Should you read this blog?

Do you have a list of Shoulds? Things that pile on and weigh you down, nagging you, or keeping you feeling unsettled and diminished, like you are never enough?

I’ve been giving myself permission to release my “Shoulds.” Shoulds  that started from such a young age - when we learn how we think we should feel, look, act, behave.

I was always slightly envious of the rebellious types I saw growing up and in my 20s.

Those badasses who didn’t really seem to care how they “Should” be... Of course I have no idea what was going on for them on the inside, but I perceived them as free. Certainly more “free” that I felt, that’s for sure.

A sample of my list of “Shoulds” through my teens and 20s:

I should be a straight A student

I should stop caring about my marks and be a free spirit

I should be cooler (I was “in-between” cool-enough but not as cool as the really cool girls)

I should be thinner

I should achieve more, be more accomplished

I should create more change in the world

I should travel more

I should be more confident in my body and a better lover

I should be less uptight and more crazy

I should be a more committed partner

I should be more independent

I was plagued by Shoulds, and often stuck between competing Shoulds! (yep, my Shoulds were obviously very influenced by what others thought, aka my parents, my friends, “society,” activist groups I was a part of)

It’s no surprise that I often felt pulled in completely different directions. Perhaps even less surprising was that as my 20s progressed, I was using alcohol even MORE to turn off the Shoulds. To take a break.

As I was struggling in a newish partnership that would then become a marriage (and later a divorce... a story for another day) I started seeing a really wonderful therapist and energy worker.

My drinking had become an issue in my relationship. My partner was upset that I would “check out” ie completely vacate after a certain number of drinks. She would say “I’m looking in your eyes and Caitlin isn’t there anymore.”

This kind of freaked me out. I didn’t want alcohol to have this hold on me, to change me so much, and hearing this from someone who loved me shook me to my core.

My new therapist challenged me to stop drinking completely. “While you are doing this very important work,” she said “try not to let alcohol get in the way.

She also said this: “You need to start giving yourself permission to relax. Permission to just be with yourself. Permission to be you. Permission to stop doing. You have my permission Caitlin.

I’m pretty sure I started crying at this point. Relief. Overwhelmed. Fear of actually trying to do it and what I would feel like.

This marked the beginning of my first 1.5 years of sobriety (what happened after that time is another story for another day).

It was also the first time I really understood how I was using alcohol as an escape, the way others may use drugs, food, sugar, and other co-dependences to turn off the pressure for a blissful series of moments.

So began the long process of trying to disentangle my Shoulds. The layers of expectations and sense of obligation that had piled on over the years.

The process continues, to this day. It’s not easy, this work of become more of me, and less of what everyone else thinks I should be. It goes even deeper than that. Sometimes the real work is about understanding my own expectations of myself and why I continue put pressure on myself to be a certain way.

It happened again last week. On Wednesday I received some challenging news regarding my health. Thursday was a following up visit with a specialist. In between, all I wanted to do was curl up in bed, chat with some of my closest friends and Skype with my boyfriend. And mostly, that is what I did. That, and random dance parties in my kitchen, naps, an episode of the amazing race Canada, and reading random passages from the stack of books by my bed.

However, I had a nagging voice telling me to “get it together.” I Should snap out of it. I Should write and send my blog. I Should never miss a weekly blog. I Should be transparent and transform this experience (the bad news I received) into a shareable story for my readers. I Should be writing more! I Should be published already! This on top of all the very personal Shoulds related to how I Should be dealing with this experience.

Holy S**T my Shoulds started spiraling. Can you relate to this experience FNAME?

What would you have done in this instance?

I decided to rebel against my inner Shoulds. I ignored them. I told my Shoulds to shut up. Told them to take a back seat to Self Care. To Connection. To Stillness. This weekend I want you to give yourself permission to dismiss your Shoulds. Or at least spend some time unpacking them... Where does this Should come from? Is it self-imposed, or stemming from a story you’ve told yourself, an internalized belief or external pressure from the Shoulds we adopt from friends and family. Does this Should come from a place of obligation, or an actual desire that lights you up?

