Being Kind to Myself

I spent some time updating my 28 Days of Self-Love Challenge Worksheet recently. In doing so, it gave me time to pause and reflect on what i do myself as acts of self-love or self-compassion. It’s important to practice what i preach, and also note that therapists are not exempt from flaws and needing moments of self-love too. We are all perfectly imperfect, and yet i know that i can be hard on myself because i am SUPPOSED to know better. It’s one of the occupational hazards of being a therapist after all.

With this in mind, i was thinking about how self-esteem, self-worth self-love, self-care and self-compassion all get interchanged and mistaken for each other. While they are woven into each other, it is helpful to notice that one does not feel love just because they care for themselves. Positive self-esteem and self-worth may be the overall hopes for us all, and yet it can be long and complicated journey to get there. When i also clients if they have done something kind for themselves lately, they are quick to counter that they don’t deserve or need it, and some say “I’m not worthy of that because I’m not loveable.”

This is where regular acts of kindness, love and compassion come in. Incorporating them into our daily rhythms helps us build on their importance. That bouquet of fresh flowers that you keep walking past at No Frills, that time it snowed so much and you didn’t leave your bed, that moment where you said No to an annoying co-worker – these are acts of the same compassion and love you would offer a friend.

Let’s be our own best friend.

(if you would like a PDF download of this helpful worksheet, click here: 28 Days of Self-Love (5)

The Family Road Trip Rite of Passage


I recently went on a road trip with my family. Growing up, i went on the same drive to Florida about twice a year, year in and year out. I know the I-75 highway from Michigan to Florida with the back of my hand. Well i used it: It’s been years since i drove it with my family when i was a child.

This trip served as a rite of passage of sorts. Driving 2 full days with my kids in the back seat proved that i am now the adult in the car. It was very symbolic for me. I’ve been thinking a lot about Rites of Passage, and you will see more of that in coming blog posts and work i’m putting together.

It’s easy to fall into old habits, even ones that are 25 years old and not practiced since then. As a child, i grew up being awakened by my parents at 4am so we could get in the car and start the long drive to Florida. My role as a child was quite minimal of course, and i now see how i took the work behind the scenes for granted. We had cozy pillows to help us get settled into the minivan. My mom always had the same, but ironically tasty, packed sandwiches prepared for us. I listened to a lot of music on my Walkman and read books – this is before reading in cars made me carsick. And, i could start to recognize the focal points that we were on the right path – the bridge to cross into the US, the big buildings of Cincinnati and Atlanta, the mountains of Tennessee. We stopped seldom, and slept in rest areas instead of hotels. This worked for us, or at least that’s the message i heard.

Now, in my forties, i did this trip for the first time with my own young family. We did things differently and it worked for us, but i also incorporated the learnings from my previous road trips (stay tuned for a Road Trip Tip post soon!).

It was a great trip – My family grows, connects, and feels nurtured by being in the water. We can be arguing or bickering even as we walk to the beach, and then we we get there, it’s almost like the tension dissolves into the ocean. I found out during this trip that Siesta Key sand is made out of quartz, and as a crystal worshiper this makes sense to me. No wonder i always loved this beach and this crystal.

So, i just referenced the bickering: Let me expand on that, as it helped me see that no matter where we go, my children still will be siblings that need space from each other at different times, and they are truly not the same person. Even though it was obvious before, family vacations have a way of confirming things like this. My daughter is a thrill and attention seeker through and through. She is also much more sociable than the rest of us, and made a new friend on the beach almost daily. As the rest of us are avid readers, my son would happily play in the waves, practice his Percy Jackson half-blood water skills, and then join me on the shoreline to read one of his many, many books.

I wanted to share a special place with my family, several places with them to be honest. After realizing that my memories of going to Florida were as an older child, and at a different time in life, i realized that this trip is for my family now, and not who i was a child. This light bulb epiphany was an interesting revelation for me. Do you ever go somewhere now as an adult, that you used to as a child, and notice that your body goes into autopilot? It takes you on the same exact route you used to go on. This happens with me when i go grocery shopping or to my favourite outdoor antique market. When i noticed that i just wanted to repeat the same traditions i did as a child, i had to pause and ask myself Why? And who is this for?

