Category: Your best self
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


DYL Video Series: Part 2 of Coping with Infertility with Nikki Bergen

Here it is: The long awaited Part 2 of my interview with the amazing Nikki Bergen on her process of navigating the challenges of infertility.

In Part 1 Nikki gets real about what this journey has been like for her, what led to her choice to share it with the world, and the benefits she has experienced as a result.

In Part 2, she goes even deeper and shares insights that are relevant to all of us, no matter what challenge life might bring. Watch. Absorb. Learn. Share. Discuss. This is only the beginning of the conversation.

Thank you again to Nikki Bergen for being so generous and open with sharing your experience and wisdom with all of us. My hope is that participating in this conversation, has been as beneficial to you as it will undoubtedly be for others.

Have you been challenged with infertility and/or pregnancy loss?  Would you like to participate in a moderated group designed to help you move through the inevitable feelings of grief and reengage with living fully again?  Please email me.  I would love to hear from you to gauge interest as well as obtain your input as to how this group can be tailored to best suit your needs.

Best,

Dr. Stacy

 


Want to Succeed at Those Resolutions? Embrace the Process of Change

93-5team

Thank you Carter and King and 93.5 FM  The Move for the opportunity to share some of my expertise on what it takes to succeed at making lasting lifestyle changes.  Our discussion  prompted me to dig out this “throw back” I developed for a public health talk I did in Hamilton just over 10 years ago.

As I mentioned on the show, change happens in stages.  We know this, as a result of ground breaking research led by two psychologists James Prochaska and Carlo Diclemete who studied how people make positive changes to improve their health.  Their studies of about 150, 000 people over the span of 35 years revealed that no matter what kind of change people are trying to make, be it starting an exercise program, improving their diet, quitting smoking, or use of other substances, they all go through the same five stages.

Research based on this Stages of Change Model, not only gave us insight into what happens during each of the stages, but also what it takes to move through the stages and ultimately achieve our goals.

I have summarized this information in the chart below.  The left column outlines each of the Stages of Change, and the column to the right outlines the appropriate action to take within each stage to help you move forward in the process.

I say process, because that is what change is.  Change is a process – it is not a singular event; it does not happen instantly.  In order to succeed at making healthy lifestyle changes, it is important to commit to the process.

I also want to emphasize that it is entirely normal to move back and forth within these stages.  Change does not happen in a constant forward direction.  It is normal to get started with something, and then fall backwards to a previous stage and then move forwards a bit further and fall back a bit again.  This is  important to recognize and accept.

If you can accept that it is normal to lapse from your plan, then maybe you can skip the tendency to beat yourself up (yes, Blake I am talking to you ) and simply refocus on figuring out why the slip happened, what you could do to prevent it from happening again and get back on track with resuming the healthy behaviour.

The key here is being able to look at your situation both realistically and compassionately.

For anyone reading this, I applaud you for continuing to strive to Design Your Life.  Don`t ever give up.  You owe it to yourself and everyone else around you to become your best self and live your best life.

And if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out.

Let`s keep the conversation going.

Warm Regards,

Dr. Stacy

stacychart1

stacychart2

 

 

 


New Year, New Collaborations: Introducing the Design Your Life Dream Team

One of the key elements to being successful at anything is having the right plan.  And by the right plan, I don’t mean a one-size-fits-all, paint by numbers approach.  The right plan is a plan designed with a clear understanding not only of where you want to go, but also of where you are at this point in your life.

With the dawn of a new year, many of us are focused on making changes.  And many of us will have fallen off the wagon by mid-February.  Anyone who regularly attends a gym all year round is intimately familiar with this pattern:  Sudden crowds in January shutting you out of classes you used to sign up for at the last minute, followed by things settling down back to normal levels, 6 weeks later.

Just because this is typical, it does not need to be the case for you.  It all comes down to having an appropriate plan that is developed with an accurate understanding of who you are, what is happening in your life at the moment, and where you are in the process of making the change you are seeking.