If you notice a friend or family member getting trapped or immobilized by their Shoulds, help them take a break too. Should you? Do you really have to? Why? Where does this Should come from? Is there another way?

I wish you all lightness this weekend, and freedom from any obligation that isn’t directly related to either a need or necessity, or a burning desire.

What Shoulds will you be releasing? I'd love to hear in the comments. If you'd like to have a chat about your Shoulds and how to let go, feel free to get in touch by clicking here.


Ego vs Spirit...

I’ve been writing a lot about Super-Charging September. There has been a lot of energy around this, both my own and that of others, and it’s been inspiring and invigorated.

It may be my love of alliteration that has inspired me to writing another S-themed post this month, but this time it’s about Sacred, Spiritual Sobriety...

It is, of course, all relevant. You wanna super-charge? Try slowing down. Get spiritual and aligned with your purpose. You wanna the clearest path to do so? Try cutting out addictive behaviours and co-dependencies, whether it be alcohol, sugar or food.

There is a theory that addiction come to people who do not know their purpose, or are disconnected from it. I also really resonate with the idea that co-dependency is the disease of the lost self.

So can you connect with your purpose? How can you connect with self?

According to Yogi Cameron, a spiritual practice helps locate purpose.

If your mind is occupied with higher thoughts, and your heart is at peace, you reach for that addictive substance less.

In a talk I listened to recently, Yogi Cameron broke it down like this:

We are Spiritual beings... with Ego.

Spirit is always saying “HEY” and Ego says “Shut up, I got this.”

The Spirit guides us to purpose, never avoiding the challenges along the way.

Ego says, “Skip this part!! (the hard part)”

As we know, Ego is also directly tied to addiction. Addiction (or any kind of dependency on a substance or food) can be a great way to avoid pain, ie “the hard parts.”

How does this show up?

In my client who is unfulfilled in her day job, socially isolated, and not living her purpose and binge eating at night. Food replaced alcohol. Both are taking the place of meaningful connection to self, others, and higher purpose.

In another client who abandons her morning ritual (which includes meditation) once things start going good. (Ego says, “I got this!”) Without maintaining the focus on her daily practice, things start to unravel and she disconnects from her centre, and slides quickly back into her familiar anxiety.

In my family member, who after a year of sobriety, is finally feeling pain that was avoided for years - and is now finally ready to answer the question: Who am I and why am I here? Yet still very much trying to control, and with Ego making it all about him, he isn't able have faith and to trust Spirit to take the lead.

For myself, my spiritual practice helped me step outside of my ego-driven decisions and fear. I experience less anxiety, more confidence, and more peace. 

I heard this quote awhile ago, and it really resonated with me.

“I am content to see a mountain as a mountain and not as a comment on my life.” (If you know the source of this quote, please let me know!)

Spirituality helps me get out of my own way... And to not make everything about me. My connection to Spirit helps my Ego take a backseat. With Ego firmly in her place, I am a lot more free from addictions. With Spirit taking the lead, and connecting me with my authentic purpose AND the inter-connectedness of us all, I am more free from dependencies.

Pretty nifty.

However, as we all know, there’s no magic enlightenment pill. My spiritual practice is a practice, and something I have to remind myself to practice.

I write it down. It’s part of my “to-dos” in my morning ritual . Sunrise meditation has become an increasingly important part of my spiritual practice. Sometimes I’m not able to or can’t wake up, but I always feel better when I do. If I miss sunrise, I try for sunset. Sometimes I do both.

My boyfriend reminds me to pray at night. Our versions of praying are different and so are our versions of God. It doesn’t matter. Sometimes we pray out loud for and with each other, sometimes side by side in silence. It is another ritual I have come to appreciate.

