Letting go...

I don’t know about you, but I find this time of year starts to weigh heavily on me. The New Year starts with energy and intention, but over the course of a sometimes very dark and cold February, “reality” sinks in a little more and resolutions start to slide a little.

It's also possible that setting new intentions and having a sober January dredged up some bad feelings about previous behaviours and actions. I’ve noticed that recently a few people, including my clients, are feeling shame, regret and grief over past actions. Now that a month or so off of drinking has created space for introspection, self-deprecation can come down hard on you.

Now that “dryuary” is over and you’ve had a possibly wet February, how can you positively AND effectively redefine your relationship to alcohol through the rest of the year?

We all know that to create a significant, and sustainable, change in our drinking behaviours, it requires a lot more than simply “not drinking.”

Short term goals, like 31 day dry months or sober challenges are a great way to take breaks.

But what if you want to seriously redefine your relationship to alcohol over the long term?

I look at it like breaking up with a co-dependent long-term lover or partner who has brought me so many moments of joy and fun, but also a lot of unnecessary pain, confusion, fighting and feeling downright crappy.

It might sound strange at first, but when you shift from thinking of alcohol as a thing, to something that also embodies a set of qualities (many of which we desire) and effects (some we desire, some we come to despise), you might realize that your approach to alcohol might need to be more nuanced than the one-dimension “elimination” approach.

Think about it. How long have you been drinking for? How long has alcohol been in your life? How many times have you thought “I wish things could be different” but the cycles stay the same?

For me, alcohol is one of the longest relationships of my life. We got acquainted 17 years ago, and were going strong for the first12 years before I started to try to make some changes, and another 15 before I was able to take what felt like a real stand in making some lasting changes.

Here are some steps I’ve found really help with breaking up with alcohol, or at the ver least, starting to redefine your relationship.

Write a Love Letter: It might go a little something like this “Dear alcohol, wow... what a ride we’ve been on together. Thank you for the good times, and the bad. I learned so much during our time together. I experienced things I may not have when I was sober, took risks, met some crazy and interesting people, started learning a new language, danced a lot, and first started feeling comfortable tapping into my creativity and sensuality with you by my side...”

Yeah, it might feel strange at first. But recognizing the “good,” honouring the relationship  instead of shaming yourself by only focusing on the negative, with ultimately help you let go (more on this below). This is far more empowering than beating yourself up for “stupid” choices.

You did what you did at the time because that’s what you felt like you needed to do. Done. Now recognize it for what it was, and more on.

Setting clear boundaries/intentions: Similarly to negotiating the new terms of an evolving relationship with an ex, setting clear boundaries and intentions is super important.

Write it down as you were writing to alcohol.

“Dear alcohol, I think we still need to be on a total break. I’m not ready to invite you back into my life yet... I have more self-reflection I need to do and I need to feel stronger...” 


“Dear alcohol, Yes, I’d like to hang out every once and I while. I know that things are still sensitive for me right now, so it’s really important that I’m in a good mood and not upset about anything. I’ve realized that I can only be close to you in very limited amounts, so I am limiting our time together to one glass of wine at dinner with friends, once a week, and we’ll see how that goes for awhile." 

Affirmations: Love yourself up during this process!! It can be hard work sometimes, so go easy on yourself.

Have you ever had a friend who is heartbroken? She’s been dumped and is feeling so down on herself and doubtful that she’ll ever recuperate?

What do you say as a good friend?

You say, “You are beautiful and kind and so much fun. OF COURSE you will be okay, you’re better off without that person in your life, it’s just going to take a little time.”

So yeah, be that loving to yourself!! Give yourself the pep talk, and write it down!

Letting go/release: The next step is letting go. Allowing yourself to feel, grieve, honour and release what no longer serves you. If you’d like to read more about how to do this, click here. 

One final thought... know this is temporary! The days are already getting lighter and longer! Now is the perfect time to dig deep, clear out the clutter, cobwebs and dust in our sacred corners, and use the changing of seasons that will be upon us soon to re-invigorate new growth.

In order to create real change we need to create the space for it. So get on it ;)

You got this!!

When resentment rears its ugly head... whaddaya do?

Resentment is a sneaky little devil, sidling and slithering into our consciousness slowly and subtly, until, somehow, we find ourselves bitter, impatient, ready to snap, blaming others or sullen.

Has this ever happened to you?

The consequences of resentment can be tricky as well.

When we feel stuck in certain situations, that we are constantly making huge sacrifices or doing things for others at our own expense, we are more likely to fall into unhealthy behaviours to make ourselves feel better at the end of the day.

“Well, I deserve this glass of wine after the day I’ve had.”

“The only thing that will make me feel better right now is a big ol’ slice of cake.”

“F everybody. I’m tired of being good, so now that I’ve shirked my responsibilities for the night, I’m gonna let loose and be really Bad...” 

These are short term, bandaid pseudo-solutions that usually offer only very temporary relief.

