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Filtering by Category: Life - Self Care

PARENTING: FROM TIGHTLY WOUND TO COME UNDONE

Kelly Bos

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HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT TENSION

Stress appears to be the norm for most of us, and for many of us it is chronic. Most parents I know are operating at some level of stress at all times. We try and pull it all together, the work demands, the school forms, tidy rooms, a meal schedule and the list goes on. We feel it in our necks and stomachs, it is visual by the complex schedules listed on the calender, and we hear it with the constant alerts on the phone. The stress can manifest in our moods and how we parent and we fluctuate from smiling and patient to the angry and losing it.

My friend had one such she's come undone day in the car highlighted then by a ditty her daughter started to spontaneously sing about how she has two mothers, one nice and one mean. She felt ill at the lyrics, a virtual tale of two Mommies, but felt she couldn't entirely disagree. We don't want Jeckyll and Hyde parenting but so often we are running on empty and the energy to feel healthy and well enough to keep an even and balanced disposition. My life coach friend Shauna once painted a great picture of balance stating that for a tight rope walker, tension is needed and too much slack would be bad. This is the same with stress and anxiety. A little bit helps us, with motivation, resilience and the protection of ourselves and our family. It is when the tension is always high, we have an issue. This chronic stress can hinder our self regulation and cause a 0-100 reaction in seconds or a slow boil throughout the day. Sometimes you know you are actively worrying and other times your subconscious is doing it all for you (hello teeth grinding!). If you are looking to keep that balance despite what your kids have done to their bedroom, regardless of how late you were at school pick up, and independent of work stress, help is needed.

IN THE MOMENT HACKS:

BREATHE:

An easy step is to take a deep breath and unwind! It sounds trite, but it works. It fills your body with a big burst of oxygen and give you that two second break from a hair trigger reaction. Breathing also sends a message to brain that tells your body to calm down and relax which can help you gain perspective.

ASSESS:

This sets you up nicely for step two. Before blowing up, take a quick assessment of what is actually bothering you. Think about it, your kids could be up to antics in the back of the car, fighting, teasing, singing an annoying song, and some days you can roll with it. Now add in feeling ill, not getting enough sleep or the distracted stress of thinking about a mistake you made at work and quite understandably, you are more likely to lose your cool. The real things eating away at you have nothing to do with what is going on in the back of the car. If you could tease out what is going on before you erupt or emote, you will no doubt be less reactive.

BE PROACTIVE:

Are you taking care of yourself? Make sure you are getting enough sleep, exercise, nutrition and enjoyable activities in your schedule. A good nutrition and exercise routine can be powerful. Exercise releases endorphins, and as Elle in Legally Blonde says ,“happy people don't shoot their husbands” or more to the point snap, so readily at their kids. I recently had a client share that her self care was making sure her child had everything ready for school. Although that might have made everyone's day calmer and in turn run smoother, this was certainly not self care. If you are having a hard time thinking of something to do for yourself, make a list of things you once enjoyed or modify things you once did that could still work for you now and be creative.

Our moods can flux, we are human, but taking time to breathe, assess and be proactive about our reactions and moods can be beneficial, not just for our relationships but also for how we feel and view of ourselves. Think about how you can create a more balanced tension in your life.

Anxious Thoughts and Things That Go Bump in the Night

Kelly Bos

HOW TO MANAGE THOSE LATE NIGHT WORRIES

How does it happen? The sudden switch from peacefully sound asleep to wide awake... and worried. Maybe a child called out for water or the dog wanted to be let out and your wander back to bed got you thinking about a conflict at work or sixteen time sensitive errands. You binged watched Game of Thrones, dreamed you finally ruled Dragonstone and you awoke ruminating/obsessing about a betrayal in your own life. Or maybe it was one of those times when you simply awoke, seemingly out of nowhere, sweaty and anxious because that subconscious went bump in the night.

Now worrying in the daytime is usually time sucking, unhealthy and provides little help to the actual problem, but night worrying is anxiety on speed with so much less reason is available to you. Cognitive distortions at their most distorted.

Many times when I have had this night anxiety I finally get back to sleep and awake the next morning only to discover that what was plaguing me at 2 am, is not even an actual worry for me. I don't really care and/or see things much more clearly in the light of day. This is that 20/20 you are unable to grasp when you are tired and pumped with worry adrenaline. 

