Saturday, May 7, 2016

7 Ways To Get To Happiness

When I think back to the time when things were just so murky in my mind, and my thoughts were limited between doom and gloom, if somebody told me that a state of inner peace and happiness would be once again possible for me, I would have told them they were nuts.

For real.

If you consider that depression is a form of brain damage, (imagine a shrunken, miswired brain) it’s no wonder that repairing the brain from depression can be a seemingly tedious and ongoing process.  That’s because it must occur on various levels.  You will have to repair the physical aspect (the cells), the biochemical and electrical aspects (information exchange), and the energetic aspect (the actual thoughts), but the good news is that the brain is so very capable of healing!

To make an analogy: sometimes you can fix your own car, and sometimes you have to hire a mechanic.  I’m going to refer to the DIY aspect of this repair job because there is so much that you can do for yourself.  It’s *your* brain after all, and you know it best.  With a few daily adjustments to your perspective and attitude, you can expand your experience way beyond what may seem impossible during darker moods.

1. Eat for joy. Turmeric to reduce inflammation, chili for endorphins, and embrace high-quality fats! Fats not only quench your hunger, but they make up the protective coating at the ends of your nerves, and actually make them work better! Think: fatty and oily fish, coconut oil, avocados…whatever unprocessed fats are within your dietary parameters.

Also, keep in mind that anything processed, especially starchy, floury, sugary foods are bad news for anyone trying to maintain a stable mood.  Whenever possible, eat unprocessed food.  Consider this: if we are what we eat, then eating processed, garbagey food makes our minds into a miserable, scattered, garbage dump.  The same goes for alcohol and other unhealthy modes of self-medication.

2. Exercise. No matter how minimal, do it. A walk, gentle yoga, even just imagining doing exercises is better than nothing, but do as much as you think you’re able to do… plus a little bit more. Put it on your schedule and make it a habit. It clears out your lymphatic system and cleans out all the seepage your brain has been sitting in, plus exercise adds some feel-good endorphins to the mix.

3. Replace each negative thought pattern you have with its optimistic opposite.  This is admittedly a tricky one!  At times you feel like the cliché cartoon character with an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other, both nattering at you.  Roll with it: keep restating the positive statements and hold on to the thought that eventually that little devil will lose its voice and go away!

4. Let it go.  When emotions well up in you, be a witness to them.  Just observe the emotion and where you feel it in your body. Just keep observing it as it happens, like a scientist objectively making observations.  Don’t push it away, and don’t get caught up in thoughts about it, just observe it and let it happen. By doing this, the emotion eventually dissipates and you can release it. Another one bites the dust, and new thought patterns are structured.

5. Forgive yourself.  The only way you’re going to climb out of self-defeating thought patterns is if you learn to adopt an attitude of forgiveness and gentleness with yourself.  After all, you’re the best lover and cheerleader you’ve got. You know yourself better than anyone else, so you’re the one who holds the key to healing.   My own imagined key has the words “F@*% it, I choose forgiveness.” engraved on it.

6. Be kind to others. When you offer kindness, you will evoke the emotion of happiness in others.  As smiles are contagious, and the act of smiling (faked or natural) induces happy thoughts, your habit of being kind will also benefit you! (New thought patterns are formed!)

7. Adopt and attitude of gratitude. I have no doubt that you’ve seen this concept mentioned a million times before, but believe me, attitude is everything! When you start to be grateful for all that you have in your life, it begins to transform any feelings of lack and limitation into feelings of abundance. From this perspective, anything is possible -- including a happy, healed brain!

When we make a daily effort to make changes, we can heal ourselves.  It may be a slow-going process with many perceived setbacks at first, but the effects of your efforts will snowball into an exponential change as time goes on.  Just stay dedicated to inner peace and happiness, and you will find that it is truly within your reach!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Be a Mother of Dragons

You know that term “fight fire with fire”?

Well, like a Mother of Dragons, (Game of Thrones reference) you can actually use the fiery heat of chili peppers to get your inner dragon to behave!

What I mean to say is that if your inner dragon happens to be chronic pain or a tendency towards depression, you ought to consider adding chili peppers to your diet daily.  You see, some of the brain chemicals (which act as messengers) and nerve pathways are common between depression and chronic pain.  Chili peppers work their magic by causing a reaction which actually blocks pain signals to the brain!  

Bring on the endorphins!

It’s our body’s natural response to pain.  Our body perceives pain, and endorphins are released to block the signals through our nerves.

Aside from my chili pepper adventures, my own best experience with endorphins occurred after being in labour for more than a day.  Unforeseen circumstances led to an epidural, which took the labour pains away and left me in a flooded, pure endorphin state.  The best phrase I have to sum up that feeling I had on the operating table that day is “strawberry fields forever.” I felt so incredibly peaceful and blissed out in spite of everything that was going on around me.

While I’ve never been able to get that insane level of endorphins in my body since then, I’ve been able to come close with the aid of hot peppers in a spicy meal. The capsicum in the peppers sends a chemical signal (perception) that you are being burned, and the nervous system reacts with endorphins to block the sensation of pain.

