The lost art of communal meals

Two things this happened this week that got me thinking about the importance of preparing and sharing food.

I was speaking with one of my clients who is doing her best to make positive changes.  She works 6 days a week, is an amazing mother to her one and a half year old son, hustles to get to the gym several times a week and is trying to incorporate more balanced, healthy food into her diet.

As part of her unique 1-1 coaching with me, we did an exercise together called “The Circle of Life,” where she rated different areas of her life based on how fulfilled/satisfied she felt in each area. The areas where she felt most challenged were Relationships, Social Life, and Home Cooking. It came as no surprise to me, as her busy schedule meant that by the end of the day she was often too tired to think creatively about food, or to make plans with friends. When she and her husband did plan social activities, it was often dinner out with friends, and usually to restaurants that her friends chose, and not necessarily the healthiest options.

We brainstormed ideas together of how she could reasonably, within the schedule and demands of her life, start both cooking and socializing more.

I suggested potlucks, group dinners where everyone brings a dish or two, and shares the meals. I also suggested themed dinners, such as trying vegetarian dinners, or trying a raw food dinner, as her friends were not as health conscious as she is trying to be. Another option is everyone contributing ingredients, and preparing the meal together based on what ingredients are available.

A certain level of education and creativity may be required when your friends are new to this kind of thing, however it can be presented as an exciting challenge.

Preparing food, cooking and eating together is such an important part of so many cultures and traditions, and unfortunately in today’s busy world, this beautiful and nourishing medium for social connection gets lost to the hustle and bustle and isolation that many people have become accustomed to. 

A couple of nights ago a group of new and old friends who had all traveled to my town to surf a big south swell decided to organize a “family dinner” in celebration of each other.

It was decided that the meal would be cooked at my house, and then enjoyed at my neighbour’s. I eagerly jumped into coordinating the menu, delegating grocery lists, and organizing my team of “sous-chefs” with their various tasks of chopping, mixing, tasting, cooking and then carrying the food from one kitchen to another.

After a long bout of health challenges, it had been quite awhile since I had shared meal-making and eating. I had forgotten how much fun it can be, and what a wonderful way it is to connect with people.

The expression “many hands make light work” certainly ring true here, as the more hands the are to prep, cook and clean takes the pressure off the host.

Summer is also such a wonderful time for meal-sharing. The weather allows eating outdoors, and the body desires cooling foods with minimal prep and there is an abundance of fresh and local produce.

Consider different themes for potlucks and challenge your friends to try a raw meal, or a “salad bar” theme, or a veggie BBQ. Bonus points for making it a “super detox meal” and leaving out the alcohol... easing your friends and family into your decision to drink less alcohol can happen through the gradual introduction of concepts like this.

Creating a Facebook invite for your dinner can also be a great way to share ideas, and coordinate who is bringing what.

I’d love to hear about your adventures in summer social cooking and eating. Share your menu ideas here, including what yummy non-alcoholic bevvies are served, and how you got your friends and family involved!



You want to remember the best moments of summer, don’t you?

This blog post will be short and sweet. For some, summer holidays have already started, for others, this weekend marks the first big bash of the season.

The effects of alcohol can be sneakier in the summer, as our evening intentions get thrown by the wayside in daytime festivals, picnics, weddings etc. We forget that the refreshing drink we are gulping down to cool off actually has alcohol in it, until we start feeling woozy by 4 pm and it’s too late.

Here are some simple tips that will keep you shining this whole summer, feeling at your best, without the blackouts, hangovers, killer headaches, or too many OMG moments. 

  1. Hydrate. This may seem overly obvious but it has to be said!! Hydration is number 1. ALWAYS bring water with you where ever you go. Throw a bunch of ice cubes or frozen frozen fruit in before you go. There are many cute insulated bottles that will keep your water cool all afternoon. Plus, it’s way better for you and the environment to plan ahead instead of buying a plastic bottle of water when you get desperate. I’m also a big fan of “aguas frescas” or “aguas de sabor” - something Mexicans invented to make water more yummy (I don’t actually know if Mexicans invented this but I learned about it in Mexico, so I’m sticking with that). Simply blend watermelon, pineapple, and/or cucumber with water and fresh lime juice, and strain over ice. Super delicious, nutritious and hydrating.

  2. Stock your freezer! This is one of my favourite seasons because of the abundance of berries and fruit available. Keep your freezer stocked and you’ll never have an excuse not to jazz up your water or non-alcoholic spritzer. Halved strawberries and cherries, blueberries and raspberries, orange, peach and/or cucumber slices are all great to have on hand.

  3. Plan ahead. Set your intentions for the daytime activities just as you would for the evening. Plan how many alcoholic drinks you will be having (if any) and remember the two-to-one rule. Drink at least two non-alcoholic drinks between the boozy ones. For more tips, head over to my website and download the free guide.

  4. Avoid pre-mixed drinks. This is a hard temptation to resist. Those pitchers of mojitos and bowls of punch are so inviting. The problem is, you have absolutely NO IDEA how much alcohol is in them, and you can bet there’s probably a ton of sugar added as well. These are the drinks that are sure to sneak up on you. Mix your own drinks and you’ll have a lot more control over the content.

  5. Eat!! Always avoid drinking on an empty stomach. Hydrate and then get some food in your belly and you’re off to a great start.

  6. Prepare your comebacks. If you are sipping on colourful spritzers, chances are most people will leave you alone, rather than try to force alcohol into you. However, there are those friends and acquaintances who decide to make it their business whether everyone around them is getting as drunk as they are. People like this are often really quick to take it personally when you decline whatever it is that you are offering, or when you try to explain that you just don’t want to drink as much this summer. I’ve found that the more that I can explain that it’s a decision I’ve made for my own health (plain and simple), the less the other person can argue or try to make it about themselves. For more discussion, tips and support around this topic, you can join our private facebook group. Simply reply to this email and let me know you’d like to join!