So, when we realized that my beloved secret place on the island was not easy to get to anymore, i decided to not push us to go – it was for me and not for them anyway. After agreeing it wasn’t worth going, I was able to go alone. I took time to myself and enjoyed the only truly alone time on the beach the whole week. Taking that time to reflect gave me permission to pause and take what is most important to me – making new memories with my family and honouring what it is we love – playing in the water and not walking for miles on the shoreline.

One thing that helped me gauge if it was a good trip was to not focus on the sibling bickering as it’s inevitable anywhere we are, but to focus on the good in the trip – the warm and comforting sun, the fresh fruit, the daily rituals of morning walks on the beach, and evening strolls to get ice cream. We shared laughs and cuddles, and adventures together. We collected treasures to remind us of our trip, and there is still sand in our suitcase.

I know that a part of me hoped that going to Florida would magically erase the sibling conflict, but that was an unrealistic hope. I know that now. They did share ample bonding moments and played together at times – and i can capture those memories in my heart. The sweet shared hugs, the water games in the pool, the shared adventure at Harry Potter World. It may not have been perfect, but i know that is an unattainable hope. It’s good to challenge these hopes, as if we keep striving for better and more, we keep end up being disappointed and lose sight of what is important. And that is doing things we love, and taking time to notice the beauty in a day.

Getting in the Holiday Spirit by Setting New Intentions


The holidays is an especially good time to start a mindful practice for yourself and/or your family. It can be hard to start new traditions, especially as we are adult children ourselves and our parents have gotten used to a routine for so long. Sometimes, it’s important to start carving out space and activities that are more aligned with your own values and plans, so that you can start setting this intentional precedent. It’s okay to start small and incremental as that can also ensure that this new tradition is sustainable. Whether you live alone, with roommates, have children, or have tried to have children without them being earthside, find a way to practice self-love over the holiday season. It is a good way of ensuring that you are taking time to give yourself something you love, and it also helps us get through the cold, dark months that are on the horizon.

Take for instance, my family and personal rituals. Each year, my family of 4 has our own traditions over the month of December, and we also do things with family and loved ones.. This helps us set the stage for our children – both as a way to help them make memories and meaning of our traditions, and also because it’s a way to ensure that I also am experiencing joy – not just through my children but in my own way.

Some of the things we love to do are going to a tree farm to get our annual Solstice tree, making presents for ourselves and our neighbours for Solstice, making a gingerbread house, and pulling a thing to do from our daily Advent Calendar. We also mark each week that leads up to Christmas. We do it in a more holistic way than religious and it works for us, as it connects us back to our roots and to nature more generally.

Last year, i put together a worksheet to help us take care of ourselves over the holidays. You can do it anytime in December and into January. It’s called the 12 Days of Getting Mindful for the Holidays. Check it out here if you’d like to learn more about it. It’s for each and every one of us, as a tool to help us slow down and be about more mindful of the present in the presence (pun intended), and gives us some practice of simplicity. Sometimes the everyday grind of the holidays and the stress of things that keep us busy get in the way of the more easy feelings of joy, love and excitement. This list can help you s l o w down.

As I fully believe that it takes a village to raise children and get support, i have done some research to find other people’s great suggestions. I’m all for outsourcing for help when others have done the work, why reinvent the wheel right? So compiling this list fits the outsourcing in me. Here is a great list of suggestions – both for yourself and your family. It’s’ never too late to start a new tradition.

Babyccino Kids – Advent Calendar Ideas

7 Tips to Help you Beat Holiday Stress – Sarah Rosensweet shares some great suggestions to help your goals be more realistic.

Hyggemama – This post is a very helpful Hygge Guide for the holidays

Janet Lansbury shares fantastic tips as always here

My Kindness Calendar – a way to do something kind as a whole family

And She Moves just put together a 12 day advent for simple movvement exercises you can do in the luxury of your own home. If you sign up for her (great) newsletter, you can access it for free.

What are some things that you do as a family? Is there a go-to tradition you love to look forward to each year for yourself? If you don’t already have one, think of some ways you can create new traditions and memories starting this year – it’s never too late to start and to create a new positive mindset for this time of year. It can be hard for many of us, whether it is a trauma survivors, or if we have experienced loss or are struggling with sad feelings. It make it that much harder to do, and that much more rewarding when we can take control of our holidays and how we take care of ourselves.

