Category: Design Your Life
Yes, You Can Step Out of The Matrix and, Into a New Reality

I was about 13 years old when I was confronted with the first pivotal moment that set the stage for the rest of my life.  It was my first day of riding camp.  To say I loved horses is an understatement – I was obsessed with them.  I even came up with a scheme to turn our backyard shed into a barn for a horse of my own, which seemed like the least my parents could give me in exchange for my good grades.

As per usual, I was the only black girl at camp.  No biggie.  I was used to that. But I was also one of the few new people among a group of kids who had been attending for weeks.

Everything was fine until lunch.  The lunch room overlooked the riding ring with booths that could fit about four people, two people seated on each side.  There was one booth in front of me with 1 seat available.

As I stood there, frozen, watching the three other girls at the table laugh and chat over their sandwiches, it was as if time stood still.  It felt as if there was an invisible barrier preventing me from crossing over onto the other side, the place where I truly wanted to be.

It was within that torturous place of conflict that suddenly a voice spoke to me. Believe it or not, in an epic, Hollywood-movie kind of way, this deep male voice (think Morgan Freeman) clearly stated the following:  “Don’t be afraid of people”. This was the command I heard and received to step out of the pattern of shyness and join the party.

It was my profound shyness as a child that has always caused me to label myself as an introvert.  Unlike true introverts who experience energy drain when they engage with others, I get energy from human interaction.  For me, the more the better.  I seek it.  I crave it.  As much as I enjoy time on my own, I much prefer doing just about anything with someone else.

I am clearly not an introvert.  I have been living a pattern of introversion.  It is a pattern I fell into at a young age, likely because of my awareness  of being “the other”, an awareness that was communicated in subtle and not so subtle ways once I started school at the age of 3.

My shyness was my response to what I perceived was a world that noticed me, but did not seem truly interested in understanding who I was.  It was the experience of being noticed and not really seen.  In effect, my shyness became a way of protecting my authentic self from push back from others who I believed would not be open to receiving and respecting it. It was a coping strategy born from an inner knowing, an inner wisdom that lay far below the surface, unknowable to anyone, not even myself.

That day at riding camp as I stood staring at those other three girls, I made the choice to follow that command I heard so clearly in my head and step out of the pattern.  In the movie version of this scene, you would see me walk through a transparent permeable barrier no one knew was there until I started to push into it causing ripples of concentric circles as a traversed onto the other side, into a new reality.  That step I took that day out of the pattern that seemed to form the core of my personality, changed the course of my life.

The opportunity to step out of the pattern is there for all of us.  It shows up in those moments of inner conflict, when you hold yourself back, keeping yourself from experiencing what your soul truly desires.

It is at those very moments, when you feel frozen that you need to listen. Just stay there and listen.  Stay in the fear that has you stuck in your tracks. Notice the pattern.  You have been here many times before.  Pause.  Listen. Whether it’s a whisper or a booming command, there is a voice there, coaxing you to break free of the matrix, to walk through the old world into a new one.  A world where you will have the chance to  discover your authentic self.

Learning how to access and nurture your authentic self in order to Design Your Life,  is what I am all about.  But in this world that is phobic of living from the inside out,  it takes practice of  the right mindset, and tools to do it.    The Mindful World Parenting Summit, the free online summit that goes live Jan 21-27 2019, is that rare opportunity to learn what it takes to create the pause we all need when triggered, and mine these moments  for all they have for us.

Here is a piece of video I took of myself after two back to back interviews I did one evening with two transformative leaders, Jennifer McLean & Les Brown.

 

In their own way, they each touched that little girl inside of me who continues to struggle with the fear of being unseen.  The process with Jennifer happened on camera during our interview; it continued with Les after I stopped recording the interview for the summit.

I offer you this piece of my experience so that you understand that this process of unfolding and evolving into our authenticity never ends.  And you don’t want it to.  It is the process that allows us to connect with the source of our power and our joy.

Join me and the over 40 experts that have contributed to this summit and learn how to free yourself from The Matrix.  You don’t have to be a parent to participate;  all that is needed is to have had one.

With Deep Respect & Gratitude

Dr. Stacy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Feel Bad Bandit vs. Dr. Stacy

My 8 year old son, who I have always considered my happy “Buddha baby”, stunned and surprised me with this story that he shared with me one night as we  were walking home from dinner.

In  “The Feel Bad Bandit vs. Dr. Stacy”,  Dr. Stacy uses her super powers, developed through the practice of meditation, to swiftly dodge the jabs directed at her by the Feel Bad Bandit.  Once her opponent started to get tired with his several missed attempts to defeat her, she counters with “You know..you really can be a great person”. The Feel Bad Bandit is stopped in his tracks and replies ” Oh! I haven’t heard anyone say something like that to me in so long”. Overcome by the good vibes, his entire body surrenders and he falls slowly to the floor.

