The Last Day of February leads to...March!

Thanks for joining us on this month of blogs from all over Winnipeg. Since it's the last day of February, I feel I must introduce you to a new blog to follow at

For the month of March in particular, we will be regularly updating you on our latest art project, "H2Oohhh" as well as bringing you valuable inspiration and information regarding our own local water sources and the global water issues facing so many in our world.

“H2Oohhh” is a collection of images unlike any you’ve encountered before. Rodney captures the fluidity and grace of the human form in water, as well as the playfulness of human interaction with water. Rodney’s skilled use of light and reflection will captivate you.

But “H2Oohhh” is much more than art. It’s about bringing people together. It’s about caring for our resources. It’s about sharing what we have to help others in need.

The mission of “H2Oohhh” is to gather people around breathtaking imagery, inspire changes that preserve our local fresh water sources, and create synergy for providing global access to clean water.

20% of all proceeds from this project will support two excellent non-profit agencies providing clean water solutions in developing nations:
- Samaritan’s Purse Canada (
- WaterCan (

Our goal is to raise $10,000.

Since we often take our own easy access to fresh water for granted, “H2Oohhh” is also partnering with Lake Winnipeg Foundation to raise awareness of the importance of our lakes, rivers, and wetlands and what we can do to help preserve them.

Exhibition and book launch of “H2Oohhh” take place March 4th to April 9th at Pixels 2.1 Gallery, 217 McDermot Ave., Winnipeg.

Opening Events:
  • Artist Talk – Friday, March 4th at 7:30 p.m.
  • Opening Reception – Saturday, March 5th at 2:00 p.m.
World Water Day Event:
  • McNally Robinson Book Launch, March 22nd, 8:00 p.m. in the Restaurant
I hope you will join us as the power of this project is in the synergy.

Visit the gallery. Visit us online. You can connect to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and LinkedIn from there.


bouncing around in my head

I thought it would be fun to include Rodney's first blog posts ever in our month of blogs. You'll catch a little bit of his philosophy, his passions, and his personality. Enjoy!

First things first, this is the first time I have ever blogged and as such I have really no idea what I'm doing. Secondly, my wife is out tonight and I have the kids in bed so I'm asking myself what the heck I'm doing blogging and not doing something useful like watching a movie or something especially because the only person likely to care enough about what I'm thinking is probably my wife and I could just save myself the time and tell her directly when she gets home, but here I go.

Just one more disclaimer before I go into my thoughts, if you came here to read perfect grammar and spelling than kindly head on over to my wife's blog. If you wish to correct any of my grammar or spelling, before doing so I will have you know that I really don't give a rat's smelly end so please save your time.

That being said I spent the day today working on my studio, the job really quite a sucky one, trying to chip the mortar off of the chimney that goes through my future lobby. You see when the building was built the brick chimney was plastered with about half to three quarters on an inch of mortar so that no one would ever see the beautiful job that the builders sometimes did. As I was standing there chipping the old mortar off of the chimney breathing in all of the mortar dust and being assaulted by the chips of mortar that came flying off the thing I was asking myself the question, "Why do we hunger for beauty?" really, why the heck is it really important to us how we look, or how the people or things around us look?? Why not just go with ugly, it's much easier!!

You see I capture beauty for a living, I photograph women in such a way as to capture the beauty within and without, or so I hope; but why really is beauty important to us, and why do we strive so hard to get it. Why did I spend the whole day chipping away at the chimney when I could have just slapped a coat of paint over the mortar and left it at that?

I have a theory, God created beauty, God Enjoys beauty and being made in God's image we too enjoy beauty and creating it. I know that is over simplifying it just a tad but it's the best I can come up with. You see first God created the world, he (I'm not implying that God is male, the English language just limits how we can communicate making us choose a gender) said that's pretty good. God then decides to make the animals and says, wow, that's really quite good. God then proceeds to create Man, he say's "holy camoly, I think I'm probably done!" Then as one last act God creates woman, she and the man are still there in the garden naked and what is God's response to his creation, probably something like this "Hot damn, it doesn't get any better than this, I'm done!!!"

Everything was beautiful and perfect. Fast forward however long it took to get to now and God has trumped me, I have a desire to create beauty, but the world is already created, the animals are also created, people are around, and I have a mere fraction of the power and creativity of God so what can I do?? Well after years of asking this question and a little dumb luck I have come to the conclusion that If I can't create Beauty, I will try to capture or restore it instead. Here enter two of the things I really enjoy doing, Renovating my new studio (an old building in the north end that was paid no attention for decades and was in need of a little (read huge) facelift. The other thing I really enjoy doing is Photographing. It seems I will photograph almost anything if I can make it look good, but when it comes right down to it my favorite has got to be photographing the last of God's creating, Women, the way God created them, that is nude.

That is a little of what I spend most of my life doing, and why, I'm not really sure why my passions end up offending so many people but when it comes right down to it, as I said at the beginning, I can't control the thoughts of others and we are all entitled to our own opinions. As for beauty, I'm amazed at how beauty can lift the spirits and warm the soul. When I'm in a bad mood there is very little that can turn it around as much as my beautiful little princess coming up and giving me a hug, just looking into her beautiful face, seeing her adorable smile, and touching her as she hugs me can make me so happy I just want to cry. By the same token, seeing an amazing sunset, a crop of sunflowers or the crisp beauty of a park with hoar frost on all of the trees speaks so much of beauty to me that it can just lift the soul to new heights.

So I ask again, why do we hunger for beauty?? Why do you hunger for beauty (if you are really out there??) I think if we all just spent a little more time thinking about the beautiful things in life and a little less time dwelling on the ugly, the world would probably be a better place.

So long all you blog readers, have a beautiful day or night, for beauty is not God but it is definitely from God.


Cooking for the Soul

Does cooking always seem like a chore? Have you ever thought of it as art? I had never thought of it that way until I read "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron. That's when I started making soup from scratch and baking muffins...just for the joy of it (the baking part has kind of dropped off since having kids)! Rodney started being interested in gourmet cooking a few years later. Now, I'm not saying that all my cooking now has been transformed to some other-worldy level. But there is nothing like the satisfaction and savoury smell of soup simmering on the stove.

Interested? I have a recipe to share with you that has been passed on from my Grandmother and mixed with my mother-in-law's recipe. It is "Chicken Noodle Soup in the Mennonite Tradition" This is what you'll need to have on hand: a "spice ball" (or tea ball), extra fine egg noodles, whole black peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, and either star of anise or aniseed (whole or just seeds). Likely, if you're up for this experience, you'll need to do a bit of shopping. The last thing on the list may be the most challenging to find.

The next thing you'll need to do is buy a whole chicken. I like the frozen "Halal" ones and I pull it out a day or so ahead of time to thaw. Wash it (sometimes I forget...probably not a big deal), put it in a roaster or on a big casserole dish, sprinkle some Mrs. Dash on it or salt and pepper (or nothing...I usually don't eat the skin anyway) and pop it in the oven at 350 for 1 1/2 hours or so. The chicken should start to fall apart and the juices run clear. If you have a thermometer, it's helpful to use. Pull it out of the oven, put the lid on the roaster or make a foil roof for the chicken and let it rest for 5-7 minutes. If you're me, you'll sort of hack it apart. Basically, cut the wings/legs off at the joint, and cut the breast pieces off. It's helpful to put a plate in the oven after you turn it off, so the meat doesn't cool off as quickly. You can put small potatoes poked with holes in at the same time as the chicken or make rice to go with it, add a vegetable and/or salad and you have an easy meal.

Put the bones in a ziploc bag and throw in fridge or freezer. Use the leftover meat for wraps, sandwiches, or salads. Then comes the soup!

Give yourself two hours or more before you want to eat your soup. Throw the bones in a large pot and fill with as much water as is safe. Put about 10 peppercorns and one star of anise in (or a 1/2 teaspoon of the loose aniseed) into the spice ball. Throw in a cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer (or 1 or 2) for at least an hour and a half. Scoop out the bones and meat with pasta claw or tongs or other such useful utensil into a container. Let cool before handling.

Prepare noodles as directed (use half package if you plan to freeze some of the soup...whole package if you want to serve the whole pot of soup immediately).

