Monthly Archive: July 2015

Hope and Shawshank

If you’ve ever watched The Shawshank Redemption, you’ll remember the scene where Red (played by Morgan Freeman) reads a letter of hope, sitting under a big Oak tree in the middle of a grain field.

That Oak became a destination where people would go to in order to pay homage to the sentiment of that letter.  Last week, the Oak died a natural death, and the response was as if a beloved grandparent had died: many travelled there to leave flowers and mementos. It means that much to so many – that message of hope.

Like millions of others, it’s one of my favorite movies. I watched it again last night.  Because I’ve watched it a few times, I’m no longer shocked at the ugliness and despair and desperateness that is also in the movie. But I am – every time –  taken by the love story between two men; the deep friendship that developed through the story, and the life-sustaining hope that love generated.

As one of the two leading characters – Tim Robbins, who plays Andy – noted in an interview, it’s rare to see or even read a love story about this kind of friendship between men.  And this is a love story. It doesn’t involve sex, romance, violence, caper, buddy picture, or anything other than a deepening mutual care and regard.  There are so few role models for men these days that show such love.

Both men and women, young and old, have written that this movie shored them up during difficult times, helping them maintain hope that things would get better, even when they felt things never would.

One of the key moments in the movie is when Andy’s last hope of getting a new trial is destroyed by the warden. As he talks about it with Red, he says: I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really: get busy living, or get busy dying. He got busy living, inspiring Red – and many of us in our darkest moments – to do the same.

The message is: if you have hope and persistence, you can eventually find your place in the sun.

People feel trapped all the time. You don’t need the brick, the mortar, the bars to be in prison.

Kimberley – How do I regain my strength and hope?


Quote of the Day

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.” -John Lennon
At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  As a registered psychotherapist and stress coach, I offer individual one-on-one consultations. For more information, visit my or contact me directly


A New Way Of Looking At Addiction, That Contains A Ray Of Hope

I want to share with you an amazing message given by Johann Hari in a recent Ted Talk.  It’s amazing because it makes so much sense on a topic that is both painful and sensitive to so many of us – addiction.  I’ve included the link below.  I think it’s worth the time to watch and listen.

Hari’s main point is that addiction isn’t about some physical dependence on something:  he gives loads of evidence showing that many of us, including drug addicts, have experiences with habit-forming drugs, and don’t end up needing them afterwards, or even experiencing withdrawal.  The real underlying reason for addiction – to drugs, alcohol, sugar, work, exercising – anything at all that we turn to compulsively – is, in his words, isolation. Of “not being able to bear to be present in our lives”.

Our response to drug addicts is to punish them.  Our response to alcoholics is to avoid them.  Our response to food addicts is to shame them.  All isolating. All fail to work.

The real answer, he claims, is connecting, bonding.  If for some reason we aren’t able to bond with other people or with our world, then we will bond to whatever we can – and this might be drugs, alcohol, food, work – anything that gives us something to connect with, avoiding our sense of isolation.

Addictive substances and addictive habits, looking at it from Hari’s point of view, are natural ways of coping with the unbearable. He points out that our modern society is one of the loneliest societies that have ever been! No wonder addiction has become a way of living for so many!

How can we truly help ourselves, our friends, and our society?

There is all kinds of help out there – from 12-step programs to rehabilitation centres, to harm reduction, to community support.  The one thing they all have in common is community support, where the addict is loved back to a healthy balance.

Hari’s suggestion: deepen the connection.  Love our friend, or ourselves, no matter what.  Commit to being there for them, so that we all know that we are no longer alone.

Because the opposite of addiction is connection.

Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong!



Quote of the Week
I felt that if he touched me, I’d die. And then the thought crawled into my brain that if he didn’t touch me, I’d die.
-Kitty Thomas, The Auction

3 Ways to Stay Grounded


Staying grounded is easy- well, at least this is what “they” tell you. Staying grounded during difficult time requires work and being aware of your environment and what is impacting you.  While the tips I am listing below are ways to help you stay grounded during tough times, I also recommend one-on-one therapy.  These tips are suggestions and they do help, but they do not solve the inner challenges or responses when it comes to dealing with difficult times in life.

Now, without further delay, 3 ways to help you stay grounded during difficult times;

1. As difficult and painful as it can be,  look at things just as they are and make an honest assessment of the situation. What is going on in the world, in your relationships, in your work situation, etc? How are things really?