New Moon Self-Care Series – Inner Child Letter

This month brings darkness mixed with celebration. It then doesn’t come as a surprise that this feelings get internalized in us. It’s a perfect time to turn inward intentionally and take care of the shadows and darkness that lingers in you.

As this is the final Fall New Moon Self-Care Series month, i wanted to give you a gift to yourself that is all about connecting to this new moon and planting a seed of future wisdom and self-compassion. This is a time to set an intention of a new path and time to get closure from last month.

This New Moon falls in a busy week – December 6 is the Montreal Massacre, December 7 is National Letter Writing Day and the New Moon in December. In a few weeks, we celebrate the Winter Solstice which is the longest night of the year. With this in mind, I’m hoping you can spend a few minutes this week in a letter you write to yourself.

As this month seems to be catered to the young and young at heart, it brings up hard feelings for us as adults, especially for those of us that have childhood traumas or more recent traumatic experiences in our life. The holiday season definitely comes with some hard/mixed feelings for a lot of us. Mothers especially need to balance their own needs while nurturing all the wishes and hopes of their wee ones.

So, this month, I’m encouraging you to write a letter to that Inner Child – that version of you that you want to recall or create. Whether they exist only in a memory or a hope, write a letter to that young version of yourself and what you hope for them to receive this month. Think about ideas that allow space for joy, happiness, surprise, eager excitement. You may not have these memories stored as real ones, and that’S okay. This is a time to recreate the memory you wished you had as well.

Steps to Intentional Journal Writing

1) Get into a cozy spot that allows you to writing uninterrupted for a about 10-20 minutes. Light a candle or incense for some mindful soothing smells. It’s now time to slow down a bit. Sit comfortably and chose a writing medium that shakes to you – it can be a journal or piece of paper and good writing pen.

One thing that may help you get in the best writing zone is to listen to a guided meditation on Inner Child work. I like this one a lot – thought it is longer and not just on Inner Child, she calls upon our inner council.

2) Take some deep cleansing breaths and then visualize yourself at a door. The door has some festive greenery and smells like a Pine forest. Knock on the door and see a young child answer. This is the young you. She is excited to see you and grabs your hand, pulling you inside. Once on the other side, you notice the room is covered in silks, trees and the space feels more like an enchanted forest than a room. Everything about it feels right and that it is where you belong.

Your Inner Child gives you a tour and asks you to sit and join her. She is ready for play and to celebrate this time of year with you. What is it that you are doing? What is it that she is excited to show you? Listen without judgement, vulnerability and shyness. You are eager to participate. Finish the visualization by thanking your Inner Child when it is time to leave. Give her a hug and walk back through the threshold.

3) Immediately after this, write a letter to this version of you. Thank her for the visit and time together. Think of words that are an extension of what you just did with her. Recount what she told you, and how you felt as you played with her. What is it that brought you joy, happiness and a youthful spirit? Do not stop to question it rationally or with a logical brain. Stay in the flow of emotional free writing. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling mistakes. Feel free to sketch or draw what you saw. It may be a fun further challenge to write this letter with your non-dominant hand. There is something cathartic about doing the exercise this way.

4) Finish the letter by signing it, and enclosing it in an envelope. Place it somewhere it can be seen by you so that you can give yourself the first gift of Winter – a moment to play and be joyfully present.

I believe that journaling can be a very therapeutic tool and a lot of struggle with it. This exercise is just a suggestion – if you don’t feel safe or ready to meet your Inner Child, feel free to journal about what you hope to do this winter. It is a great tool to plant seeds like this on a New Moon – especially as Winter begins later this month.

New Moon Self-Care Series – Sea Change Salts

In November, the New Moon falls on November 7, a week after All Hallows Eve and a few days before Martinmas. This month, the New Moon is in Scorpio, which is a time for transformation – in with the new and out with the old – so there is no better time to cleanse and clear space for this new Energy and Magick of the Scorpio New Moon. Further still, as this month also symbolizes an even darker month (with Daylight Savings, All Saints Day), it is an especially crucial time to turn inwards and allow yourself some solitude and quiet.

