Articles Tagged with: toronto
An Invitation to Recharge & Refresh with the Muse Brain-Sensing Headband

My vision for The Design Your Life Centre has always been for it to become a hub for all things related to mental wellness, a place where people could stop in and find resources to help them on their journey  or even just use it as a place of refuge to take a break and recharge before going back to face the challenges of the day.  So rather than allowing my extra treatment room to sit empty when not in use,  I thought that it was the perfect opportunity to turn it into The Muse Room, a place where people can engage with a cool piece of technology that has helped so many around the world build a meditation practice and reap the benefits of improved focus and calm.

The Muse is a game changer.  It is an EEG device that reads your brainwaves and gives you audible feedback so you can redirect to the intended focus of your breath whenever your attention drifts.  And afterwards you can see exactly where those drifts happened.  In addition to allowing to see what is actually happening in your brain when you meditate, it will also help you understand that those times that you do drift and resume focus is akin to doing a push up for your brain. It is those reversals that improve your ability to focus, and actually has a positive physical impact on building the parts of your brain designed just for this.

As part of the recognition of the 1 year anniversary of The Design Your Life Centre, I will be offering up the muse room experience free to anyone who wants to use it.  Come once, come daily.  Its all good.

Click here to book your free 15-minute experience in The Muse Room today.

When you arrive, Nora, my assistant extraordinaire, will be there to meet you and walk you through the process.

We look forward to seeing you soon and helping you start the habit that is actually good for your brain.

Warm Regards Always

Dr. Stacy

 

 


Conscious Parenting: An Invitation to Drop the Guilt and Receive The Love your Child is Ready to Give.

Almost every day for a year and a half;  that’s how long my daughter has been waiting and talking about going to drama club at her school. This was going to be her year.  She was finally old enough to attend.  So when she brought home the forms, I was on it.  I filled them out right away, sent in my money and placed them in the envelope along with all of the other forms needed for the start of the school year.  Or so I thought.

The call came a few days later from the school administrator to let me know that she did not receive any of the club forms.  WHAT???!  How was that possible?  The school administrator stated that she is always very careful as she knows how important registration in the school clubs are to the kids and their families.  She insisted that they were never received.

Is it possible that I somehow forgot to put the forms in the envelope?  My heart sank and the panic started to rise as I pictured my daughter’s disappointment, sadness and anger in response to this situation.  I choked back tears as I begged and pleaded to find a way for my daughter to be in drama, but there was nothing that could be done.  The club was full and there were 6 other children ahead of her on the waiting list.

I hung up the phone and tried to go back to work, distracted by thoughts of how I was going to break this piece of bad news.  The thought occurred to me to not tell her the entire story, to just tell her that the class was full and play the role of the heroine as I consoled her in her grief in order to shield myself from the possibility of anger directed towards me for any role I might have played in this situation.

But I couldn’t do that.  I knew that presenting her with a half truth would have created a barrier between us.  Because as much as part of my distress came from my desire to shield my daughter from pain, it was also in response to having to face the very real possibility of my own failings and the feelings of shame that typically accompanies the evidence of my imperfection. This was the real issue that I had to face.  She was not the one who needed protection.  A choice to not honestly share the truth would have been all about protecting myself.

And so I decided to do something different.  I decided first to make peace with myself.  I decided to show myself compassion.  I let myself cry as I recognized that mistakes can happen in spite of our best intentions.  I forgave myself for whatever I might have done to contribute to this situation and I decided that I would hold space for whatever feelings my daughter needed to express.  I would apologize.  Because even though I tried my best and did not know how the forms did not get to the right place, it was ultimately my responsibility.  And I committed to looking for another drama class in the community that she could join if she was amenable to this.

The decision to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but my whole truth was a decision to be fully present with my daughter; to not abandon her.  It was a decision to communicate to her that sometimes things don’t work out, but that we can deal with these disappointments… together. It was a decision to show her that she and her brother could always come to me with their mistakes because I was willing to be honest with them about mine.

When we got home, I sat both my daughter and my 8 year old son down to tell them what happened.  I wanted to include my son as he needed to see me walk the walk just as much as my daughter did.