Instead, here are five fool-proof strategies to recover from resentment AND create lasting behaviour change so that you can prevent these kind of reactions from happening in the first place.

Practice gratitude (part 1): Even if it seems like you are stuck in the shittiest situation ever, there is always a silver lining. Figure out what that is.

Example: I’ve been working a lot of extra hours these past couple of weeks. I have a freelance contract that I am working on helping plan an event that is scheduled for the third week of February. The extra hours have led to more juggling of time, pumping of breastmilk, more hours away from my baby, less time at home. I started to feel resentful towards the commitment I had made, the fact that I had to be away from my baby more than I wanted to be.

I started resenting the WORK. Bleh. It’s true.

The great thing about being a coach is that it gives me the opportunity to catch these negativity cycle quickly.

I am definitely committed to “walking my talk” so I caught myself and starting focusing on gratitude:

  • My co-workers on this project are super supportive and caring and have allowed me a lot of flexibility with my schedule and the occasional missed meeting.

  • I’ve worked on this project several years in a row and it doesn’t require a lot of extra brain power ie I can still do it and do it well while sleep deprived

  • The extra income that comes at time that we really need it

  • It’s temporary (isn’t everything though); a short term contract that will be finished soon

Practice gratitude (part 2): Or, if you can’t find the slightest thing about your current situation to be grateful for, find something else in the present moment to focus on and be grateful for. There is ALWAYS something positive, it is never ALL BAD.

Example: The warm comfort of your cup of tea in the morning. The feeling of the breeze on your skin. The fact that you woke up this morning! The bed that you sleep in. The healing powers of rain. The beauty of the ocean or sunset.

When I started feeling too busy and rushed and ungrounded in my day... I decided to drive home the scenic way. It only added a few more minutes, but gave me a view of the ocean instead of the highway. Instantly calming. 

Enlist friends/support: If you really, really are struggling with finding something to be grateful for - ask a friend to help you out.

Example: Just this week I was feeling super burnt out. As mentioned above, working so many hours was taking its toll. Our house, which is still a work in progress, was feeling like a chore. Everywhere I looked there was something that needed to be cleaned, fixed, built... I started resenting the HO-- -- USE, can you believe it?

I invited a couple of friends who in town to visit. They hadn’t yet seen the house.

I almost canceled last minute (due to overwhelm and that creepy resentment... “now I have to clean because we have company”!?!? )

I’m so happy that I didn’t cancel because my friend helped me shift my mindset. With fresh eyes, she saw the beauty, creativity, and potential of the place.

It felt good to be honest and tell her that I was feeling burnt-out by the upkeep. What felt even better though was to see it through her lives and remind myself that I am really blessed to have my own home. 

Reclaim your power: I find that as women we often either give away our power or feel powerless in certain situations. It is as if life is happening to us, rather than us being the ones to call the shots.

And soon enough, we begin to feel resentful that we are given so much of ourselves away without getting what we need, or that others have certain expectations of us that we stop feeling like we can fulfill.

This is a common one for my clients, is it for you too?

Example: Can you say yes to others LESS, and say YES TO YOURSELF MORE? What boundaries can you create to protect your precious time? Can you do one less thing a week? What’s one fun thing you can do for yourself, right now?

Have more FUN: This one is pretty straightforward.

Example: After a long week of feeling a lot of external pressures and demands on my time, I decided to end the week on an upswing and take a dance class this morning. I found care for my baby for an hour and picked a new studio by the beach. That one hour was pure bliss and now, back at my computer, I am is such a good mood and resentment-free because I chose to do something for me first today.

How do you deal with resentment? I’d love to hear if you have any other strategies that work for you.

As a final thought, this came across my newsfeed yesterday and I thought it was perfect:

“Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.” - Camille Pissarro

Chakra balancing ... and what are chakras?

I started getting into chakras almost 5 years ago, when I was invited to teach Nia dance at a retreat organized by Dara Mckinley, founder of the Goddess Process.

Dara expertly wove energy work (via chakras), divine femininity, sensual movement and creative play in an experience that was both deeply healing and incredibly freeing for the women involved.

Since then, I have continued my own study of chakras and how an awareness of our chakras can provide an interesting perspective on the physical, emotional and spiritual challenges we may be facing, and how balancing our chakras can deepen our healing.  There are many ways to look at our beliefs and perceptions and to change them.  Using the wisdom of your body and in particular your energy system is one powerful way to access this information.

But first - what are chakras? As described by crystalspringshealing.com Chakras are spinning energy centers located throughout your body that influence and reflect your physical health as well as your mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. There are seven main chakras that begin with the root, or base, chakra at the base of the spine, ascending in a column to the crown chakra at the top of the head. Each chakra is associated with a particular color along with certain functions. All of your chakras must be open and clear in order to achieve optimum health and balance. Open chakras allow energy to flow cleanly and easily, resulting in an increase in energy and awareness along with arousing your natural intuitive abilities.

If you don’t already know about chakras I encourage you to read up on your own. It’s fascinating stuff and worth a few minutes of google time.