2. Be thankful. Now that you’re seeing more clearly, it is important that you practice gratitude. Perhaps this seems a bit odd when we are looking into the face of painful, stressful situations, yet gratitude can help us put things into perspective.

3. Seek support. Because staying present can be extremely difficult in the face of a chaotic and exciting world, you will always need some sort of support. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, we all have to at some point.

Suffering and Communicating

When we’re suffering, we aren’t communicating. When we’re suffering, we’re alone; we don’t want to be with others who aren’t also suffering. It’s natural – all animals want to be alone when they are suffering.

Suffering can take on many guises: losing a loved one, worry, anger – any kind of emotional pain, and all kinds of physical pain. It can even be what looks like pleasure – extreme excitement for instance, can become painful and cause suffering.

There’s one experiment that many of us have now heard about: many years ago, scientists concluded that opiates were physically addictive from a series of rat experiments.  The scientists isolated individual rats in cages that were empty of everything except two dispensers; one contained food and the other contained an opiate. Under these stark conditions, the scientists found that the rats preferred opiates over food. In a recent experiment, scientists gave rats the same choice – food or opiates, only this time they were in a community of rats, and their cages were filled with things that rats like to do.  The outcome was that the rats rarely chose opiates over food. (See my earlier newsletter A new way of looking at addiction that contains a ray of hope  I refer you to an earlier blog of mine on this topic.)

The point is that when we suffer, we don’t communicate well because we have no motivation to do so.  Even if we want to, we are too distracted to really communicate because we aren’t able to be present with others. Our focus is entirely on ourselves.  And this is natural. It’s natural for us to focus on our pain when we’re suffering – it’s our body’s way of assuring we do something about the pain.

Suffering creates bad communication: because we aren’t really present for the other person, because our focus isn’t on communicating at all.  And this can generate issues for us with our relationships with the people in our lives.  As Tony Robbins says, bad communication creates bad relationships.

Sometimes, suffering is simply where we need to be – when we are grieving, or physically ill, for instance.  But other times, we don’t need to be there, or if we do, it need not take up so much of our lives.

We can end up suffering because of our own expectations. For instance, when we expect that a friend will be there for us, and isn’t, we feel pain.  Or when we’ve injured ourselves, expecting the injury to be over and done in a matter of weeks or months, only to discover that it’s going to be with us for much longer. But have you ever noticed that when you expect hardship and get pleasure, any hardship you feel remains only briefly?

So much of suffering is a matter of choice and focus, and we can free ourselves from this kind of suffering by trading our expectations for appreciation.  Appreciating our friend for being just who they are. Appreciating our bodies for continuing to function, even if at a different pace than previously.

Robins suggests the following: allow yourself 90 seconds of remorse, and then look for what you can appreciate.  It might be more like 4 hours at first, but with practice, that will change.

The exercise that could End your suffering


Quote of the Week
People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar. -Thich Nhat Hanh

At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  As a registered psychotherapist and stress coach, I offer individual one-on-one consultations. For more information, visit my or contact me directly


Signs That You’ve Had Enough!

Our bodies are built to react to stress. Notice that I didn’t write  handle stress- just react to it. There are certain cues that our internal thoughts, stresses, and anxieties send to our bodies to subtle nudge us to slow down, take a deep breath, and handle whatever issues may be bothering us. When we fail to yield to the signals and cues, we really start to impact our own health.

While stress nationally is declining, it doesn’t meant that when we feel stressed- or when our bodies feel stressed and want to send us a cue- that these numbers are any comfort. Just for statistic purposes,  American stress levels have dropped from a 10-point scale’s 6.2 in 2007 to 4.9 in 2014, according to the American Psychological Association’s report, Stress in America: 2014. However, a healthy stress level, which the APA rates as 3.7 out of 10, still eludes many people, with 22 percent of people reporting they need to manage their stress better.

For example, teeth clenching is a huge cue for stress or anxiety. As discussed above, we may not feel like we are in the middle of a panic attack- but we could feel as if we don’t like a situation at hand and start to clench our teeth either trying to avoid it or trying to deal with it. The teeth clench is the cue that something is stressing us or causing anxiety. If we don’t sit still and deal with it, the cue of the teeth clench will be ignored and – eventually- turn into a full-blown panic attack.

In my new program, Burning the Candle at Both Ends, I discuss not only what types of cues / signals that our emotions send to our brain and body (such as teeth clenching), but how we (as humans) assess and then address the situation and/or environment that is causing the initial stress warning signals.