I told them about the call, about the things I thought I did to secure her spot, about how my search for the forms at the house came up empty but that at the end of the day the school did not have them and they are also sure that they never received them. I told her that this meant that she would not be able to go to drama club this term and that I was truly sorry.

I braced myself for her tears and anger.  What happened was something that I had not anticipated.  Rather than getting upset, this child simply looked at me, hugged me hard and gave me a big kiss on the cheek.  The only tears that were shed were from my own eyes as I took in the unconditional love she so clearly expressed to me in that moment, a profound gift that healed and will forever touch my heart.

The gift my daughter gave me that day not only showed me her resilience but did wonders for further weakening my harsh inner critic. It is a gift that I opened myself up to receive because I was willing to face my own suffering, and meet it with compassion.

This is what conscious parenting is all about.  It’s not about being the perfect parent.  It’s about creating a space for self-compassion, and awareness so that we as parents can accept the invitation our children have for us to come into our authentic selves.

Interested in learning more about Conscious Parenting? Then you absolutely need to come out to see Dr. Shefali Tsbary in person in Toronto on September 30, 2018.

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For those of you who are unfamiliar with her, Dr. Shefali is a world-renowned psychologist, Oprah regular, TED Talk veteran and the NY Times best selling author of The Conscious Parent, Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children, and The Awakened Family.  She is one of the foremost authorities on Conscious Parenting, and one of the most engaging speakers I have ever seen.

You can learn more and register for her event here.  And not only will I be there for her talk and the post-talk Q&A, but …..I am going to have the chance to interview her in person (eeeee!!!!).

Dr. Shefali has agreed to be a key participant in a 7-day, on-line summit by Mindful World called Parenting In The Age Of Change, which will be hosted by none other than yours truly.  I can hardly wait.

The summit will be bringing together world leaders and practitioners in the areas of parenting, mindfulness, education, brain science, and holistic health, to teach us how we can truly  apply mindful practices and teachings in support of parents and children who are feeling more disconnected than ever in a hyper-connected world.

I cannot believe that I get to pick the brains and play a role in sharing the wisdom of some of the greatest teachers in this area.  So send me your questions! Let me be your voice. It is incredibly important that my questions reflect your concerns, so do not be shy.  Send them.

And do let me know when you register for Dr. Shefali’s event.  I would love to meet up and meet later that week to discuss our takeaways and how we can start implementing some of these ideas for our families and ourselves.

We are all in this together.

With Deep Respect

Dr. Stacy


Hair – An exploration of our roots, identity and the power of transformation

My earliest memories of my hair are filled with pain of varying degrees.  As a young child, the day started with the torture of having braids put in so tight that a simple head nod felt like my hair would literally be ripped from the base of my neck.  This would be followed by the daily experience of having the joy of running and playing with friends interrupted by a smack to the face by the hard plastic “bobbles” attached to the ends of my braids to keep them from unraveling during the day.  Not good.

During my teen years, I entered the phase of having my hair “relaxed”, a process that not only smelled bad, but required me to provide moment-to-moment updates regarding the extent of the burn, to ensure that the chemicals did not stay on the hair too long.  One moment too long and my hair could literally be burned off my head.  Burned.  Off. My Head! Crazy!

All of the pain and torture, was in service of taming my unruly hair… of making my “bad hair” look as “good” (aka straight and ‘white’) as possible.  I don’t think I have to spell out for you how the implicit messaging can really mess with a young girl’s self esteem.

To top it all off, the first trip to the salon gave me a reality check for which I was not prepared.  As I sat waiting for my turn, looking at all of the beautiful pop stars and models in the pages of the black hair magazine I was given, thinking about what style I was going to be rocking when I left, I was told that none of it was possible.  I kid you not..for every picture I pointed to, I was told that what was being shown was not her hair.  Every single hair style I wanted was a wig or a weave. What what?!!

It was my younger sister’s decision to challenge and explore her own hair journey that gave me the courage to stop the madness and appreciate the beauty of my natural hair.  And she started with a simple question:  “What was my hair like as a child?”  After years of various processes that transformed the true nature of her hair, this question and the willingness to explore it seriously, ultimately led her to get back to her “hair truth” so to speak, which was an abundance of soft natural curls and, more importantly, a new found freedom.