How did this child come up with this? But there is more…That night as I lay beside him as he was falling asleep, he offered up some other gems…. Dr. Stacy’s Sidekicks:   Able Todoit, Grace Grateful and Joy Jolly.

I. Was. Floored.

Not only by the genius of his creativity, but because Dr. Stacy’s sidekicks perfectly represent the three resiliency practices I integrated into each day of The Growing Forward Journal I authored: competence, gratitude, and joy.

How he thought to include them in the story is unbelievable to me. I am going to chalk it up to a combination of our otherworldly psychic connection and his pure Buddha spirit which has touched mine from the moment I knew of his existence in the womb.

Connecting with the magic our children bring into our lives is the biggest gift a parent can receive. This is why I am so excited about the upcoming Mindful World Parenting Summit.

After having absorbed all of the wisdom shared through the 56 interviews I conducted over the past 3 months,  I am far more attuned to the connection with my children and the shifts are translating into such joyful energy that is pervading our home.

Have you registered yet? What are you waiting for? Click here to register today and get instant access to preview talks so you can check out the quality of the more than 30 hours of content contributed by leading experts in the areas of parenting, mental health, brain science, nutrition, education, and mindfulness.  You will also gain access to free gifts, including The Growing Forward Journal.

Curious about what other epic battles might occur between The Feel Bad Bandit and Dr. Stacy? Stay tuned.  I have officially offered my son the opportunity to be a guest blogger. :))

With Deep Respect,

Always

Dr. Stacy

 


Alicia Keys Beautiful Tribute to Consciously Parenting in a Blended Family

I already loved Alicia Keys.  But then I came across her incredible song and video inspired by her own experience of parenting in a blended family and my love and respect for her went through the roof.  Alicia Keys, her husband, and her husband’s former wife are incredible role models of co-parenting in a blended family.

As you see all of the love and joy shared among all of the parents in this family along with the kids, I can imagine that it all seems too good to be true.  It’s not.  But it does require a commitment to do the inner work and to recognize that the child deserves to have a relationship with each of their parents.

This is what Dorcy Pruter, Conscious Co-Parenting Expert and Coach talks about during her interview for  The Mindful World Parenting Summit.  If you are in a situation where you are contemplating divorce or are already co-parenting, you absolutely need to watch this interview to learn about the powerful and revolutionary program Dorcy has devised that is proven so effective in getting people to come together and work cooperatively for the sake of the children, that it is now court mandated in some US jurisdictions.

In the meantime, check out Ms. Alicia Keys and her beautiful offering, Blended Family (What You Do For Love) ft. A$AP Rocky

May the good vibes be with you

(It’s what you do, what you do, what you do, what you do for love… this video chokes me up every time.  So good)

Dr. Stacy

 

 


The MINDFUL WORLD PARENTING SUMMIT: An Invitation to Be Part of The Change that Can Change the World

How did you come to host this?  This is one of the most common questions I get asked by my interviewees after we stop recording their contribution for the Mindful World Parenting Summit, a free, 7-day online event that has brought together leading experts on parenting, mental health, brain science, nutrition, education, and mindfulness in service of creating a more mindful world.  The subtext I hear is, “why you?”.  It’s a fair question.    I do not have much of a following. I am not a best-selling author.  I have not been on a podcast nor have I done a TED Talk.   I am an unknown; a virtual nobody in our virtual world.

My answer to the question is quite simple:  I just committed to doing something to make a difference.  With no following,  I just decided to do it –  to try to expand my reach beyond the four walls of my office.   I sincerely did not feel I had a choice to do otherwise.

The process started 2 years ago, when I was shaken to my core with the turmoil I witnessed happening in the world.  As upsetting as it all was, once I got quiet through my own practice of meditation and expressive writing, there were two things that soon became crystal clear:  1) that within the darkness and the chaos, there would be a natural attraction of the masses to anything and anyone that inspired the light and 2) I needed to do more to democratize mental health and make evidence-based mental wellness tools more accessible.

The latter was something I felt deeply called to do.  This was not about me.  It was about doing what I could to have a positive impact because there were clearly too many who needed to be supported to do the inner work necessary for the world to change.

And so I just started.  I had no idea how I was going to do it, but I was committed to doing what I could and waited for inspiration.   A year later, the how I was looking for began to take shape in the form of a guided journal.  A year after that, after having self published the Growing Forward Journal, and bearing witness to the impact and massive shifts people made almost instantly as they accessed, and shared the truth that came through on the page as they got quiet, and allowed the pen to express what they needed to hear, I knew that I was on the right track.

Along the way, I happened to share The Growing Forward Journal with Stephen Huszar, a friend and one of the founders of Mindful World.  Mindful World produced Milton’s Secret, a gem of a movie starring Donald Sutherland, based on the Ekhart Tolle book of the same name.  I had gifted my time as a consultant to help with the development of the learning materials based on Ekhart’s response to the film. Interestingly, my involvement happened soon after my awakening two years ago.

