ESL educating, writing, cat loving, recovering from illness, enjoying island living kind of gal!

Archive for September, 2014


Morocco…I miss you!

In A Search of Balance

You have to live the experience that is Morocco. It’s hard to describe in words really, but there is something magical about that place. Despite the rocky start for many a tourist who ventures outside the well-lit path (which in my case included almost getting robbed and beaten up the first night), the country opens up and embraces you in its unforgettable atmosphere and culture. In the words of my friend Jawad, “Where you come from you might have watches, but here we’ve got time”!

And just like that, somewhere in between wandering around the local souks and haggling for trinkets, drinking the most incredible mint tea (also known as the Moroccan whiskey!) and tasting the flavorful local meals, or riding through the mighty Atlas mountains and sleeping under the stars in the Sahara, you fall in love with it.

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i wanna touch the northern lights

Such a beautiful blog! So inspiring! Definitely play the song that is on top! Love it!

In A Search of Balance

When we were considering the trip to Iceland I looked into when’s the best time to see the Northern Lights, but my research showed August wasn’t really it. We decided to go anyway because there’s plenty else you can see & do and that we’d come back another time just for this. After touching down and being rained on for the majority of the first couple of days we’d basically given up hope we were going to see the Aurora. And like it often does in life, just when you least expect it something amazing happened — the sky cleared up, the sun broke through and we spent the latter part of the third day roaming around as much as possible.

After the long day, we’d found a camp site to stay for our last night and being extremely tired we were about to give in around 10pm when someone…

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sahara nights

Morocco…my second home…gorgeous, awe-inspiring photos! WOW!

In A Search of Balance

(I highly encourage you to play the song before reading on, best part starts around 2nd minute)

What a night that was! After watching the sunset from atop a dune (see previous post on Sahara days), we literally rode our camels toward the rising orange full moon ahead of us. Unfortunately, it was impossible to take a photo of it while being shaken around the camel’s back, but it was so surreal that it almost felt like being in a movie. Very powerful moment.

Naturally, when we reached the camp I couldn’t resist to take some shots around the area. The light from the moon made it almost look like day time, as you can see below. Though not as bright as we were hoping, the stars were still incredibly crisp. We were lucky enough to be in the Sahara around the time of the Jupiter and Venus alignment, a…

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Counseling – Affective Neuroscience – Healing the Reactive Mind

Blogging University 101: Dream Reader

Assignment: “We often create posts hoping that someone in particular will see (and appreciate) our work. Today, publish a post for that person — whether they’re a real-life figure or not — and stretch your blogging chops as you do.”

In relation to my journey to become just a little bit better, I began counseling about a month ago. I have met with counselors who have ‘hurt’ me, done nothing for me except listen to my story, tell me I don’t need counseling etc. Then…I met Tammy (not her actual name). I have called my sessions with Tammy life changing and mind blowing. I am excited I didn’t give up on counseling all together, since counseling can often times seem so fruitless. Now, I find myself eagerly wanting to grasp the concepts of this new counseling method Tammy and I are using that encompasses affective neuroscience and healing the reactive mind.

Update: I have since learned this method is called SRT. What is SRT? Here is a link:

When I first met Tammy, I felt very comfortable with her. The office and chair were comfortable and relaxing. I was optimistic that I could learn something from our upcoming sessions together. Using this new method is quite simple and so effective! When my emotions come up during conversation, Tammy asks me what I am feeling in my body. Sometimes I feel a wave of emotion going up and down in my chest and stomach. Sometimes it is a pain in my shoulder blade. This transfer of thought from my emotions to feeling my body in the present, takes attention away from my amygdala (the part of my brain) that emotionally reacts to the world around me.

My brain, like so many other individuals, responds from a place of trauma. This place of trauma came about from life events in my childhood. My amygdala doesn’t know of any other way to respond to emotional, difficult situations except from a place of trauma. It is as if my house is on fire most of the time and my brain is always responding to the fire alarm or some other kind of emergency when there is no emergency in the current moment.

Tammy guides me by grounding me…by asking what I am feeling in my physical body and just being in the moment with my body sensations, thus quieting my reactive mind as it realizes there is no emergency in the moment. This is key here…living in the moment. A new neural pathway is being formed, one that reacts more appropriately to the current situation rather than reacting from emergencies (or trauma) from the past. Once I have been grounded, I feel an objectivity to the events of the past and feel free from the emotional pain they have caused!

Before Tammy and I had started this method, I had bought a book that resonated with me. I felt very compelled to buy the book! I had told Tammy I was in search of clarity and was explaining how I thought there was a better way to respond to the world around me. At this point, I had bought the book but was unable to tell Tammy what it was called or what it was about. I had forgotten. I later realized that what I wanted out of counseling was identical to the title and subject of the book! Synchronicity! Here’s the book!

It was quite amusing that I had to have this book that fits so well with the counseling sessions I am now experiencing. The book gives me another perspective on the same topic to actually use and heal via this neuroscientific method.

I have only met with Tammy a few times and with each session there have been positive changes. After I left my last session, the core of my being spoke to me. I recognized what my core was saying as I had heard it before, but it was a reminder that all my work through chaos is to reach this point in my core, this long standing false belief that needs to be ‘re-wired’ hence new neural pathways must be created. This distorted belief of myself that my core spoke about is personal so I won’t share it today, but I wanted to speak about my experience because others might hear there inner being calling out to them too which, in my case, highlights my deepest, darkest issue. I might not be able to share this with Tammy yet, as I don’t want the floodgates to open too much leaving me feeling too vulnerable to move forward.

