37 Things I have learned at 37
- A lot of things (being a parent, marriage, travelling) look way more fun on Facebook than they are in real life.
- There is a divine timing to your life. If you rush it or force it: you will lose. Be patient.
- You can only ever understand your life looking back at it.
- The more you plan a fun day off/vacation/night out, the greater the severity of illness your child will come down with.
- Some of your best friends and family don’t know how to handle your grief. This does not mean that they love you any less.
- Yoga is therapy for the soul. Seriously.
- Things that can be good for you can also be bad for you (red wine, coffee, whole grains). It’s your job as you age to know the difference.
- It’s the small, daily things that make change. Begin one small daily positive habit each month and in a year, your life will be different.
- Meditate. Trust me on this one.
- Post-secondary education isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be.
- Don’t participate in tearing down other women: not their businesses, their lip injections, their weight. Gossip is a cancer among women. You either help it grow or cut it out.
- By that same token, if a friend talks shit about everyone else, they are doing it about you. Yes- even you.
- You deserve a clean and comforting bedroom.
- Everything is “figureoutable” (thanks, Marie).
- You teach people how to treat you, so lead by example.
- It might be hard to see now, but you actually DO have all the answers inside of you. Find people to help you uncover them.
- You’re not the only one doing or thinking that weird-ass thing you’re ashamed about. Let it go.
- You’re only as “sick as your secrets”. Talking about it takes your power back.
- Your body image woes have less to do with your actual body and more to do with the never-ending stream of media and social programming. For the love of God, begin to realize this.
- Look for the friends who are cheering you on while you’re really kicking ass. Those are special people.
- Understand that you have the power to heal or stop your destructive family cycle.
- It’s not a good idea to get a tattoo that you picked off of the wall at the tattoo shop on Canada Day Weekend when you’re 22.
- A 1000-piece puzzle almost always is a better idea when you’re just putting the edges of it together.
- It is in the darkest of times that your light is revealed.
- Love it the greatest healer of all, so don’t rule it out for yourself.
- Don’t believe the hype: it’s actually NOT THAT HARD to meet someone. You just need to be prepared to be vulnerable.
- A big necklace and large earrings are, in fact, too much. Except when they’re not.
- You’ve never wasted your money if you’ve purchased a book.
- If you toast sliced almonds, they taste so much better and make everything fancy and crunchy, while delivering a real protein punch.
- If you think you’re drinking too much, you are. Put down the wine and go to yoga, Janice.
- You can only take people as far as you’ve taken yourself.
- People can only take you as far as they’ve taken themselves- choose your helpers and healers with care.
- Everybody just wanted to be validated.
- No matter what the behaviour, no matter how outrageous, there is a valid reason for everything if you look closely.
- Self-compassion is the way.
- If you REALLY want to take care of yourself, prioritize sleep.
This life can be hard. Realize that there is enough to go around and accept that we do, in fact, desperately need each other.
I want to tell you a story about an experience I had that completely changed my life. Years ago, I was in a super low point, and my confidence was about as vibrant a piece of cold, forgotten toast. Despite having once had an incredible and very promising career, at this time, I was blowing every interview I had with impressive speed. In fact, I may or may not have cried during one of my interviews #InterviewTears. I was desperate for change, but felt stuck and helpless.
I found myself working in a job for which I was overqualified and seriously, seriously underpaid. My plan at the time was to stay there, regroup and move on. I just needed something to pay the bills. In reality, what happened was that I kept blowing external interviews, and was passed over not once, not twice, but thrice for promotions at my job.
I felt like I was bashing my head against a brick wall. I could not figure out what the actual hell I was doing wrong. I was positive! I was creative! I was teaching yoga for the staff on Tuesdays for the love of God!
One day, a rumor floated around the office that a promotion was going to be coming up and my heart soared with hope. Within hours, however, I realized that a colleague (a wonderful, incredible and perfect-for-the-job colleague) was already pinned for the gig. I woke up that night at 2:00am with a racing heart. It was literally like in the movies, where the plot line suddenly became crystal clear. I finally woke up to the fact that truly, madly and deeply, I was the MOST unemployable person I knew, and I would never, ever be promoted at this job- or any job- in the future.
I finally realized that I was (and could only ever be), my own boss and I was going to just have to go and promote my own damn self.
Ladies and gentleman, this moment was the birth of Nourish Counselling Services.
