Mindful Monday no. 52: A Nightly Review Meditation


There was never a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope.”

-Bernard Williams

A new day is a fresh start, a chance to wipe the slate clean and begin again. A nightly review meditation can be a helpful tool to regroup and let go of ruminating thoughts and negative self-talk, particularly after a challenging day. It is an opportunity to set an intention for the day, taking into account all the things that matter to you.

A nightly review meditation is not supposed to be about what was done wrong, focusing on missed opportunities or wasted energy, but about how trying to learn how to be more mindful and present in our lives.

At the end of the day, take some moments for this nightly review meditation. Get comfortable, dim the lights, and sit in quiet contemplation. You can do this in bed as part of a sleep ritual or you can sit upright.

As you see yourself ease into the meditation, call to mind the events of the day. Remember:

  • How were you feeling?
  • How present was I in the moments of the day?
  • What are you struggling with today?
  • What are you stuck on, repeating in your mind?
  • How could you have handled a situation better?
  • What made you feel content?
  • What did you do to practice self-care today?
  • What are you grateful for today?

Instead of ruminating on these answers, notice any negative thoughts, such as: why did I do that, say that, react in that way? Once the thoughts are noticed, let them go by recalling another situation-a more pleasant event-that can help to restore some balance.

The challenging emotions can be gently worked out by setting an intention for the following day. Even if these challenges are unavoidable, ask yourself: in what ways, can I show up for myself tomorrow? Make sure to set goals for your own well-being and not solely for your caregiving responsibilities.

Once you have completed your nightly review meditation, recite an affirmation to close. Personally, I like this one:

The day is over and I am letting go. I release the struggles and successes of the day to make room for tomorrow. I am grateful for the present moment, for my ability to rest and restore. 

Have a great rest tonight!






Finding space to slow down

Life can happen at a pretty quick pace in the modern world.
For those looking after a parent, spouse or family member, there is often  a HUGE to-do list. While certain things need to get done in a timely way, other tasks can wait a few hours or until the next day. We won’t pass any judgment! Sometimes it’s okay to simply rest and breathe- in my view, one part of practicing good self-care is giving yourself permission to not be accomplishing something all the time.
It can be challenging to remember that allowing yourself a little bit of slow-down time is revitalizing to body and spirit .. so we are here to remind you!

Depending on your own preferences, there are many ways to find a peaceful few minutes in your day- You might enjoy a warm cup of herbal tea while sitting in your favourite chair; listen to an audio book and let your imagination wander; do some gardening and enjoy having your hands in the earth; or watch a comedy show that gives you renewed energy.

On November 3rd at 7PM our  Network group has Caroline Macgillvary coming to teach us Qi Gong. This is an ancient form of movement that the American National Qi Gong Association defines as  an “ancient Chinese health care system that integrates physical postures, breathing techniques and focused intention”.
I’ve never had the opportunity to practice Qi Gong, and am looking forward to this marvelous introduction by  our passionate teacher Caroline.
If you live in North or West Vancouver and are supporting someone in your life with any kind of caregiving, come join us!

Let the discovery begin …


Recommended Article: When MS Means Mighty Stubborn by Cheryl Ellis, Caregiver.com


Karyn recommends the article, “When MS Means Mighty Stubborn” by Cheryl Ellis on Caregiver.com. If you have struggled with your loved-one’s desire to remain independent and your desire to maintain their health through preventive measures, this article will be of interest.

“Both caregiver and patient have heard the phrase ‘you are not MS’ repeatedly. An unfortunate truth is that while the individual is not the disease, the disease affects their body and often rights of choice,” writes Cheryl Ellis. “Caregivers have been given custody of their loved one’s trust in addition to handling various affairs, but the original relationship between the MS patient and the caregiver remains. Remembering that relationship and putting it first, both verbally and by action, can offer an independence for caregiver and loved one.”

While the article specifically addresses the relationship between someone who has MS and their caregiving loved-one, the article offers communication tips to negotiate the tasks that a carepartner and caregiver does.

What do you think? Let us know in the comment section.


Mindful Monday no. 51: Releasing Emotions

photo-1468818519844-64bc429824de.jpgDon’t be ashamed to weep; ’tis right to grieve. Tears are only water, and flowers, trees, and fruit cannot grow without water. But there must be sunlight also. A wounded heart will heal in time, and when it does, the memory and love of our lost ones is sealed inside to comfort us.

― Brian Jacques

When we are in crisis mode, we can often stuff our feelings as a coping mechanism while we get through the challenge at hand. If our loved one’s illness is prolonged, the crisis can continue for a long time without a chance for the caregiver to release those emotions.

Our feelings can be difficult and uncomfortable to process, but it is important to honour your feelings by creating space to release them.