The night is full of terrors -Melisandre, Game of Thrones

But does it have to be? There are things you can do. The sword in the darkness? Reality!

1. First ask yourself, is this a problem?

The answer might be no. If you can recognize it IS a non issue and just your brain is searching for something to worry about then nighty night you are good to call time of death on that worry. Challenge it, stay in the moment of being in bed with your only task and focus to be on going back to sleep. Try the 5-5-5 method to get present. 

2. If it is a problem, ask yourself what can I do about it? Chances are there is nothing you can do about it at 2 am. Nothing. Nightwatch called off!

3. If it is a problem that has a solution, and you feel there is something you can do, write down the solution. I keep a pen and paper right beside my bed for moments just like these. I can write down the ideas around addressing that misunderstanding with my partner; I can jot a note to pick up the always forgotten dry cleaning. Whatever I am afraid I will forget is now taken care of.You see once it is written down, you can let it out of your head and end the swirling repetition. Also keep in mind that another billion circles in the head is not likely to produce too many more angles, ideas or cautionary tales for you, just write it down and be done. Worry rarely produces new amazing results that you had never thought of.

 

These simple tips should keep those cognitively distorted “ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night” at bay.  

Are You On Track for Your "New Year" Goals?

Kelly Bos

A GREAT TIME TO CHECK IN

January is past the half way mark and it is a great time to check in with our goals. Due to the annual tradition of New Year resolutions, this part of the year becomes a time of reflection and a time to focus on self-improvement. The statistics aren't great on the whole process, but reflection and goal setting are always useful practices especially when done with some grace. To do this, hold onto your goals, the dates and the journey a little loosely, accepting that change takes time and just commit to learning and striving to move forward. If you feeling in a slump because you have been rigid in your goals and the outcome, consider changing this with the tips below. And hey, it is only mid January and we can definitely make a come back, the whole year is still ahead of us! 

Here are some ways to get back on track with your goals:

Reality Check : First, make sure that your goals are realistic. Maybe you haven't been consistently achieving the daily hour planned for learning spanish. That is okay, it might just be that the hour is not realistic with your schedule and current work demands. This is information gained that you can use to make some adjustments.

Goal Gear: Whether your goals are for your career, fitness or general wellness, there are gadgets, planners, books, and apps that can help. What are you reading to inspire? What scheduling app have you been meaning to download? Would a fitness tracker help your progress? I know that my Garmin Vivofit Christmas gift is still waiting for me to program it (tomorrow, I swear). Here is a useful list of items from yoga teacher and plant based recipe guru Nicole MacPherson to help with your fitness goals. Also, grab a planner to help with all things goal related. I am really enjoying my Passion Planner this year but there are so many styles out there, here are a few great ones I found for last year. Find a fit and invest in some simple gadgets that can help you succeed.

 

 

Make it Enjoyable: If you aren't enjoying the steps planned to acheive your targets, change it up. If that exercise class is more groan than gain, find another one. Get your goals met in a new and fun way. Nutritionist and health nut Jason Spilberg says that "An easy and effective way to get all the good foods that may not taste great into your diet is to throw them into a smoothie.” And if it doesn't taste good, he finds a pineapple makes anything taste good. So find the proverbial pineapple for your plan!

Who is in Your Corner: It is so hard to meet challenges alone. Find some support by bringing someone else in for accountability or guidance to meet your targets. It could be a friend or family member but consider getting a counsellor, a coach or a trainer if you are finding it difficult to stick to your resolutions. Business Coach Ross Blaine states that “everyone needs someone to give them a new perspective on issues both business and personal. Successful people will be the first to recognize that they need feedback that is practical and applicable.” 

Evaluate your Practices: A good routine is going to help you reach goals. Start with the basics making wellness and health a priority. You will be better able to reach goals when you have your sleep, nutrition and fitness on track. A great morning routine can also be useful. I often suggest clients try morning pages, a great way to process and plan.

 

As you evaluate your goals for this year, remember to be kind to yourself. Getting to your goals might only require a little tweak here and there and a good amount of grace. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Life is a journey, not a destination". We can always evaluate, adjust and find new and more beneficial ways to journey towards these aims. 

