This will be a short post as it’s “family day” here in Ontario and it’s a day off for nearly everyone. I must say that although I love the fact that we now have a stat holiday in February, I find the name of it a bit unfortunate. I know many wonderful people who, for all sorts of reasons, live alone and do not have family – is it really necessary to rub it in their face that they are alone today “happy family day! oh, wait, you don’t have a family…” Could we not have called it something a bit more inclusive? I also think that the term “family” is very loaded for many people, not always a source of comfort and love. I believe that family is composed of whomever forms your inner circle of love and support. My Kingston “family” extends far beyond bloodlines and includes a delightful child who was adopted from Siberia whom I consider to be my niece, even though she isn’t, and her mother, who was present at both of my children’s birth, and who is like my sister, although she isn’t, and so on…
Many of you who have attended my workshops know that I am a big fan of the concept of 1% change. In fact, when it comes to implementing change, my motto is “Keep it Small, Realistic and Achievable.” Good for you if you ran a marathon last year, awesome if you lost 70 lbs and kept it off, or quit smoking and never looked back, but the truth is that for most of us, change is hard, and we fall down over and over again. New Year’s resolutions? They are usually long gone by Valentine’s day, right? The problem is often that we set ourselves up to fail – our goals are simply too big, and we lose steam early into the change process. A way to set yourself up for success is to establish what Sark calls “micromovements” tiny little steps in the right direction: want to improve your eating? Add one apple per week to your diet. Start small, and keep it small.
Now, clearly great minds think alike because my favourite blogger Leo has written about micromovements too. Check out his great post on making small changes and go floss that one tooth! Happy V day to all of you. xoxo Françoise
I don’t know about you, but no matter how responsible I aim to be with money, I always have somewhat of a financial hangover after the Christmas holiday – I tend to go a little overboard in December, especially with stocking stuffers (you can spend a lot of money on very tiny things – just because they are small doesn’t mean they aren’t expensive!), food, wine, baked goods, chocolate – all these nice things that I want to contribute to the holiday experience for my loved ones. SO, I thought it was very timely to hear the wonderful Gail Vaz-Oxlade on a recent noon hour show. Gail, if you don’t know her (really, you don’t know her? How is that possible? She is everywhere! Ok, everywhere in Ontario) is a no b.s. financial expert who helps everyday folk to get out of debt. She has two very popular TV shows and several books. Her most recent book Money Rules offers 261 rules on money smarts. I have written about Gail in several prior posts such as here and here and here too.
Listen to Gail Vaz-Oxlade on CBC Radio One’s Ontario Today
Read my 3 post series: Money Matters
Money Matters – Resources to Get your Finances in Order
Money Matters Part Two: A blogful of Resources
Money Matters Part Three: Becoming an Entrepreneur
One of the things I have done in the recent years to help with the Christmas shock, is to open a separate savings account called “Xmas” in which I deposit a small amount each month. That way, I have a clear sense of what I am working with. My mistake was to create an account called “Xmas/Kids’ Summer Camps” which I now realise doesn’t work for our new reality and simply means that I don’t actually have a clear sense of how much money I am working with. But that’s an easy fix. With most big banks nowadays, you can open savings account in a matter of minutes online, providing you already have a main account with them. Scotiabank, certainly, is very user-friendly about this. I have 6 savings accounts in which I dole out a certain amount at the start of every single month. That way, I have a very clear visual of where the money is going and how fast it’s going. It’s sort of a virtual version of Gail’s Money Jars.
Now can you tell my 12 year old son to stop growing? Buying shoes every three months is throwing a very large wrench in this well laid-out plan.
Coming soon: A feature interview with a professor in a Child and Youth Worker program who will share with us how she incorporated the Compassion Fatigue Workbook in her practicum course.
Hi, I’m back! It’s been a while since I have had the chance to write a post. The Fall turned into a bit of a whirlwind and time ran away from me. I have a lot of things to share with you in terms of upcoming events and training resources but I will let you know about these in a couple of days as I am waiting for one event registration to go live on the website before I make the announcement – so please come back in a few days. As always, I welcome your feedback and comments, so don’t be shy to email me a note or post a comment on the blog.