Stephen loved the journal and encouraged me with much needed advice about how to launch it to a wider audience.  As part of the launch and the community I wanted to build around it, I had always envisioned inviting other experts and seekers, known and unknown, to offer their wisdom about growing forward through life’s challenges.

This vision is what I had in mind during The New Moon Ceremony I hosted this past summer along with Roseline Mouana.  It was a truly magical night on the roof at 321 Carlaw where my office is located.  After having let go of all that did not serve us, getting grounded through yoga, and coming together in celebration of all that we were inviting into our lives, I found myself setting this intention:

 

 

About a month later, the opportunity of a lifetime came my way, courtesy of Stephen:  I was invited to host The Mindful World Parenting Summit.  I was indeed going to be sharing my Big Voice with other Big Voices for Big Impact in a way I had never thought possible.

The Summit,  has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional life.  This psychologist, who can barely figure out how to post on Facebook, was suddenly given access to professionals and thought leaders I have long admired, who themselves are also dedicated to having a positive impact on the world.  The opportunity to engage with them and share their teachings has touched me so much.  It has impacted the way I parent and has affirmed a truth that I know without question:  We humans are at a turning point in our evolution.

It is an exciting time.  Our best science undeniably confirms the power of mindful practices for building the parts of the brain that allow us to respond vs. react and to feel deeply connected with ourselves and others.  We can now literally see how the mind, i.e. our thoughts, impacts the physical structure of our brains.  And we have irrefutable evidence that as creatures of attachment, it is through the ability to connect that we are able to realize our highest potential.

Yes, there is indeed a science to happiness and it is high time that everyone learns about it and understands how to practically apply this knowledge so we can all start living from the inside out, build true resilience and thrive.  This is how we can change a generation. This is how we can change the world.

So if you are on my mailing list, or follow me on social media, you can expect that I will be talking a lot about this event for the next several weeks.  This event is far too important for me to be shy about promoting it.

My hope is that you will help me with this mission.  Click the link and register.  And once you are done registering, share it with everyone you know.

The summit runs from January 21-27, 2019.  But as soon as you sign up, you will get access to a bunch of free gifts, including two interviews included in the summit, one of them being with Dr. Shefali Tsabary one of my favourite conscious parenting experts of all time.  You will also get access to The Growing Forward Journal by your truly, as well as other books and programs from the event producers and some of our more prolific experts in the summit.

As for my journey…the lesson I hope you take from it is to commit and act.  You know that idea that has been rattling around in your brain for months, maybe even years?  It is there for a reason.  That reason is bigger than you.  You owe it to yourself to discover that gift you have to offer to the world that only you can give in the way that you can.  And know that if you commit to making it happen, even if you don’t know how to do it, the universe will help you.  It has your back.  My story is proof of it.

With Deep Respect & Gratitude for joining me in helping to create a more mindful world.

Let’s do this, together!

Dr. Stacy


Discover & Leverage your Authentic Voice – MAMAS&CO

There are several reasons for making expressive writing (aka journaling) an essential part of your lifestyle. But in a nutshell, the main reason is this: you have the answer. Yes, just like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, you have always had the power to go home. Now, I fully appreciate Glinda the Good Witch’s methods in allowing Dorothy the opportunity to discover this for herself. The experience of facing your fears in service of love and watching the monster disintegrate before your eyes is a far more powerful way of driving home the message than telling her straight out that she always had it in her to overcome her worst fears. But, this is a blog post and we only have so much time and space, so I am taking it upon myself to cut to the chase.

YOU HAVE THE ANSWER. After 20 plus years of practice and training as a psychologist, I have earned the authority to tell you this. I have spoken to 1000’s of people in my professional role, which has afforded me the great privilege and opportunity to listen to the authentic expression of thousands of truths in service of helping those in need find their way to a better place. And I am telling you that all of them had the answer to what they needed to do. They might not have understood the how, but they all knew the what.

The fact is we all have the capacity to heal ourselves. All that is needed are the right conditions. Among the many benefits of this practice, expressive writing is the practice of the conditions that our science has proven is the source of all healing, both emotional AND physical.

That’s right. When you set aside time and space to express yourself honestly, without fear of judgment, you are essentially giving yourself the opportunity to experience the conditions that every healer is trained to create to facilitate inner healing: unconditional acceptance and the ability to listen.

Every time you sit down to allow the truth to come out, you are practicing making space for yourself to just… be. At its core, it is a practice of telling yourself over and over again that you are loved and accepted… No. Matter. What. And over time, that inner judge, who has held you captive under the weight of shame and guilt, that compares you to others (and never in a good way), makes you fearful of making mistakes, or even worse, takes away from your achievements by convincing you that nothing you do will ever be good enough, this once powerful force becomes progressively less relevant until, like the bad witch, she simply starts to melt away.

And with her gone, well now, not only are you really starting to heal, but something else quite beautiful is allowed room to emerge; your creativity. Without boundaries or restrictions, we give ourselves the freedom to play. We get back to just creating for the sake of it, allowing a process to simply unfold. And sometimes, what emerges is pure magic.

