Book Lists for Caregivers from the North Shore Libraries

Are you looking for some books on caregiving or issues related to caregiving?

We recently collaborated with the North Shore libraries to bring you some book lists from their collections.

happy book - CopyBefore heading to the library, print out the relevant lists to make your search that much easier.

Which topics would you like to learn more about? Please let us know in the comment section.



Mindful Monday no. 35: Welcome To Your (Mindful) Home


“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” –Maya Angelou

When you start practicing mindfulness, it can start to feed in to all areas of your life–your work life, your commute, and even your home. While you can practice mindfulness where ever you are, this mindfulness exercise is to create a space in your house, specifically for your practice. Locate an area of your home that we can be converted easily into a small respite area. It does not have to be an entire room, it can be an under-used corner if there is enough room to place a chair.



Here are 7 tips on creating a welcoming space in your home for your mindfulness practice:

  1. Whatever furniture and household object you place in your space, make sure that they are things your love. Be mindful about what you are placing in your special space.
  2. Make sure the space is comfortable. Determine appropriate seating for your practice so that you are not easily distracted or sore after an extended period of time.
  3. In your space, clear any belongings from the surfaces and vow to keep this area clutter-free.
  4. Essential oils, a soy candle, or a bell for sound meditation can help to create a peaceful atmosphere. Find a place for  items that will help you feel relaxed and restored.
  5. If you don’t have a view out a window, consider including a green house plant or a pot of bright flowers for a natural element.
  6. Make sure the light is soft, preferably from a lamp rather than overhead lighting. Also avoid including electronics that emit a blue light.
  7. Spend time in your space to get accustomed to the area. Make adjustments as needed to make this a haven for you.

Once we create a welcoming and more mindful space, the principles that guide our practice can trickle into the other rooms of our house.

What do you do to ensure a relaxing environment at home? Let us know in the comment sections.



Caregiver Recommendations: 2 Complementary Books

jacket_medStill Alice (1)
I found the book by Heather Menzies. It is called Enter Mourning – A Memoir of Death, Dementia and Coming Home

Still Alice by  educates us from the “victim” point of view;  Enter Mourning educates us from a caregiver, in this case a daughter, point of view. The books are complementary.

I found them immensely helpful in my understanding of dementia, as I have watched my mother lose her cognitive function and independence. Of course everyone’s journey will be somewhat different and the pace of change variable, but there are many similarities, if one does not get hung up on absolutes.

-A Caregiver from the NSCR community

Still Alice by Lisa Genova is available in the NSCR Caregiver Library. Ask about it when you come to the next event!

Enter Mourning by Heather Menzies is  available at the West Vancouver Memorial Library and the North Vancouver District Public Library.


Review: ‘The Whole Brain Child’ by Dan Siegel


Review of ‘The Whole Brain Child‘ by Dan Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson (Bantam Books, 2011)

Did you know that children possess, in addition to a left brain/right brain, an upstairs and downstairs brain? Yes, their downstairs brain is connected to the limbic system (the seat of emotions) and the upstairs brain connects to the prefrontal cortex (the seat of reason and rational thinking). Furthermore, the pathway to the upstairs brain is under construction until their mid-twenties!  So the next time you wonder why they tantrum because there are no orange popsicles left in the freezer, that’s why!

But don’t despair. Storytelling, for example, engages the left brain and can balance a child’s right brain emotional flood.  Siegel has this wonderful metaphor for mental health: the river of well-being.  When a child is mentally healthy, they sail down the middle of the river and feel calm and at peace. But If they veer off to one side, they hit the banks of rigidity (left brain) or to the other side, the banks of chaos (right brain).


With illustrations and playful cartoons that you can share with your child (or grandchild) Siegel gives you the tools to interact with children in a healthy, positive way  Author of the book ‘Mindsight’, Dan Siegel is an expert on both children’s and adolescent’s brains.

I highly recommend this book to anyone working with children.  Stay tuned for a review of Siegel’s “‘No Drama Discipline’ and his book on the adolescent brain.

Happy reading!

Calm Pond

Mindful Monday no. 34: Mindful Movement

All that is important is this one moment in movement. Make the moment important, vital, and worth living. Do not let it slip away unnoticed and unused.” – Martha Graham, dancer and choreographer

Take a minute out of your day to get your body moving. Mindful movement exercises draw your focus to the flow of your body’s movements and your breath. We calm ourselves, relax, and bring our focus back to the current moment.

This mindful movement exercise was adapted from Thich Nhat Hanh’s book “Happiness: Essential Mindfulness Practices,” a easy-to-read book with many ideas and ways to develop mindfulness rituals.

How to do the mindful movement, Touch the Sky, Touch the Earth:

  1. Stand with your feet hip distance apart.
  2. As you inhale, raise your hands above your head with you palms facing forward.
  3. Stretch up to touch the sky.
  4. As you exhale, bend at the waist as you bring your arms down.
  5. As you touch the earth, release any tension in your neck and shoulders.
  6. As you exhale, keep your back straight as you come back up.
  7. Adapt to suit and repeat as necessary.

How was this exercise for you? Let us know in the comment section.




Foodie Friday: North Shore Take-Out

We all have those days when cooking our own dinner seems like an impossible task. We are either too tired or too busy to slave away in a hot kitchen for a meal. Sometimes grabbing take-out is the trade-off we need to make to get ourselves some time for rest and relaxation.

Here are some North Shore take-out alternatives to a home-cooked meal:


  • Sharky`s Chop House in the market at Lonsdale Quay:

Sharky`s Chop House has daily meal specials like top sirloin roasts, sausages, and glazed hams at an affordable price, complete with sides like mashed potatoes and gravy or perogies.