Were there any tips I’ve missed? Which will be the most helpful for you?

Wishing you maximum summer fun!


Feel your way to what you want...

“I believe in your power to manifest and visualize, more than anybody I know,” one of my best friends recently wrote to me.

Humbled that she felt this way about me, it also got me to thinking... Where did this ability come from?  How could I share it with others as part of my holistic approach to health and happiness?

As I started thinking more about it, I realized that there were two very powerful tools that I had been using more and more over the past couple of years. Both have helped tremendously with my own healing process and with creating the life I want to be living, every day. I thought it might be helpful to share a few examples of how these work, specifically with health and alcohol-related goals, however, they can be used in any situation for any desired outcome.

The first tool is taken from The Desire Map, developed by the brilliant Danielle LaPorte. It’s a concept called Core Desired Feelings which are also described as a means to achieve ‘goals with soul.’ The basic premise is to base goal-setting (and life!) on how you want to feel, rather than being attached to a particular outcome. 

While Danielle outlines a process for distilling 3-5 core desired feelings that are consistent and over-arching guides to your decision-making processes through life, I have also used this concept with more fluidity to adapt to specific days and moments.

An example. I find that we often focus on what we don’t want, versus what we DO want. My clients come to me saying things like:

“I don’t want to feel insecure.”

“I don’t want to feel stressed.”

“I don’t want to feel ashamed about my drinking/body/decisions etc...”

A more detailed example might be: “I have an event coming up. I usually drink way too much when there’s free wine and I don’t want to get drunk this time. At the same time, I don’t want to feel like an ass and the only one not drinking. I’m worried that I’ll be too shy and introverted and won’t be as witty and entertaining as when I'm drinking.”

With a gentle reframe and a focus on Core Desired Feelings for the evening, we can turn this negative self-talk into positive self-talk, which will magnetize positive results.

Think about how you want to FEEL throughout the evening and arriving at home after the event. Use the negatives (such as the examples described above) as teachers, they are the shadow-side (opposites) of the positives.

An example could be: I want to feel confident, charming, witty and wise, and I want to feel this way with ease and grace. When I arrive home, I want to feel accomplished, happy and peaceful.

After defining your Core Desired Feelings, it is time to experience an Embodied Visualization of these feelings - which is the second tool that I use. Many of you may already be familiar with the concept of visualization... embodiment simply takes the mental pictures a step further by locating the desired outcome, aka feeling, in your body.

Combining core desired feelings + embodied visualization = a powerful imprint to reset your patterns and achieve different outcomes.

Instead of spending time agonizing and stressing about all the things that could possibly go wrong, how hard it might be, how stupid you might feel etc, take some time to focus on all the thing that can go right.

Here's a step-by-step exercise in Embodied Visualization: 

  • Find a comfortable position, either sitting in a meditation pose or laying on the ground.

  • Start deep breathing, inhaling all the way to your fingertips, down into your toes.

  • After a minute or so, imagine a beautiful white gold light entering through the crown of your head, and with each breath, that light shines brilliance through your entire body.

  • Keep channelling light through the top of your head and now focus the light as if it were beaming from your third eye. Keeping your eyes closed, imagine the light as a projection, lighting up a silver screen suspended in front of you. The image will start coming into focus, and you will see the image of what you are preparing for.

  • Let’s say it is a networking event that has been causing you anxiety. See yourself there, embodying your core desired feelings. You move through the room with seemingly effortless confidence, you exude charm, you are quick with your witty repartee. You sip your spritzer made from fresh juice and mineral water, enjoying the effervescence of the bubbles and refreshing flavors. You delight in the fact that your senses are extra tuned in, you have a heightened awareness of everything and everyone around you. Perhaps you are more selective of whom you are speaking with, honouring your intuition in terms of when to engage and with whom.

  • The idea is to get out of your head and allow your body to experience these feelings as sensations in your body, as if they were already happening.

Have you ever heard the advice to “act as if?” This is the first step. The same way a professional athlete prepares for the championship game, visualizing every play in exquisite detail and allowing the rush of adrenaline and elation rush through their body when they score the final point and the sense of pure triumph as they hold up the trophy in front of thousands of cheering fans. Feel that, for you.

The entire process of identifying your core desired feelings and practicing embodied visualization does not need to take more than 10-15 minutes. Of course, you can spend more time with this. You may also choose to make a daily practice of it.

While recently hospitalized, I used these tools several times a day, sometimes more. It was especially important as I found myself overwhelmed with fear and doubt. Of course, I couldn’t make myself magically “better” overnight based solely on visualization, nor did I immediately start feeling my core desired feelings specific as I was still hooked up to an IV and immobilized. However, I strongly believe that my committed focus on how I wanted to feel and the visualization of what needed to happen in my body sped the recovery process significantly. I focused on how I wanted to feel in the short term, how it would feel to be told that I wasn’t in critical condition anymore, how it would feel to have the IV taken out of my arm, how I would feel being discharged from the hospital... and the longer term of how I wanted to feel once I was strong and active again.

How do you want to feel? In your social life? work life? in your body? in relationship? after a date? after having sex? Let these feelings be your guide. You can use the tools I’ve described here for any circumstance in your life that you could possibly imagine.

I would love to hear how visualization has worked for you. Have you identified your core desired feelings? Let me know in the comments!


Are you ready to surrender?

Am I the only one who has a hard time releasing control?

I have more than a sneaking suspicion that I’m not. In fact, I know I’m not. For any ambitious woman who prides herself on productivity and perfectionism (and isn’t that pounded into most of us these days?), letting go of control is Haaarrrd.

For many of us, control is a learned behaviour. It was modelled to me by my mother, and is the dominant way of doing things in this  business-driven world. “You want something? Well, you’ve gotta work hard to get it, fight for it and make it happen!!” “Why depend on others to do something (and can you even depend on anyone else?), when you can do it yourself?)”