So what does this have to do with building your business? Well, sweetheart, you are your brand. Your truth is the source of attraction. There are a gazillion people who do what you do, but there is only one you. And if you can access your truth and share it genuinely, there are people out there who will be drawn to you. Because you have a piece of the puzzle that no one else on the planet has. Your entire mission on this planet is to fully show up not just for yourself, but so that all of us have the opportunity to benefit from what you are here to contribute.

There is no better way to experience the truth of what I am saying than to do expressive writing in a group. Yes, with other people. I have regularly used expressive writing as a tool to facilitate my own growth and creativity for several years. But it was two years ago that the idea occurred to me to bring people together to share in the power of their individual wisdom as a collective. And from what I have witnessed so far, it turns the volume up on the “ah ha’s” to 11!
On October 20th, we are going to do this thing together. At MamaCon 2018, we will get grounded, write, and share our truths. I have no doubt that each of you will leave feeling inspired and empowered as you experience the power of your authentic voice.

And if you are eager to dive into expressive writing before then, I invite you to check out The Growing Forward Journal, a guided journal I created to help people learn to access the power of their authentic voice and grow consciously through whatever life might bring. It is available here as a free download and includes instructions on everything you need to know to start your own expressive writing practice, as well as some additional evidence-based practices to help guide yourself through the process of Growing Forward. Download it, use it, share it. Everyone who downloads the journal will be the first to know when the full online program to accompany the journal launches next year. And for all of you who come to MamaCon, your participation in my expressive writing workshop will earn you automatic entry into The Growing Forward Community where we are leveraging that collective wisdom together online, with tips and a ton of motivation to keep going and growing with your expressive writing practice.

Mamas, we are all connected, and we are in this together. I so look forward to joining with you to help you access your courage to Grow Forward in your lives and your business. See you on October 20th!

With Love and Deep Respect,
Dr. Stacy

 


An Invitation to Recharge & Refresh with the Muse Brain-Sensing Headband

My vision for The Design Your Life Centre has always been for it to become a hub for all things related to mental wellness, a place where people could stop in and find resources to help them on their journey  or even just use it as a place of refuge to take a break and recharge before going back to face the challenges of the day.  So rather than allowing my extra treatment room to sit empty when not in use,  I thought that it was the perfect opportunity to turn it into The Muse Room, a place where people can engage with a cool piece of technology that has helped so many around the world build a meditation practice and reap the benefits of improved focus and calm.

The Muse is a game changer.  It is an EEG device that reads your brainwaves and gives you audible feedback so you can redirect to the intended focus of your breath whenever your attention drifts.  And afterwards you can see exactly where those drifts happened.  In addition to allowing to see what is actually happening in your brain when you meditate, it will also help you understand that those times that you do drift and resume focus is akin to doing a push up for your brain. It is those reversals that improve your ability to focus, and actually has a positive physical impact on building the parts of your brain designed just for this.

As part of the recognition of the 1 year anniversary of The Design Your Life Centre, I will be offering up the muse room experience free to anyone who wants to use it.  Come once, come daily.  Its all good.

Click here to book your free 15-minute experience in The Muse Room today.

When you arrive, Nora, my assistant extraordinaire, will be there to meet you and walk you through the process.

We look forward to seeing you soon and helping you start the habit that is actually good for your brain.

Warm Regards Always

Dr. Stacy

 

 


Dr. Stacy, Live! and Open to Meeting Your Community Wherever You Are At.

When I say that I am on a mission, I am not playing. And the universe knows it.

I decided to make it my mission to do whatever I can to motivate people to learn how to access their truth and come into their authentic selves, and the universe has responded with sending more opportunities my way to share what I have to offer.   Below is a little snippet of where my mission has taken me in the past few months.

In July, I was invited to speak at the Goodlife AGM for their Personal Trainers.

 

I loved this event! There is nothing like being in a room full of beautiful people who are open to being challenged.

With Will Greenblatt, Co-founder & Managing Director of Outloud Speakers School, & Nsuani Baffoe, GoodLife Manager of Personal Training.

 

 

Receiving invaluable notes from Will about moderating my energy, being sure to cast my gaze around the room, and working on articulation of a few words. Got it!

 

 

I always love the opportunity to connect with members of the audience one-on-one afterwards

 

I took a gamble and just pulled someone from the audience to share what they were able to access through the brief expressive writing exercise we did together.  And as I suspected, the message that came through was one that everyone in the room needed to hear

 

That same month, I also had the opportunity to speak to a group of young francophone immigrant women at Charity Leo’s Wellness & Beauty Day.

With Leonie Tchatat, Founder of Charity Leo

 

 

 

 

 

It was so great to connect with these young, courageous women, who know what its like to take that leap of faith and leave all they know for new opportunities.  As I thought about many of their experiences, particularly the women of colour who were often subjected to blatant racism, I decided to bring us all together to write a love letter to the skin we are in.