Learning to assess the particular stage of change that a client is in, is a core competency I spent years teaching other health professionals in my previous role on several multidisciplinary teams.  When it came down to it, all of the technical skill in the world meant little if it was not applied with recognition of the client’s readiness to make changes themselves.  And the only way to know this is to be really good at listening.

Needless to say, each member of the Design Your Life Dream Team was chosen, not just for their high level of skill, but because of their dedication to providing services that are tailored to the unique needs of each individual client.  Empathy, that is the ability to truly listen and respond accordingly is at the core of everything they do and is central to why they are so good at it.

rachelle-headshot

 

 

Rachelle Wintzen, Certified Yoga Instructor, Holistic Nutritionist and owner of the Chi Junky Yoga and Wellness Studio, became a collaborator almost immediately after our first chance meeting at a coffee shop.  Her entire business was modeled with a focus on providing each client with individual attention and helping her clients make sustainable lifestyle changes.  Just a quick perusal of her bio clearly indicates that she is indeed a leader in her field.

 

Ben Barkworth, owner and creative director of Just B Salon and the recently opened    B Side Beauty, is another superstar in our midst.  I had the opportunity to sit down with Ben to get his perspective on the connection between hair and our sense of self recently, and what came out of it was another addition to the collaboration that took the entire enterprise to 11!

I chose to interview Ben for my blog post on the connection between hair and self concept, partly because of the name and motto of his salon:  Be Beautiful, Be Bold, Be Brave.  Just B.

 

ben-bw

We spoke for 90 minutes. To be blunt, the man blew me away.  The level of sensitivity he brings to the entire enterprise of joining with someone to refine their image is so rare and special that I could not help but forget my agenda and just dive in to learning more about him and how he works.  Believe it or not, his first meeting with any new client is just about getting to know him or her as a person, where they are in their lives and where they want to go (check, check and check). And so when he expressed interest in joining Rachelle and I in providing a special curated experience that would help people make a change externally that reflected the changes they wanted to make on the inside, it took this entire enterprise to 11!

And like that, The Design Your Life Dream Team was born, which was quickly followed by development of our first project:  Your Best Self Master Plan for 2017.

your-best-self-master-plan

 

I, that is, we look forward to working with you soon.

Sincerely,

Dr. Stacy on behalf of the Design Your Life Dream Team

 


In Praise of Wisdom Beyond Years

From the moment she first saw me, and gave me a look as if to say, “Who the heck are you?” I knew that I had brought a fierce female into the world.  This tiny creature with pale skin, dark eyes, enviously long eyelashes and a head full of black straight hair was born with attitude and so far, she has continued to live up to this first impression.  She is the classic precocious second child.  But of all of her accomplishments in her young life to date, none have impressed me more than the wisdom and courage she demonstrated this past summer.

My daughter had been stung by either a bee or a wasp while out playing in the park with her nanny and friends.  I learned about the incident at the end of the day, but as there was no visible sign of a sting, her nanny believed that my daughter was distressed out of fear not because she was actually stung.  By the following morning, the swelling between her eyes which transformed my daughter’s face into Cymba’s twin, indicated that she had indeed been stung by something.

A few days later, my daughter and her nanny returned to the same park to play.  Not surprisingly, returning to the scene of the painful incident triggered her fear response and my daughter insisted that her nanny hold her the entire time.

(Now, I know what you’re thinking – this kid isn’t sounding too fierce at the moment.  Just bear with me… it gets better).

I responded to the latest news of her fear of bees by sitting and talking to my daughter about the source of her fear, and expressing empathy for why she would be afraid to return to the same park where she was hurt.  I also talked to her about the downside of allowing fear of what might happen get in the way of her ability to have fun with her friends in the park, the same park where she has played so many times without ever getting stung.  I didn’t appreciate the impact of this brief conversation until a few hours later after I returned from a speaking engagement and learned about her very unusual request.

