Blog Archives
Leveraging Community for Greater Impact

 

This past weekend, I spent 3 days among a group of clinician entrepreneurs brought together by Dr. Meghan Walker for an event called IMPACT LIVES.  I was honoured to have been invited to give the opening keynote talk and then I was honoured again by being awarded The Paragon Award for excellence as the Clinician of the Year. 

As good as it feels to have been chosen and recognized, the shine of the moment quickly faded in the face of the reality of this most recent lockdown in response to the pandemic.  The need for our services is higher than it has ever been and the sobering truth is that we are not currently doing enough to help. 

While we are continuing to grow our team to meet the demand for 1-on-1 care, this situation clearly illustrates that an exclusive individual model for delivering services is not only unsustainable but cannot serve our community at the level that’s needed right now.  As Dr. Meghan stated several times, when times are challenging, what matters most is not our resources but our resourcefulness.  And when I stand back and look at the genius that exists among the people within this community, it strikes me that we actually have an abundance of both.

This community is filled with incredible leaders, not all of whom recognize their power, but we do.  We also have been privileged to have witnessed transformation happening among our individual clients at a rate that we have never seen before.  This is the positive side effect of this unprecedented time:  it is pushing us all to grow exponentially.  Can you imagine what could happen if we connected you with others interested in designing their lives?  I know that the impact would be through the roof!

As per usual, I have a ton of ideas. But to ensure we are going to best serve your needs, we would really appreciate it if you could spare a minute to complete this brief survey to ensure that whatever we offer is in line with your needs.  You can access the survey here.   

And while you are waiting to get started in a new group offering with us, I urge you to take advantage of the offerings I helped develop with Mindful World that are full of incredible content you can use today: The 2020 Mindful World Parenting Summit, The MIlton’s Secret Conscious Conference featuring yours truly along with Dr. Shafali Tsabary, Eckhart Tolle, Dr. Laura Markam, Lisa Nichols, and Barnet Bain as well as Milton’s Secret, the first feature film based on the teachings of Ekhart Tolle.  All of these offerings provide insight and tools for addressing anxiety, stress, and bullying and will be free only until November 25, 2020.  

For those of you who would like to get started in a group experience asap, I invite you to join me on Instagram, every Tuesday morning from 7 am – 7:30 am EST @growingforwardsoulschool for the Flow to Grow expressive writing practice.  If you can’t make it that early, no worries:  you can register to receive the recordings of each session through the link in our bio.  

Lastly, as some of us begin to shop for the holidays, I urge you to support your local small businesses whenever you can.  One such business is Allwood Market, my go to place for ethically, hand-made, organic, vegan, non-toxic, fashion made with love by the infinitely creative Kevin Allwood like my sequined touque and “Be You Til Full” hoodie.  Get yours while they last.  

Thank you again for being part of the Design Your Life Community.  We look forward to seeing all that will unfold as we use this moment to come together like never before.

All of Our Best, 

Dr. Stacy & The Design Your Life Team.

 


What We Can All Learn From High Performers In Order To Thrive In The Face Of Challenge

I recently had the pleasure of giving a webinar for a corporate client who asked me to speak to their staff members in support of their mental health. My talk, titled, “Surthriving in the Face of Uncertainty,” perfectly describes the situation we’re all facing and what we need to learn to do to make it through this pandemic.

Check Out Surthriving

My experience helping people through the most difficult times in their lives, including high performers who want to perform at their best when it counts, has taught me a lot about what it takes to navigate and actually thrive in the face of challenge. Our high performers have a lot to teach us when it comes to the latter.

All great performers, whether it’s in athletics or the arts, are willing to accept the discomfort that comes with challenge. Training for anything always involves discomfort. Physical discomfort, whether it be sore muscles, or having to wake up at an ungodly hour to make it to the gm are experiences that the dedicated athlete comes to accept. The person who is focused on expanding their potential by embracing challenge does not resist discomfort; they accept that it is part of the process. This is what it takes to get through any challenge, regardless of whether we asked for it or it came into our lives, uninvited.

Check out our latest post on Joy – A Resiliency Practice for Navigating Uncertain Times

After witnessing some of life’s hardest journeys, I can tell you that the pivotal moment that turns everything around is when people stop resisting and avoiding the unpleasant aspects of life. For some people, getting to this point of acceptance is a long and painful process. But regardless of the time it takes to get there, the final destination is beneficial for everyone.

