Articles Tagged with: leslieville
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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allison setting the table for November’s workshop

Diversity captured around the table

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

The Emotional Wellness Warriors

Dr. Stacy & Allison

 


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


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

 


New Year, New Location: The Chi Junky Yoga & Wellness Studio

How I came to work in this chic, Zen oasis in the heart of Leslieville is a story onto itself.  I was literally sitting in the Dark Horse Espresso Bar, thinking about the need for a new location when Rachelle Wintzen, owner of the Chi junky Yoga and Wellness Studio walked in and gave me the opportunity to work in the office of my dreams.

I recognized Rachelle from a wellness networking event I attended in the summer that was organized by my former high school.  Rachelle was one of 5 panelists who spoke about her journey to finding her passion for wellness and how she turned that passion into a business.  The honesty with which she shared her story of going from party girl to a wellness professional and owner of a boutique studio was both engaging and inspiring.  The fact that she created a studio where class sizes were limited to ensure that each participant received individual attention really stood out to me as something special.  That it also happened to be located just a few blocks from where I worked at Magenta Health prompted me to make a mental note to reach out to her to see what and how we might join forces.

Even though it was several months later, I instantly recognized her when she walked in wearing the chi junky logo and waited for an opportunity to introduce myself.  Thirty minutes later, after talking to her about my practice and my aspirations for it, she invited me to take a look at her studio to see if I would be interested in renting space there.  It was as easy as that.

Those of you more mystically inclined might say that I manifest this opportunity. I am a bit on the fence when it comes to that theory.  What I do believe is that having a clear vision of what you want,  and being willing to put your self out there by sharing your vision and acting on your gut instinct to go towards those people/places/things that you feel pulled towards vs. giving into the excuses that keep us in the same place is how dreams become reality.  And when the process that follows unfolds easily, and is such a good fit, well there is your confirmation that you are on the right path, and that maybe it was meant to be.

chi-junky-hallway

 

And when I say good fit, I am not just talking about the aesthetics of the space.  For the bulk of my career I have collaborated with other health professionals as part of various multidisciplinary teams to help clients achieve their goals.  This kind of team approach is, hands down, the most powerful way to provide any kind of treatment and is why I chose to situate myself within a family medicine practice.   As much as my access to the family doctors has been invaluable, there was more that I felt was possible that I had yet to see offered when it comes to the concept of helping people Design Their Lives.  What I was yearning for was the ability to collaborate with professionals with a range of expertise who were all about helping people take their lives to the next level.  Professionals focused, like I am on helping people move past surviving life’s challenges and to a place where they are truly thriving.  I knew instantly, that this was the place where I could make this happen.  And I did.

I have come to refer to them as The Design Your Life Dream Team.  They are focused, they are at the top of their game, and they are dedicated to bringing you a level of service typically out of reach for most people.  You deserve nothing less and I am so excited to be able to bring this to you.

I have assembled the team.  My question to you is, are you ready to get serious about Designing Your Life?

What are you waiting for?

Let’s get to work.

Dr. Stacy


Realign, Reconnect and Find Your Flow

As much as I am calm and even keeled much of the time, there are days when I wake up and carry on like a bull in a china shop.  “We have to get going!”, “Why aren’t you ready?” Push, push, push. I have to make things happen – NOW!!

Today started out as one of those days.  And could have continued had my dear friend and mentor not called me out and stopped me in my tracks.

As I reflect on our conversation, I realize that my drive to make things happen, and push on through, regardless of whether it feels right tends to come into full effect when I feel unsure in some way.  At such times, I retreat into my preferred comfort zone – my head.

Living in my head gives me the illusion of control.  When I am not sure what to do to make things happen, I over think, and get distracted by the minutia.  I will work on things, like a blog post, for the better part of a day, in order to make it just right.  And then the task just becomes… well, overwhelming.

What is the big picture that gets lost? Connection. And the only way to truly connect is to share one’s self authentically. I know this.  And I know that things flow more easily when I just “show up” and let things happen.  But even I, a professional, who teaches people to do this every day, can get off track.

This is why I am so thankful for having guides in my life who alert me when I am off center and help me to get back to understanding that I am most powerful when I am authentically me.

By the time I left the 2 hour marathon meeting, I was realigned.  And the most amazing afternoon unfolded.

I walked around the corner and discovered Homegrown, a produce stand selling the most gorgeous local fruit and vegetables.

Homegrown produce

I then went down to the lake for a late lunch and was greeted by a trio of dancing swallows, and four Canada Geese floating on the waves.

geese and flying swallow at lake

And as I watched their easy ebb and flow, and listened to the waves against the rocks, I was reminded of my connection with everything around me.  The tension eased even more and I returned.

