The Compassion Fatigue Solutions Blog

Having Enough

This is a post written by my friend and colleague Robin Cameron. I received it as a newsletter and asked her for permission to repost it here. A lovely reflection on simplifying and slowing ourselves down.

Having enough: continuing 2014 resolutions

By Robin Cameron

Good morning on a beautiful spring day.  I’ve been reflecting on the “I have enough” project that I turned into my 60 day resolution on January 1, 2014.  Thank you to my lovely client who wrote to ask for an update on how it went!  So here it is if you are interested.

Project “I have enough”. 

The gluttony of the holidays, the forever searching for lost keys and the endless piles of laundry for a family who seem to wear the same 5 outfits every week was beginning to get to me.  I realized I was spending what could be leisure time sorting through our abundance.  Growing up, we had enough, we didn’t have a lot, but we always had enough, but began a habit of holding on tightly to things.

So for 60 days, I would not shop, at all, unless it was a gift, groceries, or a drug store item that had run out and we did not have an extra.

I found the experience transformative, not because I’m a big shopper, Sophia Kinsella did not write a book series about me, but because it just made me realize how many purchases are made mindlessly, tossed into the basket at shoppers drug mart as I’m working my way toward the cashier.  My daughter also got into it, she knew that we couldn’t go to staples and buy furry balls, blank notebooks and yet another package of markers.  So I received the added bonus of feeling like I was teaching a value by doing, not just by telling her how much we have, how fortunate we are, you know, the kind of lecture they tune out?

Why not do it all year?

I really wanted to be successful at the goal, so I made it timed and ended it right before our holidays would begin.

Pitfalls: is cheating always bad?

I realized that we would be on a plane on March 1st when the challenge was over, and I started to sweat when I realized that I had planned to buy a pair of jeans that I could take to both destinations, (hot holiday followed by one night at the air port hotel where I switched out our swim suits for ski gear and went to BC to see my family).  So did I cheat?  Sort of…but there was a real difference in how it happened.  Instead of just mindlessly picking them up and then deciding I failed and tossing the whole project, I did my research, picked the pair I wanted and then without buying them, went home to try to find a way to (justify?) make it work and not loose the real meaning behind my goal, which was that I had enough.  Not shopping, while transformative, didn’t do anything to reduce what I was already sorting, washing, organizing and tripping over…so

The next 60 days; MARCH AND APRIL


In the end I donated more than 30 items in order to have that new pair of jeans.  This may not be sustainable but what I love about it is that it forces me to really ask myself, do I really want this?  Here is the pile I traded for my jeans.

1 in 10 out


This goal is about Having enough Time…Stay tuned.  I am setting an intention to write to you about this next week and send a free resource.  I would love to hear how your projects are coming along. To join Robin’s newsletter please contact her by clicking here.

Quick healthy snack or breakfast: Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats


My daughter and I have been oatmeal-obsessed lately. I’m not sure why, maybe it’s the long winter, but we both found ourselves craving oats about a month ago: the hearty, steel cut variety, that takes forever to cook. Steel cut oats are the best kind: slower to digest, with a low glycemic index.

We’re a busy pair: she is a high school student and a competitive athlete, and I travel a lot, on top of running this awesome business and a household, so I couldn’t imagine spending an hour a day over a double boiler! In a matter of minutes, I had found the solution online: slow cooker steel cut oats. We now make up a batch every sunday and enjoy it all week, simply by reheating it in the microwave. My daughter likes it for breakfast, topped with frozen blueberries, almond milk and cinnamon. I eat it as a midafternoon snack or sometimes even for dessert, since I found that my dark chocolate addiction was bothering my stomach. I usually add chopped walnuts, raisins, cinnamon and, if I’m feeling fancy, a small amount of maple syrup. For those of you trying to eat gluten-free, make sure that your source of oats guarantees that it has been milled in a gluten-free environment.

How to cook Steel Cut Oats in your Slow Cooker:

2 cups of steel-cut oats (beware, this makes a huge amount. That is usually enough to last us a week)

8 cups of water or a mixture of water and milk or almond milk

1 tsp cinnamon

Some bloggers recommend lightly greasing your slow cooker before putting in the oats, so they don’t stick. I don’t bother, but I probably should. It does stick!