Then comes the most tedious part. If you just get into the zone, you'll find your mind is free to reflect on life and come up with new ideas. Alternatively, it could be a good time to use your iPod. Pick through the bones to retrieve the meat and cut into small pieces (use as much as you wish to deal with). It is time to add salt. Sea salt or Himalayan crystal salt is nice. Kosher salt might be good. I start with at least a teaspoon of salt and then add more to taste. If you over-salt, add water. Return the meat to the pot. If using only portion of broth, you may want to add the broth/meat to the noodle pot once it has been drained. The noodles don't freeze well, so you always want to freeze without and then cook a fresh batch when you reheat broth. You can also freeze a cup of broth without the meat, and use where chicken broth is called for.

Ladle into bowls and eat with a nice thick bread. Slice your own brown bread, use a dark, round pumpernickel, or even French bread with lots of butter!

Parts of the soup-making experience will seem like work, but there's nothing like the aroma of soup wafting through your home or greeting you after you've been outside in the cold. It's nice to make when you have a lazy Saturday/Sunday morning (or even while you're out). It's handy to pull out of the freezer when you're under the weather or when you want to cheer someone else up. And there will be this satisfaction that you have joined many women in the ancient art of soup-making. Enjoy!


Inner Beauty

Today, I thought I'd republish something I wrote back when Eve Studios was started.

Ever since we started Eve Studios, I've had these niggling doubts over whether it's really possible to capture/unveil/uncover a woman's inner beauty. Is it just a nice catch-phrase or is it something we can actually strive to do? Isn't photography limited to the outwardly visible?

And what is inner beauty? As I sit at the computer trying to compose my thoughts, I have my doubts of whether I can do these questions justice. I usually write best with pen and paper, rather than sitting uncomfortably in front of a somewhat blinding screen, pushing buttons and hitting the backspace key. But, that is where I find myself tonight, and so I will make an attempt without worrying about the results.

First of all, I believe inner beauty is something everyone can possess. It is hope in the darkest of circumstances, steady faith when the storms of life threaten to capsize, it is joy and contentment in apparent lack, it is love that gives its own life. It comes from a refusal to shrink back in fear, from standing up when knocked down, from believing that all people have worth, from learning how to step into another's shoes. It trusts enough not to control. It stands up for what is right. It allows others to rest and be themselves. It looks for ways to laugh and be thankful. It accepts failure and weakness with grace. It offers a helping hand.

Having said all that, have I just created some super-standard that none of us can hope to attain? It may appear that way. I think what I'm really trying to say, is that in each of our lives, we face challenges, disappointments, difficult relationships, pain and loss. Sometimes we become numb, sometimes we become bitter, sometimes we become angry. But the times when we open ourselves up again, let go of the hurt, express ourselves and learn to draw wise boundaries, something beautiful happens inside that radiates outwardly through our eyes, the way we carry ourselves, the way we speak, the way we live. And I believe more and more that it is possible to capture the true essence of a person through photography: their depth and range of emotion, their hopes and dreams, their story, their values...and it happens when trust is given and received.

This point was driven home to me recently, when one of our clients took the time to write us a wonderful, long letter describing her experience with us. She gave us permission to share this with you:

I don't know if I could ever thank you enough for pursuing your vision of opening up a studio dedicated so specifically to capturing the beauty of women. There tends to be a belief out there that we can only capture certain events in life such as marriage, birth or graduation. But what about the miracle of simply being a woman? A studio such as yours which gives women permission to both look and feel beautiful simply because they are is much needed. Who I am is enough reason to celebrate!

Every woman's story is unique and I thank you for taking the time to get to know me before my session. It wasn't just about capturing the outer beauty, but it was about exploring the many layers that make up my inner beauty as well. I love the fact that my session and the resulting images will look different from anyone else's! The atmosphere that you create is very relaxed which allowed me to just be myself and that really came through in the images. My photographs are incredible and this experience has given me the opportunity to see myself in a whole new light. Thank you!

I think she says it better than I could! This is what we hope for at Eve Studios. And if these words strike a chord in you, give Rodney a call at 221-8413 and set up a time to meet together. It could be the beginning of something beautiful.


My Best Grocery $$$-Saving Tip

"A goal without a plan is just a wish." ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

There are lots of ways to save money when buying groceries: coupons, shopping several stores to hit the sales, basing your menus on sale items, shopping only from a list, paying cash, not shopping while hungry, etc.

If you have an unlimited amount of money or you've decided that one place you want to have complete freedom to buy what you want is the area of food, then this post isn't for you. But if you have goals in your life that you're having trouble reaching because you tend to overspend on food, or if you have a very tight budget that you're trying to make work, then keep reading.

I think the one thing that has changed the way I shop and helped me make better decisions is this:

When I make my shopping list, I put a number in front of item--the estimated cost. And then I add up the numbers before I go. If I'm way off of where I want to be, I can back-track and put optional items in brackets or cross them off entirely. Then I make my new total. Once I'm happy with that figure, I leave for my shopping trip.

Once I'm at the store, I note the actual price of what I'm putting in the cart. I can go a couple of ways at this point: notice if it's over or under and keep a general idea of whether I'm staying on target, keep a rounded-off tally of the actual amount I'm over or under, or have a pen with me and write down either the prices or the difference so I can keep track.

This may sound really anal or like a lot of math. I tend to keep it as simple as possible for myself. I do find math fairly easy, so I'm not sure how it would work with someone more number-challenged, but the point is, you have an idea the whole time of how close you're going to keep to your plan, and I found that to be quite empowering actually.

So what happens if you see something that wasn't on your list? First of all, I always round up on my estimated costs, so there usually ends up being a natural buffer. Secondly, you may find items are significantly cheaper or unavailable or so jacked up in price, that you end up not getting them or they cost less. So you may run up a nice little surplus that allows you to pick up a couple of things you hadn't planned on. Another way to help out with this, is to create your own buffer before you go for unplanned items (whether they are something so cheap you want to buy extras or something you decide to splurge on).

As you can see, the principle behind the practice is not severe restrictions. It's a plan that allows you freedom while allowing you to keep track and make wise decisions.

The funnest part of the process is when you ring it through and you find out you spent almost exactly the amount you expected to spend. Or less! Some days, you may ignore your plan or be looser with it. That's up to you. But if it's important to you to stay on track so you can reach your goals, you now have a tool that can make that possible.


Getting Unstuck Emotionally

I have been re-visiting a technique that I've found to be helpful in moving out of an emotion that has me stuck. It's called "Emotional Freedom Technique". It uses principles of psychology and accupressure. What you end up doing is basically tapping on certain energy meridian points with your fingers while focusing on an emotion, belief, symptom, or event--describing what it's like and then moving to acceptance of yourself and choices you want to make surrounding that. The tapping begins to clear the energy disturbances that are associated and you are able to get relief, healing, peace, or change in that area. This is a free series of audios about tapping that started yesterday. You can still join at

EFT has application with pain relief, dispelling limiting beliefs, neutralizing everyday stress, disarming addictions, moving forward in weight loss, embracing change, releasing anxiety about the future, and more. There are practitioners in Winnipeg that specialize in facilitating the technique, which is especially helpful in more difficult areas like past trauma. But the majority of people can do this technique themselves...and what I love is it's free and it's natural. It's basically telling the truth about how you feel/think and helping your body move towards a different reality.

If you don't want to join the summit, I'm sure if you googled Meridian Tapping or Emotional Freedom Technique, you would also find good information. A slightly different version of EFT is available on this web-site:

Have a great day!


Touch me!

In 1977 the Canadian songwriter Dan Hill wrote and performed the simple love song, “Sometimes When We Touch.” It quickly became a massive hit, rising to #3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, but was so overplayed it became a wearisome parody of itself, also nearing the top of many “worst songs” lists.

Nevertheless this little ballad topped the charts in the UK and in Australia, and has been recorded by some the biggest names, from Cleo Lane to Tina Turner, Engelbert Humperdinck and even Rod Stewart.

A few weeks ago I met with a young, attractive and engaging couple… who never touch. Except accidentally.

Same bed, but no sex or cuddling; tender and affectionate toward their children, but even here managing to avoid an accidental and careless brushing together. And civil, effective and amicable through all their daily and weekly routines and coming and going, but… no touching.