 

The engagement was tremendous and there were some beautiful moments of healing and connection shared among strangers who left feeling more connected to themselves and their new community.

Just recently, I travelled all the way to the wilds of Mississauga (lol) in morning traffic (which is no joke) to meet with employees at Intact Insurance for another expressive writing workshop.  I was not sure whether this kind of event would fly at the workplace.  But it did.

Together, we succeeded at creating an atmosphere of radical acceptance and participants learned how to break through the internal judge and were surprised to see how easily the pen moved across the page.  Some even surprised me further by sharing some of the words that came through.  The experience proved to me that it is indeed important to find space to bring our true selves into wherever we are, even at work, and that people are open to this.

 

 

 

And…This October 20, I am really excited to give back to one of the most supportive community of mom-bosses ever! MamaCon 2018, the annual conference put on by Mamas & Co., a community for mom-preneurs in Toronto, is happening and I am one of the presenters along with Erica Ehm (yes, THE Erica Ehm from Much Music)  and Shane Lee Simmons of the New School of Finance.  This year’s theme is absolutely up my alley: Courage in Business.  I will be leading the group through an expressive writing exercise where we will access our most courageous selves to help us get out of our own way, break through limiting beliefs, face our fears and move forward in spite of them to make room for endless possibility.  You can check out my guest blog on the Mamas & Co website and purchase tickets here.  But don’t delay, they are already 80% sold and will likely sell out soon.

Interested in experiencing the Growing Forward Through Writing Workshop at your organization?  Send me an email. I am happy to meet you wherever you and your people are at.

With Deep Respect

Your Mission Driven Psychologist

Dr. Stacy

 


Conscious Parenting: An Invitation to Drop the Guilt and Receive The Love your Child is Ready to Give.

Almost every day for a year and a half;  that’s how long my daughter has been waiting and talking about going to drama club at her school. This was going to be her year.  She was finally old enough to attend.  So when she brought home the forms, I was on it.  I filled them out right away, sent in my money and placed them in the envelope along with all of the other forms needed for the start of the school year.  Or so I thought.

The call came a few days later from the school administrator to let me know that she did not receive any of the club forms.  WHAT???!  How was that possible?  The school administrator stated that she is always very careful as she knows how important registration in the school clubs are to the kids and their families.  She insisted that they were never received.

Is it possible that I somehow forgot to put the forms in the envelope?  My heart sank and the panic started to rise as I pictured my daughter’s disappointment, sadness and anger in response to this situation.  I choked back tears as I begged and pleaded to find a way for my daughter to be in drama, but there was nothing that could be done.  The club was full and there were 6 other children ahead of her on the waiting list.

I hung up the phone and tried to go back to work, distracted by thoughts of how I was going to break this piece of bad news.  The thought occurred to me to not tell her the entire story, to just tell her that the class was full and play the role of the heroine as I consoled her in her grief in order to shield myself from the possibility of anger directed towards me for any role I might have played in this situation.

But I couldn’t do that.  I knew that presenting her with a half truth would have created a barrier between us.  Because as much as part of my distress came from my desire to shield my daughter from pain, it was also in response to having to face the very real possibility of my own failings and the feelings of shame that typically accompanies the evidence of my imperfection. This was the real issue that I had to face.  She was not the one who needed protection.  A choice to not honestly share the truth would have been all about protecting myself.

And so I decided to do something different.  I decided first to make peace with myself.  I decided to show myself compassion.  I let myself cry as I recognized that mistakes can happen in spite of our best intentions.  I forgave myself for whatever I might have done to contribute to this situation and I decided that I would hold space for whatever feelings my daughter needed to express.  I would apologize.  Because even though I tried my best and did not know how the forms did not get to the right place, it was ultimately my responsibility.  And I committed to looking for another drama class in the community that she could join if she was amenable to this.

The decision to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but my whole truth was a decision to be fully present with my daughter; to not abandon her.  It was a decision to communicate to her that sometimes things don’t work out, but that we can deal with these disappointments… together. It was a decision to show her that she and her brother could always come to me with their mistakes because I was willing to be honest with them about mine.

When we got home, I sat both my daughter and my 8 year old son down to tell them what happened.  I wanted to include my son as he needed to see me walk the walk just as much as my daughter did.

I told them about the call, about the things I thought I did to secure her spot, about how my search for the forms at the house came up empty but that at the end of the day the school did not have them and they are also sure that they never received them. I told her that this meant that she would not be able to go to drama club this term and that I was truly sorry.

I braced myself for her tears and anger.  What happened was something that I had not anticipated.  Rather than getting upset, this child simply looked at me, hugged me hard and gave me a big kiss on the cheek.  The only tears that were shed were from my own eyes as I took in the unconditional love she so clearly expressed to me in that moment, a profound gift that healed and will forever touch my heart.