Put all ingredients in, and stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 7 hours or high for 4 hours. Slow cookers vary, so do make sure you check on your batch the first time around. My slow cooker tends to be faster than most recipes.

Here’s a delicious-sounding variation on the basic slow cooker oats:


Care4You Conference Agenda now online!

This will be a quick post as I should really be filing my income tax, right now…

I had a truly wonderful month, with two weeks away which I why I haven’t been blogging. During the second week of March, I was in Hawaii for the IVAT conference, then in Los Angeles to work with the Children’s Law Centre of California and the Children’s Institute.

I won’t lie – getting away from our never ending winter for a few weeks was a treat in and of itself, and doing it in a tropical paradise wasn’t too shabby either. Working with the amazing people at the IVAT conference, CLC and CII was also very rewarding and inspiring – professionals who work in child welfare are often so invisible to the ordinary citizen, and their work is often misunderstood. On the personal front, the highlight was being able to bring my 13 year old son (it was his March break). Getting to spend two weeks with him away from all the distractions of home was very precious. We took a few extra days while in Hawaii and got to explore Maui with friends, cycle down a volcano, hike in a rain forest, and eat delicious fresh fruit with weird names. Awe-inspiring sights: humpback whales everywhere, dolphins, sea turtles, seals… I could just sit on the beach all day and watch it all unfold: spotting water coming the spout of a whale, waiting to see if she leaps out, or shows her us silvery blue tail… I can’t think of a better mindfulness exercise. Here’s a photo from last year’s whale watching amazement:


Whenever things get too hectic, I just picture myself back on that beach, listening to the waves crashing on the shore and I let everything else drop away.

And here are two from our volcano expedition. Doesn’t it look like we are floating on clouds? 10 000 feet up in the air. Stunning. Cute boy too.


Safety First!

Safety First!


Now I am back at the ranch and we just got over a foot of new snow, overnight. Arg! Back to reality.

So, if you are based in the East Coast like me, and need something to distract you from this nutty winter, how about these suggestions:

1) Read, or re-read Laura Ingalls book “The Long Winter” … where they didn’t get a thaw until May, and almost starved, but were saved at the eleventh hour by handsome and tenacious Almanzo and his brave brother. Sigh… I loved The Little House on the Prairies novel series. I was always fascinated by their ingenuity and creating things out of raw materials: got an axe, no problem, we can build a house! I wonder how many of us would be able to cope with the rigors of their time.

2) Start planning for June 3-4, 2014 when the weather will be gorgeous and sunny here in Kingston, and check out the speaker lineup for the Care4You conference, which was just posted a few days ago. Please note that 50% of tickets to attend have already been sold, so if you want to attend this year, don’t delay registering. We will be sharing more details with you shortly, but it’s an impressive agenda: Mindfulness, Solutions for health care professionals, Managing intense work-related stress, Moral Distress, Tapping technique to reduce stress: the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), Mandala workshop, A healthy body for a healthy mind, Building your best teams: Creating a culture of success, A toolkit for caregivers, Self Compassion, Learning from people who make you crazy, Transforming trauma, Improv, and Self care through self-coaching. Go check it out! We will be posting more details in the coming weeks.

Photos 1&2 by A. Molina

Meghan Telpner has spark! A Healthy Living Blog To Watch

I just ate a delicious kale salad in an airport – how great is that! A few years ago, the best you could do while travelling was fill yourself up with peanuts and pretzels. Today, as I am making my way to Hawaii for a conference, I was able to get a healthy sugar-free smoothie in Toronto, this beautiful salad in Vancouver and, I’m sure, lots of good fish waiting for me in Honolulu. The other day I noticed that Jugo Juice at Union Station in Toronto now offers healthy oatmeal with hemp seeds, chia and oatmeal groats. Now if only YVR had a yoga studio…here’s to hoping, maybe in a few years! Healthy eating is clearly mainstream now and more easily available, certainly in major city centres. It’s impressive.

