Articles Tagged with: Toronto psychologist
Dr. Stacy’s Design Your Life Clinic, opening soon at suite 209, 321 Carlaw Ave

I am moving again.  Don’t worry…nothing is wrong.  It’s all good.  So good actually.  This is not a moving away, but a moving towards something even better.  After spending two years renting from established places with spaces that are great in their own right, I am now preparing to move into a space of my very own and I can hardly wait.

Like much of my journey as an entrepreneur thus far, I have been learning as I go.   Before I had a physical space to work out of, I built a virtual space on line with my website, a place where I defined my mission for myself and others and created a space to connect.  I had no idea where I was going to actually see clients, but I was confident that I would figure it out.

I literally stumbled on my first location at Magenta Health Family Medicine Clinic as a result of following my attraction to the building.  The facade drew me in and as I stepped in, I not only liked what I saw, but how I felt in the space.   It was clean, bright, modern and embraced technology in a way that was functional and easy from a user perspective.  It was clear, thoughtful, and…cool.

That first impression compelled me to learn more.  It was while exploring the Magenta Health website that I learned that they rent out their space to other health professionals.  Hmmmm… I contacted them, and two of the owners of the company invited me to come in to meet face-to-face.  We immediately clicked.

Interestingly, just as I had connected with the design of their space, they connected with the feel and look of my website.  And when we met in person, it became clear that our connection went beyond the mutual convenience of me becoming their tenant.  Our connection reflected shared values and a way of doing things that broke with convention and embraced the importance of connection not only for those who would receive their services but for those who were there to provide them as well.

This is what made the clinic feel like home, a place where I would actually enjoy working.  As a result, I felt naturally inclined to take care of it and the people who worked there.  My focus early on was on seeing how I could be of service to the doctors.  So I introduced myself with yummy treats (of course) along with information I have shared with other doctors in education settings that could be of use to them in their practice.  They gave to me by referring their patients.  I credit the doctors at Magenta Health for playing a large part in helping my practice get off the ground and grow to the point where maintaining its own property is not only economically feasible, but a more economically sound option for it to continue to thrive.

The Chi Junky Yoga and Wellness Studio, where I spent my afternoons and Fridays was another home for my business that seemed to magically appear at the time I needed it.  You can read about how this came about in my previous blog post.  The level of zen you experience when you walk in the doors is off the charts.  It is beautiful.  A true gem in the city. And the feeling you have when you walk in has as much to do with the design as it does with the owner and the level of attention given to ensuring anyone entering the space is immediately able to leave the outside world behind the heavy metal doors upon entry.

I feel truly blessed to have had the opportunity to work in such a beautiful space with other gifted practitioners.  And as I begin the process of designing a space of my own, I will take with me all of the qualities that I appreciated about my former homes.

The Design Your Life centre, will be modern and clean, but also warm and welcoming.  It will be a place that will always invite each person to find that inner calm. It will be quiet.  It will be private.  A place where mental health is approached holistically, with the understanding that not everyone resonates with the same thing.  Sometimes we need to talk.  Sometimes we need to write.  Sometimes we need to move.  Sometimes we need to feel a vibrational tone that opens us up to a new understanding.  It will be a place where there will be different levels of service, with a focus on making the information and experience accessible to as many people as possible.  There will be more workshops and groups, movie nights, and curated discussions.

This is the future of my practice.  This is the future of mental health.  And I am completely confident it will happen…because it’s needed.

This new space will allow for all of these possibilities and more, and I can’t wait to share it with all of you.

For those design enthusiasts who are interested in building and design, I invite you to follow me on instagram (@drstacytoronto) and Facebook where I will post pictures of the process as it unfolds.

And I will be sure to let you all know about the grand opening.  It will be a party that you will not want to miss.

Dr. Stacy

 

 


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


YEARNING

The spot, my spot, my refuge in the city.
The place I have gone on the same day, at the same time for the past year
Is now fenced off due to “Hazardous Conditions”.

The waters have risen so high that it has almost become completely submerged
The landing becoming visible only briefly as the waves recede.

On other days it was an island with rocks spaced in a way that tempted me to try to
take a leap to try to traverse the gap.
I laugh at how my mind tries to find ways to go back
In spite of the natural and man made barriers that prevent my return.

I need to find a new place.

So I start my search.
I choose a day other than the one when I typically do this run to begin my exploration. When doing an exercise to be present, I don’t want to feel like I am floundering to find my place.

