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?

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?

How to Catch a Rainbow

May is a busy month, with various key dates of celebration and recognition. Over the course of the month, i am going to share with you some tools and suggestions. First up, in honour of Maternal Mental Health Week, here is a tool that i put together. After studying both Dialectical Behaviour Therapy as well as more body-based self-compassion modalities, i find this tool can be helpful to help you take control of your emotions. I love acronyms as it makes it so much easy to remember the suggestions. Plus it’s a helpful reminder that we can be in control of our feelings.

It can be hard to take time for yourself, especially when we are told to take care of others and that it’s selfish to do kind things for ourselves. This tool can be a great way for you to steal some moments to yourself, in an intentional way. It also can manifest some good feelings that linger. Rainbows are incredible symbols of everyday magic or woo woo, and taking time to notice the joy and beauty in the everyday helps us with our emotional well-being. We deserve to notice these moments, and deserve to take time to pause.

R – What is an activity of REST that you can take a break with
It’s important to slow down and catch your breath. We can only see rainbows when we are able to be aware of what’s in front of us. This is also a great way to notice what we need an a given moment. What can you do in this moment to rest and relax? Can you put your feet up and just take in the sights and sounds around you? Linger a bit longer in the shower, add some luxurious hand lotion to your sensory self-care. Have a cat-nap. Maybe treat yourself to a nice mala bracelet with your favourite crystal – this can be a calming tool and a way to practice some mindful meditation.

A – ACCEPT as you are – it is what it is
Radical Acceptance is a helpful tool to be able to acknowledge something for what it is. That doesn’t mean we have to truly agree with it, but the acceptance can be a first step to let things go. This stops the pain from turning into suffering, and it allows us to be more present with ourselves in the present. When we don’t accept something, it keeps us stuck. So, try working with this idea and practice saying “it is what it is.” See how that starts to feel in your body. Maybe some parts feel less stuck or tight.

I – What is an INTENTION that you can set for your day
Setting intentions for a day, a week, or a year can be a guide that sets you with following where your want your life to go. The intention can be a simple word that carries meaning for you, or a mantra/affirmation that holds significance for you. If you don’t already have one, take some time to journal and brainstorm the words and phrases that are meaningful for you. It is a good way of giving ourselves permission to focus on what we really want, and to take ownership of our moods and behaviour. Then work on ways to implement it into your everyday life. Maybe there is a symbol that speaks to you as a guide – be it a rainbow of hope and luck, a butterfly of resilience, or a lavender flower that helps you feel calm. When you have a symbol that acts as Recalled Anchor (i wrote about it more here) or resource, seeing it in your everyday life is a great way to boost your mood.

N – Be NICE to yourself – practice self-compassion
Self-Compassion is not the same as self-esteem and yet they work well together. To have self-compassion, it implies that we need to treat ourselves with the loving kindness we give others when they need our support. Think of some ways to give yourself self-compassion – it can be a permission slip to eat some chocolate after a hard day, and to enjoy it without judgement. It can be to not do the dishes and instead watch some marathon TV. It can be a yoga stretch or dance to your favourite music. The compassion comes from reminding yourself that your matter and deserve this break.

B – Take time for yourself and read a BOOK
Reading is a great way for your brain to take a break from the monkey mind or inner critic. It is especially helpful when we are able to distract ourselves from the everyday worries and thoughts. You can get your dog-eared favourite book, or a new book that you have never read; it can be a fiction novel, self-help book, or a how-to book for something you want to learn. Take time to write in your own journal, free writing or following a guide. If reading is not your thing, no worries. Listen to an audio book or a podcast. This podcast that talks more about everyday magic and woo woo is a great listen! Watch a movie that you have never seen before – the idea is to let your brain relax and absorb what it is taking in, instead of the constant chatter it typically takes you to.

O – Go OUTSIDE and get some fresh air in your body
Research has shown links to fresh air, being outdoors and mental health. Our brains are elastic and benefit from the change in scenery as well as air changes. Sensorimotor Psychotherapy and Polyvagal theory also show us that a quick walk outdoors can do a lot to change our mood. Everything is better outside. Think of some simple things you can do – a walk, sitting on your porch our balcony, a picnic snack during your lunch break for instance. Another benefit to getting outside is that there may be other people that you can connect with – it helps us feel less alone or isolated after being indoors when feeling down. You don’t need to have a long chat with someone, but a quick hello can be a great break your mind and body needs too.

W – Drink a glass of WATER to refresh yourself – take care of your body’s basic needs
In keeping with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, it’s imperative to take care of your basic needs. Research shows that we need to nurture our physical body in order to heal our mental health. Do a quick checklist – when was the last time you drank some water, had a healthy snack, slept enough, did some exercise for your body? If it’s been 2 hours since your last water break, have a glass right now. And then find ways to allow time for the other ways to take care of your body.