I don’t know about you - but this approach to life wore me out. I used to go, go, go, go goooo, push, pull, wrangle, achieve, produce, perform, until I crashed. For years, the only way I knew how to escape from this largely self-inflicted pressure was to drink myself out of it.

Years ago, a therapist pointed this out to me. “Your life is so controlled that the only time you give yourself permission to release is by drinking. Only then can you shut off, only then do you let yourself relax and get out of your busy brain.”

Yes, I could surrender control to alcohol, but it was more like a momentary giving up or giving in... a big F-you to the pressure I felt but without really trusting that tomorrow I wouldn’t have to wake up and be even harder on myself. Unless I was too hungover. Then it would be the day after. And the cycle continued.

I was not connected to my divine intuition. I didn’t feel aligned with the Universe or a power greater than myself. I certainly didn’t feel like God, or any spiritual force, “had my back.”

After suffering complete burn out (more than once) and feeling that any fun that originally came from these escapes now felt hollow, empty and pointless... I started seeing another way.

A more feminine approach, a softer approach... one that wasn’t so consuming and exhausting.

I started seeking another kind of surrender.

The theme of surrender came up again recently during a call with a mastermind group. All of the women in our group were being seriously challenged in this area, to the extent that our brilliant coach joked that she should start another program called the “School of Surrender for Ambitious Women.”

Somewhere along the way, many of us learned that surrender was like giving up. Throwing in the towel. A sign of weakness.

Yet as we launched ourselves deeper into our extremely personal work as entrepreneurs (all of the women in my mastermind have businesses that directly relate to our own struggles and evolution) we were being tasked with surrendering control at precisely the time when our years of “training” was convincing us to hold on more tightly.

Whether it came to balancing work and family life, the care of our children, creative inspiration, technological challenges, our own health and bodies, external forces... we were being shown a different path to the one taken before.

How does it differ from “control at all costs”? What I’ve learned is that it is a three-part process:

  • Show up for yourself 100%, do the work (the inside work) and then...

  • Stop trying to force an outcome!! Which involves a lot of...

  • TRUST!! Trust the process, have faith in the outcome.

Yes, I know. A lot easier said that done.

When I finally decided to really re-evaluate my relationship to alcohol and to stop using alcohol as a tool for escape and brief moments of freedom, so much changed for me.

I really started to know myself, deeply. And with that authentic self-knowledge and clarity (which is what I mean by showing up for yourself), came the trust. And with trust, I was slowly able to start surrendering control.

I am still unlearning the lessons that were 30+ years in the making. I still get handed whopping learning opportunities that show me that I have a lot more to learn about surrender.

I can tell you that I’m loving the process. I’m loving getting to know what real presence feels like. What it feels like to wake up and go to sleep with the same me. I’ve stopped distracting myself from me. I’m not afraid to let go. I’m not afraid because I know with every ounce of my being that I am sending clear messages to whomever is listening (and yes I also mean Spirit, The Universe and God) that I am more ready than ever to receive grace, abundance, ease, love, inspiration and growth. Sometimes the gifts are unexpected, sometimes the outcomes are not what I might have predicted. Sometimes it is even better than the results I may have forced if I was still more attached to “making it happen.”

Showing up for myself and doing my part allows the Spirit/Universe/God to show up and provide. This is true divinity in action.

How does the concept of surrender resonate with you? Let me know in the comments!


Why I hate the word relapse

Very recently, more recently than I even really want to admit, I “relapsed.” I really despise that word so I didn’t call it that. Exactly what happened is that I let myself down. I fell back on the commitments and intentions I had set for myself, and relived old patterns.

I’ll write more on my own personal experience a little later, but first I want to talk a little bit more about the word relapse and what it’s important to find alternatives.

I can’t remember when I first developed a distaste for the word relapse- but I do remember a specific instance about 12 years ago that solidified the feeling.

I was working at a Safe House for at-risk teens. I was in the final semester in my Child and Youth Care Counseling certification, and had been specializing with youth substance use/abuse and street youth. There was teenager of about 16 or 17 staying at the Safe House. She had already lived a rough life by then, having been on the streets and heavily using methamphetamines (crystal meth). In the past 5 months, she had made huge progress. She had stopped using drugs, was regularly attending recovery meetings, she was a healthy weight again and was beginning steps towards reconciliation with her family.

One night she came back to the Safe House very distraught. “I F’d up! I went downtown and I smoked weed. Now I have to go back to day 1 again. I had almost 5 months sober days and now I’m back to zero.”

We talked about the incredible progress she had made in the past 5 months. We talked about the fact that she had been downtown, where her former friends and dealers were, and that she had decided not to use her drug of choice. She had come so far and I encouraged her focus on the positive. But she was so hung up that she had relapsed and would have to announce this in her meetings and go back to “day 1” as if all of the personal growth and awareness she’d gained along the way didn’t mean anything.

This bothered me, and looking back, I’m sure this contributed a lot to my personal path of seeking out alternatives to traditional recovery models.

To me the word relapse negates any positive progress or growth. We grow, we live, we “make mistakes,” we learn, we change, we make some more “mistakes,” we learn some more... we EVOLVE. 

This is why I seek out and base my practice on alternatives that honour awareness, that value the journey as much (or more) as the destination, and that take into account the fact that we are all individuals, and as such, we each will have our own path to follow.

I was so proud of a client of mine who recently experienced a “relapse.” She had set clear intentions for herself around her drinking (max 2 drinks in an evening) and had been doing quite well honouring her intentions for more than a month. Last week she went through several really big and emotional changes in her life and on the weekend decided to go to a party. She consciously released her agreement to herself until she drank to the point of not having to be think anymore, about anything, blissfully checking out for the evening. The next day, she felt a familiar anxiety rise as she tried to piece together conversations and events from the night before.