  • M&M Meats on 1451 Marine Drive 

M&M Meats offers ready-to-heat meals like lasagna, chicken primavera, chicken pot pies, or cabbage rolls. Even more convenient, the store offers online shopping so that you can just run in to pick up your order.

  • City Market on 1650 Lonsdale Avenue

Check out the City Mark in North Vancouver for options for ready-to-eat salads, and other deli items for impromptu summer dinners. Vegetable trays make great appetizers for guests and their pre-cut fruit makes a refreshing dessert.

  • Well-Fed Studio Delivered 

If you are finding yourself grabbing take-out quite frequently, consider using a pre-made meal service instead. The Well-Fed Studio’s menu changes every month and features a variety of delicious meals like  Mediteranean Fish Stew or Chipotle Chicken Chili that can be picked-up or delivered to your home. Order either 4 or 8 entrees at once.

Do you have any favourite North Shore take-out options? Let us know in the comment section.

Bon Appétit!


Relaxation Re-Sets Your System

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” –Thich Nhat Hahn

It doesn’t always help us to feel calmer when a friend says, “just relax”. When you are feeling stressed about your parents’ declining mobility or about managing health appointments, or perhaps sad about seeing changes in your spouse, finding a few moments of relaxation can be a sweet antidote to stress and discomfort.

Letting your body slow down for even five minutes helps re-set your whole system. You have my permission to put down the dirty dishes, and to put away your to-do list. Now is a time for you to recharge your batteries, which will in turn help you care more effectively for your loved one.
This short post explains how mindful breathing calms the body and mind:


Calming exercise

Get comfy in a chair, and close your eyes. Sit upright yet relaxed.
Put one hand on your chest area, in the middle.
Place the other hand on your tummy.
Breathe in a full breath, and breathe out completely. Continue breathing mindfully like this for 3 minutes or so.

Notice: How do you feel afterwards?

Whenever you find yourself feeling frustrated or worried, pausing to breathe like this can help you reconnect with the fact that you are doing your best; that things aren’t perfect but they are manageable in this moment, as you sit and breathe.

Your homework: Write down 3 things that relax you, and commit to doing one of them every day.

Remember that in order to be productive you also have to focus on relaxation.
-Bogdan Ivanov


Mindful Monday no. 33 – Meditation for Better Sleep


Also, I could finally sleep. And this was the real gift, because when you cannot sleep, you cannot get yourself out of the ditch–there’s not a chance.” -Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

You’ve gone to bed an hour ago but you haven’t slept a wink. Your mind is busily planning what you have to accomplish the next day, working out some difficulty from the day, or making future plans that are way too far off to make it an important task after midnight. You shouldn’t have had that last cup of coffee, eaten that chocolate, scrolled through the news on your phone. Sound like a common scenario?

Tonight, try a meditation for sleep instead of trying to force yourself to beat the glaring alarm clock.

How to do a meditation for sleep:

  1. First remove all distractions to your sleep. Put away your phone and tablet so that you are not tempted to use them. Turn your alarm clock around so that you do not see the time but can hear the alarm in the morning.
  2. Look up with your eyes. When you eyes strain, they relax.
  3. Hold your exhale for a few seconds and then let go. While you breathe in and out, imagine that each thought of the day is being blown away with your exhale.
  4. Imagine yourself in a visualization. Picture yourself mindfully walking down a set of stairs or a hill while counting down from 100. Imagine yourself exploring a new environment – checking out the rooms, opening the cupboards, and discovering new hallways.
  5. When thoughts creep in to your visualization, blow them away again. It happens. We’re all human. Take a deep breath and start again on your visualization.

If visualization is difficult for you in your meditation practice, check out the many guided meditations offered for free on the internet (such as this Blissful Deep Relaxation). Just remember to keep your phone or tablet at a distance so that light does not interrupt your practice.



Caregiver Recommendations: Colouring to Relax & Unwind

21379151854_5c7cd5e934_oHave you tried colouring? Adult colouring has been a popular past time recently, with endless options of books to choose from. In fact, we covered the topic in this Mindful Monday post.

Catherine, a caregiver from our community, adopted colouring as a way to de-stress. Here’s what she had to say about the activity:

“I started coloring as a child with my sister, we used to spend hours coloring Doodle-art and we would frame them and hang them on the wall. As an adult I started seeing these adult coloring books in the book stores and bought one along with some pencil crayons. I found that the coloring was taking me back to my childhood and it is very relaxing and helps my concentration and focus and it takes me away from my daily worries. I was coloring more in the rainy weather but don’t too much now when the weather is sunny out as I spend time outside. Coloring is a good way to relax and unwind.”

Do you want to try it out? Here are 3 links to printable colouring pages for you to get started:

  1. Zen and Anti-Stress Colouring Pages
  2. Art is Fun 
  3. Free Adult Colouring Pages

Have fun!




My year as a literacy volunteer


This year I volunteered for a children’s literacy program called One-to-One Literacy. Once a week I spent two hours at a local elementary school as a literacy tutor for children ages 7-10. Using library books I borrowed from a number of different libraries, the children practiced their reading skills. We also played word games like Concentration or Go Fish! (adapted for literacy).

Watching the children’s reading skills improve as the year progressed was very rewarding. I also gained valuable knowledge on literacy and how to tutor reading.  I recommend this program for anyone interested in children and literacy.  Training is provided and there are workshops for tutors scheduled throughout the academic year.

Your inveterate bookworm,

Calm Pond

PS: Find out more about volunteering with One-to-One HERE.