Posted by: jude49 | December 5, 2020

Have a Successful Pandemic Christmas

Hello All,

This Christmas will be different from past Christmases! But different can be good! Let’s explore ways in which we can make this Christmas season magical and joyful!

  1. Accept Recognize that this Christmas WILL be different. Rather than wishing that things could be what they were, accept what is
  2. Serve This year, more so than any other Christmas I can remember, there are service opportunities galore. Here are some ways to serve:
    1. give money or food to to your local food bank
    2. look through your closets and donate gently worn clothes such as jackets, mitts, scarfs, blankets, hats, sweaters, etc. and donate to local shelters
    3. donate toiletries such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, wash cloths, cotton socks, deodorant, combs/brushes, etc. to local agencies who serve teens, women, the homeless
    4. if you knit or crochet, consider making hats, mitts, and scarfs and donate to schools where there are children who can’t afford these necessities
    5. contact a seniors’ home and ask for names of seniors who have no surviving family. Put together a small gift basket.
    6. donate gently used books, toys and magazines to shelters, community centres, hospitals

3. Be Kind Everyday, do at least one intentionally kind thing…say thank you, open a door for someone, make cookies for a neighbour, share a joke with a friend…you get the idea!

4. Learn a New Skill/Hobby Are you finding you have too much time on your hands? This is an ideal time to learn how to draw, cook, learn a new language or how to play an instrument, There are great price reductions on learning how to do just about anything! YouTube is a great resource, as well, for learning new skills!

5. Sing There are many concerts you can listen…some you can even participate in! Many are free. Some ask for a small donation. Singing is good for your brain health!

6. Connect It’s hard to be separated from friends, families and neighbors. You can still connect, though. Write a note, telephone… And technology is a boon here…FaceTime, What’sApp, Skype, Zoom…The other day I noticed that the Queen was learning how to Use Zoom! Never too old to learn! And it’s great for the keeping the brain active.

7. Play. Get out those board games, cards, statues, charades, and puzzles! Make up your own games! Playing together strengthens family bonds! And an added bonus is learning how to cooperate better, better tolerate differences, grow your patience, and get to know each other!

8. Explore Nature Nature heals! Take a walk, a hike. Breathe in the fresh air! Look around you. Name 5 things you can see, four things you can hear, three things you can smell, 2 things you can tough. The greener the go, the better you feel! And leave your electronic devices at home. Focus on nature!

9. Be Grateful Be thankful for what you have. Every evening count your blessings and see what the Divine has done! All it takes is one look at the news to recognize that many want for food, shelter, clothes. Be thankful for the seemingly small things like toothpaste, a bath, a towel, soap….Gratitude helps put things in perspective and fosters an attitude of hope.

To all my friends who read this bog, I hope this blog has inspired and uplifted you! Even through troubled times, slivers of light squeeze through the gloom. Keep your eye on the light!

Warm Wishes,


Posted by: jude49 | July 25, 2019

Stay in the Present!

Hello Friends!

With today’s stresses and challenges, being present is often a difficult feat. Our minds wander constantly to some pretty unproductive places. We can worry about the future…the “what if’s”…which leads to anxiety. We can ruminate about the past…the “would haves”…the “should haves”…the “could haves”…all of which lead to depression.

So, how do we stay in the present? Here are two suggestions.

  • Breathe! Consciously, follow your breathe in and out. Breathe in to the count of 2; breathe out to the count of 4. Breathe as deeply as you can. If you start to feel dizzy, breathe lighter. It can help to add words to your breathe such as, “Breathe in peace one, two and breathe out distress one, two, three, four.” You can also attach a color to your breathe, a favorite color to breathe in and a not so favorite color to breathe out.
  • Use Your Senses! Focusing on 3 to 5 things you can see, touch, hear, taste, smell brings you back to the present. An excellent idea is to take a sense walk. When you walk, look for 5 different colours or shades of green…the possibilities are endless. Have you touched the leaves of different flowers, trees? Notice the differences, the similarities. What can you hear? Dogs barking, people talking, sounds of nature…? Remember you can hear, see, smell better WITHOUT the use of technology! When we’re checking our phones or listening to music, it’s near impossible to enjoy and attend to the wonder of nature. Remember, nature heals! The greener you go, the better you feel!