Swimming, restorative yoga, humming and tapping have all become important practices to keep me present, “in the moment," and at the same time connected to a source much larger than myself (call it my Higher Power, God, the Universe, the Divine... insert whatever works and feels meaningful for you).

Being in nature is one of the post powerful ways for me to connect with myself and Spirit.

What about you? What does your spiritual practice feel like? What does spirituality mean to you?

I would love to hear in the comments!


From nightmarish chaos to clarity and calm...

Have you ever had one of those epics dreams, where you are trying to do everything by yourself and nothing works? The phone won’t turn on, then you can’t dial the right numbers, you keep missing the connection with the person you are supposed to meet, you go the wrong way into traffic, you realize you aren’t speaking the same language as the person you are trying to communicate with, you can find the thing you are looking for. And for hours it seems like you are running around trying to complete a task that should only take minutes...

I had one of those dreams last night. I was so relieved when my alarm went off and I could wake up from this exhausting nightmarish saga! I glanced out at the sunrise and immediately felt thankful to have my morning practice ahead of me to help clear this chaotic energy and ground and focus for the day.

I remember quite clearly when this feeling happened in real life, not just in dreams. 

Always feeling rushed, like there was never enough time.

Foggy and unfocused from lack of sleep or being hungover. Quite often both.

Lack of clarity and calm when approaching my day, always feeling like I was forgetting something.

Forgetting something important in the morning, or sleeping in, which snowballed into a day of trying to play catch up.

Making excuses for submitting work super last minute, or needed extensions on deadlines.

Does this sounds familiar at all?

Even though in the end it all got done, (in fact, the overachiever in me often ended up over-delivering), there definitely could have been a better, smoother way.

I used to get sick a lot. I would go go go at this frenetic pace and then crash.

When I finally did burn out completely on my work/career at the time and life in general, I had to take a long hard look at the way I was living. 

I wasn’t even thirty years old yet and I’d tired myself out. 

I set about learning new practices to help me live life in more balance. These practices not only help me stay focused and productive with my external life, perhaps more importantly, they give me inner peace and clarity as well. 

This actually requires quite a bit of organization. Creating systems and rituals that prioritize YOU and your well-being first, so that you can better serve your higher purpose, your loved ones and your external responsibilities.

And here’s the best part.

You don’t have to figure this out all on your own. If fact, it’s better if you don’t try to.

Just like the dream, you could spend hours and days and weeks running around trying to figure it all out on your own, buying into the illusion that you have to.

Or you could ask for help.

I have worked with coaches, therapists, teachers, mentors, spiritual guides, masterminds and accountability partners to get the training and support I needed to shift patterns I had spent a lifetime living.

This kind of support is available to you as soon as you decide that you want it.

One of my clients who just finished a month-intensive put it this way:

“Something inside was telling me to make changes in my life. Something was wrong, and many things negative things kept happening, so it was kind of in a bad way I realized it (the need for change).

I wasn't on the right path of my life. 

Everything started to connect a month ago, when I decided to change. The Universe put people on my way to help me, and I started to see what I could learn from them.”

Setting clear intentions for yourself is one of the key 6 strategies I will be talking about during my free Tele-Class next Tuesday. 

I’m really looking forward to sharing them with all of you... I see how much of an impact they have on my clients life, and how much they changed mine, on a daily basis.

Click here to sign up for the class. Even if you are not sure you can make it, I’ll be sending out a recording :)

I'd love to hear in the comments. What is one intention you'd like to set for yourself for the upcoming month? What kind of support do you need to fulfill this intention? Remember, ask and you shall receive.


I became my own worst enemy...

A few days ago, I spent the afternoon curled up in a ball in my bed, weeping.

For several days I had felt that sneaky underlying anxiety welling up inside of me. Tears squeezed out at the slightest provocation. My heart was beating faster than it should and I felt a queasiness in my stomach.

