June is Indigenous History Month

June is Indigenous History Month in Canada. It is a time to recognize the cultures and diversity of First Nations, Inuit and Metis Peoples. It is also a time to recognize the contributions and resiliency of Indigenous people.

Part of our acknowledgement process comes from educating ourselves to the culture and history of Indigenous people. One way to do this is to register for a free online course being offered through the University of Alberta: https://www.coursera.org/learn/indigenous-canada 

History through story is also a way that we can appreciate the resiliency of Indigenous people. Two books that may interest you (that I highly recommend) include:

“From the Ashes” by Jesse Thistle; a memoir that chronicles Jesse’s life on the streets and how he overcame addiction and intergenerational trauma in order to truly embrace his Indigenous culture. Learn more by visiting Jesse’s website: https://jessethistle.com/ 

“Five Little Indians” by Michelle Good. Reading this book allowed me to gain a greater understanding of residential school survivors and the haunting effects of colonialism. Learn more: https://www.michellegood.ca/ 

“Some people naively think they can hijack or control or harness the wind driving this movement forward. Any effort to do this will fail, because the energy behind this awakening, this force, is coming from all directions. Don’t just believe me, go outside and, using your own breath, try to blow back the wind in the direction from which it comes. Think of the drum, the heartbeat, the songs, and how all these beautiful sounds roll into an echo carried by that wind from the ancestors through to the lives of our children’s children.” – Michelle Good, Five Little Indians. 

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Four Practical Tips to Reduce Stress

We all know both the physical and emotional toll that stress can take on us. Here are four practical tips in reducing every day, life-catches-up-to-us, stress:

  • Prepare for the next day. An evening routine that allows us to plan for the next day helps us to feel that we are one step ahead of the stress. This can include making tomorrow’s lunch(es), setting out the outfit you intend to wear, checking your calendar and writing out a to-do list. Sometimes neatening the house can help bring closure to the day; it also separates one day to the next by creating a fresh start.
  • Move. Find ways to move your body throughout the day. It can be a short walk at lunch (fresh air always help to reset our system), taking a walk-about the office every hour, using the stairs instead of the elevator, some in-office stretches, exercising before or after work, taking an evening stroll with the family. Movement is a mood booster and is meditation in motion.
  •  Soothe your comfort system. This might include soothing music, having a lit candle, using essential oils, making a warm cup of tea and some periodic deep breathing. When we keep our comfort system as top priority, we can easily add these types of things to our day.
  • Create moments of joy and gratitude. Our day is fully realized when we are able to laugh, feel joy, and are able to feel thankful. When we are overwhelmed, we tend to put fun and play on the back burner. By building moments of joy and gratitude into our day, we help to counter the harsh effects of stress.

As we can see from this list, there is a fair amount of planning when aiming to reduce stress. Although this may seem like one more thing to do, when we manage our time to include movement and moments that promote feeling settled, we are one step ahead of the game as it has moved us from being reactive to proactive. We can’t really escape stress but we can temper its effects. 🙂

Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/@carlijeen

Disney Quotes to Uplift

We all need the wise words of Disney characters once in awhile. Here are some favourites:

“Never let your wings be stolen from you.” – Maleficent

“The cover is not the book, so open it up and take a look.” – Mary Poppins

“Oh yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.” – Rafiki

“You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” – Winnie the Pooh

“Happiness is the richest thing we will ever own.” – Donald Duck

“A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.” — Eeyore

 

Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/@nixcreative

 

 

Ringing in the New Year

Here we are – on the cusp of a new year. I would say that most people are probably pretty happy to bid 2021 goodbye – the pandemic owned this one for most of us. As I remarked in yesterday’s post however, there is always much to be thankful for.

This week between Christmas and New Year’s is often one of reflection. We have moved on from the hustle and bustle of Christmas, enjoyed the magic once more that surrounds the holiday, and have moved into being a bit more reflective in the space that slowing down always allows us to do. We sometimes can get into organization mode as make room for the new gifts received. We may catch up with old friends, take some longer walks, linger over our coffee, watch a movie or two.

I always appreciate the space coming into a new year as a time to think about the past year and plan for the new one. Some like to solidify those plans with resolutions; for others, it is simply a time to quietly reflect. In any case, a new year always brings with it some hope, a sense of renewal and blessings ahead. Perhaps that can be our focus as we make a toast to the year past and to the one that faces us – to live with courage, grace, faith, and the knowledge that we have within us what it takes to live with intention.

Photo credit: Me!

Grateful for 2021

It is almost hard to believe that title. I fully intended to travel this past year as I was sure that things would return to normal. When I bought my Christmas themed mask in 2020, I didn’t think I would be wearing it again this year. And we are entering 2022 much in the same way as we did last year – with uncertainty, restrictions in place, and not knowing when this pandemic will ease its hold.