They didn’t really know, except… it made them feel awkward and uncomfortable, they had done it less and less, and in the end had got quite used to a life without it. Except, they weren’t doing too well, and they (sorta) wanted to try to have sex. They thought that as a young married couple, they really should. But they sounded reluctant.

This kind of “touchless marriage” may sound bizarre, but therapists working with couples know how very common is this kind of functional marriage.

To offer a kind touch challenges us to push resentment and cool indifference into the background. It challenges us to live with a forgiving heart toward each other, and to be much more thoughtful about the other. It demands honesty, and the naked transparency that this intimacy invites. No wonder many avoid this. So many marriages, not only “sexless” but “touchless.” And altogether common. And so, we go to work, or into other distractions.

In “Any Woman’s Blues” Erica Jong describes one modern couple… “They own things together rather than fuck. This is their form of sex.” And of course there are countless variations on this. “They work, they drive their kids hundreds of miles each week, they host parties, go on trips, fix their house up, decorate, and work-out… rather than touch each other.”

I thought of some of the words from Dan Hill’s old song while I met with my “touchless” couple. “Sometimes when we touch, the honesty’s too much, and I have to close my eyes and hide…”

The honesty’s too much!

And so we brush by each other, perhaps aching to be touched, caressed, held and even ravaged! But this is not who we are anymore. This is not who we have become.

In the apostle Paul’s 1st Century letter to the Church in Corinth, Greece, he warns couples; “don’t stop having frequent sex, except for special times of prayer.” I suspect that most of the sexless and touchless couples I work with aren’t suffering this poverty because they’re busy praying!

Interesting though, that in this little town 50 miles south of Athens, some 2000 years ago, couples were being warned to care for this touching, lest they begin to drift apart, not only in body but in their hearts. The physical part of who we are, and the physical part of our relationship is of paramount importance.

As the field of psychology developed and defined itself over the last century, countless studies (we needed “studies?”) demonstrated the need for touch. Without it animals died, infants failed to thrive, and couples slowly crept apart, first into separate beds and routines, and then to the lawyers.

How much do you and your spouse touch?

Have you been touching more or less this past year? Who generally initiates this touching? How, when, where and why do we touch? How have you touched each other today? These last few hours?

“Have you touched your spouse lately?” (bumper sticker, somewhere).

In the same way that a “kind word dissolves wrath,” a kind touch, in just a brief moment, soothes in a way the mere words simply can’t. I’m not talking about a quick grope in the kitchen while supper’s on the way, or the perfunctory hug and “kiss” which may be imbedded mindlessly into your daily “going out the door” routine; good as these habits may be. Rather, the kind of patient, unrushed and thoughtful touching which reminds us both that we are in this together, that we have each other, that we truly love and are grateful for each other, and that we want to help. In a simple gesture, and in a moment, we communicate that we are glad to be with them.

What is quite amazing about touching, is that any effort we make to just try to begin to touch each other more, without any explanation or fuss, begins to soothe and to bring warmth and peace and hope to sometimes quite shattered souls and bodies.

Try it! Just for one week.

It is risky business! It’s easier to pretend that the status quo is nothing too far out of the ordinary. That you are just (of course) very busy, and very tired. But this is of course fear and cowardice. So think about stepping out, without expert counselling intervention, without any explanation, and without “solving” any of the countless and unresolved issues which you may have together.

Just do it. One week.

Your relationship will gain strength and warmth, momentum and hopefulness, and more. It’s perhaps the easiest one thing you could do with the greatest return on investment. Or, you could pretend that “we’re ok,” etc., while you’re both so well aware that you’re losing altitude day after day after day.

Sometimes when we touch…

“Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain.” – Carl G. Jung (1875 – 1961)

Dr. Todd Sellick is a marriage and family therapist in Winnipeg. He and his wife developed a game for couples to promote intimacy, called "A Private Affair". You can read more of his blog posts or check out the game here.


Tax time is coming...advantages of a home-based business

Contemplating the independence that a small business on the side may give to you? Thinking about starting up a small business, then having it on the side when you retire? Don’t neglect to consider the advantages one enjoys when operating a bona-fide business from your home!

Tax laws about splitting income between spouses and even to children are designed to ensure that the taxes are paid by the original ‘gifter’ rather than the recipient (in most cases). When running a home based business, you can now employ your spouse and children and pay them a fair wage for the work they do. In this case, they earn income and you, as the business owner, have an expense. When your spouse or children are in a lower tax bracket or have unused, non-transferable tax credits you are transferring income to them for the best tax advantages and lowering the overall family tax burden.

Using space in your home to operate your business allows you to write off a percentage of your home’s overhead including property taxes, insurance, mortgage interest and utilities. You can also write off a percentage of the regular (non-capital) repair and maintenance you make to the home. Note that expenditures made in the business space for business purposes only (eg putting up shelves or painting, are written off as all business expense, not just a percentage). The space must be used for business purposes on a regular, ongoing basis (eg not the kitchen table). The percentage to use is determined by the business space square footage over the total square footage of the home or the number of rooms that are used by the business over the total rooms in the home (not including bathrooms, utility rooms or laundry rooms). Use whichever calculation gives you the bigger percentage. This percentage is applied to the expenses for the home and used to decrease your business income, thereby reducing the tax you pay. Home business expenses may only be used to reduce business income to zero and can not be used to increase a loss. In either of these situations the unused home business expenses maybe carried forward, creating a tax free zone for next year. It is beneficial to claim the home based business expenses each year, particularly during startup of the business, to build up that tax free zone for that year when your business really takes off!

During the startup years of your business, it is reasonable to expect that expenses will exceed income. This creates a loss for tax purposes. This loss reduces your taxable income from other sources such as employment or investments. The loss reduces tax payable at your highest marginal tax rate. If your marginal tax rate is at 35%, you will pay less taxes equal to your business loss x 35% in general. Not only is your taxable income reduced, but you may be increasing credits such as the GST credit or Child Tax Benefit which are both income based (as your income decreases, the benefit increases). In order for this benefit to be available to you, you must have and be able to prove a reasonable expectation of profit for this business.

Losses incurred running your business can be carried back three years or forward seven years. Therefore losses incurred during the startup or formative years of your business won’t be lost but can generate tax savings by going back in time to when you had taxable income, or carrying it forward to apply against those lovely gains in the future!

Running a vehicle these days is expensive. Just imagine, now you can write off a portion of the vehicle expenses! Even if your business involves you sitting at the computer most of the time, you still need to run out and purchase office supplies, pick up mail from your box office and deposit those cheques! You must keep track of all business trips made and have backup. Backup can be the receipt for that ream of paper or a note in your daytimer regarding meeting a client. You must keep a vehicle log showing the date, where/why you went and the number of kilometers. At the beginning of the year, record the odometer reading for the vehicle. Subtract this reading from last years ending odometer reading to give you the total kilometers you put on the vehicle. Adding up the business vehicle log kilometers gives the business kilometers. Divide the business kilometers by the total kilometers and you have a business use percentage. Apply this percentage to the total expenses for your vehicle and write that amount off against your business income. Expenses you can write off include gasoline, repairs and maintenance, car washes, insurance deductibles, insurance premiums, auto club membership fees (eg CAA), drivers licence and the interest expense or lease payments.

Rita Tully, CGA is an accountant who practices what she preaches (she runs an amazing home-based business!) For more articles related to tax-time, see her web-site.


Beauty after the Storm

I went for one of my walks across the river Saturday. Just as I was turning the corner after the bridge, I came across some beautiful snow drifts which blocked the sidewalk. In the city, it is more rare to see a snowdrift, as the abundance of buildings, fences, and shrubs tend to slow down the wind.

Where I was, however, the wind had been allowed to swirl the snow into beautifully chiselled drifts.

The thought came to me: when the stormy winds blow and we don't resist them (hide from them, try to escape), change happens, things in our lives are rearranged, and something beautiful can emerge.

Have the cold winds been blowing in your life? Do you feel exposed to their harshness? You can trust that something beautiful is being formed in you. Self-pity, wishing you were somewhere else, or beating yourself up won't help you. Allow change to happen. Let some things go.

When the storm is over, others will notice character formed in you--a softening here, and a strengthening there. And your beauty will inspire the world around you.