The first option seemed like a good idea; another look out point among the trees. Until four legged friends and the balls they were chasing proved to be too incongruous to the sanctuary I was seeking.

The next week I went a little further to the boat house. A look out point away from the boardwalk that juts out into the lake. It was rocky but there were some flat rocks should I choose to sit. There were even kindred spirits doing yoga on the beach close by and amazing pebbles and polished glass on my mindful walk back to the path that I collected in my back pocket.

It was a great option and yet…

Today I didn’t go there. I had to check on my spot, my place, my refuge in the city. The waters seemed to be receding elsewhere. Maybe it will be OK.

I stopped there today. The barricades were still there. But I know I could have made it onto the landing with just a little skip from the closest rock. I laugh again at how attached I have become.

Today I don’t run to the other good option just a few minutes away. Instead, I find a way to sit cross legged on the large log that found its way to the beach right beside the now hazardous site.

I focus on being present there and its good.

As I run back to where I started, I laugh again at how attached I have become to the spot, my spot, my refuge in the city.

I know that I need to let go of my attachment to allow myself the ability to fully enjoy other options that are magnificent in their own way. But to be honest, part of me doesn’t want to. And so I yearn. And I am comfortable with that. Because that place meant something to me. It was special. And I am not ready to let it go.

This was not my home. I was not born there. I did not have family there. I didn’t find my purpose there. I did not create a lifetime of memories there.

It was just the spot, my spot, my refuge in the city.

As I get ready to go on with my day, my heart has grown a bit bigger, my empathy more profound for all those in this world, who have been displaced by natural or man made barriers, making their spot, their refuge, their home a hazardous place.

I can only imagine. Can you?

Dr. Stacy


The MUSE Headband: The One Piece of Tech I Let My Son “Play” with As Much As He Wants

A few months ago, while immersed in creating curricula to assist families incorporate mindfulness into their daily lives, I realized that I was becoming the caricature of the acclaimed architect who leaves her own house unfinished.  The fact is, that while I was focused on guiding and encouraging others to find ways of integrating meditation as a mindful practice, I was not doing the same for the people nearest and dearest to me – my own family.

And so one day during dinner, I decided to announce my hope that we would all start a regular meditation practice.  The reason I gave my audience, made up of my husband, my 2 year old daughter and 6 year old son, was that it is a practice that essentially gives us super powers.

Meditation is like doing push ups for your brain.  It literally makes the part of your brain that is in charge of controlling your emotions, your behaviour and your creativity, bigger.  The stronger it becomes, the better you are at focusing your attention, which is important for performing your best at whatever you want to do.  It also feels good to do it and it is a tool that you can use to calm down when needed. Dealing with challenges without feeling overwhelmed, leads to better decisions, and ultimately allows us to lead happier lives.

I am telling you, I sold it well.  Everyone was on board. The sell was easy.  As for the implementation…?  Well, that did not go as smoothly.

To be clear, it’s not that my children are completely new to meditation.  I have incorporated some kind of guided meditation in their bedtime routines for years.  However, I felt it was time to up the ante a bit and make it a more conscious process, so that it could become a go-to strategy they could use in their waking lives.

My initial idea was for all of us to get in the habit of doing a breath meditation for 2 minutes when we got home as a way of transitioning from the activity of the day to time together at home.  Sounds good in theory, doesn’t it?  But the reality was that, for my son, 2 minutes of quiet focus was up against the lure of LEGO, toys, TV or whatever it was he had his heart set on doing.

Soon, the enthusiasm he had for the idea in the abstract, quickly became the barrier to fun in reality.  It was something that had to be done in order to get to the good stuff of being home; something that had to be done to appease Mom. This was definitely not the vibe I had intended nor was it conducive to the practice itself.

And so I retreated and recognized that the answer to getting my family to buy into adopting a meditation practice lay within the core of the resistance I faced.  I had to find a way to make it fun.

As if in direct response to my quest, the Universe answered in the form of an Instagram post by my colleagues at the Integrative Health Institute featuring the MUSE Headband. Bingo!  I had my answer.