While I was gone, my daughter asked my husband to turn on our gas fireplace.  The first and last time she had seen the fireplace lit several months ago, she screamed hysterically like an accused witch in Salem about to be burned at the stake, and was inconsolable for at least an hour afterwards.  Moreover, for several weeks following this incident, my daughter spoke daily about her scare with the fireplace and made every effort to keep her distance from it.

Just a couple of hours after talking to her about the importance of not allowing fear to rob her of having fun at the park, this child asked to see the very thing that terrified her months previously.  She was only 2.5 years old.  Astounding.

Clearly, some aspect of my talk must have resonated, and the only way that could have happened is if she was able to appreciate the truth in what I was saying.  Her courage to essentially say “bring it on” with such determination and calm, well that just absolutely blows my mind.

This story will forever serve as a reminder to me to never underestimate the wisdom contained within all of us, particularly our children.  My hope for myself as her parent is that I always respect my daughter for the unique individual she is, forever connected to me but separate from myself.  And that I appreciate the importance of being her student as much as her teacher for how to live with courage and to trust one’s inner wisdom.

You go girl!

Much love and respect,

Mom (aka Dr. Stacy)

 


My Vegan Journey

 

Someone dear to me thinks it’s just a phase, possibly brought on by a mid-life crisis.  Call it what you want. I don’t feel the need to label it or myself. All I know is that I woke up one day and knew that I needed to stop eating meat and dairy, and I haven’t looked back since.

This awareness came after weeks of just not feeling great in my gut. I felt blocked, bunged up, stuck … sluggish.  My first thought was to do a cleanse. I had done cleanses in the past, and to be honest, at this time in my life it just felt like too much work to organize.  So rather than complain and do nothing, I decided to make things easy for myself and enlisted the help of Belmonte Raw.

As soon as I walked into the store I knew I had come to the right place.   Upon entry, I was met by a Cleanse Specialist who walked me through the range of options available.  As I had already had some experience with cleanses, he suggested a 3-day Transition Cleanse which essentially involves a series of juices and elixirs plus one gourmet, raw vegan meal/day.  All I had to do was pick up my food in the morning and eat (or actually mostly drink) in the order outlined by the numbered containers.  Easy Peezy.  It was also suggested that I start drinking a litre of room temperature lemon water first thing every morning in addition to 4 litres of water throughout the day at least 20 minutes before or after a meal so as not to impede digestion.

To prep, I was advised to minimize my consumption of caffeine, alcohol, and animal proteins for 3 days prior to the cleanse to allow for a smooth transition without any major side effects.  No problem.

And when I say “no problem” I literally mean it.   The entire process was incredibly easy and the results were better than expected.

All smiles as I pick up 2 days worth of meals from Belmonte Raw

All smiles as I pick up 2 days worth of meals from Belmonte Raw

First, on a practical level, it was sooooo lovely to not have to think about what to eat or to have to actually go through the process of preparing food for myself.  As the person in charge of feeding two young children and a husband, this part was absolutely luxurious and worth every penny.

But more importantly, I felt amazing.  The blocked feeling in my gut disappeared, I had a ton of energy and never felt hungry.  The only negative side effect I experienced was the occasional, brief, 30 second pang of a headache. That’s it.

cleanse-sched-close-up

In the two months since the cleanse, I have continued to follow a vegan-ish diet.  I say vegan-ish, because I do have eggs on occasion and will have cheese sparingly, typically when eating out on a weekend.   But for the most part, I am eating vegan and I am loving it! And based on the changes I have witnessed, my body is too.