I was inspired to write about chakras today because I’ve been doing some deep healing work around the second (sacral) chakra in the past few weeks. This chakra is also the chakra that most frequently needs rebalancing for my clients, and has probably been one of the most recurring chakras in need of attention in my life as well.

The second chakra is located in the mid-level of the abdomen, more or less between the belly button and the pubic bone. The colour of its aura is orange. When your second chakra is balanced, you love life, feel generally optimistic and happy and take healthy satisfaction in sensual experiences.

This chakra governs life lessons involving blaming and guilt, sex, power and control and is the base for your sense of morality. The Second Chakra is the base of your creativity, manifesting, money and prosperity. Information kept in this Chakra involves your emotions and feelings, and feelings of duality. Your personal magnetism, your patterns of control, and your sociability also emanated from the Sacral Chakra. An imbalance in the Sacral Chakra may manifest as an eating disorder, alcohol and drug addiction, intimacy issues, impotence, frigidity and depression. This chakra governs the uterus, ovaries, vagina, cervix, large intestine, lower vertebrae, pelvis, appendix, and bladder. Physical symptoms of an imbalance in this chakra can include lower back pain, sexual impotency, urinary problems, reproductive health problems and appendicitis.

I’ve struggled with second chakra issues long before my awareness of what chakras were. Reproductive health issues (years of extremely painful periods), sexual trauma / intimacy issues, addictive tendencies, recurring urinary track infections, and lower back pain were all very present through my teens and 20s.

Learning about chakras gave me a new tool to address what the medical profession would simply prescribe stronger drugs for. As I began deeper level emotional healing, as well as exploring creative and healing modalities such as dance, art, meditation, and learning about the connection between nutrition and chakra balancing, I began to feel more in control of my healing - it was like discovering a missing piece of the puzzle. As I began to renegotiate my relationship to alcohol, and finally have the most connected, sober sexual intimacy I had ever experienced, I finally felt that I was stepping into a more empowered place - where I could finally claim the benefits of a balanced second chakra.

When I became pregnant and learned about the “deformity” in my uterus, which led to months of hemorrhaging, hospitalization, bed rest and a baby born 6 weeks early via cesarian section - it became clear to me that I would need to revisit the second chakra healing on another level.

While I am deeply and irrevocably grateful for my pregnancy and birth of my daughter, the medicalization of my pregnancy (numerous hospitalizations during and leading up to birth) and the ensuing cesarian section were also traumatic. The invasive surgery felt like a form of sexual trauma: the physical and energetic act of “slicing” through my most sacred feminine organs, placing tubes and catheters inside of the most intimate parts of me, the numbness that continues to this day, the disfiguration, the feeling of being “robbed” - which is difficult to explain to any one who has not experienced this particular form of trauma.

In the weeks since the birth of my daughter, I have embarked on a new but familiar healing journey. I recognized the importance working through these feelings NOW so that I can ultimately be stronger as a woman, lover, partner, and mother.

Here are some of the things I did to rebalance my second chakra. These can apply to all forms of second chakra healing and rebalancing, whatever the cause or outcomes you are experiencing. I encourage you to find what works for you. This is also an incomplete list... I’ll include links at end for further resources and study.

  • Orange: I’m not usually a big fan of the colour orange. HOWEVER, when it comes to healing, I’m willing to give it a go. I covered the lamp by my bedside table with orange fabric which creates a lovely, second chakra glow. I had orange flowers in my hospital room and requested them for my room. Orange gemstones are also powerful.

  • Essential oils: Orange blossom and other floral scents such as rose, rose wood, ylang ylang, neroli, jasmine and hibiscus can all be used to help balance this chakra... I also began using Dr Bronner’s Rose scented body wash.

  • Cooking and enjoying sumptuous foods: good quality chocolate, honey, tropical fruits, orange foods, dairy and dairy alternatives are all said to balance a second chakra. If you are leaning more towards an overactive second chakra, ie addictive tendencies, than your challenge is to enjoy these foods in moderation. Feel pleasure indulging and eating, without going overboard. There’s a lot written on this topic, including my friend Carla Golden’s “The Healer’s Diet” - let me know if you want to know more.

  • Intimate touch: Where I used to melt into hugs and caresses, I found myself now recoiling. About 5 days after the surgery, my mid-wife was the first to place her hand on my abdomen and I felt like throwing up. I gradually began inviting her touch, asking my partner to simply place this hand over my belly for a few minutes a day, and giving myself massages with rosehip oil and arnica.

  • Alternative healing: I booked accupuncture sessions to help with energy blockages. Reiki could work well, as would massage. Find what appeals to you.

  • Expressing my feelings: This one is tricky when I keep hearing from even my closest friends that instead of expressing my sadness and feelings of loss around the cesarian, I should be grateful to have a baby and that sacrifice is part of motherhood. Gratitude and sacrifice do not cancel out the feelings of trauma, loss and sadness. I need to honour the complicated feelings I have, in order to heal.

