When Every Setback Feels Like a Failure


Raise your hand if you start emails with apologies.

“Sorry it took me so long to reply…”
“I’m sorry your email got lost in the pile…”
“I’m sorry to have missed your thing…”

I’m resisting that urge big-time today. Something happened to offset my commitment to put my thoughts to paper (screen) every other week and I desperately feel the need to apologise for it – like I’ve failed.

I can logically see that yes, life happened in a way that focused my attention away from my plans: I was in a small car accident – no injuries other than my car, but it still turned my world upside down if even briefly.

To be honest, my thoughts were mostly focused on self-indulgent musings about why such a thing happened (the awkward part of believing that we create our own reality) and wracking my brain for the lesson so that I could move on. (As you can imagine, that part hasn’t quite sorted itself out yet.)

Now that I’m back to the land of the living, I find I’m beating myself up for not having done all the shoulds I let fall to the wayside for a few weeks.

Do you ever feel that way?

Like when you set out every morning with the best of intentions for how you’ll eat well and meditate and exercise, only to find yourself at the bottom of a bag of chips by the mid-afternoon.

Or when you write out the agenda of what you’re determined to accomplish in a day and get lost on Facebook for an hour before you even get started.

Or when you decide to recharge the love in your marriage only to be triggered by that thing he says as he walks in the door.

So you feel like you failed, and why do you even try, and you’ll be stuck here forever.

Where did that come from, the belief that a setback is a failure? More importantly, what can you do to get over it?

Two words: perfection paralysis

To loosely quote my friend Casey, that’s the way we freeze our lives to maintain the high standards we set for ourselves in response to high standards society sets for us.

Here are 3 ways to defrost that need for those perfect standards and move forward:

1. Stop trying to do it all at once! (aka take baby steps)

Rather than revamp all your eating habits overnight, take one thing from that list the health coach gave you and do that for a few days before you attempt the next one.

Take one task you want to accomplish today and break it into the 3 steps it actually requires, and let that be your agenda.

Rather than expect rainbows and sunshine, avoid going down the rabbit hole of negativity by giving your man a smile and offer him a fun little piece from your day.

2. Get in touch with your own perfection

Sit quietly, breathe into your belly and open yourself up to the light and love waiting in there (possibly hiding quite deeply) for you to feel it.

This may take a few tries to get…this stuff can be subtle and quiet, especially as compared to the loud and persistent voice of your inner critic and whip-slinger who is always ready to lynch you for the slightest transgression.

Put on a timer for 10 minutes to keep you from getting frustrated or trying too hard. Do it again tomorrow and the next day and the next.

3. Set the bar from the inside

Again, get in touch with that perfect you.

Listen to your body for clues as to what you need, as to what standards you want to adhere, as to what the first next step is.

And here’s the key…possibly even the hardest part: when you’ve got your answer about that step? Take it!


Breakfast to Get You Out the Door (when you can barely get out of bed)


Don’t you hate it when health consultants and nutritionists tell you that all you need to charge your day is a good breakfast? Do you want to hit someone the next time you hear that the right balance of protein and vitamins will get you going in the morning? (ahem…guilty as charged)

Sometimes the well-intentioned advice hasn’t taken into consideration the fact that you can barely get out of bed in the first place. Given the fact that your life is in such a turmoil right now, the only thing that energizes you is the thought of pulling the covers over your head and staying there until next July.

The only motivation you have for not giving into the obligation are your hungry kids and a fear of getting fired.

Overwhelm is like that. You just don’t want to have to think or feel or do life because every time you try, it’s as if you’re about to drown in the immensity of it all.

So you go through the motions. You throw some cereal at the kids, maybe pour a coffee down your own throat with the last bit of banana bread from yesterday and get on with your day.

Sure this routine might keep you putting one foot in front of the other, but the truth of the matter is, it’s only going to keep you stuck in that vicious cycle of overwhelm.

Physiologically, all coffee does is put your body into stress response – something you don’t actually need help with right now. And if you don’t already feel derailed enough, a lack of food in the morning or something sweet will ensure the impact on your blood sugar will up the ante.

I know. I know. You’re not actually hungry and putting a half decent supper on the table is about all you can manage when it comes to cooking.

Even if you don’t feel like getting out of bed in the morning, the one thing you can do for yourself is connect to your body. It’s for this very reason that your morning needs to start somewhere other than food.

Connecting to your body, as you do nothing more than breathe – listening to your body – is the one act of nourishment you can offer yourself before you even consider what else the day holds.

This is where practices, such as meditation, affirmations, or with receiving a ray of light into your heart, come in. When you start the day with even the tiniest reminder of who YOU are in the middle of the upheaval that is your life right now, you open the door to possibility for more.

You open yourself to the energy stores you forgot about, you open yourself to the early stages of renewed self-love, you open to what it takes to feed yourself adequately.