Here are 4 questions to ask yourself in order to release emotions

  1.  What am I feeling? Check in with this basic question throughout the day. If you have a history of avoiding emotions, you may find it helpful to look at a list of possible emotions to see what resonates with you.
  2. Why do I feel this way? If you are currently dealing with a challenging situation, you may not know exactly what is triggering your emotion. By digging a little deeper, you might recognize that your anger is stemming from a boundary that has was crossed, or you are feeling sad because you didn’t get the support from a loved one that you expected.
  3. How will I honour my feelings? Honouring your feelings can take many forms. It can be solely about allowing yourself to feel the emotion without judging yourself. Or, it can be about expressing your feeling to another person when we want to address an issue.
  4. What can I do to take care of myself? When we release emotions, it is important to practice self-care. We can take care of ourselves by allowing ourselves some healthy comforts (like a hot cup of tea and Netflix), or we can make an appointment with a counselor when we are needing some extra support.

Take a moment to go through these four questions. Not only can releasing emotions benefit your own well-being, but it provides a chance to really get to know yourself.



Foodie Friday: Pumpkin Spice Seed Butter


Are you a fan of pumpkin spice? Everything in recent years has been infused with the flavours and smells of pumpkins and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and cloves. Pumpkin seeds have high nutritional value. For one, they are one of the top plant-based sources of iron. They are also chock full f magnesium, fiber, zinc, potassium, healthy fats, and protein. This recipe infuses the healthy pumpkin seed butter with the warming spices of fall.

How to make Pumpkin Spice Seed Butter: photo-1474553655868-3a63d59db452.jpg


2 1/2 cups of raw pumpkin seeds (also called pepitas)

1/4 cup of  coconut oil

2 tsp of pumpkin spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, cloves)

Pure honey or to taste

Pinch of sea salt (optional)


  1. Put the raw pumpkin seeds into a food processor and chop until fine.
  2. Add half of the coconut oil and blend until well mixed.
  3. Mix in the pumpkin spice, salt, and the other half of the coconut oil, and blend further until smooth (like butter).
  4. If the mixture is too dry, add more coconut oil.
  5. Sweeten the pumpkin seed butter with honey to taste.
  6. Store in the refrigerator in an air-tight container.
  7. Serve with apples, toasted bread, or add to your morning smoothies.

(Adapted from this Wonderland Kitchen recipe.)

What is your favourite pumpkin recipes? Let us know in the comment section.


Mindful Monday no. 50: Loving-Kindness Meditation


Loving-kindness meditation is an act of cultivating compassion. According to this article, loving-kindness meditation has an abundance of benefits ranging from decreased self-criticism, increased empathy and social connection. It even alleviates migraines and symptoms of PTSD.

How to do a loving-kindness meditation: 

Sit in a comfortable position, ready for meditation. Take a few deep breaths and progressively slow down your exhale to relax your body. First, call your attention to yourself since we need to practice self-compassion in order to empathize and care for others. Express loving affirmations in your mind.

 May I be well. May I be happy. May I be peaceful and at ease. 

Once you have a feeling of love or self-compassion, connect to the feeling, and repeat the affirmations. Next, call attention to another person – perhaps your carepartner – and express the same loving words in their direction. Mindfully focus on the words as you set your intention.

 May she be well. May he be happy. May they be peaceful and at ease. 

You may want to concentrate on a visual of this person in your mind`s eye in order to hold your attention. Connect to the feeling of compassion, extending your well-wishes towards this person.

Bring your attention to other people including any other helpers in your life, your neighbours, your family members, and friends. Wish each person well until you have completed your meditation.

May you be well.

May you be happy.

May you be peaceful and at ease. 


Guest Post: Decision Making With More Ease by Cheryl Brewster of The Intuitive Life

As a caregiver, are you feeling weighed down with guilt, frustration or worry? How do you navigate change with more confidence? How can you make decisions with more ease?
The answer? More mindfulness.

 Mindfulness is the ability to notice what’s happening in your head so you can make better decisions. It frees you from past conditioning, fuzzy thinking, overwhelm and unconscious patterns that keep you in fatigue rather than energy with clarity.
Mindfulness is a hugely important ability to foster and has gained massive respect around the world and particularly, in business.  Over 22% of major business organizations in the US include some sort of mindfulness training in their human resource offerings to staff. It reduces stress, promotes clear thinking and focus, and improves health and well-being.  As a caregiver making critical decisions for your loved one, mindfulness is no longer an option… it’s a necessity.

Here’s a quick outline of how Mindfulness can help with the decision making process: Aware, Breathe, Connect.
1. Aware – Be the observer.
What’s happening to you as you consider the decision you need to make?
Watch yourself.
What are you thinking, feeling, sensing?
Notice your body sensations.

Developing the habit of observing yourself can pop you out of the unconscious knee-jerk reactions that occur, especially when you feel worried about someone in your care.