This mantra helped validate this part of my process:

My feelings are healthy. Part of the miracle of being alive is having the capacity to feel, to learn and experience the world through my senses. I do not confuse this wonder with the greater wonder of love. I can allow myself to feel without fear. I am guided by the voice of my Higher Self, not controlled by my body. My body seeks only genuine and healing pleasures that are healthy and balanced.

What I have written here is not meant to convince your rebalancing your chakras will ultimately “fix” or cure physical or emotional ailments. Take what resonates with you, and leave the rest. That being said, I know from my own experience and that of my clients that using this information as part of the holistic healing toolkit, especially when it comes to interwoven issues around addictions, sexuality, intimacy, power, and feelings can be really empowering.

I’m curious to hear if you’ve used chakra balancing before? What have been some of your experiences?

8 ways to celebrate without alcohol

It’s my birthday week!! As promised, here’s my 8 ways to celebrate, sans-alcohol.

I'm not sure about you, but for me birthdays can be a mixed blessing. Mine always involved alcohol (sometimes too much), ranging from crazy adventures and good times, to missed meetings the next day, fights with loved ones, huge gaps in my memory and at least several recovery days after.

When I turned 30, I fell and hit my head on the cement, waking up with a huge goose egg on my forehead. I had no memory of this happening, only a painful reminder.

As I describe in the About Me section, this was a huge catalyst for me wanting to make some serious changes. Which I did, drastically reducing my alcohol and practicing periods of abstinences until right around a year later...

On my 31st birthday, I drank a lot of absinth and then passed out, missing out on a good part of my party. While the evening itself was fairly tame, crashing early and waking up with a massive hangover was lame.

I decided that I was finally going to leave the blackouts and hangovers behind. Last year I was drinking in moderation right before a long period of abstaining, and this year - I had no alcohol at all.

I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on the past year. I am really happy with where I am at in my life, and feel like the changes I wanted to make as I approached my 30s are finally falling into place.

Yes, it’s taken me 3+ years to be able to say that. Creating new patterns and ways of being in relationship to alcohol, to my body, and to life is not easy or fast. I’ve been undoing and re-writing over 15 years of my story.

Last week I wrote about ways to relax and release stress, without alcohol. This week, I wanted to write about how celebrate without alcohol - because it is in celebratory moments that many of us who previously turned to alcohol now feel like something is missing.

Our culture is such a powerful force in equating fun and celebration with drinking so that we might feel like it is not a real celebration if there’s no alcohol is the glass that we are toasting with. 

That’s why is extra important that we share our tips and support one another to find fun and meaningful ways to celebrate without alcohol. These are a few of my favourite tips, I’m looking forward to hearing yours!

  1. Make it bubbly. I don’t know about you, but having something bubbly in a fancy glass feels way more celebratory than errmm water. Try scented or naturally flavoured mineral waters and infusions, make virgin mimosas or any variation of juice + bubbly water, or spritzers (fruit + bubbly water + juice). Or try kombucha. While visiting the Pacific Northwest/West Coast of Canada, I was amazed to see that many restaurants have kombucha on tap right now. I was totally digging the bubbles and buzz.

  2. Enrol your friends for support. Let them know how important it is for you to have a great time, sans alcohol. If you are going to a dinner or house party, ask the host if you can contribute a delicious n/a alternative.

  3. Enrol the bartender. Most mixologists or drink alchemists or whatever bartenders are calling themselves these days will be pleased to get creative to make you something tasty. My standard is this “What the most delicious drink that you can make me, that’s not too sweet and doesn’t include alcohol?” I’ve been able to try some amazing creations this way, and usually for a fraction of the cost of an alcoholic cocktail.

  4. Dance! In your bedroom, in the kitchen, wherever you may be. Getting groovy with great music is a wonderful way to celebrate.

  5. Treat yourself to a massage, facial, mani/pedi, sauna or whatever will help you feel spoiled and celebrated.

  6. Buy a new outfit or accessory. I don’t usually advocate retail therapy, however, when you are getting used to the different experience of celebrating without alcohol, it’s important that you feel as ravishing as possible. If buying something new helps with this - then go for it! (ps, think of all the money you are saving by not drinking alcohol. You deserve a treat!)

  7. Indulge your senses. Try a new restaurant or sumptuous new culinary experience, or treat yourself to a delicious desert... and of course don’t forget to ask for that custom made n/a cocktail.

  8. Go on an adventure. Get out of your normal routine, explore a new neighbourhood, consult your local “what’s happening” guide for events that you might not normally go to, be a tourist in your own town. The key is to have fun, of course! Invite your friends, family or whomever you want to celebrate with and go play!!

What are your favourite ways to celebrate without alcohol? Please share in the comments! Also, let me know if you want a play by play of my super special 2 day long birthday celebration - that was so lovely, nourishing and fun that I didn’t even miss alcohol (which actually was a bit surprising to me!).

