20 Aug

Let’s Talk About It: The Art of Communication

The art of communication seems like it should be a simple thing. As a counsellor however, this is one of the number one reasons people come in to see us.  In couples counselling it is a frequently sited goal, “we want to communicate better”.  Communication is something we do everyday and it happens when we book an appointment at the dentist or when we take on a new project at work.

Be A Good Listener

Effective communication starts at a very basic level.  Do you hear what the other person is saying? We have all been in a position that we end up in an interaction where the other person hasn’t heard us and they are just moving ahead and making assumptions

Don’t Make Assumptions

No matter how well you think you know someone or how long you have been in a relationship, you can never know what someone else is thinking.  This can come as a bit of a shock to some but humans are not always predictable. we can even surprise ourselves sometimes with an unexpected to reaction to a situation.

Ask questions if the information isn’t clear.

Instead of making assumptions, ask for clarification.  Check in with the person to be sure you understand.  You may not have all the information and it is important to get the facts.  Once armed with this information it makes our ability to communicate effectively much easier.

Observe for Non Verbal Messages

In other words, what aren’t they saying.  Look for body language such as tightly folded arms, clenched fist, eyes looking down, and facial expression.  Our non verbal messages tell us more than you might think.  If you are in a staff meeting during a big announcement, you will notice that each person is likely exhibiting this form of communication.  They may be relieved or perhaps they are wary of the change.

Say What You Mean

So you might think that you say what you mean but humans often talk around things.  Telling your partner that you are thirsty when they are headed to the kitchen is not the same as asking if they would mind bringing you a glass of water.

01 Jul

7 Ideas for Summer: Tip #7, Bring the Outdoors In

Tip #7, Bring the Outdoors In

We all know that eventually summer will be over and it will become a memory.  Summer is what we look forward to again on those cold wintery days.  You don’t have to let it go completely, you can bring a bit of the outdoors in.

Try planting an indoor herb garden. This DIY project will make you smile every time you look at it. You can also grow spring bulbs in a vase which is perfect in the office. Fresh flowers throughout the winter are cheerful and don’t have to be expensive.  Buy a few stems and put them in pretty bottles that you collected while garage saling or road tripping this summer. Enjoy these little touches that lift your spirit and bring joy.

 

30 Jun

7 Ideas for Summer: Tip #6, Take time for a road trip

Tip #6, Take Time for a Road Trip

The weather is warm and sunny and you can open that sun roof or those windows and just drive.  Road trips are one of the things that makes summer so memorable.  As a child I remember getting in the back of the family station wagon and heading to parts unknown.  Usually there was an ice cream cone and fireflys involved and it was always fun.

There are lists to choose from such as the 10 Most Instagrammable Places to Road Trip from Toronto.  Or 14 Cute Road Trips Near Toronto . 

You don’t have to rely on these, you can create your own list and plan a road trip of your own.  It’s time to relax, with no sense or urgency and a chance to explore and discover something new.

We live in area that is close to so many places it can be hard to choose.  You can stay close to home and visit the town of Jordan or maybe take a ride up to the Crystal Beach Supper Market on a Thursday night.  If you want to head further afield you can try Port Dover for a bite a Lake Erie perch, Pittsburgh for a food tour or Andy Warhol museum or Prince Edward County for the sandbanks and wineries.  There is something for everyone within a 3-4 hour drive.

29 Jun

7 Ideas for Summer: Tip #5, Eat Well

Tip #5 Eat Well

This tip is on the tail of yesterday’s tip to eat local and eat fresh.  The ingredients are at your fingertips this time of year so it is easy.

Produce that is grown and travels a shorter distance to get to us is fresh and that usually means more flavour.  More flavour means less work when creating your meals.  Adding fresh herbs and salt and pepper are usually all these recipes need. Try one of these grilled summer salads for something a little different.

I will share with you my very favourite summer appetizer, Peach and brie quesadillas with honey lime dipping sauce.  It wows a crowd every time and it is very easy to prep before you go and then throw it on the grill. If you’re rained out and the party is indoors it works just as well in a non stick pan.

28 Jun

7 Ideas for Summer, Tip #4, Eat Local, Eat Fresh

Tip #4, Eat Local, Eat Fresh

Summer is the time of bounty.  If you have a veggie garden then you’re all set.  This year I’m participating in a community garden with colleagues and it is a really nice experience. We look forward to sharing a salad together that we grew ourselves.

If you aren’t lucky enough to have a garden to eat from then take advantage of the produce around you.  In Niagara we have lots to choose from and there are farmer’s markets and roadside stands.

The Niagara Greenbelt publishes a list to help you find the roadside stands locally. The farmer’s markets are around the region and you can find them on various days of the week usually on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday.  The produce is fresh and the farmers are often there to share a recipe or talk about their passion for growing some outstanding food.

 

27 Jun

7 Ideas for Summer: Tip #3

Tip #3,  Slow down and read a book

Slow down and enjoy the new pace that comes with the warmer weather.

Summer is a great time to read.  There are summer reading lists that provide perfect suggestions for those lazy days of summer. Set a goal to read at least one book every week or month, whatever works for you.