To get the blissed out neurological relief that comes from eating chilies (or any hot peppers) a person needs to have some built up tolerance to the capsicum heat.  If you’re one of those people who gets diarrhea from eating chilies, it’s possible that either you haven’t built up enough of a tolerance to it yet, or that there’s something else going on like IBS (in which case you might want to get checked out by your doctor.)

While chilies don’t cause any permanent damage, (and actually have a variety of other health benefits) they do their job through irritation, which means that the more delicate among us can choose to either avoid them entirely… or attempt to slowly build up a tolerance, and eventually enjoy this amazing natural side effect.

Remember how the Mother of Dragons actually burned herself in the fire and survived? Yes, this could be you; surviving, and birthing new power over your dragons. (No pain, no gain, right?)
For those who are well acquainted with the wonders of chili, they know how after the burn, the flood of endorphins after a meal brings relief from any physical or emotional pains.

They also know that capsicum itself does not get digested and will burn just as much on the way out as it did going into your mouth! (For the love of all things holy, you have been warned!)

Friday, April 22, 2016


Turmeric has been getting a lot of press lately for its anti-inflammatory capabilities, but did you know that it can be used as a mild anti-depressant?

This bright yellow powder or mini ginger-like root might as well be the embodiment of sunshine breaking through the clouds. Turmeric is one spice which has brought me so much relief since I discovered what it can do for my physical and emotional states.

Without getting into too much detail, back during a time when the physical, emotional, and financial threats to my being were at an all time high, I sank into a state which my doctor diagnosed as depression. (I’m writing about this because I’m sure it’s something so common that many people have experienced in their own lives, and perhaps you can relate my story to yourself or someone you know. Depression and the usual prescriptions are so common in our society, we need to talk about these things and not be embarrassed about this part of our experience.)

I faithfully took the pills my doctor prescribed me (I can’t remember the name of them now) and I remember feeling spaced out, and as if I was being contained within an emotional straight-jacket.  Maybe during that time I really needed this emotional straight-jacket to get through that period in my life without imploding, but I can’t help but wonder if I could have managed it with turmeric. 

I eventually came off of those pills because I wanted to feel my full range of emotion again, but the throws of life weren’t done with me yet, and circumstances led me to a state of feeling a complete loss of purpose and direction.  That time, depression kept me in bed most of the time, and was seriously sucking away my will to go on. Everything felt hopeless but I really didn’t want to take those pills again, so I searched desperately for something which would give me relief without the side effects. That’s when I found various studies done on turmeric.

The trend I noticed was that studies done on the effects of turmeric alone reported less favorable results than the studies which used turmeric and black pepper together.  Black pepper, it seems is the secret to our bodies actually absorbing the healing agents within turmeric! It turns out that there is a molecule called piperine within black pepper which makes all the difference for the bioavailability of curcumin, the yellow pigment in turmeric.  You can read all about turmeric and also what piperine does in this paper

I took a chance and took my well being into my own hands. I found out that the dose for taking turmeric for mood issues was much smaller (~1/16th tsp with a good crank of pepper) from the amount taken for aches and pains (~1/2 tsp with several cranks of pepper.)  At first, I blended it with warm milk and honey and drank it several times each day.  The drink in itself was like a warm hug coloured like sunshine.  20-30 minutes later, the emotional clouds would lift.

Using turmeric was a great alternative to the pills I had once taken.  Instead of the emotional straight jacket, it was as if the dark cloud over my head would thin enough that I could function for a while.  There was no emotional limitation, only a gentle but profound mood lightening and brightening.  It enabled me to manage my moods well enough to do the mental work required to find purpose and direction again. 

We humans are living in a very stressful ways and we’ve got to discover our own keys to sustaining ourselves so that we can find our way to creating our own individual impact on the world.

I’m going to throw out a disclaimer here and suggest that anything you read on the internet is not a substitute for professional counselling.  If you are seriously struggling, please consider talking to a doctor, a nurse, or a social worker. At the very least, talk to a friend who can support you in getting you to the help you need.

With that said, if you’re like me and searching for a dyi way to manage life’s ups and downs, please try turmeric when you’re stressed or overwhelmed, dealing with pms (it’s so great for aches and pains), are trying to soothe a stressed out child (turmeric milk, pepper & honey!!) or if you have any other reason for needing more yellow in your life.

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Friday, April 15, 2016

Why I Draw Dragons

This week a friend said to me: "I've been enjoying your blog and I like your drawings, but why the

It occurred to me that it must seem strange for me to be using this imaginary creature as a metaphor for disease since it is usually associated with fairy tales and legends of knights and royalty.

The bottom line to my story about this is that just as dragons are made up creatures, so are the labels we apply to the psychological and physical conditions.

Allow me to explain further.

Ever since I attended college for social work, I became increasingly aware of the power that labels have on us.  For example, Jane (a made-up person) is a painter, a lover of zombies, a coding genius, an advocate, a shoe collector, a chain-smoker, etc. Jane gathers these labels from all sources, including herself. These labels form her identity and influence how she views her own abilities and limitations.

Every time there is a diagnosis from a professional, we add to the list of labels we identify ourselves by.  Our egos like to take on those labels and make them a part of our self-identity. (Add "diabetic" to Jane's list.)