Remember, your mind will wander. That’s okay! It’s normal! You can always bring your attention back to the present. It will take practice. The more you practice, the easier it will become!



Posted by: jude49 | November 11, 2018

What Does Remembrance Day Look Like Today?

Hello Readers,

As I go about my daily routine, I see most people, young and old, wearing poppies. The poppy can symbolize remembering those who fought for peace, independence and security. Many died, those who lived returned wounded…physically, mentally and emotionally.

As I look at the poppy, I realize that the war for freedom wages on. It is concerning for me to live in Canada, a “free” land and recognize that freedom for some doesn’t fully exist. Racial and homophobic slurs, threats and killings occur too often.

I wonder why it appears so difficult to appreciate and respect the agency of those who choose to live according to beliefs that are not our own, yet abide by the laws of our land. We live in a time where we see people fleeing from their homelands to find places of peace and security for themselves and their families. Many come from cultures different from our own…different dress, different language, different customs…

Do we just see their differences? Can we see the gifts they bring as well? Change from the status quo is hard, but with so many people in desperate situations, we have many opportunities to learn from each other, change beliefs that may no longer be useful and be, think and do in ways that foster integration rather than divisiveness.

Can our poppy be a symbol, too, not only for past freedoms won, but for future freedoms to come for those who are escaping from homelands that no longer want them, who terrorize them? I hope so.

Today, remember our freedoms and those who fought for us.

Today, remember, also, those who need us to free them from the oppressions they currently experience.

Blessings to all.


Posted by: jude49 | July 1, 2018

Stop “Shoulding” Yourself!

Hello Readers!

Do you find yourself making statements such as:

  • I wish I would have said/done x…
  • If only I would have done x, things would have turned out better…
  • I should stop doing x…

Where do the “shoulds” come from?

“Shoulds” come from patterns, beliefs and expectations in our family-of-origin, our immediate family. Everyone grows up in a family where there are family rules, many of them unspoken.  These unspoken expectations often cause us difficulty, particularly in adolescence and adulthood. How many times have you heard comments like, “I thought you knew that!” or “Well, everyone knows you don’t do/say that!” or “Do I have to tell you everything? This is just stuff you should know!”

What is the impact of the “shoulds” on us?

Feelings of guilt, embarrassment, inadequacy and other negative emotions accompany “shoulds.” Often, we feel dumb and believe we somehow lack essential knowledge that everyone but us was handed out at birth! Often we find ourselves trying to live up to expectations that are unreasonable and impossible to fulfill. Often we feel “driven” to reach expectations that are completely nonsensical under realistic examination. We often discover that we wouldn’t hold anyone else in our position with similar issues to the expectations we are demanding of our selves.

What do we do with our expectations?

  1. We can keep our expectations. We also keep the consequences of them.
  2. We can modify our expectations. We keep what works and we discard what is no longer relevant. Expectations relevant at one time under certain circumstances may no longer be relevant or viable. Rarely will all expectations be discarded; however, if there has been substantive trauma or abuse, we may have to clean the slate and determine healthy and wholesale expectations to live by.

What are the difficulties in modifying expectations?

  1. Pressure from family and friends.
  2. Intimidation from friends from family. Example: If you have this expectation, we, your family, will exclude you from family events.
  3. Our own negative self-talk. “I know I need to change, but I’m anxious about making the changes.” “I don’t know whether I can do it.”

What are the rewards of modifying expectations?

  1. Independence.
  2. Freedom from expectations that no longer fit your life.
  3. Peace of mind and peace in knowing you are doing what is right for you and your situation.