Here is what I have to tell you:
I stood trying to bang down a door that was never gonna budge for so damn long that I couldn’t see the glorious, shiny, pink door that had been at my back, wide open and ready for me to sashay my way through it. If you are bashing your fists against a door that just won’t open…
Turn. The. F. Around. Please. For the love of lattes, pumpkin spice and forgiving yoga pants, turn around. Turn around, bright eyes.
There are obstacles that are put in our way that feel insurmountable and relentless. Sometimes they are there for us to climb over and triumph. Sometimes, however, they are gifts from George Michael himself (#faith), forcing us to get a Plan B going and try something new.
I am sitting here, writing you from South Carolina, on a Thursday morning because I turned around. I didn’t ask anyone for time off. I haven’t sat through any soul-destroying staff meetings in months. I did not have to sit through a safety video from 1994 on winter driving, or hand washing this year. When I get back to my clients next week, I will be working with the most incredible, beautiful and inspiring humans I have ever met.
But for this to happen, I had to turn around. I had to stop trying to make myself something that I wasn’t (in my case, a manager and a rule-follower). I am not telling you to quit your job. I am telling you to quit what is not working, what is not in your true nature and what is holding you back from something far, far better.
I’d love to hear from you if you’ve ever had an experience like this. I read and respond to each comment, so chime in!
May you be happy,
To err is human, to forgive, divine.
Anyone who knows me knows (beyond a shadow of a doubt) that I have made many a mistake in my lifetime. There was the perm I got in Grade 7 (while I still had BANGS. Seriously- a perm with bangs!). Or, the first house I bought that was the size of a shoebox. And let’s never forget the time I tried to grow out my eyebrows like Miley (pro tip: if you were born anytime before 1990, you’ve probably damaged your eyebrows with tweezers and should only work with professionals).
Some mistakes that we make are easier to forgive. Others are much, much more difficult. Like the time I got married to the wrong person.
My first marriage turned heartbreakingly abusive shortly after we wed. The first time my then-husband hit me, I was so shocked that I wondered if I had imagined it. I couldn’t believe what had just happened. I mean, hello? I had a degree in this stuff. I knew better! How could I have ever let myself get into something so dangerous? In a split second, I felt reduced to nothing at all.
Even though I didn’t stick around for too much longer, that experience rocked me to the core. I was so angry at him. I was even more angry at myself. It was as if that experience erased everything wise or successful that I had ever done up to that point. I began to see myself as an utter failure.
Has something like this ever happened to you? I’m not just talking about being in an abusive relationship. Have you ever made a big mistake? Something that changed your life, or left you with shattered pieces to pick up?
If I knew then what I know now, I would have stopped torturing the woman that was me with anger. I would have taken such good care of her. Because, I want to tell you something right now. Something that I know for sure:
When you feel like you deserve compassion and love the least, you need it the most.
If you take a bad situation (like a life mistake) and then punish yourself, your suffering will be much worse. Refusing to forgive yourself is simply breeding ground for shame, guilt and depression to grow.
You don’t need to keep yourself in mental jail so that you never make that mistake again.
You don’t have to stop making decisions or stop taking risks because “I suck at making good decisions”.
You don’t have to keep people in your life that mistreat you, abuse you or belittle you because “I don’t deserve anything else”.
Oh, no, my friends. That is not what life is supposed to feel like at all.
Forgiving yourself (like, real forgiving and not drinking a bottle of wine to make yourself feel better), is about detaching from mistakes and looking at yourself with empathy. With compassion. Forgiving yourself means that you understand that part of being human is to make mistakes. Sometimes they are really painful. Sometimes they really hurt others. It sucks. And still- you’re not alone.
Forgiving yourself doesn’t mean that you throw up your hands and declare, “anyway, sorry about bashing in your car, Susan, but I’ve forgiven myself so I’m not taking care of the damage anymore!”. It’s about taking appropriate responsibility to make amends if you need to, and then being willing to release the issue from judgement. This is where true self-growth and a new relationship to the self can emerge.
Is there something that you’ve been holding onto or punishing yourself about? Isn’t it time to make amends and then let it go? What would life feel like if you didn’t have this hanging over you? How would you feel? Jot down some answers to this in a journal, and if you’d like, comment below. I read and respond to every one.