Once they achieve this mindset of acceptance, they quickly mobilize what they need to do to adapt. And they get better. The distress decreases, they start making better choices to fit their situation and step by step they start to climb out of the hole that they dug themselves into while spending weeks, months, and maybe even years in a state of resistance. Often, what emerges is someone who, in many ways, is better than they were before.

The current situation we’re all experiencing, is a paradigm shift. We are being forced to let go of the past. Recognizing what we yearn for helps bring clarity to what is really important. And this is the opportunity that is available to all of us. Because if we can listen to all of it, the pain and the joy of this moment, we will be able to create something even better. Indeed, it is very possible that we might not ever want to go back.

Take Care,
Dr. Stacy & The Design Your Life Team

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Joy – A Resiliency Practice for Navigating Uncertain Times

These unprecedented times have been hard for most of us. But while turmoil always accompanies trauma and change, another thing that happens at times like this is post-traumatic growth.

Yes, believe it or not, situations like this, do result in us becoming stronger in ways that serve us. However, this is not a passive process. The science on post-traumatic growth suggests that integrating practices that build resilience is a way of guaranteeing positive growth that allows us to feel better in the process.

Many have heard of gratitude as a practice that helps. Among its many benefits, paying attention to the things we are grateful for allows the nervous system to shift out of survival mode and into a state of restoration, which is what we want to ensure we are operating at our best.

Check out our last post on ACCEPTANCE: THE FIRST STEP TOWARD POSITIVE CHANGE

Another proven resiliency practice that gets less attention is joy. Gratitude and joy sometimes overlap, but are not quite the same and are worthy of reflecting on separately.

Joy refers to the everyday moments that you love and enjoy. One example is enjoying the weather on a beautiful day. I live in Toronto, where it’s often cold. Leaning into the feeling of the sun on my body, the colours all around me, and the sound of the birds on a beautiful day, allows me to be present with the good in the present moment. In addition to getting a good dose of positivity, taking the time to enjoy the good with all of my senses is a concrete reminder that, even in times of stress, good things continue to happen. Archiving the joy of a beautiful day in the inner-highlight reel of my life, also serves to assure me that there will be more joyful moments that I can look forward to discovering and experiencing in the future.

Once you’ve been practicing gratitude and joy, recognizing those moments as they occur gets easier. We get better at leaning into them and absorbing all that they have to give us. This is how we build inner resiliency that helps us feel grounded and confident in our ability to face anything, including these uncertain times.

So what are the moments of joy you had today? Consider sharing yours with those you know and with us too in the comments below. It’s a conversation that we all need to be having now.

Take Care,
Dr. Stacy & The Design Your Life Team

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ACCEPTANCE: THE FIRST STEP TOWARD POSITIVE CHANGE

ACCEPTANCE: THE FIRST STEP TOWARD POSITIVE CHANGE

As humans, we tend to resist change in our lives. We’ll do anything to avoid change despite its certainty and our incredible ability to adapt. Learning to move through change vs resist it is what makes all the difference in our ability to successfully navigate whatever life might bring. As scary and hard as it might be, the faster we can get to a place of acceptance, the sooner we transition to a place of positive change.

By accepting the reality of any situation, it enables us to discover appropriate solutions in our lives. Rather than employing solutions based on what was or for a future that has yet to happen, staying grounded in what we know allows us to align our actions more appropriately with our current reality. As a result, we solve problems more effectively, make use of solutions that can actually work right now, and give ourselves the opportunity to appreciate our own competence and resilience. The more we do this, and pay attention to how we are doing, the more evidence we acquire to build our confidence in our ability to cope with whatever might happen next.

But how do we reach this stage of acceptance? What if we’re dealing with a particularly challenging situation? Breathe, grieve, and identify what you need. This is a saying that I want you to remember when you’re dealing with a difficult situation or a change in life.

Check out our latest post on BREATHING: UNLEARN WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED

The first step is to breathe. Finding our breath helps in combatting our fear, allowing us to access our wisdom and higher selves. Rather than avoiding a challenging situation, breathing empowers us to travel through these scenarios by calming our nerves so we can see it more clearly for what it is.

Next, we must grieve. It’s important to recognize that with every change we also face loss. Loss of what was, loss of what was familiar. Moving into the unknown is scary. Letting go of what was, allowing ourselves to recognize it as a loss, and feeling our feelings about that is the process we need to go through in order to let go and move forward.

