This year I launched a few new programs anchored in holistic approaches to increase resilience in the face of adversity. I started 2018 with new training in mindful awareness and launched a 4-week program (originally developed by Rachel Frankford at the St. Michael's Hospital) to help people get started with daily practices that are easy to slip into a busy schedule. I also developed a ten-week group for enhancing resilience and this has been getting great feedback.
Little did I realize how much I myself would need to lean on the things I'm devoted to teaching others. My younger sister was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2018 and those resilience principles and practices got us through the gruelling process of learning to rest with all the unknowns, upsetting news, chemotherapy and a double mastectomy. I was her right-hand woman through that and, I have to say, I have learned and gained the utmost honour and respect for the courage and grit my sister has and for anyone who is facing the daunting cancer battle.
Likely because of this experience I also found new depths in my meditation and self-awareness practices this year. At the end of September I spent a week at the Mandali Retreat Centre learning from Loch Kelly (Shift Into Freedom) and Dick Schwartz (founder of the Internal Family Systems model of therapy). This was an incredible way to connect more deeply with other professionals who are dedicating their lives to waking up more fully. Here's a picture of our group. Dr. Dick Schwartz is on the right in the second row. Loch Kelly is at the back in the jean shirt. (That's me in the front wearing the purple pants).
Another way that I find and share joy with others is through my theatre work. This year I had a great time working with the musical theatre students from my sister's vocal studio at the Algoma Conservatory of Music and the students from the studio of Karen Hughes at The Soo Theatre Project, Inc. I spent a week teaching acting and staging technique at the Soo Theatre Vocal Day Camp in preparation for their production of The Secret Garden which I directed in August.
Here's a picture of our acting and vocal students performing at this year's Gala Night. Such a wonderfully talented group of singers taking their performance skills to the next level!
And as the shortest day of the year merges into dusk I am looking towards the next series of adventures. In 2019 I will be running more workshops on mindfulness and resilience, I will be planning this year's creative endeavours, setting up a series of parent support groups and taking on more training. In February I will head to Portugal to continue fulfilling the requirements for certification in the Internal Family Systems model of therapy. This will give me the chance to re-connect with some of the wonderful colleagues I made friends with at Mandali in September and to deepen my skills working with complex trauma, eating disorders and many other mental health issues. I'm eager to bring my new learning back to my home community where we have been hit hard by the effects of intergenerational trauma.
I'm also looking forward to writing more and to posting more articles on psychotherapy, mindfulness, resilience and the expressive arts. I'm wishing you a very, very warm and meaningful solstice evening as we emerge from these dark days and turn towards the return of the light.
With love and gratitude to all of the remarkable people I have had the privilege of working with and learning form this year,