As we are embarking on the darker season of Winter, it is also a perfect time to start bringing on our Hygge vibe. The season of Vata in Ayurveda medicine is one that is dedicated to coziness, warmth, and cocooning ourselves to prepare for the coming months of cold Winter. With this in mind, let’s spend some time for ourselves as we prepare for the darkness and cold of the coming months.

In keeping with my own self-care traditions that connect the senses and simple DIY crafts to make at home, this month I’m sharing an activity that you can do at home with just a few simple ingredients: Sea Change Bath Salts. It’s a homemade salt bath mix that you can either put in a long, luxurious bath for yourself, or even have in a shower while your drain the water out.

Ingredients
1 cup sea salt – i like the bigger pink Himalayan salt
1 cup Epson salts
¼ cup dried lavender buds
¼ cup dried rose petals
10 drops each essential oils of your choice (i love lavender, ylang ylang, bergamot)
Vessel of your choosing – empty glass jar, small bag, fabric remnant to keep salts in
Optional – crystal to bathe with (just place in water and soak up its energy): i like citrine, pyrite or peridot during the New Moon

Steps
1) Combine salts in stainless steel bowl – mix well
2) Add dried flowers – can use others if preferred
3) When complete, add drops of oil and mix well. Let dry for a few minutes to absorb the oil
4) Add to a container. You can use muslin to keep the dried flowers in the net, or just give the flower petals room to swim in the water

Now the fun part: On the New Moon or just after, take some intentional time to yourself and have a bath. Add the Sea Change mix and let it melt into the water. Linger in the water as long as you can, making sure that the salt is since absorbed in your skin. Allow yourself this time as the salts are a great tool to help sore muscles to release. Find where in your body you need that extra release – breathe into it and send love to that part. This part that needs releasing can be a sore muscle or even negative self-talk – what would happen if you took a moment to release that?

Use your senses: Allow yourself time to notice the relaxing comfort of the water, the lovely smell of the oils, and notice when your thoughts wander away from the moment in the bath and gently come back to the space. Play some music that honours your need to s l o w down. Maybe take a skin brush or loofah over your body. Light a candle and otherwise have a quiet, subtlety lit space.

I love the concept of “sea change.” I got the children’s book Sea Change from the library and the title really resonated with me – it’s such a helpful reminder that we can be in charge of the change we need in our life – that the sea is powerful itself, and there is an equal force inside us too. It is a way to change our perspective: We can make a shift happen in ourselves, cleanse out the toxins and unwanted thoughts and get a break – even if for just a few moments.

We are all works in progress after all.

Listening to Yourself

I recently had to put the brakes on a planned weekend away with my family. And i mean literally. I’ve been working on trusting my intuition (or my gut instinct if you will) more, and the opportunity presented itself. Each year in September, we have been going away on a weekend as a quick goodbye to Summer. This year, our month was quite full and our weekends especially felt too busy. So, when we were able to narrow down a weekend to go away, we jumped at the chance. We told the kids, we packed our bags, we even packed the car. And yet the whole time leading up to it – and i mean a few days worth – I keep thinking to myself, “do i really want to go? Is this what i want or is it more that i think we should go? Is it worth the added work for me”?

Going to the cottage ideally means relaxing, reading, snacking, enjoying the outdoors. Going with small kids when the weather is cold and we can’t swim is another weekend all together. It’s just more work in a place that is not mine to unwind in. To further this conundrum, when I found out that we were not going to have the cottage to ourselves as we have in the past, my gut was silently screaming to me to not go. And yet, i kept moving ahead because: I DON’T want to have to tell the children. Ugh the drama!

So, after my sweet family picked me up, and we were halfway out of the city, i was updated more about the state of affairs at the cottage. It was just enough in me to say a firm “No, we are not going.” My partner also was hesitant (aka scared) to tell the kids that we weren’t going – we were in the car already for crying out loud, and they had already turned on their Long Drive Tablet Videos. But, i chose to listen to my intuition and not my fear. I chose to be the Alpha parent and teach my kids to face futility. I was there to catch their feelings.

And you know what? Sure they were disappointed, but they weren’t devastated. We worked out a great Plan B of fun things to do in the city and it was just what I needed.