Here is what I have noticed so far:

  • I am less hungry in spite of maintaining the same level of activity. Previously, I would be feeling pangs of hunger about 2.5 hours after breakfast, sometimes even sooner if I worked out before eating.  Now, my breakfast (typically a chia pudding with nuts, and berries, and an almond milk latte) keeps me going for at least 4 hours, even on days that I work out.
  • I lost 1-2 dress sizes within about 3 weeks of making the change. I mention this point with a bit of hesitation as I did not do this in order to lose weight and don’t want to be promoting weight loss.  But, I would be lying if I did not admit that seeing the last remnants of baby weight literally fall off me feels really good.  It’s like I pushed a reset button and returned to my former pre-baby size.
  • My habitually dry skin is improving.
  • I am excited about food again. I know that this might seem counter intuitive, but it’s true.  I am excited to learn about new foods, new restaurants and about new ways of cooking.  It’s like an entire new world of food has opened up to me, and the possibilities seem endless.  And whether it’s a reflection of my heightened awareness or a sign of a growing trend in the city, there isn’t a week that goes by where I  don’t hear about  a new vegan focused establishment or food experience happening in this city (case in point:  This article in the current Toronto Life Magazine)

As happy as I am to ride this wave and see where it takes me, I need to understand why I have experienced these physical changes.  Why am I less hungry?  Why did I lose weight so quickly?  Is it just a function of me drinking more water?  Does it have something to do with the way my body is digesting and processing this kind of food?  Or does this have nothing to do with the type of food I am eating at all, and just a positive side effect of my meditation practice and being more conscious and aware of eating out of hunger vs. for other reasons?

This is how my brain works.  I need to know.  And so, in the spirit of science and exploration, my plan is to investigate these questions and share the results with all of you.

And for those of you, who really don’t care about why and just want to learn more about the yummy food I am making and eating, I plan to share this part of the journey as well.  It so happens that I know a number of vegan chefs in this city.  So why not invite them to my kitchen to teach me a little about what they know, film it and post it on YouTube?  How’s that for multitasking:  cooking, learning, socializing, sharing to social media, and getting dinner ready for the family, all at the same time.  Booyakashat!

Stay tuned….

Dr. Stacy

 

 

 

 


ABSURD BEAUTIFUL WORLD

 

The alarm goes off at 5:20 am
Some would say that is absurd
But legs strong, brain alert
I choose the most fluorescent shirt
Safety first
It’s still dark outside
And I realize that summer has already started its departure, in spite of its humid heat

Ankles creak at first, but loosen with the rhythm of each step
Thankful for their ability to carry me forward
I know it will get easier as I keep going

I am encouraged by the Briar Rabbit on the path
Long brown ears and white cotton tail
I stop to admire his beauty
Not wanting to scare him by lumbering by
As he is in the middle, back turned,
Far from the safe refuge of the bushes behind him and beside me

Feeling my gaze, he turns around and looks
I smile and wave and say “hello” in the sweetest voice I can muster
To let him know that I am a friend

We have a moment.
He makes the first move and hops towards the bushes.
He stops before entering and looks at me one more time before taking off out of view into the green.
I delight in the exchange, as I know he is watching and wishes me well on my journey.

It’s brighter now
Pastel pink all around
The air is think and heavy, but fails to oppress

What’s this unusual sight up ahead?
A baby grand piano, close to the water’s edge?
One man at the keys
Two others holding long sticks like trees
Likely recording the marvellously absurd scene

How lucky am I?
And as I run on by
I am reminded that you need to rise early to catch the shine.

Further inspired, I run along and thoughts of a client enter the fore
A young woman, so gifted but fearful of sharing her talents
I know she is talented in spite of never having seen her perform
I know this because she is a creative, her talent oozes out of her pores
Her talent is so strong that it has been a constant in her life
In spite of the turmoil, challenge and strife

Yet she is afraid
She comes by this honestly as life has exposed her to tremendous cruelty
But interestingly, as she gets stronger, and starts to share her own voice,
No longer satisfied with playing roles crafted by others
She is being pulled to express herself through her stories and songs,
But knows that expression without sharing is not where she belongs
She is a communicator, she needs to be heard
And to know that others understand her message

Yet she is afraid
She is afraid of being bullied
Of being diminished by sharing her voice
Of being told in so many ways that she does not have a right to exist
With the internet providing the vehicle that can be used too easily to dismiss
All that she has to give

And yet, what she cannot fully see
Is that she is still here
In spite of all she has been through, the ways others have tried to silence her
That light, her light, continues to burn

She is acting to protect that light, as she is afraid that exposure to the darkness will snuff it out
What she cannot see is that light always trumps darkness
And that light attracts light
What she is not seeing is that the other diminished souls include the bullies in our midst
And that the bully needs her light because he and she were bullied too.

