After what seems to be my bi-annual, catch the flu, and become down and out for several days of the much-anticipated Christmas vacation, I found myself feeling off. I saw that other people were posting a similar lull. Personally, I am getting much better at reminding myself when I am not feeling 100%, didn’t sleep well, or just finished a busy season, that now is not a great time to assess who I am or how I am feeling as the exhausted/infirm lens can put a bit of a grey tint to everything but it can still be difficult to shake off. Many people experience these dips and even crashes after a big event. The crashes, for a lack of a better word, are often inexplicable, different from grief, a mental health issue, or being in the face of a difficult situation. They come when things are generally fine but without warning you start to question it all. This time of year can also be hard with New Year’s resolutions around the corner inspiring those “where is my life going” and “what are my goals” questioning that can sometimes lead one to lament. A cluster crash.


If you are struggling to shake it off, here is what is important to keep in mind, and this is true for any of these crashes, they aren’t real or at least not in real time. Our problem-solving brain loves a problem and it is designed to worry, huge for survival, tough to manage when survival is not of issue and the alarm bells sound anyway. So when we aren’t feeling good we begin to assess… it must be me, my marriage, the kids, this job, the house, the renovations, that no vacation is booked, the stock market, that I haven’t heard from a family member, that I talked to much at the party last night, that I didn’t talk enough, I’m behind in work, I haven’t gotten to the gym, etc. The possibilities to dwell and negate are endless but it is rarely the moment we are in. In a crash the “now” is in fact okay. Our worries about life, goals, and self-actualization don’t need to be worries at all. There is no benefit. Zero. Do we need to keep going? Absolutely! Do we need to put some steps in place? Definitely! However, worrying about it adds nothing. Even the big problems that you are facing are often attached to worries about how they will turn out and not the moment. A beloved family member got diagnosed with cancer not long before Christmas and he is in treatment. We are worried, but my worries aren’t about his 12:57 pm on this Saturday they are about how he will feel next week with chemo (future) or regrets about not being there at Christmas because we were ill (past). So even the big worries can sometimes be put in their proper place.

My advice? Practice self-compassion. Put your hand on your heart and tell yourself three things…

1. Acknowledge that this feeling you are having is hard. Period. Don’t worry about justifying it or making sense of it just let yourself say “ouch” and “I acknowledge that ouch”.

2. Say something nice to yourself. For example, “sorry that you feel this way right now, it’s hard”, you can add a dear one, or a pal, but be kind to yourself in an authentic way like you would a friend.

3. Tell yourself something you can believe in. Perhaps you believe and can say “it will pass”, “you can learn from this”, be realistic and encouraging.

Then end it all with a little self-care and fluid up, read a book, grab a blanket, and give worry a hard no. My lull is being cut off, it had its moment today. Yeah, I gave it a little time, but nothing to worry about.


Holding Hands.jpg


It could be parenting, work demands, financial constraints and the list goes on, but for many of us the traditional date of dinner and a movie is hard to fit in. If you are a parent, the child care alone could make the whole thing seem out of reach, let alone staying up that late with 6 am wake-up calls promised by little feet. Even my friends without children find other demands can take up that connection time once prioritized in early dating days.

As someone who writes about this stuff quite regularly, I know all too well the wear and tear signs of not putting time into the relationship. My husband and I both felt that need for connection but weren’t sure how to squeeze it in with all the other demands. But then it happened, out of the blue, four times in the last week and a half, we found ourselves regularly dating! It was shocking. How you might ask? It wasn’t planned so the success should be attainable and upon reflection I knew I had to share as these how to’s just might help you.

Four Ways to Connect with Your Partner:

The Commuter Call: Okay, this first one isn’t a date per say, but it has sure helped the connection. My husband started a daily ritual for us and this has probably been the biggest help. It was no doubt born out of the fact that with the kids, activities and our mutual need to check out for a bit at the end of a long day we weren’t really communicating other than logistics. At least not in a focused way. My husband has about a 15-20-minute commute while I am longer. It is a short window, but he started calling me in the morning while we were both on our way to work so that we could talk. And we do, we talk uninterrupted and it has helped the connection. And although this won’t work for everyone, like if you carpool with cubicle mate John or you are the bus for the kids, you might find you have a window somewhere in your day where you could prioritize an old-fashioned phone call.

The Window of Opportunity: Another way we got a date in was by jumping on 45 minutes where we were both free, in the same town, and the kids were busy. My husband had gone to the walk-in clinic and I was waiting for gymnastics to end, call us crazy but we decided to grab a drink and an appetizer. We hustled to a restaurant, ordered the quickest app on the menu, had the bill upfront and enjoyed a quick chat. I think normally we would have thought the time was too rushed to make it worthwhile, and of course there are always other things to be doing but I am glad we chose to try, it was spontaneous and fun.

tea date.jpg

Lunch Dates: I have written about them before, but they are so great if you can swing them. You are generally more alert, it is less expensive, and it takes care of babysitting for the school aged children. Like many of you, my husband and I don’t work that close together, our drive to meet would literally take the entire lunch hour, but again this was the week where all dates seemed to work, and we found ourselves again in the same area with a cancelled appointment for my husband and a free hour for me. We had a great time but as this was a few dates in we were also thinking, “how are we on a date again? what is happening?!”