Looking forward to hearing from you,


11 alternatives to wine for relaxation

For many social, casual or even habitual drinkers, it seems like the desire to often drinking falls into two main categories:

Drinking to relax/relieve stress OR drinking to celebrate/have fun

This week, I’m going to focus on alternatives to the first category with 11 things you can do to relax/relieve stress instead of drinking.

Need week, being my birthday week and all, I’ll focus on a list things you can do to celebrate and have fun, instead of drinking.

How to relax and relieve stress without alcohol?

This is something that comes up a lot in the groups I’m a part of and with my clients.

I know there’s a part of me that still pines for a glass of red wine at the end of a long day or stressful day. Yesterday was certainly one of those days.

Here are 11 alternatives to alcohol that I used with great frequency:

  1. Go for a walk. Get outside and into nature if you can! Stuck in the middle of a city? Find a planetarium, atrium, or aquarium to visit.

  2. Have a delicious aromatherapy bubble bath. Use scented blends specifically focus on calm, relaxation, or sensuality.

  3. Light candles. Again, pick floral or plant-based scents which stimulate the limbic system and life force energy, or “food-based” smells like cinnamon, vanilla etc that provide comfort and coziness, while they turn on our senses.

  4. Drink tea. Make sure to have your tea cupboard stashed with aromatic and delicious teas. I love teas that are named with a desired feeling, such as pleasure, calm, zen, relax etc. I find it helps trigger and tell me brain that that’s the experience I’m looking for. Pukka is one of my favourite tea bag brands. I also love teas with roibos as a base, and accents of honey, chocolate, cocoa, rose, vanilla. Remember that you are trying to create a sensory experience for yourself, so enjoy the taste and aroma.

  5. Drink cacao-based drink. If tea is not your thang or not rich enough for the moment, try a hot cocoa made with raw cacao. It's rich in tryptophan, which is a powerful mood-enhancer, crucial in the production of serotonin, which diminishes anxiety and has the same impact as love in our brain. Maca, a powered root from Peru, is also a great additive to your cocoa. It’s amazing for balancing hormones and is a great adaptogen that helps decrease stress levels. (See recipe below)

  6. Call a friend. Open up about how you are feeling. Ask her to tell you some jokes.

  7. Stretch or do yoga while listening to relaxing music.

  8. Have sex or give yourself some self-pleasure, or better yet, BOTH!

  9. Treat yourself to a movie, or go to the theatre.

  10. Cook a delicious meal. Again, go for sensory overload with beautiful colours, tastes and textures.

  11. Book a massage or spa treatment. Go to a sauna or hot tub. Get hot and let your body relax.

The more of these tips that you can combine into one evening, the better! Think setting the mood and romancing yourself into blissful relaxing. Or, enlist a friend or lover to help you out if you don’t feel like being alone.

I know that none of these will exactly replace that glass of red that you might be craving.  However, any combo of these alternatives will serve both you and your sanity, ease you into relaxation and calm the internal storm or stress.

Have I missed any tips? What are your favourite wine (or other alcoholic bevvy of choice) replacements? I’d love to hear in the comments!


Cacao-based drink recipe:

Blend 1 Tbs raw cacao, 1 tsp maca, 1 Tbs coconut oil, 1/s tsp vanilla powder, and your sweetener of choice (maple syrup, honey or stevia) with 1 cup hot almond milk or other dairy alternative. Hmmmm

How can I create Heaven on Earth?

When I read this question yesterday, I realized with a deep sense of awe and gratitude that my life has been moving in the direction of Heaven on Earth for the past few years. I hadn't really considered it in this way - but the question resonated with something deep inside of me.

So I started thinking, how can I consciously and actively continue creating a little piece of Heaven here on Earth? My own little paradise.

And equally as important, how can you?

Here are some examples of what this looks like, for me.

Showing up with integrity and honesty in all of my interactions, even when it’s hard.

Only saying YES to people, places, things and activities that feel good for my mind, body and soul (yes, all three).

Taking risks in Love.

Eating the best food I can find/buy/grow/cook. Yes, trying to find local and ethical sources, eating fresh clean nourishing foods that have the least impact on the Earth in terms of their growth and/or production. For me, this means a largely plant-based diet. 

Treating my body like an exquisite temple. 

Only exercising in ways that feel good. 

Practicing moderation and seeking balance, because excess was a path that took its toll on my mind, body and spirit. 

These are just a few examples.

And in case you are wondering, I’m not perfect. I am not a saint or angel that walks the earth. Creating Heaven on Earth is HARD WORK sometimes. And sometimes I have really shitty days. And experiences or interactions with people where I look back and say... damn, why?? Why did I do/say that?

In the past couple of years, I have had conversations that I’m not proud of. I’ve made choices regarding my health or how I spend my time that aren’t aligned with my longer term vision the paradise I seek to create for myself and my family.

Upholding this higher vision for myself allows me to learn for these slip ups and get back on track. 