My Best Health Tip

Today, I thought I would share something that has probably impacted my health most profoundly. And it doesn't cost anything! When I have used this technique several times a day when I'm getting sick, it has helped my immune system. When I have done this when I feel dragged out, it has helped me regain energy for the day. And when I have done this before bed or when I wake up in the night, it has helped me sleep and sleep more deeply.

The trick is---doing it! And doing the whole thing (including the part after the breathing). If you have any questions in how to do it (some parts may be confusing), please contact me at sonya (at)

I also encourage you to check out this website (see bottom). It provides a fascinating perspective on the body's integrated functions and some really fresh and practical things you can incorporate in your life for great health.

Reverse Breathing Chi-Gong Exercise

  1. Find a quiet comfortable place to reach a tranquil state of mind. Prepare to embrace nature and mingle the energy of the Universe.
  2. Close your eyes and relax. For those who have a chronic disease, exhale deeply before inhaling. If you do not have a chronic disease, inhale deeply then exhale. Focus your awareness on your breath and enjoy your breathing in a comfortable, slow pace.
  3. As you inhale slowly, visualize water lifting coolness from your abdominal aorta region (3 inches below your navel) into your sternum. Repeat step 3 until you can not inhale anymore.
  4. Then exhale only 20% of your exhalation containing the fire from your heart region. As you exhale, press the fire down to the abdominal aorta with the aide of your lungs and diaphragm.
  5. Hold your breath and use your visualization to keep pressing down the fire coming from the heart for approximately 5 to 8 seconds. Visualize red light flowing down with the fire as you hold the breath. You will gradually feel a flow of warmth in your abdominal aorta region.
  6. Then, exhale the remaining 80% of your exhalation sending the warmth down to your perineum (anus) and reaching to your adrenals and two kidneys. You will gradually feel the warmth flow to your lumbar (lower back) region.
  7. The best time to practice reverse breathing is one hour before bedtime or whenever you feel tired. You may practice reverse breathing either laying face upward or seated with your palms resting on the thighs facing upward. When you practice in a seated position, be sure that you are sitting on the front part (1/3) of the chair with your neck, spine, and sacrum in a straight line. Do not lean on the chair.
  8. The duration of practice can be from 20 minutes to 3 days. It is a very effective technique in weight loss if you practice when fasting. It can also help induce sound sleep, re-charge energy, build up the immune system, and overcome hot flashes.
  9. Shortly after finishing the practice, you must shuffle your hands together for at least 20 seconds until your palms feel warm. Then, wash the face with the energy in your palms, comb the hair with the energy in your fingers, pat the neck, the chest, massage the umbilicus, hips, back, and lateral and medial sides of your feet.
  10. Do not shower/bathe or drink water shortly after the breathing exercise. You should wait 10 minutes because water will stop the energy you just gained.

Do not
practice this breathing technique while your stomach is full. If you have just finished drinking lots of water or just eaten a meal., you must wait for at least one hour before practicing this technique. The breathing meditation will help correct gastric problems such as belching, stomach pain, acid indigestion, stomach ulcers, colon problems, etc. It also can help enhance digestion and increase your energy.


Stuck In A Rut

The next time you catch yourself or hear someone say that they are ‘stuck in a rut’ I have the grease that will get their gears moving again. Of course, before giving them this piece of advice, you will empathize with them and their situation. A sure way for anyone to get themselves out of this rut is to tell them to make different choices. There...done. Next problem!

I don’t mean to minimize those situations, but honestly we have the ability to change our routine every single day. It is estimated that on average a person will make approximately 2000 choices daily. When I first heard that statistic, I thought to myself, ‘no way!’ But then I thought about it more and perhaps they are right. Think of the choices we make before we even set foot outside of our home to head off to work. We choose when and if we get up, if we shower or bathe, if we wash our hair or not, how we are going to style it, do we wear a skirt with blouse or a suit, how much makeup should I put on, do I accessorize my outfit...I think you get the idea. All those choices within the first 30 minutes of our waking day and I probably missed some.

Can you imagine if you decided to do the opposite of what your ‘regular’ decisions have been everyday for the last few years? Completely different choices...hmmm...I would think you would find yourself ‘unstuck’ pretty darn fast. Would those different choices be the right ones? I don’t know but I can guarantee you this. Your day would definitely be very interesting.

Kim Malchuk is a motivational speaker and the author of "Tasting Rain".



Did anyone miss today's post? Sorry about that.
Here's a recipe that seems perfect for a week-end in.

"Not Meant to Share Mousse"

You will need:

2 squares semisweet baking chocolate
2 teaspoons unsalted butter (who has that on hand though?)
1 tablespoon prepared coffee
1 egg, separated
Pinch of salt

  1. In a small double boiler (small pot in a larger pot may work) over hot but not boiling water, melt the chocolate and butter, stiring with a whisk until smooth. Whisk in the coffee, and the egg yolk. Remove from heat.
  2. In a small bowl, beat the egg white until soft peaks form, sprinkle on the salt, and continue beating until stiff but not dry. Fold, a spoonful at a time, into the chocolate mixture.
  3. Evenly distribute the mousse between two teacups or wineglasses. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Light some candles, start the music, and savour! At bedtime, write yourself a note to enjoy the 2nd portion in the morning!

This recipe was taken from "Romancing the Ordinary" (A Year of Simple Splendor) by Sarah Ban Breathnach. Let me know how it turns out!


What’s Eating You?

As a holistic health coach, I often have to explain what it is that I do. When I first meet prospective clients, they expect my approach to be the same as a dietitian or nutritionist. But that's not what a holistic approach is all about. I look at you as a whole person, not just as an eating and exercising machine.

I understand that it doesn't really matter what you're eating until you figure out what's eating you. You can eat all the broccoli in the world, but you won't be a healthy, happy, thriving individual until you are able to heal your relationships, surround yourself with supportive people, do fulfilling work that you love and take time to nurture your spirituality.

Holistic health coaching is not only for weight loss! While I can help people who want to lose weight, I can also help people looking to have more energy, sleep better, reduce stress, prevent disease and have more positive relationships.

Here are some of the things I work on with clients:

1) Primary foods
At the Institute for Integrative Nutrition where I earned my Holistic Health Coaching certification, we learned about the concept of primary foods: the foods you eat are secondary to all the other things that feed you—your relationships, career, spirituality, and exercise routine. Those are the things we call primary foods.

2) Nutrition
We will look at how you’re nourishing yourself and at your relationship with food. Are you eating for optimal energy and vitality? Rather than giving you a list of foods not to eat, I prefer to work with the “crowding out” method – we add more nutritious foods to your diet and reduce the less healthful ones.

3) Exercise
In addition to being a Certified Holistic Health Coach, I am also a Personal Training Specialist and Agatsu Kettlebell Coach. I will make workout recommendations that work with your lifestyle, whether you can give me 20 minutes a day, or an hour a day.

There are many other areas that I cover, depending on your needs. I always offer a free no-obligation one-hour health consultation to see if we are a right fit for each other.

Natalie Duhamel is a Winnipeg-based Certified Holistic Health Coach who works with
women and men to help them reduce stress, improve nutrition, lose weight, increase energy levels and live their BEST life!


Your body is like a Ferrari!

My body’s nobody’s body but my own!

I remember this from when I was a kid and learning about our bodies and what was a “good touch” and what was a “bad touch”.

As we grow we often forget to honour what is good and bad for our bodies. We take our body for granted and treat it poorly.

What if you looked at your body like an expensive car: you have bought it brand new, it’s shiny, runs like a dream and you love to show it off to your friends at the car shows (insert cat call here).

Now what if I told you, that car was going to eventually get old and no longer work and that the manufacturer that makes the parts has long since gone out of business! Wouldn’t you do everything you could to maintain your car’s well being!

I can’t imagine that you would drive like a maniac, let it stay covered in mud, drive with flat tires, put anything other than premium fuel in the tank or let anyone else drive it recklessly!!

So why do we treat our own bodies like that?

Your body is the ONLY one you’ve got! Sure you can replace certain parts, but like a fine car when you get body work done after an accident, it’s never quite the same as it was with its original parts.

So it’s time to start treating your body as it’s meant to be a well engineered, expensive, beautiful car!
Be gentle with your car, enjoy driving it, but stay safe, don’t let anyone else treat your car poorly!