Meghan Telpner is a Toronto-based Nutritionist and the author of the popular new book “Undiet: Eat Your Way To Vibrant Health,” She is also one of our star keynote speakers at this year’s Care4You Compassion Fatigue Conference June 3-4, 2014. I love her weekly video blog. It’s fun, a little saucy and full of great healthy living advice. But what I like most of all is that she doesn’t judge and encourages people to embrace one change at a time – no diets, no “cheat days” just making changes gradually and consciously.

I can’t wait to have her at our conference!

Off to Honolulu now. Mahalo!

To view Meghan’s blog, click here

For our conference details, click here.



Compassion Fatigue Workshop for the Animal Care Community

Public Service Announcement:

On May 3, 2014 Wishing Well Sanctuary in Bradford, Ontario, is hosting a Compassion Fatigue Workshop with our very own Valerie Spironello. For more details, click here. 


Pitch the diet, toss the labels

food collage

I was vegetarian for nearly 25 years – I avoided meat for humanitarian and health reasons and I felt very comfortable with my choices. I don’t think that I was strident – I didn’t impose my diet on others and I was fine with meat being served in my home. Yet, I got a lot of flack from omnivores over the years. I always thought it was strange, as I didn’t criticize their eating choices, but somehow it seemed ok for meat eaters to ask a vegetarian to justify protein sources and explain why I made this choice. I always wondered why meat eaters didn’t have to justify eating factory farmed meat, but I didn’t say anything. Really, the dude eating kraft dinner for lunch and a hot dog for supper doesn’t have to explain his choice, but if I have falafels for dinner, I have to give a treatise on it? Come on.

I know that it wasn’t their aim, but comments from omnivores and vegetarians also made me feel hemmed in, as if I couldn’t eat one little piece of meat even if I wanted to, ever. Then I began struggling with low iron, and started thinking about changing my diet, but part of me felt that I couldn’t start adding meat protein – that I would get no end of hassle for it, from both sides of the debate. Seven years ago, I began running half marathons and I found that I really needed some animal protein in my diet to sustain my energy (I know this isn’t everyone’s situation, that there are some very successful vegan ultra marathoners etc.) but for me, it definitely was the case. So I added grass-fed organic chicken to my diet, and I felt immediately better, had more energy, and wasn’t hungry all the time. Hurrah! Over time, I started including more organic local meat in my diet, and now I eat a balance of whatever foods are good for my specific needs. I still consume a primarily vegetarian diet, with lots of organic plants, seeds, nuts, some local grass fed meat, and I feel great.

There is a lot out there about healthy eating these days: Veganism, vegetarianism, paleo, gluten free, mediterranean… It can all get a bit confusing and overwhelming. It’s fine to experiment with various ways of eating and seeing what works best for your particular needs, but it’s just as important to make sure that these choices don’t become a rigid box you can’t work your way out of. Some high profile raw vegan bloggers recently received death threats (I kid you not) for blogging about their decision to start eating local humanely raised meat. Imagine the courage it took for them to “come out” as no longer vegan! And on the other side, large food corporations are trying to brainwash us into thinking that their new super-refined “gluten free” breads are healthy. What a zoo! How confusing!

Nutritionist Meghan Telpner recently posted a great video discussion about this called “How do I ditch the guilt over changing my diet?”

The challenge, Meghan says, is figuring out what is right for you at this particular time in your life, getting rid of labels altogether and being willing to adjust and revise your choices along the way. Check out her great videoblog about this by clicking here.

Come and hear Meghan Speak! Meghan Telpner will be one of our fabulous keynote presenters at the CARE4YOU conference June 3-4, 2014. Please join us!

Ultimate reading list for nurses

I just found out that my book “The Compassion Fatigue Workbook” has made it on the “Ultimate Reading List for Nurses.” Very Cool! I’m not very comfortable with self-promotion but I sort of think of my book as its own entity, rather than an extension of my ego, so congratulations, book!



Upcoming events of interest

Public Service Announcements: From time to time, we post events that are occurring in the community that we think may be of interest to our readers. We are not affiliated with these events, but post them as a public service.