On one hand, it is a relief to have a diagnosis to understand that you’re not alone in your symptoms; and on the other, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy which can not only trap a person into the reality of their condition, but drive them ever deeper into their illness and its disabling effects!

If there is ever going to be a way to either to completely escape (if that’s possible) or to create a more positive life experience though self-awareness and self-love while living with that condition, it absolutely does not serve us to closely identify with that label.

For a long time, I identified with being gluten sensitive.  My life absolutely revolved around being gluten sensitive because at that time I needed to protect myself from the devastating effects of accidental ingestion.  Just one crumb of bread would put me into bed for an entire week.  The first two days consisted of excruciating pain (imagine what glass shards would feel like travelling through your intestines), living part-time in the bathroom, and not being able to remember the beginnings of my sentences well enough to actually have a conversation.  On top of this, my emotional state would absolutely plummet. Eventually, the fear of exposure seemed to completely take over my life and along with other stressful factors in my life, so began a struggle with depression. 

At one point I realized that at the times when I saw myself as a depressed person, it really seemed to get the better of me.  Identifying with my depression jacked up my tendency to ruminate, and I began to see how my mental pattern of identifying with it had the potential to take me down a very dark and lonely path. 

In my desperate state, I went with an idea I had in a moment of intuitive clarity.  In my mind, I began to envision the depression as a dark cloud that would visit me at times.  This "dark cloud" was an entity very separate from me, and sometimes it would just visit me for a while.  With this perspective, the mental space it offered allowed me to see the potential in myself to heal.  This was because I could see that my concept of me was very separate from my experience. The result was (for the first time in several years) I began to have some control over these shadowy visits!

With practice and experimentation, I was able to keep the dark cloud away for greater, and greater amounts of time, and I learned to be proactive when I got the slightest inkling that the dark cloud might return.

Because it worked so well for my experience of depression, I thought: what if I apply this to the gluten sensitivity?  The thought of living with the condition for the rest of my life terrified me!  What if I imagined the gluten sensitivity as a personification – like a dragon?!

And so, in my own mind, I became a knight.

Like any knight, I acquired my arsenal: a newly adopted daily homemade kefir ritual, and a whole lot of courage. The goal I envisioned was being able to eat a normal meal at a normal restaurant without fear. (Because gourmet food is a wonderful human experience which I would like to enjoy again while I am still alive!)

In the beginning, there were scary moments. When I started I wasn’t able to digest dairy, so I started with tiny amounts of kefir and endured the reactions.  (Insert fire-breathing dragon metaphor here!) Nevertheless, I lovingly and faithfully prepared my homemade kefir daily. Eventually, the reactions became less, and I increased the daily kefir dosage.  Over the course of a year and a half I gradually healed myself.  All the while, imagined that dragon choking on every sip of kefir, and shrinking just a bit more every day!

Being able to finally have power over my dragon and let go of that fear marked a huge shift in my life experience! Today with the help of a small dose of targeted digestive enzymes, I can eat anything I want, and it is such amazing freedom to live without fear!

And so I thought: what if others made it a practice to personify the conditions they live with? Would it help people to better understand the power they have over their experience by looking at their conditions more objectively?

Humans throughout history have had a need to personify things which seem greater than ourselves.  Think: “Mother Earth, and Father Sky,” and so on.  It helps us to understand abstract things in a way that is friendly and familiar to our human perspective.

When we visualize our conditions as dragons, separate from ourselves, it creates the mental space necessary for us to begin to focus on our true selves. When we take the condition away from our self-identity, we are reminded of our true power to create change in our lives.  We then have the space to rekindle self-love and self-acceptance, knowing that our true selves are far removed from our dragons.  


Have you ever tried visualizing your condition as something separate from you? If you have, I'd love to hear how that went!  Please leave your questions and comments in the area below!

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Friday, April 8, 2016

The Dragon in the Mirror

A funny thing happens when we look at ourselves in the mirror.

Each time you glance at your reflection, you see yourself through the lenses of your perceptions. It can change depending on your mood or psychological state. For an extreme example of this, those experiencing the psychological dragon known as body dysmorphia see a very skewed version of their physical selves, which doesn’t match up with how the rest of the world would describe them.

Any visual artist who has dabbled in the realm of self-portraiture knows about this strange phenomenon. Just have a look at Van Gogh’s series of self-portraits. When his psychological dragons were powerful within him, the way he painted himself reflected this. During his most intense emotional periods, his self-portraits also took on that intensity in the shapes and lines, colour and contrast.  His own perceptions of his eyes, cheeks, and the visceral hallows he painted around himself at times also reflect the way he felt about himself and the world around him at the time of each painting.

The way you see your own self in the mirror may be very different today from how you saw yourself ten years ago. Did you like what you saw then? How has it changed?

Do you see yourself as others see you?

While going about your daily life, the people you interact with recognize you for certain behaviors and traits. The characteristics they see may or may not match up with the way you see yourself. The more self-aware you are, the more you are able to close the gap between the way people see you and your knowledge of how you interact with the world. 

A good way to get know how other people see you is to outright ask them! It can be terrifying to make yourself vulnerable in this way but it can also be very revealing!