I’m familiar with this feeling. I used to experience it a lot. I also used to be “better” at ignoring it, by keeping myself so busy I didn’t have to notice or ask myself questions, and then turning it off or escaping with alcohol or other distractions.

Though the feeling was familiar, I was caught off guard.

I’m supposed to be happy right now. Everything has been going so well. My partner is amazing and supporting, as are my family and friends. My health has improved and I am feeling stronger than in the past 5 months.  I have wonderful clients to work with. I have travelled to Canada to receive some of the best health care in the world, and am eating an abundance of delicious, home-grown food.

Yet there I was a few days ago, unable to stop crying. Feeling super triggered emotionally, and overwhelmed.

I was allowing fear of the unknown engulf me. I was future-tripping and trying to control the uncontrollable.

I could chalk it up to hormones, or loneliness, but I knew that it was deeper than that. I had let my own self-care rituals slide while traveling, and though I was giving great advice to my coaching clients, I wasn’t walking the talk.

All this just days before my self-proclaimed “Super-Charge September” was about to start. A month of intensives with clients, tele-classes and interviews lined up.

Of course I began to feel like a fraud. Self-doubt crept in... Who I am to help my clients with this stuff when I’m a disorganized, crying mess?

And then the inevitable comparison game started... where I started noticing all of the other coaches who were so much “better” than I was,  and I suddenly felt small, insignificant and incapable.

WOW - what a slippery, nasty, ugly slope I slid down.

How quickly I became my own worst enemy, again. 

Thankfully, after allowing myself a good solid sob (or two, or ... five) , I was able to begin grasping at some of the tools that have served me so well in the past few years.

I put on a pair of sunglasses over my puffy eyes and hauled my ass outside. I know how healing fresh air and the ocean are for me. I took myself for a walk by sea.

I found the perfect “reality-check” totem, to keep me grounded in the present. I’m a very tactile person, though I can get completely swept away by my run-away thoughts. When I’m feeling anxious, I used a physical object to bring me back to the hear and now. Have you seen the movie Inception? Where they bring a totem into their dream quests to remind themselves that it’s a dream? Kind of like that.

I sat on a rock and took deep breathes and made a mental gratitude list.

I reaffirmed by commitment to my morning rituals, which help me start my day grounded, peaceful and focused.

Later in the day, I tapped. I soaked in the tub, stretched and luxuriated in some solo sensuality.

I decided to make “sober september” a sugar-free month, as I’d been noticing that without alcohol in my life, I was reaching for sugar and emotional eating for comfort.

I forgave myself for my “melt-down” and focused instead on treating myself with the same compassion and understanding I would have offered a client or loved one who was experiencing the same thing.

I spent the next day nurturing myself and putting both the emotional and organizational systems together to get back on track.

The systems that I am so exciting to share with my clients over the next month. 

More than that - I am again reminded of why this work is so meaningful to me: through my professional role, I get to do the personal work. And when I'm not doing it, for whatever reason, I am reminded in the way I was this weekend that I need to practice what I preach. I am a work in progress. We all are.

Anxiety and overwhelm, such as what I was experiencing this weekend, can stem from concern about the future and unmet needs.

The remedies include living in the moment, while also taking small but decisive steps towards our goals, ensuring that our needs are being met and every night we can go to sleep reassured that we were able to feel our desired way that day.

I’m so excited to Super-Charge September with you with a mix of my best self-care tips and systems to help you identify, plan and stick to the changes you want to make. With 'real-talk' reality-based support, because I know how challenging this work can be!

If you’d like to hear more about my own journey and the tools I try to use on a daily basis, click here to sign up for my free tele-class next Tuesday. 

If you are ready to jump right in for a month of super-charged coaching (includes four weekly 1-1 sessions and unlimited email support), click here for a free info session. 


the ocean
can calm itself,
so can you.
are both
salt water
mixed with
— meditation, nayyirah waheed.