Now before you start thinking - well, this is great for you Caitlin but I’m stuck in a relationship that I’m not sure is good for me, my job sucks and I have no energy to get around to making even small changes in my day (or insert whatever your struggle is at the moment) - I want to tell you - I get it! I do. I have had my share of shitty relationships and heartbreak (including in the past year) and I have not always had a job situation that I was in love with.

My life has been a series of ups and downs and I’m pretty sure that will continue even in my paradise-seeking.

What I do know is the power of taking small steps... doing one thing a day that gives you that blissed-out, over the moon, carefree, peaceful, Heaven on Earth feeling (or whatever that combination of feeling would be for you). 

See what sights, aromas, tastes, textures, flavours and sounds you can add to your day to make it a little more special, a little more sumptuous. 

Summer is the perfect time to start creating Heaven, as we are surrounded by so much natural beauty and an abundance of fresh, tasty food.

I’ll give you an example from a client of mine.

Her work situation was stressing her out. She rated it a 0-3 out of 10, because some days were only slightly better than others. She felt undervalued and stress out most days. Her colleagues were mostly men, she had a hard time interacting with them, can’t stand their jokes or music and is pretty low on the hierarchy.

She realized that she couldn’t change her entire environment or the people around her.

She can, however, control how she feels and what kind of an environment she can create for herself.

She brought her own music and plugged in her headphones. She allowed their ignorant comments roll off her like rain. She got there early and worked quickly so that she could rearrange her schedule and be a bit more flexible.

The sister of a friend, who is a renowned painter in NYC, was visiting. My client went out on a limb, and asked if she would teach a workshop.  The painter agreed, as long as my client would find and purchase all the materials needed.

My client spend 3 days in what she described as excitement and happiness as she drove around town on her moto in her free time, seeking out the supplies. It took her mind off work and was a welcome break from the routine.

During the workshop itself, which I had the pleasure of witnessing, I watched my client go from a tightly-wound perfectionist to relaxed, at ease, playful and HAPPY!!

The next day, during our 1-1 session, she described the feeling of being able to “let go of her serious side,” turn off her mind for a bit, and dive into the experience.

She had found her Heaven on Earth for the afternoon.

The more we can intentionally create our own Heaven on Earth, the less we need to escape ourselves and our reality, by quick fixes such as sugar high, alcohol binges or nightly bottles of wines, toxic television, vapid sexual encounters (insert your distraction of choice). 

The more we can love and appreciate where we are, right now in this moment, the less we dream of escaping into something else. 

So tell me, how are you creating your Heaven on Earth? What does that look like for you?

I’d love to read in the comments!


ps. Want to know more about how you can start creating shifts and receive more support in your life? Click here and book a free discovery session with me! Let’s chat!

Are you ready to be vulnerable with me?

I received an overwhelming response to my last post “Early pregnancy, health challenges and lessons learned.”

One of the most reoccurring comments, both on Facebook and on my blog, was about what others perceived as the courage it took for me to be so vulnerable in sharing my story. Here’s a couple of the comments:

“Caitlin, this is amazing that you have so much courage to write all of these! This is not easy at all and it made me cry. I struggle with one thing now and it is so hard to talk about being vulnerable.”

“Inspiring advice Caitlin. Thank you for sharing your vulnerability. I always fear that showing that part of myself makes me seem weak but in the end it makes us all stronger.”

It wasn’t my intention to set out to model vulnerability. My process was more about exploring why such a dramatic and difficult set of challenges was created for me, trying to understand it, and to make something meaningful out of the experience, both for myself and others.

The comments led me to reflect on how I got here, to the place where I can take a risk and be honest about the times I struggle.

I know that I wasn’t always like this. In fact, during my teens and early 20s I was so afraid of seeming weak, I projected a false sense of confidence and was often perceived as either unfeeling, desensitized, or untouchable.

I was so afraid of admitting when I was hurt, afraid, lost, lonely or confused. I had convinced myself that as soon as I admitted even a fraction of these feelings, my carefully constructed facade of cool self assuredness would come crashing down around me. I would be seen as a fraud.

Around this time my mother and I, who were close when I was younger but had a huge falling out in my teens, started reconnecting in a big way. I remember we were walking in the forest one day, and she admitted to me that she had made mistakes. She admitted that some of the things that were said to me when I was a teenager were unfair, that I had been pushed away during a time that I needed my family the most, and that the adults had been in the wrong, not me.

I could sense how hard it was for her to say these things to me. She was practically choking on the words, trying to get them out. I felt a floodgate open inside of me and was finally able to feel the hurt, pain and disappointment that I had kept bottled up inside for years. This was a turning point for both of us.

My mother’s willingness to be vulnerable gave me permission to do the same. Her ability to start telling the truth, even when it didn’t make her look like the good and perfect mother she wished to be, allowed space for healing and growth. She became a better mother for it. I can’t speak for her, but I imagine from my own experiences of vulnerability that it also probably brought her a sense of peace and calm that was missing during the years of pretending.