Dr Allan Wade: Drops of Longing – An introduction to response-based practice in context

Dr Wade has a fascinating perspective on our use of language as it relates to resistance, violence and trauma and ways to integrate this into our work with clients. Two great days of learning.

February 26-27, 2014

Hincks-Dellcrest Institute, Toronto, On.

For information click here

Natalie Zlodre, MSW, RSW: Level 1 Certificate in Trauma Counselling for Front-Line Workers

Toronto: March-April 2014

Montreal: May 2014

Toronto: June 2014

Click here for more information

Leading Edge Seminars Spring 2014 Series: Toronto – Click here for more information

Dr John Briere: New Developments in the Treatment of Complex Trauma

Many of you know that I am a huge fan of Dr John Briere’s work on Trauma Treatment. His workshops are extremely informative and he’s a riveting presenter.

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Highland Country Club, London, On.

More information visit or call 226-268-230

When a system utterly collapses: Five days at Memorial


I am currently reading the newly released book “Five days at Memorial” by Pulitzer prize journalist (and a physician herself) Sheri Fink. It is a gripping, chilling and disturbing read. “Five days at Memorial” describes the few days after hurricane Katrina at Memorial hospital in New Orleans, and how staff tried to care for very sick patients with no power or clean water, with only intermittent access to proper elevators to evacuate staff, very little sleep, sporadic and disorganised evacuation plans and only vague support from the outside world. After the flooding receded, rumors began to circulate that several patients had been euthanized, which lead to homicide charges and a grand jury investigation. This book isn’t a condemnation of those health care workers, it’s an account of how a perfect storm happened within the hospital too: The system completely collapsed. The book makes us ask each one of us: What would we have done in their shoes? Are we ready to cope with a natural disaster in our own institutions? If, for one, cannot be 100% sure that I know what my answer would be. Click here for a NY Times review and here for a CBC feature on The Current. 

Reflections from our team members

As you may know, CF Solutions is composed of a team of highly skilled, extremely dedicated professional women, all of whom work full time in the helping field in addition to providing training and education sessions for our little company.

At the start of this new year, I asked the CF Solutions associates to share their reflections on the work. Here are some of their words:

From Diana Tikasz, MSW, RSW: “I love a good snowstorm.  It invites us to slow down.  If we accept the invitation, we are rewarded with inherent stillness, beauty and wonder.  It creates an opportunity to pause, reflect, and reconnect.  It can be an occasion to reset ourselves and gain perspective as we gaze at each delicate snowflake falling.  As we take a second to pause,  we create awareness, and with awareness comes choice; the choice of how we wish to experience this moment and how we will step forward through the “storm”.  I wish you all the best the season has to offer and the possibility to explore the power of a pause.”

From Rebecca Brown, MSW, RSW: “As I reflect back over this past year, I am once again humbled and in awe of the amazing people I have had the privilege to meet through our connection with Vicarious Trauma and Compassion Fatigue.  I have been honoured to be in the presence of helpers and healers from such fields as Victims’ Services, Alzheimer’s Society, Special Education Teachers, Medical Staff, Educational Assistants, Probation Officers, and Camp Counsellors for Children with Cancer.  I am left with such a feeling of hope and a better appreciation for the capacity for resilience in people.  I am inspired to continue to make our workshops relevant and impactful, and it is with a renewed focus on resilience that I am looking forward to the New Year.”

and from Lori Tomalty-Nusca, RECE, RT.

“I love to do CF training sessions. I always walk away feeling that I have learned something from the audience, as I hear about different workplaces, different ideas and different aspirations to change a small part of life to make balance and self care important (as I feel it should always be). Everyone works so hard to make the lives of our clients/families better, and often we forget to celebrate the small successes that our clients have already made, because we, the helpers helped them along their journey. I especially love it when complete strangers come up to me at the end of a presentation, often with tears in their eyes, saying that they are inspired and are committed to change aspects their lives to make work/life balance better…it really is the best gift!

Happy New Year, and to all a good balance!!!”

For more information about CF Associates, please click here.