Category: Design Your Life
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.


Fear Not The Dark Side. Understanding it is the Quickest Route Back to the Light.

Renovations are hell.  Anyone who has undergone a renovation knows this.  I should know this.  I have lived through enough of them in my personal life to expect broken promises, and things to not happen as planned.  But somehow, as with other challenges we welcome into our lives, we often go into them focused on all of the shiny and happy they will bring in the end and seem to forget about the discomfort and turmoil that happens on the road to getting there.

Let me just say close to the outset of this post that I am keenly aware of how lucky I am to have such problems.  To be able to have an office to renovate is such a privilege and a blessing that to complain about things not happening as planned seems pretty ridiculous.  And yet, as much as I managed to keep calm and carry on through weeks of delays, poor communication, and lack of follow through, even after I let go of timelines, plans for a big grand opening, and surrendered to the fact that much of this important project was out of my hands, I managed to reach a breaking point.

Here is a little video of me in the office at 7 am, on the day that this project was supposed to be completed (which was one of many “final” delivery dates that did not come to fruition). This is the calm before the storm.

 

While the renovations were happening, I set up shop in one of the boardrooms in the building.  That day when I came back to the unit to pack up, I was delighted to discover that the appliances from my unit had finally been removed and were delivered to my house.  I was chatting with my contractor, so happy to express my appreciation for some work being done after a week of nothing and was feeling hopeful as we discussed next steps via bluetooth on my way home.  When I arrived, I hung up, and was greeted with this:

I immediately texted him with a picture of the scene and asked for him to contact his crew to come back to put the appliances inside the garage.  His texted response was to tell me that his team were not returning and that he had explained this to my husband.  That’s when I lost it.

 

I could not believe that these men could not make the effort to climb the stairs, ring the doorbell, to give the adult at home the opportunity to open the garage so that they could deliver the appliances properly.  They clearly did not care.  They did not care about me.  They do not care about this project.  How could I have people who do not care be involved in creating a space that is all about taking great care of people?   And why is he talking to my husband and not to me?  We had discussed this so many times.  My husband had told him this over and over again and yet he continued to discuss plans with him and not me.  I was just on the phone with him!  No matter how I looked at it, all that I could see was evidence of disrespect and a lack of care and I was mad.  So mad.  A line had been crossed.

That evening was tough.  I went for a walk by myself to blow off some steam, which was probably visibly coming out of my ears looney tunes style to anyone who was in my vicinity.  It helped a little, but not enough.

I did not get much sleep that night as the frustration and anger and the uncertainty of not knowing how to proceed swam around and around in my head.  It felt awful.  Something needed to change.  This was not me.

In my 2 am delirium I had this vision of going to my office with a big piece of paper (the kind you used to paint on with those messy easels in grade school) to write out a mission statement of sorts with a black sharpie.  It went something like this:

This space is a place of healing and transformation

This is a safe space.

A place where all who enter can expect to be accepted, nurtured and cared for

in order to access and empower the divine within.

Every being who enters, no matter their role, is invited to take a moment to centre themselves in the purpose and focus of this space

So as to do their best work, with their highest level of skill, ability and care

In service of the divine within themselves, which ultimately functions to serve others.  

With deepest gratitude and respect for your service 

Your willingness to show up fully in all that you do

and share your divine light with us

Dr. Stacy

My focus in writing this message was on the men hired to bring my vision to life.  It was a desperate plea.  An attempt to try to regain a sense of control of this thing that was not going as planned with a team whose actions communicated to me a lack of caring for something that I believed required the utmost care.  It felt like everything was misaligned.  This was my way of righting that.

And while the image of me writing this in big black letters and posting it on the wall was all about them, in the end it was really about me.  I was the one who was misaligned.  That message was for me.  I was the one who needed to return to being a place of healing and transformation.

As soon as I crafted that statement in my head, something shifted for me internally.  The anger, that I chose to accept and allowed myself to feel, started to dissipate.  So much so, that two days later, when I came back to the space on a Sunday morning it felt like the anger, that at one point was overwhelming, was completely gone.

As I entered the unit with my friends to give them a tour, I was surprised to find my contractor and crew working away. To my surprise, and his, I immediately walked over after greeting him and, believe it or not, I actually gave him a big hug.  I was able to express my genuine gratitude for him being there.  I also grabbed him by the shoulders as I pulled back and told him to look into my eyes.  As I pointed to my own eyes while I stared into his, I asked him to do a simple thing.  To see me.  I told him that I needed him to see me.  I reminded him that my eyes existed before my husband existed.  I exist.  I needed him to see me.  And seeing me meant that he needed to speak to me. No matter what, he always needs to speak to me.

He laughed and said he understood.  We hugged it out again, and we both parted with smiles.

As I left I realized that just like the way my subconscious brought me back into alignment with the divine light within me, my anger was all about me too.  I had projected my own values, and assumptions onto the renovation crew.  I made the assumption that they could not be bothered, that they made a choice without regard or respect for how overwhelming it would seem to have to figure out moving appliances a few feet when for them it was so easy.  The fact is, they were likely not conscious at all.  Who knows what they were thinking? Their thoughts were somewhere else.  And yes, thinking things through is a reasonable expectation to have of anyone we hire to do work for us.  But the extent of my anger was about something else.  I was the one who added the layers and made it into something much bigger than it likely was or needed to be.  I was the one who has had too many experiences where I was overlooked, my opinion, undervalued, my voice unheard that predated the experience with this contractor.  In the end, it was all about me.