Right around that time, I was training to become a facilitator, working with high risk youth and addresses some pretty challenging topics, such as sexuality, HIV/AIDS, injecting drug use and sex work. One of our trainers consistently reinforced the point - you don’t have to be right all the time. You don’t have to know all the answers. Be yourself, be honest, and the audience will not only relate to you more, they will trust you. 

Shortly after that, I was reading a facilitators guidebook and I came across this quote:

Courage is to speak one's mind with all one's heart.

I don’t know who wrote it but I had the words scrawled in my journal and burned into my mind and soul. The statement was so powerfully simple and freeing that I committed fiercely to learning how to be courageous in this way.

Years later, after listening to Brene Brown, I came across this quote, which so beautifully connects vulnerability to courage. If you haven’t heard of Brene’s work yet, check out her Tedx talk on the power of vulnerability (click here). 

Here are my own top 3 tips for “getting good” at vulnerability:

Practice!! Yes, it is a practice. Particularly when starting out. Pick something about yourself or a topic that is hard to be open about. Maybe it’s a past experience, or a current perceived weakness, or something you perceive as a character flaw or weakness. Start by sharing with a trusted friend. Notice what sensations might come up in your body and be forgiving with yourself. It is likely that the person you shared this with will respond in a desired way, and that will be an affirmation. However, even if they do not provide the response you are looking for, celebrate taking this risk and lavish on a little extra self love.

Use affirmations. Often, fear of being vulnerable is really a fear of others’ perception of us - that we may be perceived as weak, crazy, lazy, incompetent, unlovable, unattractive, or whatever. These negatives are the “shadow side” of the positive trait we do want. Craft an affirmation around the positive trait or quality you wish to embody.

I am enough, and loveable just as I am, even when I am not doing anything.

I am strong, even when my physical self is challenged, I can thrive.

Letting go is safe, I am safe.

Expressing my truth is safe, I am safe.

Self-love!! This takes affirmations one step further. I don’t think I was able to be truly vulnerable until I stopped being paralyzed by what others might think of me. And in order to release myself from this fear, I had to learn to love myself to such an extent that at the end of the day, it didn’t matter whether I “scared someone away” or if someone stopped liking me as much because of what I revealed in my vulnerable, i.e., authentic self. This has taken years of dedication, trust me, it didn’t happen over night. It has been the evolution of becoming a woman who I admire and respect daily.

Self-love manifests in my choices around what food I eat (fresh, clean, plant-based, local when possible, home cooked with love, full of living energy), to the way I treat my body through loving and pleasurable exercise (moving in ways that feel good, connecting with nature, sensual movement, dance, slowing down), to sleeping more, to choosing presence every day instead of numbing or distracting myself with alcohol, drugs, over-work, or adrenaline, to developing a spiritual practice, and finally, to learning to be really honest in intimate relationships (ahem, vulnerability!).

I would love for you to practice your vulnerability here. There are two ways you can do this. The first is to be bold and take a risk - in the comments section, post something you are afraid to be vulnerable about, and a positive affirmation to counteract the fear.

If posting on the interwebs is too much (trust me, I know how terrifying it can be) than click here to book a free 1-1 session with me. During these 45 minutes together, we will talk about your biggest challenge/fear and look at immediate steps you can begin taking to create change in your life. I have received feedback that after just one conversation, people have experienced major shifts where they were previously experiencing blocks.

As always, please share this with anyone you know how might be looking for a little more vulnerability in their life.

Remember, the more we allow ourselves to take the risk of vulnerability, the more we encourage those in our lives to do the same. Being vulnerable is being courageous, and is all about creating space for growth. 


Early pregnancy, health challenges and lessons learned...

Along with the happy news of my pregnancy came a series of the most challenging months I’ve ever experienced, health wise. The first bleeding started at 6 weeks and I went for an early ultrasound, learning that I have a bicornuate uterus, which is also known as a divided or heart-shaped uterus. I also learned I was pregnant in both sides, and having a miscarriage on one side of my uterus while the other embryo struggled to hang in. After that was a series of subchrionic bleeds, heavy bleeding caused by a hemorrhage (hematoma) so large it took up a third of my uterus (almost as big as the fetus and placenta combined). I spent weeks 10 to 12 of my pregnancy in and out of the hospital, and weeks 13 to 16 on bed rest, the first 2 weeks of which I was complete bed-bound, only able to get up once a day to shower.

For those of you who know me personally or have a sense of my through my blog, I am an incredibly active person. Learning to surrender completely to my body, my pregnancy and the process I needed to follow to heal and help my baby survive was a huge challenge and something I obviously needed to learn. They say that your life changes forever when you have a baby, and I experienced this massive shift from way before the baby was born. Life as I knew it has definitely changed.

The following are five lessons that were reinforced to me during the first 4 months of my pregnancy. I’m sharing them because I believe that these lessons can be applied during any time of need, whether it be sickness, a time of emotional strife, or a time of transition. 

