Seniors and Safe Driving

These are some things that can help:


  • can avoid freeway
  • can avoid driving in bad weather
  • drive only in daylight
  • can take a refresher course
  • can see a Certified Drive Rehab Specialist for an evaluation

Warning signs:

  • do you have a hearing problem? can you hear sirens?
  • problems with range of motion
  • lapses in memory
  • forgetting route
  • missing exits
  • drifting into other lanes
  • “close calls”
  • increased traffic tickets
  • dents

How to talk to senior about driving:

  • be specific
  • strength in numbers
  • research alternatives
  • slower transitioning
  • if refuse to give up keys, anonymous call to Department of Motor Vehicles

Safe Driving everyone!

Calm Pond



Mindful Monday no. 13: Vulnerability


I’ve watched Brene Brown’s Ted Talk on Vulnerability and Shame twice now. It is a beautiful talk on the power of embracing vulnerability so you can overcome shame and tune in to how you are truly feeling and why. The last time I listened to the talk, one line stuck with me and has been playing in my head for the last week:

“We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.”

The statement stopped me in my tracks. I began to think of all the times that I’ve been through something hard, and how often I have tried to stomp out the accompanying emotions. Jealousy, sadness, frustration, embarrassment… they are all tough reactions to feel and sometimes it seems easier to bury them deep so you do not have to work through the causes. Pushing these emotions to the side may be temporarily helpful if you have to get through a work day or be there for someone who needs you, but the long-term effects of ignored pain can linger.

Allowing yourself to feel vulnerable and giving yourself the time to work through painful experiences can have many positive effects on your life. Not only does it create space for those positive emotions, it makes it easier to be present for those around us.

There are many ways to work through difficult feelings and the same thing won’t work for everyone. Consider trying one or more of the following suggestions:

  1. Seek help from a counselor or therapist. Many hesitate to speak with professionals because of lingering stigma in our society. Counselors and therapists can be excellent people to talk to because they provide an un-biased perspective on our situations. They do not often provide advice, but will ask you questions that can empower you to work through what’s going on.
  2. Connect with network groups in your community. Network groups can help ease feelings of isolation and may give you the time you need in your week to talk about the emotions you may have been suppressing with a supportive group of people.
  3. Write. If you are nervous about speaking to anyone else about what’s going on in your head, writing may be a helpful way to work through your emotions. Try setting aside 5-10 minutes to record anything that came up for you during the day that may have felt uncomfortable or hurtful.

What do you do to work through tough emotions? We’d love to hear from you!

Words by Cassandra Van Dyck


Foodie Friday no. 4: Eating consciously

 “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” Jon Kabat-Zinn, meditation teacher


Have you paused lately to notice how different it feels when you eat slowly, and take some time to enjoy the flavours and texture of your meal?  One of my favourite meals is breakfast- I enjoy chowing down on granola, fruit, yogurt, and protein-packed smoothies first thing in the day. There is something delightful about beginning the day in slowness, and with appreciation for how I’m being nourished.

Gratitude and self-care
Eating consciously can foster gratitude and brilliant self-care, and has also been proven to help the body digest more easily. Check out this link on mindful eating, which says: ‘Overall, mindful eating can be an effective strategy for eating less, enjoying food more, and even reducing stress in the whole process’.

Eating mindfully is an act of self-care, in the process of  non-judgmentally noticing the foods you enjoy, and by allowing yourself a few moments of simple pleasure. Being conscious of the way you eat can also include paying closer attention to your hunger signals- and eating when your body truly needs it.  Here is a thoughtful and FUN chocolate meditation that I invite you to try, either alone or with a good friend. You might even write about your experience in a journal, and start your own experiential food diary.

From The Daily Relaxer by Matthew McKay and Patrick Fanning, here is an invitation to conscious eating:
‘Eating delicious, nutritious food in a calm, unhurried atmosphere can be profoundly relaxing. On the other hand, gobbling junk food on the run can add to stress rather than relieve it. Eating while driving, watching TV, talking, or reading can also undermine the naturally calming effect of good food consumed consciously in peace.
The solution is to try to eat one healthy meal or at least one nutritious item a day, taking your time, and concentrating on the food rather than the TV or your schedule’

Caregivers, whether you are most often eating by yourself or with family and friends, consider this: How can you care for self by eating in a more nourishing way?

Happy mealtimes to you!

Mindful Monday no. 12: Colouring for Adults

228-365 Colouring book

Colouring books for adults seem to be popping up everywhere lately. The CBC recently reported that adult colouring books are topping the ‘most wished for’ list and it’s hard to miss the stacks of colourful piles at the front of most book stores. On the ferry ride home from Nanaimo last night, I walked past a group of four adults all quietly filling in lines on colouring pages with felt pens. The boat was rocking from side to side, seats were overflowing with passengers, and many people were returning to a short evening at home before starting another work week. The colouring grownups seemed focused and relaxed on what could have felt like a stressful ferry ride home.