If she can connect with the compassion contained within her light
She can rise above any hate that might try to slight
She can see those who spew it as lost in the darkness
And maybe, if she can become strong enough to see that the hate has nothing to do with her,
If she is strong enough to see past it, and stay the course, maybe, just maybe she is able to inspire the light to grow within the haters too,
because they need it most.

I need to help her get stronger, to fulfill her mission
Because her journey is about more than she or me
It’s about honouring her gifts that have the power to unite us
Through her courage to share her humanity

I arrive at my spot, an outpost jutting into the water
This morning’s meditation definitely calls for eyes open
Pastel skies continue as backdrop to barely rippling waves, the light cutting
through them in the most interesting geometric patterns.
I breathe it all in making mental notes for later
Because no camera can capture this quiet splendor

Time to rise and run back
An extra spring in my step I notice the echo of approaching feet
And realize it’s the sound of my own making reverberating off the trees

High fives and “Hellos” are shared between me and other runners
I marvel at the most unusual of tree huggers
Hanging by knees and one hand on a branch that looks too forgiving for this old man
I pray its flexibility is strong enough to carry his weight

As I get close I notice he is outfitted with protective black gloves
I wonder, is this the latest exercise craze? Tree climbing to become nimble and limber?
Or maybe a pursuit just for fun, as it is for my son
Who will climb anything he can
Because it’s a challenge he is driven to overcome

That sight of a grown man playfully climbing a tree
Seems to ignite the little child in me
Up in front of me once again is the man at the piano by the water’s edge
No men with sticks this time, this time apparently alone
And I think, about my creative client and all with great gifts
Who deserve an audience to receive them and honour their talents
So I run down to the lake for a morning serenade

For a split second I reconsider my imposition
But the curious child in me puts all thoughts of politeness aside
This opportunity is just too rare to let slip by

I arrive and meekly ask if I can listen
Without even a glance in my direction, he says “Why not?”
I silently sit in the sand, aware now that his performance is indeed being recorded
As his fingers hit the keys, I take in the heavenly sound
Made even more heavenly by the setting that surrounds
Pink pastel skies, quiet waves and seagulls chirping,
I take a deep breath and take it all in
I have walked into a live version of the countless recordings I’ve prescribed
To help guide those seeking a moment of peace.
This moment I chose to shamelessly take for myself,
Will forever be catalogued among other amazing experiences
That I can call upon when needed to get to my happy place

As the piece comes to an end, I thank him with a deep Namaste bow, and I take off for home
Completely inspired, I fly
I have none of the fatigue or heaviness that typically visits at this point in the run
I am filled with light
And I can’t wait to get home to write
As the magic feels so fleeting
I must get to my pen, I must get to my book,
So that I can share this great morning
With those who were not early to rise
Who too often overlook the shine
So that they too can be inspired to look for and find
The beauty in the absurdity of this world.

Dr. Stacy

PS: Click here to learn more about the mysterious piano man by the water and hear some of his musical offerings:

https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2014/09/25/solar_piano_man_takes_to_the_beach_at_sunrise.html

PPS: Any interest in joining me on a run? Check out My EVENTS page for details about my weekly SOUL Powered Run or go straight to my Eventbrite page to learn more and reserve your spot:

http://www.eventbrite.com/e/soul-powered-run-with-dr-stacy-tickets-28195447342

I look forward to running with you soon!