In those moments, there’s nothing to do but breathe, connect and listen.

One day, maybe you’ll realize you’re thirsty, so you start with a glass of water, maybe a squeeze of lemon.

One day, you might feel hungry, so you have a bite of last night’s chicken (or the banana bread).

One day, you may actually get the urge to boil a few eggs for everyone…

The thing I love so much about breakfast – other than the food part – is that it holds the forgiveness of a new day, a new leaf. No matter what happened yesterday, no matter what you ate or didn’t eat, breakfast is a chance to start again, to put a different foot to the fore, and maybe make a few strides towards better mindset and better health.

Trust that one day you’ll get yourself to the ideal of adequate protein, good fats and other nutrient-dense options in the morning. Likely sooner than you think when you start by nourishing your soul for now. (When you’re ready, you can get more details here.)

My morning routine has become the ritual that allows me time to reassess, to nourish my whole being, and to start each day with intention despite the whirlwind life can be. Your routine may not look like mine, and may evolve over time – the important part being that it’s an expression of who you are and what YOU need on a given day.

What gets you out the door each morning? When you share in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.

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How to Nourish YOU with a Morning Routine

make a mark in 2017

I step out my front door after a heavy snowfall. The expanse of white blanketing my lawn is pristine – not a rabbit trail, nor a wind drift in sight – it’s pure, clean and full of possibility. I get a satisfying thrill to be the first one to make a mark. Today, it’s a footprint. Other times it’s an angel.


That’s exactly how I feel on the first of the year. As if by turning to a fresh page on the calendar, I’ve wiped everything clean and get to start again; I get to make my mark on the year in any way I desire.

I get to step forward as the person I want to become.

I get to feed and dress and entertain myself in a way that reflects the wants and needs of that “new” me.

I get to enjoy relationships with a whole new heart.

I get to share my reaffirmed values through work and service to others.

The possibilities are vast – all emanating from me.

All starting from that 1st step.


New beginnings are so potent. Can you feel it?

2017 is going to be a big year! Am I feeling the excitement brewing as Canada turns 150, as Montreal turns 375, as most of my friends and I turn 50, my eldest son, 25? (Is my inner number nerd just excited about all those multiples of 25?)

Politically, it’s becoming a whole new world – terrifying and thrilling in equal measure.

Maybe I’m tuned into the cosmic pull of numerology. 2+0+1+7=10, the culmination of one cycle and the start of the next; as well as (1+0=1) the very beginning. Maybe I’m feeling the onset of the Year of the Fire Rooster – vibrantly social and healthy.

Whatever influences and environment and waves push and pull against you through the coming year, at the centre is you. YOU are the only part over which you have control.

YOU are the only tool you have for creating waves: through your own care & feeding, in how you interact with others, in how you vibrate in the world through work & community – your footprints.

Will they be made of carbon or snow? Of fairy dust or hard facts? The choice is yours.

It all starts with you.

Before you make that first step each day, be sure to start out knowing who you are in that moment. Connect with YOU first. Action comes next.

Huh?!? What does all this mumbo-jumbo mean?

It means that the best way to be yourself, to feel like yourself and stay energised through your day, is to start each morning with a bit of ritual: a morning routine.


Your morning routine ensures that you start your day nourished in body, mind and soul.

fresh snow covers yesterday's transgressions and contains hope for today's winsA morning routine wipes the slate clean like that freshly fallen snow. Without necessarily getting rid of yesterday’s transgressions, it contains forgiveness for them, and hope for tomorrow’s wins.

Your morning routine ensures that you have had time to yourself and for yourself, no matter what the rest of the day holds. It gives you the space to focus inward before engaging outward.

When life rips the rug out from under you, your morning routine maintains a constant, a beacon to which you can tether yourself to get safely to the other side.

Your morning routine connects all parts of you into an integrated whole from which you can better make decisions about work, food, leisure… basically, how you want to spend your time, energy and money through the coming day.

The daily practice of a morning routine fosters discipline. Not the strict, whip-cracking type. Ritual establishes boundaries as a safe container for who you are, what you will & won’t do, what you will & won’t let in…or out…of your life.

A morning routine starts the conversation in which you can listen to your body – her needs, her hopes, her fears.

A morning routine gives you the space to connect with the Divine, a conversation with a greater power. This includes the petitions for what you need as well as keeping open for a response.

focus inward with a morning routine before engaging outward for the day

Take as much time as you need; take as little time as you can afford.

If there’s time for nothing else on a given day, the connection to self and spirit are the non-negotiable pieces to my morning, in the form of breathe.

Feeling my breathe move into and expanding my body’s centre, then settling into that space as it leaves.

That way, I start each day with a calm nervous system.

I start each day with a dose of oxytocin – bi-product of connection, which lowers cortisol levels, with its residual waves to improved blood sugar, immunity and libido.


Start the day, saying, “This is ME.”

Take each step from there.

Your morning routine will likely look different than mine. It will vary, depending on whether your day includes a marathon or a day of leisure, kids or just you, being at home or on the road. Your routine may alternate depending on the type of work you do, or where your values and priorities lie.

One thing that remains the same for each of us, whether you will be teaching kindergarten or spear-heading a corporate merger, starting your day grounded into YOU will set you up for more energy, ease and happiness at the end of it.


My morning routine has evolved over time and continues to evolve as my needs shift through the seasons and the circumstances of life. For the next four posts, through the months of quiet hibernation in winter, I will share some aspects of my morning routine, not as specific rules, but as guidelines for possibility.

How you make your own routine is up to you.


Do you have a morning routine, or a non-negotiable bit to your day? We’d love to hear about it! When you share in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.

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Inner Peace as Part of Health

September. Gathering books, starting new activities, buying new clothes.

Like the squirrels around the neighbourhood, I max out on local produce, fill the freezer, get the roof patched, and make sure everyone’s got boots & a coat that fit.

Nothing like the fall to stir up a flurry of activity.

Some days I don’t know what to do first.

It adds to the stress load. But it also means I can hunker down and ride smoothly through winter.

Any transition’s like that.

How can you keep it all going without falling apart?

Create inner peace.

When you address daily well-being as part of your spiritual practice – your ability to stay connected to your purpose and act from what’s true to you – everything you do deepens your connection to self and opens space for the Divine.

In this case, maintaining a clear inner atmosphere, a positive mindset, work wonders for your entire life and health.

In August, we had to replace the basement floor after a flood, which meant that all the stuff from down there got moved upstairs. The big stuff went into storage, and some fit in the garage, but then every other room in the house acquired boxes and odd bits of what-not.

If there’s one thing that stresses me out, it’s clutter.

I’m one of those people who need to wash the dishes and clear the counter before I cook. I need to put away the clothes once the laundry’s done. So, having our already small rooms packed with more stuff added a sense of constriction to my summer.

Now, on top of having the usual back-to-school frenzy, I also have the daunting task of putting it all back in place, plus I’ve been asked to teach a class on relatively short notice. (Did I mention my husband’s away for a month?)

All of it’s great, but thrown onto the To Do list all at once, it feels like a pile of dirty dishes and unfolded laundry threatening to topple on over me.

Mentally, it’s the same. Your mind gets too full of trying to keep it all organized.

If you’re anything like me, you can get so caught up in worry about the details that you

  • Micro-manage (= don’t delegate easily);
  • Lose sleep, either because you stay up too late working on it or because you lie awake trying to figure it all out;
  • Start 12 different projects, then never finish any;
  • Forget your priorities as you get swallowed by the task at hand. The other night I had a dream that I was so busy trying to clear a clog from the vacuum hose, that I didn’t notice the entire house burning down around me;
  • Eat too much sugar to keep you going;
  • Get sick. You see, when stress is high (too much cortisol all the time), your immune system is suppressed while your body’s energy goes to getting you out of “danger”.

Basically, I turn into a crabby bitch with no time for anything or anyone.

It comes down to creating space.

Space in my home.
Space in my mind.
Room to breathe.

And as much as I’d love to be able to wiggle my nose and have it all sorted out this minute, the reality requires small, sustained steps.

The beautiful thing about the mind is it’ll bend & flex to integrate new habits. According to research, it takes anywhere from 24 to 60 days for a new routine to become unconscious habit. Once those pathways are established, though, it means it all happens automatically – without having to think about it!

With more headspace, you give your creativity, your memory and better moods a chance to flourish.

Take these 3 steps every day for a week and notice what happens to your productivity, your stress level, your sleep.

1. Schedule your day.

The most brilliant tool I ever tried since working from home has been a timer. I decide what I need to accomplish in a day, allot each item a set time and stick to it.

Parkinson’s law is the idea that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” Without a framework, whatever you do will inevitably take longer. You know, like when you pop into social media for 5 minutes, only to surface an hour and a half later…

Magically, if you set a timer to keep track for you, you’re free to focus on the task at hand. You’ll be amazed how quickly things get done – sometimes with time to spare!

Bonus: Take time to do nothing.

When scheduling your day, be sure to include a break.
Sit in the garden, meditate, journal, take a nap, stare into space, daydream, read a magazine,…
Turn off. Unplug. Just be.

2. Clear your space.

Spend each week focused on one room in your home/office. (Do this in small bites – 15 minutes – for easy digestion.)

Clean a drawer.
Wash a window.
Rearrange the artwork. Set out some fresh flowers.
Give away books you’ve read and gadgets you don’t use.