“The practice generates wellness, quietness and also stimulates brain areas related to motor skills, the senses and creativity,” says Elena Santos. Many find the activity relaxing. Colouring requires you to use your hands and your mind, but the only intellectual task at hand is deciding which colour you’d like a certain section to be. This encourages concentration and can quiet pesky thoughts that may be bothering you.

More information on the benefits of colouring can be found here and here.

For a list of ‘stress-busting’ colouring books, click here.

Free, printable colouring pages can be found here. 

Unconditional Acceptance

In 1955, Albert Ellis pioneered REBT (Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy), an early CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy).

His premise is based on unconditional acceptance, of everything: unconditional self-acceptance, unconditional other acceptance, and unconditional life acceptance.

In unconditional self-acceptance (USA) you accept that you are a fallible human being.  Your behaviour is either helpful, or unhelpful, not good or bad.

In unconditional other acceptance, other people’s behaviour, in a similar way, is either helpful or unhelpful.  You unconditionally accept others, warts and all. This will help you relate to even the most difficult friends, relatives, and strangers.

In unconditional life acceptance, you accept all of life’s hassles, frustrations, and angst.  You accept that you will be able to solve life’s problems perhaps only partially or not at all (frustration tolerance).

REBT is all about ACCEPTANCE.  Acceptance of yourself, acceptance of others, and acceptance of what can be harsh reality.

All this takes patience, practice, and persistence.

Stay tuned for a review of a different kind of therapy called ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy). I will be reviewing a book by Russ Harris called “The Happiness Trap.”

If you want to learn more about REBT, Google REBT or try

Calm Pond

Mindful Monday no. 11: What Is Your Favourite Feeling? Some Thoughts On Connection.

hand in hand -  old@new, past@future!

I spent Saturday evening at a fundraiser for the North Shore Restorative Justice Society. The event was put on to raise money for their Circles in Schools program, “a strength-based program that gives our children and youth the skills to transform conflict, heal relationships, and create stronger communities themselves.” One of the speakers at the event was a young man who had been involved in a restorative circle at his high school for over a year. He spoke of the support he received from the group and how it empowered him to be more comfortable in his own skin and to give back to his community by learning skills to facilitate circles on his own. It was a very moving, honest, and inspiring speech. Before leaving the podium, he left the audience with a question to think and talk about. He asked, “What is your favourite feeling?” The rest of the evening was filled with activity and did not leave attendees with much time to discuss answers, but mine came to me almost instantly. My favourite feeling is connection.

Connection can be a hard feeling to describe because it is not always felt when it is “supposed” to be felt. I’m sure many people have had the experience of talking to someone until they’re blue in the face without feeling that they’ve been heard or understood. You may have also been in situations where you’ve been surrounded by people but felt completely alone. You might have walked through scenery but not felt like you were fully there. Feeling connected is not solely reserved for person-to- person interactions. We can also feel connected to our environment, animals, books, music, art, and ourselves. When connection is absent, we may feel alone or lost.

Practicing mindfulness can open up space in ourselves to allow a sense of connection. Here are a few ways to invite connection back in to your life if you are missing it.

  1. The next time you go for a walk, try taking the time to be curious about everything you see. Right now, the leaves are falling in heaps. Try to really watch them falling as they break away from branches. What colours are they? Are they whole, or are they broken? Do they make sounds as you step over them? Asking these sorts of questions can help you escape the flurrying thoughts that may be going through your mind and preventing you from connecting to your environment.
  2. Find a network or meet-up group in your area. Take a chance and attend. You may find that being around people who are experiencing similar life events and feelings as yours will allow you to feel connected.
  3. Find some animals. This one may seem like a strange suggestion, but if you are an animal lover, it can do wonders for your mood. My favourite local spot is the Ambleside Seawall. There is a dog park near the golf course where you can sit and watch the dogs play with one another and, if you’re lucky, pet some puppies! When I was there yesterday I saw three and pet one. It made me smile to see the innocence and joy of the dogs playing and I felt more connected to my surroundings when I left.

What is your favourite feeling? When do you feel most connected? We’d love to hear from you!

Words by Cassandra Van Dyck

Taking John Home to Die in Dementialand

A very real and poignant piece that acknowledges and honours the many emotions, decision-making processes, and challenges of a caregiver who is supporting her husband. With dementia care and end-of-life care, I have so much respect for the intimate knowledge of their family member or friend that caregivers bring to the whole process. -Karyn

Welcome to Dementialand

Last week, a friend of mine, Heidi, took her husband home to die.

I first met Heidi a few years ago when she took a fitness class. I happened to be the instructor. As Heidi tells it, she hated the class but loved me. She says she loves me more now that I’m not telling her to do squats.

Her husband, John, is in his late 60’s. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about five years ago and then with cancer in the spring. Heidi was taking care of him in their home until a few months back when John fell down the stairs.