The Muse Brain Sensing Headband essentially reads your brain waves as you engage in a meditation session and gives you feedback in the form of a change in the sounds you are hearing to let you know when you have drifted away from focusing on your breath to reviewing the to do list, replaying a scene from the day, or the million other random things that pop up when the monkey mind is in full swing.  When you are in a calm meditative state, you hear soft rippling waves on the beach. When you maintain that calm state for a while, birds start chirping.  When you drift, you hear the low rumbling of thunder, like a storm approaching from the distance.  This is the cue to just come back and refocus on the breath. Brilliant!

me-with-muse-headband

Even cooler, is that once your session is done, you get to see your own data:  the percentage of time your brain was actually in a calm vs. neutral or active state, and a graph of exactly when those different brain states happened over the course of the meditation.

muse-interface

 

And for those with a healthy sense of competition, there are extra points you can earn based on the amount of time spent in the calm zone, recognition for high levels of performance and the ability to advance to a higher level once you have demonstrated mastery.

Whoever developed this device clearly knew their stuff when it comes to both brain science and how to foster motivation.  Not surprisingly, a quick perusal of the team behind the product confirmed that none other than Dr. Norman Doidge, Toronto psychiatrist, and bestselling author of The Brain’s Way of Healing and The Brain That Changes Itself is on the advisory board among other top researchers and tech developers.  Enough said.

So now, with the help of the MUSE, we are playing “the meditation game”.  My son not only loves it, but like many children, he is a natural Zen Master.  And he is curious to see how he will do as he advances to the next level and meets new challenges.  Mission accomplished.

Just as going to exercise classes with me from the age of 3 months to 3 years helped to imprint exercise as a fun game he loves to play vs. something he “should do”, my hope is that playing the meditation game as a family and cheering each other on as we progress to higher levels using the MUSE will help ingrain this practice as part of a healthy lifestyle that will be maintained for years to come.

In the meantime, I am curious to know what you might have tried to integrate meditation into your family life?  What has worked?  What have been the challenges?  I’d love to hear about your experience, so please share your thoughts and experiences.  We can all benefit from learning from each other.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Dr. Stacy

Order the Muse Headband on the D.Y.L. Shop!

 

 


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

 


A Sliver of Light

Standing near the water’s edge
Among the dark and clouds
I tune into the sounds

The crashing waves
Pushed by the westerly winds
The same winds that attempt to push me

I stand steadfast in my stance
Delighting in the resistance of my body
As it meets the elements

After some time, I open my eyes
I am drawn to the white caps of the waves as they smash against the boulders along the shore
A contrast to the muted, muddied waters, made grey by the turmoil

For no particular reason, my gaze travels skyward
And I take in what is
A dark, dull canvas

And then…

A curtain of sky is drawn
Ever so slightly to the right
Moved by the same wind my body was resisting

Revealing
The most spectacular
Sliver of light

The perfect crescent, a thin curved line in the sky
Made all the more brilliant by the reveal
And its elusiveness

In a breath it was gone
Quickly covered again by another cloud traveling in from the west
But its impact remained

Profound

Standing in awe of this moment
My soul responds with a single tear from my left eye
I am clearly moved by the message

I understand completely
The impact of the glimmer of light
When on the surface, all we can see is darkness

The light is there.
It is always there.
It just requires us to be present to notice.

And when we do encounter it
Its brilliance has a funny way of making us
Thankful for the dark.

 

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 Voices of Inspiration: The Design Your Life Video Series.

Designing Your Life certainly involves setting goals. But it also requires the ability to see reality clearly, with an attitude of acceptance of what is, and an openness to embracing the process. This is one of the lessons shared so eloquently by Nikki Bergen who had the courage to reveal on social media that she is dealing with the challenges of infertility and had the grace to grant me the opportunity to interview her on camera so that we could all benefit from her wisdom.

This is definitely an interview you want to make the time to watch. Because as much as the focus is on the experience of infertility, the lessons from this specific challenge are relevant to the process of living fully when the one thing you believe you need to be happy seems out of reach.

This is Part 1 of 2, 20 minute videos with Nikki, shot so beautifully by the amazing Robert Young who was kind enough to lend me his talent for this project.

My hope is that you will set aside the time not only to watch, but also reflect. What stands out to you about what Nikki has to say about the lessons of her challenge with infertility? What do you think about the choices she has made to cope? How might this be relevant to your own situation?

As always, I welcome and encourage you to share this video with anyone and everyone you think could benefit.

And if this was helpful to you, please let me know.

This is just the beginning of the conversation. I look forward to seeing how it will continue.

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