It is true. You can literally have had enough! Your body only sends out so many cues and signals before the stress takes a serious toll on your mental and physical state or you are so far into panic attacks that you become overwhelmed. Don’t let this happen to you. Please contact me for a customized program, consider buying one of my programs, and/or listen to the small changes (like teeth clenching) that your body is starting to navigate towards and ask yourself the real reason as to why.


TIME; New Depression Treatment

I want to use today’s blog to cover the breaking news that Time magazine broke today.  Via its online edition, “One of the most common ways to treat for severe depression has been electroconclusive therapy (ECT), where electric currents are passed through the brain to trigger brief, intentional seizures to stabilize brain chemistry. New research published Tuesday in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry suggests, however, that a new method—ultra-brief pulse right unilateral, or (RUL) ECT—may have fewer negative side effects, like confusion, and memory and heart problems. The study used data from 689 patients with a median age of 50 from six countries. “Our analysis of the existing trial data showed that ultra-brief stimulation significantly lessened the potential for the destruction of memories formed prior to ECT, reduced the difficulty of recalling and learning new information after ECT and was almost as effective as the standard ECT treatment,” saud Colleen Loo, professor at the University of New South Wales.”

WOW! ECT with fewer negative side effects. Well, depression is a complicated issue and can be caused by various life events as well as genetics. Some people truly are hardwired for depressive tendencies and the simple solution, like ECT, may not be applicable to everyone. In fact, it shouldn’t be.  Mental health issues will never have a blanket approach when it comes to complex issues, like depression, because it takes the human element out of treatment. We are people, not components.

While programs like my ‘Burning the Candle at Both Ends’ are very good for helping alleviate ordinary stress, these programs should be stepping stones or milestones- but not used when comprehensive treatment – like for severe depression- is needed.  So while today’s breaking news does offer hope for those battling with depression, it isn’t a one-size-fits-all treatment option. The research and findings are still new and there are other ways to also help someone combat depression, like Gestalt therapy and addressing the here and now while also comforting yesterday.

Still have questions? You should! Let’s talk! Click here to setup a time to speak with me.


Sharing Our Special Gift With Others

We all have a gift, something that is unique to us.  This gift in each of us is something that everyone else can benefit from, if only they knew.

A few of us are really good at letting others know what our gift is.  Most of us aren’t, and many of us are ashamed of letting others know.  It could be from the way we were taught growing up – children should be seen and not heard; it isn’t nice to show off. It could be from feeling that our gift is somehow not all that great.  Or, it may be that we are worried that others will reject what we are offering.

No matter the cause, it boils down to shame – instead of feeling pride and joy in what we have to offer, we feel shame.  If you have a hard time promoting yourself without feeling shame, you aren’t alone.

Marie Forleo has something to say about self-promotion.  Her message is basic: refocus on what you have rather than on what you don’t have.

You have something to give others that is worthwhile.  This is something uniquely yours to give, and we need it.  Think of offering your gift as a public service.

Care more about getting your ideas out to others than about what others may think of you for doing that.  Focus on your caring of others rather than on what some of them might think. There will always be someone who doesn’t like what you have to offer; and there will always be many who do.

Be patient.  Self-promoting in a way that appeals to others and gets your message across takes time because it’s a skill.  Be open to feedback and be ready to make changes.

Finally, once you begin, let go of the outcome.  Don’t take a temporary setback personally – it’s all part of the process. Communicating your gift is a process of connection.  If you are open to that process, then connecting with those who want what you have to offer will happen.

Shameless Self Promotion?!

Quote of the Week
Without promotion, something terrible happens … nothing!
-P.T. Barnum

Stress and Anxiety

There is no surprise that stress can cause anxiety and that anxiety can and will cause stress. They go hand-in-hand.  While my new program, Burning the Candle at Both Ends, is available online (yes, from the comfort of your own home), I thought I would preview a bit of the reasons why stress and anxiety are linked on today’s blog.

According to Healthline, “Stress can be triggered by an event that makes you feel frustrated or nervous. Anxiety is a feeling of fear, worry, or unease. Examples of normal stress and anxiety include worrying about finding a job, feeling nervous before a big test, or being embarrassed in certain social situations.”  I wholeheartedly agree with this notion.  Frustrated, nervous, fear, worry…. they all feel the same and these emotions all have the same impact on your body.