At first, it is difficult to change your expectations. And there probably will be flack from those close to you. However, trust your gut…your mind is in your body. When you make changes from a place of positivity and strength, those around you sense your strength and positive energy. In my experience, they do come around because they see and feel your sense of rightness about the expectations you have chosen.





Posted by: jude49 | September 7, 2016

What to Do AFTER a Panic Attack

20160330_152932Hello Readers!

Panic attacks are debilitating…they drain you of your physical, emotional and mental energy. I know. I suffered from them for years. So how do you recover? Try the following suggestions:

  • Rest…It takes a mammoth amount of energy to slog through an attack. When it finally subsides, fatigue sets it. Don’t fight rest and sleep which is exactly what your body needs.
  • Do the Minimum…After an attack, it’s wise to gradually get back into your normal activities. You may take some time off work, cut down on housekeeping chores, make simpler meals, cancel appointments, etc. for a short while. Rushing headlong into a full schedule may well bring on another attack.
  • Eat Well…Fresh fruit and veggies, light salads, fish are good choices. Stay away from processed, packaged and fast food.
  • Drink Water…and plenty of it. You may not feel like drinking a whole glass of water in one sitting…sipping water throughout the day is fine.
  • Nature…Take a walk. Walking grounds you in the present moment. While walking, use your five senses to focus on the beauty in nature.
  • Music…Listen to calming music such as hymns, lullabies, nature sounds, classical music (not Beethoven’s Fifth!).
  • Cry…Crying lets out the frustration, the pain, the agony of the attacks. A good cry can release the pent-up feelings and thoughts that have lived inside you for too long.

If panic attacks continue, see a therapist…preferably one who has experienced one her/himself. I have found that therapists who have actually experienced attacks are more empathic, compassionate, understanding and sensitive.

Remember, that there is usually a genetic component to panic. However, and this point is important, panic attacks are often a response to accumulated stress and a result, many times, of family-of-origin issues that need addressing and family “shoulds” that need revising.

Know that panic attacks need not be a way of life. There is help!

Sending good energy your way.


Posted by: jude49 | July 29, 2016

Reactive? Try These Suggestions…

Hello Readers!

Many folks who experience anxiety react negatively when triggered. Before you know it, things have been said, actions have been taken which almost immediately result in regret.

So, what’s the solution? Here are some ways to manage reactive negative responses:

First, know your triggers. All of us have them! It may be your kids’ arguing, your mom commenting once more on your lack of housekeeping skills, your partner “forgetting” to take out the garbage for the fourth time in a row…

Second, realize that some triggers can’t be anticipated. An innocent remark by someone may hit a tender spot, a car accident, an unexpected work assignment…

What do you do?

First, be realistic! You can’t control what other people do, say, believe, think, feel, and you can’t control events. Give it up! The minute you realize how little control you have, the easier life will be. Remember, the only thing you can control is how you cope.

Second, be prepared! Take a few minutes everyday to think of what may trigger you. If you have had a restless, sleepless night, be aware that fatigue can make you more reactive than usual. As Dr. Dan Siegel states, “to name it is to tame it.”

Third, identify times throughout the day when you check in on your emotional well-being. Do that by checking your body for stressful sensations…your shoulders, your neck, your gut…Just being aware of the stress triggers cause can help you be less reactive.

Fourth, train yourself to breathe deeply. Throughout the day, regularly practice following your breath in and out. Feel your breath penetrate every nook and cranny of your body.The more you do it, the more automatic it becomes. You’ll find that consistent deep breathing results in less reactivity when you get triggered.

Fifth, refrain from acting or speaking when your triggers get the best of you until you have taken a few deep breaths. If someone presses you for an immediate response, tell them you  need a moment. There are very few things in life that need an immediate response! If you can, leave the situation briefly, walk a few steps, get a drink of water… The mere act of moving will decrease your reactivity. Move and change your mood.