The gift my daughter gave me that day not only showed me her resilience but did wonders for further weakening my harsh inner critic. It is a gift that I opened myself up to receive because I was willing to face my own suffering, and meet it with compassion.

This is what conscious parenting is all about.  It’s not about being the perfect parent.  It’s about creating a space for self-compassion, and awareness so that we as parents can accept the invitation our children have for us to come into our authentic selves.

Interested in learning more about Conscious Parenting? Then you absolutely need to come out to see Dr. Shefali Tsbary in person in Toronto on September 30, 2018.

Image result for dr.shefali

For those of you who are unfamiliar with her, Dr. Shefali is a world-renowned psychologist, Oprah regular, TED Talk veteran and the NY Times best selling author of The Conscious Parent, Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children, and The Awakened Family.  She is one of the foremost authorities on Conscious Parenting, and one of the most engaging speakers I have ever seen.

You can learn more and register for her event here.  And not only will I be there for her talk and the post-talk Q&A, but …..I am going to have the chance to interview her in person (eeeee!!!!).

Dr. Shefali has agreed to be a key participant in a 7-day, on-line summit by Mindful World called Parenting In The Age Of Change, which will be hosted by none other than yours truly.  I can hardly wait.

The summit will be bringing together world leaders and practitioners in the areas of parenting, mindfulness, education, brain science, and holistic health, to teach us how we can truly  apply mindful practices and teachings in support of parents and children who are feeling more disconnected than ever in a hyper-connected world.

I cannot believe that I get to pick the brains and play a role in sharing the wisdom of some of the greatest teachers in this area.  So send me your questions! Let me be your voice. It is incredibly important that my questions reflect your concerns, so do not be shy.  Send them.

And do let me know when you register for Dr. Shefali’s event.  I would love to meet up and meet later that week to discuss our takeaways and how we can start implementing some of these ideas for our families and ourselves.

We are all in this together.

With Deep Respect

Dr. Stacy


Hair – An exploration of our roots, identity and the power of transformation

My earliest memories of my hair are filled with pain of varying degrees.  As a young child, the day started with the torture of having braids put in so tight that a simple head nod felt like my hair would literally be ripped from the base of my neck.  This would be followed by the daily experience of having the joy of running and playing with friends interrupted by a smack to the face by the hard plastic “bobbles” attached to the ends of my braids to keep them from unraveling during the day.  Not good.

During my teen years, I entered the phase of having my hair “relaxed”, a process that not only smelled bad, but required me to provide moment-to-moment updates regarding the extent of the burn, to ensure that the chemicals did not stay on the hair too long.  One moment too long and my hair could literally be burned off my head.  Burned.  Off. My Head! Crazy!

All of the pain and torture, was in service of taming my unruly hair… of making my “bad hair” look as “good” (aka straight and ‘white’) as possible.  I don’t think I have to spell out for you how the implicit messaging can really mess with a young girl’s self esteem.

To top it all off, the first trip to the salon gave me a reality check for which I was not prepared.  As I sat waiting for my turn, looking at all of the beautiful pop stars and models in the pages of the black hair magazine I was given, thinking about what style I was going to be rocking when I left, I was told that none of it was possible.  I kid you not..for every picture I pointed to, I was told that what was being shown was not her hair.  Every single hair style I wanted was a wig or a weave. What what?!!

It was my younger sister’s decision to challenge and explore her own hair journey that gave me the courage to stop the madness and appreciate the beauty of my natural hair.  And she started with a simple question:  “What was my hair like as a child?”  After years of various processes that transformed the true nature of her hair, this question and the willingness to explore it seriously, ultimately led her to get back to her “hair truth” so to speak, which was an abundance of soft natural curls and, more importantly, a new found freedom.

Interestingly, that question that explores what we were like at the beginning, before all the adults and society around us had too much say, is something that I regular ask my clients to help understand the essence of their authentic selves.  As we work together to discover and reconnect with the authentic self, and the person starts to honour their truth with aligned action,  the outcome is the same: a life of greater ease, confidence and flow.

The roots of our relationship with our hair run deep y’all.  It has taken me until mid-life to really start to love mine.  And as life would have it, just as I started to really understand how to care for it, the greys have started to appear. So now, thanks to my hair, I find myself challenged to confront an aspect of my life that a combination of good genes and a healthy lifestyle have managed to keep at bay…the inevitable signs of ageing.  Thank you Hair for forcing me to wrestle with this issue and make a conscious choice about how I want to grow forward, with or without the greys, and for giving me the nudge I needed to explore this hair journey. There is clearly more inner work to do.

Interested in exploring your own hair journey? Let me know in the comments below or by emailing me directly.  I would love to dive in to this topic with you through expressive writing, the best tool I know for accessing our truth, and in this case, exploring the role of Hair as a way of connecting with and understanding the authentic self.  So join me and some other lovely beings for an experience that is sure to elevate and inspire.  Your hair and your soul will thank you.