How to Beat the January Blues and Avoid Having a Month-Long "Monday"

Kelly Bos

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12 STRATEGIES TO GET OVER THE DREARIEST MONTH IN THE CALENDAR

It certainly comes in with a bang, but for many, January can be a difficult time.  And despite the party that kicks it off, many of us, parents especially, can barely keep our eyes open to ring it in. January can be a let down. In his post January is the Worst Month of the Year  writer Nathan Macintosh said, "January is also the first month of the year, which really just makes it the year's Monday.” Macintosh hilariously writes about Monday mornings that are cold and dark and hard to get up to and says “Those Mondays are awful. And that's January, January is one straight month of that day. It's a thirty-one day Monday.”

How can January compare with the wonder, lead up and excitement contained in December? January is a cold month, a dark month followed by a few more months of the cold and dark.Today's medical insight recognizes a condition called SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder which is a type of depression that corresponds with the changes in the seasons, shorter days and changes in weather that leads to people feeling lower during the fall and winter months. The diagnosis has specific diagnostic requirements but many of us can still relate to feeling a bit lower at this time of year.

January is also known in Hollywood as the "dump month"...

READ MORE

7 Festive Brain Boosts

Kelly Bos

GOOD NEWS, YOU ARE PROBABLY ALREADY DOING THEM!

'Tis the season for merriment, connection, reflection and celebrations and this focus is very good for our well being and specifically for our brain. Here are a few brain boosts you might not have associated with the holidays.

1. Pass the Cranberries:

Cranberries are chalk full of anti-oxidants, so yummy and definitely a common presence in holiday treats, Christmas dinner sides and it is a great herbal tea to cosy up with at the fire. Cranberries are well known as the drink of choice for those doubled over from UTI's but they are also fantastic for the brain with studies showing positive affects for post stroke sufferers and that the ursolic acid, a specific compoud found in cranberries, may protect brain cells from injury and degeneration. 

2. Don't Pass By the Puzzles:

I don't know who brings them out every season, but someone does, and you think maybe I will do just a few, group a few colours, finish at the border, and the hours pass. It might not have been the best sleep decision for that late evening, but not to worry, puzzles are indeed good for the brain. Puzzles work both the left logical sequence side of your brain and the creative right side. David Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson authors of The Whole Brain Child state, “The brain has two sides for a reason: with each side having specialized functions, we can achieve more complex goals and carry out more intricate, sophisticated tasks. Significant problems arise when the two sides of our brain are not integrated and we end up coming at our experiences primarily from one side or the other...In order to live balanced, meaningful, and creative lives full of connected relationships, it’s crucial that our two hemispheres work together”. 

3. Hit the Slopes (or Skating Rink):

Skiing, cross country or downhill and skating are great forms of aerobic and muscle building exercse. Exercise is a mood booster that can help reduce anxious and depressive symptoms, aids in sleep and helps with clear thinking. Being outside on the slopes or at an outdoor rink, brings sunshine, fresh air and the beautiful sights which feel great. With these activities there are also the effects of cross lateral movements which activitates both hemispheres of the brain.

4. Laughing Stock:

The holidays bring families and friends together and hopefully a lot of laughter. They say it is the best medicine and it is pretty awesome for the brain, here's why: laughter improves memory, elevates mood, increases motivation, reduces pain, lowers stress, boosts immunity, and it releases dopamine, a natural opiate. 

5. Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot? 

The answer is no! A familar Christmas CD, family heirloom ornaments or decorations, whimsy about playing in the snow can all bring up fond memories of the past and it is good for you as reminicing can improve productivity and boost mental preformance.

6. The Long Winter's Nap:

Not only does your body scream for them during the holidays, naps can help your brain make decisions, feel more alert, and increase motor preformance. It is even in the traditional festive literature... “And Mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap, Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap” Twas the Night before Christmas even brings up these brain settling naps (although technically it was actually the night)! 

7. Choose Chocolate:

Studies are showing the consuming chocolate positively affects a person's cognitive abilities. Good news for chocolate lovers as chocolate can help with concentration levels. This might help counter what my friend calls turkey lethargy posioning regularly induced after the Christmas meal.

So eat, sleep, drink and be merry, much of it has the great effects of your brain on Christmas.