May you be happy,
I have, by all accounts, one of the most gentle and kind friends out there. Let’s call her Matilda (because the Jane’s of the world are tired of taking the brunt of these anonymous stories) She’s giving, compassionate and patient. She remembers everyone’s special days, makes time to really listen to friends, and is a competent and gracious leader.
Which is why the fact that she has, on several occasions, hung up on and sworn at her spouse is perplexing to both herself and, quite frankly, her wife.
Before we dissect poor Matilda’s behaviour, however, let me also tell you about my friend “Kevin”. Kevin is a highly ambitious salesperson with a reputation of getting things done ahead of schedule and being available to coach, mentor and provide support for his sales team.
His wife, however, hasn’t been able to get him to emotionally “tune in” to their relationship or family for years. She can’t understand why Jermone’s colleagues are getting the best of him and she’s got crumbs.
Can you relate? Do you ever wonder why it seems easier to do and say things to your spouse that you wouldn’t dream of doing or saying to anyone else?
Here’s a theory for you: our intimate relationships mean that we are wide open and vulnerable to perceived or real transgressions by our partners. When we feel like a nerve is struck by our partners, it’s much easier to become defensive and protective- because it stirs up the most sensitive areas of pain for us.
Think of it this way: inside each one of us lives the proverbial “inner child”. This is the little you that might not have gotten all of your needs met as a youngster. This is the area where shame was developed inside you. Maybe you were bullied or perhaps you grew up in a home where emotions were repressed or you weren’t validated. Whatever the case, this little person has been hurt.
Later in life, when you open up to love in your intimate relationships, you are saying, “this is all of me- can you love me?” You’re including that inner child in this request, whether you know it or not. At first, this is easy because that crazy, infatuation-love kicks into high gear. After time, however, your partner notices your flaws, you notice theirs, and then “raw spots” get made. These are areas where you begin to feel attacked, criticized, judged or unsupported.
As a species completely dependent on each other for survival, feeling like your “bids” for connection and closeness are being rejected is devastating. Thus, you can become angry, resentful and protective- and either lash out (looking at you, Matilda) or withdraw (we’ve got your number, Kevin).
Try this: begin to reflect on your earlier years and moments that stand out to you as shaping the view you have of yourself. Notice if there are raw spots that can get “rubbed” by your partner. Notice when you feel like withdrawing or lashing out. The first step to changing a behaviour is to bring awareness to it and look for patterns.
Couples counselling can be an excellent way to begin to understand yourself and your behaviour in relationships. One of the things I love best about couples therapy is watching partners listen and link how their spouse’s “inner child” is activated. When coupled can know where they are both coming from, they can understand how to give the other what that person needs. Contact me for more information or book online for counselling in my London, Ontario office.
May you be happy,
I meant to get this out last week, but the holiday madness got the best of me. Between seeing clients and hosting my entire family, I decided to be kind to myself and use my days off as… you know… days off. Though this post is a bit late, you’ll soon see that it’s better late than never when you’re making changes!
Last time we met on this blog, I gave you three ways to begin to make changes for 2018. Today, I am going to give you three more ways to begin to see substantial positive changes in your life by starting some small routines.
4. Set themes for your year:
There is an excellent piece of advice in a book called, “The Compound Effect” by Darryl Hardy that I have been enjoying. In his bestselling book, Hardy suggests breaking your year into quarters and focusing on small action steps each quarter that relate to a change you’d like to see.
Each New Year, I like to review four areas of my life: financial, professional, personal and health. I then pick one or two (max) small changes to make and practice this for 21 days. For each 3-month period, choose a theme (for example, relationships or health). Then, decide on one small change to move you towards that goal. Do it for 21 days, then add another once the 21 days is up. Rinse and repeat. Review at the end of your 3 months.
5. Schedule your year:
This might sound crazy, but it works. Schedule your year! Remember those themes that we spoke about earlier? Block them in. Dedicate “goal reviewing” times. Get a planner (electronic or my personal favourite, the Daily Greatness Journal) and schedule in when you will review your week.
When you commit to scheduling in whatever it is that you’re wanting to take an important role in your life, treat it like a physician’s appointment. Even the act of writing things down makes a powerful statement to yourself that you’re taking this seriously. For example, if self-care is something important to you, schedule in your nail appointments or meditation time.
Make yourself and your life a priority. Schedule it in!