Sixth, it’s good to think of the consequences of different courses of action before  making a decision. As Dr. Elisha Goldstein explains, there is a space, called reflection between trigger and response. During that reflection time, ask yourself, “Which consequence is going to move me towards positive growth?” That short reflective pause can make the difference between making a thoughtful, reasoned decision or a decision that is going to result in pain and increased negativity.

Seventh, see a therapist. When you are making knee-jerk negative reactions, there is unfinished business in your family-of-origin. Everyone grows up in imperfect families, and patterns, beliefs, expectations (the family “shoulds”) are preventing you from making thoughtful responses. Family-of-origin work helps you identify family patterns, beliefs, feelings and expectations, once useful, that now may need to be modified or discarded.

One thing you can start today is taking time several times during the day to focus on following your breath in and out. Consistent practice will change how the neurons in the brain fire and that will create a less reactive brain. Ready to try?

Best Wishes,


Acknowledgements: Dr. Daniel Siegel and Dr. Elisha Goldstein. Their web-sites and facebook pages have great accessible resources. Check them out!





Posted by: jude49 | July 18, 2016

Experiencing Racing Anxious Thoughts? Try Singing.

Hello Readers!

For years, I suffered with panic attacks. When I tried to sleep, all sorts of scary thoughts raced through my head. One night out of sheer desperation, I grabbed a children’s songbook published by my church. I started singing the songs, all verses. My voice quivered and cracked, but I kept on singing. Around the 5th or 6th song, I started to feel different. My body wasn’t shaking as much, and I was starting to feel less anxious. I was frightened to stop singing so I sang every song in the book I knew. It took about 45 minutes. After I finished singing the songs, I noticed that the  thoughts that were terrorizing me had dimmed. I felt that I had control over my body again. For years, I kept that songbook close to me. There wasn’t one time I used it that it didn’t succeed in calming me down.

Why did singing calm me down. Here are my thoughts…

  • the songs were like lullabies…soothing and calming
  • the words were ones of peace, hope and comfort
  • giving voice to the songs rather than singing them in my mind focused and grounded me in the present moment
  • singing the songs out loud rather than silently made me breathe…you have  to breathe to sing!
  • singing the songs took the focus off the anxious thoughts

As I sang the songs, I began to be more familiar with the words and the melodies. Often, I would find myself humming or quietly singing the songs (out loud and in my head) during the day when I felt anxious. I found that when I became anxious at night, I didn’t have to sing as many songs to calm down as I had previously.

With our knowledge of brain science, I now know that singing was changing my brain. Endorphins, a hormone released by singing, is associated with pleasurable feelings. Oxytocin, another hormone released by singing, can alleviate anxiety and depression.

Singing alone is good, but singing with others is even better! Ever since I was young, I have sung in choirs. Singing together creates community and lessens loneliness. Remember, we are wired to connect with each other. Singing in choirs has been a calming and productive activity for millions, including me. More and more, singing is being recognized for its health benefits. Years ago, auditioning for any choir was a pre-requisite for joining. More and more, though, choir groups are springing up that just require a willing spirit and a love of singing. There is even a drop-in singing group in Vancouver every week!

I’m joining a choral group this fall in Vancouver, BC as I’ve realized I need that community and, most of all, I need to sing!! It’s fun and it’s healthy. What about you?



Reference: Singing Changes Your Brain by Stacy Horn

Singing Changes Your Brain


Posted by: jude49 | June 27, 2016

Want to Solve Problems…Use Empathy!

Hello Readers!

One would think that if someone comes to you with a problem, they want a straightforward, logical response. Not necessarily so!

A question for you…What happens when you express your feelings about and you are cut off with statements such as “Oh, don’t worry about that” OR “She didn’t mean it that way” OR “Why are you taking that so seriously”…I imagine you might feel “small” or hurt or dismissed. You’ll probably feel some tension in your body…a knot in your stomach, for example. And you may be thinking you were dumb for expressing your thoughts and feelings. You may even think your thoughts and feelings are dumb.