This was a very rewarding Fall for me professionally and a challenging one on the personal front: I had the chance to travel to Los Angeles twice to work with some wonderful people in the field of child welfare (and make some new friends along the way),
A friend of mine who works in a very busy children’s mental health centre came to work one day to find this life sized Power Ranger guarding her office. If I got the story straight, some of her staff thought she could put him in front of her door to let people know to leave her alone when she needs time to work on stuff. He is her guard. Isn’t that fantastic? Now, of course, only in Los Angeles would you be able to find a full sized action hero mannequin, right? (that’s me on the right, giving him a little squeeze, for those who have never met me).
So here is my question for you, dear reader, on this beautiful Sunday morning, before I dash off to yoga: Who guards your time? Who protects you from unwanted incursions? Do you have a clear sign (or a big red guy) that lets the world that you need to be left alone? How would I know, if I was your friend or your work colleague, that you do not want to be disturbed? Do you answer your phone at all hours of the night and day, or are you comfortable setting limits on calls, texts and emails? Can people drop in on you unannounced any time or are you clear on what works and what does not work for you?
There are ways to set boundaries where you can still be kind and warm to others. Then there are days where I just feel like wearing a t-shirt that says **** off! What are your best strategies?
I don’t know about you, but I tend to have a feast or famine type of schedule. Well, never really famine, but my work tends to follow seasonal peaks and valleys – December tends to be a quieter month on the workshop front, which gives me a chance to regroup from the Fall months and prepare for the holidays, and the end of June marks the end of my training season until the Fall rolls around again. Once the Compassion Fatigue Conference is done, I tend to spend a week in recovery mode (napping, dealing with email backlog, reading novels and taking time to smell the peonies in my garden). Then after about a week, I start getting a surge of a different kind of energy – not the workshop development vibe, but the “let’s chip away at the piles” type of groove. This is quickly followed by “holy s***! There is so much to do! Which could then easily be followed by feeling discouraged and going back to the couch to read more of Tilda Shalof’s new book and eat more cherries. But here’s what I do instead, and it works every time: I trick myself into getting through the piles. Take my freezer, for example:
As someone who travels quite a bit (in the next few weeks I am going to Philadelphia, Toronto, Ottawa, Cuba, Mississauga, Thunder Bay and Newfoundland, in that order), I often find it a struggle to eat healthily and exercise when I’m on the road. It’s not just a matter of willpower, it’s also the fact that healthy food is always harder to get your hands on than refined carbs when you’re away from home. We know it’s cheaper to put danishes on a table than a fruit tray, so conference organisers with tight budgets opt for the danishes and muffins. Thankfully, this is improving gradually – I was thrilled to find a juicer in the last hotel I stayed at: in the buffet line, next to the sausages and pancakes was a tray full of fresh cut up vegetables and fruit and a juicer! Heaven. The Toronto Eaton Centre has a new vegan fast food outlet in their “urban eatery.” I now try to pack a cooler before I leave home, when that is possible. I pack fresh fruit, cut up vegetables, almonds, nut butter, hummus, healthy crackers, herbal tea, water, Lara bars, an avocado and some dark chocolate (you gotta live a little!). Sometimes I make a quinoa salad to eat on the road. I try to eat protein and vegetables and skip the refined carbs. If I don’t have time to pack food or if I’m crossing the border, I bring nuts and seeds and Lara bars and try to eat sushi and find some juice bars along the way.
I may not have the time or energy for a full workout, but I try to do pushups, planks and squats in my hotel room, if I’m too tired to go down to the hotel gym (and some of those “fitness rooms” are seriously awful – rattly treadmill in a broom closet, anyone?). If you only travel once in a while, you can get in the mode of “this is special – let’s treat ourselves” but at some point, those special exceptions turn into regular habits and pretty soon you’re a bloated, tired, out of shape road warrior.
Whether you travel or not, you may find that you struggle with sticking to healthy habits. Many people say “I don’t have time to exercise” or “I’m too out of shape, I don’t even know where to start”. Just for you, here’s a good read from Leo Babauta’s website Zen Habits: “5 excuses that keep you unhealthy.”
Let me know if you have any strategies to battle the inertia of healthy eating and exercise when you are on the road!