All because i chose to listen to my intuition.

What is this thing i call Intuition, you ask? For one, it’s choosing to listen past your fear and ask yourself what is it that you truly want? Pause and notice what your body is asking for. Our intuition acts as an inner guidance. In the brilliant Many Moons Journal for October 2018, Sarah talks about how the word “intuitive” itself comes from the Latin term to gaze or contemplate. She posts some guides to help you connect more actively with your intuition. A good question to ask yourself is what decision are you looking at? Can you think of a time where your trusted your intuition, or what happened when you ignored it. You can start a practice to notice signs that are repeating themselves (like if 3 people in a week tell you to read a certain book, or a song plays on the radio 3 times in a day) – what could they be telling you? You could start your day by asking yourself to be open to a certain message or receiving help. Before you go to bed, tell your intuition what you need help with to clarify. See where it sits in your body – for me it really is in my stomach/gut or womb. That is where i feel the strongest energy pull to listen to what i know is best for me to honour. My fear sits elsewhere in my body (my upper back, behind my heart). That helps me locate where both live and then respond accordingly.

It can be very hard for us to trust our intuition as it can get so buried down. We may have learned to not trust it, especially if you are a trauma survivor and your internal radar has been untrustworthy in the past. Or it was taught to be hidden as a way to protect it. Ou world today still has misogynist anti-magic beliefs that are so pervasive, that it is scary at times to connect with this part of ourselves, let alone voice it. As busy women and mothers, we can get swept up in the day to day tug and pull of life. Sometimes we may not even notice that it is our intuition that is telling us to turn earlier onto a different street (therefore avoiding a traffic jam), or to make a point to pick up that public transit transfer ticket (avoiding a tense chat with subway police – yes i have felt that urge and am so glad i honoured it). Gabby Bernstein has coined the term Empowered Intuition, where you are allowing yourself to trust how you feel, be patient with yourself and choose love. What i love is that it is about choosing to trust ourselves and not carry judgement – itself a hard and empowering process.

What are some ways you can work on honouring your intuition?

New Moon Series of Self-Care

I can’t believe it’s been over two months since my last post. Clearly life has gotten in the way of blog writing. Now that the Fall season is in full swing, I was able to look back at my last couple of months and notice what’s important to me, what’s missing in my life, what are some things I want to focus on.

So with that in mind, I wanted to bring some intention around my blog writing here – ways that I can both share a bit of me and what i find helpful. Since i focus on how to build a wellness toolkit for trauma survivors and people who are in the throes of new parenthood, I thought I could bring a focus to that.

So I give you the New Moon Self-Care Series. Each month during this Fall season, on the new moon, I’m going to share some ideas and thoughts for that moon cycle as well as an expressive arts-based prompt that can help you bring more self-care practice in your daily life. Expressive Arts Therapy is a great way for our bodies to feel the shift in relationship to what our mind is thinking. Because we are actually doing the work of making something with our hands and bodies, it can help feel like you’re integrating those parts of us that can feel so separate. We do not have to be artists in order to do these activities, nor do we need to spend a lot of money on any of the supplies. You can do this from the comfort from your own home, whether it’s in your bed, on your couch or at a table.

As the inaugural month falls on the month of All Hallows Eve, as well as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Month, I thought we could do a simple activity that can help us when we need some self-compassion. Take a moment this week to hold space for yourselves in your grief. Sometimes it can be hard to escape that inner voice, so a visual reminder can help. As this new moon falls on a Monday that also happens to be Thanksgiving here in Ontario, it’s a fitting time to take notice of both what we were thankful for as well as what we might need forgiveness for. As we notice the leaves changing just like the cycle of the moon, this starting point of our month can be a great guide to help us take stock in what is changing for us – what do we can change as well as what is evolving around us.

One thing we can control is the messages we keep in our mind about ourselves. I know that sounds easy to do and yet the reality can be so hard. This activity provides you with a simple watercolour practice as well as an opportunity to put down a mantra that could help you heal and find comfort. By making it yourself, your body and mind both can hold its message longer than if you were to buy a set of coasters.

