Quote and Relaxation Poem

‘Spring’ by Calm Pond

Why, pray tell

O Earth mother

this plague of insects

in my humble rooms?


Is it the end of

the dormant winter

the long sleep

everything suddenly alive?


And I, too, I suppose

with my desperate scrawl

in the dead of night

am awakening


Each year, a new

re birth, a new life:

a coming again.

Hope, at last


A quote from T.S. Eliot’s East Coker:

‘I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope

For hope would be hope for the wrong thing:

Wait without love, for love would be love for the wrong thing:

There is yet faith.

But the faith, and the love, and the hope are all in the waiting.

Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:

So the darkness shall be the light

And the stillness the dancing.


For the love of poetry, and all the truth and beauty it brings to life,


Calm Pond

How to Help a Suffering Partner

These strategies can really be two-fold, as in the caregiving journey it is common for both partners to experience emotional suffering.
Thank you Eric, for sharing these suggestions on how to be mindful of loving well. They bring the notion of supporting another person back to a more grounded, simple place.
Caregivers, what has helped you be with someone that is suffering, and not become totally consumed by the pain of it? We welcome your sharing.


Written by Eric C., MA., PhD Candidate (USA)

Founder of: MakeItUltra™

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” ~Dalai Lama

1. Fight the urge to run away or shut down
Let’s face it, it is in our nature to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Seeing a loved one suffer is one of the most heart wrenching experiences. If you feel like running away or giving up, you are not alone. But remember, it is not uncommon for a loved one who is suffering to prefer solitude. If this is the case, make sure not to feel guilty for going about your regular routines. And especially, make sure to continue doing the things that bring you joy. Just be mindful if you begin telling your partner how great things are going.

2. Manage your reactivity 
It is not uncommon to feel angry, frustrated…

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Review of Meal Replacement Shakes

There are many meal replacement shakes on the market.  Here are some of the big names:

Boost Original-Chocolate has 26 essential vitamins and minerals and 10g of Protein.  See also Boost 100 calories and Boost Plus.

My personal favorite: President’s Choice Ultra-Shake (lactose-free) with 15g of Protein.  Their strawberry flavor tastes quite good.

Ensure Original has 9g of Protein and 26 vitamins and minerals.  See also Ensure Light (70 calories, 12g of Protein, 23 vitamins and minerals).

Bottoms up!

Calm Pond

My Favourite Grounding Meditation


This meditation can be done anywhere without anyone being none the wiser. It’s extremely helpful if you’re feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or scared.

Take a deep breath in through your nose, out through your mouth. 

Look for three things in the room and notice them, one at a time.

Listen for three things and notice them, one at a time.

Feel for three things and notice them, one at a time.

Take a deep breath in through your nose, out through your mouth.

Cassandra Van Dyck 

Mindful Monday no. 74 – Fight or Flight


I was invited to try out a zip lining and high ropes course this weekend. Participants are strapped in to harnesses and the harnesses are tied in to cables. People are led through the trees to navigate obstacles and slide down long lines, many feet in the air. From beginning to end, you are attached to a cable. Barring some horrible accident, the chances of injury are slim. Even though I knew this, my childhood fear of heights kicked in, and I had to take some very deep breaths and let out a few loud noises to talk myself in to completing the course and not calling for help to somehow get me down.

This experience got me thinking about mindfulness and fear. Just like when we are feeling overwhelmed and stuck, fear can be paralyzing. Whether you’re standing on the edge of a platform about to trust a cable to safely carry you to the ground, or you’re sitting with your loved one in a doctor’s office processing a diagnosis, fear can show itself in one of two ways: fight or flight. 


Sometimes (often) it can feel easier to escape the situation you’re in than to work through it. Although it conjures up visions of flying away, flight isn’t always a physical reaction. People can escape by hardening themselves to a situation, by using substances to numb difficult emotions, or by avoiding or procrastinating things that are causing fear (paying bills, calling health care professionals, etc.). Flight is not always a bad thing. Sometimes fleeing a situation or checking out for a little while can help us cope with trying times and renew our energy so we can better face challenges. In tense situations when emotions are high, sometimes it’s better to walk away and plan a response than to react.

Flight becomes a problem when we are avoiding problems, people, or experiences that need our attention and energy. It becomes a problem when it’s our immediate response to flee and when we lose the ability to think rationally about fears so we can tackle them. A flight response rarely makes obstacles go away.


The word can have negative connotations if we imagine a heated argument or a boxing match, but this is the drive that can prompt us to face challenges and work out plans to address problems and get the support we need to keep going. As mentioned, it can also cause problems. If fight is causing us to react, we may not have the perspective to best face tough times. We might say things we regret and we might not know when to walk away and give ourselves a break. Constantly being in “fight mode” can cause burnout.

How do we know when to fight or take flight?

There are many ways to talk about and interpret the flight or fight response that is so ingrained in us. One of the most useful ways it can be used and thought of is in reaction to situations that cause a lot of fear. If you are feeling paralyzed by fear, here are three questions to ask yourself to help you decide what to do next.

First, ground yourself.

 Try taking a few deep breaths to stabilize your breathing and connect to your emotions. If you’re having trouble staying calm, try my favourite grounding exercise. Now that you feel grounded, ask yourself the following:

What is my fear?

When we’re scared, emotions can be intense and we may lose track of what we’re really scared of. Identifying the root of the fear can help us address it.

Is my fear rational?

Often times the fear you’re feeling will be rational, but sometimes it is not. Sorting out whether you’re feeling a rational or irrational fear will help you answer the next question.

