Review of : Emotional Tune Up For Caregivers Workshop

On a Fall evening 15 or so women gathered together to speak of many things. Of self-care, fatigue, sleep, worry, and how to keep emotional balance in trying times.  Above all, our facilitator, Cheryl, of her company “Intuitive Life”,  emphasized the point that we all have it in us to triumph over even the greatest challenges in life.

Using a tool called the “Pain to Power Chart”, we estimated our level of pain at the time of workshop, and, several women said their scores went up by the end of the workshop, so empowered were they by Cheryl’s motivating wisdom.

It is rather poignant how, when Cheryl asked how many women were taught self-care as they were growing up, no one raised their hands. We all agreed self-care for caregivers was of the utmost importance. One woman shared how she practiced origami, and how that brought joy to her day.

I felt empowered also,especially by what Cheryl said about “baby steps. ”

Cheryl quoted Napoleon Hill, how he said that for every challenge or hardship there is a seed of benefit.

On that note, I wish to thank Cheryl on behalf of the North Shore Caregivers Group, for her wisdom and personal strength.


Mindful Monday no. 9: On Knitting

Ginger Knitting

Knitting is euphoric. It feels endless and what better way to live and end a life?! There is rhythm and power in the action. One essentially makes fabric for most uses in a portable, social, practical, natural, creative and simple manner.  There will always be something else to make as it will wear out or need darning. It has reinvented my concept of time that I’ve applied to many areas of my life.” – Kacy Dapp

I started knitting my first sweater last weekend. Since then, I’ve spent approximately six hours planning, rolling yarn in to a workable ball, and clacking needles together, slowly growing the garment row by row. At this pace, I may have a warm, wool sweater by the time April showers start to fall.

My mum taught me how to knit not long after my eighteenth birthday. I can’t remember what inspired me to pick up the hobby, but I do recall thinking it would be an inexpensive way to make presents and own beautiful woolen clothing. I was wrong. I quickly discovered that natural fibers are costly and knitting can take a long, long time. It can also take a while to get the hang of. I gave my first completed scarf to my ex-boyfriend. It was striped with grey and black to resemble a piano, like he’d asked for. He was grateful, but then told me I should consider practicing a little longer before giving anymore gifts. I ignored his suggestion and started on a second scarf for my sister. She unwrapped the present to discover a needle at one end, since I couldn’t remember how to cast off before Christmas morning.

Eleven years later, I’ve gotten a little better. I’ve made many scarves, toques, socks, and slippers. I’ve given most to people I love and it makes me smile to think of them bundled up in things I worked so hard to make.

When I sit down to knit, whether it’s on the bus, in the passenger seat of a car, in bed or on the couch, time slows down. My mind clears, my breathing is steady and whatever is troubling me feels more manageable. I know that I could go to a store and buy what I’m making for the same price or cheaper, but that’s not the point. The act of creating something slowly, with care and no pressures of deadlines or a perfect outcome makes me feel peaceful, and you just can’t put a price on that.

Words by Cassandra Van Dyck

Foodie Friday no. 2 – Shrimp Tikka Masala

This is a recipe I got from a yachting magazine recently:

Shrimp Tikka Masala

Serves 4 people

You will need:

1 lb peeled shrimp (raw)

1 tp cumin

1 tp turmeric

1/2 tp Korean pepper (but you can use Tobasco to taste)

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

1 T tomato paste

1 garlic clove (chopped)

salt, pepper

1/4 cup melted butter

1 tp chopped ginger


Peel the shrimp, place in a bowl. Add yogurt and spices (you can substitute the cumin and turmeric for 2 tp curry powder if you like) and garlic and ginger. Season to taste and add tomato paste.  Add melted butter. Mix.

Allow to marinate for one hour. Preheat oven to 400 F. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper (greased foil would also work). Arrange the shrimp mixture into an even layer. Bake 12 minutes.

Serve over basmati rice.

(Note: you can substitute chunks of chicken breast for shrimp if you like, but allow to cook a little longer.)

Bon appetit!