LIVING IN GRACE

I am terribly near sighted, and from the age of 12 I have lived with the awareness that I may one day lose my sight entirely.

Several years ago, I went for a consult to see if I qualified for laser eye surgery.  I dreamed of being able to wake up and see perfectly.  But, as luck would have it, my corneas were too thin.  Unbelievable! It is probably the only time that the word “thin” will ever be used to describe any part of my body, and it’s the wrong part!

I understand that the technology has progressed a fair bit since that initial consult and that I might now be able to get laser surgery in spite of thin corneas.  However, as much as I like the idea of seeing perfectly all the time, part of me appreciates being forced to not take my sight for granted.

Living with the knowledge that I may one day lose my sight literally changes the way I navigate the world.  When I see something that moves me, it’s as if time stands still and I need to catalogue it in the special file I have in my brain which holds all of my “OMG! Isn’t this world amazing???!!!” memories.

The sheer beauty of my daughter’s face as she looks at me from under a sun lit sheet with pure joy and love in her eyes is one of my all time favourites.  Technicolour lightning storms on the beach in Jamaica, or finally getting a chance to see the seductive green dance of the Northern lights in Saskatchewan are a few others.  And I could go on.

As I write this today, I realize that the gift of my condition is the understanding of impermanence.  Because I know that there may be a time that I will not be able to see, I tune in that much more.  I notice that much more.  I am that much more connected and alive.

If we accept the truth of this world, that nothing lasts, you can’t help but live in grace and to appreciate the moment, the experience right now.

So today, as I lay in bed without the benefit of my glasses, I look out my window and delight in the movements of the fuzzy forms I know are trees dancing in the wind.   And I am thankful.

 

Dr. Stacy


Say “Yes!” to Falling in Love with Life

 

“By the end of this conversation, we are going to fall in love”

How’s that for an opening? My friend Michelle shared this gem as something she often says when meeting someone for the first time, be they man, woman or child. Amazing!

She clarified that she does not mean this in a sexual way. It is simply a beautiful expression of a willingness to be authentic and an invitation for the other person to do the same with the assurance that whatever is shared will be loved.

If you are lucky enough to cross paths with Michelle, you are immediately struck by the obvious. She is a naturally stunning beauty. But even more striking is her big, bombastic personality, her fierce intelligence and her love of life. She is the first to organize the party, and brings the party with her wherever she goes.

As we continued to talk, she dropped some more wisdom. She shared that at some point she realized that she can either put her child to bed and spend her evening flaked out on the couch watching television and stay stuck in a rut, or she can get out and do things and create a life that is interesting and fun. And anyone who knows Michelle knows that any time spent with her is never ordinary.

Along these lines, she went on to remind me of one of the first conversations we had a few years ago. We were hanging out on the steps of our children’s school, the place that brought us together, when she shared that she had noticed she had become quite negative in her relationship with her husband. With this awareness, she had made the revolutionary decision to experiment with just saying “yes” to whatever her husband asked of her. No argument, no discussion, just simply, YES. Wow. “And how is that working for you?” I replied, to which she immediately exclaimed, “Well, my husband is taking us on a month long trip to Italy!” Insert howls of laughter here.

As much as she got something tangible out of it, she did note that her choice to adopt an attitude of YES created a much needed shift. She essentially decided to stop being negative and pushed herself to just do things. We can all make a million excuses and go through the motions of life and nothing changes. Or we can “flip the script” so to speak and create the life we want to live.

Little did Michelle know that the mega talented, and prolific Shonda Rhimes (creator of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and executive producer of How to Get Away with Murder) has written about how saying YES changed her life as well. Her book Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person is at the top of my list of must reads for this week.

Whether it’s Michelle or Shonda, I hope that these wise, wonderful and vibrant women inspire you to get on with it and Design Your Life.

And if they do, please share your story with me and others. We all need to hear it.

Until next time,

Dr. Stacy