 

Life's Little Surprises and my First TED Talk

Kelly Bos

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TAKING THE INOPPORTUNE OPPORTUNITIES ANYWAY

When you first watch a TED talk, you become hooked on the platform, the diversity of the talks, and the unifying presentations. I have learned so much from them; I use them as counseling resources and share them regularly. Careers have soared, important studies and causes brought to light, and information shared. There are even people who call themselves TED-sters, who listen to playlists of speakers while they eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

And for many people doing a TED talk has now become a bucket list item.

I am often asked what path brought me to doing a TED talk. Truth be told, the path for doing this talk didn't make any sense. The timing was completely off. My husband even questioned my sanity for adding one more thing to our already over-scheduled life. But something in me said to go for it. So I did.

 

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This was the beginning of TEDx for me. I had a busy baby; ever increasing work demands to manage; a six year-old daughter with lessons, pick ups, and drop offs to organize; and a house that was always lacking in care -dishes to be done, floors to be swept, lunches to be packed.

The experience itself was phenomenal, but the rigour of preparing the talk was daunting, and the timing was less than ideal. Something in me still wanted to try. I pitched my idea and felt calm, releasing the idea like a butterfly taking flight from cupped hands.

I let it go. If it was to be, great! If not, also fine.

My talk was approved; was in! Now it was time to draft this idea worth sharing. It was during the early stages of writing that I found out to my horror that I had no passion for my initially pitched idea and therefore no inspiration. I sent both a new topic and draft to the organizers. They too came back, but with red lines and x's, all of which were fair points.

Then came draft two. Draft two didn't even make it to the organizers. I searched for inspiration, and as often happens, I found it via a meaningful moment with my daughter. Out of it, draft three was born.

My talk contains strategies I use regularly with clients: common pitfalls we all face and bits of me. TED talks are unlike many speaking opportunities. You aren't exactly teaching, lecturing, performing, or entertaining. This draft was what I wanted to share, and the closest I could conceive to the TED idea of having a conversation from the stage with only you talking. I released it, feeling very strongly that this is my talk and the conversation I wanted to have. Again I let it go, if I didn't nail the TED approach this round, I knew that was okay, I was new at this, I could learn and try again next year. I would often tell others, “This isn't self deprecation; I might not have what they want.”

It turned out that they liked it!

A few more changes occurred, and then came the memorizing, the reviewing of speaking tips, the practicing, and the practicing in front of others. I was told to do it 100 times. It was on my lips as I went to bed. The beginning sentences would be my waking stream of consciousness. I then flew to the Cayman Islands, 100 plus run-throughs under my belt.

When I met with the other speakers, some who speak for a living, a surge of relief hit me as familiar concerns, nervousness and questions were asked about what to do if you forgot a line, what to wear... do they change half way through the day?, and how they too went through draft changes as well as topic adjustments. I was with my people. We had two days together, and we were bonded through the monumental task we had all spent months and months - perhaps even years - gearing up to.

 

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The day itself was wonderful. I was first up. This was both daunting and a relief as it would mean getting it over with and enjoying the rest of the day.

I went up, delivered my talk, and was a mixture of happy with it and glad to be done. When I left the stage, I was greeted by one of the organizers who shared compliments and kudos and then added that I would... wait for it... have to do it again.

“Wait what?” Yes, I had heard correctly! I had to do it again to the same crowd due to some microphone issues. Our talks were also on live feed that day, so my husband congratulated me on the phone, but was thrilled to hear I had to repeat it. He too, not wanting to say, had noticed the mic issues. So after two more live talks and a couple of piped in speakers, I shared my talk again with the audience.

It could've gone one of two ways, but it went well. I felt confident that this audience was rooting for the poor speaker that had to do it all over, and after it was done, I thought the second take was even better for me. I felt more confident, spoke a little louder, my slide worked this time, and the mic was no longer rubbing on my shirt. A bucket list item checked, leaving me free to eat the wonderful food, watch my inspiring colleagues and enjoy the accomplishment.

I love this quote by Amy Poehler: “Great people do things before they're ready. They do things before they know they can do it. Doing what you're afraid of, getting out of your comfort zone, taking risks like that- that's what life is. You might be really good. You might find out something about yourself that's really special, and if you're not good, who cares? You tried something. Now you know something about yourself.”

I am thankful for the experience, for all that I found out about myself and for the opportunity to try. Will I do it again? Maybe, but for now I am enjoying some post TED satisfaction. Thanks to everyone for the encouragement, support and for watching. And without further adieu... here it is...