Reading gives your brain a chance to shift away from the worries of the work day. Pick up a beach read that is light and entertaining or maybe use the time to learn something new.  The choice is all yours and spending time reading is a gift you give yourself.

We found some summer reading lists to get you started.  Don’t forget that the local library has lots to choose from.

The 39 Books We are Talking About This Summer, Washington Post

This is not Your Typical summer Beach Reads List, CNN Travel

The Summer List, Chapters Indigo

26 Jun

7 Ideas for Summer, Tip #2

Tip #2, Bring it Outside

We mentioned that summer is short so we want to make the most of it.  We wait all winter for the sun and nice weather and then we find ourselves too busy to enjoy it.

You still have to eat dinner or fit in your exercise right?  Take it outside!

Exercising outside can be easier than you think. Take a bike ride, go for a hike or visit a friend with a pool if you don’t have access to one yourself.

We are not suggesting that you make more hours in the day, merely take the activities that you normally do and bring them outside.  Set the dinner table outside or ask for a seat on the patio when eating out. Whenever you can enjoy the beauty of dining al fresco because eating outdoors is better for you!

25 Jun

7 Ideas for Summer: Let’s Make the Most of It

This week we are going to try something a little different, we a going to post 7 ideas to make the most of your summer. Recipes, stress relievers and a bit of inspiration to make this a great summer!

Tip #1, Fun doesn’t just happen

Plan you time this summer, don’t just hope it turns out well.  We live in Canada and summer is far too short.  If you have children this is a great way to engage everyone.  Ask them to write a list and together you can create a family summer bucket list that can be checked off.

Of course there is an adult version which might include things that bring a bit of child like wonder back into your life.  Go to the drive in and eat that fancy expensive ice cream while you are there.  So create that list and plan for summer 2018 to be the best summer yet!

 

 

 

31 May

Should I End My Relationship? Or, What Happens in Couples Counseling?

Should I end my relationship?  This is a question that counselors get asked all of the time.  If you are going to see a counselor for couples counseling, here are a few things to know.

A counselor will not tell you what to do.

This may come as unexpected for some. We help you explore what is happening in your relationship and help you gain some insight and perspective.  Having a non biased, neutral person help you make connections that you may not see in the heat of the moment can be invaluable.

No one is to blame

Sounds like an old 80s song but let’s face it there are two in a relationship and when working on a relationship in counseling the road to creating trust, understanding and compassion for each other is not built on blame.

Set aside your agenda

Along the lines of of there is no one to blame, personal agendas need to be looked at to see how a mutual plan can be created.  You are creating a new “we” and the idea is that you turn towards each other and not against.

It takes two to make things right

Yes, you both have to put the work in to get the result you want.  The counselor will never work harder than you, it is your relationship and your life investment.  Each one of you brings something to the table, the good, the bad and sometimes the ugly. Own it, unpack it and move on to work on the relationship you would like to have.

As you gathered, couples counseling is not for the faint of heart.  It is difficult when two people hit a wall and bring in with them feelings such as anger, sorrow and vulnerability and lay it all out.  And no, we will not tell you whether you should end your relationship, that part is up to you.

20 May

Finding Gratitude in Everyday Life: You’ll Thank Yourself

These days we hear a lot about gratitude. There are apps, bullet journal layouts and journals for gratitude.  Perhaps we want to live our best lives so we might give this a try.

The practice of gratitude finds us stopping to think about the simplest of things.  It means accepting the life we have, flaws and all and finding things to be thankful for.  Honestly what could be better than practicing gratitude?  There are no negative side effects, there is no cost and the desired outcome is that you feel better about your life.  According to an article in Happify research by the University of Pennsylvania showed that the effects last longer than one might think. Gratitude is a gift that keeps on giving.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity. It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow”
– Melody Beattie,
 Author

Tell People How You Feel

Let others know that you are grateful for their love and friendship. You don’t need to have a special occasion just do it.  In an article on Tiny Buddha they share 50 Ways to Show Gratitude for the People in Your Life.  These can be people you are close to, co-workers or even people who provide a service. Just a smile or asking someone at the checkout how their day is can boost their confidence for the day.

Show Gratitude to Yourself

Be kind to yourself and show yourself gratitude for all that you are.  We can show appreciation to ourselves for our own abilities and uniqueness.  For example, you can be grateful that your sense of humor has helped your through life’s challenges or perhaps you are grateful that you have been able to share your culinary talents with others. Think about what makes you, you.

Do it For Your Health

There are actual health benefits to practicing gratitude. Especially relevant is research shared in Harvard Health article Giving Thanks Can Make You Happier, which supports that there is “an association between gratitude and an individual’s well-being.”  Practicing the art of gratitude may increase your resilience and your energy levels according to 6 Surprising Reasons Gratitude Is Great For Your Health.

For  tools and ideas on how to get started, check out our Gratitude board on Pinterest or next week’s Facebook posts.   Here you’ll find gratitude printables, journal prompts, articles and Gratitude Challenges.