the only way to truly discover just how powerful you truly are.


GUEST BLOG by Shelly: Hey Mama! It’s Time to Focus on Bouncing Back Into Life After Baby, Not Just Your Body

Bearing life comes at a cost – sadly that cost is usually burdened by the Mother.  For years, the pain that women go through to bring a child into the world has been a silent process.  We have only recently begun to open up and talk about the bowtie pain effect that comes with having a child:

  • The Want and Hardships of actually getting pregnant 
  • The Birth
  • and lastly The Child and You phase

Each of these bullet points warrants its own Lord of the Rings trilogy both in running time and intensity.   However I want to focus on YOU for a minute.  

We women often fade to the background when a child arrives just as we are about to enter one of the hardest times of our lives.  We are not only adjusting to a new life, new routines…we are also adjusting to a new version of ourselves, one that seems to be in a perpetual state of transformation.  With so much change, it is no wonder that we are yearning to bounce back to life as we knew it before baby.  

For years, the notion that you had to “bounce back to your old body” post pregnancy was a goal most mothers strived for postpartum.  As a clinical therapist working in mental health for over a decade, you can imagine my thoughts about how toxic this thinking is to our health.  However, it was only after having a baby myself in 2018, that I truly understood what women face post baby and just how difficult it is to resist societal pressures to erase any signs of the incredible process me as a mother had just gone through.  

As I navigated bleary eyed through the early days of my maternity leave, I was shocked to see how many people would comment about my body.  Whether I was seen as having bounced back to normal or now possessed a “mom body” that I had to accept, the message I received as a result of my body being a focus of scrutiny was that no matter what I looked like, I was being judged.  

There were times I wondered, “Am I doing this right? Why haven’t I truly bounced back? Is something wrong with me? Do people think I am unhealthy?” And then I stopped in my tracks. I remember sitting down with my baby in the park and thinking that I was falling victim to the Bounce Back Epidemic (The BBE) and if I continued, it was going to make me sick.  That’s when I found my resolve, my determination to reclaim the experience of motherhood for myself so I did not miss out on another second of it by worrying about somehow not meeting society’s standards of being good enough.

The skills that helped me get through The BBE were the very skills I teach my clients to help them be PRESENT in their experience, no matter what it is, without judgement.  These were the lessons embedded in the meditation practice I have followed and taught for years.  Motherhood was the ultimate testing ground that challenged me to truly embody my practice in my daily life.  

As I adopted this mindset, I began to notice the critical thoughts that swam through my own mind as just that…thoughts.    I wanted more than anything to be PRESENT with my baby and not to be bombarded with critical and toxic thoughts. But sometimes they happened.  Being present in my experience allowed me to recognize that I could choose to give these negative thoughts energy or I could just let them pass and wait for other more helpful ones to show up. 

Weening off of social media was also critical.  Expectation can be a troll and reducing exposure to media that plays on our inherent tendency to compare ourselves, was one of the most important things I did to attain inner peace.  My goal was to accept all the moments and focus on what I could control.  I set attainable goals that made sense based on where I was at (not where someone else thought I should be) and worked towards those realistic outcomes.  I decided that I would no longer allow someone else’s ideals deter me or push me off my own centre of balance.

So with that mindset, a lot of practice, and support from some like-minded moms, I bounced back to life.  I worked to connect with my baby, my husband and loved ones.  I bounced back to self care.  The result…more bounce in my step. 

Having navigated this journey, I am now even more confident in my ability to help other mothers fight the BBE and apply the teachings of mindful practice in their daily lives.  We work on building a new life, and accepting our new identity while not losing sight of who we were before baby.  It all hinges on having the intention of being present in our lives, and appreciating the journey first and foremost for ourselves.  

Interested in learning more about Shelly and how she helps women Design Their Lives? Click here to learn more and to book your free consult today.