Self-Compassion Coaster
Supplies:
Coaster or thick paper cut to size
Watercolour paints and brushes, bowl of water
Decoupage glue and brush
Magazine and scissors (optional)

Steps:
1) Before you start it can be helpful to help you set your mind and stage at ease. Listen to a guided visualization or meditation to help centre yourself and feel more connected to the activity.
2) Once you’ve done that, now spend a moment thinking about an affirmation, a quote, or a lyric that really speaks to you. It can be simple, a word, or something you’ve heard said again and again.
3) Once you’ve thought of the saying, now get your watercolours out and think about what feels like the right colour and motion you’d like to put down on the coaster. It could be swirls or an actual image – whatever speaks to you. Feel free to combine and colours or just stick to one.
4) Leave it to dry for a few minutes and have a cup of tea. Once the coaster is dry, you can now add the saying. I like to use permanent marker with a fine point instead of paint as I find that’s neater for me, but you can use whatever you like. Feel free to get creative – you could also use magazine cut-outs as a collage or use letters as a way to put your saying down.
5) Leave the coaster to dry completely. Once dry, add some decoupage glue to help seal your work and this also can help make it waterproof. And you’re done! Find a good place to keep this coaster is a nice reminder to you for those moments you need some extra love and self-compassion.

The 3 R’s of Self-Care

Not to be confused with the 3 Rs of recycling, which are obviously so important too, but this rule is about how to reclaim (is that another R?) a self-care practice and find out how it can work for you.

I personally think self-care work is crucial to live the life you love and to get the balance we all need to be healthy. And yet, it gets a lot of bad press and eye rolling when people say they need to take care of themselves. I’m not sure why that is and i know it’s linked to mental health, so the taboo and stigma of mental health flows down to self-care. It feels frivolous and selfish to do things for ourselves too, especially for those of us that identify as women – we are told to be martyrs and to take care of others. But i truly believe that

We cannot give from an empty cup

So, if you are struggling with reclaiming self-care practices in your life, this list may help you feel more confident with your choice. If you need an extra help to remember why self-care is important think of these prompts – find ways to help heal your HEAD HANDS HEART & HEARTH and add more HAPPINESS HEALTH & HOPE to your life. Yes thats’ a lot of H’s – this post is brought to you by the letters R and H, and the number 1. I think this list calls for a worksheet – stay tuned for one soon.

True helpful acts of self-care are ones that allow you to do something without judgement, a way you can add joy and play into your life, and help you decrease possible burn-out or low feelings. You don’t have to practice daily but it is very helpful to set an intention each week to incorporate kind acts of love just for yourself into your life (notice what i did there – I said self-care without actually doing it!). These acts help you re-energize and re-group – and they get you back on your list of people to take care of!

Restorative Self-Care

This is the stuff that gives self-care a bad rap but they are so helpful as they can be implemented in the everyday. Some of them are even BORING self-care like a bath or putting away laundry. I love that too. It feels productive as it can be checked off a to-do list, plus i feel good about a room without piles of clothes everywhere. And, we do all need to bathe in some way, so why not add bubbles, a candle and crystal to the mix.

Other ideas of restorative self-care are: laughing at a funny show, eating something soothing, curling up on the couch with your cat, a cuddle with a lover, or a quick nap. These are the acts we hear about most – but a mani/pedi or massage are also ways we are honouring what we need and that our body deserves.

Reflective Self-Care

Reflective self-care is like a mini therapy session that you give yourself at home. It can be a chat with a friend who helps you feel strong again, and validates you. It can be a journal entry or a good book that regains a perspective that works supports you. It means going to therapy to share what’s getting to you. It means alone time and doing something you love. Self-care is not just pampering stuff like the restorative practices above, but ones that allow you to feel and honour what you are needing in that moment. Reflective self-care reminds you that all feelings matter and need to be nurtured in their own way.

Radical Self-Care

No one can say it better than Audre. I love how this quote reminds us that self-care can be radical – it means we can say NO to that one more thing we are asked to do. It means we don’t need to hear or take on unsolicited advice, to respect our own time and have that nap cuz I’m Too Tired to go out to yet another after-work union meeting. It may be radical to put your own needs above others and yet it’s self-care to notice what you need. It also might feel so good to outsource work that you don’t need to be doing yourself – like cleaning your home (even once) or getting take-out.