Begin by...
Giving it a good wash: get rid of any gross mud you are carrying around: habits, past hurts, negative beliefs

Fill it up with Premium fuel: stop feeding your car diesel if it takes petroleum--eat healthy, drink loads of water, take vitamins

Take it out for a drive: your engine needs to run to stay in good working order: exercise, laugh,
dance, walk, jog, play, get outside

You will not only maintain your car for a lot longer, but you will also find more joy in using that car! After all, there’s nothing like a Sunday drive in a beautiful car to feel like a million bucks!

Vroom, vroom...ENJOY!


A little love story

Some of you may wonder how a wife lets her husband do the job that Rodney does. Part of the reason is his character. Part of it is my implicit trust in him and his love.

Wanna hear our love story?!

We both attended the same Bible school in Saskatchewan where we're from. Over the three years, we became good friends. But we dated other people. I actually ended up engaged to someone else and moved to Winnipeg to go to college and be close to him. Rod headed the other direction to Vancouver Island to work with youth.

My relationship was rocky to say the least. I was in it for the wrong reasons (I could write a book on it someday...and hope to!) But I was a nice girl and it took a long time before I broke it off.

Shortly after, we saw each other at a mutual friends' wedding. Instant attraction...but I was there with the other guy. Needless to say, Rod was a little confused, but we worked it out by mail. A month later, he was asking me to visit him on the island (he paid for my ticket with money that he was going to use to buy his first good camera...awww!)

Let me tell you, if you are concerned about not falling in love soon after another relationship, don't go to Vancouver Island! I was a goner. Being with Rod was a complete contrast from the other guy. I felt so accepted, so comfortable, so loved...just the way I was. And he showered me with affection...lots of hugs.

Well, we went on two dates after that: a friend's wedding, and Christmas, and then we got engaged. In Winnipeg, on February 13th. Tons of letters, cards, and phone calls (I was the envy of every girl in college!) fleshed out our courtship. We got married June 15th. And now we're coming up on fifteen years together.

We've had a very interesting journey. Lots of moves and job changes. Winnipeg has become home over the last 11 years though. Through it all, we've been best friends.

What is the secret of our success? Well, there are three things we have tried to make a habit of:
  1. Going to bed at the same time - ensures that we don't "miss each other" on a busy day and we feel more connected at that important close of the day
  2. Sleeping naked - skin-to-skin contact isn't just for promoting attachment between babies and is a glorious way of feeling close and transparent (and comfortable) and when you have kids, you need all the help you can get to stay intimate
  3. Praying together before bed - these days one of us inevitably falls asleep while the other is praying (it's so soothing!), but what a great way to take your concerns and problems to Someone higher, to hear your spouse's heart, and to ask for help in keeping your marriage strong
And for those of you who are still looking for "the one", or are in a serious relationship, I think a vital ingredient for any long-lasting relationship is absolute acceptance of each other. If you are going into a relationship thinking that you can change or help the other, you're in trouble. If you feel you can't be yourself or are being controlled, you are in trouble. To make a marriage work, you need to see the other as a gift. Through all the ups and downs.

Passion may ebb and flow. Some seasons will be more difficult than others. But when we make the other a priority, when we commit ourselves to the highest good of the other, beautiful things can happen. Even miracles. Someone said something like this (sorry I can't remember the source exactly right now), "Commitment doesn't flow out of passion. Passion flows out of commitment."

Happy Valentine's Day! Thanks for listening to our love story!


Marvelously Made

Two days in a row I've heard excellent speakers refer to our "caveman days". And while I appreciate the way they were bringing out the unique characteristics of men and women in the process, I just can't buy into the story of how those characteristics originated.

I believe there are deeper, richer reasons for the way we are (as men and women) than simply the best means of surviving and passing on our DNA. Essentially, I believe we were designed this way.

In the world around us, when we see incredible art or engineering, we immediately recognize a creator is behind the creation. Well, we are amazing. We are art. We are intricately engineered. Even if we only look at all the physical parts of our bodies--or even one part--we can't help but wonder how it came to be. But when we add in our capacity to think and feel and create, and on top of that, how our thoughts and emotions affect our bodies and vice versa, it is almost too much to process.

So, what do you think? Is it just lucky we are the way we are? Are you content to believe the reason we have our unique qualities is simply that they are the ones that survived? Or do you long for a greater purpose and design to be behind your beautiful existence?

A great king once wrote a song about this, and we are privileged to be able to read the expression of his heart thousands of years later in our own language:

"You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous--how well I know it."
~ Psalm 139:13-14

Enjoy rest and reflection today and have a great week!


My Body: What’s Love got to do with it?

My sister made a comment last week that blew me away: “I used to live from the neck up.” Her words captured perfectly how I lived for decades. I knew every inch of my face and hair, but I was shut off from the rest of my body. I overate or ignored my hunger, I slept too long or not enough. I drank too much, sun-burned my skin and stuffed myself into clothes that didn’t feel good. I barely took care of my body, so how could I know it or love it? In return for this neglect, my body gave me pain, aches, skin problems, excess weight, low energy and a host of other issues. If my body was my lover, I would have been dumped years ago.

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day - a day for lovers - I invite you to fall in love with your body again. The thing about love is that the more we give, the more we get back. So start paying attention to your body again. Give it the love it deserves and watch how it gives back. Here are 4 ways get started.
  1. Feed your body with love. Choose fresh, whole foods you adore and that look and taste great. Avoid food that makes you feel sluggish and bloated. Want chocolate? Skip the big bag of tasteless foil-covered hearts and go for the highest quality treat you can afford. Feed yourself slowly, treasuring every bite. If you find this challenging, find the pause before eating. Take a deep breath and ask yourself: How will this food feel over time in my body? Choose foods that feel good over time – and notice how they also feel good in the moment!
  1. Make a move - and focus on the feeling. There are usually two camps when it comes to exercise. People who love it and people who don’t. People who enjoy moving and exercising focus on the feeling they get after exercise. Ask any exercise lover and they will tell you how amazing they feel after their workout and how they love the results. People who struggle with exercise focus on what exercise costs them. They focus on the time it takes, the money, the laundry, etc. Make a plan to start moving and focus your mindset on how you will feel afterwards. Imagine the joy, the energy and the satisfaction you will have from taking action. Ask yourself, “How will I feel after I workout?” Then go do it!
  1. Love the skin you are in. Your skin is the largest organ in your body and it deserves some loving attention. Going from dry cracked skin to luscious softness can be a quick and easy way to shift your mood and energy. Treat yourself to a lovely lotion that smells divine and feels delicious on your skin. Smooth it over your entire body - especially the areas you have ignored in the past. Make it a daily ritual - your skin will love you for it. As an added bonus, tell yourself loving thoughts as you moisturize, affirming what you do love about your body.
  1. Get between the sheets. Make a “bed-time” date with your body that allows you seven to eight hours of glorious sleep. Commit to a bed-time and do whatever it takes to honor it. Adopt the belief that “There is nothing more important than my sleep.” Deep sleep allows your body to heal, repair and metabolize. You will be amazed what your body gives back - energy, clarity and joy.

Falling in love can sometimes be scary - especially with a lover we have been ignoring for years. So if “love at first sight” seems too much of a leap, just flirt a little. Go on that first blind date, picking one step from the list above to try today. What have you got to lose?

Erin Postle, M.Ed.

Erin Postle, M.Ed. is a Weight Loss Coach, Psychotherapist and creator of The Weight Loss Toolkit. She is devoted to teaching women how to end emotional eating, and create their ideal body, while living the life they deserve. Through her coaching programs, classes and products, Erin shows her clients how to replace their struggle and pre-occupation with weight with a lot more joy, freedom and abundance. For more information go to


The 1.0% Experience

Goal for 2011. Give your husband or wife 1% of your life! (If you have time…)

If on your wedding day someone challenged you to “give a full 1% of your time each week” to each other, to just be together, peacefully sifting through the bits and pieces of your lives; giving space for your love to recover, heal, discover, grow, and to simply really enjoy each other… what might you have said?

“1%? Scheesh… that’s nothing! We’ll be giving alot more than that!”

More precisely, that’s 1 hour & 40 minutes & 48 seconds. Heck. Round it off to 1.5 hours, or 0.89%.

“Sweetheart… can I have 0.89% of your undivided and undistracted time this week? …Please?”