Interestingly, that question that explores what we were like at the beginning, before all the adults and society around us had too much say, is something that I regular ask my clients to help understand the essence of their authentic selves.  As we work together to discover and reconnect with the authentic self, and the person starts to honour their truth with aligned action,  the outcome is the same: a life of greater ease, confidence and flow.

The roots of our relationship with our hair run deep y’all.  It has taken me until mid-life to really start to love mine.  And as life would have it, just as I started to really understand how to care for it, the greys have started to appear. So now, thanks to my hair, I find myself challenged to confront an aspect of my life that a combination of good genes and a healthy lifestyle have managed to keep at bay…the inevitable signs of ageing.  Thank you Hair for forcing me to wrestle with this issue and make a conscious choice about how I want to grow forward, with or without the greys, and for giving me the nudge I needed to explore this hair journey. There is clearly more inner work to do.

Interested in exploring your own hair journey? Let me know in the comments below or by emailing me directly.  I would love to dive in to this topic with you through expressive writing, the best tool I know for accessing our truth, and in this case, exploring the role of Hair as a way of connecting with and understanding the authentic self.  So join me and some other lovely beings for an experience that is sure to elevate and inspire.  Your hair and your soul will thank you.

Your Fellow Seeker,

Dr. Stacy


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


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.

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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


Design Your Life: The Passion and the Process

I love being a psychologist. I am passionate about it and know in every fibre of my being that I am fulfilling my life’s purpose.

Every day that I go to work, I have the unique privilege of making genuine connections with people who, in the safety provided by confidentiality, are free to be their authentic selves.  And I have to tell you that it is truly inspiring. 

You see, when people feel safe enough to be their true selves, something absolutely amazing happens…the human spirit is able to shine.  And I am telling you that it is abundantly creative, and resilient and wise. 

In fact, I have yet to meet a client that does not have a sense of what it is they need to do to become the best version of themselves. 

So what is going on here?  If all my clients essentially know what they need to do and have the ability to DESIGN their LIVES why are they coming to speak to someone like me.  Well, the reality is they are stuck.   

Stuck because what they know they need to do is in conflict with another important need, and they are not sure how to move forward.

They know that they deserve to be treated better by others, but fear that articulating their needs will threaten their relationships.

They know that harsh criticism is generally not the way to bring out the best in anyone, and yet, they have difficulty letting go of their inner critic for fear of losing their edge.

They know they need to take better care of themselves, but ignore their body’s messages because they perceive that there is no room for self-care in their lives.  That is, until they have their first panic attack or their child asks them why they yell so much… or worse. 

Or sometimes they just know that that life could be better and they are not sure how to make it happen.  Some know that the rule book that they inherited from their families is inherently flawed but don’t know how to effectively challenge it and take control of their own story. 

Whatever the situation, the individual knows that they have to make a change.  They also know that they need to create space for reflection and that they cannot do it entirely alone.   

Let’s be clear here – not being able to figure this stuff out on your own is NOT a sign of weakness.  It is a sign of intelligence. 

Because being able to hear one’s own voice requires someone to speak to.  It is in the mirroring back of that voice from someone who is really good at listening that we learn to understand ourselves accurately.   In the process, that inner voice that is there to guide each and every one of us gets amplified.

And as we experience someone else giving it the space to be heard, and the respect it deserves we learn to do the same thing for ourselves.  We learn how to listen to that voice, and respect it by acting on its message. 

Yes, there are often new skills to learn, new behaviours to try, and assumptions to test.  But the essential understanding of the type of change necessary is almost always there.  It is through the experience of being heard and supported by an empathic listener that the change process is able to unfold.

And you know what is truly amazing, once people start to get good at listening to and respecting that inner guide, things just start to get easier.  It is almost as if they wake up to a new world.

For me, being there with someone in that moment when that awakening occurs…well, there is nothing more rewarding.

And so my question for you is this:  What are you waiting for?

You know it’s time.

Design Your Life.