Instead of getting stuck in regret and shame around the “relapse,” she quickly reframed, instead using it as re-affirmation of her commitment to herself. During our session a few days later, she said to me: “You know, maybe I needed that experience to confirm that I really don’t want to feel that way anymore. I don’t want to wake up hungover, and not remember all the details. I really don’t want this in my life anymore. I want to be fully present. ”

That is why I am proud of her. We talked about bringing awareness to the intention behind the behaviour, that she still had work to do around her tendency to want to “check out” when things got hard. We talked about alternatives for her to use to calm and relax her mind, and work through emotional times, instead of getting wasted. We celebrated the positive change I had witnessed in the 1.5 months since our first 1-1 call together.

I’m also proud of her because I KNOW how easy it is to let a relapse negate or somehow cancel out progress. This happens when we focus on the behaviour and allow it to define us.

This *almost* happened during my last "relapse." After drinking very little to nothing for months, I had what I considered to be a major regression. I was in a big city for a health coaching conference and I found myself sliding rather rapidly into some old behaviours. I went out drinking with some friends (drinking friends) and hid my drinking from others (health coaching friends). I had previously joked with the friend I was staying with that I was so happy my “partying until getting on my early flight” days were done, then I proceeded to do exactly that. I forgot my telephone in the bathroom of the bar I was in, thankfully realizing in time to go back and get it, then I forgot my phone charger and favourite travel mug in my friend’s apartment, and I don’t really remember checking in at the airport.

Hazy and hungover on my flight home I had resisted the urge to be completing self-shaming. It was hard not to slide into that regret and to start questioning my purpose and ability to be coaching others on this topic (even though I KNOW I'm a fantastic coach and that ALL of my experience is valuable). I resisted this urge because and reminded myself that I know am armed with an incredible amount of self-awareness, which I didn't have before when I was in my heavy drinking days. I consciously made the choices that led me directly into repeating past patterns, and I wanted to understand why. 

I was about to launch my business online, therefore outing myself and my experiences, and I realized that was scaring me shitless. I was afraid I wouldn't live up to expectations (largely my own) and that I wouldn't be able to be vulnerable. I was resisting being a leader and role model, for one more weekend acting out in a way I thought would make me feel “free.” Not surprisingly, instead of allowing me the false freedom I had previously accessed through that wild child part of myself, I wanted more than ever to free myself from alcohol.

I was recently discussing  my distaste for the word relapse and my desire to find a more meaningful term with my friend Maylene whom I also consider to be be one of my spiritual teachers. Here’s what she had to say:

“The mind (ego) wants us to feel like we ARE our behaviours and we do not change, which is completely untrue. Awareness automatically alters the power those behaviours have over us.

I think the most critical thing is to emphasize that it's not a punishment or a failure but a sign that there is more to work with and examine in that behaviour, there's more that wants to be seen before we get free of it. It's a reminder to be mindful and present with the actual feelings that underlie the actions. We don't just 'act' mindlessly, there is an emotional seeking or avoidance under it. If we are courageous enough to really look and feel it, we can get free. If we ignore it or pretend it's not deeper than the action, it grows and requires avoidance of some kind.”

We started trying to come up with other terms that take into account the accumulation of our experiences and evolution. A few that we thought of were “temporary regression,” “temporary set back,” “reminder,” “wake up call from the Universe,” “growth opportunity.”

What do you think about the word relapse and the experience of relapse? Do any of these terms resonate with you? I loved having this conversation with my friend, and would love to continue the conversation here.

Let me know what you think in the comments!


Why the "why meeeee?" doesn't serve YOU

Have you ever noticed how some people just seem to have "bad luck." Shitty stuff happens repeatedly - for seemingly no reason at all. You find out about it from them, because they are usually so quick to point out all the negative stuff happening in their lives. 

I have a friend, a lovely person, who recently took her surfboard to the face and broke her nose. As if that wasn't bad enough, her nose had only just healed from the last surfing accident, when she broke her nose the first time. And in between, while moving houses, the corner of a giant mirror came crashing down onto her ankle, slicing it open. "Why does this stuff keep happening to meeeeee?" She wailed. Yet the question seemed rhetorical, because she never really slowed down enough to receive the answer. 

I have an ex, who always expected the worst from people. Looking at her past, it was easy to see why. She had been let down by some of the people who were supposed to be there no matter what, from a young age. Her distrust of people grew over the years. Her belief that everyone in her life was going to eventually let her down always came true, yet she couldn't see that she was at the centre of this. Instead of slowing down, digging in deep and asking herself tough questions about why these patterns kept repeating themselves, she charged forth with her deeply held belief centered around the question, "why is the world against me?"

These are two extreme examples that get at a similar point. Shitty stuff happens in life. Sometimes we get hit over the head with a surfboard (or something else), sometimes we are the victims of random and senseless crimes, sometimes loved ones let us down, sometimes we get fired, broken up with, defrauded, diseased... and we get stuck thinking, "why the F is this happening to me? why meeeeee?"

Sometimes the “why” will be clear, sometimes not. The important thing to remember is that it’s not so much about what happens to you, but how you decide to respond. Because you do have a choice. You cannot control what happens around you, but you can control how you deal with it. And you can take comfort knowing that you always have control over YOU.

A lot of women come to me because they feel a lack of control. A lack of control over their drinking, their weight, their relationships, their habits. In our first conversations I often see a tendency to externalize a lot. Blaming external circumstances or people for their unhappy state. "Well if my boyfriend would just..." or "It's cause I'm in the city that I..." or "once I lose the weight I'll feel..." or "If it wasn't so busy and stressful at work I would..." The thing is, we can externalize our lives away until we die, because there will ALWAYS be something else outside of ourselves. It is only when we stop looking outside ourselves and shifting blame that we can finally gain control, and create lasting change.