A few weeks ago, for the purpose of getting clear on the way I present myself to the world, I posted an anonymous survey asking my friends to tell me my three best traits. The responses included traits which I hadn’t even considered before, but moving forward, I can be more aware of how I use them. (I highly recommend this exercise to anyone wanting to know the strengths they present to the world so that a conscious choice can be made to focus on strengths, and deepen the impact you have on others!)

In daily life, you may get clues about your less favorable traits.  If you want to know more about these, ask someone you really trust to give you an honest answer in the most constructive way possible.  Their answer will hopefully give you insights into how this trait is having a negative impact on your life, and what you can do about it. Sometimes, just being aware of something allows you to create positive change.

Ultimately, being more self-aware will help you to see those mental dragons for what they are (Tweetable!) so that you can start to function at your best while they are in your life. 

When you can pick out the reflection of a dragon’s influence in the mirror, it brings you one step closer to self-acceptance and inner peace. It offers the ability to see that distortion for what it is: a dragon causing a perceptual distortion.  It is very separate from your true self: the non-judgemental watcher and consciousness behind it all.

What do you see when you look in the mirror today? Are you looking through a dragon’s eyes or can you see your true self? How has this changed over time for you?  Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Friday, April 1, 2016

Love Dragons

Did you ever wonder why some relationships drift apart?

Often, what was seemingly harmonious in the beginning changed somehow over time. What is going on here?
When two people come together whether in a relationship they bring all of their life's memories and beliefs and attitudes towards the world with them. Sometimes these things manifest as what I call a mental dragon (e.g.: depression, narcissism.) This dragon compromises the way a person interacts with people.

Life experiences in general cause us to grow and change, and so our internal dragons may grow, shrink, and change.

When you’re in a relationship, and your partner has a dragon, sometimes it is enough to adopt attitudes of acceptance, forgiveness, love, and gratitude to restore harmony in the relationship.

But what if there is a destructive dragon in the relationship such as one person's strong need to constantly control the actions of the other person? (E.g.: jealous behavior, or monopolizing all of your spare time.)

Or what if one person is operating with a dragon that is very powerful and it's causing then to behave in a way that repetitively hurts the other person... badly. (E.g.: Gaslighting behavior that makes you feel like you’re going crazy, or sexual violence.)

Sometimes, it doesn't matter how much you work on yourself and your own mental and physical dragons (while loving and forgiving the other person.) If the other person is reckless in letting their dragon grow instead of working to shrink it, they can easily drag you into their misery.  

The important thing to remember in any relationship this is that it is not your responsibility to help the person to shrink their dragon.

For most of us, having any part in fixing another person’s dragon is not only completely draining, but also impossible. In order for any change to happen, people have to want to fix their dragons, and they have to do it themselves. (In the case of a narcissist, even if the person does recognize their own dragon, they may not actually see any benefit in changing!)

So when you're being hurt by another person in a relationship where you struggle to see yourself exiting, it’s worth asking yourself: is staying in the relationship healthy for you?

Also: is staying in that relationship feeding your internal dragons (think: codependence) allowing them to keep you more and more stuck in your life? Is it worth it?

(Safety Note: If you’re in a dangerous situation right now, I urge you to get in touch with your local women’s shelter and make a safety plan – they often have the resources and the confidentiality like no other!)

Have you ever had to make a brave decision to leave a relationship which was hurting you?  

Please share your comments below. <3

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Complaining, Negativity Dragon

Some people seem to have a constant stream of negativity coming out of their mouths. Whether they are posting on social media, or you’re trying to have a conversation with them, it’s all complaints!

The people around them feel the emotional pull of wanting to help them, but for most of us, it is extremely uncomfortable….you know that awkward feeling of being pulled into that feeling of responsibility for someone else’s emotions? Many of us have a hard enough time managing our own emotions! In the name of preserving our own sense of emotional calm, we duck out of that uncomfortable situation at our earliest convenience!

This is how it goes with chronic complainers.

Author and therapist, Margaret Paul, Ph.D., says that “people who complain are generally people who have not done the emotional and spiritual work of developing a loving, compassionate inner adult self.”  She also says, “Energetically, complainers are pulling on others for caring and understanding because they have emotionally abandoned themselves.”

Complaining is one of those internal dragons people carry around that all started because of feelings of lack.  The act of complaining is a habit which makes people feel more in control in a world where everything is perceivably happening to them.

But what if that chronic complainer is you?  What are you supposed to do with this dragon you’ve lived with for so long?

On the topic of bad events: it’s absurd to think that anyone can control things that are beyond the scope of their own actions…so trying to have control in those situations is pointless.  Complaining isn’t an action that results in any real change either, so again, a complete waste of effort.

Things just happen….but if we choose to focus on the negative aspects, and comment about them, we feed and grow that dragon and the habit of complaining gets out of control.  Soon, you may not even realize that you’re constantly complaining, and driving people away from you. You may begin to complain that nobody is ever around to help you, and it all becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

Your current reality may make you feel like you are condemned to your own internal prison -- but this vicious cycle of negativity is a mere mental habit, and like any habit, it can be changed!