So, when thinking about ways to add self-care practices to your daily/weekly/monthly rhythm, think of the following checklist: Does this activity help me rest, give me joy, nourish me, and help me reach my window of tolerance (balance of stress and happy place). If so, then you are doing the thing!

What are some ways your bring self-care into your life?

The Summer I Saved an Alligator

Each year, at the beginning of summer break from school, my family and I go on a vacation to the cottage. It has become such a family ritual that that we start to anticipate it weeks in advance. It’s a chance for us to unwind, relax, be in nature, and an opportunity for us to get a break from our everyday life.

The timing of this time away is impeccable: I am in the middle of a three-month long course that is offered by the Neufeld Institute. While it’s simply named Intensive I, it’s actually a very in-depth course on attachment and how it helps us reach our full potential. So as I’m taking this course, things are coming to my mind’s eye around the behaviour and emotions that my children are experiencing. This year, I found the time at the cottage to be even more important as it’s a chance for us to be alone as a family. I’ve been noticing my younger child becoming more and more attached to her peers. As an Attachment-based therapist and parent, I know it’s my role to remain the anchor for my children. Being the answer for them helps them to live their life as fully as possible. Watching my daughter become more more attached to her peers even at such a young age has been an interesting experience for me as a therapist and parent who is making very intentional decisions.

So, in order to help re-connect and be that anchor for my kids, off we went to our week away from the world. The weather was glorious, we ate S’more‘s and we swam more than once every day in the lake. Even though it was rather cold, the water has always been our happy place as a family. We could be cranky, tired or bored beforehand, but we always emerged from the water happy, content and refreshed. During one afternoon in the water, we were playing with our beloved water donuts. I of course brought to my favourite doughnut-doughnut, and we also had on hand the inflatable alligator that had been mine as a child. This summer my daughter has a goal to work on her swimming and so she and I were playing with the alligator as an opportunity for her to feel more confident in the water. Luckily she was still wearing her puddle jumper water wings because in one quick moment, the alligator overturned and slipped from under her. My quick instinct tended to her to make sure she was safe and well we were cuddling and checking in together and the allocator quickly started to drift off. I had first thought it was going slowly in the direction that would take it to shore but then I quickly noticed it was actually going deeper into the lake. I’m pretty confident swimmer and had been on the swim team in high school so I was pretty convinced that I would be able to reach the alligator in time. Because in one quick moment overturned from under. My quick instinct tended to her to make sure she was safe and while we were cuddling and checking in together, the alligator quickly started to drift out. Instead of going slowly in the direction that would take it to shore, it actually went deeper into the lake. I’m a pretty confident swimmer and was on the swim team in high school so I was pretty convinced that I would be able to read to the alligator in time. I was wrong. After a leisurely paddle where i was in my donut, i soon realized i was not going to reach the alligator in time. I have memories of this toy from my own childhood, and didn’t want to lose it so soon after my kids were able to play with it. So, i ditched the donut (this time int he right direction) and started to frantically swim at full speed towards the bright green animal floating in the water.

Luckily, we were the only people in the water and it was so calm (or maybe that was a problem). I used all the swimming strokes i learned (front crawl, breaststroke, backwards) and there were a couple of times where i had to quickly assess if this damn toy was worth me drowning or having a heart attack. I have to say there was a moment of panic of not reaching the floating device in time. Of course i did, as otherwise i wouldn’t be here writing this, but wow, was it a stressful moment for me.

I was able to use some de-escalation tools to help me get there, i used all the positive thinking i could, and worked on some radical acceptance that it was truly okay if i did’t reach it. A part of me know it would come to shore eventually. Another part of me wanted to be my kids’ saviour – of the alligator anyway. And you know what?

They didn’t even notice.

They didn’t realize how hard it was to get the floatie. But my partner did, and he tended to me and gave me some space to breathe. Literally.