(Image from gameanna)
It’s February 14th. Heart day, V-Day. Whatchamacallit day.
Yesterday, I stealthily baked heart-shaped cookies for my children and their friends right before my daughter came home from school. I aired out the kitchen so it wouldn’t smell so good, cleaned all the mixer bowls and hid the evidence. It was a fun and relaxing thing to do – something they did not expect at all, and seeing their happy and surprised faces this morning was well worth it. As I baked yesterday (and because I’m self-employed, I was able to do that at 2pm, not 10pm…) I reflected on the fact that some years, I would not have had time, the energy or the interest to bake for many different reasons: too busy at work, too tired from looking after little kids, interested in some other project…What was fun about making the cookies is that it wasn’t a should, it was a “Just because I feel like it” kind of thing. I may not do it again next year, it’s not a tradition or something I expect of myself (Martha Stewart – you do not have me!).
Is there room in your schedule for “Just because I feel like it” events once in a while, or is life so jammed-packed that there is no space left for spontaneity?
Now that we’re hitting the middle of February, it’s a good time to check-in with yourself and see how you are doing post-holiday. Whether we adopt formal New Year’s resolutions or not, most of us make or renew commitments with ourselves when we start back at work in January. Now that the holiday ornaments are back in the basement storage, and that our attention is turned towards Spring rather than Winter, where are you at with those New Year’s commitments to yourself?
The goal of taking stock is not to beat yourself up about what you haven’t done, but rather to take a compassionate and loving look at the past 6 weeks and see why/how things got off track, if they did. Maybe your goals were too lofty, and not realistically achievable? The gym is full of future marathon runners in January, but in March the gym returns to its usual suspects…
So, once you’ve eaten all the Valentine’s Day chocolate you can handle, I invite you to sit down for ten minutes, and start by taking a few deep calming breaths. Then, jot down a few thoughts about your current goals: Where are you at with reaching them? 1% of the way? That’s worth celebrating too, not just the massive leaps. If things have been really hard for the past six weeks, why not write down a compassionate, loving statement about why you have not been able to stick to the plan. Finally, why not scale down the goal into much more manageable increments: a walk around the block, saving $5 a week by not buying a latte, having a kind thought about someone instead of gossiping, eating one more vegetable per day. Research shows that true lifestyle change (the ones that stick) is really about the little daily decisions, not the crazy cabbage soup cleanse you attempt and fail at, or the austerity budget you blow after a week because you feel so restricted.
I recently read the following statement on a healthy eating blog: “You are only one meal away from healthy eating.” The same can be true about any lifestyle change: you are only one walk away from being someone who exercises, one cup of tea away from being someone who doesn’t have a stiff drink after work as a matter of course. One meeting away from not being the office grouch.
Feel free to share your new commitments with us on the comments below!
Please be kind to yourself.
Over ten years ago, Robin Cameron and I met over coffee and talked about the pressing need for more resources on compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma. That conversation lasted for hours and at the end of that day, we had decided to do as much research as we could and design a compassion fatigue workshop that would speak to the needs of helpers around us. Walking the Walk, our one day compassion fatigue workshop, was the product of this meeting of the minds.
For the past decade, we have wanted to offer a coaching group for helpers but the time was never right (babies, a round the world trip, work, life got in the way). Well, now we are ready!
Robin and I are thrilled to be able to offer this unique experience: an eight week coaching group for 8 helping professionals in Kingston! This group starts on April 17th and will offer 5 in person sessions as well as email support and tons of additional resources for eight weeks.
Click here to read more
If you have a few minutes, take a look at this captivating scientist practitioner talk about the connection between your endocrine system and the four phases of your body in a monthly cycle. Fascinating.
Alissa Vitti on Tedx FiDi Women
If you still have time and want to watch a wildly entertaining video on the need for women to reconnect with pleasure (yes, that kind, but also other kinds of pleasures), watch Mama Gena’s Ted talk. She’s a vibrant, inspiring whole lot of woman! Imagine if I made my entrance at one of my workshops like she does!
TEDxFiDiWomen – Regena Thomashauer
Let me know what you thought of those two inspiring videos.
Wishing you a happy, sane enough, full enough, calm enough week.