Taking A Break: Some Local Resources for Care Partners


Family caregivers spend a lot of time supporting their care partners with various tasks and chores. Driving to appointments, grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking, and assisting with personal care are just a few examples. Providing emotional support and companionship is another aspect of caring for loved ones that, while fulfilling and valuable, may take more time than you feel you have to give.

What if someone could help ease the load of these tasks, so you are able to spend more time taking care of yourself? Good news! There are resources available to help.

Driving Miss Daisy

Driving Miss Daisy assists seniors and those with disabilities or special needs with transportation and accompaniment to tasks such as medical appointments and grocery shopping, as well as social events, home support, vacation accompaniment, and more. They provide one-on-one companionship for a broad range of activities, whether it’s going for a walk or getting some help with navigating a new computer. Their home support services include laundry and light cleaning/tidying, and some locations offer home maintenance services such as plumbing and household repairs.

For more information on Driving Miss Daisy’s North Shore services and costs, click here.

Peer Support 

The North Shore Neighbourhood House offers a peer support program that trains volunteers to offer emotional support, guidance regarding life changes and challenges, as well as providing resource information. One-on-one support is free, confidential, and various spoken languages are available.

North Shore Volunteers for Seniors

North Shore Volunteers for Seniors (NSVS) is a non-profit society dedicated to promoting the independence and well-being of seniors on the North Shore. NSVS offers in-house and outreach services, such as chair exercise, computer help, walking groups and yoga instruction.

Words by Cassandra Van Dyck


Self-Compassion Isn’t a Luxury

Weekend Socks

With self-acceptance, we have the ability to choose compassion and forgiveness over anger and self-hatred.  ― Michelle Cruz-Rosado

What naturally comes to mind when you think of compassion? You may think of times when you`ve helped someone who is vulnerable or struggling; or perhaps an image of caring for animals surfaces for you.

Family caregivers extend compassion to others in multiple ways- but what about compassion for self?

For some, the notion of self-compassion is a new idea. You may not have had opportunity to learn that being kind, considerate and gentle with yourself is an important part of life. Self-compassion is a way of thinking and living that can be learned and cultivated. You are never too old to begin practicing compassion for yourself, even in small ways.

“First and foremost, if we maintain healthy emotional boundaries and direct love and kindness inwards, we are taking care of ourselves and secondly we are giving a subliminal message to others about how we wish to be treated“. ― Christopher Dines

Some ideas for strengthening your self-compassion practice:

Read Christopher Germer`s work. I like his book The Mindful Path to self-compassion, which offers practical tips as well as thorough information on the concept of compassion. http://www.mindfulselfcompassion.org/

Be gentle with your suffering. Remember that you are deserving of kindness, just as your family and friends are. When you feel upset, try saying something kind to yourself, such as “I am hurting right now, and my feelings are okay`. Try and stay connected to your breathing as you say it.

Listen to a guided meditation from Kristin Neff, who offers hearty nourishment for the spirits.

Be well.


Sail away on the ship of your dreams…

Sometimes it’s nice to just daydream about the perfect holiday. Why not daydream about sailing away on the ship of your dreams?  You can have a butler, luxuriate in the spa, enjoy candlelight dinners, view Venetian palaces, cruise remote islands in the Pacific, sip Margaritas in the Mexican Riviera, marvel at majestic glaciers in Alaska…

Water scene-colour retouched

You can be busy 24/7, or you can just relax in your cabin reading a book. One of my fantasies is taking along the complete works of Marcel Proust. Perfect for a long cruise across the Atlantic. There are huge ships, then there are companies like Silver Seas that feature smaller ships. It’s your choice. Some ships sail out of and return to Vancouver, so you never have to get on a plane.

But of course, sometimes it’s just nice to sit in your armchair and dream…
If you’re interested, you can visit Cruise Critic on the Internet (www.cruisecritic.com)

Or if you’re really keen, you can order the Berlitz Cruising and Cruise Ships 2016.

Happy travels!
Calm Pond

Mindful Monday no. 20 – Self-Massage


Abhyanga is an Ayurvedic technique for self-massage. There are many benefits for those who practice regularly, such as stress-reduction, better sleep, and loosened muscles. Arguably, the best part about this practice is that it costs nothing and can be done almost anywhere. If you would like to give this ancient practice a try, follow the steps below! Instructions were adapted from Free + Native.