2. Breathe for “one mindful minute”
It sounds too good to be true, but one “mindful minute” can save the day, let alone your sanity. Once you’ve established yourself in observer mode, stay there for one minute… don’t try to figure anything out…just be present in watching yourself. Allow the mind to settle into the breath, not carried away by thoughts, sensations or emotions, just focused on even, regular breaths. Breathing for just one minute helps you find your centre again.  From here, knee-jerk reactions or emotions can be identified and set aside. Mindful breathing unhooks you from the flight/fright/freeze that is the natural consequence when feeling uncertain or threatened.


3. Connect – by asking yourself what is the next right thing?
The clarity you will receive from this very short process is astounding. It creates a laser-like beacon for you to follow. You can only ever do one thing at a time so mindfulness reminds you of the choice and power you have to do that one right thing.

This does take courage. Why? Because this process promotes change. And sometimes (or should I say often), we don’t want to change! But when change has the capacity to instantly take us out of worry, frustration, fear or guilt and back to peace and confidence, then we need to ask ourselves…

What price am I willing to pay to return to peace?
Often times, most times, it’s simply the decision to let go of things needing to be so painful or so hard. As caregivers, overwhelm can become a habit so we must remain diligent in letting things be easier.
If you’d like to learn more about Mindfulness to create more ease in the decision making process, then be sure to attend the workshop on October 26, 2016 with Cheryl Brewster of The Intuitive Life, to inspire and guide you into decision making with more ease.


Mindful Monday 49: The 5 Ws of a Gratitude Practice

photo-1472125208451-d51027951367.jpg“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”

-Melody Beattie

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving Day can be the perfect day to solidify your practice of gratitude. Some families express what they are grateful for around the table before they eat their  dinners. Other people incorporate other traditions of gratitude through letters, journaling, and heart-felt acknowledgements through out the year.

Whatever your experience with gratitude, consider these five questions to develop a gratitude practice: 

What is gratitude to you?

For some of us, gratitude is focusing on what we have, rather than dwelling on what we don’t have. For others, it is an act of re-framing our negative thoughts into positive ones. Gratitude can be offering praise, thanks, and compliments to others. And for many, it is the practice of finding the good in even the worst of situations. How do you envision gratitude in your life?

Why would you practice gratitude? 

Numerous studies have shown that those who practice gratitude live a happier life. It focuses our energy on the positive aspects of our lives, and allows us time to appreciate them mindfully. It gives less mental space to the negative aspects of our lives because we are looking for the bright side. What reasons do you have for making a gratitude practice?

Where would you practice gratitude? 

There are practical ways to bring gratitude into the physical spaces of our lives. A gratitude jar, a journal, and even a posted list in a place where you can see it can inspire a practice by being regular reminders. Where is a good place for your to practice to ensure a daily habit?

When would you practice gratitude?

Truly there is no limit to when you can practice gratitude, but some people have “touchstones” for their practice. For example every time they get in their vehicle, they spend a few minutes giving thanks. For others, they spend five minutes at the end of the day journaling about what they are grateful for. Ask yourself when is a good time for your practice.

With who do you want to share your gratitude practice?

Gratitude is a learned skill. Sharing this skill with other can be a positive experience since you make time to acknowledge these people, but it can also help you both cultivate the practice. Who would you like to share the experience with? Your family, friends, or partner can help reinforce your practice.

Once you’ve considered these five questions, your intentions for your gratitude practice will be set.

Thank you for reading!

Foodie Friday: Less-Effort Thanksgiving Dinners


Depending on our energy levels, holiday dinners can be something we tackle with much enthusiasm or with a lot of stress. Once you become a caregiver, it can be hard to balance what you are used to accomplishing at holiday celebrations with the new realities of your role.

If you are feeling like the holiday is added stress, here are 5 ideas on how to reduce the effort needed to have a Thanksgiving dinner:

  1. Make it a potluck: If you are okay with making the main dish, potlucks can be a good option with some organization. Make a list of all the dishes and ask family members to sign up to prepare and bring one item each.
  2. Ask someone else to host: If you usually host the family for dinners but you are not feeling up for it, practice some good self-care and ask someone else to host.
  3. Make use of your slow cooker: If you have yet to adopt a slow cooker into your life, they are incredible time savers because you only have to prep the ingredients and put them in to cook with enough liquid to sustain it for the time period. This article rounds up a few Thanksgiving slow-cooker recipes.
  4. Order a full Thanksgiving dinner: If you can afford it, order in your entire meal. Whole Foods in West Vancouver prepares a full Thanksgiving dinner including an organic turkey or prime rib roast, and side dishes.
  5. Go out for Thanksgiving dinner: One way of avoiding the stress is to let a restaurant do the work for you. In the North Shore, The Beachhouse restaurant offers a Thanksgiving dinner and no dishes to clean up.

Thanksgiving holiday is meant to be a time to give thanks and spend with family and friends. If you are feeling overburdened, consider reducing the stress associated with big family dinners with one of these other alternatives.