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

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.

Celebrate the season with these health-supporting drinks

As I sit writing this, the air feels chillier on the Westcoast of Canada, and those around me are bemoaning the "end of summer."

The following drinks pack a lot of flavour AND health benefits, in addition to using ingredients are are in season and will support your transition through the seasons. That's a lot to celebrate, so don't let the changing seasons get ya down.

The first two recipes feature basil, which is the perfect ingredient this time of year for its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as being loaded with vitamins and minerals. Blackberries have one of the highest antioxidant levels of all the fruits, reduce risk of cancer and can promote the healthy tightening of skin tissue (hello, anti-aging!). BOTH basil and blackberries have high amounts of vitamin K, which promotes muscle relaxation. So kick back, relax, and enjoy!!

Blackberry Basil Lemonade


1 cup (or more) blackberries

1 cup water

10 Basil leave of sprigs

3 lemons

1 tablespoon of agave, honey, or liquid stevia

Muddle the blackberries and water together in a glass jar, then lightly muddle or crush basil leave and add. I did this in the morning and let this mixture sit all day.

Mush the mixture around some more, then strain the seeds.

Add the juice of 3 or so lemons, and a Tablespoon (or more) of agave, honey or a few drops of liquid stevia, depending on how sweet you like it. Add cold water and ice to desired taste and consistency. Garnish with lemon, a few whole blackberries and more fresh basil. This should make 2-4 servings. Enjoy!

Basil Aloe Faux-jito (single serving)

In a tall glass, muddle 4-5 basil leaves and 2 lime wedges. Adding 1-2 ice-cubes will help crush. Then add 2 Tablespoons Aloe Vera Juice, a few drops Stevia, and fill the glass with soda water and more ice. Garnish with lime and basil. Pictured paired with kombucha on tap! The picture was taken at The Coastal Cookery and the recipe was inspired by their delicious River City Breeze. If you are ever in Powell River, British Columbia (Canada) be sure to check them out! See below for some of Aloe's health benefits.

If you feel like you may have over-indulged this summer, stocking up on aloe vera juice can help you detox. Aloe vera juice is an ideal way to do this because it contains many trace elements, vitamins and minerals that can help the body deal with daily stresses and strains. It's also known to be anti-inflammatory, promote digestion and healthier skin, provide an immunity boost, support weight loss and energy regulation AND help alkalize the body. ALL GOOD THINGS as we cleanse the support and support the transition of the seasons.

Check out my friend Caitlin's recent blog on cilantro for other great detox suggestions. Click here for the link to her page.

And don't forget to sign up for my FREE Super-Charge September tele-class, where we will cover strategies for using September as a "reset" month, creating intentions and sticking to them, and morning detoxes and rituals that will support energy and clarity all day long! Click here to sign up for the class. It's going to be great and I'll send out the recording even if you can't make it live.

Now... go play outside!


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.


Out with the old... in with a new approach to alcohol

There are new models emerging for the treatment of alcoholism and other addictions, and for that I am grateful. We need to move beyond the “one size fits all model” and programs that advocate for abstinence only.

The approach I have developed does not even fit within the mainstream way of viewing a person’s relationship to alcohol or drugs. It is not for people who identify as an addict and it is not a treatment program.

Most of us do not fit into the rigid definitions of what is perceived to be an addiction. Most of us are not daily drinkers, we do not need a drink when we first wake up in order to function, we haven’t lost our house or our job and our lives haven’t been completely derailed by a substance that we can’t live without.

That said, alcohol does affect our lives in significant ways. Sometimes when we go out to “have a few,” we can’t stop. We reach for the bottle of red when we get home after a stressful day at work, and feel like shit the next day. We get into fights with our significant others. We use alcohol as a way of meeting people and then end up with unwanted or regrettable sexual encounters. We are less focused, we have more hungover days that we care to admit, we fall off track with healthy eating habits or exercise, we have less energy than we used to.

Alcohol is the most socially recognized, acceptable and celebrated drug out there. Thousands of us consume it without a second thought, and it is often the unquestioned antidote to stress, loneliness, boredom, the recipe for fun and letting loose.