This post is what unfolded.  It took about 20 minutes.  Easy.

Until next time,

Dr. Stacy

 

 


Letting Go of Perfectionism, One Challenge at a Time

I, like most people, would rather do just about anything before speaking in front of an audience.  And yet, in order to fulfill my goals of promoting mental health, public speaking has become increasingly necessary for me. 

My typical way of preparing for any kind of public talk is to literally script it in advance, jokes and all, and rehearse the heck out of it so that it comes across as natural.  And I pull it off every time.  I get the applause, and the positive comments. I succeed at projecting an image of complete confidence in spite of my anxiety.

That’s the thing about perfectionism – it’s usually rewarded.  But it’s a lot of work. And quite honestly, as a busy working mother building a business and trying to get on top of this social media thing, I frankly no longer have the time for this level of obsessiveness.

It also occurred to me that my perfectionistic approach essentially made me a hypocrite and had the potential to undermine one of the core messages I am trying to promote:  the power of authenticity. How could I speak about the power and importance of sharing one’s authentic voice while hiding behind a script?  How could I present a completely rehearsed talk when my goal is to make a genuine connection with the audience? 

So when I was asked to be one of 6 presenters at an event called My Epoch, I knew that I needed to take a different approach.  The spirit of the event was to make genuine connections with people you might not normally meet with the aim of cross pollinating knowledge and inspiring new ideas.  Clearly, there was no better opportunity to challenge myself to truly ‘walk the walk.’  It was time to let go of fear.

You see, I realized that the true motivator behind my pursuit of perfection was not conscientiousness, but fear.  Fear that I suddenly would be unable to articulate my thoughts, when in fact I receive positive feedback about the way I convey ideas every day be it with clients or in media interviews.  Fear that I would somehow present as not knowing what I was talking about when in fact I am an expert in my field.   Fear that I would make a fool of myself…well, that actually happens on a daily basis.  But it’s ok.  I recover and move on.  If that should happen, if I should reveal a flaw, reveal that I am indeed a human being, it would only serve to solidify my connection with the audience. 

With this new perspective in mind, I chose to lead from the heart and to connect with the audience by sharing a genuine part of myself, even if that meant that I might stumble along the way. 

In the days leading up to the event, I did find myself wrestling with the temptation to draft my talk as I had done in the past.  I mean, the people attending paid to come and I wanted them to get something out of it.  I did not want to insult them by looking ill prepared.  I wavered and thought that I should just forget this little experiment and write out and rehearse my talk. 

But rather than give in, I stayed true to my intention and let the anxious thoughts wash over me.  I chose instead to just observe my own process. And in fact my  internal battle was actually a little amusing. 

However, I did not ignore the anxiety gremlin entirely.  I did have to do something to prepare.  And so I struck a compromise:  I would draft a brief outline with the main points I wanted to communicate.  Nothing more.

I decided to dedicate my 6 minutes at the mic describing why I am so passionate about my work as a psychologist.  I wanted them to understand how privileged I feel to be able to witness and support the human spirit in each client I see, regardless of whether they are suffering or aspiring for something more.  I wanted each person to walk away with the understanding that seeing a counselor or a psychologist is not about weakness, it is about assuming control to Design Your Life.

myspeech wide shot (1)

The day of the event was like any other Saturday filled with making meals, working out, cleaning up and taking advantage of some time to take a blessed nap.  I arrived at the event early and while I spoke with my fellow presenters and then the guests as they arrived, I found that I was not nervous. 

The only time a felt a bit anxious was while listening to the presenter just before I was to go on.  This was largely because I was trying to review the main points of what I wanted to say in my head but could not do it effectively while also trying to listen.  Recognizing the futility of this form of last minute preparation, I gave up on trying and focused on listening to Dennis and his honest and heart felt talk on the benefits of connecting with people outside of one’s typical social circles.  Dennis finished to resounding applause; a hard act to follow.  It was now my turn.

To quote one of the participants I “..nailed it”.  As I spoke about the privileged role I have of witnessing and empowering the human spirit, I could see… or rather I could feel that the audience was with me.  I was able to make eye contact and take in their smiles of encouragement as I scanned the room.  It was actually really great.

The comments that various audience members provided me with all the validation I needed for my new approach.  All of them expressed feeling moved.  I had succeeded.

Not only had I made a connection, but I proved to myself that fear was not necessary for me to perform well.  I could listen to my anxiety as a sign for the need to prepare without letting fear take over and push me into obsessiveness.  I could keep focused on my own goals, show up, and let the process unfold.

I tried it and now I am sold.  There is no going back. 

How about you? Is there any way that these ideas could fit for your life?

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Dr. Stacy