Choose an oil that you enjoy using, such as coconut, jojoba, sesame, or almond. Place your bottle of oil inside a cup 3/4 full of very hot water to warm. Oil should be comfortably warm and not hot. Sit or stand comfortably in a warm room.

HEAD: Apply oil first to the crown of your head and work slowly out from there in circular strokes – spend a couple of minutes massaging your entire scalp.

FACE: Massage in a circular motion on your forehead, temples, cheeks, and jaw (always moving in an upward movement). Be sure to massage your ears.

ARMS & LEGS: Use long strokes on the limbs (arms and legs) and circular strokes on the joints.

BELLY: Massage the abdomen and chest in broad, clockwise, circular motions.

FEET: Finish the massage by spending at least a couple of minutes massaging your feet.

FINISH: Sit with the oil for 5-15 minutes if possible so that the oil can absorb and penetrate into the deeper layers of the body. Enjoy a warm bath or shower. When you get out of the bath, towel dry gently.

How getaways can be a YES

What comes to mind when you hear the word getaway? Perhaps you think of an exciting trip to a warm, sunny climate like Arizona; or a week of relaxing, beach-filled days. You might dream of nestling into a cabin where the only sounds you hear are the crackling of the fire and the kettle whistling. Whether you crave activity that energizes the mind and body, or quiet space to reflect and unwind, getaways are a terrific way to treat yourself. Taking a break from the usual demands of daily life does not have to involve making big plans. You can decide that it’s time for some self-care, and schedule a day trip someplace delightful.

 Lively and energizing

Granville Island is a marvelous place to visit for a few hours. Put on your discovery hat! Why not explore the neat artisan shops and enjoy their colourful wares, get a coffee and treat from the delicious bakery A Bread Affair (their cookies are a must), and take a walk near the water?

Pay a visit to Grouse Mountain, a natural wonderland where you can experience a variety of fun activity: wildlife viewing, guided tours, walks of various types, and even helicopter excursions. Are you looking for new ideas? The Grouse website offers a travel personality quiz, to help you decide what kind of day you might enjoy the most. https://grousemountain.com/plan-your-day

Calm and quiet

Bowen Island comes to the forefront pretty quickly. It’s a quick ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay, yet gives me the distinct feel of being away on a trip. Bowen offers refreshing, easygoing walks; small shops to peruse; and a feeling that there is no rush to be anywhere. I’d like to try Tuscany Pizza, which gets rave reviews for their amazing pizza and cozy atmosphere.

UBC gardens Photo: UBC Gardens

Have you been to the UBC Botanical Gardens? They are just lovely. Here you might stroll slowly and take in a variety of different flowers and plants, and marvel at the diversity nature offers. Some have described it as a ‘hidden gem’ that is well worth a visit. I suggest picking a mindfulness activity you can do while walking through the gardens, such as mindful breathing or affirmations.


Enjoy your getaway! You are well worth a nourishing break.


Resources for depression: finding hope

Depression is unfortunately a very common condition among Canadians today. I believe the statistics say 1 in 5 people will suffer depression at some point in their lives.

If that should be you, do not despair. First of all, you are not alone. Second of all, there is help out there. I’m including in this post two links to free resources.

The first is the Antidepressant Skills Workbook (skills not pills) which can be downloaded at:


The second resource is a series of helpful booklets produced by CMHA (Canadian Mental Health Association), as part of their Living Life to the Full Program (LLTTF). You can download the booklets free or order paper copies at:



Yours in hope,

Calm Pond

Mindful Monday no. 19 – Finding Solace in Music


For as long as I can remember, I have been able to find solace in music. Sometimes I play my guitar or sing songs, but more often than not, I simply sit or lie down and listen to a song that connects with what I’m feeling. When I find a song that fits my emotions, it feels like I’m heard on a deep level. My breathing deepens, my heart rate slows and I’m able to let myself experience the depths of what I’m doing through.

Connecting to our emotions allows us to process and work through them. Music can be a guiding force. Of course, tastes in music vary widely – what you want to hear will depend very much on the types of music that you are drawn to. If you’re struggling to decide on what to listen to, try taking some time to think about a time when you were comforted by a song. Listening to it may remind you of others. When you’ve found a few songs you connect with, try playing them while taking a bath, sitting comfortably with a cup of tea, or lying in bed.

Here are some songs that comfort me when I’m having a hard time. Give them a listen – they may do the same for you!

What do you listen to when you’re feeling down? We’d love to hear from you!

Words by Cassandra Van Dyck