The traditional models for treating addictions fail our evolving culture and leave many of us out. They fail most women who struggle with the role of alcohol in our lives, yet do not classify ourselves as addicts.

That's why we need a new approach to redefining our relationship to alcohol, that isn’t “all or nothing,” punitive, shaming or didactic.

This approach is for the majority of us that are somewhere in between… we are not at the far reaches of either addict or abstainer.

This approach is for those of us “in-betweeners”... because our culture is evolving and so are we. We deserve a new lens to see ourselves through, we deserve a new option for our healing.

I developed this approach first and foremost for myself and my friends… competent, educated, socially aware women in their 30s who seemed to have it all together… except for this shameful and confusing relationship to alcohol. Since launching the program, it has resonated with both women and men from a diverse set of experiences: college students and recent grads, single or remarried mothers, stockbrokers and finance guys whose fast-pace life is catching up with them, CEOs of companies, musicians and artists, healthcare professionals and more.

Evolve is a program that serves women who want to redefine their relationship to alcohol. After reading the four core principles of the approach you will see why this resonates with such a diverse cross-section of our society in our evolving culture.

Evolve offers Unconditional Support:

You are accepted and celebrates as you are, at any given stage of your journey. Whether you are thriving or in the throws of a set back, you are welcome any time, with open arms. We understand that everyone’s path is different, and we honour and respect that. We know that all of us are living with enough shame and self-blame that the last thing we need is to feel fearful of blaming and shaming from others. With this unconditional support comes the opportunity to be unafraid of being honest about what is really going on. As one participant writes: “I like the positive encouragement to keep trying to make steps - weather they are large or small - rather than 100% never again type of approach. This removes the feelings of ‘failure.’”

Evolve is Self-directed:

It encourages and allows each person the opportunity to define their own goals, and admits that you do have the power to change. Ultimately, you know what you want - I will support you to dig deep and discover the plan that works best for you. The words of two participants explain this best:

“I love it because it's focused on your individual journey and relationship to alcohol and nutrition. For some that may look like turning into a non-drinker for good, for others it could be to cut out for a short time to recalibrate and reassess your relationship of why and how you choose to drink and others to just cut back on the overall quantity.”

“What really stands out for me is the sense of autonomy, or freedom to choose. I hate being told what to do and what I get from our conversations is a strong level of support but also the freedom to make my own choices without guilt or shame.”

Evolve is Holistic:

This program is about much more than what you put into your body. The approach is more holistic than just a treatment or nutrition plan. We work with many parts of your life, including work-life balance, exercise, spirituality, relationships, sexuality and more. I help to identify and address the underlying beliefs around body image, food and self care that lead to issues with alcohol consumption, from a place of experience and compassion.

Evolve is based on Personal and Shared Accountability:

It’s about getting clear about your intentions, for yourself first and foremost. Once you have set clear intentions, we come up with a holistic plan to help you stick to your intentions. Your intentions are you guide, and eliminate the chitter-chatter and grey areas around your wellness plan. Sharing your intentions with your significant other, best friend, “Sip Sister”* or support group is key to helping you stay supported and accountable.

Evolve’s in-depth work is based on a coaching model, designed to help you reach your health and life goals by making step-by-step changes to your relationship to alcohol, diet and lifestyle. Coaching is completely focused on you; starting from where you are in your life now and getting you where you want to go. Your coach acts as your guide, your cheerleader, your BS* detector, your accountability partner, your resident expert, your confidant… helping you gain control of and take responsibility for your body and your life, by redefining your relationship to alcohol. And guess what? You get to enjoy everything even more than you thought possible.

So there you have it… I’d love to hear your thoughts on these guiding principles and whether you can see yourself or someone you know using. Or, was there anything unclear or confusing? That doesn’t quite sit right? These are a work in progress and I’d love your feedback!


*If you'd like to know more about Sip Sisters and how you can get support, click this link to set up a free session with me. Let's chat!