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Archive for the ‘life’ Category

There Is A New Guy In My Life!

Yes, there is a new guy in my life and he’s not even three feet tall! I love him to the moon and back and even further than that! I didn’t know I could love a little being this much!

Now, I am and always have been a wildly fierce and loving mama to my three daughters, I love and adore them and always will. There is just something super special though about being a grandma to a fiesty, funny and magnificent little boy, not having had any boys myself.

In spite of hearing how fabulous grand parenting is, it has surpassed expectations.

I’m reminded of the instructions for loving kindness meditation, to think of a person who cracks your heart open with love and then from that place of unconditional loving kindness to extend that love first to ones’s self and then outwards to others … I now have another person to inspire this love and he is complete with strawberry blond curls and deep sapphire blue eyes.

Oh, the joys of life transitions!

Mindfulness, Loving Kindness & Self Compassion Training

Health Tips

Meditate and breathe

One after effect of having an angiogram is a couple of days of limited activity and no driving, so I was unable to attend my ‘Mindfulness and Self Compassion’ Training program the other day in Bellingham. It is so interesting to me that both events are so focused on the heart, however, in vastly different ways!

An angiogram is a procedure that investigates the anatomy, physiology, blood flow and mechanical workings of the heart.

Meditation, specifically loving kindness meditation, uses the emotions of the heart to send self kindness and love first to ones self, to loved ones, and then outwards to neutral people, finally including those we find ‘edgy’ and ‘classic enemies’ as our loving kindness recipients.

Daniel Goleman and Richard J. Davidson in their book Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain and Body, outline studies that show that loving kindness meditation positively changes emotional states of the meditator and over time can further alter behavior toward good. This may sound expected, however, the effects were proven through sound research studies and hence have a positive potential impact for humanity. It appears that even a few minutes of daily loving kindness meditation can improve one’s sense of wellbeing.

So, it’s off to do my daily meditation …


Living with Heart Disease FMD & SCAD

I don’t often write about my personal health adventures and living with Heart Disease, FMD and SCAD, however as I sit, in the pre-prep stage for an angiogram and coronary flow rate testing today, missing my morning caffeine and feeling vague chest pain due to stress and not taking my cardiac meds last night … it’s right in my face, I have a ‘hidden chronic health condition’ and some days it’s not fun at all!

The thing is I look fine, very healthy in fact for someone who is 60. I exercise everyday, I do yoga, heck, I’m a yoga instructor and I eat well, take supplements, take my medications exactly as prescribed, don’t drink, don’t smoke, meditate!

I look healthy on the outside but some days, I feel so awful on the inside.

I have an uncommon condition called ‘Fibromuscular Dysplasia’ (FMD) which is a disease of the vascular system and was a precipitating factor in the spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) and myocardial infarction (heart attack) I had in 2008. FMD affects my carotid artery, coronary arteries, renal arteries and iliac artery. The main area being investigated currently is my heart, although with FMD, blood flow can be slowed through all arteries showing ‘beading’ and other changes. My main symptoms of FMD are fatigue, dizziness, tinnitus, pain and tingling in legs and hands (could be a medication side effect), pain in kidneys and a myriad of chest pains and shortness of breath. The key thing I need to be aware of is my blood pressure and of course, to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Many folks don’t know that heart disease is the number one killer of women in North America and that the symptoms of a heart attack can be different for women than men. This information is super important for everyone to know!

When I had my dissection and MI,  it was during a time of great emotional stress. My symptoms were preceded by a couple of days of chest tightness, it felt like I was getting bronchitis which I had had in the past. The chest tightness increased the day of the ‘attack’, and I also developed discomfort in my right jaw and right shoulder, similar to that of a pulled muscle. Intermittently it felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest (literally) and I was short of breath. I never really described myself as being in pain.

Fortunately, even though I felt like a ‘ninny having a panic attack’, I had a family member drive me to ER where I was quickly assessed and admitted. I received wonderful care and as I live in a metropolitan area with a major teaching hospital, even though it was in 2008 and SCAD was considered rare, I received an accurate diagnosis of SCAD and an appropriate treatment plan to be medically managed.

The follow up today is part of a research study to further understand SCAD.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving



Inspirational Quote to Fire Up Your Heart and Soothe Your Soul


Self Compassion

“Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers,

the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground.

Let their spirit ignite a fire within you to leave this world better than you found it.”

~ Wilfred Peterson

Fall Days – Sometimes You Just Have to Get Outside!

And, the flip side of rainy days are gorgeous sunny Fall days when the best thing to do is to get outside and go to a park!

Enjoy the weekend friends!



Autumn Energy: Use it For Renewal

Even though I don’t have ‘kids’ returning to school, September continues to feel like a time of new beginnings. In nature, Fall is a time of harvest and the beginning stages of renewal.

Some of my favourite Fall memories include walking down tree lined streets and the smell and sound of crispy leaves, recently fallen.

You can use the changing energies of the Autumn season to let go of what no longer serves you and to take time to reflect on those activities that recharge and renew you.

I’m using the Fall season to recharge through an eight week ‘mindfulness and self-compassion’ program similar to what my friends and colleagues at ‘Compassion Inspired Health’ offer.