It has been a true gift that I met Tammy and stumbled upon Moffitt’s book! But wait! Two more gifts were forthcoming this week!

The second gift. A few days later during a coffee run to Starbucks, I came upon a newspaper article about neural pathways:

I was excited (excited because of the help available to correct and heal from these behaviours) to see this recent news story about child punishment (a form of trauma) and changing brain neural pathways. It was also great to see awareness being raised for child abuse. If you skipped over this article, it is a great read and not too long! I highly recommend the read to everyone. We are all touched by this trapped inner trauma. We are personally ‘affected’ or have loved ones, colleagues, family etc who are dealing with altered neural pathways.

These excerpts from the article really resonated with me.

Within the brain, when a child is spanked or hit, “there’s a pathway being formed instantly between the emotions that child is feeling, of fear and terror and threat, and the source of those emotions, which is the parent,” says Durrant, a professor of family social sciences at the University of Manitoba.

Learning to respond to such stress takes place at a neural level, she explains; a particular stimulus will automatically evoke a particular emotional response. So when adults who were abused as children are confronted with a familiar situation in which they feel out of control, they may lash out without thinking – and with far more force than they intended.

One of my revelations was ‘knowing’ that what I felt and experienced and how I responded wasn’t ‘my fault’ in a sense and it is terrific this part of the brain is very plastic, meaning very changeable allowing for new neural pathways! I held the notion that the way I sometimes responded to people or situations made me a ‘bad’ person. As an abuse survivor, I am guessing the idea that one is ‘bad’ is a fairly common misbelief of oneself.

And my final gift this week came from Facebook. A friend of mine, who lives in Morocco, shared a great read on her Facebook wall. She said, “A MUST REaD !! Didn’t enjoy reading this much for a while! This book is fantastic ! Life changing !! Available at Virgin RAbat.” I quickly searched for this book and found it in my local library. So I am reading this book too. So far, it has interesting ideas and it is a simple read. The video below features the authors speaking a little bit about the book.

I think so many people could benefit from this counseling that has only been in practice for 10-15 years. How fortunate I am to experience and reap the rewards of my sessions with Tammy. Hence I wrote this Blogging University 101 assignment entitled Dream Reader, thinking of Tammy, my counselor as my dream reader!

Stop whining about the teachers, start shouting about your government


Disclaimer: I am not a teacher and I am not married to a teacher. I do not have children currently and have absolutely no stake in the outcome of this labour dispute, financial or otherwise. Though I was a member of a CUPE union for several years, I am no longer in a unionized position. I am, however, the daughter of teachers (in Saskatchewan) and am incredibly passionate about this issue.

Photo: Brayden McCluskey Photo: Brayden McCluskey

Like many people in BC, I am sick and tired of the teachers’ strike. I’m sick of the anxiety underlying every news story, especially as the first day of school has come and gone and public schools in BC remain closed. I am sick of parents needing to worry about how to pay for childcare/time taken off from work. I am sick of the idea that kids are missing out on their right to education. I…

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Weekend Edition – Life Without Regrets plus Writing Tips and Good Reads

Reblogging! Great read!

Live to Write - Write to Live

Dan’s right. It is later than you think.

paris clockDo you ever feel like the Universe is conspiring to send you a message? I do. All the time.

This week, the theme was “Life is Short.”

I began the week with a little getaway that was inspired by the truth of life’s brevity. Along with my beau and my daughter, I headed north to the elegant and enchanting Mount Washington Hotel – an idyllic, turn of the century hideaway in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Knowing how quickly the next few years will pass (and how, soon, my daughter may be less inclined to spend quality time with her dear mother), I took my fifth grader out of school for the three days so we could revel in the delights of slightly forbidden joys. We went on a horseback ride, hiked to a waterfall, and she and my beau spent hours performing…

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Living Vancouver Island

Blogging University 101: Introduce Yourself 

My name is Grace and I live on Vancouver Island, Canada. I want to start blogging to sort out some of the clutter in my mind! I have many topics in my head, but one of my main focuses will be on writing. I am wanting to connect with fellow writers and bloggers! I am currently writing a teen lit book. I might be secretive about my book. I find it scary to share stuff with the whole world online!

By blogging about my life I hope to clarify things for myself while also creating a space that could potentially help others. We all have challenges and it would be neat to connect with others going through similar struggles! Sometimes I feel alone fighting the fight, but I know so many are also going through the same things having their own ‘alone’ days!

I recently lost my Himalayan cat, Cocoa. I had to put her down last month. This was so difficult and the image (both the x-ray image and final moments I spent with my special kitty) at the pet hospital still cross my mind. My eyes well up with tears just thinking about it. I recently found out, at the same time as saying goodbye to my beloved Cocoa, my thyroid crashed and is no longer producing thyroid hormones. I have Graves’ disease and have treated this condition with a medication called Tapazole for 10 years. Now, my thyroid burnt itself out and I have the opposite condition. This has amplified the sadness surrounding the death of my darling Cocoa.

I see the endocrinologist on Monday so I will learn more about my thyroid then.

I should add I still have two lovely cats, Suki and Silvi! They aren’t near as chatty as Cocoa was, which is something I really miss! My husband would come home from work and Cocoa would ‘talk’ to him until he bent down, petted her and said “Hi Cocoa!” He would take off his shoes…meow meow meow, kiss me, take off his tie…meow meow meow, his shirt, then bend down and say hi to our fur child! She would then proceed to trot away happily after getting the hi and pet she had waited for all day! She was a Himalayan Manx so her tail looked like a rabbit tail and her hind legs were longer than her front! So the act of her trotting away happily was pretty cute! Here she is with her short summer coat!