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Hi, I’m Maryanne,
founder of The Joy of Living.
Welcome to my site, I’m looking
forward to helping you
reclaim your balance and joy.
About Maryanne Nicholls
As a teenager, I worried a lot. I worried about saying the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing, and making a mistake. As much I loved my parents, I often felt like I didn’t have a voice. As the eldest in the family, I was responsible for my siblings and often got blamed. I felt small, insecure and unworthy. That sense of unworthiness made me vulnerable and open to manipulation from others . Even so, deep down, I had this inner knowing that things didn’t have to be this way. I longed to feel more free and independent and I worried that if I stayed at home, I would lose myself.
I left home when I was 17, but instead of finding freedom and independence, I found myself continually falling into patterns of painful experiences. I went through cycles of failed relationships, I was scapegoated, fired from jobs, and lost out on some big opportunities. I struggled with low self-esteem and self-worth, and had trouble setting personal boundaries and speaking up for myself.
It seemed that each time things started to get better, I would feel that proverbial rug slipping out from under me again.
I began to lose hope that I’d ever find a way out, no matter how hard I tried. As defeated as I felt, this small part inside of me still believed that if I worked hard enough, I could break out of this negative pattern and find a new way. I desperately wanted to make something of myself and my life so I could experience success, love and joy.
My determination and hopefulness helped me to go on and obtain two degrees, become an executive manager, project manager and senior business consultant, and a successful entrepreneur. But after all these accomplishments, I still felt unworthy, doubted myself, and continued to enter into relationships that were difficult and painful. I felt angry, resentful and alone. I longed to be in a relationship that was truly intimate and based in mutual love and regard, but I was afraid of losing myself.
Over time, stress and anxiety began to take its toll on me physically and emotionally.
My “rock bottom” included my body breaking down, having to temporarily stop working because I became so unwell, and losing most of my savings and my close relationships. At that point, I knew what I was doing wasn’t working and I needed outside help to create the change I was so desperately seeking. For the first time, I sought out counselling from a professional therapist.
What I longed for, more than anything, was to feel successful in my life. To me, success meant being engaged in a career and activities that I felt passionate about, feeling a sense of accomplishment and belonging, living with joy, sharing my life with people I loved, and feeling relaxed and free of stress.
My journey through counselling felt impossibly difficult at times, but I kept at it, one step at a time. It had taken me a long time to build the patterns I was stuck in, but they weren’t impossible to undo. I experienced more setbacks and disappointments as I kept going, but I slowly started to have new and different experiences.
I became more open to trying new things and exploring paths that I previously hadn’t known were available to me. My love of philosophy and psychology was re-awakened, and I eventually earned my certification as a psychotherapist. I re-kindled my interest in spirituality, becoming a Sivananda yoga teacher and developing friendships that continue to nourish me to this day. I became interested in my roots and with the help of genetic testing, I discovered that along with being Scottish, French, Jewish and Russian, I also have indigenous roots. I found myself drawn towards Indigenous spirituality and shamanism, which led me to study shamanic healing practices.
With the support of my therapist and my growing community, I was able to overcome the worry, stress, anxiety, and constant self-doubt that I had struggled with for most of my life.
I started to feel freer to be spontaneous without worrying about getting into trouble. I felt more confident in my choices and actions, and more empowered in who I was. As I brought awareness back into my body and got back in touch with my spirituality, I felt more empowered and successful.
With the help of counselling, I have found peace and fulfillment that in my darkest moments I never thought was possible.
I believe you are never too old or too young to find joy. You have taken that first step by reading this and now, I am here to support you on your journey. I want you to succeed, to get what you long for, and to feel in charge of your life. We will work together, at a pace that is right for you, to identify and overcome the things that stand in your way.
Throughout our work together, you will learn to listen to your instincts, follow your own internal compass, discover what brings you joy, and develop the courage and confidence to create the life you are longing for. I look forward to sharing this journey with you.
I specialize in helping clients with stress, anxiety, anxiety-induced depression, trauma, PTSD, and chronic burnout. I am an LGBTQ Ally. I am a Registered Psychotherapist (RP) with the CRPO, a certified Gestalt Psychotherapist from the Gestalt Institute of Toronto, and a Narrative Therapist from the Hincks Dellcrest Centre. I hold a BA in Psychology and Philosophy from the University of Toronto and am a certified Martha Beck Life Coach.
I have been in private practice since 2002 and am the Vice President and President Elect of IAAGT (International Association for the Advancement of Gestalt Therapy – formerly known as AAGT). Prior to becoming a counsellor, I worked for over two decades as a senior executive in various managerial and business & project consultant roles in the finance and insurance industries. I hold additional certifications in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Brainspotting, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), and Trauma & Attachment Psychotherapy.
I am a lover of nature and enjoy spending my free time cooking, gardening, walking, reading, crafting and being outdoors. I strongly believe in our essential connection to the earth and have a spiritual practice based on indigenous shamanism. I actively fundraise and advocate for positive change in the indigenous community.