On the face of it, this does not seem an unreasonable request. But how many of us enjoy this real living together as a couple, for this 1% of our week?

One recent survey suggested that 16% of couples manage a weekly date night, but I suspect this is often a movie or some other kind of entertainment not geared toward the quiet interest and seduction I’m suggesting.

In our “Time For Love” post we quoted Jean-Louis Servan-Schreiber who wrote… “Westerners have forgotten the present. Bit by bit they have whittled it down to nothing, and to retrieve it, they must undergo a genuine re-education.”

Let’s think on this for just a moment then…

If you are reading this post in the early part of your day, then ask yourself, what real living am I hoping and planning to fully enjoy today? In the “Time for Love” post we also quoted Blaise Pascal who mused (400 years ago) that most of us spend our energies planning to fully live and to be happy sometime in the (hopefully) not-too-distant future. “It is inevitable” he writes, “that we shall never be happy, as we are always planning on a time which we rarely reach,” …that of really living with each other, in the present.

If you are reading this post toward the end of your day, then perhaps ask, with some reflection, what real living did I fully enjoy today?

Morning? What real living am I hoping and planning to fully enjoy
Evening? What real living did I fully enjoy today?

Pascal suggested that our lives are full of tasks and distractions which stop us getting to the good bits! The day runs out (again) before we get to the living. Even more sobering, our lives may run out as well.

Someone suggested that the main disease of old age is regret. “I just didn’t quite get to the things that I really wanted to do. Perhaps to the loving I really wanted to experience and offer and enjoy.” Cat’s in the Cradle and all that.

We may need help.

I’m going to suggest that nothing breaks into this madness better than sitting idly with your lover, “practicing the presence” of each other. With my clients I urge them to “just show up” in each others lives without much fuss. Think of how easily, happily and perhaps even deliriously we did this in the early moments of our falling in love together. Suddenly it was 3 a.m. Talking, touching, searching, timeless, wonderful, so good. Think about your spouse right now. Is this your experience these days?

I know, the naysayers will cry “life changes!” Kids, work, aging, bills, driving, more work, resentments, and that awful “creeping separateness” which leaves us, perhaps not as enemies, but maybe as foreigners!

Ok then. How about this. 1% of your lives in some sort of dreamy, healing, restoring and enlivening bliss. You can keep on as usual in the other 99%.

I’m going to suggest that this 1% experience will have a striking impact on the other 99% of your life. It can also be addicting. My wife and I started with 1%, but I shamefully confess that recently, this has gotten out of hand, and we are sometimes checking out for up to 2.5% of our lives!

Note: These days this often takes the form of coffee out together. These are not times of intense discussion or problem-solving. No attempt is made to create some sort of deep encounter. We do sometimes play our game, (which usually surprises us in some way or another with happy thoughts that often linger for hours), but for the most part, we commit to put everything else aside, to just be together; quietly, lazily, open.

We are nearly always tempted to shelve the “1% experience” as it seems a bit of a waste of time. We usually grab our 1% fairly early on Saturday mornings, and the temptation to “get things done” when the roads are quiet and the shops mostly empty… is quite strong. But then, at least one of us makes the other stop, and the lazy few hours begin.

So far, we have never been disappointed. Practicing the presence of each other can almost be done in silence, and perhaps sometimes should be. Words are so often used to push each other about as we try to negotiate a better deal for ourselves. (In therapy I often encourage couples to make love, to go for a long walk, and to enjoy an entire meal, all in complete silence. The results can be amazing!)

At the end of my work-week, the last thing I do before leaving is to water the plants (currently five) in my office. It takes me just 2-3 minutes. I do not have degree in botany or plant sciences, and forget how photosynthesis really works, and yet, the plants are thriving and regularly need re-potting. My clients think I’m great with plants! Ha! Amazing.

The “1% Experience” is just the same. Water your relationship for a few minutes each week and it will thrive (as opposed to just “getting along ok”); if you don’t water it, it will die. It really will.

Basic science.

Keep in mind that this “lazily being together” is much easier to agree upon and to look forward to, than a time that we might be setting aside to “deal with issues.” (Ugg!) It should look great in a movie; the couple lingering quietly over a few cups of java, together watching life go by, musing over a few random thoughts and observations, perhaps fondling each other some, and “letting their minds leak” out in bits and pieces.

If this never becomes part of our lives, I know we will regret this deeply.

Suggestion. Nike!

If possible, see if you can agree upon a time that might work for you each week. i.e. – when the kids are in the pool, or at lessons, or a regular drop-off at friends or the grandparents. (Some of my clients have made a deal with friends; you take our kids this Tuesday night, we”ll take yours next week. Friends with friends. We all get our 1%. Win-win across the board; affordable, regular, easy… and legal in most states).

When we meet again each week for our 1% (watering the plant so to speak), we often refer to it as once again “picking up the threads” of our relationship, of the ongoing conversation of this unique and spicy friendship (marriage). Almost any thought will do, and we’re away.

Think about it. When you first fell in love, as you were arranging to meet to be together, you neither worried about what you might talk about, or even if you’d talk much. The being together was the imperative; delicious, necessary, often hot and sometimes timeless. “Look! It’s almost 3:00 a.m. again!” Practicing the presence of each other.

Here’s an easy and revealing possibility for your next time together (join the “1% Experience” club): Begin to talk through these two questions together…

What are the things that fill my life, that for me… just aren’t the really living parts! The tasks, the details, the responsibilities, etc. that keepsurfacing moment by moment throughout my days; the things that never seem to get done?

What are (dreaming a bit) the “really living” things I’d love to enjoy with you WAY more? The things that may have got marginalized, the things that perhaps once filled our relationship and living together, the things I’d like to bring back?

One of the things just might be this… sitting here with you, over a cup of
coffee, smiling thankfully at each other with, “…now where were

Pick up the watering can. Go wild!


“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!” – Goethe – (1749-1832)

Todd Sellick is a marriage and family therapist in Winnipeg. This post was taken from his blog promoting healthy marriages.


A Fresh Look at Love

We love to capture the beauty of love. In new and fresh ways. You and your man have a unique bond. We'll get to know you and portray the essence of your relationship with images you'll treasure for a very long time.

So something different together than dinner and a movie (or add it in). We offer half-hour sessions for $50 or full sessions for $200 (plus GST).

So call Rodney for a consultation at 221-8413 during the day, Tuesday to Friday. Or go to and fill out the contact form right now.

When you meet, you'll go over what you're looking for in the session (fun/romantic/clothing ideas/style), see the beautiful album (the matching teeny tiny ones are cute) and wall portrait options available and get to know each other a bit.

Have questions? Call the studio or email (see above). Rodney will be happy to answer them! And remember, it's your relationship and your style.

Speaking of ideas, I ran across this website today:
We can all be more romantic!

Hope to hear from you soon...


Five Things Every Parent Must Know About Discipline

We’ve all heard that discipline is the “better way” to raise our kids if we want them to grow into positive, loving, contributing members of our society. As a result many of us have tossed the old “punishment focused” tools aside only to find that without those tools our kids don’t listen and we are at a loss for what to do about it. In an effort to fix this problem, we find ourselves putting on blinders to our kids’ bad behaviour, or yelling and threatening – using the exact tools we had promised ourselves we would never resort to.

I believe every parent is doing the best they can with what they know in any moment in time. My goal is to help parents identify what they know and understand why they do what they do, so they can feel good about themselvesas a person and shine as a parent.

Discipline is less about the tool you use and more about the mindset and delivery model than anything else.

The first thing to be aware of when deciding to use discipline, is that what we are really striving for is to instill self-discipline. In other words, we are trying to help our kids internalize a way of living that will guide them in making good decisions in their lives whether we are there to enforce things or not. Done well, it helps our kids become independent and confident in their uniqueness so they can embrace whatever life throws their way and grow to their full potential.
This is not an easy task. Internalizing something is about linking action and consequence in a way that makes you want to do what it right. What is right, can change depending on who you talk to and often doesn’t really connect for us until we have lived it. This means, discipline will not always stop our kids from behaving in ways we do not approve of, but it will open the door to creating a strong loving relationship based on mutual respect and acceptance.

