Category: Your best self
GUEST BLOG by Gabrielle: Breaking Up With Social Media

My boyfriend and I decided to take a break, a break from social media. Inspired by hearing about others who did the unthinkable and quit social media ‘cold turkey’ for 30 days,  we decided to give it a try.

Thirty days was a bit more than we thought we could handle to start, so we opted for a week.  Seven days with no Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or Snapchat. Which interestingly, rendered our phones quite useless  after all of these apps were locked.

Our 1st challenge occurred three days into the week while at a Raptors game.  I wanted to post a picture of us on Instagram. After a debate, we decided together that I could post it, but that I had to close the app right afterwards and not reopen it until the challenge was over. Five minutes later, we started to bicker about the caption on the picture. I could feel myself becoming agitated. I closed the app and while looking at one another we had the same realization. The first conflict we had since starting the challenge was when one of us started to engage with social media. Let that sit with you for a minute.

If I could describe the week in one word, it would be relief. It was a relief to learn that I could go into an experience without the pressure or expectation to share it with the world. I was relieved of the pressure to prove to someone else that I was having a good time. It was just the experience and I, and that was pretty great. We enjoyed the week so much that we continue to have time limits on our social media apps to this day and still hold each other accountable.

So many of us use these apps to express ourselves; to show the world what we love and to capture amazing memories. But ironically, the process and the pressure of capturing life’s special moments in order to share them with the world also distracts us from fully enjoying them.  Moreover, our awareness of the “likes” we acquire along the way runs the risk of reinforcing a soul destroying premise: that our lives only matter if approved of by others.  And then there is the automatic comparison to those who are always living a more fabulous life – a recipe for feeding the wide-spread  belief most of us carry that whoever we are is not enough.

The week without social media was like finally taking a conscious deep breath and realizing just how much stress I had been carrying.   We can certainly get by with shallow breathing throughout most of our days.  But once we know what a deep breath feels like, well, we might decide to pay attention to the process we take for granted and consciously give ourselves more of what we really need.  Which is not to live in the shallow, but to dive in, and really enjoy the deep.

I am a millennial and there is no denying that smartphones, technology, and specifically social media, have a huge influence on how I engage in the world. But I have redefined my relationship with it. Now I can see that the connections I want are all around me. For that, this was the best break I have ever had.

When was the last time you spent an extensive amount of time without social media? I invite you to try this same challenge and share your experience with us in the comments below. Or don’t comment and enjoy the experience for yourself.

Feeling grateful to have shared this with you,

Gabrielle Iwaskow, Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying)

 

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


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 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


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.


Growing Forward on the Path to Parenthood: A women’s group for building resilience while trying to conceive

The need for resilience in order to navigate the ups and downs of the infertility journey is an understatement.  This year, my work in the area of infertility had me engaging in thought provoking conversations with some very inspiring women.  Jennifer Vanier  is one of them.

I was e-introduced to Jennifer, after she put out the call for a psychologist to contribute to a retreat she was organizing for women who have experienced infertility and/or pregnancy loss.  It was Jennifer’s compelling story that made participating and supporting her event a no-brainer for me.  As you can read on her website, Jennifer and her partner know too well the grief and turmoil that come with pregnancy loss.  She also knows what it is like to be dealing with such life changing events with few to no professional resources to assist her and her partner in their small community outside of Peterborough.  Rather than accepting the status quo, Jennifer decided to do something about it, and has been working to bring infertility services to her community.  The retreat was just one of the things that Jennifer started in order to do just that.

Nikki Bergen is another woman who some of you might know as a result of her work in the Toronto wellness and fitness community as well as her decision to share her story regarding the challenges she and her partner face as they too turn to infertility treatments to try to conceive.  Nikki was kind enough to grant me an interview soon after she “came out” on social media, and I am telling you, she drops some serious wisdom in both parts, particularly in Part 2.

When we did the shoot, I wanted to make sure that Nikki was clear that the only way we would do this is if the process was good for her.  Well, I am happy to say, that in the months that have followed since this interview, Nikki has watched it in order to help herself benefit from the wisdom that came through in her own voice.  Click here to see what I am talking about.

Both of these women exemplify what it means to Grow Forward in the face of life challenges.  There was nothing they did to deserve the challenge that life gave them.  And this challenge did not happen in order to teach them the lessons they have learned and continue to learn.  Life dealt them what it dealt, and at some point they made a decision to engage with the process, and to make use of the experience to serve themselves AND others.  As a result, they have evolved into an even better version of themselves.

These women,  the others I had the pleasure to meet at the retreat, the clients I have seen one on one, and others I have met personally have inspired me to do more.  And so, starting this fall I have put together a very special group, to support women on this journey so they too can benefit from the growth that this life challenge has for them.  And I am bringing a kick ass lineup of some serious women’s health warriors with me who are just as passionate as I am.

The group is called Growing Forward on the Path to Parenthood. Click here to learn more. If this is not your particular struggle, I encourage you to share the information about this group with anyone you believe will benefit.

This group for women challenged to conceive is just the beginning.  For those of you who have learned about the group and have told me that you wish you could participate in a similar group to help you deal with the challenges of rebuilding your life after divorce, or are struggling to find the balance as a busy career woman, or are dealing with the challenges of another serious illness like cancer, or the loss of a loved one, I want you to know that I am thinking about you too.

My vision is to make Growing Forward a community..dare I say a movement.  My vision is to create a place, on line and in person, where people who are similarly focused on Growing Forward through whatever life might bring, can come together to learn and share tools that work.  A place with good information as well as inspiration, so that you, we, can support each other to Grow Forward through anything.

If this sounds like something that you believe would be of value to yourself or others you know, please reach out and tell me the issues you would like to see as a focus of this offering.

I am here to listen and ready to serve.

Dr. Stacy