This topic in particularly relevant to me right now because I am experiencing huge health challenges. I will write in more detail soon, however right now since I am very much "in it" I need to respect my own process in terms of finding my own peace with the why. I say finding peace because I may never understand exactly "why" something happens but I will need to accept it and be at peace with it.

The key to finding peace with the sometimes unanswerable why involves a huge amount of trust in the divine plan for us, and a willingness to learn. I've had a number of "whys" thrown at me in the last few weeks of being in and out of hospitals. "But you are so healthy, why is this happening to YOU?" is a common one. Yes, those questions have been circling around my restless brain away well. "Why me, why now?" I'm the healthiest I've ever been, I've worked so hard to heal and to let go of what doesn't serve me, I've just recently launched the online portion of my business.

Despite the temptation to get stuck here, I try to quickly shift my perspective by remembering these 5 thing I’ve come to know are true:

  1. The universe never gives me more than I can handle

  2. There is a divine plan and in that I trust

  3. It's not what I'm given, it's how I chose to deal with it

  4. Some of life's greatest lessons come as mysterious surprises and/or some of our greatest challenges

  5. It's all research

The last one was given to me by a dear friend, who is an art therapist and coach. Years ago, she help me approach everything with curiosity, knowing that the answer may or may not reveal itself soon or ever... the importance lies in the investigation.

I’d say, “What the F?? I really messed up.” or “This is so shitty, why did this happen”

And she’d say, “It’s AAAALLL research. That’s what we’re doing here in life, research.”

This means reframing the victimized "why meeeeee?" into something more along the lines of "This is interesting..." or "I wonder about the timing" or "What a curious thing..." or "Oh life, what's up with this surprising turn of events?" or “This is really painful and awful and I can’t really see beyond the pain right now, but I hope that one day I’ll be able to accept this and grow from it.”

The brain uses repetition to learn, searching for patterns and consistency as a way to make sense of the world around us. If we stay stuck in the hapless victim role, we reinforce to ourselves that we are powerless victims. Energetically, and in keeping with the Universal Law of Attraction, if you keep sending that message out, it's what will come back at you. Ie, If you keep repeating to yourself and others that you are always a victim, the Universe will keep handing it to you... “So you wanna be a victim? Well here you go, victim.”

If you reframe, and shift your perspective to one of curiosity, it is possible to stop externalizing and start becoming more empowered. And as brilliant coach Liz Dialto writes, “Reframing allows us to find blessings and perspective in all situations.”

So what in your life requires a reframe? Does any of this resonate with you? How can you shift from “bad luck” or being a victim, to an empowered life researcher? I’d love to hear from you in the comments! :)

Bye bye alcohol, hello alkaline - nutrition for healing from alcohol overuse.

I was watching a show called Drugs Inc recently. A well intentioned police officer was going to visit a group of women who were incarcerated due to prescription drug-related convictions. The women themselves were users, and he was conducting informal recovery meetings in jail.

He showed up with a bag full of cookies, chocolate and sodas as offerings for the inmates, before settling in to lead the meeting.

Now, this man's intentions were good. He was trying to help these women get their lives back on track and these treats were certainly greeted with a lot of enthusiasm by the women he was visiting. It struck me how misguided and misinformed most people are when it comes to the connection between nutrition, detox from alcohol and drugs, and healing.

All too often, we look for quick fixes, replacing one substance with another so we don't have to deal with deeper pain.

Full disclosure here - when I started going to 12-step meetings, I felt incomplete without a cup of coffee in hand. Often, I ate something sweet before the meeting too - but if I didn't, I knew that without a doubt there would be something on hand once I got into "the rooms."

I actually felt stronger - more able to face the potentially difficult and emotional topics that might come up -  if I was slightly high on caffeine and sugar. Reflecting back, there are a few layers to this. First, I was replacing one substance with another, stuck in perpetual cycles of chasing the 'lows' with food or caffeine-related highs. Second, I wasn't ready to be completely with myself - needing an emotional crutch to keep me from feeling too deeply.

These two topics are deep - and there's no way I do them both justice in one blog post. So today I'll write about the physical relationship between nutrition and healing from alcohol, which is usually the first we need to attend to anyways, and next week I'll dive deeper into the emotional connection between nutrition/food and healing from alcohol.

There is A LOT to learn about when it comes to nutrition for healing from alcohol - my goal here is to get you started with the basics. I should also say, the info here is just as relevant to detoxing from sugar, because alcohol and sugar essentially do the same thing in your body.

This approach is important whether you are simply recovering from a "big night out," taking a break for awhile, doing a cleanse or detox, or deciding to eliminate alcohol for good. One very important caveat though - if you are dependant on alcohol - ie, you can't get through a day without alcohol without experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms, it is very important that you consult with your doctor for medical assistance.

The first important step to heal from alcohol (or sugar) overuse is to return your body to a more alkaline state, rather than the "acidic" state that most of us are living in these days. How do you know if you are overly acidic? If you suffer from any kind of inflammatory disease, if you have an addiction or dependency, if you crave sugar, if you have low energy (fatigue or tiredness), if you eat meat and dairy products and fatty, fried and/or cooked foods and drink alcohol... you are likely acidic.

Since one of the first symptoms of being overly acidic is low energy... it's really important to get out of this state to aid in our healing. Why? Because if we don't, we're much more likely to keep reaching for what we think might get us feeling better (even temporarily) be it sugar, alcohol, snack foods, etc.

The absolute fastest way to restore the bodies natural ph balance is to overload on alkalizing foods (in addition to limiting the acidic foods listed above). The biggest and easiest category of alkalizing foods is... green foods!! Preferably consumed first thing in the morning, when you body is thirsting for goodness and ready to absorb every last mineral and vitamin you send its way.