Calm Pond

Emotional Tune-Up for Caregivers by Cheryl Brewster

As a main caregiver, at some time in your life, you have experienced sudden, massive change. Your core beliefs, attitudes and perceptions have been severely tested.  As a result, some attitudes have improved, but some may still lie dormant in what I call “numb- land,” where they are hidden from view.

Hidden despair can have a devastating affect that if left unchecked keeps us in the shadow of life. We can lose focus, hope, clarity and self-identity. At times, we don’t know what brings us joy or meaning anymore, and even if we do, the challenge to make our own self care a priority can feel insurmountable.

But from my experience there is a way out. There is a path inside, that guides us from overwhelm to more empowered choices. Along my own path, I discovered that challenge does serve a productive purpose… it helps us claim our dormant inner power to handle any challenge.
I believe our greatest contribution in life is to take all of life’s circumstances, especially the hard ones, and harness the courage, conviction and strategies necessary to “let grace lead.” When we’re willing to do this for ourselves, an inner bounty of our own conviction and peace saves us and becomes a blessing to everyone in our world.  Conviction of that something bigger within us becomes the most important thing…. and when we act from conviction, we walk the steps of grace into ultimate freedom.  Daily commitment to that conviction is the invisible strength that lifts us up when we just don’t seem to have the energy anymore.

My own experience of massive, unexpected change with friends or family passing on suddenly or being diagnosed with chronic illness, impacted me in difficult and yet profound ways. From the depths of great sadness and despair, came the willingness to re-educate myself and find new, more effective tools in handling the stress of life and death. Self inquiry was essential; where was I allowing fear, fatigue and worry to get the best of me? How mindful was I in where I put my attention? How well did I take care of myself so that I had the energy to be effective? How willing was I to trust my intuition and do things differently? Where did my inner dialogue need to change for more empowered communication tools internally and externally?

What came out of my experience was a resilience and wisdom that was tried by fire. I learned that grace, when applied with the power of conviction, brings peace and empowerment, where before there was exhaustion and overwhelm. It’s this twinning of grace and conviction that becomes a life-saving strategy that says I may not know what’s going to happen, but I know I’ll handle it. This can only come with practice, practice, practice and it’s why I teach the ABCs of Intuition, to become Aware, Breathe and Connect to the firm foundation of our indomitable spirit. This work has is life-changing…. it has to be for us to bravely ride the waves of change as care-givers and fulfilled, conscious citizens.

To learn more about the 7 key tune-up tools that helped me in my own journey, please join me on Wed., Oct 21, from 6:30-8:30 for this free workshop hosted by the North Share Caregiver Support Group. To register, call Karyn Davies at 604-982-3320 or email    For more information on me, Cheryl Brewster, visit my website

If you enjoyed this blog, please share it with others! As a personal and business intuitive, Cheryl acts as a change consultant to individuals and business seeking to add fresh, innovative dynamic ways of embracing change for a better future.

Picture of Cheryl

Feeding body + spirit in your meal times

Feeding body + spirit in your meal times
How eating rituals remind us who we are

“One cannot thing well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” – Virgina Woolf

There are so many benefits to eating with friends or family: Feeling a sense of connectedness, taking the time to share your experiences from the day, slowing down so food can be more fully enjoyed, and being around people that care for us. Do you find that food tastes more flavourful when eating with someone else?

Caregivers, your situation might mean that your partner or parent can no longer eat their meals at home as they used to. This change is a big adjustment, and it can feel lonely when there isn’t that same ritual of seeing the other person at breakfast and dinner. I invite you to think about which friends and family you can share meals with, at least once a week.

There is so much delight to be found in enjoying the flavours and aesthetic beauty of meals together. Spice blends remind us of happy times spent enjoying picnics, family gatherings, and everyday life with the people who are important to us. What are three of your favourite spices?
What memories and emotions do they evoke in you? Around the world there are many rituals for eating together that create meaningful connection in people’s lives: In lots of cultures, love and care are shown by bringing meals to someone who is sick or struggling; and respect and appreciation are shown the Grandmothers, Mothers, Aunts and sisters who cook marvelously (And the husbands, brothers and Uncles too!)
Here are a few traditions I’d like to share with you:

Leisurely meals together

The French often spend at least one hour eating a meal with others. There is a sense of unhurriedness in this ritual that I find delightful!