Book It: So, in this same week and a half period we had two dates already in the calendar. This is traditional and not as sneaky or spontaneous but sometimes the events are useful as it is the only way many of us get a date in. I had bought tickets to see Gary Chapman who wrote “The Five Love Languages” so by its mere subject we had to make that a go. My husband also had his work party, so we were booked for that too. Check and check.

To summarize, have phone dates, don’t shrug off those spontaneous moments, give lunch a chance and book it. Easy peasy. For added success remember to keep expectations chill, phones down, and try to talk about more than scheduling and bank statements.




If the phone feels addictive, it is because it is. The “monkey on your back” saying initially talked about a monkey on the roof and had to do with debt and burden in the 1800’s. In the 1940’s it started to be applied to addictions. The idea of burden and addiction is applicable to our struggles to put down our phones today, research supports this. Many apps have an addictive component, the variable ratio schedule of likes, comments, sales closing, and notifications is attractive to our brain. Have you ever been scrolling on your phone, seemingly looking for something and you have no idea what it is? It might be dopamine, it is released when we hit those exciting and attractive variables that activate the pleasure center of our brain, and so we search for more of it. The self-regulatory part of your brain, the prefrontal cortex starts to nudge you with the idea that you should stop and put down the phone. The more we look for these little highs the more habit forming it can become and possibly addictive and new neural pathways are formed in our brain and these pleasure pathways aren’t giving the prefrontal cortex much say in the matter. Addictive behaviours look very similar on a brain scan with the same pathways lighting up for incessant smartphone use, cocaine addiction or an addiction to slot machines. I find this terrifying. Especially when you look at pictures of the addicted brain where the shape and definition look vastly different from a healthy one. Research is studying all this now and I worry about the long term results.

I think we would all agree, phones are a problem. Look around at restaurants on the streets, everyone is looking down. It is concerning. We can affect out brain’s functioning with constant phone use and we need to make changes to reset our brain health. Change might be too much for our self-control alone so it is important to set out some parameters.

Here are six practical ways to get that monkey off your back:

1. Be intentional: I can literally be checking in between everything and even during things. Half the time I don’t even know I am doing it, mindlessly picking the phone up and putting it down. Tonight, my daughter wants me to watch her entire ballet practice. What are the chances I can do it without glancing at my phone? Going in unintentional with my actions will make this impossible. The key is to be mindful. So often our phone checking is simply a habit and one we need to break.



2. Schedule time to be on your phone: I utilize social media for work, and can’t ignore it all day, but I certainly don’t have to be a slave to it all day either and so it has a scheduled slot which makes the time I am on it more productive as it is no longer limitless.

3. Schedule in an end time too: It is all well and good to say you will check it at your break and lunch but give yourself a time limit. How often do we check to see if that message went through, plan to quickly check something else, and fall down a black hole of baby pictures, memes, amusing pet pictures, blatant advertising, and a million shots of what you are behind on and not living up to. If you were asked you if you had an hour for social media in your busy schedule today you would have likely given me a hard no, and an hour might be a good day for you, see point 4. We are mindlessly getting hours in of this unproductive stuff.

4. Watch and record your productivity: My friend Kelly alerted me to the ability to track how much I am using my phone and for what. It is upsetting. Life is really busy for me right now and time is super important to me, so to see the time I am putting into the scroll is quite upsetting. Become aware but don’t stop there. Try recording how much you are on social media, what is productive, what isn’t and write down numbers each day. I do this because I want to decrease my use, use my time more wisely, and get in and get out so I can do that IRL living stuff.

5. Do not take it to bed: My phone has a new hang out, it is downstairs in the living room. There isn’t a fancy docking station, but this would be a great thing to implement. Keeping it downstairs keeps it from being priority number one…  not the first thing I look at when I wake or the last thing I look at when I go to sleep.

6. Turn off Notifications: I might be in a conversation or in the middle of work and be interrupted with an alert that makes me think about whatever it is telling me and completely lose track of what I am doing. I don’t find it helpful. Now that I am scheduling in time I can check my social media in a measured way and don’t need the notifications on every little single like, sale or email.


Kimberly Haydn said that “Every single time you say “yes” to something, you are inadvertently saying “no” to something else. Choose wisely”. What are you saying no to when you are distracted by your phone? As we experience the benefits of choosing when we want to use our phone, and not simply ending up on it by default, we are living a more present life.



Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom from Pexels

Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom from Pexels


How often does your morning reflect an assembly line of tasks and routine? You hit the snooze, check the phone, shower, dress, grab a quick bite, and run out the door. The morning rituals occur with little thought or presence, like you are barely there. In fact, calling it a ritual might suggest a bit more mindfulness than there is. Where is the calm and intention? Believe me, I get it. I can go for days without being in the moment and I am sure you can too.

Life offers so much more than we enjoy. Having a good morning and a good start to your day could be something you are missing out on. If you desire this, there are some great solutions that involve a little bit of planning but can be incorporated into many of the things you do already. Let’s start at the very beginning, (clearly) a very good place to start,… what comes first, second and third? As nice as it would be to wake and look reflectively out the window at the sunrise while recounting blessings, it is no doubt more like, hammering at the snooze button before you drag your phone with you under the covers, scroll for a bit mindlessly and then rush through the rest. It’s like I was watching you isn’t it?! I am suggesting this, because my morning often looks like that. But sometimes, cue the birds singing, I can make a brighter, fresher and more mindful start happen. Here are my tricks…

Photo from Pixabay

Photo from Pixabay

The Alarm Clock:

I bought one. It might not be the perfect solution as the literally alarming BRRRRIIIINNNGGG in the morning can’t truly compete with the light piano rift gently nudging me awake from my husbands’ cell phone; he remains unconvinced. However, I will find that happy medium. I have lived in the Caribbean so I know the rooster is a bust as he goes off at all hours. Perhaps the clock radio?, I know, I know, power outages, but I will hunt for something more soothing and less time sucking. You see, the reason I/you should consider switching to another form of wake up is that the problem lies in the current solution… the smart phone. It doesn’t simply serve as an alarm clock, no matter what we tell ourselves. With its prime position bedside, it is too easy to check emails from the warmth of our beds and get pulled into a never-ending news cycle or infinite social media posts. This is not how I want to end or start my day. I want to start and end calmly without the blue light messing with my circadian rhythm. I want to start with something more mindful.

The Docking Station:

Okay, if you become armed and alarmed with another method of waking up, one still needs to stop the phone from now becoming step two from step one in the waking up process. Enter the docking station. A place to charge and stand while getting the updates we need. There is no problem with checking your phone and having a place to do that makes sense. Getting up and stepping away from the bed and heading to this designated place will encourage a quick check for those actually important and time sensitive work related or school bus specific texts and emails.

Photo from Pixabay

Photo from Pixabay

Morning Pages:

A new step to try after the alarm is morning pages. I have written about them before and even mentioned them in my Tedx Talk, they are worth repeating as they are awesome for all kinds of reasons. I am often recommending it to my clients for processing purposes but also for “the drop”. From the day and night before we have stuff, sub conscious and conscious, so this is a great way to get some of it out and clear our heads for the day. It comes from a book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and was used for the creative types to get out ideas, but therapists have found it to be excellent as a healthy daily practice. You simply write three pages when you wake, no more or no less. There is no wrong way to write, just write what comes up until you hit page three and then stop. I usually end up with a helpful to do list going on the side. A tip to make this work is to have the journal and pen handy and don’t pick the supersize journal, rather something more manageable for three pages.

The Seated Breakfast:

I can’t remember the last time that I sat for a leisurely breakfast that didn’t involve a holiday or a restaurant. It is hard to squeeze in the time to eat mindfully but it is important as studies show eating mindfully helps you eat less, calm down, can help you refrain from eating emotionally, and helps you eat when you are actually hungry.  A lot of societies operate with this as a priority, so why are we so quick to throw a breakfast bar in our bag and run off?

Get Up Earlier:

And to do this last suggestion, another modification is needed as you now need to get up earlier. Ugh. I know. For me I can get ready quite quickly and I bank on this for a speedy departure when I pick my wake-up call time to start the mad dash. So closely related to the success of getting to bed earlier, incidentally, is adding a bit of good to good night, which might mean cutting out certain unhealthy patterns involved in those bedtime rituals, like binge watching Netflix, working into the wee hours, scrolling our phones, etc. But the benefits of an early morning are awesome. If you are a parent, this could mean some peaceful time before the morning rush to get some time on your own, if you live alone, it could be time to be intentional and focus on what you want for the day, it is also great for relationships, a time to really connect before the day takes over.

Photo from Pexels

Photo from Pexels

A Bit of Inspiration:

A motivational book, a great speaker, a podcast, a daily affirmation can all be great ways to kick start your day. This could be added to your commute or have a time dedicated for it all on its own since you are up earlier. Again, make sure it is handy for your best chance at adding it to your day. Also start with manageable goals, if you can give yourself five minutes to listen, or three pages to read, that might be more doable than planning a chapter, not making it happen and then throwing the whole plan out. Baby steps can help with success which will motivate a repeat.


All of these techniques can be richly added to with choosing a healthy breakfast, stretching, exercise, meditations, prayer, skin brushing, you name it. When you create the time by removing the unhealthy habits and getting up a little earlier, you can rise and truly shine.