And yet I still have much to be grateful for. Every day I walk in the woods; the skies in the morning help me to strengthen my faith and remind me of the stillness within me. I relish the time spent with my partner and our families – the bonfires, the family suppers, the game nights, camping weekends and holidays seeped in tradition.

I was able to experience a girls weekend with my high school friends – so good for the soul. I love my work and am grateful for every client whom I have had the privilege of learning with in the past year.

I lost my beloved Great Dane last March and yet I am so grateful for the love of a good dog – Cricket gave me 12 years of loyal companionship.

I continue to be thankful for the grief surrounding the loss of my parents; there isn’t a day that goes by that they aren’t with me in some way and it strengthens the blessings of my childhood.

I am grateful for being able to see my Aunt Rita this Christmas as she travelled from Massachusetts – we wrote to each other for the past two years, had phone and Zoom chats; but nothing compares to being able to hug her and spend precious time together.

2021 will go down in history; yet the ordinary still exists. It is in that space that I am most thankful; for the small things show us why the big things matter.

Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/@wizwow

 

Merry Christmas

 

From

my family

to yours, I wish you peace

 on this day. May you feel blessed;

may you have moments of joy, may you feel

content and full. May you feel the magic of Christmas.

May you find comfort and warmth in your family and friends.

May you feel love.

Kris, xo

Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/@eleonoralbasi

 

A Quote About the Storms of Life

Thank you to my friend Gurlie who sent this quote my way:

“Not all storms come to disrupt your life, some come to clear your path.” – Unknown

When we are in the midst of a storm, we are often preoccupied. We are focused on what is happening outside, we are at times anxious, wondering if we should be taking greater shelter, we are focused on the unknowns and we worry about the aftermath.

When we are challenged by a storm in our own life, we often focused on the unanswered question of “why?” This is a natural response as we are curious creatures; we also feel comforted by knowledge and understanding. Sometimes we will never get the why question answered. Sometimes we get the answer years later.

It is important while in the midst of the storm to not get too preoccupied with the storm itself; rather to try and ride the storm, seeking shelter in our support system and having faith that we are going to be okay. If we never weather the storm, we also won’t see the rainbow when we step outside.

Photo credit: http://Photo by Abigail Keenan on Unsplash

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Five Fun Facts About Laughter

Consciously keeping laughter as part of our daily routine is a great self-care strategy! Here are five fun facts about the importance of keeping yourself amused:

  • Laughter is contagious. People are 30 times more likely to laugh when in the company of others.
  • Laughter has bonding qualities; when couples tackle stressful situations with humour, they are more likely to report higher levels of satisfaction with their relationship.
  • The average person laughs around 13 times per day; spontaneous laughter bringing about more instances of belly laughs.
  • Whole-hearted laughter boosts our immune system, working against harmful illness.
  • In an average day, children tend to laugh 3 times more than adults.

What do these facts tell us about the importance of laughter? They all tend to focus on the importance of working towards adopting a carefree attitude to our daily stresses; using laughter as a way to counter some of the challenges we may face in our busy lives.

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Stuck at a Crossroad? Try these 3 things!

People often come to therapy because they have reached a crossroads in their lives. Unsure of which way to go, they end up standing at the crossroads, struggling to make a decision and feeling stuck.

A job presents itself but is accompanied by change, a relationship has reached a point of being unhealthy, a bad habit is beginning to feel dysfunctional, past trauma is affecting your current experience. In any case, the impasse represents our comfort zone; choosing a path is frightening. Turning back is always an option but most likely not a good one and standing in the same place puts you directly in the absence of growth.

Three things can help begin the process of choosing:

  • Find your direction. If you were lost, you would google map it. Get informed; find out as much as you can about what it would look like to take the paths in front of you. Curiousity is always one of the best ways to temper fear.
  • Ask for help. If you were standing there and a fellow wanderer came down the path, you may ask them about the best way to reach your destination. Use your loved ones as sounding boards; seek therapy.
  • Use your instincts. Let’s face it; you wouldn’t be at the crossroads unless something in your gut was niggling at you and telling you that some form of change was necessary to feel a difference.

Standing at a crossroads needs to be a temporary, not permanent position. The choice, ultimately is ours and being proactive and involved in the decision making will give us a sense of relief and confidence in having stepped towards a path.

Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/@soymeraki

 

Yung Pueblo Quote

 

I especially resonated with this quote from Yung Pueblo:

the forces

of the universe

support those who

work at healing 

themselves.

 

yung pueblo

 

Very often, people come into therapy with a core belief that keeps them stuck. Core beliefs remain rigid when we feed them; often using an internal, critical voice that originated from someone else or from experiences that hurt us. But what about the energy that is required to keep those core beliefs in place? And what happens when we begin to challenge our core beliefs with more accurate and objective truths?

Our energy shifts. When we put things out to the universe, when our values and worth align with who we are, our energy works for us and the universe responds. 🙂

Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/@grakozy