Mental habits form much like tires create ruts in a dirt road: the more you drive the car along the same route, the more difficult it is to drive the car out of the ruts.  The only way out of a habit is to do the mental work to change the context of your actions, actively change your perceptions, and to consistently replace the old habit with a new behavior.

The willpower you’ll use to create this new behavior is a mental muscle.  You’ll need to train it like you would train your biceps at the gym.

Just like training to be an athlete, it’s going to take time and patience. Nobody starts training by just walking into a gym and starting off with bench pressing 500 pounds, and similarly, you should not expect to be able to change your habits overnight!

In order to change, you’ve got to create space for new habits by taming that negative, shaming, judgmental voice in your head.  Forgive yourself for being so negative and hostile in there for so long. It’s time to replace all of that prickly scaliness with compassion. Be actively gentle with yourself. 

Let go of that inner battle and redirect your mental focus to what you do want. When your brain stops wasting its energy by being caught up in the guilt and shame, you will be able to divert your energy to change, and your dragon will be able to shrink so much faster!

Consider replacing the constant judgment with feelings of acceptance, and feelings of gratitude for all the stuff that is actually good no matter how seemingly small and simple that thing might be. 

Yes, bad things do happen, but as a large-brained human, you have the capacity to rise above it all.  Shrug off the old attitude of being a victim, because that doesn’t serve you.  What does serve you is compassion for yourself, and deliberate actions which move you gradually towards the emotional place you really want to be. <3


Paul, M. (n.d.) Addiction to Complaining. Retrieved from:

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Friday, March 18, 2016

How to be in a relationship (without getting crushed under other people’s emotional baggage)

Courage to love the self - painting in progress - by HD AndersonSometimes we become so attached to the idea of being in a relationship, that we begin to lose ourselves.  This is dangerous territory.

It’s so human to want to cling to passion: the idyllic memory of that fiery first spark at the beginning of the relationship.  In this state of mind, you may start to put up with all kinds of poor treatment because the idea of ever being apart from that person is so far away from that beautiful idyllic bliss. Personal boundaries of acceptable treatment and typical actions of respect (or a lack thereof) become blurred.  One day you may suddenly realize that you are constantly torn between that which provides an illusion of safety within the relationship and that which drains your energy and your soul. 

One of my favorite authors on the topic of the human spirit, Osho, says that this is not love. Clinginess is not love. (One of my favorite videos of Osho can be viewed here.)

To truly love a person, you must be willing to put aside your ego and your desire to receive from them.  Instead, you simply offer your love and support and let them live within their own dreams and visions.  Just love, without expectations.

When I first learned of this concept, I came from a mindset of always feeling like I was not good enough to be loved fully.  And so, I held on tight whenever I felt the security of a relationship that felt real.  It hit me like a ton of bricks that all this time, my expectations of other people (to fill the void within me) was completely unreasonable and actually, impossible!

It wasn’t until I let go and decided to just be a loving person, without any expectations of getting anything in return that I began to feel free.  In this state of mind, my boundaries are clear.  Since I no longer feel the need to cling, I know that I would be absolutely fine whether I am in or out of a romantic relationship.

I now choose all of my human relationships because they serve me and bring positive experiences to my life.  I get a lot of enjoyment out of being a loving person and seeing the effects of my love for the people who receive it. I no longer stay in bad situations out of fear. It’s not worth it…because I am worth it.

The key to detachment is to fall in love with yourself.  You can begin to replace any feelings of lack with mantras such as: “I am worthy of respect and real love,” or “I am so loveable and delicious,” or whatever personally activates that self-worthy, self-loving, core of awesomeness within your being.

Even if you feel like a liar the first time you say it, and tears gush out of your eyes (aka, your heart reacting to the truth of those words!) know that if you keep at it, over time, your mind will allow that belief to sink in and become real!

Being able to be detached in a relationship because you love yourself so much that nothing – NOTHING! – will stop you from taking your time and attention away from hurtful people. THAT is freedom.

When you stop expecting certain behaviors from others, and instead become a solid pillar of love and kindness which inspires everyone around you, you no longer fear being alone.

You can’t control the actions of others, but you can control how you feel about yourself, and how you relate to the world.

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Friday, March 11, 2016

When to leave a relationship

Sometimes things get bad.  Really bad.

Sometimes it’s a tough call between “this is just another human mistake, I should just forgive and carry on” and “I really think I’ve had enough of this.”

The many factors and facets of human relationships are so complicated that it goes way beyond the scope of this particular webpage, but what I will do is narrow it down and speak to those who struggle with having clear boundaries in relationships.  If you have had a chronically stressful or hurtful childhood, knowing when enough is enough is not a clear and easy thing.

In this situation, your mind is useless. Having endured what it did in childhood, it is now hardwired to overlook the assaults. Your mind has a tendency to reassure you that everything is okay…when it’s really not.

If this is your experience, you’ll need to consult with another source of wisdom within you: your body.

Your body knows when you have been violated or hurt.  It gets expressed as aches or pains (headaches, back tension, digestive tract upset), tightness (I feel as though my throat closes up), or in the case of the heart, hollowness and a sensation of collapse or sinking. (To illustrate the opposite experience: in most people, the way the heart says YES is a sensation of expansion, and/or beating faster and stronger.)