She was forced to call 9-1-1 when she found him. They hauled him to one hospital and then (for some reason neither Heidi or I understand) to another one. They loaded him up with IV antibiotics to treat a urinary tract infection. The social worker at the…

View original post 1,249 more words

Foodie Friday no. 3 – Curly Kale Harvest Salad


This recipe was created by Rhianna Williams, a talented youth worker, cook, and outdoor enthusiast.

Local kale can be found everywhere right now and its health benefits are endless. Take advantage of the fall harvest and make this inexpensive, easy salad in large batches.

Curly Kale Harvest Salad

1 lg. Head of kale
1 cup grated beet
1 carrot grated
1 cup cabbage, grated or finely chopped
2 Tbs. red onion finely chopped
1 Tbs. of both flax seeds & sesame seeds
1 Tbs. nutritional yeast
1 tsp. Himalayan salt
3 Tbs. vinegar (I used raspberry cider vinegar)
3 Tbs. oil of choice (I used a mix of flax & avacado)
1 Tbs. brags
1/2 Tsp. toasted sesame oil

Wash & shake dry kale. Chop in small slices. Drizzle with vinegar & message for a bout 1 min. till kale is dark green & bruised. Add all other ingredients, stir & enjoy!! Makes 6 servings.

For more recipes created by Rhianna, visit Raw’s Divine Creations’ facebook page.

Thoughts on being mindful, compassionate & connected

Book Review: Leaves falling Gently:
Living fully with serious & life-limiting illness through mindfulness,
compassion & connectedness

While reading this book, I felt a sense of hopefulness and grounding. The mindfulness activities and words of thoughtful encouragement are interwoven with brief stories of people’s experiences with health challenges.
Susan Bauer-Wu’s message of compassion, kindness, and mindfulness is useful for caregivers, people living with a health condition, and all those needing a little support to maneuver through life’s sorrows.

As she outlines what mindfulness is and is not meant to be, Bauer-Wu explains how mindfulness practice in the midst of difficult experiences is a way to: Reduce stress, create emotional balance, and bolster the immune system for coping with health conditions. “Mindfulness training has been shown to enhance immune function in people with cancer and HIV or AIDS, and to lower a key inflammatory marker called C-reactive protein, which is linked to heart disease and diabetes” (p.18). Bauer-Wu gently encourages the reader to get more fully in tune with their body and notice what they are feeling. She offers mindfulness practice as a way of listening to one’s sensations, and responding more effectively to uncomfortable symptoms.  “Mindfulness is a way of being and remembering who you are and befriending your experiences, whether pleasant or unpleasant” (p.24).

I quite like this STOP activity, and thought it may get you started in your mindfulness work. STOP is a tool for coping with anger, frustration, and despair:

S Stop what you are doing, and pause for a moment.

T Take a breath mindfully, and be aware of the experience of the air coming into your body and filling it, and being released.

O Observe your thoughts and feelings. Just notice them in an inquisitive and dispassionate way, without getting caught up in them.

P Proceed with whatever you were doing, with awareness and gentleness.

If you maintain a feeling of compassion, of loving-kindness, then something automatically opens your inner door”. Dalai Lama XIV, The Art of Happiness

 Leaves Falling Gently is available at our resource library. Come by and say hello when you’re ready to borrow this terrific book. We’re located at Capilano Mall, Suite 201-935 Marine Drive, in North Vancouver. We’re right upstairs from the Starbucks. Alternately, you may decide to add this one to your home library. One way to purchase it is through Amazon:

Warmest wishes,

Mindful Monday no. 10: Self-Compassion

Fall into Autumn

“Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings – after all, who ever said you were supposed to be perfect?” – Kristin Neff

I woke up this morning a little late and realized I had no clean clothes to wear to work, since I had not left enough time over the weekend to wash them. I was not able to brush my teeth before leaving the house because I’d left my toothbrush on Vancouver Island. I arrived at the office and was greeted by noticing a few mistakes I’d made on a newsletter that was delivered to almost 800 people. In short, I wasn’t feeling great. These mishaps began to spiral in my head and I was soon beating myself up with messages about what I thought these mistakes said about me: that I was unorganized, forgetful, and careless.

I took a deep breath and turned my mind to my next task of the day – writing this post. While thinking of a topic, I found one I’d made a note of month’s ago: self-compassion. I googled the name “Kristin Neff” that I’d written next to it and softened as soon as I started reading the “about” page.

Kristen Neff encourages people to treat themselves with the same compassion they would have for someone else who is suffering. She says that when we do this, we open up space to comfort and care for ourselves in tough moments instead of ignoring our pain. “Most importantly, having compassion for yourself means that you accept your humanness,” says Neff.

Neff outlines what she believes to be the three elements of self-compassion: self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness. Self-kindess invites people to be gentle with themselves instead of angry when things don’t go the way they planned. Common humanity is about acknowledging that you are not alone in your suffering – that it is a part of the human experience. Being mindful about our struggles allows us to gain perspective about our situation and prevent ourselves, in a non-judgmental and receptive way, from getting caught up in a flow of negativity.

For more information on self-compassion and for guided meditations and self-compassion exercises, visit

-Cassandra Van Dyck