Stress and anxiety can produce both physical and psychological symptoms. Common physical symptoms include:

  • rapid breathing
    fast heartbeat
    frequent urination

Both stress and anxiety can also create internal feelings of impending doom, panic or nervousness (especially in social settings), difficulty concentrating, irrational anger, and – worst of all- restlessness , especially when everything is too quite.

Not all stress and anxiety are alike, either. And, on occasion, there are some medications that can actually make you feel nervous, shaky, and have panic attacks or become overly stressed.  For example, thyroid medications, asthma inhalers, and diet pills can cause panic attacks. And the regular use of caffeine, cocaine, and alcohol can make symptoms related to generalized anxiety disorder or stress far worse.

Stress and anxiety shouldn’t be dealt with alone. You do need an outside perspective to help you understand not only your environment, but your reaction to it and how it is impacting your health.  I’m always available to set-up a session and discuss your needs. I also encourage you to check out my latest program, which helps with the feelings of overwhelming anxiety, by clicking here:

Grace and Gratitude

I remember a moment many years ago, when I was at a low point in my life. A stranger asked about my day, and I decided to tell him. Then he told me his story, which bore some similarity to mine.  I felt seen and heard.  Even more, it was as if the clouds blocking the sun in my soul parted.  That was a moment of grace for me.

We say a person acts with grace when they respond to a difficult situation with kindness, thoughtfulness, and empathy. Because of that act of grace from a stranger, I was able to alter my world view and my circumstances.

Grace is derived from the Latin gratus/gratia meaning thankful.  It implies that a person who is acting with grace, acts in gratitude.

Some claim that grace equals divine intervention.  Whether you believe that to be true, or believe otherwise, there are three things you can do to bring grace into your life every day.

  • Focus on gratitude. Whatever we focus on becomes what we notice.  Ever notice how many red cars there are when you decide you want one?  Or the huge number of people with brown curly hair if your new lover happens to be one of these? If you haven’t tried, try focusing on gratitude for a day and see how it changes that day for you.
  • Practice humility. True humility isn’t about being or feeling humiliated.  Quite the contrary. It’s about knowing exactly who you are.  A person who practices humility knows their limits, and also knows what they’re capable of, without any pretense or hiding.
  • Shine for others to see. Have the light shine on you so that others can see it and then see it in themselves (from Oprah on being famous with grace). Be humble, but don’t be shy.

Cheryl Strayed – on Humility


Quote of the Week
Grace is the instinct for knowing when to stop. And where. –Charles Wright

At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  As a registered psychotherapist and stress coach, I offer individual one-on-one consultations. For more information, visit my website or contact me directly at



Are You Still Stressed Out And Too Busy?


If you’re like millions of others, stressed and beginning to think this is normal, or at least unavoidable, then I have good news…

There is a difference between feeling stressed, panicked, anxious and busy all the time and having a productive, full and fast moving life but being able to remain calm, happy and present.

It’s true that managing stress isn’t hard when you understand the right techniques.

What if you could instantly recognize stress triggers in your own life… so that you could illicit behaviours that would allow you to avoid stress before it affects you physically and mentally?

What if you had techniques that you could effortlessly use to achieve a sense of calmness and clarity in any situation… even if you consider yourself a “high-strung” person?

And what if you could start eliminating stress from your life – and start feeling calm and confidence– starting today?

Imagine feeling optimistic about your future, knowing that you have the tools and techniques to approach each day with serenity and clarity.

Imagine feeling empowered, knowing that you no longer have to bear the burden of stress – and its harmful effects – and can easily eliminate distressing thoughts and feelings from your mind.

Imagine feeling energized, knowing that stress is no longer zapping you and leaving you feeling dead inside.

In Burning The Candle At Both Ends online program I will teach you how to recognize your stress triggers and reveal specific strategies you can employ (without anyone knowing) whenever you need them.

If you had access to a resource that could give you that kind of empowerment… what would that do for you?

As a trained psychotherapist and stress coach I’ve worked with many busy people who seem like they have it all but are stressed out, anxious and sad that their life is passing them by. They’ve seemed to lose their JOY.

Don’t let that be you too.

And right now… the stress-eliminating resource you’ve been looking for is right at your fingertips!

Click here to learn more about how Burning the Candle at Both Ends can help you to transform your life starting today.

If you have any questions about the program hit reply and ask me. I don’t want you to miss out on the money saving discount ending soon.