What do I need right now?

This is the question that can help you decide whether to fight or take flight. Maybe what you need in your moment of fear is answers from your health care professional or to express what you’re feeling. You might also some time to give yourself a break and work through your emotions.

If you’re choosing fight or flight mindfully, either response can give you what you need. When we ground ourselves in moments of fear, we allow ourselves to make decisions rather than to simply react. 


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


Cassandra Van Dyck

Alzheimer’s Walk for Memories

Woman raising her hands at sunrise

Woman raising her hands at sunrise

On Sunday, May 1st, I volunteered for a very good cause: Alzheimer’s disease.  Did you know that 1 in 4 Canadians over the age of 85 will get Alzheimer’s?

In total, $10,000 was raised by participants in this year’s Walk for Memories.  A caregiver and her husband who suffers from Alzheimer’s gave a very moving presentation, and then we were off to Dundarave pier and back.  Teams of staff from Sunrise and Nurses Next Door held their banners high.

Gulls, kayakers, seadoos, and joggers were all out there enjoying the sunshine.

It is a very worthy cause indeed.

Calm Pond

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.


A cozy place to unwind


Fancy a cozy place to unwind?

It’s mid-winter, and with the darker days and cold air, it can feel so comforting to find a cozy hang-out spot. I might suggest that it is an essential part of one’s self-care routine to plan relaxing time for yourself; time when you are ‘off duty’ from caregiving.
You may think, “I am never off duty!” And while caregiving is a current reality in your life, and though its demands may occupy a lot of your mental and physical energy; I am a huge advocate for finding ways to take mini holidays. These short breaks can happen alone, or with a friend who is comfortable to be around.

Each person has their own idea of what cozy feels like. When you walk into a café or restaurant and feel yourself go ‘ahhhh’, that is a good sign! Any chance that you have to breathe easier, relax a little, and spend time enjoying a warm drink is time well spent.

Here are a few reflection questions to mull over during your break:

What is my heart needing right now, in order to feel at ease?

During my day, when can I find ten minutes to pause and connect with my breath?

How is my inner voice or my intuition speaking to me?

What do I appreciate about myself?

I’d like to share a couple ideas on cozy local places:
Pinnacle Hotel Lounge in Lower Lonsdale

Encore Café in West Vancouver, near Ambleside

Afghan Horsemen restaurant in False Creek, Vancouver

Golden Aura Café in Kitsilano, Vancouver

Enjoy your mini holiday! May it bring you joy and uplift your spirits.



Mindful Monday no. 18 – A Grounding Exercise


Have you ever found yourself in a crowded place, or perhaps somewhere quiet, and noticed your mind racing from one thought to another? Maybe you’re waiting in line at the grocery store and worrying about the cost of what’s in your cart while shuffling to avoid contact with other shoppers. Maybe you’re sitting in traffic, staring at a long lineup of red lights and you suddenly remember you forgot to pick up food for dinner. These situations are common and often cause thoughts to reel out of control, which may leave you feeling overwhelmed and flustered.

When we feel overwhelmed, it can be hard to pull ourselves away from the perception that we are unable to do anything to change our mindset. While it may be hard to leave the grocery store lineup or get out of highway traffic, we can do something to help us feel calmer and in control of our actions. The following grounding exercise is simple and can be performed anywhere.

With your eyes open or closed, take three deep breaths.

First, notice three things that you can feel. It may be your legs on your chair, your feet on the ground, or your coat on your skin.

Second, notice three things you can hear. It may be the sound of the radio, the whistling wind, or the passing of your own breath through your nose.

Third, notice three things you can see. It may be the lines on your hands, a person nearby, or the shape of a door handle.

Finish by taking three more deep breaths. 

This exercise allows us to tune in to environment and our bodies so we can better adjust to and notice what’s happening around us.

What helps you when you’re feeling overwhelmed? We’d love to hear from you!

Words by Cassandra Van Dyck

Mindful Monday no. 17 – Stress Relieving Stretches


In the midst of busy days, sometimes all you need to reset your mood is some simple stretches. When our muscles are tight, it not only affects our bodies – it affects our minds. “Unreleased stress can result in an aching back, headaches, and a not-so-jolly disposition,” says Melynda Saldenais.

The following stretches take only a few minutes to complete and can be done anywhere. The next time you notice your muscles are tense, try them out!

Focusing on your breath is relaxing and restorative. Take a minute or two, close your eyes and focus on your breath. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Repeat 10 times, for a set. Do three sets. It’s almost like taking a nap!

Shoulder and Neck Stretch
Sit up straight in your chair with both feet on the floor about shoulder-width apart. Place both hands behind your head at the base of your neck and interlock your fingers. Tilt your head toward the floor and press your shoulder blades together. Hold for 10 seconds, release and repeat 3 times.

 Arm Stretches
Sit up straight in your chair with both feet on the floor about shoulder-width apart. Interlock your fingers and stretch your arms straight out in front of you. Rotate your wrists so your palms face away from your body. Hold this stretch for 10 seconds, then raise your arms over your head, hold for 10 seconds. Repeat three times.

 Leg Stretches
Sit up straight in your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Raise one leg and straighten it in front of you. Hold for 10 seconds and rotate your ankle to the left and then to the right. Repeat with the other leg. Do 5 repetitions with each leg.

Lower Back Stretches
Sit up straight in your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Lean forward and try to grab your ankles with both hands. Feel the stretch in your lower back! Hold for 10 seconds and repeat three times.

Words by Cassandra Van Dyck

Stretches by www.zenfullydelicious.com