Your Fellow Seeker,

Dr. Stacy


I Looked Down the Barrel of a Gun and Found Compassion

The impetus to share this story arose as a response to the chaos that was unfolding in the summer of 2016.  I have come to think of that summer as the time of my own awakening when I heard the call to action and made the decision to do more to have a positive impact on the world.  My hope is that reading it will not only help you gain some insight into what motivates me, but will awaken you as well to being bolder, and more courageous to create the world you want to live in. 

And for those close to me who were previously unaware of this story and might be shocked and distressed to learn about what I experienced, I need you to recognize that, while I kept this story from you, I have never hidden the essential part of my truth:  I am and have always been OK.  I encourage you to keep this in mind as you read below. 

 

The place was a small fishing village in northern Brazil.  A piece of paradise where nothing much happens other than eating, surfing, dancing and swimming with dolphins who delight in teasing humans with their regular visits to the beach.

My husband and I were on the last leg of our month-long honeymoon in South America.  That morning, we decided to take the ferry from the mainland to a small strip of beach frequented by kite surfers.  There was a makeshift restaurant at one end close to where the kite surfers were doing their thing, and a broad stretch of beach further up the strip.

Kite surfers on the beach

We decided to admire the kite surfers at a distance and set up far enough away that we could enjoy the tranquility offered by the nearly uninhabited stretch of white sand and the hazard free ocean in front of us.

Our piece of paradise

We were alone with the exception of 3 men who were hanging out, throwing what looked like a flimsy fishing line in the water.  It seemed like a strange way to fish, but what did I know?  I didn’t give it much thought.  One of them looked like someone who had attended University with me.  Another fleeting thought.  Without a care in the world, we turned our backs on them to face the sun.

My next memory was of being woken from a daze by one of those men standing over me, yelling.  My eyes struggled to transition from the darkness behind my eyelids to the blinding white light of the sun that back lit his face.  In spite of my initial blindness, the intense tone of his voice triggers everything in my body to instinctively and immediately ready itself for action.  My pupils constrict and I can see through the blinding sun to the features of his contorted face as he yells in a quick staccato voice filled with aggression.   And somehow, with powers I did not know I had, I spring up from my prone position on the ground to standing on my feet.  I am ready to run.

My initial thought was that there was some kind of emergency.  As I came to my senses, I quickly realized that we were the ones in need of help.

The next few moments in my memory are like a frenetic scene out of a Guy Ritchie movie, sped up in some places and incredibly slow in others with dramatic close ups of the most dangerous aspects of the threat:

An angry face yelling angry words in a language I didn’t understand;

Another grabbing our knapsack and my husband running after him with pure rage on his face, a look I had never seen before… and never want to see again.

The man with the gun fires a shot into the ground and I see the sand fly upwards in response.  In my mind’s eye the shot explodes just in front of my feet.

My husband falters but keeps going after him and I am screaming for him to “STOP! STOP! STOP!”

In that moment, I did not fear my own death.  Nor did my life flash in front of my eyes as is often portrayed in movies as the main character falls towards their demise. In that moment, I feared for only one thing: the death of my future with the man I had waited a lifetime to meet.

What flashed through my mind was not my past, but of stories of others’ who had survived the horror of witnessing their spouse murdered during the honeymoon.  Was this going to be my story too? Was this the moment when my life would take a dramatic turn?  The moment that would leave me traumatized and would forever be a marker by which I judged the ‘before’ and ‘after’?

I knew why my husband was desperately trying to retrieve the knapsack.  It had nothing to do with the money, the keys and the papers for our rental car, or the key to the home where we were staying.  He was running after our camera, which contained the memories of all of our experiences of our honeymoon up until that point.

I kept screaming for my husband to stop because I didn’t care about having a reminder of the wonderful moments we shared in the past. All I could think about was keeping him with me so we could continue to create new moments of wonder in the present and future.

It was the bullet that whizzed past my husband’s left ear that finally got him to stop.  The man with the gun, aimed it at his face and then, with a steady hand and arm outstretched, moved the gun slightly to the right and fired.

What followed in the wake of encountering this dark side of humanity was a surprising demonstration of love, caring and concern from the most unlikely places.

As we ran for the safety of the restaurant, screaming for help at the top of our lungs, we were met by a tall French man who told us that he caught the entire robbery on video.  He had been filming his friends kite surfing when he heard our screams.  When he saw what was happening, he immediately started filming our assailants in the act and continued filming them as they escaped into the bush with our knapsack.

Among the mixture of locals and tourists at the restaurant was a young man who took it upon himself to escort us back to the mainland and act as translator in our initial interactions with the police.  This young, brown faced man in a green t-shirt, was somehow able to communicate with me in spite of the fact that I do not speak a word of Portuguese and he could not possibly have any familiarity with the Spanglish that was coming out of my mouth.  To this day, our mutual understanding remains a mystery.  And quite honestly, his calming presence and willingness to stay with us earned him guardian angel status in my eyes.