That heart “brain” is only capable of communicating the truth of the matter, and will never lie to you about how being in the relationship is actually affecting you.

Now, if you feel you are in immediate physical danger from your partner, (i.e. force is required to be safe in that moment) it goes without saying that you should get help from the police immediately!  (For most domestically dangerous situations, your local women's services organization/shelter may be better option because they can offer both safety and confidentiality! Also, they typically have the resources to help and support you from many different angles.)

If you’re being violated in non-life threatening ways ways which confuse you and make you hesitate (psychologically, socially or emotionally) you’ll need to pay attention to what your body is telling you.

Each time you feel a sensation, notice it. Close your eyes and just feel it. What were the circumstances that brought it on? What were you thinking about just then? These are the clues on what circumstances your body deems are unacceptable.  If you continue to experience these circumstances, the effects they have on your body will begin to take their toll. Sometimes these body symptoms turn chronic, so something has to change!

Let’s say that you’ve discovered that when your partner uses you as a verbal punching bag, you feel it in your heart (collapsed) and your throat (tight: because you don’t feel like you can speak without being verbally punched even more!) You try to communicate to your partner -- that their way of venting their life’s frustrations directly at you -- is hurtful.  Instead of being receptive, they get defensive, and nothing changes.

Let’s say that you’ve tried to crack through that thick skull of theirs many times and it’s not working.  You demand couple’s therapy. He/she goes reluctantly, insisting that you’re actually the one with the problem.  Therapy happens and things get better for a while, but before long, things go right back to where they were. 

The thing about humans is that we bring all of our past baggage into our relationships, and unless we do the personal work to unpack it all, it’s always going to be haunting our lives.  It’s like the saying goes: “wherever you go, there you are.”

It’s important to remember that it’s nobody else’s responsibility to unpack their baggage but their own.  And please remember that if somebody else’s baggage is hurting or violating you through their behavior, it’s not your fault. 

Having constant uncomfortable body sensations is an indication that perhaps it’s time to move on in the name of self-preservation.  Those aches and pains you feel in your body could manifest into chronic conditions, and no relationship is worth that!

Being constantly hurt by someone else’s baggage is not love.  It’s certainly not self-love.  (Tweet:) Great acts of self-love sometimes involve getting away from other people’s baggage. Your heart knows this truth.

Have you ever left a bad situation and felt light in your body and full of energy?  Your heart expands and beats strong and rhythmically? Your heart knows the truth.

Let your body be your barometer and your compass, work on your own unpacking, and live your life well.

Friday, March 4, 2016

You are not your dragon

No matter what you call your dragon, be it “Depression,” “Diabetes,” “Binge-eating,” “Cancer,” “Alcoholism,” or “Drug-addiction,” it is important to remember that the dragon is only your human experience. It doesn’t define your true self.

The danger of identifying yourself too closely to your dragon is that you will take on that dragon’s apparent limitations as your own, and it shrinks what you believe is possible for you. This is not the truth of your being, even if it might appear to be so.

The real you is that consciousness behind the thoughts and judgements who is observing a human experience in a human body. It is connected closely to your heart, and only knows what simply feels good deep down in the core of your body and what doesn’t.  It is very separate from the chatter and judgements of the mind.

Take a moment and be still with yourself.  Remember that you are that observer behind your thoughts.  That consciousness within you that simply exists (without the mind’s chatter or thoughts of judgement). It is the part of you that is connected to your heart and just knows what feels good and what doesn’t (and it’s very separate from the mind!)

When you remember who you are, it gives you the freedom to choose what you will do with your thoughts. You can shrink that dragon’s bloated existence simply by redirecting the attention you give to it. You can make a brave, bold, and conscious choice to focus your attention away from that dragon, and thereby put it on a very deliberate diet!

Think of it this way: every thought you have in support of the dragon’s existence is like dragon kibble. The more you think: “this diabetes will always be in my life,” or “I am my depression,” or “this disease is ruining my life” it’s like a piece of dragon kibble that makes your dragon a bit bigger and more difficult to manage. When the dragon gets big enough, it begins to block out all of the joy and clarity in your life. Soon all can seem hopelessly dark with no hope of being able to be out of the dragon’s shadow ever again. Well, that’s what the dragon would like you to think, anyway!

In truth, as long as you can form thoughts, all is not lost! Opposing thoughts like: “I am getting a little better at ____ every day,” or “I am getting a little healthier every day,” or “I am actually free,” or “I am not my dragon,” …..will starve that dragon!

If you practice redirecting your thoughts each time a “dragon kibble” thought comes up, and replace it with the opposite thought, eventually you and your dragon will reach an equilibrium. If you keep at it, then over time, the practice becomes easier. Eventually, you will harness more and more control, and make those dragon-opposing thoughts a habit. Soon your efforts will be juiced by the knowledge that you have taken action in your mind and created a small but profound shift within yourself!

To redirect your thoughts, first just take notice when you are having a “dragon kibble” thought. Gently bring your attention to that thought, and then imagine putting a bubble around it, and then imagine that you let it drift away. Release it!

