Articles Tagged with: mental wellness
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)

 


Meet Kaytranada

I don’t know much about him, but from the moment I heard his music I have been hooked.  Actually, it’s more than hooked…I am obsessed.

My first introduction to this amazing Montreal based artist was courtesy of CBC radio during a discussion about his win of this year’s Polaris Music Prize.  Kaytranada is the first black artist and the first hip hop/electronic music artist to win the esteemed prize, which has served to launch several previously unknown artists into the spotlight.

As stated by Del Cowie, one of this year’s jurors who voted for Kaytranada’s debut album 99.9%, “It moves the head, the heart and the feet. It recalls the past, articulates the present and it suggests the future.”

I couldn’t agree more.  The only thing I would add is that within the mash up of 90’s house, hip hop, and pop, influences is a hint of his Haitian/African roots.  Where else but in Canada could this incredible mix come together?

Kaytranada is the most exciting and interesting musician/producer I have heard in ages, and is the reason for the perpetual beat in my head these days.   I hope his video for Lite Spots puts a groove in your step and a smile in your heart.

Enjoy.

Dr. Stacy


Milton’s Secret: Bringing the Message of Mindfulness to Movie Goers Far and Wide

I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am to see this project finally come to fruition.  Milton’s Secret, the movie is finally out in theaters and is a must see.

Based on the children’s book of the same name by Ekhart Tolle and Robert Friedman, Milton’s Secret the movie brings Tolle’s teachings to a wide audience with a story to which most children and families can relate.  Milton is a pre-teen with loving parents who is overwhelmed not only by the bully at school, but also the stresses to which he is exposed in the family as a result of hard economic times.  As each member of the family copes in their own way, we see that the disconnection between them adds to Milton’s state of anxiety.  Then grandpa comes to visit.  It is through grandpa, played with amazing finesse by Donald Sutherland, that we see Tolle’s teachings of mindful presence and compassion in action.  The result is a shift that appears to naturally occur in others as they learn from his example and awaken to living more consciously.

As you can tell by this brief description, this is not your typical Hollywood Movie.  In fact, the producers of the film knew that if they took this script to Hollywood it would have never been made.  The only reason this film is here today is because of the kick start it received by conscious people around the world.  Crowd funding helped bring this film to life.   I was one of those contributors and this story, which was so lovingly crafted and directed by Mr. Barnet Bain, has far more value than the money I contributed to the cause.

 

Here I am with producers, Ryan Lockwood (left) and Stephen Huszar (right)

With producers, Ryan Lockwood (left) and Stephen Huszar (right)

Listening intently as Barnet Bain , the director, shares his insights during a moderated discussion on bullying as part of the Creator Talks at VIFF. The cast members in attendance pictured here from left to right were William Ainscough (Milton), Hays Welford (Tim) , and Mia Kirshner (Jane, Milton’s mom)

Talking to CTV's Norma Reid about my involvement with the film

Talking to CTV’s Norma Reid about my involvement with the film

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The movie is just the beginning.  The really exciting part is what’s coming next:  materials that will help people learn how to put Ekhart’s teachings into practice to benefit their ability to navigate life’s challenges, relate better with each other, and get more out of life.

Go to miltonssecret.com to find out how you can see the film and for updates about accompanying learning materials as they are released.  I encourage you to share the film with friends, family, classmates, schools, coworkers…and get talking.  And please send me your thoughts and comments about the movie.  They might just inspire some of the content of teachings that are to come 😉 .

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


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