He accompanied us on the ferry back to the mainland, and woke up the village police who were literally sleeping at the time.  As the village police got dressed (and I know this because they were putting on their long pants, socks and shoes in front of us), the roar of a speeding vehicle and the loud screech of tires rudely disturbs the lazy pace of the scene in front of us.  The military police have arrived.

With the vehicle barely stopped, four large, muscular men in full fatigues, carrying big machine guns jump out of the vehicle and come running towards us.  And I find my heart in my throat once again for the second time that afternoon.

They are intense, and are clearly not impressed with the village police who are taking far too long to respond to this situation.  They drive their truck onto the ferry and my husband, the guardian angel, and I head back to the scene of the crime.

Once we arrive on the shore, the military police get back in their jeep and are motioning for our angel to go with them.  He backs away refusing to join them, to which they respond with a mixture of frustration and disbelief.  My sense was that he did not want to witness anything he would want to forget.  Sure enough, we later learned that when the military police are involved, their approach is to shoot first and ask questions later. Not wanting to waste any more time, they sped off into the bush on the hunt for the criminals who stole our knapsack.

In the hours and days that followed this dramatic event, the people in this little community continued to astound us with their generosity and demonstrations of care.  The developer of the time share community where we were staying was one notable person whose efforts to take care of us went above and beyond anything we could have expected.

He anticipated that we would not feel safe going home that night while they were in process of changing the locks.  So he offered us a room in his hotel down the road and fed us at his expense.  But more than that, he sat with me and listened as I told my story and allowed me to cry.

He was also there for us as a driver, and translator as we went into town to file an official police report and in all further dealings with police and the investigators assigned to the case.

That night after he dropped us at the hotel, my husband and I talked for hours in spite of our exhaustion.  We shared every thought, every feeling we experienced throughout the ordeal.  As a psychologist, I knew it would be important to not hold anything back.  The time to process this was now, not later, so that we could move on without having to relive it repeatedly in our minds in the future.  I was determined that we would not leave this place as victims of trauma, and this was not going to take away from the amazing experiences we had up until that point, or those that we were yet to experience in the days ahead.

One of the questions we contemplated was whether we should leave or continue with our vacation as planned.  As we reflected on everything that happened, we could not help but be moved by the kindness of strangers and the support this community had given to us.  In spite of having an encounter with the dark side of humanity, we made the choice to focus on the love that we received and decided to stay.

Believe it or not, the authorities actually took this case seriously.  In fact, the chief of police for the biggest city in the region got involved and openly expressed his determination to find the men who did this.

Why would they care so much about a stolen knapsack belonging to a couple of Canadian tourists?  Because the knapsack was not just a knapsack; its theft at gun point from tourists who would undoubtedly tell the story when they returned home, represented a threat to the entire community.

This little place where nothing happens had built its reputation on being a safe heaven, an oasis, in a country too often plagued by chaos.  So yes, they had a vested interest in keeping the peace.  As they should, because the benefits to them went beyond the monetary.  They were fiercely protective of their way of life.  They were passionate about their community.   They were courageous enough to care.

Caring and acting on that care was clearly demonstrated by people from all walks of life.  From the store owner across the street from where our rental car was parked who organized to keep watch over the vehicle throughout the day and night, to the chief of police of the small community who was moved to tears as he held our hands and expressed how sorry he was for what we had been through.

In the end, they caught the three men.  Between the video, the community banding together, and the police, they caught the men who did this and our camera was returned.

The people in this community became our heroes and defenders and it was their actions of compassion that ultimately healed our hearts.

It was a little place where nothing much happens.  And they knew what it would take to keep it that way.  They lived with compassion.  They cared but were not passive in their caring.  They embodied the true meaning of that word:  with feeling, with care, with passion, together.  This is what it takes to build and nurture a strong community.

As I write this in the midst of the summer of 2016, it feels like the world is crumbling all around us.  The politics of division fuelled by fear are inescapable as is the news of yet another mass shooting, or attack on citizens by those given the authority to serve and protect.

After Orlando, Philando Castille and Alton Sterling, I wake on the morning of July 8, 2016 to hear about the shooting and killing of several police officers guarding a peaceful anti-violence protest in Dallas; the act is assumed to be in retaliation for the killing of black men at the hands of police.   I read in a state of near disbelief, and I lose it.  The tears start streaming down my face.  No amount of deep breathing or meditation is going to be a salve for the ache in my heart.  And as I cry, I realize that this is what I need to feel.

I cry not only for the victims and their families but also because it feels as if we, who are committed to having a positive impact on the world, are losing the battle.

And then, I come back to thinking about that little fishing village in Brazil and their compassion and courage to act boldly and decisively to protect, and nurture their community.  And my sense of hope returns because I can see the answer through their example. The only way to counter the chaos and the temptation to retreat into passivity is to fight even harder to build a strong sense of place, to make meaningful connections and to contribute.  To care like your entire life depends on it.  Because it does.