The second thing we need to know about discipline is that it will always be harderfor us to do than punishment. The only way we can truly teach self-discipline is tomodel it ourselves. This means we have to model being calm and self-controlled even when our kids are pushing our buttons or behaving in a way that we think is unacceptable. Being the “bigger person” when things are upsetting to us, is a challenge at the best of times.

Thirdly, because most of us have been raised in an environment that uses punishment, we are familiar with it. This means punishment tools and the delivery model for using punishment is firmly established in our parenting pack. These tools and/or methods will always be within reach when we are parenting, causing us to react in ways we believe unacceptable.

Fourth, it is important to know that when we are in a heightened emotional state
– angry, embarrassed, hurt, scared – we are much more likely to grab for a tool that matches our emotions. Even though we have made the conscious decision to use discipline rather than punishment, and even though we have learned tools and strategies to do this, when our kids are pushing our buttons and we get “upset”, we are very likely to overreact. Sometimes we will grab a tool that we know can be positive – like time-out, privilege removal, etc - and then deliver it in an angry and attacking way.

When this happens our typical response once we are calm, will be feelings of guilt, remorse, disappointment and/or worry that we have ruined our child for life. Mistakes are always an opportunity to grow. So when this happens forgive yourself and use it as an opportunity to model a genuine apology. This doesn’tmean eliminating the consequence that was put in place (providing it wasn’t outrageous) but instead is about identifying how your behaviour did not model the kind of parent you are trying to “grow into”.

Finally, discipline will always work best when we plan in advance. This means becoming aware of our expectations, rules and boundaries and sharing themwith the people we live with. It requires us to come up with ways to deal with problem behaviours in advance and think about how and what these methods willbe teaching. It’s also about thinking ahead so we can be consistent and always follow-through on the rules we have put in place. Although being this organized might sound time-consuming and draining, it actually makes things a lot easier and allows us to model skills we want our kids to internalize.

In the end discipline is a mindset that can help us reconnect with our parenting goals and model behaviours we feel important enough to teach. It is a skill that requires us to really bring out the best in ourselves, before striving to bring out the best in our children. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it – and provides an opportunity for everyone to grow.

Debbie Pokornik is the Chief Empowerment Officer of Empowering NRG. She is the author of the award winning Break Free of Parenting Pressures and believes all parents can use support at some point in their parenting experience. Find out more about Debbie at


Sugar Ain't So Sweet

I love sugar, and I used to eat it all the time until very recently. In fact, I’m still struggling with my sugar addiction. Here is some information that might help you with yours.

I used to brag that I could eat a 1lb bag of Twizzlers in one afternoon (and I used to do it often). Even when I was quite slim I seemed to have a genetically fused muffin-top. I thought I was just one of those people who didn't have a long torso. I would never wear low-riding jeans because I'd pop over the sides and it was embarrassing, particularly on someone who was very petite like me. Little did I know that the 5-days-a-week ballet lessons were keeping me slim while the eat-all-sugar-in-sight was fusing the belly fat right to my abdomen.

If I had a sugar craving and there was nothing in the house I would mix butter with icing sugar and cocoa powder to make icing and get my fix. I went through moments of depression, through mornings of waking up with a hangover even though I hadn't had any alcohol. I couldn't understand why I would desperately want to sleep after eating that huge bag of Twizzlers and a coffee! I had mood swings, temper tantrums, crying spells, drowsiness, overwhelming fatigue, difficulty sleeping, would wake up ready for bed, crave sweets all day every day, had headaches that were misdiagnosed as common migraines, and I would stay entire weekends in bed. I had ridiculous anxiety to the point that I didn't want to leave my apartment to walk to the mailbox. I was irritable, I had strange heart palpitations every once in a while. I would forget everything. My eyes were always sore or itchy. I was hungry all the time. Do I sound like a freak yet???

The medical community was no help. One doctor told me that if I was tired in the afternoon, I should nap. Sure, thanks doc. Can you write me a note to give to my boss??

When I became vegan in 2007 I didn't know which candies were ok so for several weeks I didn't eat any refined sugar. I was already eating whole wheat bread and brown rice at that point so it was a great little sugar detox. My muffin top mysteriously shrank a little but I attributed it mostly to the overall weight loss I experienced. But over time, I figured out that I could eat Oreos, Twizzlers, Fuzzy Peaches, Jelly Bellies and many other vegan candies. The old cycle started again.

Now that I am studying nutrition, I am coming across more books than I can keep up with. Something called to me about a book called Sugar Shock. I downloaded a copy to my e-reader and found that I am not alone in experiencing the crazy plethora of random symptoms I listed above. Turns out that I am likely hypoglycemic and that I have become insulin-resistant. I'm well on my way to Type 2 diabetes.

Well you can't have a nutrition coach who's actively giving herself diabetes!!! The more I read the more I realize that sugar is not just the yummy, feel-good benign ingredient that goes into cakes and cookies that you can burn off with a little exercise. The more I read, the more I am learning about sugar's effects not only on diabetes, but also on heart disease, inflammation (linked to cancer, coronary artery disease, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's...) and aging. The more I read, the more I realize that I actually have a sugar addiction much like drug addicts are addicted to drugs.

So, why am I telling you all about my personal struggle with sugar? Well my friends, I
am telling you so that you can do something about it if you have the same problem. I'mtelling you because I'm ticked off that I see skinny minny teenagers with muffin tops in the malls, sipping soda out of giant cups. I'm ticked off that sugar is hiding in so many places like store-bought sauces and condiments. I'm absolutely livid that my favourite flavour on earth, sweet, is so bad for me and will put me into an early grave.

What have I done about it? I've stopped eating a cookie with my coffee at my favourite coffee shop. I'm no longer eating naan with my Indian food. I've made my portions of whole grains, brown rice and whole wheat pasta smaller. I'm now skipping dessert. I'm avoiding chips (fried carbs, anyone??). I'm doing everything I can to reverse the damage that I have done to myself, and I'm going to do everything I can to educate people about the evils of sugar.

You know what? Now I have fewer mood swings. I'm less cranky. I've got way more energy in the afternoon. I wake up feeling well-rested. I don't need to spend all weekend in bed. My sweet cravings are waning. Sure, I've slipped on more than oneoccasion but I am determined not to let it derail me into a fit of eating everything in sight.

The bottom line is that I want you to notice how you feel after you over-indulge insweets or refined carbs. Try cutting them out completely for a week or so. Replace the quick carbs with some additional protein, or with a smaller portion of whole grains. Eat more vegetables. You’ll feel so much better.

Natalie Duhamel is a Winnipeg-based Certified Holistic Health Coach who works with women and men to help them reduce stress, improve nutrition, lose weight, increase energy levels and live their BEST life!


Don’t just plan....DO!!!

“Ability is what you’re capable of. Motivation determines what you do” – Coach Lou Holtz

How often have you (or someone else) recognized your potential and realized it’s not being reached?

I have heard the signs of this phenomenon over and over:
“I should/could/would have done that, but...”
“When (insert anything here) happens, I will have more time to do what I want”
“I have a plan I just need to start working on it”

All I hear is “I’M NOT DOING, I’M NOT DOING, I’M NOT DOING” !!!!

There is a major difference between people who are wildly successful, balanced, inspiring and’s not that they have more intelligence, more money, more time, more support or more ability! The difference is that people who are successful, inspiring and joyful actually do something about what they want!

This quote sits above my desk where I work from home to remind me not only of my potential, but that it’s my responsibility to actually DO something about it. We often give up control or power by putting our fate/success/desires in the hands of someone or something else.

STOP GIVING UP CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE!!! Your life is yours, no one else is going to live it for you and then hand you the glory at the end! You cannot PVR your life and go through it without the commercials when you’re home from work! You need to take charge, start a plan and (most importantly) start working on any aspect of that plan!

When we begin to be active in choosing how we live our lives, we feel empowered, accomplished, educated, joyful and successful! Even if what you do doesn’t work out as you expected or hoped, you will still feel amazing for having DONE something about it! And when your plans don’t work out as you planned, then you know you NEVER have to try it out that way again!

So get motivated (through coaching, exercise, art, reading, meditation...whatever) and get out there! When you are DOING in your life, your potential will continue to grow!

