March 16, 2020

COVID-19 and All of Us

Boy the world is sure in a pickle at the moment. Hi there. I want to share a bit of info about how to help ourselves in this time of anxiety, panic for some, isolation for many … I’m no exception to the worry. I find myself waking up at least once a night with gnawing anxiety in my stomach. Can I just be clear .. I haaaaaaatttteeee that feeling. Yet here I am. So what to do? Well here are two things that absolutely help, have helped, continue to help, me tremendously. First off, get outside. I walk a lot. I’m very fortunate to live close to Mont Royal. Walking in the woods calms me down almost immediately. The […]
February 6, 2020

Inner peace? Equanimity? Yes please.

One of my challenges in my personal life is dealing with reactivity. Over the last many months I have been using an app called Calm, because I believe learning to meditate and making it a daily practice will help me with this challenge. In fact, one of the series is by a guy named Jeff Warren who is all about something called Equanimity – in other words, being non-reactive.  I have to tell you .. I’m frustrated (the irony!). I’m frustrated because equanimity does not come easy for me. I can be impatient, intolerant even, in my personal relationships. I react too quickly, I take offence… and I don’t like who I am when I am like that. I want […]
January 22, 2020

Losing Your Self

A universal theme that comes up in the practice is the idea of “losing yourself” in a relationship. What exactly does that mean – losing yourself? At the core, you begin to give up parts of your self, little by little, until you become, usually, the version of what you think your partner wants. It’s about you not letting the world see you. It’s about how we mitigate our anticipated rejection by turning ourselves into what we think is the other person’s version of us.  Some simple examples include (but are definitely not limited to): If you prefer tea but your partner likes coffee, and all of a sudden you start switching from tea to coffee (because you think you are […]
December 3, 2019

Imposter Syndrome …

I’ve been giving “Imposter Syndrome” more thought lately (on the heels of this post ). The TedX channel has a nice talk by Lou Solomon that really goes into the essence of it. Have a look, you may find it informative. In a nutshell, Solomon describes the impact of the lies and the limiting beliefs, that are created in childhood and throughout, that isolate us. These lies and beliefs support a negative self talk that diminishes us, in our own eyes. We stay small, we don’t shine, we stay afraid. The paradox is that we live in a competitive world, and some of us compete and win. Yet because of those limiting beliefs we attribute the win to a fluke, luck, […]
November 26, 2019

Loneliness

How do you help someone who presents with loneliness as their “therapy” issue? Loneliness is crippling. The human soul being what it is, needs connection – like a plant needs air, light and water. Plants don’t thrive when any of these are not present and in a similar fashion, a human soul does not thrive without contact.  As a good therapist, you sit and listen, you validate that yes indeed, this is a difficult passage – but what should someone do?  My goal is to help you find the tools to overcome what you’re struggling with, develop the skills you need to make the connections you need to help you thrive.  Sounds easy doesn’t it? I know it’s not. Loneliness, […]
November 13, 2019

Couple Life at 30 :)

It comes as a surprise, mostly to me, that I will soon be celebrating my 30 year anniversary with my husband. While we’ve only been married for five, the story of “us” started long before. 30 years! I hardly feel old enough to say that I’ve spent that much time doing any one thing – let alone be in a committed relationship for that long. But here I am.  So what are the things one needs to know to have a “successful” relationship? And I qualify my relationship as “successful” because, well, I still want to be here. I still think it’s worth working for. I still enjoy being with my husband.  I think the most important thing to know […]
October 21, 2019

When work imitates life

Hello dear reader. I have been struggling with writing for the last little while, it’s been a bit of a tough year. As many of you know, I underwent a major renovation in my home this spring and summer. It’s not nothing; and while I very much acknowledge the privilege of being able to undertake such a thing, the whole process beat the hell out of me.  Now that it’s all said and done I find myself struggling to own it, to inhabit it (and to recover from it, but that’s for another blog!). I recently had a session with a client who has been with me since I started my practice. I know her. She’s grown up and out […]
June 26, 2019

Shame and Forgiveness

I recently had the occasion to contemplate forgiveness. I bumped into the complexity of it while struggling with an old issue between me and my adult son. Curiously at the same time, a deep, old shame of my own kept floating to the surface. I found it odd that this 30-year-old memory would come to haunt me at this time in my life. Thinking about it, and wondering about the significance of the shame memory, it occurred to me like all the highway lights blinking into view one at a time, the dots connected and there it was – my inability to forgive myself. If I can’t forgive myself how can I extend that type of compassion to another? If […]
May 28, 2019

Our Parents’ Stories

There comes a time in everyone’s development (hopefully, and sadly) when the idealistic and childlike perspective of who our parents are changes, somewhat dramatically. As children, we think our parents are heroes. We think they are invincible. Well we need to don’t we? In order to survive in the jungle we need to believe that our parents are strong and capable of protecting us from the lions and snakes and tigers. Some of us though, don’t have strong and invincible parents and I think on some level we as children figure that out. Enter anxiety … because of course you will feel anxious if you are no match for a lion or tiger, and you have no one protecting you. […]
April 30, 2019

Two feet at a time…

A few years ago my husband and I went on a trip to Cape Breton where we cycled the Cabot Trail. If you don’t know, the Cabot Trail is just a wee bit challenging. On the going down side of things, with traffic driving beside you, you smell the strong scent of car brakes overheating for those who don’t down shift. On a bike you feel like an ant, flying down this huge mountain, while the scenery distracts and boggles the mind. But first there’s getting up that hill! You’re in first gear all the way, positive that you are actually going backwards rather than forwards. What a mountain that was to climb!! Our guide warned us ahead of time […]
March 29, 2019

The First Voice You Hear

Studies have show that when you change your answer on a multiple-choice exam, you usually find out your original answer was right.  Where does that first voice come from? We have an answer but we hesitate, we doubt ourselves, but our original voice is so often correct!  So many times people have said “At first I felt like this wasn’t a good idea (relationship, job, event, answer…) but I went and did it anyway – and it turned out wrong for me. Why do we have such a hard time listening to that first voice? Because, whether you know it or not, that first voice is YOUR voice. It’s your intuition. It’s your wisdom talking. It’s the things you learned […]
March 21, 2019

Anxiety

It’s pretty standard fare to have clients come to my office because of anxiety. I’d like to talk about one small (not small) aspect of anxiety. In Martha Beck’s wonderful book Finding Your Own North Star, she talks about how we all have an essential self and a social self – and that the further “apart” these two selves are, the higher and more intense the experience of anxiety. The Essential Self is the ‘you’, you really are on the inside – the one who has dreams and passions and a vision of what their life could be. The Social Self is the ‘you’, you show the world – the one who accommodates others’ expectations of you, the one who […]
March 4, 2019

Our Stories

What defines you? Your past? Your present? Your future ambition? For those of us who have had a rough start in life with our families, we can sometimes fall into a trap of being defined by what happened to us. We grow up into adults with a story – and yes, while that’s the case for everyone – some of us stay a little stuck in one story. We don’t necessarily grow out of a story, we don’t move on to a new one. What I find is that those of us who haven’t yet “processed”, “resolved”, “come to terms with” our story, have a tendency to find ourselves trapped. We recycle the same narrative, same thoughts, same feelings that […]
February 8, 2019

Culture’s Impact

I would like this blog post to begin a conversation among (but not limited to) clinicians/therapists/psychologists about the impact of culture on our selves and in turn, our clients. It’s a conversation that is long on questions and not so long on answers. This is so vast and broad a topic, it’s impossible to cover it with any depth in one post, or two or five. So I’ll begin somewhere…. As an example of what I am talking about… if you were born and raised in Quebec, are you aware of the impact that the Quiet Revolution in Quebec had on our culture and by extension on you? How do you imagine the new sense of independence and freedom from […]
January 21, 2019

The Struggle with Family

Most of us show up in therapy because of complicated and painful family relationships. Sometimes it’s about our family of origin – the one where I was a child, and sometimes it’s about the families we have created where I’m the partner and/or parent. Family relationships are tough. Those of us that have grown up with dysfunction – addiction, violence, divorce, mental illness – have had to figure out how to tease apart what is healthy and what isn’t when it comes to relationships. A common problem I often see is “wanting to help” – our alcoholic parent, our mentally ill child. We want to end their suffering. We want to stop feeling “held hostage” by their misery. We want […]
January 4, 2019

Big Feelings

What happens to us when our feelings feel too big to handle? When we are not sure of what the expression of what’s inside should look like? I would like to share a story that shows how unexpressed feelings can push behavior. I’d like to introduce you to Levi. Levi is 8 and a half. He is truly the apple of my eye. He’s bright and funny and let’s just say perfect! (I know, I know but I’m his grandma!)  I have just spent the past month with him out West. It’s our last day. We are meant to have a quiet morning together before we leave. Levi is bouncing off the walls. He is making a ruckus. His mom […]
December 31, 2018

Some things are worth repeating: A New Year’s Wish .. Honour the Small Things…

Hello and Happy New Year Dear Reader. I hope January 1, 2019 finds you happy, excited about all the possibilities before you, and surrounded by those that encourage you to bring the best of yourself forward. At this time of year, I think all of us are tempted to consider great changes in our life, the turning of a new page onto which we project all the wishes we have for ourselves – how we might be better, wealthier, stronger, thinner, happier, more industrious .. God knows the list goes on. I find many of us have a tendency to overwhelm ourselves with the grandness of the change we are seeking …. probably why a lot of that initial energy […]
December 23, 2018

Getting through the holiday season …

Hi everyone… posting this again. Reach out to people who are more vulnerable, be kind, help, connect… we are all in this together. Peace to you. Holiday seasons are tough on a lot of people. Those of us with “special” families have our share of Christmas horror stories …. too much drinking, too much drama, too much expectation. The media doesn’t help. We are bombarded from mid November on with the expectation that this is a time to be happy, to be connected to family which is supposed to be in and of itself a good thing, that we should buy, buy, buy, … Little wonder why the Help hotlines are overwhelmed at this time of year.  Those of us […]
November 14, 2018

A voice in the struggle with body image

Dear Reader… as you may remember, I sent out an invitation for colleagues to be guest bloggers. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would get such wonderful, warm, heartfelt words written to share with you. But here we are! So this month I’d like to introduce you to Terri. Theresa Rindress, is my personal trainer at the NDG YMCA. She is also a group fitness instructor there as well as the coordinator of fitness programs. If you are looking for someone who is devoted, inspiring, dedicated to her career and craft, who will surely bring out the best and the beast in you – then give her a call 514-833-4799. She is a wonderful, wonderful young woman […]
October 28, 2018

Let’s talk about sex!

I have been approached by a number of women of late, mostly my age-mates (I’m a tail-end boomer, and front-end Gen Xer) wanting to understand what’s happening to them sexually. Some of us seem to be confused. We feel vibrant, energetic, and even young. And yet we are also struggling with a waning libido. Some of us feel that letting go of that part of ourselves is what will define us as “old”. We want to have sex not because we necessarily want it but because we think we should. And please, let’s agree that there is enough variability in the world to know that not everyone feels this way, and not everyone feels that way … enough of us […]