Once we’ve calmed our nervous system and have taken the time to grieve, we’re better equipped to identify our needs. What can I handle now? What resources do I have? How can make best use of the supports and resources available to me? What other supports do I need? These questions combined with the commitment to act to make a difference for ourselves is what allows us to not only survive adversity but thrive in the face of it.

If this was helpful, please share it. We are all in this together.

Take Care,
Dr. Stacy & The Design Your Life Team


The Power Of Mindful Breathing

BREATHING: UNLEARN WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED

It may sound unusual, but one of the most important skills to successfully design your life is breathing. This is something we do all the time, but it’s also something we take for granted. The key to mastering this skill is mindfulness, as opposed to forcefulness, in your breathing.

You should never underestimate the power of mindful breathing. By taking deep breaths and focusing on each one, we’re able to completely alter our perspective on any situation. It’s a way of communicating to our nervous system that there isn’t a reason to be panicking.

Some people experience panic and anxiety attacks in certain scenarios, but focused breathing is a valuable technic to process a triggering incident. You can start practicing by checking in on your breath, observing how it changes from one instance to the next.

Check out our post on Yes, You Can Step Out of The Matrix and, Into a New Reality

A deep breath is one that travels below your lungs and down to your diaphragm, allowing your stomach to expand. Once you exhale, your stomach will collapse and the carbon dioxide will slowly leave your body. Focus on it, but don’t force it.

This regulates our emotions and manages our stresses. As soon as you change your perception of breathing, you can change your perception of the world.

Take Care,
We look forward to seeing you soon and continuing to help you Design Your Life.

Dr. Stacy & The Design Your Life Team

 


A Gift to Support Your Self-Care on Mother’s Day & Every Day

Mother’s day is hard for so many, especially now.
For those who want nothing more than to hug their mother, or embrace their children rather than give a distant wave.
For those who have lost a child, or have been trying for the child they have yet to hold.
For those who grieve the mother they loved dearly and has passed on, or the mother they had wished for but never had.
Mother’s day can be hard

And so… for all of those who are mothers and for all who have had a mother , we offer this little gift: an affirmation we hope will help you connect with the infinite love that created you that you can tap into and give to yourself.

Many thanks to @zachkellum for offering this opportunity to combine my voice and this message with his beautiful music. Follow him on Instagram for a dose of his vibes that will make your spirit soar.

Our hope is that you listen to this affirmation daily, maybe even several times a day, to absorb the truth of the message so that you can and will show up even better for yourself. And if you love it, please do share it. We all need this now.

Enjoy.

Sending you all a big virtual hug.

Dr. Stacy & The Design Your Life Team


Breaking Old Patterns and Learning New Skills

If you’ve ever found yourself growing tired of old life patterns, you’re not alone. Life is filled with constant patterns for everyone, but these patterns don’t have to be unpleasant or stressful.

We’re all living patterns. At The Design Your Life Centre in Toronto, our therapists and I regularly discuss patterns with our clients. While some patterns are positive for our lives, a stressful life indicates that we need to replace old patterns with new ones.

Research has shown that people need to develop skills to break old patterns, and replace them with new patterns that serve them better. Helping people identify and understand limiting life patterns they are stuck in and, more importantly, the skills they can practice to create new patterns that will allow them to truly design their lives is what we do best.

Helping people in this way is our mission. Because designing you life is not just about showing up for ourselves. It helps us show up better for others too, because when we live in a way that is aligned with who we are, we are happier, we feel purposeful and that automatically gives to those in our midst. This is how doing the inner work helps to make the world a better place.

Check Out Finding Balance in response to Covid-19

Take Care,
We look forward to seeing you soon and continuing to help you Design Your Life.

Dr. Stacy & The Design Your Life Team


The MINDFUL WORLD PARENTING SUMMIT: An Invitation to Be Part of The Change that Can Change the World

How did you come to host this?  This is one of the most common questions I get asked by my interviewees after we stop recording their contribution for the Mindful World Parenting Summit, a free, 7-day online event that has brought together leading experts on parenting, mental health, brain science, nutrition, education, and mindfulness in service of creating a more mindful world.  The subtext I hear is, “why you?”.  It’s a fair question.    I do not have much of a following. I am not a best-selling author.  I have not been on a podcast nor have I done a TED Talk.   I am an unknown; a virtual nobody in our virtual world.