So on that note, because i’m a glass half-ful gal, i’m going to leave you with some links to great articles about how to embrace summer, and how to make it meaningful for you as a parent. I work from a place where setting intentions help me live the life i love, and that summer means as much for me as it does my kids. So, here are some great resources to help you if you are stuck:

10 ways to stress less and flourish more
Mothering Arts Best Summer Ever list
Summer vacation: Freedom from or freedom to
18 summers – though i think this is too much pressure and not only 18 years, the article has some helpful tips

What are some of your favourite summertime family rituals? How do you spend the summer doing things you love?

Notice the Everyday Magic

I’m not sure when i first heard the term “everyday magic” but it’s been something i am intentionally making time for lately. The concept of manifesting something is also trending right now, and i’m using the momentum of this trend as it is allowing me to combine my personal interest and tools into my therapy practice.

As someone who grew up with religious yet non-practicing parents, i had to find my own path to a spirital journey. I knew that the version my parents practised wasn’t the right fit for me, yet what was pulling me felt too different or ostracizing: As a teenage feminist I was constantly being pulled to stories of goddess or Wicca work.

Moving forward 25 years now and in the present, I am loving the balance of my every day practice, where I’m able to go deeper in the Wheel of Life practice in the spiritual realm. Including that side of me is a form of self-care. I know that now. For a long time I kept saying i wasn’t religious or spiritual, and I think a lot of that was because I couldn’t feel a fit for me. Now that more and more people are talking about concepts of everyday magic, tarot reading, crystals and moon worship, I feel more comfort and community in what has been tugging at me for so many years.

One tool that I love is this concept of manifesting a symbol in my everyday life, as it brings reassurance and confidence for something that I may be questioning or struggling with. In her book, The Universe has Your Back Gabby Bernstein talks about noticing an owl as her symbol. Here are some helpful strps to help you do this: has a few suggestions for picking your sign and co-creating with the Universe:

1) Be specific. Asking the Universe to show you something like “a butterfly” is too broad. Get specific about what you want to see – a blue butterfly flying past, a black cat curled up, the word “love” written down…the more specific, the more certain you can be that it’s a true sign from the Universe. It doesnt have to be something you see, but rather in a song or dream as well.
2) Ask for clear direction. Make sure you ask the Universe to send you the sign when you need it. For example, let me see a blue butterfly when I’m going in the right direction.
3) Accept when you don’t see your sign. Know that when you do not get your sign, you are being redirected to something better for you and all involved.
4) Try not to control the outcome. If you are trying to see a blue butterfly, and a white moth lands on your deck, that is not your sign. Be patient and wait for the right one. In this video, she does a great job in breaking down how do use this tool.

For me, my symbol of everyday magic is a butterfly. It may not be a surprise to you, dear reader, because I’ve spoken about butterflies in the past but let me give you some examples. Earlier this year, on a family trip to Costa Rica, I was walking through a beautiful forest with my son. My daughter was having a hard time with the heat and the amount of walking, so all of our energies and windows of tolerance were quite stretched. So my son and I kept walking on our own. Within minutes of me saying to myself I just need to be in the present and enjoy this sweet moment, a few butterflies fluttered by. They were those stunningly beautiful blue iridescent Blue Morpho butterflies. For a few years when I was a teenager I collected those framed dead butterfly artwork pieces and my very first one was a single Blue Morpho butterfly in a frame. Since these butterflies carry symbolism and sentiment to me, seeing them gently fly past me in this moment was so amazing I can’t even describe it to you. I actually didn’t even believe they existed in real life, nor did I ever expect to see them in March in this forest. Noticing them with my son definitely lifted my spirits and helped me stay present in the moment as well as bring me some joy and lift my spirits.

Recently when I attended a supervision session, I noticed for the first time, after year of attending sessions with my supervisor, a single Blue Morpho butterfly in a frame on the wall right inside the front door. I’m not sure why didn’t notice it before, nor why I noticed it at that moment but it helped to confirm for me that attending sessions with the supervisor is a good fit.

I shared a tool with you to encourage noticing and catching RAINBOWS. Can I tell you how often I now notice them now even when it’s not raining? So while this isn’t necessarily my symbol, it is something that I am taking a pause to notice. It’s helping me take a deep breath, be present in the moment, and confirm the every day magic in my life.

This article helps bring some daily practice in a gentle and meaningful way. Can you think of a symbol that can help you feel less alone, afraid or unsure? What ways can you bring more magic in your life?