Aisha Alfa, Alfa Life Coaching


On Senses and Origins

From a post Sonya wrote last year when we did our first art project, "Just As I Am"

I'd been feeling rather flat today: feeling the struggle more than the delight and weighed down by what should be done and what might be rather than living in the moment.

It took my sense of smell to awaken me. I was standing in front of the stove making supper in the early afternoon. Stew to be exact. The tedious work for peeling and chopping was done. I was resigned to the fact that supper would be later than ideal. Just finished browning the meat (and the first batch was partially burned). And then it happened. In went the onion, the carrots, the celery, the garlic...and then the rosemary. Suddenly, the fragrance became overwhelming. Oh, it smelled so amazing! I just couldn't stop inhaling the incredible aroma. And a smile came to my lips, and a lightness to my soul...this was living!

As I washed up the dishes in the soapy water, I reflected on this experience, and was just as suddenly inspired to write about what I heard yesterday in my spiritual community, my church. My pastor (who has been so supportive of us in this process), was talking about the importance of our "origin story". What we believe about where we came from and how we arrived and why we're here affects us profoundly. It affects our purpose, our morality, and (one other thing I just can't remember right now!)

He went on to tell of a few different stories that are out there in the world. One of them was the Enuma Elish, where the purpose of the creation of man was to allow the gods more freedom from work:

When Marduk heard the words of the gods,
His heart prompted him to fashion artful works.
Opening his mouth, he addressed Ea
To impart the plan he had conceived in his heart:
"I will take blood and fashion bone.
I will establish a savage, ‘man’ shall be his name.
truly, savage-man I will create.
He shall be charged with the service of the gods
That they might be at ease!
The ways of the gods I will artfully alter.

So, if we took that to be true, we would have to see ourselves as nothing more than slaves created to do menial labour so that some higher beings would be freer to do what they wanted to without having to deal with "lower things" like taking care of the earth.

And he talked about the Hindu creation story and how different classes of people were taken from different parts of Brahma, the creator god, with the very lowest people taken from the dirt under his feet...and how this affects life in India even to this day.

And then there is the ongoing debate of whether we mutated over time to become the intelligent, creative, expressive people we are today, or whether we were the result of careful design (and there are all sorts of variations and ideas in between).

What we believe about our beginnings is crucial to how we live. I think I will be exploring this further... what about you?


The Fear of Creativity

From Aisha Alfa, Alfa Life Coaching:

I have never described myself as a “creative” person. I didn’t grow up with great painting skills, amazing drawing ability or an eye for design. In fact I was always jealous of those who could create beautiful pieces of art.

I started to develop a fear of creativity! What if it wasn’t beautiful? What if I was really crappy at it? What if everyone laughed at my attempts? What if, what if...

Then one day I realized that everyone can be creative! And furthermore that the act of being creative is beautiful in itself so there was no need to be fearful. I didn’t have to be the BEST at creating things (and in reality, who’s to say one creative thing is better than another anyway!??!) I just really wanted to try, act, do, play and enjoy the process.

So, last year I decided to actively become more creative and here are a few things I tried that I wanted to share:
  1. Writing EVERY MORNING for 3 months - I would wake up every morning and write three pages of....whatever was in my brain. Sometimes it would make sense, other times it was all jumbled. Sometimes it was like my heart was pouring out emotion, pain, joy, anger, love, sadness and other times it was very superficial. I found this outlet was a great transitional activity to get me over the fear of being creative that day.
  2. Dance in different styles - We all have our favourite dance moves, but dancing in different styles lets your brain be creative in trying to re-create moves you’ve seen but never done. It made me feel beautiful to pretend to my own version of ballet, I felt sexy when I did Salsa dancing (alone or in pairs) and moved to the beat.
  3. Paint Parties (wine optional!) - I called over a friend and we opened up a bottle of vino and started painting a small canvas together. Every 10 mins or so we would do a ¼ turn of the canvas so we were working on a different part—adding, shading, changing what each other had done; then we moved onto a big canvas each—we chose what our inspiration would be and began painting!!! We sipped wine, pumped the tunes and got down with our creative selves.

This is a short list, but a moving one! Engaging in creativity has allowed different parts of me to emerge and flourish! I surprised myself with my final painting (it’s amazing!!!), my body
thanked me for moving it in new, creative ways, and my brain loved being able to be free and just spill out onto a page every morning!

So I encourage you to commit to one act of creativity every week or month and enjoy every single moment!


Tying Your Parenting Tools to Your Discipline Mindset

Since discipline is more about a mindset and delivery style than about specific tools, it makes sense to have a easy way to analyze your parenting strategiesand see if they are helping you align with your parenting goals.

Below I have outlined my "FREE" tool analysis model along with examples of how you might apply it to common parenting tools. When a tool does not fit this model, I encourage parents to use their creativity to figure out how their tool might be adapted before discarding it all together.

F: Is my tool functional? Does the correction I am using with my child help him to link the consequence with the “problem” behaviour. If he cannot see the link,he will likely be learning how to be resentful rather than resourceful. Natural consequences are always linked (hence their name) which is why they are so useful. Unfortunately we can’t always allow nature to deal with our child’s mistake.

Logical consequence: family has a rule that the child may not go on the dock without an adult present unless he has a life jacket on. Child is found on dock without an adult or life jacket – he is made to return to the cabin for 10 minutes.

Non-functional: Child is found on the dock without an adult or life jacket – his movies (which he loves) are removed for two days. If you can’t link it – don’t think it!

R: Is my tool and delivery model respectful? Remembering that discipline is all about modeling the behaviours we want to see from our kids, it makes sense thatwhen we are correcting our child we will try very hard to be respectful. Making anerror doesn’t make anyone a bad person and we want to ensure our messagerelays that.

Privilege removal: child throws a toy at his cousin, parent walks over, takes the toy and says firmly, but without judgment , “We don’t throw things at other people, this toy will stay with me for the rest of today.”

Non-respectful: Parent yells across the room, “That was not nice! We don’t throw things at people…I’m taking this toy and you’ll be lucky if you ever see it again!” Often this kind of response comes from our embarrassment that our child would do something hurtful like that – the pressure to give an intensive correction stopsus from modeling what we are really hoping to teach.

E: Is my tool effective? Ultimately we want our children to learn from theirmistakes so that they do not continue to repeat them. When we correct a behaviour and our child repeats it again soon after, that tool is not being effective. Sometimes this simply means it must be enforced more than once, other times it’s telling us to use a different tool. If we continue to use the same tool when it isn’t effective, we will get frustrated and have trouble modeling the behaviours we are trying to teach.

Time-out: Child is asked to stop being rough and play nicely with his playmate.Within moments he escalates from taking toys to shoving the other child away. Parent walks calmly over and tells the child firmly “You can’t seem to play nicely right now. You need to sit over here for 2 minutes and then you can try to play nicely again.” Child sits quietly at the side for 2 minutes and then returns and plays nicely.

Ineffective: If the child returns to the situation and within minutes returns to the same (or similar) behaviour, the tool would be in question. The parent could try using it again, increase it’s intensity by moving the time-out to a room separated from the action or use a different tool altogether.

E: Is my tool Easy? Parenting is far too difficult for us to add more onto our plate because of our discipline strategies. If you are finding you must do more work than your child to ensure he is learning – he’s not! Make your strategies as easyas possible for you to enforce so you can be consistent and provide learning at the same time.

Pre-arranged reminders: Child is reminded of appropriate restaurant behaviour before going out for supper (best if this is practiced a couple times at home as well). He is told that if he seems to be having trouble controlling his behaviour in the restaurant he will be given a simple reminder – Restaurant Behaviour. If he doesn’t change his behaviour immediately a bigger consequence will be put in place (time-out in the washroom or car; leave restaurant…). Child begins to act goofy in the restaurant, parent quickly and firmly reminds him “Restaurant Behaviour”.

Not easy: Child misbehaves in restaurant – is told to stop it, right now! He doesn’t listen so parent grounds him for the week. Grounding is so easy to deal out and so difficult to enforce. It puts strain on the parent in charge, interferes with family commitments and often goes way longer than necessary. Giving a big consequence for a little misbehaviour is never FREE.

Debbie Pokornik is the Chief Empowerment Officer of Empowering NRG. She is the author of the award winning Break Free of Parenting Pressures and believes all parents can use support at some point in their parenting experience. For more info about Debbie go to: