Scarves: Natural fibres, individually designed and dyed

Over the past few months I have had so much fun dying silk scarves! It has been a rewarding creative outlet for me while it also provides much appreciated cash. As some of you know I pretty much spent the last decade in Graduate Studies. That was also very satisfying but it required a full time commitment and a load of funds. At the end of it all I was tired but pleased. I am now in private practice as a Registered Counselling Therapist-Candidate in Bridgewater at Harmony Health as well as Mahone Bay. I love my work. I feel enormously privileged to be able to hold a space for suffering. This work is also demanding so having a creative outlet is essential for me. The scarves are the perfect answer, at least for now. Playing with colour through dyes is new for me and I have not worked with fabric for many years. I just sort of fell into it much like when I became a potter 40 years ago. That lasted a decade so we’ll see how long I play with dye and silk and wool. For no I am really loving it. It is not just about the finished product, as with most creative work I have done, it is about the process. Mixing colours, developing unique patterns on each scarf tweaks my interest. It reminds me of opening the kiln after each crystalline glaze firing to see just what magic had occurred. My scarves are individually designed and dyed at my home outside of Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada. The scarves come in a variety...

Can Counselling Contribute to Health

Health is more than the absence of illness. It is a reflection of an overall sense of wellbeing in body, mind and spirit. Mind and spirit include our psychological and emotional state of wellness. In addition, ‘attitude’ is one of the key indicators of health. Counselling can help reframe one’s perspective and cultivate a healthier attitude. A Counselling Therapist* not only sees individuals, they can complement a larger medical team, working with a full spectrum of maladies from stress leave and chronic pain to terminal illness. The Therapist’s general approach depends on the severity of the illness and the client’s goals and abilities. Individual sessions are tailored to the client’s immediate needs. The first step is to create a safe space physically and psychologically providing an emotional oasis and spiritual refuge. The Therapist listens deeply, empathizing and conversing with the client to clarify and confirm what they hear, citing the specific needs she can address. In the case of a terminal illness the client may report feeling hopeless, tired and weak amidst a challenging series of treatments and meds. Their mind is racing with worries about who will care for their children. Spiritually they feel ripped off by some power, an entity greater than themselves that they perceive has let them down. They protest, “Life is not supposed to be this way. I’ve lived a good life, been a good person, I’m only 39 years old! What gives?” Their sense of humour has gone missing and there is little sign of self-compassion. How might a counsellor work with this client and this situation? Given the client’s prognosis, the Counsellor...

An Empty Nest and then What

The Empty Nest Transitions can be emotionally challenging even if the movement is towards something we want or away from something we don’t want. Transitions are challenging because they usually require an adjustment in our daily routine, how we think and feel, or all three. Unwelcome transitions involve loss and letting go; sudden illness or injury and loved ones leaving or dying. Feelings of grief and loneliness, emptiness and worry are common when children leave home, particularly the last one. This is such a common phenomenon that it is loosely called a ‘syndrome’; empty nest syndrome. For some it can be quite debilitating, while for others it is short lived and an opportunity to do some things they have always wanted to do but felt they had to prioritize their children’s interests before their own. How parents respond children leaving home will to some extent be a reflection of how well they have navigated transitions in the past. I was a potter for many years. Responding to change is a bit like learning to handle wet clay, which seems to have a mind of its own. You might want to create a tall vase but in the end you settle for a bowl. The more open and fluid one can be with the outcome the greater potential for satisfaction. If we get fixated on a particular outcome, we set ourselves up for disappointment. Setting a clear intention without firm expectations, can be helpful. Couples that have maintained their relationship by reserving some time solely for themselves, may experience less loneliness when the children are gone. Likewise if the parents,...

Mindfulness and learning

The Current recently replayed a program on Mindfulness in the classroom. The setting was a Toronto school known for high standards and performance anxiety. Students who had used mindfulness strategies consistently reported decreased stress, less anxiety, increased grades and confidence with performance. These results are supported in the literate by Ed Sarath, Tobin Hart, The Garrison Institute and others. It also bares out in my own experience as a Clinical Therapist in a school setting. Some students quickly learned to manage their anxiety through mindful breathing and or a chewing exercise. The pushback often comes in the form of likening mindfulness practices to religion. “Why is mindfulness permitted, clearly from Buddhism, when saying the Lord’s Prayer is not?” In response I would say that having students recite The Lord’s Prayer would be more like having students chant the Kama Sutra than providing the opportunity to sit quietly for a few minutes focused on breathing. The latter looks exactly like ‘Centring Prayer’ from the Christian tradition. We often overlook, consciously or otherwise, how many of our daily practices at work or school are built upon ancient wisdom traditions. These traditions have been around for thousands of years because they hold wisdom that translates well across time and place. Restorative justice circles, yoga, contemplative movement, repetitive verse, artistic expression and more have all come from or been informed by the great spiritual traditions of the world. Religion is often defined as formal, organized and dogmatic. Clearly this is not for everyone. It is ok to draw upon aspects of religion that are helpful and suitable for you personally without the fear...