Replace it with the opposite thought by making an opposing statement in your mind. So, instead of “I am going to be depressed forever,” you might state, “I am not this depression. The real me is free, joyful and expansive.”

Also, please don’t beat yourself up for having those dragon kibble moments! Those thoughts became a habit at some point, and like any habit, it takes deliberate, persistent, repetitive practice to change it. For a time you might even feel like the cliché cartoon character with the (constantly bickering) devil on one shoulder and angel on the other! You may carry on for a while in this state, but if you just keep at it, without beating yourself up, while being gentle with yourself, and maybe having a giggle about it, it will pass as the new habit is formed.

Remember that even the most enlightened folks among us have dragon kibble moments now and then.  It’s human after all, and it’s really all a matter of remembering that you really do have the ability to redirect your thought patterns!

As a disclaimer, I’m not saying that everyone will always be able to starve a dragon until it completely disappears, (although sometimes it happens) but you can certainly put that dragon on a diet until it stops being so huge that it blocks out all the sunshine in your life. Even if you have been told that you have terminal cancer, a shift in attitude (whatever thoughts shrink that dragon for you) will substantially change your perception of those blessed final days.

Let me put it this way:  if you can get your dragon to get down to a size where you get little glimmers of happiness now and then, it’s certainly better than existing completely in a huge dragon’s shadow.
When you combine this change of thought patterns with deliberate positive actions in your life (such as eating better, or exercise) you can create real and powerful change for yourself.

Even if it feels like you are moving at a snail’s pace and every step is a feat of strength and endurance, simply having awareness that your efforts are gradually shrinking your dragon will aid you in stepping further into your true unlimited, creative, powerful self. This process is all about causing a shift in attitude that generates new energetic patterns in your brain, heart, and whole body. 

The journey to health starts in the mind.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Slaying Dragons

Everybody has a personal dragon they battle with every day. Whether it’s a physical disease or your own mind, we all battle something within ourselves. Our dragon can seem so insurmountable and huge that we have given up fighting, or we have been with the dragon for so long that we begin to see that dragon as a part of our identity. I’m writing today to tell you that you are not your dragon, and that it is possible to shrink that dragon down if not slay it completely. You are actually that consciousness behind it all, observing every belief at attitude you choose to have towards that dragon. Notice I said “choose”?

I know it is my choice on how I approach things in life now, but I wasn’t always aware of this fact.  There was a time when I had several huge dragons taking over my life, one of which was named Gluten Intolerance.  (It’s funny how when you name something, you actually give more power to it!)
Anyways, Gluten the big fat dragon had taken over my life. Emotional stress had made it grow to such an enormous size and it was starting to block out the sun.  The fact that I felt trapped into the stress (another illusion) made it grow bigger, and the fact that I had started to plan my meals and my life around it made it grow even bigger. I was miserable because I assumed that I would have to live with this huge dragon for the rest of my life.

At one point, I was so gluten intolerant that if I accidentally ate a single bread crumb it would ruin my short-term memory for an entire week, I would break out in a painful rash (imagine glass shards erupting from the skin) and I won’t even get into the horrors of what it did to my digestive tract. Between not being able to carry on a conversation and living in the bathroom, I became very fearful of this dragon. It was ruining my life!

During one of those incidences of gluten poisoning, I thought to myself, “This is absolute bull s*&%! This is not how I want my live for the rest of my life!” And from then on, I set out to find an answer. My attitude shifted from victim to Joan of Arc that day, and everything was different from then on.
Of course, it helped me greatly that I had found a way to finally eliminate much of the stress from my life, and I had found an absolutely kick-ass tough-loving partner who agreed with the absolute bull s*&% factor.  He saw the dragon in my life for what it was- fully capable of being diminished if I brought forth the warrior within myself.

So I let go of being a victim to this overgrown dragon, and with an open mind, I fought back by researching everything I could about my condition.  I began to realize that it would take just as much energy to bring it down as it had taken to grow this beast.

As it happened, I found a solution: milk kefir.  (If you don’t know what kefir is, imagine a seriously hard-core version of probiotic yogurt.) Milk was scary to me since it was notorious for causing me pain. All the articles I read contradicted by belief that milk was dangerous, but they reassured me that if I put my energy into cultivating the real homemade stuff, I would be able to gradually build up a tolerance and start healing.

I think it was my determination to heal that enabled me to bravely take a leap, and I started with miniscule amounts of this supposedly magical substance. To my amazement, the dragon began to shrink! After a year of putting my energy and self-love into cultivating my homemade kefir, and drinking increasing amounts daily, I was a very different person!

Two years later, I can actually go out to a restaurant to have lunch with my partner and even have a beer!! (Before this eating out was a nightmare!) I just take my enzyme to help with digestion and it feels amazing to be participating in life like a normal person again!

Now, I’m not going to sit here and guarantee that kefir (or anything for that matter) will work for you. What I will say is that no matter what your dragon is, I am convinced that you can shrink that dragon immediately with a 180 degree shift in attitude. If (with an open mind) you make calculated changes in your life, maybe it will shrink some more.  If you maintain that warrior disposition and truly feel your life improving *on every level of your whole being*, maybe, just maybe you will fully succeed in actually slaying that dragon.