1. Ask for EXACTLY what you need. 

If you don’t ask and spell it out for people, you won’t get what you need. This also serves a double function, it helps get your needs met while also providing your loved ones with some guidance as to how to help. Sometimes they want to but don’t know how. Here’s an example:

My father was really uncomfortable coming to the hospital. I would call him in the morning and tell him what I needed... a green juice, some fruit, a book, speakers for my computer, what have you. This gave him a purpose and a way to feel helpful - other than sitting in the hospital and keeping me company. It helped me so much because I knew I could count on him for the things I needed to make my stay more comfortable.

Asking for what you need can also extend to what you need on an emotional level. For awhile, I needed my loved ones to not talk “worst case scenario” with me. It wasn’t helpful, though I understood that some of them were trying to understand the gravity of the situation and to plan accordingly, my head and heart were filled with enough fearful thoughts that I didn’t need more. So I asked for what I needed, which was to be surrounded by positivity and hope (more on this below), and to leave it to the doctors to plan for the worst.

2. Embrace the power of prayer, positive visualization and reframing. 

You’ve probably heard this from me before but I really learned to lean into this powerful trifecta of tools. And - coupled with #1 lesson of asking for exactly what I needed - I got super specific.

As per my example above, I asked people near me to reframe if I felt the conversation was slipping down the negativity slope. Each time a fearful or negative thought or image popped into my own brain, I would actively expel it and replace it with a positive image or thought. Sometimes it even required me saying it out loud, or meditating with that image in mind for several minutes.

I asked the doctor and my mid-wife exactly what needed to happen for everything to go RIGHT, for the hemorrhage to heal and for the baby’s optimal development. They painted the picture for me with imagery and words. I wrote these details into an email and sent to my closest friends and family, along with a prayer and visualization guide. I attached a picture of my belly and asked that they rub their hands together, close their eyes, reach out towards the mental image of my belly and then visualize the hemorrhage healing, the baby continuing to grow, etc.

This can work for any ailment, or any tough situation. Ask your friends and family to help you uphold the highest vision for the best possible outcome.

During one of my hospital stays, around week 11. I had participated in Liz Dialto's #ishineyoushine experiment a few weeks earlier, and this was a reminder to myself and others that no matter what, my soul shines.

3. Break the silence. 

In order to do #1 and #2 - you’ll have to reach out and be honest about what is really going on. I understand that this can be hard - but if you keep everything bottled up inside and try to maintain your superwoman facade, you’ll never get the support that you need.

This was tricky for me. I was very early in my first trimester - a time when many women are still advised to keep quiet about their pregnancy. While I understand the importance of discretion when there are still so many variables in the early stages of pregnancy, and I certainly wasn’t going to go posting all over Facebook just yet, there did come a time when I needed to share with my closest friends and family what was going on. I also shared with several online groups of women I am a part of and received a tremendous amount of support from women I had never met, yet offered me strength and hope. I am ever grateful for this. (If you want to know more about these groups, ask me in the comments!)

This was hard though. I had to again challenge myself and learn to be vulnerable. What was happening in my body was also a direct conflict to the belief I had about myself - that I was strong, healthy and fit and “shouldn’t” be having these types of problems. I had to be at peace with myself and understand that these problems did not mean there was something wrong with me, and to get cozy with vulnerability in order to ask for support. The same goes if you are struggle with alcohol or other addictions, or other health issues. Don’t keep the people around you guessing - help them help you.

4. Get out of your head. 

If you are anything like me, this is easier said than done! It’s a great concept, but how does one do it, especially during long days of hospitalization, sleepless nights of worry, weeks spent in bed, immobilized with a body in forced repose and an overactive brain?

I learned that I needed a variety of tools for this, because what worked one minute might not the next. Here are a few of the “turn down the brain” tools I used regularly:

  • Aromatherapy: relaxing, stress relieving and sleep inducing blends worked wonders.

  • Accu-pressure: My practitioner came to my bed side and worked on stress points - and was so successful that I often fell asleep before she finished working on me.

  • Drawing: I don’t usually draw that much on a regular basis. I was gifted some nice paper and coloured pencils and I made myself to suspend judgement on whether or not what I was doodling was “good” and allowed my mind to drift as I played with colours, words and shapes... I made drawings for my body and for my baby. Maybe I will share them one day maybe I never will, it doesn’t really matter. It helped.

  • Humming and listening to music: Soothing piano worked wonders. I had several songs that I would play on repeat and would allow to carry me away. At night, I often hummed songs to myself. Something about the vibrations through my body was incredibly relaxing. I would place my hands on my belly and imaging the hums as healing energy moving through my body.

5. Patience, faith and surrender.

I surrendered to the love and support of my partner and loved ones, and worked on my self-limiting beliefs around vulnerability/perceived weakness/being dependent.

When it came down to it, I had to trust. I learned to surrender to the process and have patience. To trust my body and have faith that there was a higher plan at work. To be a peace with “not knowing” all the answers or why these challenges were presenting themselves to me, and to appreciate the lessons as they revealed themselves to me.

I hope that these lessons and tools will be as helpful to you as they were for me! As always, if you know someone who would benefit from these words, please pass this along to them.


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!