3 Life Coaching Tips to Help Identify Your Personal Values

Personal Values

Clear Values

Clear Values from Chaos

One of the positive outcomes of going through a time of trouble, dissonance or chaos is that a time of chaos often precipitates a re-evaluation of personal values.

Values are the essence of who we are. Values are principles that you hold to be of worth in your life. Values are those things considered right, worthwhile, and desirable – the basis of guiding principles and standards. Examples of values are: honesty, integrity, freedom, community, social responsibility, authenticity etc. ‘Crystal values’ are those values that are so important that if not present in your life will cause your life to shatter. Think of what would happen if you dropped a crystal ball. ‘Rubber values’ are those values that you can drop for awhile with no problem and will come bouncing back when necessary. Think of what happens when you drop a rubber ball.

Getting really clear on the values that are most important to you, will give you a framework for making decisions, taking forward movement and assessing dissonance in your life.
Let me tell you about a client of mine. Carol had identified that she held ‘social responsibility’ and ‘respect for nature’ as very strong values. She found out that the company she was working for was pumping toxic waste into the local watershed. She decided that she could no longer work for that company and in fact, felt she needed to report the company for the poor environmental business practices. In spite of the fact that being unemployed was not attractive, Carol stayed true to her clear values and resigned. While she had to deal with some short- term financial issues, this decision was worth it to her as she gained so much in the areas of self-honoring and self respect.

Is how you live your life in sync with your personal values? If it is, you likely feel great, in balance and fulfilled. If how you are living your life is out of sync with your values, you may feel discontented, frustrated and not all there, kind of like you are living someone else’s life.

Use these Life coaching tips to give yourself the time to gain or re-gain clarity about your values and how you use your values in your life:

3 Life Coaching Tips to help determine your values:

1. Set aside about 30 minutes and first create a list of value words and then ponder and identify which ones are your crystal values and rubber values.  Most people find that they have about 4 crystal values and about 4-6 rubber values. Let me know if you need help with this exercise!
2. Think of a chaotic time in your life and ask yourself what role values or ‘values out of sync’ played in the chaos.
3. Acknowledge and honour yourself for Doug this exercise. It may seem simple, however having clear values is a foundational Life practice.Treat yourself to something special for doing this exercise with flowers, a candle lit bath, a new yummy book, or something totally unexpected.

Although gaining clarity on your values and how you use them is already a huge gift to yourself, it strengthens your commitment to live by your values if you also add in the treat!



Book Club: The Shadow of the Wind

The Shadow of the Wind

by Carlos Ruiz Zafron

Seldom do I read a book that captures my heart and imagination in the way of The Shadow of the Wind. 

I read it as a multilayered, multifaceted love story with all elements of the ‘human condition’, set in post war Barcelona, Spain.

As my quest is to read all  the Pulitzer Prize winners in fiction, it is not surprising that I found The Shadow of the Wind well written and compelling. What surprised and intrigued me was the depth of character development and insight into the yearning of a great love.

In my personal ‘book club’, The Shadow of the Wind ranks in my top 10 favourite fiction books of all time.

Life Balance 3 Tips to Improve Your Holistic Health

Building on the theme from recent posts about summer energy, poetry and living in alignment with nature and her cycles, let’s weave in some of the teachings of the Tao Te Ching as a foundational theme in creating life balance.

Being brought up in a Western family spiritually grounded in Christianity, I wasn’t exposed to the Tao until my 30’s while on a spiritual quest following a family crisis. Do you find that crises often lead to spiritual growth? It was after reading The Life of Pi by Yann Martel that I decided to go deeper with the learning about the Tao. This may be a funny way to deepen learning, ie from a very enjoyable novel, however it worked for me! Since that time, the books that have helped my western mind understand the Tao have been ‘The Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzu’ translated by Brian Browne Walker, ‘Change Your Thoughts-Change Your Life: Living The Wisdom of the Tao’ by Wayne Dyer and ‘A Thousand Names For Joy: Living in Harmony With The Way Things Are’ by Byron Katie.

Byron Katie’s book I found to be particularly powerful.

As a life coach and executive/leadership coach, the women I work with are often challenged to find a balance or equilibrium between making conscious and strategic changes on the one hand and allowing the gentle flow of life on the other hand. Another way to describe this dynamic is seeing the balance between striving towards change and being drawn towards your future. The Tao seems to be very helpful for the second part of this equation. The Tao reminds us that life is like water, it resides in the low places, over time it carves out deep valleys and can move mountains, and it is hard to grasp. I have found that the more I try to figure the Tao out, the more complex it becomes and if I allow my entire self to be open to it, I ‘grasp’ it more easily. So, the life balance learning is about honouring the Tao of life and the Tao of you.

Life Balance Tips Using the Tao, remember the second part of the equation above, :

1. Read something about the Tao Te Ching, you can pick one of the books above or simply do a quick search on the internet.

2. Ask yourself how your life is or isn’t like the Tao?

3. One of the dominant themes of the Tao is about water and flow, spend lots of time in the water (for fun) and ask yourself what you feel drawn towards? Interesting imagery is to imagine that ‘life’ is a gently flowing river and you are floating down in a beautiful kayak, can it truly be this effortless? Might you run up into a log jam or two? Might the current of the river move you beyond it? Play with this image and sink into the energy of the Tao to bring more balance to your life.

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