“Research has shown that conviviality is something fundamental in the approach French have to meals,” Bienassis explains. “[Eighty] percent of the French eat with friends, colleagues, and family … and not alone. Meals are intrinsically a communal time.”

 Spanish Siesta
Camaraderie amongst colleagues

As Barcelona-based Zhandra Fuentes put it, “Siesta time in a city like Barcelona is to have a good meal with your coworkers. It is the time to get to know each other and make friends.” Siesta is about more than taking a nap, as smart as that sounds … It is a time of camaraderie, and a way to create balance in the workday. I find that quite an insightful approach! Source:


Diwali Festival of Lights

Diwali is the Indian Festival of Lights. The holiday generally falls in October or November and celebrates the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness. The force of good is symbolized with candles, lanterns, elaborate light displays and lots of fireworks.

During my experience being part of Diwali celebrations in Nepal, I remember people giving sweets to family and friends, and that many families had a special meal together. The festival was celebrated with a spirit of playfulness, and friends would often play jokes on eachother.   –K Davies


 What traditions around meals do you have with your family?
With friends?

-K Davies

A Day in the Life: A Snapshot of Long term care

Do you ever wonder what a day looks like for a person living in long term care?

When a person moves into care, they are assessed by various staff such as nursing, physiotherapy and occupational therapy. Based on these assessments and input from the person and his/her family/caregivers, a care plan is put into place. All long term care facilities strive to be client-centered and make the best plan based on both physical and cognitive abilities and the person’s interests.
In Evergreen House, one of the long term care facility in North Vancouver, a typical day looks like this:

8:00 am           – Breakfast in their room.
9:30 am           -Exercise programs. This is an opportunity for people who are physically and cognitively able to exercise to participate in a variety of programs which might include seated exercises, sit to stand exercises, and tai chi. Long term care facilities do not provide rehabilitation but try to provide exercises/activities that can maintain a person’s level of functioning.
12:00 pm         – Lunch in the dining room.
2:00 pm           – Social Activities. Some people choose to have a rest in the afternoon. Others choose to participate in a variety of social programs, such as an eclectic mix of musical activities like guitar players, cello and flute, pianists, choirs and the JAVA music club. There also are memory aerobics, BINGO, gardening, crafts, bus outings, church services/prayer groups, and current event groups.
5:00 pm           – Dinner in the dining room.
6:30 pm           – There may be other social activities offered in the evenings such as movie nights.

Families and friends are encouraged to visit and also can participate or help their loved ones to participate in the activities listed above. As a staff team we work hard to try and meet the physical, social, spiritual, and cognitive needs of people living in care. Hopefully this will give you a snapshot of a day in someone’s life.
If you would like more information or a facility tour, you can contact the facility you are interested in seeing and the social worker will be able to assist you.


Lori Nobes, MSW, RSW
Social Work at Evergreen House

Family Caregivers of British Columbia: Help is at Hand

With the non-profit Family Caregivers of British Columbia, founded in 1989 with the mission of supporting issues of concern to family caregivers, help is truly at hand.

One great resource on the site is the Caregiver Wellness Booklet, available for download free.

If you like podcasts, try the Caring for Older Adults through Self-Care webinar.  This event takes place October 7, 2015 from 6:30-8:00 pm or October 23, 2015 (same time).

Even, if you don’t have time to participate in webinars, you can download the handouts from the webinars on the website.

I have participated in a few webinars over the years and found them helpful, especially the stories told by fellow caregivers.

Happy Surfing!

Calm Pond

Mindful Monday no. 8 – Respite

Calm lake

In August, Jessica Rosenfeld wrote a fantastic post on respite care on the North Shore. Rosenfeld’s post encouraged caregivers to take advantage of respite should they feel they need a break, and included plenty of information about what the experience could look like.

Isabel Mackenzie, the Seniors Advocate for BC, released a report last month detailing what respite care can look like in BC, and advocated for caregivers to take advantage of services. Mackenzie found that although many caregivers are in distress, most are not using respite services. The report is full of helpful information that may ease hesitations that could be preventing caregivers from accessing respite care. The report can be found here. 

Have you accessed respite services? How was the experience? We’d love to hear from you!