This is why, when working with my clients, one of the first steps I recommend is a healthy morning ritual, focused on alkalizing the body. Here are a few easy steps to take:

  1. Start with a glass of water and lemon juice, or water and organic apple cider vinegar, both of which immediately are put to work balancing the ph in your body.

  2. Next up, green juice! This is a veggie based juice - ie NOT SWEET, and loaded up with cucumber, celery and leafy greens, all chock full of nutrients, and, you guessed it - super alkalizing... (check out my favourite recipe below - I drink this daily)

  3. Superfood smoothies. Now, I realize it's not everyone's fav thing to be drinking sour and "earthy" drinks first thing in the morning, nor will this satisfy your cravings right away or fill you up. Superfoods are alkalizing and combined in a delicious smoothie, can give you flavour and fulfillment. Superfoods are essentially calorie sparse and nutrient dense, meaning you get a lot of nutrition without making your body work hard to get it (and foods that make your body work hard to digest cause, yup - acidity). Superfood smoothie ingredients can include chia, raw cacao, gogi berries, blueberries and other berries, avocado, coconut water and young coconut meat, ground flax, maca, kale and/or spinach, spirulina and almond milk.

    Then for later in the day:

  4. Eat nutrient dense root vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, yams, carrots and beetroot. These vegetables help ground your energy during the potential high and lows you might be experiencing while healing from alcohol. Juicing beetroot (great with carrot and apple added it) also helps deliver methyl to the liver, which helps detoxify and heal.

  5. Add more salads and veggies and healthy fats (nuts and avocado) whenever possible. Keep lots of healthy snacks on hand for when cravings happen.

  6. Take supplements. Milk thistle and garlic help the liver detox. L-glutamine (an amino acid) powder can be to smoothies or taken in pill form. L-glutamine has been shown to regulate blood sugar levels and help to reduce alcohol and sugar cravings.

  7. REST!! Super important. Have you noticed that when you are tired or stressed out, you are more likely to reach for comfort foods or succumb to cravings? It is always important to give your body enough rest, and especially important when there is some serious healing going on. Treat yourself gently. Lavish self-love and self-care, and make sure you are getting enough sleep.

I'd love to know if this information is useful to you - so please let me know in the comments. It's also always great to share recipes - what's your favourite green juice or superfood smoothies? Questions? Let me know!

To your health and healing,


Here's my recipe for my daily morning green juice:

Makes about 32 ounces

2 cucumbers (peeled if not organic)

4-5 celery

handful kale, spinach, collard greens, romaine or other dark leafy green

1/2 cup cilantro or parsley

1 apple

1 broccoli stalk

1 inch piece of ginger (optional)

How to break up (or redefine your relationship) using ritual.

There's something about the first time you really fall for someone, and fall hard, that's like no other love.

The heightened emotions, the thrill, the unpredictability, the drama.

If you are anything like me, you carry that experience with you into other relationships... wondering if you will ever feel something quite the same again. Moving on, and growing into new relationships requires a certain maturing, but it's more than that. It also involves coming to terms with the fact that your next loves will probably never be exactly the same as your first, and that's okay.

Letting go of that expectation creates room for new opportunities to arise.

I often talk about how we use alcohol in terms of a relationship. In fact, the most basic definition of a relationship is: "the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected."

I don't know about you, but I was certainly connected to alcohol aka "in relationship to" alcohol for a loooong. In fact, since around the same time as that other first romantic love I was referencing. To be totally honest, I STILL am in relationship to alcohol, because it isn't 100% out of my life forever. We've broken up, and gotten back together, been "on a break," started seeing each other again "casually," and broken up again in infinite combinations. I would describe our relationship now as distant acquaintances. We get together every few months, we know that it's better if we don't see each other a lot, and that our relationship is better in the long term if we limit the amount of time we spend together.

Treating my relationship to alcohol for what it is, a relationship, has really help me shift the way I view alcohol and also how I go about renegotiating the terms and boundaries of our relationship. So if you are think it's time you and alcohol had a heart-to-heart here are some helpful perspectives and tools to use.

1) Like letting go of any relationship, there will be a grieving process. Even when you KNOW that your relationship isn't good for you, there was something that drew you there in the first place. Alcohol may have helped you access certain parts of yourself, have wild experiences, connect in new ways etc. It is perfectly normal to feel sad about "losing" these parts of your relationship. Just remember - nothing is really lost. It's all an evolution. So cherish the good memories, take what you learned from them and seek to understand no moment is exactly like that last one anyways...

2) It takes time!! There is no overnight process (that I know of) to heal from a broken heart. Same goes with healing and moving on from your relationship to alcohol. Go easy on yourself. Positive affirmations really help. When I'm going through a rough patch, I make a daily habit out of it. I find it also helps to honour the time, the process and my past in the affirmations.

3) Everyone has their own process... some make a clean break, some take longer. Whatever you chose for yourself, be gentle. Ask for support if you can. If you don't have anyone is your close circle who you feel comfortable sharing this with, ask to join our private community of Sip Sisters.

4) It requires clarity. Whatever you decide the terms of your relationship to be, make sure that it's clear. The more grey area you allow yourself, the more room there is for confusion, misunderstandings and "uh ohs" that may sneak up on you. Define your terms and write them down. Abstinence leaves less room for "in the moment" reinterpretation, which has been known to happen a few drinks in. If choosing moderation, write down clearly how much to drink, of what kind of alcohol, on which days, with which people, etc.

5) Honouring, forgiving and letting go.  It serves to honour and pay tribute to the "good." This is really important and something that often gets glossed over in traditional recovery programs. No one chooses to do anything repeatedly if it is entirely horrible and awful from the get-go. Recognizing how alcohol may have "served you" is an important step to then legging go. So is asking for forgiveness, and forgiving alcohol for the shitty stuff. Remember, treat this as you would a break up. We know that forgiveness in critical part of letting go.