Let the each room reflect who you are and how you want to feel when you’re in it. Let the outside reflect the inside. Let the outside inspire the inside.

3. Express gratitude.

Whether you prefer to do it in the moment or journal about it before bed, take the time to appreciate food, acts of kindness, people, challenges from your day.

Step back and acknowledge the tidy drawer, the vase of flowers, the wholesome meal.
Express gratitude to others. Express it to yourself. Express it to the Divine.
Honour when you succeed. Be gentle with yourself when you don’t.

Now that you notice what works, commit to repeating it daily for a month or two – the time it takes for your neurons to establish the new pathways.

Give your mind the chance to embrace this calmer approach to stressful times as the norm.

Leave energy for your body to keep up with its own healthy activities.

Offer your inner yearnings a clear path to expand and be heard without the din.

What do you do to keep yourself mentally clear when things are overwhelming? When you share in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.


A Sweet Taste of Inner Peace

LakeI’m writing this from one of the most peaceful places I know.

I’m in the shade on a dock, the breeze ruffling the leaves overhead ever so gently. The lake ripples and twinkles in the sunshine. The loudest sound is the chirp from a chickadee or the buzz of the odd bee. Absolute heaven.

It’s been an upended summer.

My work schedule didn’t work out as I’d hoped, which meant I was often scrambling for last minute child care. Some days, I was so focused on getting parts of my business together that I lost hold of the daily basics: adequate meal planning, soccer practices and birthday parties. (Ok, let’s be honest, some of those things had just slipped through the sieve because I never wrote them down.)

Time out of the city has been hard to plan or totally impromptu. To put flame to the fire, there was a family crisis that compounded my chaos with worry.

Could it be that a lack of any kind of routine or schedule is what had me feeling so chaotic?

And then there are moments like this. Utter peace.

It surrounds me, and yet I feel it deep in my bones. In the expansion of my belly, in the drop of my shoulders, in the ease of my breathe. This sense of peace is available to me at all times because I feel it in my body.

At times like this, when I feel like life is living me, I’m reminded how important it is to make sure I look after myself first and foremost. What some call the airplane theory: put your own oxygen mask on before you attempt to help anyone else.

What can I do to recreate that sensation of inner peace back at home?

I take this moment of tranquility to reassess what it is I need. What will keep me grounded when life doesn’t quite work out the way I hope and anticipate? What routines do I need to have in place so that the daily flow can continue when curve balls come my way? What amount of sleep, which quality of food, and how much time to just chill out with my sweetie?

There it is, an important aspect of self-care we don’t often consider: Routine.

Sounds boring. I know.

But let’s think about it:

  • When you set aside time for the necessary tasks of life, you stop stressing out about them. Rather than worry that there’s a stack of bills on my desk that I  must remember to pay at some point, I take a half hour every Friday morning and look after it. One simple step that opens up time & mental energy.
  • Think about when you were a little girl. Your parents had a structure in place. They set expectations and curfews meant to keep you safe, and you were free to run around and play all day They could trust that you would bike home at sunset, you could trust there’d be a hot meal waiting for you.
  • Look at your own kids. One of my sons is all for being a free spirit and “going with the flow”, but left too much to his own devices and he becomes bored, pacing the house like a caged animal. It never ceased to amaze me, when he was small, that the more firmly I maintained the routines & structure I’d set up, the better behaved he was.
  • The FLY Lady has built her entire business around developing routines. First Love Yourself. Her whole premise is that if you create habits for the little chores that need doing around your house (making the bed, cleaning the toilet, laundry) then they happen without you having to think about it. Habits not only remove the burden from housework: your mind & imagination are then free to expand in any number of creative ways. (Not to mention, you’re equipped to catch the odd curve ball.)
  • Your body is the same way. Sleep cycles, digestive health, hormonal fluctuations all work on a clock. If it knows what to expect when, your body functions more efficiently.

Perhaps I’m no longer in school, but this time of year still has me excited about cleaning off my desk & getting all my notebooks in order. This year, my organizing will include putting absolutely everything onto my calendar.

As business mentor Marie Forleo says, “If it’s not scheduled, it’s not real.”

The thought of a hectic fall schedule can leave me with a huge knot in my belly. But if I sat with my calendar and put a framework around my weeks and days, the knot releases and my heart lifts. I face the fall with a sense of peace and renewed energy!

What’s your “Back to School” plan for yourself? Leave me a reply below and tell me about it.


It’s with this very sense of peace and freedom in mind that I came up with the idea for the first talk in my series… starting next week!

My intention with “Self-Care as a Spiritual Practice” is to set a foundation on which all other aspects of health can be built. It’s designed to relieve the burden of how to go about fixing the big stuff, by establishing a healthy mindset around the daily stuff.

Click here to learn more about the whole series: “Good Health Starts Here: 6 Talks for Women”

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