This is the meaning of mind over matter, my friends...mind over matter! Tweet: Mind over matter my friends….mind over matter.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Is social media getting you down?

I can tell you that you're not alone because I hear it from people all the time. In fact, I was inspired to write this post after a friend of mine commented that it's so easy to get down on himself when he has spent too much time looking at social media.  It happens when people compare themselves to all the big shiny exciting things other people post about, and it makes you feel like your life is so much less.

So bear with me for a moment: imagine that we are all icebergs. 

You know how an iceberg has the visible part up in the sun, and that the rest of it goes deep under the water, right? Well, imagine that that entire iceberg (the top and bottom) symbolizes everything you have done in your life, and the resulting wisdom and power that comes from that.  (That's a lot of power and wisdom you have there!)

Now imagine that the shiny icy tops in the sun are all the parts that people are proud enough to share. That means that everything below the water is everything else that happens to a person (the good, the bad, the mundane, and the ugly.) Some of these things stay well hidden.

Considering that most people post only exciting stuff about themselves, if you're only looking around at what's about the surface of the water, it's a huge distortion of reality!

When you start comparing your whole self to everyone else's top (shiny-happy) part, it's easy to forget about your own depths, and the fact that everyone has these deeper parts to themselves! The depths of your own stories, your experiences and power become easily devalued and even forgotten about as your looking at everyone's above-the-water parts!

When you add up all the things that have happened in your life: all that you have endured, and that you have achieved --even if the achievement was actually enduring something horrible-- you've got some serious depth to your whole being. (Tweet:) If you've had the strength to get through some very bad stuff, it makes you a serious badass...especially next to those fluffy-bunny-prancing-through-daisy-fields folks up in the sunshine.When look at this this way, you realize that you are brilliant because you survived all that other stuff that makes up your massive iceberg of wisdom and power, and all those experience points make you one badass mofo of wisdom.

With that being said, if you need to take a break from social media for a while, to center yourself and be alone with the depths of your own true power, then let that be a way that you will love yourself deeply today. Remind yourself of everything you've gone through and just how much it all amounts to, and how you can use that power to create positive changes in and around you.

Friday, February 12, 2016


Self-love and self-care are so important for every woman, especially women who have been through difficult circumstances in their life. We are natural givers, but sometimes life depletes us.  It is through loving ourselves that we are able to maintain our power to give. Perhaps you can relate to my story:
My painting: "Self-Love"

Unfortunately, like so many women, I used to be in an abusive marriage.  It was causing me to experience a slow physical and spiritual death.  Self-care was difficult while caring for two small children as well as everything else that was going on.  I experienced depression and all sorts of food and environmental sensitivities for several years.  Mentally, I became so broken that I questioned my life’s purpose and my very existence.  Fortunately, there was a very small and meek part of me that wanted to fight to survive and live to see better days.  I tentatively made a plan to change everything.  When the day came, my greatest act of self-love (and most terrifying experience) was to get out of the abusive marriage I was in, and allow my entire being to begin to heal.

And heal I did!  In time, I became aware of how strong the mind-body-life connection could be, acts of self-love carried me through this new lease on life, and so self-care became my new spiritual practice. It involved immersing myself in Nature and the elements, and creating mental and physical space around myself.  It was about creating routines that served me and removing the ones that didn’t.  Walking in the sun and under trees, dipping my body in natural bodies of water, eating fresh and cultured foods; all became the standards of how I care for myself. In time I experienced an almost complete reversal of all of my physical symptoms!

While I developed my self-love practices, I felt that once meek part of myself getting stronger: my inner warrior woman – and she wanted so much more out of life!  Furthermore, it became apparent that she was there all along and helping me to navigate the difficulties life had thrown at me.  She was my will to survive when things were really rough.  Caring for myself meant caring for this inner warrior, and as I kept her strong, she would carry me onwards towards much greater opportunities in life. My wish is for all women to find that warrior part of themselves, and nurture her to the extent that you become unstoppable!

A map of how I care for myself.
Regarding self-loving acts: do what you can, when you can. Don’t be concerned about being selfish!  You can only offer yourself to the world as much as you lovingly keep yourself well.  The fact is, nobody will ever understand or appreciate you as much as you can. While there are certainly people in your life who lovingly pour their hearts into you, they are not you.  You (yes, and only you!) are your own best lover, cheerleader, and supporter.  When you take good loving care of yourself, you are stepping deeper into your own power.

Another message I would like to pass on from my own struggles is to be forgiving and gentle with yourself.  Life is not perfect, and sometimes our best efforts to love ourselves are smashed by negative people and situations. There were definitely times when I was so consumed by what was going on around me, I forgot the basics of what my mind and body required to be well and so I suffered.

During those inevitable times when you mentally struggle to act lovingly towards yourself, focus on the physical aspects of your health: fresh unprocessed food, clean water, reducing inflammation, sunshine, sleep, exercise.  When you do this, you give your mental wellbeing a boost.  Only you have the power really care for yourself in the ways your heart knows you need, so go ahead and make loving yourself your top priority! <3