6) Create a Ho'oponopono ritual. This was taught to me awhile ago to heal from heartache, and I've used it for both people and alcohol. It is based off of an ancient Hawaiian ritual of reconciliation and forgiveness.

First, create a beautiful calm place for yourself with candles and soothing scents. Open your journal or use a new clean piece of paper. You may choose to meditate a bit first or do a grounding breathing exercise. Putting pen to paper, write down as many responses as you can to these prompts. Keep the focus on whatever you are trying to heal from, whether this be alcohol, sugar, binge eating or a person.

  • I am grateful for (this allows you to pay tribute and honour the good AND the bad, the experiences that have transformed you)

  • I am releasing (your opportunity to let go of the bad, what keeps you stuck)

  • I forgive (this is huge! Dig deeper... a lot will be what you forgive yourself for, though you may want to forgive "the source" or other people as well)

  • I am welcoming in (setting new intentions - energetically, magnetically and hard wiring new neural pathways - don't underestimate this)

  • I send love to (you, your body, your inner teenager, your future self, your trauma, your potential, ALWAYS finish with love)

When you are finished writing, take your piece of papers with your responses, say a prayer, and burn it! In the words of a coach named Mike Hrostoski: "All we have to to is release what is holding us back from our dreams, welcome in what we need to take the next step of our journey, forgive what hurt us, and send love. And then... we are free."

He continues: "There is a two week period following a fire ceremony in which 'instances of opportunity' appear. These ”instances” provide the opportunity to translate your intent for healing into your reality. Think of the fire ceremony not as an instantaneous magical change, but rather, an opening to heal and shift habits and patterns – to manifest a different dream. Remember to recognize this “opening” and seize the opportunity to create change - then let the universe take care of the rest."

In the past few years I have performed many of these rituals, usually by myself but occasionally with groups of women. I agree wholeheartedly with Mike, they are powerful opportunities for transformation.

I would love to hear more about your experiences with ritual, ceremony, letting go, and healing. Have you ever tried something like this? If you decide to try a burning ritual, send a picture or let us know what the experience is like for you.


ps. There is nothing wrong with getting additional support, especially in the beginning of a break up. If you'd like to talk 1-1, click here for my calendar and set up a time.

Taking a stand for yourself, even when it's scary.

This week I had 5 distinct conversations that all ended up revolving around the same theme: The challenge that many women have taking stand, investing in themselves and their own health.

I often speak with women who are clear they want to make changes. They KNOW they NEED to. They’ve tried before, and end up falling back into the same patterns. They are at their wits end. The risk of thing staying the same, unchanging, is becoming too great - something’s gotta give.

Yet when it comes to making the commitment (which is often a financial investment) they balk. Stall. Panic even. Why is it scary? Because when we take a drastic step, like making a significant investment, it makes it real… suddenly we’re not just talking about “hopefully doing something maybe someday.”

We’re talking about taking action TODAY.

It’s amazing to me how much we prioritize other things, people, purchases, STUFF, over our own health.

I’ve also noticed a very close tie to between women who struggle to control their drinking, and women who struggle to control their finances.

When I was talking to my coach about this phenomenon, and feeling sad because I was speaking with women whom I really believe wanted to change but couldn’t come up with the $$, she had these words of wisdom for me: “They are over extended with their money in the SAME way they overextend their body's limits around alcohol.”

And it’s true. Some of my clients, though finances may have been 3rd or 4th priority when they started working with me, are now seeing massive improvements in their ability to manage their money. Making empowered decisions around your health + taking consistent action towards your goals + honouring and prioritizing yourself and your well-being = a ripple effect of positive outcomes.

Let me tell you a personal story. About 9 months ago I took a huge risk. I signed on to work with a coach whose rates would result in monthly payments way higher than anything I had ever paid for before. I was terrified, and at the same time, exhilarated. What made me do it? I had a dream, a vision, of what I wanted to put out into the world. I knew I had important work to do, specifically for women who struggle with alcohol. Yet the idea of putting myself out there, revealing my own struggles, while at the same time figuring out how to run an online business, kinda scared the shit out of me. I felt totally overwhelmed.

After one conversation with her, I knew that she “got me.” She had a background in health coaching and really understood my unique approach to working around these issues. She was an expert in online business and marketing. She believed in me and my message and I knew she would be rooting for me.

There were days during the development on my business that I felt so overwhelmed I almost couldn’t get out of bed. There were days when the idea of sharing my story so publicly made me feel sick and like I wanted to crawl back into a hole forever. Yet the commitment I’d made to my coach, and most importantly, the investment I had made in myself, kept me going… and I am forever grateful I took that risk.

When we take a risk by taking a stand for ourselves, we signal to the Universe that we mean business. The universe listens, and starts aligning in our favour.

Taking a stand for yourself does not have to involve an outright financial investment. It could mean taking a stand in a relationship, at work, with your family or any number of things.

I’ll give you another example.

One of the conversations I had this week was with a woman who contacted me because she had all but lost faith in herself. She felt anxious, stressed out, out of control and was beginning to “hate herself.” The risk of not taking action was huge, like she might completely fall apart, though she felt like she had tried everything before and wasn’t hopeful that anything would be different. But she was reaching out - which signified to me that there was a glimmer of hope.

We talked about the #1 step she could take, right now, to change things. It was hard for her to think of something… again, that hopelessness was a powerful force. Her financial situation felt like a huge barrier and burden for her, something stopping her from being able to take action on her health in the way that she needed to.

Several days later, I received an email from her. She said she had thought about the question some more, and she realized that the #1 thing she needed to do was to have more faith in herself.

Not only that, she was going to raise her rates for the first time in years, even though it scared her to ask for more money (as a small business owner whose clients are largely her friends and acquaintances). Her husband, beginning to take her seriously, had also gone to the bank, and taken a drastic step for them to get their finances in order.