6. Forgive yourself:
If I could leave you with one thing to remember as you move into 2018, it’s to please, please, please be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself when you make mistakes. Forgive yourself for mistakes that you’ve already made. Forgive yourself when you forget to do the 5 other steps in this blog series! Forgive yourself! You are human and part of being human is making mistakes. It is ok. You are ok. If you do just one thing this year, I hope that you treat yourself with the same loving kindness that you would give to an injured child.
Many people think that giving themselves compassion means letting themselves “off the hook”, but it couldn’t be further from the truth! By treating yourself the way that you would treat a friend, you will open up a whole new world where you are able to take risks, meet challenges head on and find peace and happiness.
One of my favourite parts of being a therapist is helping people discover how to use self-compassion in their day-to-day lives. If you’d like to learn how to befriend yourself, I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a line or click here to book a session.
May you be happy,
If I love anything, it’s a new beginning. This is probably one of the big reasons that I feel so inspired by my work as a therapist. I get to see new beginnings all the time. People heal, change their story, co-create new relationships. It’s the perfect fit for me, the woman who has an insatiable hunger for stories of human development.
It should come as no surprise, then, that New Year’s is my absolute favourite time of the year. I love the magical time leading up to the start of a new year. We shed our skin. We get to review what worked for us and what didn’t in the last 365 days. We have the chance to “officially” set new goals for who and what we want to become. I get tingles just writing this!
You CAN change your life- honest. You can feel better, love yourself more, enjoy relationships that are mutually rewarding. You can take care of your body, mind and soul. You can finally quit that god-awful job that is sucking you dry, put down the Ketchup chips and stop snapping at your mother and/or your husband. Here’s the thing though, guys: it is going to take work. And by “work”, I mean daily work. It’s the small things that we do over time that add up to huge change.
OK. I want you to grab a mug of tea or coffee or sparkling water and get clear with yourself on what you would like to call in this year. Turn off your ringer and take a deep breath, because I am going to tell you exactly how to start building a life you’re proud of in 2018. Ready? Let’s do this thing.
1. Choose your “2018 Word”:
Start by deciding what your “theme” is going to be. This way, whenever you have a big decision to make or something to let go of, you can remember what you said you wanted to commit to. It helps to think of what you’d like to create, or how you’d like to feel.
If you’re finally kicking your money woes, your word might be “abundance”. If you’re ready to take care of your body, you might choose “health”. If your temper has been getting you down, perhaps you’ll decide on “patience” or “balance”.
2. Make a list of your goals (in order of importance) and a timeline of when you’d like them to be realized:
Here, you look at how you’d like to feel this time next year. Let’s say in 2017, you found yourself so disorganized that you lost important documents, missed several deadlines and had near-constant anxiety about the fact that you spent a lot of time running around like a headless chicken (side note: this is the worst analogy ever. If you have a better way to describe this state, please email me and let me know!)
Anyway, your word is “organized” and you know that next December you want to feel rested, organized and like you have the bulk of your shIt together. Then, you move backwards. You want to have that garage cleaned out by February. The family vacation done and dusted by April. Whatever- plan it out in timelines.
3. Choose 1 thing per month that you are going to do each day for up to 20 minutes:
Ok, gang. Here is where the work starts. I am going to suggest to you that your real point of power is not when you decide that “from now on I am Paleo, I work out every day for an hour and I am hereby cutting off all toxic relationships, including my mom and possibly my toddler!!”
No. Let’s go back to our “Organized” example.
You might decide that every day, you will deal with your mail as you receive it. Or maybe that you will get a planner or online calendar and spend 15 minutes per day going over it so you’re never surprised with “All The Things That You Said You’d Do But Forgot”. The key here is to begin by small, but consistently. The thing you say you’re going to do needs to be done (or not done) daily.
Want to get healthy? Great. Instead of taking away all carbs, try adding a salad every single day. Or fruit. Or walking for 15 minutes, no matter what. Looking for peace? Try meditating every single day- but for only 3-5 minutes. That’s it. Set monthly challenges for yourself and stay committed. The more you begin to implement the small changes, the sooner you are going to see what is known as “the compound effect”: the momentum that comes from daily changes and routines.
Ok- I am going to leave this right here. I have more (so, so much more) but then I’d be writing a book and not a blog and really, no one needs that tonight.
Stay tuned for next week’s edition, and feel free to send me an email or book a session with me now to begin to change your 2018.