What if the other was curious about your concern and asked questions such as “Tell me more…” OR “I can hear your concern. I’m here to listen” OR “Yeah, I’ve had a similar experience. Feels upsetting” I imagine you would feel “heard” as these statements indicate that you are listening and showing empathy. Thus, empathy is seeing the problem from the “other’s”perspective…putting yourself in the other’s shoes, so to speak.

When empathy occurs, a valuable connection is made. And that connection can lead to “calming big emotions.” Big emotions overwhelm the left, logical brain. When the emotional brain is calm, that’s the time good decisions are made. Good decisions need input from both the emotional AND the left logical brain.

Problems abound…they are a constant in life. Next time you encounter a problem with someone, I challenge you to listen to the “other” perspective.

Warm Wishes,











Posted by: jude49 | May 20, 2016

One Excellent Strategy to Control Anger

From Distress to Peace

Hello Readers!

We all get angry. And that’s fine. It’s HOW we deal with anger that’s vital to our own well-being and the well-being of others. Here is one way I’ve successfully taught my clients to calm their anger…

  • Recognize what triggers your anger
  • Remember what happens in your body when you feel angry (Remember your mind is in your body!)
  • As soon as you recognize that “angry” trigger or feel the anger inside your body, acknowledge the anger. Say to yourself, “I feel anger coming on.” (If you can, remove yourself from the situation.)
  • Start taking deep breaths. Breathe in to the count of 4 and breathe out to the count of 8. You can fiddle with this count as long as you breathe out twice as long as you breathe in.
  • Expect to feel uncomfortable. Accept feelings, sensations and thoughts…let them flow through you. Fighting them…

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Posted by: jude49 | May 20, 2016

One Excellent Strategy to Control Anger

Hello Readers!

We all get angry. And that’s fine. It’s HOW we deal with anger that’s vital to our own well-being and the well-being of others. Here is one way I’ve successfully taught my clients to calm their anger…

  • Recognize what triggers your anger
  • Remember what happens in your body when you feel angry (Remember your mind is in your body!)
  • As soon as you recognize that “angry” trigger or feel the anger inside your body, acknowledge the anger. Say to yourself, “I feel anger coming on.” (If you can, remove yourself from the situation.)
  • Start taking deep breaths. Breathe in to the count of 4 and breathe out to the count of 8. You can fiddle with this count as long as you breathe out twice as long as you breathe in.
  • Expect to feel uncomfortable. Accept feelings, sensations and thoughts…let them flow through you. Fighting them will only prolong the anger.
  • Keep breathing until you find your anger starts to dissipate. While you are breathing, you can say, “Breathe in peace and breathe out anger.” You can use this mantra or use another. Self-talk helps. “I can control my anger.” I am bigger than my anger.” “My anger is not my identity.”
  • Once your anger has dissipated and you are breathing steadily, choose a task you can focus on. I, like many others, use nature and my senses to further calm down.  Get out in nature and breathe in the good air. Walk or stand up. It grounds you. Choose a sense…sound, for example. Listen for 5 sounds and try to identify them. Choose another sense and so on…
  • Anger may return; if it does, focus on your breath, following it in and out.
  • Gradually, your big emotions (your right emotional brain) will shrink and you will be able to integrate your logical, left brain with your emotional brain. At this point, you can make GOOD choices/decisions. Making decisions with your full-blown emotional brain will end up in saying and doing what you will come to regret.

Anger is usually a reaction to fear, pain or unresolved issues in your family-of-origin. Give yourself compassion (positive self-talk, hug yourself). No sense in getting angry at yourself for being angry!

Every time you can resolve your anger wholesomely, you re-wire your brain. Soon, lashing out, kicking walls, swearing, shouting, throwing will be a thing of your past.

Check out my Facebook page for other great information and strategies to wholesomely manage your anger. Go to my web-site… and click on the Facebook button. You can access my page even if you’re not on Facebook.

As always, please share your comments, add your experiences…











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