Now I know some of you are wondering whether my internal shift resulted in a better outcome.  The answer is, yes and no. The office is useable and I am delighted every day that I get to be in it.  People tell me that they feel at home and some of the groups I have hosted hang out because they don’t want to leave.  It means the world to me that people feel comfortable here.  In this respect, my goal has been realized.

However, it remains a work in progress.  I am still missing my internal doors, the lighting is not quite right and there are some other finishing touches that need to be completed.  But whether with the original crew, or someone else, it will all get done.  And more importantly, I am not stressed or distracted by it.  I am focused and relaxed and my energy is where it needs to be.  And I am confident that I will be able to maintain this mindset, regardless of how long it takes for the vision for my office to be realized.

The point of this story is not so much about the outcome, it’s about the process. It’s always about the process.

I do not regret feeling my anger.  I did regret expressing it to those who were undeserving (e.g., hubby) and apologized for it. But I do not regret allowing myself to feel it.  It pushed me to explore why I felt so strongly, which ultimately led me to understanding and affirming my values, my purpose and even my existence.  The solution that arose was fantastical and weird and perfect in its own way.  It allowed me to come back to me.  And I am happy to say that I have been even more conscious about choosing how I want to feel and what I want to experience each day, especially those days that have the potential to be hard for whatever reason.

Designing Your Life is all about assuming responsibility for your inner world.  It is the only way to have true control and to live the kind of life you want to live.

So as we enter a new year, I ask you, are you willing to face your “dark side” with compassion, and acceptance with a focus on understanding the source of your distress?  If not, consider that it might just be the most efficient and effective way of reconnecting with your light.


Ringing in 2018 with this Classic Anthem

For those of you who follow me on instagram, you might recall my post prior to the holidays where I offered the mantra, “Choose Joy”.  Well, the following classic tune was part of how joy showed up for me  this past holiday season.  It appeared in a random playlist I put on as I decided to make the best of our NYE plans getting side tracked by my husband’s sore throat.    So in making the best of the situation, I put on some music and grooved my way around the kitchen as I made food for our at home celebration of  New Year’s Eve.  It was absolutely perfect, a situation made even better by this song which brought me back to my youth, and whose lyrics are just as relevant today as they were a couple of decades ago.

This is your invitation to drop what you are doing right now, turn up the volume, and get your groove on.

 

Love & Light

Dr. Stacy


Spotlight on Fellow “Emotional Wellness Warrior”, Allison McDonald Ace

“Emotional Wellness Warriors”.  This is how Allison referred to she and I in one of our early emails soon after we met. It is a moniker that is entirely fitting for  us and others in the wellness space who are dedicated to bringing together all of the training, skills, and innovation at their disposal in an effort to affect meaningful change from the inside out.

The universe brought Allison and I together at a time when I was asking it to guide me to figure out how I might be able to have a greater impact.  It was on that very morning, when I was wakened by the answer, that I came across a piece of Allison’s writing that moved me so much, I felt compelled to not only comment, but to also track her down. My curiosity led me to her website where I discovered that the idea about how I could help more people, was in complete alignment with Allison’s expertise.

My idea was to develop a guided journal to help people grow consciously in the midst of life’s challenges.  It so happens that Allison, who is a writer,  is also trained in teaching expressive writing (a.k.a,  journaling) as a practice to facilitate healing.

By the end of our first in-person meeting, I was committed to providing a forum for Allison to reach as many people as possible.  While I was impressed with her inherent wisdom and training, I was more impressed with her genuine desire to make this essential skill accessible.  Backed by good science, expressive writing is a practice we could all be using to improve our mental and physical health. And the best part is that it is portable, does not require an appointment to access, and is basically free.

Allison is a pretty cool woman with this easy, self-effacing sense of humour that immediately puts everyone at ease.  It was ‘her vibe’ and dedication that caused me to immediately form a connection with her and decide that I wanted to support her ability to do her purpose in whatever way that I could.

And so I am deeply honoured and delighted that she agreed to run Healing Through Writing Workshops through my practice.  Our pilot workshop in November was unbelievably well received.  Those who attended, were blown away with how much they had in common with people they otherwise would have never met.  Being able to have this experience, live and in person, rather than in the virtual space is another aspect of this workshop that makes it special and more likely to have a lasting impact.

Allison setting the table for November’s workshop

Diversity captured around the table

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So what are you waiting for? Sign up here today and make 2018 the year you learn how to harness the power of your authentic voice and Design Your Life.

And if you are interested or even just intrigued, do not delay.  The word of mouth in response to the first class was so great that the next date filled up before I was able to post and promote it here on the blog.   In fact, given the demand, we have added another class in January. And we will continue to add classes as needed at your request.   It is our contribution to making the world a better place.

We both look forward to meeting you at a workshop soon.

The Emotional Wellness Warriors

Dr. Stacy & Allison

 


Listen to Drake’s Advice: If you want to Get Together with her, focus on doing the little things.

Leave it to Drake to make sound relationship advice cool. I first loved this song for the great house beat.  But then I listened to the lyrics and loved it more.  Believe it or not, research on how couples keep romance alive suggests that “the little things” like, expressing appreciation, taking the initiative to take some tasks off her plate (particularly those around the house no one particularly loves doing), and letting her know randomly that you are thinking of her, no matter where you are, are the most important things you can do to put her in the mood and keep romance alive.  So whether you are in a new relationship or one that has lasted several years, take Drizzy’s advice and see for yourselves how she gives more of her love to you.

 

You’re Welcome

Dr. Stacy.