As I read this I jumped out of my chair, grinning, doing a happy dance. I know this woman is signaling to the Universe that she means it. She’s serious about making changes, and she’s taking action. I couldn’t contain my excitement because I know with all my heart and soul that more good things are coming her way.

I sat down to read the rest of her email and was so moved to read this: Talking with you has started a positive shift and I feel good about it, so thank you Caitlin. You truly are devoted to your work and your clients.

And this, my friends, is what makes all the risks I’ve taken worth it. I’m the healthiest I have ever been in my life,  I get to do amazing work in the world and support other women be their happiest, healthiest selves.

So how are you going to take a stand for yourself, today? Small or huge, what scary step can you take to start creating a shift for yourself. I would love it you could share in the comments. Chances are, your step will inspires others as well!

Have faith in yourself. You deserve it. You are worth it!


ps. If you are ready to take a stand for yourself right now, but are not sure what steps to take, take a stand by signing up for one of my complimentary discovery sessions (click here). You deserve it!

Sleep vs stress… I needed to reread this!!

I wrote this post for my newsletter a few weeks ago, when my computer crapped out on me just before my launch.

Today, I receive some news that is potentially a lot more challenging and difficult to deal with than a computer malfunction. I will be sharing more soon, as I’m still not entirely sure how everything will unfold.

What I do know is that Friday is B-day (Blog day!) for me, yet by the time I was finally able to be in front of my computer again, my thoughts were swirling with what ifs and I was unable to focus. Nothing really seemed as important as the news I’d just received, yet my commitment to this work and my budding blog is so strong that I started feeling anxious that I wasn’t producing content. I was also physically exhausted, yet too wound up to sleep.

I realized, again (!!) that I needed this reminder, and instead of pushing through (that “chin up, and soldier on” mentality still runs strong in me sometimes) I needed to practice radical self-care.

I’ve also read that that lunar eclipse is stirring up a lot of intense energy and emotions in some people. I’m hoping this re-post will be timely…

So here it is!!

A few weeks ago…

On Monday morning I was reclining in the hammock in my office, writing the beginnings of this blog post with pen and paper.

 With the imminent launch of my online biz and a long-ass to do list, this might seems an unlikely place to be sitting at the start of what was supposed to be a super busy week. In fact, only a few days earlier, I had posted this message on Facebook: if it weren’t for the need to eat, dance/exercise/teach my classes, sleep and spend QT with family and loved ones, i don’t think i would leave my computer…

The truth of the matter was that I was becoming more than a little obsessed. In fact, the day before (Sunday), I almost had a total meltdown.

I was feeling torn between spending time with my brothers who were in town visiting (and whom I rarely get to see) and all of my “should dos” for my business. I almost cancelled taking them to a plant nursery (which was one of my brother´s must-dos for his visit and something I KNEW would be really good for me). I told my partner I couldn´t go to the beach with him, something that we always did on Sundays, our one day to spend the whole day together. Then feeling panicky about not spending enough time with him, I renegged, and planned my afternoon to look like this: 1 hour at the beach, 1 hour filming vlog, 2 hours editing and working on my website, dinner with family, then several more hours of computer time.

Well, my computer (and The Universe, God, my Higher Power, etc) had other plans for me.

My hard drive had crashed. Total system shutdown. My google search on the symptoms wasn´t hopeful.

My brain wanted to meltdown, freakout, crawl into a hole and re-emerge with my computer magically working again. Yet my body felt different. My heart rate stayed steady, my breathing even.

I took a few deep breathes and set my intentions. I was going to release control, trust the timing, and love myself through this.

I sent messages to a few friends who knew about computers, and arranged to see them in the morning.

 After my dad and brother started in with catastrophizing comments, I asked for their loving support, without the dire predictions.

I anointed myself with my support and rescue blends of essential oils, as well as a special rose quartz infused heart-protecting blend.

At the grocery store, I walked past the bottles of wine (and yes, I was very tempted to reach out and grab a least one) and picked out the nicest chocolate I could find.

We had our family dinner as planned, and I actually sat through and enjoyed the entire movie.

I asked my family, my partner´s family and a close group of women friends to pray for me, and that my computer could be backed up and fixed without too much time or money.

I went to my partner´s house, and made an aromatic, calming blend of tea.

We prayed together.

I asked him to give me a sensual massage, and then we made love.

And I slept, a deeply soothing sweet sleep.

I woke up on Monday pretty clear on the message I was receiving: I had been getting way ahead of myself, and I needed to slow down. I wasn´t walking my talk, I wasn´t even practicing the same level of self-care that I recommended to my clients. To the contrary, I was actually being quite hard on myself, by pushing to accomplish too much, too fast.

It wasn´t just self care I was missing, it was self-love, compassion, and kindness.

THANK YOU!! Got the message, LOUD AND CLEAR!!

By giving myself permission to limitless self care and love on Sunday night, I was IMMEDIATELY rewarded by a beautiful, restful sleep and more presence, clarity and calm the next day.

What will you do the next time you realize you are pushing yourself too hard, letting stress creep up on you, or when life throws you a curve ball? It may seem counter-intuitive, but try this. Do the EXACT OPPOSITE of what *think* you should been doing!

Slow down, take a nap, remove something from your schedule, and then heap on more self care, support, and love than you thought was possible. If you run out of ideas, enlist your family, your partner or your friends. You´ll be setting a good example for them too!

 As my father says, it´s not what happens in life, it´s how you deal with it…

I`ve already outlined a number of things that worked for me this week.

To recap:

– set clear boundaries and ask for what you need in terms of support

– lavish yourself with self-love

– give yourself permission to slow down

– create nurturing bedtime routines to ensure great sleep

What are your favourite self-care tips ? How do you make sure you are practicing self-love as well as self-care?

I´m looking forward to hearing from you! Make sure to take some extra time off for yourself this long weekend, lavish in self-love!