My answer to the question is quite simple:  I just committed to doing something to make a difference.  With no following,  I just decided to do it –  to try to expand my reach beyond the four walls of my office.   I sincerely did not feel I had a choice to do otherwise.

The process started 2 years ago, when I was shaken to my core with the turmoil I witnessed happening in the world.  As upsetting as it all was, once I got quiet through my own practice of meditation and expressive writing, there were two things that soon became crystal clear:  1) that within the darkness and the chaos, there would be a natural attraction of the masses to anything and anyone that inspired the light and 2) I needed to do more to democratize mental health and make evidence-based mental wellness tools more accessible.

The latter was something I felt deeply called to do.  This was not about me.  It was about doing what I could to have a positive impact because there were clearly too many who needed to be supported to do the inner work necessary for the world to change.

And so I just started.  I had no idea how I was going to do it, but I was committed to doing what I could and waited for inspiration.   A year later, the how I was looking for began to take shape in the form of a guided journal.  A year after that, after having self published the Growing Forward Journal, and bearing witness to the impact and massive shifts people made almost instantly as they accessed, and shared the truth that came through on the page as they got quiet, and allowed the pen to express what they needed to hear, I knew that I was on the right track.

Along the way, I happened to share The Growing Forward Journal with Stephen Huszar, a friend and one of the founders of Mindful World.  Mindful World produced Milton’s Secret, a gem of a movie starring Donald Sutherland, based on the Ekhart Tolle book of the same name.  I had gifted my time as a consultant to help with the development of the learning materials based on Ekhart’s response to the film. Interestingly, my involvement happened soon after my awakening two years ago.

Stephen loved the journal and encouraged me with much needed advice about how to launch it to a wider audience.  As part of the launch and the community I wanted to build around it, I had always envisioned inviting other experts and seekers, known and unknown, to offer their wisdom about growing forward through life’s challenges.

This vision is what I had in mind during The New Moon Ceremony I hosted this past summer along with Roseline Mouana.  It was a truly magical night on the roof at 321 Carlaw where my office is located.  After having let go of all that did not serve us, getting grounded through yoga, and coming together in celebration of all that we were inviting into our lives, I found myself setting this intention:

 

 

About a month later, the opportunity of a lifetime came my way, courtesy of Stephen:  I was invited to host The Mindful World Parenting Summit.  I was indeed going to be sharing my Big Voice with other Big Voices for Big Impact in a way I had never thought possible.

The Summit,  has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional life.  This psychologist, who can barely figure out how to post on Facebook, was suddenly given access to professionals and thought leaders I have long admired, who themselves are also dedicated to having a positive impact on the world.  The opportunity to engage with them and share their teachings has touched me so much.  It has impacted the way I parent and has affirmed a truth that I know without question:  We humans are at a turning point in our evolution.

It is an exciting time.  Our best science undeniably confirms the power of mindful practices for building the parts of the brain that allow us to respond vs. react and to feel deeply connected with ourselves and others.  We can now literally see how the mind, i.e. our thoughts, impacts the physical structure of our brains.  And we have irrefutable evidence that as creatures of attachment, it is through the ability to connect that we are able to realize our highest potential.

Yes, there is indeed a science to happiness and it is high time that everyone learns about it and understands how to practically apply this knowledge so we can all start living from the inside out, build true resilience and thrive.  This is how we can change a generation. This is how we can change the world.

So if you are on my mailing list, or follow me on social media, you can expect that I will be talking a lot about this event for the next several weeks.  This event is far too important for me to be shy about promoting it.

My hope is that you will help me with this mission.  Click the link and register.  And once you are done registering, share it with everyone you know.

The summit runs from January 21-27, 2019.  But as soon as you sign up, you will get access to a bunch of free gifts, including two interviews included in the summit, one of them being with Dr. Shefali Tsabary one of my favourite conscious parenting experts of all time.  You will also get access to The Growing Forward Journal by your truly, as well as other books and programs from the event producers and some of our more prolific experts in the summit.

As for my journey…the lesson I hope you take from it is to commit and act.  You know that idea that has been rattling around in your brain for months, maybe even years?  It is there for a reason.  That reason is bigger than you.  You owe it to yourself to discover that gift you have to offer to the world that only you can give in the way that you can.  And know that if you commit to making it happen, even if you don’t know how to do it, the universe will help you.  It has your back.  My story is proof of it.

With Deep Respect & Gratitude for joining me in helping to create a more mindful world.

Let’s do this, together!

Dr. Stacy